|Monday, January 10, 2000,
mini midterm poll
UNDER VLADIMIR PUTIN
not justice, to the fore
living the latest fad
A mini midterm poll
WITH four states set to elect their assemblies in the second half of next month, the country will witness a mini, mini midterm poll. The Congress is the only constant, with the BJP figuring in three of them and regional parties vying for seats in all the four. In Haryana and Bihar there is much at stake; Orissa should not throw up any surprise since the Congress has been flattened by two super cyclones faction fighting and massive bungling and fraud in relief work. Manipur makes news only when violent separatists are at work. Haryana is keenly poised to make analysts guessing and guessing again. For one thing, the election will not be a one-horse race, with the old INLD-BJP combination pulling far ahead of the Congress and any alliance it may rig up. A series of expulsions of MLAs and sacking of Ministers has taken much shine off the combination. The BJPs reluctance to join the government and a stray anti-Chautala sniping by some of its leaders have contributed to the loss of steam. Mr Om Prakash Chautala has been distributing largesse to almost all sections of the population hoping for a trade-off with votes. It is not certain that it will work and in the past this crude gambit had not worked. He has two other obstacles. The BJP is pitching its demand for seats at as high as 35 in a House of 90. Mr Devi Lal, the grand old man of the INLD and in fact the state itself, has pegged the number at 20. Seat-sharing may not an insurmountable problem but a public dispute will leave bitterness in its trail. The second adverse change is the semblance of unity in the Congress. A united Congress and a somewhat disunited alliance is a source of concern for the INLD supremo. The Congress will make much of the whimsical doings of the Chief Minister and his failure to improve the power situation and make it available free in the rural sector. The party fervently hopes for a role reversal in the coming election. It was thrashed in November for the flippant way it first supported and then sank the Bansi Lal government. This time it expects the people to deal with the Chautala party similarly for the flippant way it treated the government itself, first by capturing it with a horde of defectors and then dissolving the Assembly and humiliating the floor-crossers. This is not such a wild wish as it would appear on the surface; the Haryana voter can indeed be whimsical.
If the regions eye
is on Haryana, the nations is on Bihar, the second
largest in terms of Parliament and Assembly seats. There
the BJP is the most worried party. It has begun to see
cracks in its grand design. It was confident of forming a
government and pursuing its anti-Laloo Yadav agenda with
vigour. After all, the alliance it led ran away with 41
of the 54 Lok Sabha seats in November. Since then the
Yadav chieftain has lost some trusted aides and as his
defeat in Madhepura showed, a chunk of his vote base as
well. If the BJP had gone to war flanked by the JD(U) and
the Samata, it would have been a resounding victory even
before the first arrow (the election symbol of the
unified JD-U) is released. But it is not to be. The Delhi
ruckus among the leaders of the JD(U) and the Samata has
percolated in a magnified form down to the cadre level,
provoking fancy demands for seats. The BJP allies will
not merge in the next six weeks and it is unlikely they
will work out a smooth seat adjustment. So the BJP has to
midwife a deal and the very thought revives the nightmare
of Karnataka where a wrangling and indisciplined ally
tripped it at the post. Is the BJP fated to repeat
Karnataka history as a farce in Bihar? For the present
the answer seems to be yes. As in Haryana, so in Bihar
the unseemly infighting in the NDA has pumped adrenalin
into the main opposition and the smile on the face of Mr
Laloo Yadav has a pre-success shade to it. At a more
serious and enduring level, Bihar Assembly election is a
laboratory to test the BJP thesis that it can increase
its presence, if not the base, by cobbling together an
all-in coalition. In Karnataka it failed even as it
succeeded in neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Bihar could well be the decider. Stay tuned, as
television anchors are wont to say.
Let facts be known
THE Subrahmanyam Committee report on the Pakistani intrusion in Kargil is, according to its members, the product of a probe made "in the spirit of complete openness, objectivity and transparency". Its members, Mr K. Subrahmanyam, the well-known defence analyst; Mr B.G. Verghese, the reputed media personality; Lt-Gen K.K. Hazari, a former Vice-Chief of the Army Staff; and Mr Satish Chandra, a senior diplomat and Secretary of the National Security Council, are nationally trusted and knowledgeable persons. The opposition parties, the media and important sections of the people put forth a general view that the Vajpayee Government had failed in its duty to be sufficiently vigilant in defending the borders of the nation. The charge was serious: there was a massive intelligence failure which allowed large Pakistani military contingents, backed by mercenaries and terrorists, to occupy strategic points in the Kargil-Dras-Batalik sector. The crisis required a major military operation and cost many precious lives of officers and jawans, besides taking a toll of arms, ammunition and aircraft. The intruders were given safe passage and international intervention came into play. The Government chose to call the panel not an inquiry commission but a "review committee", which was constituted on July 29, 1999. It was expected to submit its report on October 31; it could not do so because of "the General Election and the installation of a new government at the Centre". The members were given a two-point term of reference: "(1) to review the events leading to the Pakistani aggression in the Kargil district of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir and (2) to recommend such measures as are considered necessary to safeguard national security against such intrusions". The committee had access to "secret" and "top secret" papers. It interacted with a former President, three former Prime Ministers, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Ministers in charge of Home, Defence and External Affairs, the National Security Adviser, the Cabinet Secretary and the three Service Chiefs, besides young Army personnel "directly involved in the operations" and the key figures in the Farooq Abdullah government. The terrain was inspected at least four times.
It was, thus, not just
running the gamut. It was an intensive as well as
extensive exercise aimed at knowing the full facts and
the whole truth. We have put together the cardinal points
of the genesis and the arduous work, the findings of
which are epitomised in 17 volumes and 2000 pages; 228
pages contain the gist. The utterances of Mr Subrahmanyam
himself on the electronic media indicate that the
document is exceptionally sensitive and that parts of the
recorded information had to be "excised".
Deductive logic shows that intelligence-cum-security
failures have been documented. The chinks in the armour
have been brought to notice. The first part of the answer
to the terms of reference is critical and grave. The
second one is preventive and suggestional. Now that the
Kargil war (Operation Vijay) has been projected as won
and the Vajpayee Government has been given a renewed
mandate, the promise of total transparency and
accountability should be fulfilled. The committee has
done fast work and indicated by implication what went
wrong along with who went wrong. The Henderson Brooks
report on the Sino-Indian conflict and the findings about
the 1965 and 1971 wars were hidden from the nation
"for reasons of national security"! Mr
Subrahmanyam has said: "The report should be made
public....It is for the Government to decide...."
Those who run the country are not more loyal than the
King "We, the People". In the absence of
facts, fiction will pollute the citizen's mind and
jeopardise the concept of "public interest".
Let light prevail.
RUSSIA UNDER VLADIMIR PUTIN
WHAT concerns India most about the drama in the Kremlin is whether Mr Boris Yeltsins sudden exit will have any adverse bearing on close bilateral ties. I think not. The India-Russia relationship will survive because it is founded on geopolitical reality and economic exigency, both of which will be obvious to the 47-year-old President presumptive, Mr Vladimir Putin. Under him, Russia can expect to come to grips with the outstanding tasks of its emergence from Communism. If it succeeds, Russia might again be able to provide the counterbalance that the world needs to single-power global hegemony.
The rumbustious former President, who lived up to the image of Tsar Boris during nine tumultuous years with his flamboyant autocratic style and by flaunting the imperial Romanov dynastys twin eagle as his personal and official emblem, was due to visit New Delhi soon to formally endorse the strategic partnership agreement between the two countries. The arrangement itself, and all that it signifies for Russias alliance with India, is unlikely to be affected even if Mr Putin, whom the Americans described last August when he became Prime Minister as The Grey Cardinal who would be King, has too many other things on his plate for the time being to be able to make the trip.
Grappling with free market dynamics and the obligations of multinationalism, India and Russia still have much in common. Russias present problems in Muslim Chechnya and with the terrorism there bears comparison with Indias own difficulties with ethnic separatists and continuous bombings and hijackings. Owing little to personal interest on either side, the alliance has survived several changes of guard in New Delhi and Moscow. Unlike Mr Mikhail Gorbachev who had built up a rapport with Rajiv Gandhi, Mr Yeltsin was not especially interested in India or the values it stood for. Neither does his successors record as a KGB operative who spent much of his time in Germany before taking to mayoral politics in St Petersburg suggest any particular interest. But he is too astute a master of realpolitik not to realise that the partnership gives Russia additional standing in South Asia, especially after its disastrous retreat from Afghanistan, and strengthens its hand in dealings with China and the United States of America.
At the same time, the new President can also be expected to continue improving ties with Pakistan as much to increase his countrys regional options as to reinforce its self-image of a powerful nuclear force that is above bilateral disputes and has a responsibility to global peace and stability. That is why Mr Yeltsin worked so hard for admission to the Group of 8, the club of industrial Western nations, including Japan. When no longer able to resist American pressure over intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo, he was able to save face by claiming that Russias centuries-old Slav sphere of influence mattered less than its obligation to European harmony.
Mr Putin is a modern man. He justifies a strongly patriarchal Russia that is unsuited to the classical liberalism of Britain or the USA, but makes full use of modern technology. The essay that he posted on the Internet at the end of December was his presidential manifesto. He made clear in it that reform would have to adjust to Russian conditions. We can count on a worthy future only if we manage to naturally combine the principles of a market economy and democracy with Russian realities. As for the traditional character of the Russian state, he was frankly unapologetic. There is no point speculating whether this tradition is good or bad. It exists and remains dominant for now. This should be taken into account, especially in social policy. Such a man will promise less than the wordy Mr Yeltsin did; nor will he try to win favour with the West by promising what cannot be achieved. He is also intensely patriotic, and the principal architect of the Chechen campaign which has aroused Western hackles.With Russias integrity at stake, Mr Putin is turning a deaf ear to Western, especially American, complaints of human rights violations. He knows that quite apart from the danger of Islamic fundamentalism in the Caucasus, there can be no half-measures in war, and that if Chechnya is allowed to break away, many other Russian republics will want to follow suit. A multinational state must insist on obedience to certain minimum common norms. He is a tough man, says the American Secretary of State, Mrs Madeleine Albright. He is somebody that is very determined, very action-oriented. I think were going to have to watch his actions very carefully.
That was when Mr Putin became Prime Minister after heading the Federal Security Service which replaced the old KGB. It was clear then that he would succeed Mr Yeltsin, but the change was not due till June. Mr Yeltsin stepped down six months early to go while the going was good with oil prices soaring, and to protect his own future under the first decree that the new acting President signed. Apart from an array of benefits and privileges, it guarantees the former President immunity from criminal investigation, and protects his houses, cars, papers and other belongings from search and seizure. The Russian constitution decrees that the presidential election must be held within 90 days, which means March 26. Mr Putin is expected to have a better chance then than he might have had in June.
His popularity is soaring largely because of the Chechen war. Russians saw the apartment block explosions in Moscow and other cities and the Chechen Islamists incursions into neighbouring Dagestan as proof of the Yeltsin governments weakness. Mr Yeltsin had already allowed Belarus, which had never been independent, to secede, and granted independence to the Ukraine which had been Russian for a millennium. On the credit side, he dismantled the Soviet empire, eased state controls, allowed free speech and fair elections and established rapport with Russias neighbours. But amidst spiralling prices, rampant corruption, military mutinies, a bankrupt exchequer and the mafias stranglehold on every aspect of life, people feared that what was left of Russia was also doomed.
The December 19 Duma
election when Mr Putins Unity Bloc came second, and
the Union of Right Wing Forces, headed by the former
Prime Minister, Mr Sergey Kiriyenko, promised support,
confirmed his popularity. The constant wrangling between
the Kremlin and the Duma, which exploded in the 1993
parliamentary uprising, may be a thing of the past. But
Mr Putin must deliver. He must enforce laws, clear pay
and pension arrears, discipline the criminal underworld,
suppress terrorism and stand up to the USA where a
legitimate alternative exists. The world has huge reason
to be grateful for American generosity and idealism. But
world stability needs a balancing force to maintain the
equilibrium of power. Russia under a new leader might
again aspire to that role if Mr Putin is able to put his
house in order and restore government authority in what
is still a chaotic transition from dictatorship to
Urgency of administrative
THE way the hijacking of IA plane was handled by the government has once again exposed the level to which the administration has gone down in the past 50 years. The right hand of the administration does not know what the left hand is doing.
Decisions are taken but seldom implemented in letter and in spirit. Difficult decisions are glossed over by referring them to committees. There are too many layers of hierarchy which unnecessarily put spokes in the wheels of smooth functioning of the administration; files keep on hopping from one officer to the other back and forth without adding to the decision-making process in any meaningful manner.
The office rules and procedures are outdated which are actually hampering the functioning of the various government offices. The discipline of the office employees is very bad. Citizens are fed up with the administration.
Thus, the administration has been getting bricks all the time and seldom a bouquet. In view of the urgency of the situation, the Indian Council of Social Science Research, an apex body for social science research in India, organised a symposium on administrative reforms recently. For the first time, bureaucrats, social scientists and media personalities were brought together to discuss the need for administrative reforms. Mr Arun Shourie, Minister of State for Planning and Programme Implementation, also participated in this symposium.
The general feeling among the participants was that the time is ripe for introducing administrative reforms without any further delay. Already, a number of committees have made recommendations of various kinds which need to be implemented with all seriousness. There was no need to set up more committees.
For instance, the report of the Fifth Pay Commission had made far-reaching recommendations regarding administrative reforms. But the government, instead of accepting the report in toto, accepted only those recommendations which were populist in nature. The recommendations regarding pay scales were accepted but those concerning the freeze on fresh appointments, downsizing of the bureaucracy, simplification of office procedures, etc, were not accepted at all. This made nonsense of the whole report.
One of the bureaucrats who was an important member of the commission was of the view that the government should have just accepted the report in toto which, in other words, would have meant that if the recommendations regarding the administrative reforms were not accepted by the employees those about the pay scales would also not be automatically accepted. Since only one part of the recommendations was accepted, the implementation of the pay scales led to a heavy expenditure on the non-Plan side. As a consequence, the financial situation of some of the states which have implemented the pay scales as recommended by the Fifth Pay Commission are in very bad shape
The bureaucratic structure in the country is not officer-oriented and is heavy at the bottom. Once the jobs are made permanent the employees dont show any interest in their work. Some of the participants opined that some of the work at the lower level should be sourced out on a contractual basis; no need to have a permanent cadre at that level. There were others who stated that even the higher posts should be given on a contractual basis.
Views were also expressed to the effect that the bureaucratic structure has been highly politicised. The interference from political leaders in the postings of bureaucrats at their whims and fancies has not only vitiated the administrative atmosphere but also led to indifference among the bureaucrats towards their work. They favoured a fixed tenure of postings for bureaucrats so that political interference in it could be minimised.
There was also the question of training and retraining of government employees from top to bottom. It was stated that people from different social backgrounds enter the government services at various levels and as such one cannot expect a similar kind of behaviour from everyone. Senior-level officers with a middle class background have some sophistication but live in their own cocoons while people coming from lower strata are generally crude in their behaviour towards citizens. Therefore, proper training of the employees becomes very important. Unless they are properly trained in the kind of work they do and the behaviour expected of them one cannot think of any miracles from them.
It was also felt that instead of general administrators there should be specialist administrators who know what they are expected to do in their area. As of today, bureaucrats are made to move, say, from the Department of Animal Husbandry to the Department of Education then to the Department of Commerce and then to the Department of Health. In the process, the incumbent has no specialised knowledge of any of the areas in which he has worked.
Similarly, those who come from the lower strata of society are not trained to deal with the general public. There was a general feeling that training has to be imparted at all levels of the bureaucracy. Some of the participants felt that training and retraining should be a regular feature. Instead of punishing the recalcitrant employees either by holding back their increments or by chargesheeting them, it may be better to send them for training again and again till they reform themselves.
Coming again to the question of politicisation of the bureaucracy, some of the participants were of the view that the politicians themselves need training in administrative matters and only then would they be able to understand the problems of administration. One of the participants mentioned that as in France all the politicians must clear a course on administrative matters before they are given the task of handling ministries.
The Central Vigilance Commissioner was of the view that some of the simple administrative orders could solve a number of problems. For instance, a simple administrative order that a file or a case has to be cleared or a decision taken within seven days could do wonders with the administrative system. Anyone sitting on the file could be held accountable for delaying a decision. Similarly, decisions like one-time road tax if extended to other areas could simplify the matters.
It was also stressed that the government should not put its finger in every pie. The first question it should ask itself is whether it is really the concern of the government. If it is not, then it should not go into it. And if it is the concern of the government then the second question to be asked is if it should be done by the government itself or it should be done by some other organisation like an NGO or some autonomous body. This way the government will be saved from unnecessary and irrelevant work.
It is amazing that some of the laws like the Indian Telegraph Act, which came into force in the late nineteenth century, are still in operation in India. Similarly, the jail manuals go back to British days. In such a situation, how can one expect the administration to function in modern times?
There is a strong desire
from bureaucrats, social scientists and media persons
that administrative reforms should be carried out
immediately as administration has become not only
inefficient but also outdated, unfit to usher the nation
into the 21st century. INFA
The foreign origin
TODAY, in Delhi University, when I see hordes of Negroid students, I am reminded of Winnie. I think she must have been the first Negroid student there and credit for discovering Delhi University for Negroid posterity should go to her. We were university-mates, classmates and had been together for three years consecutively. Every acquaintance in the college environ knew about our friendly relationship. Being often seen together in library, canteen or in some corner of profusely trampled lawns to bask the glow of the sun during cold winter days, had earned us an acceptance of sorts from the contemporary student society.
It was during that year that the university senate had bowed to a long-standing popular demand for formation of a university students union. The change of events was so sudden and fast, I just dont remember how I got willing to contest for presidentship. It must have been an idea of some wicked soul out to draw perverse delight out of my discomfiture, that promoted Winnie as my rival. Initially what looked like a friendly contest, eventually became a cause of estranged relationship.
As there were only two candidates of substance, the whole student population got divided into two parallel streams. Intervention of political parties in student union affairs was unthinkable those days, for the educational institutions were considered too sacrosanct for any filthy politics. At times I felt uneasy over having stepped into an arena that had soured our companionship yet I went on and on, driven by an invisible moral pressure from fellow and seemingly sympathetic students.
My friends were canvassing very hard for me. At times it appeared as if we were only mascots and that real contest was between two factions who had only some false ego at stake. The students union, as we understood then, had only intellectual tasks to perform rather than being a gateway to public politics, as happens today. A modern-day student union is seen and used as a stepping stone to higher level of politics. Examples can easily be cited from among the present day politicians who began their career as student union leaders. But those days generally accepted role of a union was to hold honour functions for incoming or outgoing faculty. Once a while the Vice-Chancellor or some Dean would ask the union leaders to organise a seminar or a lecture on some topical theme. And therefore, only the bright brains were deemed more apt to handle and moderate such programmes. In canvassing also, the qualities of the head and heart of the contestants were projected, compared and contrasted. By and large canvassing was a mute affair, never at the expense of usual academic routine.
My opponent had a substantial foreign exposure. All her paternal uncles and aunts were in the USA Until two decades back her own father too was in USA when he chose to join as a senior CEO with an MNC having operations in India. She was born in the USA but her younger brother was India-born. Often she would spend her summer vacation with her relatives abroad. She used to talk about computer even those days when this device was simply unheard of in our country. Very often she had revealed to me her plans to settle down in the USA at the end of studies. In many heart I knew that my adversary was an intelligent and accomplished person and deserved to adorn the office. But the pressure built up by fellow students was far too strong for me to retract. The rank and file of the electors seemed to be swelling in her favour by the day and the ground seemed to be slipping off my feet.
It was at this juncture that the faction owing allegiance to me, brought to the fore the issue of Winnies foreign origin. Forthrightly speaking I was envious of her foreign-born status for it offered her an option for settling in the country of birth. Often heard anecdotes of foreign culture, miraculous transformation of life-styles under the impact of rapid advancement of science and technology overseas, had ignited a fiery passion in my heart for the world beyond national horizons.
But espousing xenophobia
was the expediency of the movement. We could successfully
mount the campaign of only a swadeshis right to
hold an exalted office. The emotive issue had turned the
tables on her. Me, a less deserving candidate had won
Politics, not justice, to the
IT may have been a delightful New Year gift for the hostages aboard flight IC-814, but the sudden release of three top-notch Kashmir terrorists on December 31 as part of the hijack swap throws up some highly disturbing questions regarding law and justice in India.
The Supreme Court has remained mum. So has the National Human Rights Commission. And the High Courts of Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. No PIL filed, no suo motu action taken or observation made. The silence is deafening.
A few journalists and a magistrate aside, no one has cared to ask or even to know how persons suspected of crime and lodged in jail pending trial could be taken out of jail and out of India, and set free, totally free, without orders or permission from any court or judicial officer?
Under which provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure or the Jail Manual, under which law, central, state or local, is such a mode of emancipation to the total exclusion of the judicial process permissible?
Maulana Masood Azhar, the high priest of militancy now thundering from Pakistan, was taken out of the high-security Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu, where he was lodged alongwith a clutch of other foreign mercenaries caught crusading in Kashmir.
Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, who tied grenades round his victims and detonated them, was taken out of Central Jail, Srinagar. He had been shifted there a few months earlier from the Kot Bhalwal jail.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who (on landing in India) abducted three Britons and an American from the Paharganj area facing New Delhi railway station in 1994 in order to secure the release of imprisoned Harkat-ul-Ansar leaders including Azhar and Zargar, was taken out of Tihar Jail. The full story of that abduction is contained in Manoj Joshis The Lost Rebellion published last year by Penguin.
But for Sheikh, in whose case a release order was obtained from Delhis Additional Sessions Judge Sharda Aggarwal though in total secrecy, no court was approached and no permission taken by the government to free the dreaded terrorists.
In fact, on paper, Ajay Suri and Arun Sharma reporting for The Indian Express revealed on January 2, both Azhar and Zargar continue to be in judicial custody.
We received only verbal orders from the state government to hand them over to the police escort arriving at the jail concerned, prison officials told the paper on condition of anonymity. For us, both the terrorists are still in judicial custody, until we receive formal release orders from the courts trying them for various charges.
Release and freedom first, orders later! Would such an inversion of law have been possible, even thinkable, if instead of the two militants, some police officials were detained and facing trial for the crime of eliminating terrorists or some other human rights excesses? And their release secured in this extra-legal, clandestine fashion? Would not the Supreme Court, the High Court (any High Court) or the National Human Rights Commission have come crashing down to punish such mischief, such brazen violation of the rule of law?
The severity with which the judicial wing of the Indian state, otherwise derided as a soft state, treats the members of the security forces for the slightest transgression of the law, even the procedural aspects of the law, is too well known to be illustrated.
Does India then have two sets of laws, legal principles or judicial attitudes? One for those who take up arms against the State. And the other for the guardians of law and order and all other common criminals?
To be fair to the judiciary, even as the higher judiciary fell uncharacteristically silent, a subordinate judicial officer picked up the gauntlet.
Within a week of the hijack swap Judicial Magistrate Jyoti Bala of Jammu issued, on January 6, a notice to the jail authorities directing them to explain the reasons why Maulana Masood Azhar, facing trial before her for an attempted jail-break in June, 1999, and scheduled to appear that day in her court, was not so produced.
The notice followed a letter written by the Superintendent, Central Jail, Jammu, expressing his inability to produce the accused in court. This letter, said the Magistrate, as reported by the Indian Express, is without any reasonable excuse and summoned the Superintendent on the next date of hearing.
It is not open to the
Magistrate, or anyone in the judicial fraternity, to undo
now that which has already happened to the knowledge of
the entire world and to recall Maulana Masood Azhar to
any Indian jail. But in seeking, in her own humble way,
to enforce the writ of the law even at this belated
stage, the lady has already accomplished that the
necessity of which the vast array of her judicial
superiors have failed even to notice.
Stress-free living the
AS I sat at the dentists with an open jaw on Thursday noon the power went off for the entire day, affecting most parts of this city. The jaw had to be clamped shut somehow, for the city saw no return of power and the same pattern was repeated on Friday. I really dont what is in store today Saturday as the day has just about begun and I am anxiously keying in this column before the computer gets affected. In fact, the most fashionable talk going around is how not to get bogged down by stress. At the iftaar feast hosted by the Prime Minister on January 4 evening, Commissioner, MCD, Vinod Duggal, went on and on about how nothing, not even political pressures, rattle him as he has learnt the art of living and working unaffected in these bleak circumstances. And standing close to him was Delhis former Health Minister, Dr Harshvardhan (who has the knack of being surrounded by one controversy after another) voicing similar lines. Standing not too far was the High Commissioner of Pakistan, Mr Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, who again looked very relaxed, sipping soup and talking non-stop. Surprisingly he wasnt besieged by the media and continued having soup for quite some minutes. I think soon an entire course of living unaffected should get introduced at the school level otherwise stress would traumatise us all. Psychiatrist plus sex doctor Dr Sanjay Chugh has just about paved the way and on January 7 he launched a website (www.mentalhealthindia.com) to answer all possible queries on sex and mental health and related issues. Mental health in the real sense has been under wraps for far too long ....Sex and related issues have again been pushed far away, for too long and this itself has been causing damage and turmoil. It is time that sex is looked at as any other function of the body, be it eating, drinking or sleeping. Yet nobody treats it as such. In my private capacity I have launched this website so that I could provide the right information and answer to the hundreds of queries that reach me...says Chugh who has been also roped in by a television channel for their weekend slot. Again to scream out that, it is about time that everything must be pulled out from under the carpet and discussed.
I wish the likes of Chugh emerge in the government and political sectors too, for one doesnt know who is saying what and what is happening and where. Even the talk of air travel safety is getting complex. Ironically, after this latest incident of hijacking we arent really wiser.
Those manning the very establishment have just announced that sky marshals would be fitted in flights and with this announcement erupts a new controversy. Experts have voiced a serious concern pointing out that in case of an emergency (hijack), lack of coordination between the cockpit and marshals could result in total fiasco and a shoot-out would inevitably mean death for all. When contacted for his comments on this new controversy, Civil Aviation Secretary Ravindra Gupta, sounded apprehensive but agreed to give his views only on Tuesday. It might seem strange but the way things are being handled in todays scenario, one gets the impression that the politician is giving vent to his thoughts and ideas and the entire bureaucracy seems saddled at one anonymous end. A disturbing trend, alright. In fact, each time a crisis emerges this very obvious difference comes to the fore. A reliable source even commented that bureaucracy has never felt more demoralised, especially after the reversion of two Secretary level bureaucrats, a couple of months back.
And probably bureaucracy hasnt ever shown so much weakness as in recent times no counter comments to Gujarat governments decision that government personnel could join the RSS. A sure way of communalising those who are in power yet the top men here are sitting mum. Like I have mentioned in one of my earlier columns the IAS Association lies reserved only for tea parties, more along the Alice In Wonderland days.
At Praveen Jains captures
At the close of senior photographer Praveen Jains exhibition of photographs, security was absolutely tight and foolproof at the AIFACS Gallery. Rightly so, as the President of India was coming to view the exhibition.
And the viewers sighed and commented that if only such tight security is maintained at the airports, railway stations then there would never be the need to panic. Anyway, back to the exhibition.
After years one saw such candid and revealing shots of our men in politics. VP Singh all engrossed clicking one of the well known Pakistani women, Devi Lal clad in home spun shorts and standing atop a weighing machine (I am told that the machine had suffered a broken needle), KPS Gill saddled in the grip of a very obviously bosomy female, Inder Kumar Gujral eating soup in the most childlike fashion what with the bowl covering his face, Deve Gowda caught napping yet again, prayer caps of all shapes and sizes fitting the skulls of many a politician at the rounds of the iftaar gimmickry, First Lady Usha Narayanan shopping..... I could go on and on but the one photograph that made my stomach churn was an anonymous husband carrying his injured wife on Delhis roads.
There is so much of
pathos captured in this one photograph that you cannot
help but nod to the wisdom of this cliche a single
picture is worth a thousand words.... And along
with the nod, sigh in relief that alls not dead on
the relationship bit.
THE announcement that Mr B.G. Horniman has arrived at Colombo and that he intends to proceed to India if the Government will permit him to do so affords a unique opportunity both to the Bombay Government and the Government of India to right a grave, unmerited and historic wrong.
Public opinion in India has again and again loudly and insistently called upon the two Governments to undo the injustice done to Mr Horniman by the order of expulsion passed upon him in a moment of panic.
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