|Sunday, January 30, 2000,
Nation devoid of discipline
links in the judicial system
leaders in short supply
down memory lane
Nation devoid of discipline
FIFTY-TWO years after independence millions of our countrymen and countrywomen cannot read or write! The standard of teachers and the condition of school buildings is so bad that there is no incentive for the children to attend classes. We have not been able to provide basic health facilities to our millions. Government hospitals often function without basic medicines and other facilities. Many villages are without electricity and even drinking water. Roads in the cities are in a deplorable condition and most rural roads are so poorly constructed that you can hardly call them roads. The bureaucracy behaves as if they are the masters of the people. Even the lowest clerk or peon in Mantralaya treats the ordinary citizen like dirt. People have to beg these worthies for something which they should have received by right. All in all, it is a sorry picture that we paint of ourselves.
Statistics show that the percentage of people living below the poverty line has decreased, that millions of Indians have joined the ranks of the middle class, that more of our countrymen and women are now literate, that the average life span has increased, that the per capita income of the population has risen, albeit marginally. Many other economic indicators like the number of telephones, the number of doctors, the number of electrified villages, the number of villages connected by roads, the number of television sets per thousand of the population, prove that the country is progressing. Yet, we have not been able to register our presence on the world map, nor have we satisfied the urgings of our people for a better quality of life. The bottom line is that millions are still illiterate and millions still live with inadequate food, clothing and shelter.
Many a reason can be advanced for the fact that our country has not progressed as it should have. Most of our ills can be traced to our total lack of concern for our fellowmen. This attitude is responsible for the endemic corruption in every sphere of our political and social life. It is not only the politicians, bureaucrats and policemen who are corrupt, but also the teachers, doctors and lawyers. Corruption has even touched the judicial fraternity and it would have infected the army, had the army officers been offered the opportunity.
This total collapse of the value system is due to the inexorable march of consumerism, nurtured by television and globalisation. We cannot stop television and globalisation, but we can certainly try and improve the moral fibre of the people through education at the grassroots. Moral and ethical values have to be inculcated in the home and at school. The mother and the teacher have great responsibilities in this respect and hence we have to pay much more attention to the inculcation of ethical and moral values in the mother and the teacher. It is only when the children in their care are taught the correct lessons in ethics and morality that we can expect to bring up a whole generation of young people committed to the public good.
We all know that corruption begins at the top. It begins with political corruption at the highest level and seeps down the bureaucratic ladder to the juniormost government official in every department. The propensity to corruption is eagerly exploited by the business community to obtain licences and other favours. It is not only the consumer who finally pays more for shoddy goods but also the country as a whole that suffers because of the culture of cheating and criminality that the practice spreads.
A major problem with us is that we expect the government to do everything for us. Governments are meant to provide security, enforce the law and maintain order on the streets. The government should also provide the infrastructure that is necessary for commerce and trade. It should invest in good roads and telecommunications. It should ensure primary education and basic health care. These are the minimum requirements for peace, prosperity and progress.
The first thing that should be done by thinking citizens is to get together in their own localities and form associations of like-minded people to demand basic amenities like water supply, sanitation, clearance of garbage, security of life and property and clean surroundings. They should not rely on government agencies alone. There are things that the Government may not be able to provide. Those which they are able to deliver and which they are supposed to provide are often ignored because of corruption or plain indiscipline and lack of work ethics. Citizens bodies should take charge of their own localities. Where government intervention is required as in the case of water supply, electricity, removal of garbage and security of life and property, they should approach the authorities as a body to insist on their rights. There are not many politicians or bureaucrats who can afford to ignore such concerted show of peoples displeasure. Wherever people have organised in this manner, the quality of life has definitely improved. There is need, therefore, for the people to make it known to the political and bureaucratic class that if they do not act, if they spend their time only in selfish pursuits, if they fail to look after the common good of the people, then they will be held accountable to them.
Another great impediment to our progress is the lack of discipline in every sphere of national and social life. We are, unfortunately, a nation of indisciplined people who do not bother to use pedestrian crossings, who litter public places, spit on the walls of freshly painted buildings and in elevators, who come late for work and while away our time at our workplaces.
This mindset has to change if we are to progress. During the Emergency proclaimed by Mrs Gandhi, many intellectuals who later condemned this undemocratic step, at first welcomed it because of the discipline that it introduced into daily life. Government servants arrived in time for work, trains and planes operated on time, government servants were polite and there was fear of law. All this vanished with the Emergency. If discipline could be enforced by fear of retribution why cannot each person try to understand that it is essential for the countrys progress and resolve to enforce it in his own life? Otherwise we will have incidents like hijackings, train accidents, financial scams and various other manifestations of an indisciplined society.
Another concomitant of a civil society is the rule of law. Our judicial progress has to come back on the rails. You cannot solve the crime problem by shooting criminals on the streets. New criminals will replace them and the police, which has been forced to use these short cuts because, the system is not functioning as it should, might themselves become criminals if they are given such liberty. What is required is that offenders should be caught and penalised quickly. The police must take cognisance of all complaints that come to police stations and should investigate the complaints honestly.
Weak links in the judicial
ONE of the unintended benefits of the Emergency regime seems to have been the stirring of activism among various social action groups. The Supreme Court carefully crafted a new climate in which new legal radicalism could flourish. A number of cases involving the interpretation of Article 21, virtually converted it into a due process clause. Several cases expanded the right of personal liberty to encompass the right of bail, speedy trial, dignified treatment in custody, privacy and legal aid. These Judgements also laid the foundation of Public Interest Litigation and contemporary legal activism. The concept of locus standi was imaginatively extended and the courts began to make inroads into the Executives affairs.
The nineties witnesses several judicial forays into executive and legislative domains, as well as policy formulations in the field of award of contracts, environment and criminal investigation. The pendulum, in the case of several Judges of the Supreme Court, has swung from being the timorous souls to bold spirits. While the timorous souls cling to the past and to certainty, the bold spirits work for their own blend of justice. They seek to repossess the traditional power of the Judges that of being law-makers. After the adoption of the Constitution, the debate about the proper role of courts and Parliament has not ended; it has just begun. We no longer can say for certain whether making laws is the job of the elected representatives alone.
The bold spirits among the judges after the Emergency, made laws not only in the field of personal liberty, but also in the relationship between employers and employees in the Government, public and private sectors. The extent to which judicial legislation may or may not be responsible for the lack of discipline and efficiency in public and private sectors, is a matter for detailed examination. For the present, let us examine the factors which may have contributed to the collapse of the criminal justice system and for the frightening heights to which corruption has climbed.
To strike a balance between the needs of the law enforcement agencies and protection of the citizen from harassment by these agencies, is a perennial problem of statecraft. In the 20th century, the pendulum seems to have swung from one extreme to the other, reflecting concern for the citizen.
The situation with regard to the efficacy of the criminal justice system can be judged not only from the increase in crime (which can partly be attributed to the increase in population), but also from the corresponding decline in convictions. The conviction rate in India is so low that the law has practically ceased to be a deterrent for the offender. The low rate of convictions can also be responsible for the rapid rise in the rate of crime among the educated and the urban population. It is the rare possibility of conviction that demoralises the honest and emboldens the unscrupulous. At the end of a long-drawn trial, 94 out of 100 return with acquittals. We find a large number of persons accused of serious offences, returning to legislatures. It is the victim, the witness, the prosecutor, and the Judge who look sheepishly away while the offender proudly stalks the exalted chambers of legislatures.
A murder is committed somewhere in the country every 13 minutes. It means that 106 murders are committed every 24 hours. If the police succeeds in solving every murder and if in each case one person is arrested, then, going by the current rate of convictions, 100 of those arrested will be acquitted and only six will ultimately be convicted and undergo a sentence.
A rape is committed somewhere in the country every 40 minutes. This means that 37 women are raped in 24 hours. If the police is able to track down every rapist, and assuming that only one person was involved in each rape, 37 rapists can be assumed to have been arrested. Given the current statistics, 35 of the alleged rapists arrested and put on trial will earn respectable acquittals, and only two of the 37 will undergo imprisonment. Considering the rate of convictions, the gamblers among the potential offenders are bound to find it an attractive proposition.
With the advances in the modes of communication and movement, while the detection of crime has become more difficult, conspiracies to defeat the law have become more organised. The most favoured legislative exercise to contain the increase in crime is to make the law more stringent by providing for presumptions and reversal of the burden of proof. Neither presumptions nor the reversal of the burden of proof has provided an answer to the problem. Statistics show that more stringent the law the fewer the convictions.
The legislatures have, therefore, to give the problem of rising crime and dwindling convictions, a deep thought. Rough and ready solutions have failed to work. The problem with our criminal justice system seems to be that it has become completely insensitive to the victim. While it is true that in many cases it is not even possible to identify the victim, as in offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, smuggling of narcotics and arms etc but even in cases where the victim is identifiable, there is no place for him in the court.
Look at the structure of a courtroom. It has a fixed place for the judge, a fixed place for the accused, a fixed place for the prosecutor, a fixed place for the witness, a place earmarked for the public, but it has no place for the victim. The victim has no say in the proceedings. The state is supposed to represent the victim and where the victim is not identifiable, the people in general. That may be the weakest link in the 20th century criminal court, not only in India, but also in the western world.
Separation of investigation from prosecution may be desirable from many points of view, but it has contributed to the decline in the rate of conviction. It was hoped that this would make the prosecution more independent and fair. But one of the ill-effects of this separation has been that the investigation seems to lose interest in the case as soon as the charge-sheet is filed. Thereafter the case is considered to be the baby of the prosecution even when the prosecutor has no means to investigate the loose ends left unprobed by the investigation. He has no means to secure the presence of witnesses. He has no means to locate witness who may have shifted base. Every acquittal is blamed by the prosecutor on poor investigation and by the investigation on ineffective prosecution. In the end, it is the cause of justice that suffers. We need to examine the American system, where not only does the institution of criminal cases rest with the prosecuting attorney, but he is also authorised to intervene and exclusively control the investigation under the overall control of the Attorney-General of the state. Such modification in the Criminal Procedure Code would greatly harmonise the functioning of the investigating and prosecuting agencies and could result in better co-ordination between the two.
The second week link in the criminal justice system is the witness. The court can only rely on witnesses to acquaint itself of the truth and render justice. For the absence of natural, honest and reliable witnesses, the criminal justice system has no one but itself to blame. Even if honest citizens were willing to assist the criminal justice system, the harassment witnesses are subjected to by the system is so enormous that no one except the close relations and friends take the trouble of assisting the system as witnesses. This has reduced the credibility of the system. Investigating officers need to realise that their labour will come to naught if harassment of the citizens at police stations and at the scene of crime does not stop. Witnesses cannot be made to wait from morning till evening either by the investigating officers or by the courts. So long as the police stations and the courtrooms fail to provide minimum courtesy and comfort to the witnesses, the courts will continue to get less independent and less honest witnesses.
We need to give serious thought to an exhaustive witness protection programme, if the courts want to be relevant in the nations fight against militancy and terrorism. Holding trials in camera has proved inadequate to convince the witness that they will be saved from retribution at the hands of dangerous terrorists.
We must seriously consider adopting a witness protection programme without which the courts will simply not be able to dispense true justice.
If we continue to suspect the bona fides of the police, it can only get further demoralised. If the accused continue to earn acquittals by default, the courts only place an enormous power in the hands of the police to screen the offenders. The victim cannot be made to pay for the lapses of the investigation, because it is the victim or society which eventually pays for unmerited acquittals. Insistence on proof beyond doubt, cannot be permitted to become insistence on removal of all doubts. The doubts must be of a reasonable nature as understood by reasonable men, in the same situation in which the crime is committed and not doubts raised by the fertile imagination of brilliant lawyers.
Maybe time has come for us to consider the involvement of the common men, as jurors, with the criminal justice system. Sometimes ordinary men can provide better results. The matter brooks no delay. Are we to wait for the conviction rate to drop from the measly 6.4 per cent? The legislature needs to act and act fast, because the first responsibility of the state is to administer an effective criminal justice system.
Right leaders in short supply
THE other day while going through a text on the history of the Indian people since the Mughal era, I realised that after a certain phase of consolidation of administration, Indian history was once again in a repeat mode.
The ghost of the East India Company has visited us again. Our economic liberalisation is moving fast towards enslaving our industries into a subservient role and final oblivion. It took the British nearly 150 years to erase the industries which had existed for at least 1000 years, and to replace them with a slave economy. Today, it may take less than 20 years to reach the same situation. Fragmentation of the country is once again beginning. A host of secessionist movements, some with an open agenda and others with agendas more blurred, are all trying to force back the process of history.
Elite leadership, which had given us the confidence that we had the ability to govern ourselves better than some others in Asia, has disappeared and replaced by a set of persons whose very presence is questioning the roots of our Indian nation. We are in the process of creating new Jai Chands, Mir Jafars and Quislings.
Diversity which was supposed to be our strength has become our weakness. We are having a veneer of democratic traditions but under the skin we seem no better human beings than we were 200 years ago.
On the eve of independence, we had the look of an upcoming modern society, strong in purpose with a set direction and the innards full of blood and energy. Fifty-two years after independence, we seem to have lost the momentum and the younger generation is asking why the nation has come to such a pass, and have we been run out at 52?
The great revolutionary Arbindo Ghosh, known for his silence, in a rare message to the nation in August, 1947, had told an All India Radio correspondent that he visualised India as a nation which would play a major role in the world. He stated that India was emerging not for itself alone. It had a specific role to play for the newly emerging world, and this role was that of a leader of peace and world order.
Not only was India emerging as a new nation, China was also turning a new leaf in Asian history. From the ashes of the Second World War, Japan, Israel, Malaysia, and Germany, were also stirring up as new societies. As we look around now, we find nations, big and small, all having gone ahead. We remain, a struggling, sick man of South Asia.
In 52 years, we have not been able to clothe our people properly, when the Chinese could do so. We have not been able to provide the necessary number of toilets as most of the Asian countries have been able to provide to their common people. We have not been able to provide even a flickering electric bulb in all the homes in urban India, not to speak of the countryside, as we have a failing power generating system. We have not been able to provide millions of our people with shelter.
If per chance we have the courage to pick up any document on economic development published by a respectable United Nations agency, we find that we rank 154th in about 210-member nations of the UN, in overall development activity. We rank 134th in matters of public health. Of course, we do have some other rankings which should be a matter of shame. We rank second after Indonesia, recording the highest number of road accidents in the world. Among the big nations, we are the top breeders of the human population. We rank 11th among the most corrupt modern societies on earth.
Fifty-two years ago, we had the feeling that we had acquired Swaraj (freedom). Today a major section of our society has started feeling that Swaraj still remains elusive. Not only that, we are still way behind in creating for ourselves a Sooraj (perfect governance).
We mapped our journey on the philosophies of the great human societies of the past. The order was to create an egalitarian society and perhaps we had then the means to do so. Today, the goal of perfect governance seems a dream. We are now setting less ambitious goals and are desirous of workable governance.
We said we would achieve the goal of social prosperity through democratic means. We did not eliminate eight million people from our midst at the time of independence, to overhaul our society as China did. We merely declared that the Zamindari system would be abolished and gave lip service to the Bhoodan movement. We did not order the nation to surrender its right of speech and free expression. But then we also did not have the courage to create one language of communication and we succumbed to the pressures of regionalism. We gave ourselves a scientific temper, but still left the discretion to open and equip the smallest science laboratory to people who had no education in science. They worshipped idols and had faith in caste, and yet individual Indian scientists got Nobel prizes but only after they had worked in scientific laboratories outside the country.
We gave prominence to the development of a basic economic infrastructure, but we lacked the will to be harsh and discipline our people. We entered the era of freedom with a burden of a big population and at least in the first three decades after independence, we sought democratic means to explain to our society the benefits of population control, but did nothing serious to put the growth of population on the alert mode so that people everywhere could realise the enormity of the mistake of denying themselves the virtues of family planning. Above that, we mixed politics and religion in it.
When we look at world history, we find that societies have allowed less freedom to their own people, than we allowed ourselves. They allowed less discretion in deciding the course the nation would take. A set of leaders and statesmen used modern tools of progress to push the agenda of their society to what they believed was the best end result to achieve, and even used harsh means to achieve the stated goals.
We have not been able to throw up from our millions such erudite minds that could lead us. We have the sorry spectacle of entertainers and civil servants being looked up as models, and not philosophers and public figures. Why is it that the Indian society is not able to accept a young energetic and mature mind to lead the country effectively in the coming years?
This drift must stop. The first area to attack now is education.The nation will have to be fully educated to survive in the next millennium. But it has to be an education that can create a thinking society and the infrastructure for self-preservation. This education will not be limited to the learning of arithmetic and how to grow crops, but it has to be an education which will allow future societies to live close to their environment.We are today providing education by rote, forgetting that we need to arm our young generations with environmental tools for their survival. Only an environment friendly education will bring home the realisation that future societies need to be less crowded, more green and in control of their limited natural resources. These future societies will also need to be removed from acute consumerism and to respect diversity in both religion and culture.
What we need in India is basic primary education formulated for the creation of better human beings, and higher education for those who actually have the talent to absorb that extra weight of knowledge.
The next most important need of the nation is public health. We made a good beginning, realising that we could not be enslaved by the multinational pharmaceutical enterprises of the world. But soon enough we realised we did not have the political will to run the schemes of public health we had put on paper. The multinationals have won their day and in future it will be the survival of the most affluent and not of the most fit person.The most fit person who may be an educationist or an intellectual may not have the purchasing power to buy the best treatment.
We have a public health system which is a model on paper but a failure on ground. We have been able to eradicate only two diseases namely, small pox and guinea worms. We could not wipe out polio and we are once again faced with a malarial epidemic. We have covered up plague recently by giving it a new name. We could not banish kala-azar or diphtheria and we do not have the political will to fight the menace of AIDS which in the next 50 years threatens to reduce the population of the country to one-third its present size.
At no time in India was the need for good character and national patriotism more than it is today.We are witness to institutional cynicism against the social order that we created five decades ago.The politicians who brought independence to India were held in high respect.They acquired this status because they took this work as a mission and not a profession. Todays publicmen have degenerated politics into commercialism.
We have launched populist schemes and some of us have silently benefited when we had no need for them. Today the country is spending Rs 90,000 crore on servicing public debts to various international and national financial institutions. We have been spending Rs 1,40,000 crore on non-productive activities. If we could get ourselves out of the enormous burden of debt servicing alone, India would become a super power in economic terms within a decade. But becoming a super power demands its own price. Let us not attempt to achieve the super power status. Let us attempt to achieve the dream of Arbindo Ghosh that India play its role in preserving peace and ensuring a proper world order.
Our immediate objective should be to begin an earnest war against the uncontrolled growth of population which has been a major contributor to everything that has gone wrong with our economic planning since 1947.
There is another important aspect which should be our future goal. We have to give up the politics of confrontation. It was the rule of the game in the first four decades in India, and ill-educated politicians lacking in the knowledge of history and untrained in the laws of politics, continued to confront a small group of visionaries and helped in losing valuable time in the economic regeneration of our civilisation. We have lost opportunities in the past.
Todays political environment has one lesson for us that if we have a future, we have to have a political consensus on our future goals. If this realisation comes early to all political constituents, then there is some hope that we shall remain a major player in the coming new world order. But there will be sacrifices to be made.
We cannot lay too much emphasis on regionalism. The country still remains un-Indian because no person identifies himself with the country. He introduces himself as a regionalist, as a linguistic, and as a casteist and he has less respect for merit because more often than not, he would be denied the opportunity he is seeking if he is a worshipper of merit.
A meritorious Indian is always available, but he is available to the world and not to his countrymen. When that happens, India would have achieved its Sooraj.
WAS it a midnight coup that pitchforked Jaya Jaitley to the top position of the Samata Party, a constituent of the ruling dispensation? No, no, it is not a coup. The events took an unexpected turn, circumstances so developed that night that my partys national executive elected me the President, she says, asserting: I will create circumstances favourable to my party. She will keep away from the electoral fray herself, strengthen the organisation and prove worthy of the confidence that the party has reposed in her.
The dramatic developments took place on a freezing winter night with the Election Commission derecognising George Fernandes as office-bearer of the Samata Party since the party had merged with the Janata Dal (United) before the general elections. The time for 57-year-old Jaya Jaitley on that frosty night to step into the shoes of Fernandes could not have been worse. Her mother was on her death bed; she had to look after her and, in addition, resurrect the party out of the morass. Her mother passed away within three days of her taking over as the talks on seat allocation with the BJP reached a critical stage.
Jaya showed remarkable courage, keeping her personal grief subdued and giving primacy to her newly acquired responsibilities. Her career graph shows she is an outstanding woman, highly qualified, committed to an ideology and has devoted a major chunk of her variegated life to the emancipation of the oppressed. She believes in the Lohia brand of socialism even though she had never seen Dr Ram Manohar Lohia; possibly, her faith in Doctor Sahibs ideology has been instilled in her by her mentor, George Fernandes.
Jaya spared time to talk to this writer the day after the passing away of her mother. She believes that real politics stems from jail, phavra (shovel) and vote as repeated time and again by the late Doctor Sahib. She feels that no party can rule India without secularism and states emphatically. Howsoever massive a partys vote may be, it cannot rule without the support of secular forces, apparently, pointing to the ruling dispensation at the Centre. The need is to carve out a secure future for democratic socialist organisations because without that the goal of social justice may remain unfulfilled. She does not believe in the politics of caste.
The suffix Jaitley with Jayas name is really misleading and many think she belongs to any of the northern states Delhi, Punjab or Kashmir but she is a Malayali, born is distant Kerala. She is a Chettur, a high caste, belonging to a distinguished family and became Jaitley after she married the present Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Ashok Jaitley. Her father was a top government official and her mother belonged to a princely family of Kerala. Her father was Indias first Ambassador to Japan and held diplomatic posts in Burma and Brussels and her initial schooling began in Tokyo. Between 1950 and 1954, besides Tokyo, she attended schools in Rangoon, Brussels and England.
Jayas father died in Belgium when she was barely 13 and the family had to return to India. She joined Delhis Convent of Jesus and Mary, moved on to Miranda House college and secured a scholarship in 1960, enrolling herself at the prestigious Smith College in Massachusetts, USA. English literature was her subject but she acquired proficiency in French, Greek and Latin and studied as diverse subjects as sociology, anthropology, history, biology and creative writing.
Vitally interested in social work as she was, Jaya worked with missionary zeal concentrating on uplift of craftpersons in the rural and urban unorganised sector. One of her major achievements was revival of the avocation of pottery in the Nilambur area of Kerala where women folk of 80 traditional potter families had taken to prostitution owing to lack of marketing outlets. The families have now founded a pottery cooperative society and deal with customers on their own. The concept of the now popular Dilli Hatt, based on the traditional haat system, is her brainchild.
Jaya made her debut in politics in the post-Emergency period when the Janata Party replaced the Congress Government at the Centre. Precisely, at that time, she came in contact with George Fernandes who was Industry Minister in Morarji Desais Government and learnt her first lesson of socialism as propounded by Dr Lohia. I felt this was the political ideology that suited me, she says, adding: George Sahib told me since that organised sector of the cottage industry account for only 10 per cent employment, we must work to link it with the unorganised sector. For instance let the uniforms of all types be produced by the unorganised sector alone.
Though Jaya had stepped in politics under the patronage of Fernandes, she continued her work for artisans in the unorganised sector. She became a political activist during the anti-Sikh riots that broke in Delhi following the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, organising relief camps for the victims and rescuing as many families as she could manage from the onslaught of hoodlums. She formally joined the Janata Party.
Subsequently, she moved
on to the Janata Dal and the then party President, Mr
S.R. Bommai, appointed her the National Secretary in
1991; the term lasted for four years. She switched over
to the Samata Party along with Fernandes and heads the
organisation at a time when it is fighting for survival.
Jayas biggest challenge is the coming Assembly
election in Bihar and this will be the test of her
IT was a journey down memory lane for several veteran scribes who attended the function to celebrate 50 years of the Indian republic at the Central Hall of Parliament on Thursday. From Dr Rajendra Prasad to President K.R. Narayanan, Dr Radhakrishnan to Vice-President Krishna Kant, G.V. Mavlankar to Speaker G.M.C.Balayogi and Jawaharlal Nehru to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, times have indeed changed. For old times sake, the organisers also replayed speeches of the founding fathers of the Indian republic. Eminent Gandhian and veteran scribe, Mr Sailen Chatterjee, recalled at the occasion that he was one of those who had witnessed the signing of the Constitution of India and the swearing-in of President Rajendra Prasad. Things have indeed changed over the years, he commented.
The present crop of correspondents, however, felt that not much had changed over the years. Referring to the poor quality of the audio tapes of yesteryears, which were not audible, a young scribe remarked: Nothing has changed. Earlier, one could not hear the leaders in Parliament as the sound systems were not very efficient. Today, the sound systems are in place but then the MPs are not. He was probably referring to the tendency among MPs to rush to the well of the House and the din that normally takes place during Parliament sessions.
More on the changing times. A senior scribe who could not get a copy of the Presidents speech in Parliament, approached the Information Officer at Rashtrapati Bhavan for a copy of the same. The young officer politely told him that probably the copies were over but then he could always access it on the Internet. Thereafter, he went on to give a long website address which had the scribe completely stumped.
R-Day Doordarshan style
When a college-going student of Delhi University identifies January 26 as Independence Day, one tends to overlook it to lack of education or signifies it as ignorance.
But what do you say when Doordarshan, the national broadcaster, does the same mistake? It can only be described as a pathetic attitude of Doordarshan which despite repeated warnings was not ready to improve and was all out to promote amateurism rather than professionalism.
The perfect example of this amateurism was available on the National Channel or DD-I of Doordarshan at 10.30 pm on Republic Day. In a programme titled Bharatiya Ganarajya Ek Anuvrata Yatra, the gentleman doing the background commentary chose to identify January 26 as the day when India celebrates its Swadheentha Diwas.
It came as a shock not only as the gentleman doing the commentary is a very senior producer with the national broadcaster, but also because it carried the footage and the comments of some very distinguished bureaucrats and politicians. It also had excerpts of the famous Jawaharlal Nehru speech on Independence Day, Tryst with Destiny.
It seems both the producer and Doordarshan got confused between Independence Day and Republic Day. But one wonders what message Doordarshan would be sending to Indias younger generation which already seems to be ignorant about the two most important days in Indian history?
Kargil & gallantry awards
The tale of lapses committed during the Pakistani intrusion in Kargil continues. While the Subrahmanyam Committee set up specially to look into the lapses leading to the intrusion has ensured that nothing sensitive is made public by suggesting that the report be kept under wraps due to the national security involved, the government is out to decorate men whose ignorance led to the death of so many Indian soldiers.
Army Headquarters here is abuzz about the list of gallantry awards announced on the eve of Republic Day which includes a high ranking Army officer who even after knowing about the Pakistani intrusion decided to proceed on leave to his home town in May last. Despite being one of the officers in charge of the forces posted in the northern sector and along the LoC in the region the official did not bother and proceeded on leave at the crucial juncture for five days.
As a result, by the time the high ranking General returned the Pakistani intruders had made deeper inroads into Indian territory and were well entrenched on strategic peaks. India ended up fighting a 50-day war in Kargil at an extremely high cost.
But now the government has decorated the same high ranking Army officer with one of the highest rated gallantry awards. The Army officers are perturbed that at this rate all the ignorant men would be rewarded and those carrying out their duties religiously would be ignored.
A similar controversy had also broken out on Independence Day last year when another high ranking Army officer again responsible for maintaining security in Srinagar and again responsible for ignoring the intrusion had also been rewarded with a gallantry award.
It will remain a mystery as to why did the Government of India not announce the arrest of the leader of the NSCN (I-M), Mr Th Muivah, even though it had the news much before it was circulated by an international news agency.
According to sources in North Block, the Government was tipped off about the arrest by the Thailand authorities and the Home Ministry wanted to make the news public. However, there was a suggestion that the same would be made available by the Ministry of External Affairs. Thereafter it was total silence.
Mr Muivah, who is heading the banned and feared insurgent outfit, was arrested by Thai authorities last week when he arrived at Bangkok from Karachi for allegedly travelling on fake documents.
It is well known that top leaders of the underground movement including Mr Isak Swu and Mr Muivah, stay abroad and even the government held talk overseas on several occasions. May be after the overkill during the hijack and the Kandahar experience, the External Publicity Division of the MEA has retreated into a shell!
Karunanidhi in BJP!
The General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr M.Venkaiah Naidu, made an appearance with a difference at the party headquarters last week for the first time in the new year. His dark glasses at the routine press briefing of the party prompted several scribes to ask him if he was following on the footsteps of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr M.Karunanidhi. Mr Naidu who returned to the capital after a successful eye operation in Chennai earlier this month quipped that he had lot of karuna (compassion) but no nidhi (money).
The Lok Sabha Secretariat failed to play the perfect host at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Indian republic at the Central Hall of Parliament. Several invitees failed to get their invitations in time and they had to literally fend the invitations for themselves. One such invitee was the eminent cartoonist Ranga. As the person who designed Mahatma Gandhi on the special commemorative stamp, released on the occasion by the Vice-President, Mr Krishna Kant, he was among the list of invitees. However, till the last minute Ranga failed to get an invitation and he had to go and collect it himself. At the function too, he had to sit in a non-descript corner and watch the release of the stamp, which has his signature on it, like any other member of the audience.
IN his interview with The Hindu, regarding the Bengal Ordinance, Sir Sankaran Nair was evidently labouring under a misapprehension. He took Sir P.C. Mitter to be the sole or, at any rate, a typical representative of the Opposition in the matter of the Bengal Ordinance Bill, while as a matter fact he represented no one except himself.
We are, indeed, perfectly certain that among the whole body of members of the Bengal Council or even the larger body of Bengals public men there is not another man who would seek a remedy for the present situation in the re-enactment of the Rowlatt Act.
We can go farther and say that few even among the officials of today would support the revival of that thoroughly discredited measure, which did more mischief by the mere fact of its being placed on the statute book than any other measure in this country of which we are aware.
The reason why nobody in
the Bengal Council challenged Sir P.C. Mitters
statement and this is what Sir Sankaran Nair
entirely failed to see was that it was absolutely
irrelevant, and those opposed to the Bill were glad to
have Sir Prabhash Chandras support, even though
that support might be based on a fallacious and
irrelevant ground, rather than go without it by entering
into a controversy with him regarding what was, after
all, a good issue.
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