|Sunday, February 27, 2000,
leaders lead by example
tribal India an identity
has to be people-centric
by Harihar Swarup
importance of being Amar Singh
Let leaders lead by example
INDIA has a tryst with destiny. In the new millennium, we have new milestones to reach. We cannot afford to sleep.
The 1940s witnessed two important events. The first was the end of the Second World War. The second was the emergence of India as an independent state. The first was achieved through an unholy act of violence. The Americans had dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima and then on Nagasaki. A part of Japan was reduced to rubble. The second was achieved through exactly the opposite means, by strict observance of Mahatma Gandhis principle of non-violence.
What followed? In less than 60 years, Japan was rebuilt, starting from scratch, solely with the effort of her only natural resource, the people. Today it is one of the major economic powers of the world, holding its head high in the comity of nations. We, the people of India, provide the contrast, as one of the poorest, and also one of the most corrupt nations on the globe.
More than 50 years have passed since we attained independence. We are still dependent on others for almost everything. We continue to look for help from everyone and from everywhere. We are already under a heavy debt, and still we face a resource crunch, hunger, starvation, ignorance and intolerance. We face violence and terrorism. More than that, the nation faces a crisis of character. There is devaluation of values, and a crisis of numbers. We have too many mouths to feed, too little to offer. Why? Where have we gone wrong? Who has failed us? Where does the blame lie? With the people, the laws, or our leaders? How can we remedy the wrong?
Ours is a large country. We legitimately boast of a rich cultural heritage. Ours is a land of sages, saints and scriptures. We have given the Vedas and Upanishads to the world. Also the Gita, Ramayana, the Buddha, Mahavira, Guru Nanak and Mahatma Gandhi. Then, we have all the natural resources. We have land, rivers and mountains. We have men, minds and minerals. Numerically, we have the second largest manpower in the world. Ironically, in spite of an abundantly rich past and natures bounty, we face acute poverty. A majority of people live in slums, in the midst of filth and squalor, in the company of dogs and cats. They cook, eat and sleep where they defecate. Not to speak of houses, we have not been able to provide them even with potable water. We have not been able to redeem our pledge to give free education in schools. The majority is still illiterate. Our facilities for health are totally inadequate. The sick continue to suffer, so far almost silently.
And despite our rich and holy heritage, we face a total devaluation of values. In the morning we pray on our knees. For the rest of the day, we are looking for a prey. Once upon a time, we used to stand on principles. Today, we fall for anything and everything. Gold and not God has become our goal.
Making material gain is the main mission. Money is the mantra to achieve anything, to reach anywhere. We are just money-mad. Truly, this nation of a billion faces an acute crisis of character.
Not surprisingly, the people have begun to despair and to be despondent. We despair of corruption, of inefficiency, of red tape. It is leading to desperation, and consequently, to some violence.
On attaining independence, we had given unto ourselves the Constitution of India. It is a comprehensive document. It embodies the hopes and aspirations of the people. It lays down the dos and donts for the State. It has a chapter delineating the duties of the people. It aims at eradicating the social evils of exploitation, inequality, religious fanaticism and untouchability. It looks for a new social order based on equality among men. It aims at creating a society based on justice social, economic and political where the individuals person and property are protected. Yet we have problems.
And truly speaking, what can equality mean to a person who cannot provide two square meals a day to his family? What can justice denote to a man who has no clothes to cover his body and no roof over his head? What could the guarantee of equality and justice have meant to the men, women and children, sixty-one of whom were brutally massacred in Jehanabad? Shall the poor and helpless majority of this country be ever free from want and fear?
Problems exist. In fact, these have multiplied manifold. But, let us face facts. The scenario is one of our own making. Today, we have too many children, but, too few schools, too many men, but too few homes, too many who are old and sick, but too few hospitals, too many people and too little to eat, too many civil servants, too much salary but too little service, too many laws, too many rules and regulations, too many cases, too much delay. The nation faces a crisis of numbers, a problem which is at the root of all other problems.
Are we destined to be condemned as a hopeless case, as a nation that has managed to remain poor in the midst of plenty or as one of the most corrupt nations of the world? Or is there a way to salvage the situation? What can be done to set things right, to give us a ray of hope? How can we remove the roadblocks on the road to progress?
Yes, there is a way out. We cannot continue to worship God and torture man, fritter away our energies and resources by fighting over trivialities. We must lay down a code of conduct, for ourselves, for all the people of India. Not for the students alone, nor for the judges and the civil servants only, but also for the workman in the workshop and the people in public life, for everyone to follow rigorously. The chapter on duties in the Constitution should not remain dormant. Each one of us must realise that every right carries with it a solemn duty. The right to wages is dependent upon doing the work. The duties have to be performed. Violation should attract penalty and it should be enforced ruthlessly without fear or favour.
Work is no longer worship. It is considered to be a burden. The labour does not labour. It is often on strike. Workmen do not work. The manager does not manage. The director does not give the right direction. The leader does not lead. The industry does not produce. Old values are conspicuous by their absence. Whatever the field of activity, there is no dedication, no discipline, no punctuality, no spirit of sacrifice. Not doing has become our undoing. We must develop a work culture.
Then, we are highly intolerant. Not of the intolerable alone, but of anything and everything opposed to our own view. We wage war. We damage and destroy, both, public and private property. Cars are smashed, buses are burnt, valuable public property is wasted, very often without any cause or provocation and under the nose of men in uniform who watch the hoodlums helplessly. We must realise that it is violence to ourselves. It is self-destruction. It is against our own interest. It is difficult to build, any fool can destroy. Those who cannot build have no right to destroy. This mad destruction must attract the nations severest wrath. Freedom should not compel us to tolerate the intolerable. Deterrent punishment should be immediately provided.
We need to check the numerical growth. The rampant birth rate continues to pose the most trying problem. A cancerous growth of cells destroys healthy organs. An unchecked increase in numbers is a drain on the nations scarce resources. Strict measures are necessary. Hard decisions, which may not be populist, have to be taken, not with an eye on the vote bank but only with the avowed object of promoting the national good. There is immediate need for a law, which should debar everyone with more than two children from holding any public office or civil post, elected or otherwise. The benefits for the weaker sections should not be available to families that violate the code of numbers. Otherwise, the writing on the wall is clear. The new millennium shall hold out no hope for this nation.
We need to have a look at our system of education. We are producing only job seekers, not nation builders, pen pushers who seek for themselves, not patriots who could willingly make a sacrifice for the nation. We must take corrective steps.
We face the curse of corruption at all levels. The existing law has been invariably invoked to catch the small fry, the clerk and the patwari, not the big fish. It must be enforced equally and effectively against every defaulter. It also needs to be given more teeth. It must be realised that an ill-gotten rupee is like a drop of poison in a bucket of milk. It permeates through and pollutes and entire property. It should be deemed to taint the family assets. The whole property should escheat to the state. The existing laws should be amended to make a specific provision in this regard.
Above all, we must remember that the laws and law courts cannot solve all the problems. We may make laws till there is a shortage of parchment and pens in the world. Yet, we may not have done enough to restore old values, or to help the poor and the needy. The foundations of an austere and honest existence have to be laid in human hearts. The habits of hard work and labour must be built in the minds of men. We must also remember that moral fibre always percolates from the top to the bottom. The leaders must lead by personal example. For people trust their eyes more than their ears. And if we do that, nothing shall be difficult.
Nothing is lost yet. Our scientists have worked hard. They have put our satellites in outer space. They have also given us effective means for ensuring our security. Yet, a lot remains to be done. Controlling the numbers, developing a work culture and restoring old values are important milestones on the road to Indias progress. We must set our goal. We must try. And if we are not afraid of the thorns, each one of us shall reach the elusive throne.
Giving tribal India an identity
THIS year we, Indians, and hopefully some others as well, are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our republic. There is, of course, some unclarity about what it is that we are celebrating. But there is even a more basic unclarity about our Indianness itself. There might, of course, be an adequate legal answer to the question: What is it for us to be Indians? But at a deeper moral-philosophical level there is really no clear answer. It is obvious, of course, that anything like an adequate answer to the question must be complex and will have to deal with issues of considerable moral complexity. For example, one possible partial answer to the question might be: For me to be an Indian in a deep sense, is, for me, to embrace, multiculturalism; multiculturalism involves respect for cultures other than ones own; and such respect implies at least some understanding of cultures other than ones own. It will be agreed that concepts such as multiculturalism, understanding other cultures, respect for cultures other than ones own in spite of their apparent innocuousness are extremely difficult to unpack, if the recent debate on them and related issues is anything to go by.
Of course, there can be an intuitive natural understanding of and a sense of being at home with these ideas. Take for instance, the geographical region which used to be called Assam, comprising almost the entire north-east of our country. There was, not so long ago, a general but deeply realised sense of the other genuine other having its own justified place in the scheme of things in the world; complete or even adequate understanding might have been difficult to achieve and actually achieved only rarely; but the natural relationship was taken to be one of harmony even friendship. Theoretic articulation of such natural-intuitive understanding might indeed be rare. But articulation in traditional oral narratives, in folk poetry and songs is common enough. But during my lifetime itself (I am 60 years old), things have changed so radically that the old natural acceptance of the other has almost been replaced by an unmindful rejection of the other. Sometimes, the acceptance when it is there is grudging, suspicious and hostile. This, of course, rules out the possibility of any genuine understanding of the other.
I want, in this brief reflection, to consider the case of our tribal cultures. Our multiculturalism must presumably embrace these cultures as well which means that non-tribal cultures must recognise them as having a legitimate place in the scheme of things in the world; that they must be an object of respect respect which must ultimately be rooted in a genuine understanding of these cultures. All these aspects of multiculturalism are, of course, vastly interconnected. Consider these concomitants of multiculturalism with some of what has actually transpired in our 50-year-old republic. Tribes have been alienated from their land I use the word alienated advisedly. The word has, of late acquired, in official bureaucratic language a kind of value-neutrality which is foreign to its original meaning. My use of it not only attempts to restore its original meaning to it, it also points to another crucially important aspect of the relationship of the tribes with their land a relationship which has been snatched from them. The idea of ownership of land is on the whole foreign to tribes whether it is individual ownership or ownership by a group. The tribe considers his relationship with the land that sustains him as one of active mutual partnership. I can own several kinds of things: things that are inanimate e.g. my new coat, or my computer things that are quasi-animate, e.g. trees; and things that are animate, e.g. animals, even human beings. Ownership implies total control.If I truly own something I am, as it were, its master I may retain it, destroy it or give it away to somebody else; I may take care of it, or neglect it. Most importantly, the things I own cannot have its own springs of action; in the event of their having such springs of action in their native state, these must either be made inoperative or be completely subjected to the owners mastery. There are, of course, legal aspects associated with the idea of ownership and there may be legal and moral restrictions on the full play of the idea of ownership but these are restrictions on the idea, and, therefore, are not part of the idea. If we take ownership in this, what I consider to be its original meaning, we immediately run into difficulties about ownership of animate or even quasi-animate objects. Do animals not have their own springs of action? In the tribal world-view, in any case, animalkind has its own autonomy of being its own springs of action; without these there wont be an animalkind at all. Animals can be ones friends, or brothers or enemies, and, deprived of their autonomy, they would not any longer be animals at all. In the tribal world-view trees or forests have pretty much the same autonomy of being: they can be used by man but as gifts and such gifts must be returned in customarily prescribed ways. For the tribesman, the forest in its fullness of being holds mysteries which he may not understand, but there is the implicit trust that in its benign aspect it is the sustainer and protector of life; he owes a profound debt of gratitude to it. How can then he or anybody else as far as the tribesman can understand own the forest? For him here the vocabulary of ownership is unintelligible. So is the case with land. In fact, forest and land for him constitute an unbroken continuum.
For the tribesman the history of the republic one might perhaps consider the imperial pre-republican history as in substantial ways continuous with it has been a history of forcible severance of his organic ties with his (the possessive here is obviously not that of ownership) land and forest. Add to this his physical displacement from his native habitat owing to the imperatives of development such as construction of violently massive dams across his waters or commercial mining. This has meant that the necessary physical infrastructure which made the specific inner life of the tribesman a vital going concern has been effectively demolished. He has become almost totally alien to himself. There is practically no inner resource left which might enable him to stand with dignity.
There is, as it were, a quasi non-transitive sense in which the tribesman affirms life a sense of affirmation in which perhaps Nietzsche talked about saying YES to life.
To return to the question of multiculturalism: If respect for cultures other than my own is part of my being an Indian in a relatively deep sense, have we really been honest Indians in the 50 years of our republic? And the tribesman has been so reduced to a kind of cultural and spiritual muteness in these 50 years that it is no longer possible for him to articulate and affirm his native identity with any degree of confidence or clarity. How must he then even grope towards an answer to the question, what is it for him, in any deep sense, to be an Indian? Having been deprived of the wherewithal for even a modicum of self-respect, is he still left with a capacity for respect at all? These are difficult questions, and, for many of us, unwelcome and unpleasant. But it is in the asking of such questions, and serious attempts at answering them, that, at least part of the meaning of our being citizens of a republic such as India can become clear.
Governance has to be people-centric
AT the end of more than half a century of the republic, it is time for us to take stock of how far we have succeeded or fallen short of the expectations of our people. While judging the performance we may ask if our record of peoples welfare and upliftment satisfies them? Do they, the public, feel happy about the record of human rights, of frontal attack on poverty and backwardness and the style of administration? We cannot evade their inquiries pertaining to illiteracy, malnutrition, child morality, homelessness and unemployment. Is it because mostly we continued with the colonial system of government? Is it because there has been more continuity than change in our mode of governance? Only recently the Parliament passed an Act creating a vast network of elected panchayats and district councils below the state level whereby some three and a half million elected representatives of the people were to run these grassroot democratic institutions, and among them about 40 per cent are women. How much power and money have been devolved to them? What are their inbuilt handicaps and how have they performed?
With the passage of time, the people are protesting, sometimes violently and more often by keeping away from the electoral processes. It may be worth asking why the incumbency factor has acquired importance during the elections. Why is the electorate expressing anger by voting out the incumbent governments whom they had favoured earlier? Is it not time for the polity to move from governing to governance that assigns primacy to peoples participation, to a system that enables the people to govern themselves.
There are some basic requirements for the creation of a civil society. The first requirement is to build a legal foundation of the state from the top to the bottom and to ensure that the laws of the land are universally and impartially enforced. Secondly, an independent and efficient, judiciary that speedily hands out justice is indispensable for a civil society. Thirdly, the government has to be vastly decentralised, with the people given opportunities to govern themselves and take charge of their own affairs. Fourthly, the concept that the government is the giver of everything, the sole provider, is inimical to the building of such a society. The citizen must be empowered and enabled to appreciate that in many ways he or she is his or her own master and responsible for the sustenance of a peaceful social order based on cooperative co-existence of different interests in society. An enlightened civil society alone can assist in ensuring that every child goes to school, that teachers actually teach and doctors attend regularly to patients at rural health centres. The much-needed sense of respect and equality for women in our traditional societies and a climate of tolerance in our lives also require public help. Governments alone cannot and need not run human societies nor build nations without a great deal of active and conscious help from the citizens.
The far-reaching 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution have laid down rules and dictums to set up the needed third tier of the Administration. The results are varied. In some states, the performance is dismal while in some areas the Panchayat administrations have performed remarkably well. In Bihar, even the first elections to Panchayats have not been held despite all cajoling and inducement by the Centre. In the tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh, public involvement has performed impressively.
Elections in some states have shown that the incumbency factor is not all pervasive. Chief Ministers whose policies made the Panchayats partners in the administration and remitted authority and resources to the grassroot level got the public support. Some enlightened Chief Ministers are effectively using informatics technology to network the panchayats that may prove helpful in reaching out to the vast backward areas.
There is a reverse side of the picture too. As Prime Minister, I had convened a meeting of Chief Ministers to persuade them to hand over the management of primary schools and the appointments and transfers of primary school teachers to the Panchayats and local bodies. The resistance was formidable. It came from their misplaced sense of authority and power that overlooked the prevailing truancy of the teachers and doctors. They perceived the passing over of authority would create rival centres of power.
In the prevailing system of governance, the civil services occupy a pivotal position. By and large they are non-partisan administrators and neutral supervisors of the polling booths. Infrequent complaints are exceptions and not the rule. Some self-centred parties and politicians try to compromise this valuable legacy.
It is dangerous to politicise bureaucrats directly or through proxy organisations in the name of culture or religious beliefs. Apart from damaging secular institutions, a committed bureaucrat of whatever hue, will forfeit public faith in his impartiality in administration and in the conduct of the polls. In the end, it will irretrievably harm pluralistic democracy that can be sustained on the foundations of a non-partisan bureaucracy.
Long before Independence, leaders of the freedom struggle had accorded primacy to peoples fundamental rights. In 1927, the Congress Working Committee approved a Swaraj Constitution for India based on the Motilal Nehru Committee report that promised to secure to every citizen specific guarantees of 19 fundamental rights. These judicially enforceable rights were subsequently enshrined in the Constitution.
Unfortunately, the Directive Principles of State Policy Chapter-IV of the Constitution though equally important did not get similar treatment for their judicial enforcement. It was left to the legislatures to make such specific laws as would provide, for instance, for free and compulsory education. Time has come for these provisions to be made enforceable by judicial decrees. These directive principles provide the fundamentals of good governance, and the state is duty bound to implement them by legislation.
Part-IV of the Constitution, from Article 38 onwards, is fundamental to the welfare of our republic. How can we visualise its resonant future unless every child is compulsorily sent to school and the childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment, or unless a citizen is assured the right to adequate means of livelihood. The state should ensure that the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment. There is an urgency for a comprehensive social security network that is not yet available.
Unless the Directive Principles are accorded legal sacrosance, the road to peoples participation will continue to be full of pot-holes and speed breakers.
The 1999 Human Development Report in South Asia, authored by late Mahbub-ul-Haq, points out that South Asia (including India) is facing a crisis of governance which, if left unchecked, could undermine the regions democratic progress, and the economic and social well-being of its teeming masses. Home to nearly one-fourth of humanity, this region is characterised by governments that represent the poor but aid the rich: taxation that is insufficient and regressive: and expenditures that are misdirected and ineffective.
The report analyses issues of governance from political, economic, social and civic perspectives. It provides an in-depth analysis of the phenomenon of corruption and advocates a concrete and realistic reform agenda for promoting humane governance. In this regard, the report introduces a new index that ranks countries according to their performance in the spheres of economic, political and civic governance. In this our country, though better than some in the region, does not come out proudly.
A unique feature of this report is the concept of humane governance that puts people at the centre of all governance policies, strategies, and actions. The basic precepts of the human development model are to improve the capabilities and expand the opportunities of all people, irrespective of class, caste, gender, and ethnicity. The concept of humane governance takes this model forward by asserting that governance, if it is to promote human development, has to be not just pro-people or people-centred, it has to be owned by people.
With the help of the indices worked out by the report, it is now possible to measure achievements or under-performance of humane governance. As the report says, humane governance has three inter-linked dimensions: economic, political, and civic. Economic governance consists of those factors required to sustain economic development. Political governance is defined as the use of institutions by government to govern, and civic governance as the right and responsibility of the governed to participate in and promote good governance. Humane governance can only be achieved through a combination of all three dimensions of economic, political and civic governance. One dimension does not come before another. They must occur in unison for the concept of humane governance to be realised.
Since India is now soaked in the process of globalisation, we have to take notice of the world-wide trend that is seeking to ensure that the changes place the people at the centre and enthrone the civil society. In Europe the socialist governments are talking of Third Way-ism that is moving away from the Fabian and Webian socialisms and placing added emphasis on the civil society.
It is interesting to witness that the poor, the women and the private enterprises are together demanding people-centric changes that lessen dependence on centralised administrations. These changes are getting support from the corporate sectors who normally sit on other side of the pole. Liberalisation demands changes. Resistance emanates from identifiable segments of society who wish to sustain and perpetuate the status-quo in the social, political and economic order that gives them exclusive power and supremacy.
It is time for us to appreciate that without making our governance people-centric, the promise of the constitution that was framed by we, the people gets fossilised. The challenge is to create social transformation, enabling people to actively participate in the reform process that will replace force with dialogue, arrogance with sympathy, isolation with cooperation, ignorance with knowledge, conflict with peace. We feel obliged to create ways for a better understanding and much deeper tolerance between the administration and the people. Our task is huge, even gigantic, but the prize of this effort is invaluable.
THIS is the incredible story of a medical doctor who dealt in death and came to be known as death dealer. Harold Shipman could be rated as the most dreadful serial killer of Britain and his victims were reportedly elderly women, many of them widows or divorcees. He turned out to be both the healer and, at the same time, the killer. The number of those quietly eliminated by him ranged between 200 to 1500. His modus operandi was simple; he visited scores of women patients at their homes and injected them with the powerful painkiller morphine. His victims were usually found seated in an armed chair and fully dressed. Strangely, he was known to be quite popular among the poor in the Hyde area of Manchester where he had put up his clinic as a general practitioner.
Dr Shipman was quite meticulous in follow-up action. He would prepare the cremation certificates for patients who had died in his care, get it co-signed by another doctor as mandatory under the British law. According to The Manchester Evening News, Dr (Ms) Linda Reynolds, another general practitioner, across the road from Shipmans solo practice in the market, was asked by him to co-sign the cremation certificates. She would, in turn, ask Dr Shipman to co-sign the cremation forms of her deceased patients.
Dr Reynolds felt that Dr Shipman was coming over the road too often and carried out checks. She was astounded to find that the number of deaths in her and Shipmans practices were almost equal even though she and her partners had more than three times as many patients. It did not add up but it reinforced her suspicion. Surely a fellow doctor would not murder his patients . It just could not be or could it? Dr Reynolds knew she might end up with egg on her face and find her professional reputation damaged if she was proved wrong. She agonised for days and then decided to go to the police, the Eveninger reported.
The police is the same whether it is India or England. It aborted the inquiry into Dr Reynolds complaint on the ground of insufficient evidence. Apparently, Dr Shipman was emboldened and allegedly carried out three more murders. One of them was 81-year-old Kathl Grundy, a former mayoress whose sprawling estate he attempted to usurp by forging a new will which completely kept out her daughter.
Mrs Woodruff, the daughter, went to the police and the murderous doctor obsession with eliminating the elderly woman was exposed.
The intriguing part is that Dr Shipman had never killed his patients for money. Mrs Grundys was the first instance and the death doctor landed in trouble. His lifestyle was not lavish nor did he possess secret bank accounts. There was nothing unusual or macabre discovered in a search of Shipmans disorderly home except medical records stuffed in bags in the garage.
Psychiatrists have been conducting a probe behind Dr Shipmans lust for cold-blooded killing and analysing his career graph. Why did watching life ebb out from patients bodies injected with morphine stimulated him? It is possible that Shipman developed, Manchester News reported, a fascination with death after experiencing his mother dying from cancer in 1963. He was only 17 then and watched her injected with morphine to ease her suffering, significantly, he used the very drug to murder his patients in adult life. But any link with that and his later career as a serial killer is regarded as too tenuous.
Some believe that Shipman went to the medical profession actually to carry out murder but it cannot be proved . He qualified as a doctor from Leeds University. He became a drug addict as a 30-year-old married GP working in a group practice but no one could say that the addiction was a motive for murder many years later. Notably, he took drugs through injections. His penchant for drugs experimentation emerged in the mid-seventies when he was a family doctor and forged prescriptions to obtain daily doses of pethidine which he abused until suspicious partners confronted him.
Shipman has confessed of his drug addition in December, 1975, and admitted that he had to give up practice to seek drugs rehabilitation therapy at a retreat for a year. He did not work as a doctor for almost two years until he emerged as a clinical medical officer and later joined an establishment as a GP and worked for 14 years. In August, 1992, he began his one-man practice at Market Street in Manchester and embarked on his murderous venture into criminal history.
Dr Shipman is also known to be divisive and despicable and known for occasional burst of temper. He had varied moods and would turn white with rage if someone forgot to make his cup of coffee. He was never regarded as overtly anti-social. He did not kill men, possibly, because he may have regarded elderly women as softer, more trusting targets and there were more widows available than widowers.
The prosecution believed
Shipman had a taste for murder as he did linger at the
scene of crime. At his trial, last month, he was awarded
lifetime sentence for 15 murders. The police are
investigating 130 more cases.
WHEN Delhis Kirori Mal College, an institution set up by a Rohtak-based Trust, decided to honour its alumni, the choice of being the chief guest of the awards function did not fall on any Cabinet Minister or a Governor who had passed out from the portals of the college. Samajwadi Partys General Secretary and Rajya Sabha member, industrialist Amar Singh, did the honours. By chosing Amar Singh, the organisers of the function perhaps reflected a correct appreciation of politically important people in the National Capital, a list which certainly is topped by Amar Singh with his cross-party communication skills and ability to build the trust of the high and the mighty.
Among the alumni were the Megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Cabinet Minister P.R. Kumaramangalam, and his former colleague Madan Lal Khurana, Delhis Lieut-Governor Vijai Kapoor and Nepals senior politician Prakash Koirala. From the world of entertainment Shakti Kapoor, Ravi Vaswani, Satish Kaushik, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Dinesh Thakur were also chosen. However, while selecting journalists somehow, the choice narrowed down on Syed Naqvi. The Hindus Deputy Editor Harish Khare, who had topped the MA Political Science examination in his time and Indian Express Associate Editor and former Tribune journalist, Mr Harish Gupta, were somehow left out from the honours list.
Scambuster income tax officer, Vishwabandhu Gupta (who issued a notice to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad asking them to explain utilisation of funds collected for the Ayodhya Temple movement 10 years ago and more recently brought to book Romesh Sharma) has a new passion. He has started an organisation called Lampoon Post to promote new talent in humour and satire. A new magazine Wrong Number brought out by Mr Gupta was released by the Editors Guild Chairman, Mr Vinod Mehta. Present during the occasion were a cross-section of Delhis intellectual elite. Besides Mehta, broadcaster Mark Tully and cartoonist Sudhir Tailang publicly feted Mr Gupta for his effort at a function held at the India International Centre on Friday. Jaspal Bhatti now seems to have a print media companion as well.
Et tu Scindia?
The Lok Sabha was witness to several unruly scenes last week with the Congress members agitating to press their demand for the admission of an adjournment motion to discuss the Gujarat Governments decision to allow state government employees to participate in RSS activities.
During one such occasion, the government fielded Samata Party leader and Defence Minister, George Fernandes, to contest the Congress members demand. A known socialist, the decision of Mr Fernandes to come to the defence of the RSS surprised the Congress benches. Mr Mani Shanker Aiyar remarked that Mr Fernandes was improperly dressed for the occasion. He is not wearing Khaki knickers, he commented.
Retaliation from the BJP benches followed soon when the Congress leader, Mr Madhav Rao Scindia rose to present his views. Ms Uma Bharti promptly retorted that Mr Scindia was a member of the RSS at one time and she could prove it. Mr Scindia however, refused to be drawn into a verbal duel and continued to ignore her remarks.
Despite not agreeing with his political perceptions, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee nevertheless chose to release veteran journalist-turned-parliamentarian Kuldip Nayars political biography, The Martyr, Bhagat Singhs Experiments in Revolution. Both being honest and frank, the Prime Minister and the author could not help airing their diagonally opposite views during the book release function.
While praising the role of Maharashtrian revolutionaries like Veer Sawarkar, the author refers to them as religious fundamentalists. Mr Vajpayee said he did not agree with this formulation. Pat came Nayars reply: I cannot change history. The veteran journalist has utilised his tenure as Indias High Commissioner in London to procure rare material about Bhagat Singh from Britain and Pakistan and the book therefore is a valuable source for those interested in this aspect of Indias freedom struggle.
Why did Nayar write the book? According to him, in the eighties, two prisoners charged with terrorism in Punjab had asked him: Why do you call Bhagat Singh a revolutionary and refer to us as terrorists? This book, is Nayars reply to this two-decade old question.
For Doordarshans sake
With the Railway Budget being aired live by Doordarshan, BJP floor managers had a tough time ensuring that the ruling alliance came in good light before the viewers. However, ensuring this was no cakewalk as the budget presentation by the Railway Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, saw several agitated Opposition members creating a ruckus over the inadequate consideration given to their respective states in the Budget proposals.
At one stage Ms Banerjee was derailed from what she herself admitted was a superfast speech. Instead of going ahead with reading the budget proposals, Ms Banerjee got drawn into a verbal exchange with the Opposition members. Realising that things were getting out of hand, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan promptly came to Ms Banerjees aid and asked the Opposition members to return to their seats. He then whispered into her ears that the Doordarshan was telecasting her speech live and she should complete the budget exercise. Unfortunately, Ms Banerjees mike was still on and Mr Mahajans advise could be heard by everybody. A budget exercise is a media exercise too, was the message of the episode.
Vaastu and Parliament
Vaastu Shastra, an ancient practice followed by architects of the past while designing buildings, is back in vogue and with a vengeance.
Nowadays, it is fashionable that the architects throw in a liberal dose of Vaastu before blueprints are taken off the drawing board. On it would depend the progress and harmony of the persons occupying it, Vaastu experts say.
Now according to former Union Minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, a Vaastu expert recently told him that the reason why India was not able to come on top of problems being faced by the country was the circular shape of Parliament House.
Mr Ramoowalia said as per this expert, all efforts of people came to a naught since every effort was being cast in a well thanks to the round shape of the building where peoples representatives meet and discuss the countrys future. The experts advice, turn the building into a rectangular one any takers!
(Contributed by SB, T.V. Lakshminarayan, K.V. Prasad and P.N. Andley)
The Railway Budget
THE Railway Budget presented to the Legislative Assembly shows that the estimated gross traffic receipts for 1925-26 are over 10065 crores against the revised estimate of 97.65 crores for 1924-25, where the working expenditure is estimated at 65.79 crores against 62 crores.
After deducting other charges, the profit from commercial lines is estimated at 10 crores against 11.24 crores.
The contribution from
the Railways to the general revenues will be 6.30 crores,
the same as in the previous year. The loss on strategic
lines is estimated at 1.50 crores in 1924-25 and 1.53
crores in 1924-25 and 1.53 crores in 1925-26.
|| Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
| Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | In Spotlight |
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
| 119 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |