Monday, February 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Horrors of the millennium

THERE is no need to mourn the past millennium or to rejoice over the new one (Mr Prem Prakash’s “Horrors of a millennium: time for national reconciliation”, February 5). Old and new are stages in the long history and development of any country. But one cannot draw a definite distinctive line between them at any specific point of time.

Some aspects of the old continue or merge into the new while some aspects of the new are rooted in the old. The problem of any country is to harmonise continuity with change; in other words, to retain what is good and beneficial and of lasting value in the old and adapt it to new situations taking advantage of new discoveries and inventions in the field of science, technology, communication, culture, etc.

  Judged against this backdrop of history, India presents a mixed picture of the old as well as the new — some aspects of the old which are good still form the basis for the new India and yet some aspects of the old which are out of date or harmful continue to harm the body politic. At the same time, many aspects of the new especially in the field of science and technology, have been adopted by India and India can claim to have the largest number of trained scientists and technologists in the world after the USA. However, this country has not been able to make full use of this huge reservoir of human talent and skills in the exploitation of its natural resources for improving the quality of life of its people, especially of those below the poverty line.

Many aspects of the new, particularly in the political field, have had both good and bad impact on the development of India. We have the concept of secularism in the sense of tolerance for different religions and modes of thought. This is something inherent in India’s culture, but the politicisation of people’s vote banks on the basis of caste, religion, language and region is playing havoc with India’s secular and parliamentary democracy.


Taxing ideas

The editorial “Taxing ideas” (February, 19) makes one understand that farming is not a viable business nowadays. The arguments not to tax are also convincing and acceptable. Some have raised voice for taxing big farmers which needs to be analysed.

If we study the income tax returns of the so-called agriculturists, who are having a lavish life-style either being bureaucrats or having adopted politics as another most viable business of the day, we will come to know that they have exploited this tax-free income provision by generating false bills of agricultural income and have successfully appropriated their huge income generated otherwise,without paying income tax.

The so-called champions of the farming community never go to fields but are called sons of farmers. They live in big bungalows in metropolitan cities, own a fleet of cars and their wards go to the best convent schools, yet on paper they are poor farmers.

In fact, they are exploiting the farming community for vote purposes. It is they who are using all subsidies and tax benefit to fill their coffers.

Similarly, there are bureaucrats who, by virtue of their postings, are engaged in siphoning off development funds by conniving with contractors, suppliers and others.

The need of the hour is not to tax farmers but to punish those individuals who wrongly show their income from various sources as agricultural income. Thus the misuse of this provision needs to be checked.



Constitution in 21st century

The Bar Association of India had organised a four-day “Constitution Assembly” on the subject “Indian Constitution in the 21st Century” from December 19 to 22, 1999.

All the major political parties, including regional ones, had been invited to participate in the proceedings. The eminent persons who took part in the proceedings included Mr Ram Jethmalani (BJP), Mr Arun Jaitley, (BJP), Mr P.R. Kumaramangalam (BJP), Mr Ranganath Mishra (former Chief Justice of India) for the Congress, Mr Madhu Dandavate, Mr Ramkrishna Hegde, Thiru Aladi Aruna (DMK), Mr Prakash Karat (CPM), Mr Satya Prakash Malaviya (Rashtriya Lok Dal), Mr D. Raja (CPI) and Mr J. Chittaranjan (CPI).

Dr Tahir Mahmood, a former Chairman of the Minorities Commission, Mr Dileep Singh Bhuriya, Chairman, National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Dr Poornima Advani, Member, National Commission for Women, and eminent speakers representing NGOs from all over the country also participated in the proceedings.

The experts from the judiciary and the legal profession included Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy (Chairman, Law Commission of India), Mr F.S. Nariman, Mr Soli J. Sorabjee (Attorney-General), Mr Harish N. Salve (Solicitor-General), Mr Ashok Desai (former Attorney-General), Mr Shanti Bhushan (former Union Minister), Justice Rajinder Sachar (former Chief Justice, Delhi High Court), Justice R.S. Narula (former Chief Justice, Punjab & Haryana High Court), Mr P.N. Lekhi, Mr P.P. Rao, Mr Anil B. Divan, Prof R.K. Nayak, Mr K.N. Bhat, Mr C.S. Vaidyanathan and Prof Upendra Baxi.

At the concluding session, which was chaired by Mr F.S. Nariman, President of the Bar Association of India, the following resolution was unanimously passed by the assembly in the distinguished presence of the Chairman, Law Commission of India:

“It is not the Constitution which has failed us — but we the people of India who adopted it have failed the Constitution.”

The general consensus that emerged out of the deliberations of the “Constitution Assembly” was:

(1) It is not the Constitution of India that has failed us — but we the people who adopted it have failed the Constitution.

(2) The Constitution has stood the test of time and it does not call for a complete review, overhaul or a second look in its entirety.

(3) However, after 50 years certain provisions in the Constitution do require some scrutiny such as Article 356, the Tenth Schedule, judicial reforms, reservations and Centre -State relations generally.

Supreme Court of India
New Delhi

Role of artillery

The artillery has played a very important role in the success of the Kargil operations. The destruction caused to the enemy by our gunners has significantly facilitated the achievement of several military objectives.

In fact, it was the heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy by our artillery that led to demoralisation on the other side resulting in an early exit from the occupied heights. The gunners’ contribution to India’s victory at Kargil is laudable. They have shown a very high degree of professionalism. Their courage and indomitable resolve to deliver were remarkable.



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