|Monday, March 20, 2000,
and media hype
REPUBLIC OF INDIAN ELITE"
changes in Civil Code
mania at its height
March 20, 1925
PRESIDENT Clintons five-day visit, which formally begins tomorrow, is significant for reasons which have got submerged in the childish exuberance being whipped up by the electronic and a cavalier section of the print media. No, a dramatic breakthrough is not in sight; in fact summit meetings clear accumulated cobwebs and do not chart a radically new course. Still, even a partial renovation is important in view of five decades of indifferent, if not suspicious, relations between the two democracies. Initial omens are encouraging, even if some old angry noises strike a jarring note. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott has told a respected newspaper that it is unrealistic to expect India (and also Pakistan) to roll back the nuclear programme. His senior colleague, Mrs Madeleine Albright, has, however, said that nuclear non-proliferation is very much a top priority and that the USA will press this country to renounce nuclear weapons. But her statement is of a general nature and has come with a sweetener: Pakistan should not violate the line of control in Kashmir and there will be no concerted pressure on Delhi to drop everything and restart the Lahore process, though it is a desirable goal. President Clinton has touched on these issues along expected lines, adding that his visit to the region is India-centred and he is keen to rekindle mutual ties. More substantial developments will unfold during the visit. The two leaders will sign a statement of vision setting out modest goals and pushing in plenty of platitudes. The American delegation of businessmen will meet their local counterparts to explore trade and investment possibilities. As world leaders, the visitors will seek tie-ups in information technology and electricity generation. India should be prepared, though published reports talk of political and bureaucratic diffidence and sloth. More, ideological differences run deep and the infantile electronic media has become a willing tool in canvassing support for conflicting positions.
For instance, there is
no need for numberless Indian spokesmen to respond to
every stand taken by Americans. Particularly since all
they do is to repeat old knee-jerk responses. Is it
necessary to join issue on signing the CTBT? It is
essential for the government to stand firm but that is
not the same thing as declaring parrot-like this
countrys opposition. It sounds more like a weak
mans verbal defence and not a strong mans
determination to resist. Similar is Indias display
of peevishness at Mr Clintons decision to stop over
at Islamabad. Official reaction was to sulk over this and
demur at the US proposal to have a one-to-one meeting
between Prime Minister Vajpayee and the visiting Head of
State. Actually India should have welcomed his Pakistan
visit since that will keep alive US-Pakistan relations
and offer this country a second point of contact. This
flows from ancient wisdom that a country can choose its
friends but geography chooses its neighbours. But much of
the policy distortion stems from the antics of television
channels which are normally out to make a sensational
spectacle of every event. With their archives overloaded
with video clips from the USA, the electronic media went
into overdrive from day one. This has had its effect as
is evident from the visuals of workers sprucing up every
square inch the VVIP guest is to tread on. Particularly
painful is the extensive repair job in Rajghat to enliven
the very short visit by the US President. Gandhi was a
stickler for cleanliness and should not his final resting
place be very, very clean for his own sake? Urban middle
class and spurred by it the government have gone
overboard to present a loveable face of India to Mr
Clinton. He did not expect it and India should not have
undertaken it. Self-belief is different from the
eagerness to present a clean image. One is innate to a
nations character and the other is a device to look
THE festival of Holi does not only mark the change of seasons. It also symbolises the triumph of good over evil. But it is primarily a North Indian festival celebrated with extra zeal in Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Most Indian festivals have a bit of Valentine woven into the rituals; but Holi gives a little extra allowance to the young-at-heart to imitate within the limits of decency the sense of fun and frolic associated with the colourful exchange of pleasantries between Lord Krishna and his gopis. Unfortunately, licence has given place to licentiousness and sinister rivalry has replaced the fun-filled revelry associated with the festival as it used to be celebrated in the good old days. On February 14 some over-enthusiastic groups had gone on the offensive in Kanpur and other cities to stop young men and women from celebrating St Valentines Day. They saw in the celebration of a western festival by Indian youth a threat to the native culture. However, instead of banishing the western saint of love from India the self-appointed protectors of local values and culture should devote their seemingly boundless energy to bringing back to the celebration of Indian festivals the fast dissipating elements of sanity and sanctity finetuned by our forebears with great care. They must take note of the fact that vulgar use of money has killed the spirit of bonhomie associated with most Indian festivals. Over the years Holi has become the most hazardous festival to celebrate because of the liberal use of substances other than natural colours. The liberal use of water balloons too has taken away the sense of fun from the festival of colours. What pleasure do the revellers derive from using acid, alkalis and equally hazardous substances for preparing the Holi colours is difficult to understand.
Medical experts would
testify that most of the colours being openly sold in the
market carry highly toxic substances which can cause
unforeseen complications including skin cancer among
victims of the mindless revelry. Why dont the
self-appointed protectors of Indias rich culture
question the authorities concerned for not stopping the
open sale of what are essentially banned substances for
playing Holi? They were rightly condemned for the mayhem
they caused during the media-market-hyped celebration of
St Valentines Day by an increasing number of urban
youth. They can redeem their reputation as the protectors
of the countrys culture, which indeed needs to be
protected from the baneful influence of the vulgar rich
and the social malcontent. They can do so by launching an
effective campaign for making the celebration of Holi as
safe and colourful as it used to be in the days before
India lost its soul to the devilish machination of the
market forces which control the globe. To be fair, the
festival of Holi was meant to play the same role which St
Valentines is supposed to play in the lives of the
young and the young-at-heart. But the sleek marketing of
St Valentine has captured the imagination of the urban
youth. Whereas the vulgarity, criminality and obscenity
now associated with the celebration of Holi has made it
less popular even among those who now lament the slow
demise of Indian culture. It has become a sick festival
which needs help for taking on the challenge to its
pre-eminent position from the market-promoted celebration
of St Valentines Day. The task is not difficult.
But it can be performed by only those who are market
savvy and have the cultural will to act.
REPUBLIC OF INDIAN ELITE"
NO one can be more eloquent than we Indians in whining about whats wrong with us. The country-faults pour out at the touch of a button. Not enough globalisation. A money-fuelled electoral system where criminals frequently stand for election and win. Governments and institutions run by mafiosi. A Parliament more adept at creating a ruckus than discussing the nations affairs. Corruption at every step. Ritualistic pampering of aggressive scheduled castes, backward classes and tribes, after saying goodbye to merit, while the really downtrodden among the dalits remain where they were. Ignoring the rights of women, children and old people. These are just a sample of the reasons for our plight trotted out.
Simultaneously, we also believe that our redemption lies in an advanced Silicon Valley creation and globalisation, teleshopping and the installation in all homes of microwave ovens, airconditioners, washing machines, refrigerators, cellphones and one, preferably more, of the new model swanky cars from abroad that are flooding into India. When we go shopping the stores, people expect, will glitter with foreign consumer goods and with Indian goods doing their best to imitate the foreign. And beyond these is a chauvinistic pride in collecting, at fabulous expense, a great array of mortars, submarines and unmanned reconnaissance planes, hoping to be called a mega military power with one of the worlds largest standing armies of regular and paramilitary forces. Here we have the same warped aims as Pakistan, together with whom we spend $ 20 billion on defence a year. Defence in the new Budget has a whopping increase of 21%, a rise to Rs 58,587 crore.
The fatal flaw in these ambitions and dreams is that when we say we it means no more than 150 million consumers in 30 million households. The 850 million rest live in 170 million homes; they have not a hope in hell in the foreseeable future of having a fraction of the essentials or luxuries of life listed earlier. Our governments never spend more than 1.3% to 1.8% of GDP on health, only 20% of our hospitals are in rural areas and 80% of health costs are individually borne. There is an Indian doctor for 1305 Americans but one Indian doctor for 2400 Indians! Almost 100 million of our children are not in school and, as for the schools themselves, more than 60% of primary schools have one teacher or at best two to take five classes. Close to 85% of the schools have no toilets while, 71,000 have no buildings at all, pucca or kutcha; yet from these we hope to produce an educated nation. According to Swami Agnivesh there are 65 million children in our army of child labourers.
These facts are all well known but hardly feature in any political or social debate in Parliament or in town meetings and political conventions. Nor do some other significant facts: there is not a single Muslim woman in the Lok Sabha, Muslims are 2.8% and 2% in the IAS and IPS and their representation in Parliament is far less than their population-share of 12%. About 24 states do not send any Muslims to the Lok Sabha. There are some 390,000 registered doctors but, wonder of wonders, no more than 120,000 nurses, yanking the lid off the quality of our medical care. There are over 80 million disabled people in the country of whom barely 50,000 have jobs. This, then, is our profile after 52 years and our level as a compassionate welfare state. One needs hardly talk about the state of widows and old people even without the prodding from Water.
If we reflect for a moment how we could get out of the state we are in the question to be answered is Could we not, in 50 years, have escaped our dire situation if our priorities had been different and if we had put, ahead of everything, the 70% or so of our people, at independence, who lived below the poverty level? Our governments claim a fall in the percentage below the poverty line but that is mainly by changing the line, shifting the goal posts. When we began planning for economic development which was to bring us paradise Jawaharlal Nehru was convinced that rapid industrialisation would quickly jack up the living standard of the masses. Nehru had learnt little from his Bapu. He thought that the western pattern would be the best for us.
It was a horrible mistake for there can be no development anywhere without an educated, and healthy people. This could certainly have been achieved in 15 or 20 years at affordable cost if that had been made the first priority instead of heavy engineering, steel plants, machine tool plants, tank factories and the huge dams which have proved a flop. The mistake has also brought about enormous inequality in the country, in fact two nations, one reasonably prosperous, and the other miserably poor, plagued by ill health and ignorance. There has been some industrialisation but it has not touched the masses. Villages in states like Bihar, M.P. Rajasthan and U.P. are largely untouched and its work force flocks in tens of thousands to the cities to find work and live there in shanty town-squalor. In Delhi the most prosperous city in India, more than three million people live in slum clusters.
Countries which also chose the path picked by Indias policy makers were Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand. But they are much smaller with an educated and healthy population and adequate natural resources. What is really holding us back is not only the disastrous misjudgement about the way to lift up our people. The slide is really in morality, pride, shame and compassion. One distinguished futurologist has said that, in 52 years, this country has given birth to The Island Republic of the Indian Elite. This elite has shrugged off what used to be the badge not only of our leaders but of many brave men and women in the national struggle for freedom a burning love for the country, immense pride in the motherland and a willingness to sacrifice life itself for it. Take the young men and women of the Chittagong Armoury Raid under the leadership of Surya Sen. They were not from the glitterati and chatterati that crowd the youth pages of our magazines and newspapers today but school teachers, students and middle class people. They were prepared to face the bullets of the British, Gurkha and Punjabi soldiers and also the hangmans noose.
Our young of today model for fashion shows and worship the actors and actresses of Bollywood. What has happened to the pride and courage of sixty or seventy years ago? The leaders who are protected by gunman and bulletproof cars, and their every visit is a headache for the police. Are they going to be forever protected at public expenses? Where is their pride? What social development work are they engaged in, what are they doing for the widows of Water, for child labourers, for the disabled, for villages without schools and primary health centres, for villages from which the nearest hospital is often 30 or 40 km away and where there is no proper road, where whole areas in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and elsewhere are controlled by people who are dismissively called Naxalites. Which of our leaders and ex-Prime Ministers (of whom we have almost half a dozen) have had the courage to go to the areas and talk to these militants and rebels? Yet these heavies will make eloquent speeches about Gandhiji. Not so eloquent in fact, the speeches are monotonous, laced with a chain of cliches. Where is there any shame? An ex-minister in the Union Government can be found to have stashed crores of rupees in his house. A few months later he is leading a party that props up the BJPs ministry and there is no knowing when the case against him will be decided. And he is one of many such. An ex-minister of Tamil Nadu has just been jailed for accumulating loads of money.
It should be crystal clear that the imitation of western industrialisation is not for us. It cannot bring enough food, clothing, education, housing, medical attention and support for the old. These need a new approach which Indias leadership has been unable to give.
But first of all there has to be a moral and patriotic fervour to want the motherland to stand tall, to hate and eschew all corruption and tainted money, to think of the poor and not of consumerism, to remember that this is a country with 5000 years of heritage and, despite the greedy and the rapacious of the many who would sacrifice their lives for the country. The political parties would be useless if they did not set their priorities right. Forgetting the push for industrialisation and luxury, there has to be a policy to think of the masses and fulfilment of their basic needs. When the Indian people have basic needs met we would start to be a great country.
India has to, must,
decide that it wishes a system where wealth will not be
concentrated in a few hands but will be dispersed wide
with human values. We must not plump for the acquisitive
images of the future. We dont need to imitate
models but look into our heritage and
continuity. Nehru has failed us there and so have all his
successor Prime Ministers. To get out of our quagmire we
have to look at Gandhiji whom his disciples had
discarded. And we have to look at Swami Vivekananda for
whom the highest religion was service, The people
are burning he said, Can you sleep? For
him religion was not temple-going with offerings and
praying for wealth and success. No. Religion was the
helping of the helpless whatever their denomination and,
or course, meditation to cleanse ones mind even
though that is difficult.
THERE are many happy moments in ones life and each has its own significance. One such moment, but a bit different from others, was the visit of one of my old classfellows. He was coming to India after serving in the U.S.A. for 30 years.
We received him at the airport and after a beautiful journey in the executive class of Swaran Shatabdi, reached Ludhiana station. Not much change, he commented. However, our memories flashed back when we used to come over here to eat purees etc at mid night.
As we entered the house, he stopped for a moment and said: WOW, what a palatial house! He was greeted by my family. Hai! I am Keiki, he said. Feeling that the response was little different, he changed Oh! I am Kewal Sharma in India & Keiki in U.S.A.
He became quite familiar with my children and they could indulge in discussion with him. One day when all of us were sitting together, my younger daughter, Jasmine asked: Uncle, why have you come alone? You should have come with Aunt and children. He laughed and said, My dear, there is no aunt and no children. I could not find a suitable match for myself. There was a surprise on my daughters face. She composed herself and said: Uncle you know, there is always some one somewhere waiting for someone. He laughed. Now it was the turn of my elder daughter, who is a doctor, Uncle tell us some thing about yourself. It is strange that you are an alumnus of Couple making college and still you could not find even one for yourself.
O.K.! listen to me. When we joined in the first year, we took an oath at the ragging time. The oath was You will consider your class girls as your sisters and leave them for your seniors. I followed it sincerely and lost 25 chances (we had 25 girls in our class). I could not find a suitable one later on.
My doctor daughter, who is famous for good advice and opinion, opined: you must have been looking for Madhuri, Karishma or Aishwarya. I laughed and said, No, he was looking for Waheeda Rehman and Asha Parikh.
Never mind uncle, we can advertise in The Tribune or any other paper. You get a lot of choices and also there is a lot of craze for NRIs. There was a good response to our advertisement. My doctor daughter, who was screening the letters, said get good counsel before you begin and when you have decided, act promptly. Your action may not always bring happiness but there is no happiness without action.
We selected one and the meeting was arranged. To me the girl looked younger. I cautioned her but she said, NRIs can have a grace of 10 years. Otherwise also it is better to marry a mature man. I smiled and finally it was decided that we should see her mother for final approval.
The D Day was fixed and the meeting was arranged. The girl and our friend talked happily. As the mother walked in, we greeted her. As she looked at the boy she almost shouted. Ai Muva, Eh te mainu bee dekhan aya see.
interests and global obligations
THE new RSS chief has given a sharp edge to the ongoing controversy on economic policy. He has declared his opposition to any step of the government which does not give precedence to national interests over its international obligations. This is a position which is in conformity with the very existence of the nation state in the world order.
The critics of the economic policy must, however, closely scrutinise all the treaties, multilateral and bilateral, based on the globalisation principle that successive governments in India have signed in the nineties. These treaties are objectionable to the extent that they extend special rights and privileges to foreign agencies and entities as global obligations.
The review and in certain cases abrogation of these treaties is inescapable if India is to assert its sovereign status in its external economic and political relations and safeguard the national interests and rights of the Indian people.
Under the existing provisions of the Indian Constitution, the government of the day can sign an international treaty without proper discussion in and ratification by Parliament. The international treaties so signed pass on, in the event of a change in the government, as an international obligation for the successor governments even though they may be in conflict with the democratic mandate for a change in the composition and complexion of the government.
Many of the international treaties negotiated in the nineties are widely believed and even admitted to have been signed under foreign pressure and shady influences. Their provisions when presented to Parliament for implementation by legislative action, as in the case of patents, for instance, were even rejected on several occasions. There is indeed a strong case for a constitutional amendment for the withdrawal of carte blanche from the government in respect of negotiating the international treaties and their ratification by Parliament before they come into force.
The curtailment, in particular, of the developmental role of the government under duress as a treaty obligation must be rejected unequivocally. After winning political freedom, the government in India had the priority obligation to erect protective walls against economic exploitation of India by foreign interests to clear the road for domestic effort to promote sustainable economic growth. But such protective walls are now being demolished in the name of globalisation of the economic growth process. India, as also many other developing countries, is being co-opted in the ambit of a world order ordained by the developed countries. Many of the economic treaties, multilateral and bilateral, have been signed in the nineties which are instruments for facilitating such co-option.
The government in India has been making a virtue of shedding its role as the active agency for socio-economic development and lifting regulatory mechanisms in the domestic arena for this purpose. It is, therefore, clinging to the right to enter into treaties and assume questionable external obligations. A time has come when treaty making must cease to be the prerogative of a government to be exercised with gay abandon. Signing international treaties for structural adjustment of the Indian economy has indeed been a fashionable pastime in the world of economic as well as political diplomacy in the nineties. The World Bank, IMF and WTO are conducting a powerful ideological campaign backed by the promise of credits that are supposed to provide safety nets to tide over the social, economic and political pitfalls in the adjustment process in the developing countries. The WTO is devising novel trade-related adjustment instruments and mechanisms for enforcement and cross-retaliation.
The adjustment process is thus becoming wholly one-sided to suit the convenience of foreign creditors and investors looking for gainful opportunities for exploitation of the developing countries. An essential ingredient of the so-called adjustment process is that the investment and production pattern in the developing countries should be made viable and gainful for the transnational corporations (TNCs). It should, for the same purpose, serve only the viable classes and segments of the population within the developing countries. It leaves out of its concerns the vast masses of the poor eking out an existence at or below the subsistence level. It is actually creating new demands, largely elitist in nature, in the economy for foreign investment and new technology to extract attractive returns. This is sure path to the alienation of the upper classes from the mass of the people in the developing countries that can result in mounting unrest and division in society with far-reaching adverse repercussions for the stability social, economic and political of the developing countries. The international economic treaties India has been dragged into serve not only economic but also social, cultural and political objectives of the developed countries in the globalisation process.
Foreign corporations now enjoy vast privileges and rights in India. The truth is that TNCs have been given extra territorial rights for the exploitation of labour, consumers and natural resources of India. The job of keeping law and order and maintaining conditions for their smooth and safe operations in India has been assumed by the Indian administration and security services. This is what neo-colonial domination is all about.
It is not surprising in these conditions that Indian working people and consumers as well as business interests are unable to even bargain for, let alone assert, their rights in their relationship with foreign business interests, especially TNCs, on equitable terms or fair collaboration. It is remarkable too in this context that ministers in India at the Centre and states and senior bureaucrats do not hesitate to enter into direct and private negotiations with executives of foreign business corporations. A special relationship with TNCs is being assiduously cultivated at the political and administrative level with ominous economic, social and political implications.
The TNCs have even raised demands that have been accepted with alacrity for setting up for them special enclaves and tight security zones for their capital-intensive units of business that will not need much Indian labour. Exclusive residential areas to cater to the needs and tastes of their management personnel are also being set up. This is reminiscent of the infamous extra-territorial concessions that imperial powers once enjoyed in their colonies. It is indeed a tragic and humiliating state of affairs for the people of India.
The rectification of this grave position cannot obviously be the concern only of the RSS which may have been inspired to take objection to working of international treaties for reasons not entirely above suspicion. Nor is it surprising that the Congress party has been helping the NDA government headed by Mr A.B.Vajpayee seeking to push ahead with the second phase of the economic reforms for the globalisation of the Indian economy that was initiated by the Congress party itself in 1991. Mr Vajpayee, who has become an enthusiastic globaliser, on his part, has been able, with the help of the Congress party, to openly and defiantly rebuff the dissidents in the RSS-BJP camp and pursue the so-called reform path frankly in tune with globalisers in India and abroad.
It is significant, however, that the mass sentiment against globalisers of the Indian economy has been gaining momentum. This has found political expression in the electoral setback for the BJP and a debacle for the Congress party in the Assembly elections. Dissidence against the official economic, social and political policies has also predictably erupted within the RSS-BJP camp as well as the Congress party in the aftermath of the assembly elections. An opportunity has indeed arisen for the forging of a grand front to rebuff the globalisers of all hues and halt and reverse the market-friendly economic growth and globalisation policy. The pity in this context is that the left parties have lost the vigour to provide the right policy alternatives and have lost their way in an artificial secular-communal line of demarcation rather than lead the popular struggle against market-friendly economic growth and globalisation.
In order to promote the
pro-people front and return to political stability under
a democratic order, novel political initiatives and party
alignments have become unavoidable. Individuals, groups
and parties that fail to be the authentic representatives
of the mass of the Indian people are bound to become
irrelevant in any long-term perspective. The vested
interests that have developed strong linkages with all
the mainstream political parties and in the media are
trying to induce fatalistic helplessness among the people
about the globalisation drive. The need is to overcome
the mood of fatalism for India to become an economically
advanced country on a self-reliant basis.
changes in Civil Code
THESE proceedings... illustrate, said the Privy Council in 1872, deciding an appeal from the High Court at Fort William in Bengal, what has been often stated before, that the difficulties of a litigant in India begin when he has obtained a decree.
Spoken through the Right Hon Sir James Colvile, formerly Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at Calcutta, these opening words of the then final court for India in General Manager of the Raj Durbhunga vs Maharaj Coomar Ramaput Sing address what is probably the most technical and dilatory branch of the jurisprudence of civil procedure execution of decrees.
By far the lengthiest Order in the Code of Civil Procedure, Order 21, containing as many as 106 Rules and constituting a highly fertile ground for litigation, much of it frivolous, deals with execution. A major impediment in the way of speedy justice, denying as it were the fruits of victory to the victorious litigant, it is an Order, or jurisprudence, that cries for truncation.
Not one, however, of the more than 60 amendments made by Parliament in the CPC touches Order 21. Ten amendments inter alia in Order 5 (service of summons), 14 amendments in Orders 6 to 8 (pleadings), 20 amendments in Orders 9 to 20 (from appearance of parties to judgement) and 9 amendments in Order 41 (appeals). But not a single amendment in Order 21.
Besides Order 21 in the First Schedule, almost 40 provisions in the main body of the CPC are devoted to execution. Sections 36 to 74. Barring changes in two of them, Sections 58 and 60, enhancing (and rightly so) the protections available to judgement-debtors in certain cases, none of these provisions have been amended. The procedure and pace of execution remains entirely as it was.
To speed up the trial without speeding up execution is to kindle false hopes in the litigant public. But let us examine more closely what Parliament, absorbing unsophisticated popular perceptions of the laws delays, has actually done to speed up the trial.
One, the burden of the process-serving agency of the court has been transferred to the litigant. The plaintiff is now his own process-server, and the agency has been reduced to performing a supplementary role if the court so directs.
Two, the plaintiff must discharge this burden with utmost despatch. He must send the summons to the defendant within just two days, failing which the suit shall be rejected.
Both these amendments deserve a trial, even though serious problems of proof of service privately effected are likely to arise.
The third, if tried, will surely cut down litigation by half by destroying all contest. Every defendant must file his reply (called written statement in statutory parlance) within 30 days. No extension or adjournment can be granted for any reason whatsoever.
Judge-made law being what it is, no evidence led by a party can be looked into if it goes beyond his pleadings. The defendants failure, therefore, to file his written statement within 30 days virtually forecloses his defence for ever. Regardless of the reasons for such failure the suddenness of the case or its complexity, the non-availability of documents (such as revenue records), the non-availability of counsel or, simply, the ignorance of the defendant.
The ignorance of married sisters (living at distant places) and widowed mothers, for example, in suits involving succession or inheritance.
The other amendments effected for shortening the life of the trial are even more interesting. And, literally like Procrustes of Greek mythology who fitted victims to a bed by cutting off their legs, procrustean.
These are all deletions, not amendments:
Order 6, Rule 5, enabling (in the courts discretion) a further and better statement of the nature of the claim or defence to be filed, or further or better particulars of any matter stated in the pleadings. A provision which should be used more frequently than it actually is.
Order 8, Rule 9, enabling (inter alia and in the courts discretion) a replication to be filed by the plaintiff. Often unnecessary and a sheer waste of time, replications are not unoften necessary, particularly when the defendant raises apreliminary objection questioning the very maintainability of the suit.
Order 6, Rule 17, enabling (in the courts discretion and subject to judge-made law) an amendment in the pleadings of either party at any stage. A provision as old as any civil lawyers memory can tell and, though slightly overused, an insurance against two of the commonest human lapses: oversight and lack of foresight.
Order 18, Rule 17-A, enabling (in the courts discretion) any party to produce additional evidence that was not within his knowledge or could not have been produced by him earlier. The grounds need no elaboration.
Order 14, Rule 5, enabling the court (in its discretion) to strike out issues wrongly framed, amend existing issues or add fresh ones in step with the unfolding controversy between the parties.
All these provisions in the CPC now stand deleted.
It is obvious that Parliament views, or would like to view, civil litigation as a mechanical, open-and-shut affair, pursuing a straight, unencumbered path from institution (of the suit) to judgement. Anything that smacks of discretion, be it judicial discretion, is an encumbrance that holds up trial and must accordingly be removed.
mania at its height
I DIDN'T quite realise the actual height (!) of Clinton mania till about this weekend, when several scholars/academicians came out with a book: Engaged Democracies India-US Relations In The 21 Century (Har Anand). Edited by Kanti Bajpai and Amitabh Mattoo this book has been published in a record time of just about three weeks well just in time for Mr Clintons visit. And if you were to ask Kanti Bajpai, who is an Associate Professor in International Politics, Organisation and Disarmament, JNU, whether all this hype is really justified he says: If you see it in a certain perspective then it certainly is...dont overlook the fact that because of this visit over a thousand media people and experts will be travelling down here and no matter whatever happens they have to concentrate on India and all this attention will certainly be of great benefit to us. Imagine an energy expert who till recently didnt bother to cover India will now have to do so, simply because of this visit ....Also if you compare the number of hours (120 hours) that Mr Clinton will be spending in India with those he will spending in Bangladesh (20 hours) and Pakistan (4 or maximum 5 hours) you would realise the thrust of his visit in the Indian context. Others present that afternoon werent so positive. In fact Moonis Ahmar from the Department of International Relations of the Karachi University didnt mince words when he uttered India is committing a mistake in trusting the Americans and so far as our (Pakistan) government is concerned they shouldnt have allowed him to come at all ... Imagine he (Clinton) stopping only for four or five hours in Pakistan and that too not moving from the airport. This is all so ridiculous ! Who does he think he is? And here let me also point out that his visiting the subcontinent at the fag end of his term is useless in terms of the so-called benefits, for the new President of the USA wouldnt necessarily follow his policy. And when I asked Ravinatha Aryasinha, the Colombo Foreign Office spokesperson, present at this discussion about his views on this hype and his comments on the fact that though Clinton is hopping across to Bangladesh and Pakistan but has omitted Sri Lanka from his itinerary, he said: There was never any talk of his visiting Sri Lanka. Anyway that would have led to so many security problems... it would have been very very difficult to handle. And regarding the hype here, I think it is more in newspapers than in the actual masses. What really bothers me is the anti Pakistan hype created in this country. I think it has really built up post- Kargil and it is a bit far fetched but these are my personal views, not my comments as my countrys spokesperson....
Manias many facets
Back to Clintons visit to the Capital. To be precise, the frills being webbed around it. Parts of the capital city are getting such a face lift that it is difficult to recognise the very roads, signboards etc. But then, together with this there are rumours that most Delhiites will have no choice but to remain indoors on March 21 because Clinton and his brigade will go on a calling-on spree, and so most of us have to remain off our roads. Does such a scenario get enacted when any of our so called leaders go visiting Washington? No point in my already repeating all those details pertaining to his hotel stay and travel drills but before moving ahead I must mention that on March 16 the Chinese ambassador to India, Zhou Gang, chose to address a Press meet at the Press Club of India. The timing seemed appropriate or call it inappropriate (in the context of Clintons visit starting from March 19) and the very topic somewhat directionless. Said the ambassador: At the eve of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and India, I would take this opportunity to give you a brief account of the development of China in the present day context , Chinas foreign policy and the Sino Indian relations...And though the ambassador did add that he would be glad to answer any queries and in keeping with that formality he did provide answers to each and every query but they were so diplomatically worded or say well-crafted that they bordered on the trite.
Honest man of the year
Come April and Khushwant Singh is going to be presented with Sulabhs Honest man of the Year Award. and coinciding with the award ceremony, there will be a book release. This book will have men and women writing on what they think of this honest man. Edited by Kaamna Prasad it includes Pavan K Varma, Najma Heptullah, Soli Sorabjee, Tavleen Singh, M.J Akbar, K.K Birla, Swraj Paul and several others sharing details of their association with him. And when I asked Kaamna what she thought of Khushwant she came up with this couplet: Aaisa kahaan se layein, ke tumsa kahen jise...
Really Khushwant is different. For he is a man who is so totally candid that it is difficult to believe that such men exist even today. Each time I meet him I come back seeing another facet of his sheer honesty and at times it is touching to hear him talk or write exactly as he thinks... no garbs and camouflages coming inbetween.
Festival of Tibet
OUR anticipation that the yarn franchise had not been accepted and would not be given effect to by a large proportion of those who nominally voted in favour of it has been literally fulfilled. At Bombay, which was believed to be one of the strongholds of the advocation of the new proposal, about a third of the members of the Provincial Congress Committee have just been declared to be defaulters, and this number includes such men as Mr Jayakar, leader of the Bombay Swarajya Party and Mr Belgaumwalla, a member of the All-India Congress Khaddar Board.
Mr Jayakars explanation that he has paid Rs 3 instead does not improve matters, because what he is required to contribute is not the money but the yarn, though it need not be yarn spun by himself.
Mr Belgaumwalla, on the other hand, appears to have assumed the role of a passive resister, because he says he does not propose either to send the yarn or Rs in lieu of it.
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