|Saturday, April 1, 2000,
killings of Chatti Singhpora
out of touch with reality
EXPORTS had grown by 11.3 per cent in last financial year up to January, reversing the stagnant trend in the two previous years. Buoyed by this, Commerce Minister Murasoli Maran has pitched this years target at 20 per cent and sees visions of exports ballooning by 30-35 per cent in the next few years. That is being very ambitious, but the export-import policy he announced on Friday does not unfortunately have anything dramatic to spur this kind of growth. He obviously wants to repeat the Chinese model of generating exports by setting up special zones. But the vastly different political systems and economic environment have stopped him in his stride. Thus he has presented a skeleton of the Chinese free trade zone with the spirit neatly carved out of it. China bans migration of workers into the zone, allows a unit to produce anything in any volume and, more importantly, to hire or fire workers without the fear of attracting government or court action. Given the Indian conditions, such freedom to entrepreneurs is unthinkable and hence the Minister can only envy the success of the northern neighbour in dumping world markets with cheap labour-intensive products from these modern-day labour camps. All that he has done is to set up special economic zones where suffocating regulations do not apply and request state governments to declare any industrial unit which exports more than half its production as a public utility, thereby ban strikes there. There will be no excise duty but that is no big deal since those outside the zones can claim duty draw back. Big business houses routinely complain that bad government policies hold back a boom in exports. One, more than 800 products are reserved for the small-scale sector which accounts for a major share of all exports. As a consequence, there has been no noticeable investment in modernisation and technological upgradation of these units. With the import of 714 items thrown open, and many of them now in the reserved list, the small scale sector will face competition and that may warrant a review of the present policy.
Mr Maran has freed more
than 710 items from all forms of import control. Several
consumer durables and agricultural products figure in the
list. By next year another 715 items the last
batch of products to remain banned will join the
free import list. This is a giant step towards genuine
free trade. But it was not a voluntary act since India
has to undertake this under a WTO-dictated agreement with
the USA and signed in November last. This fact deprived
Mr Maran of taking credit for the revolutionary step. And
as Commerce Minister he has no power to offer tax relief
and hence has to confine himself to rationalising and
simplifying procedures and selecting one or two sectors
for special encouragement. For instance, he sees a
glittering promise in export of gems and jewellery and
has minted the term diamond dollar to give greater elbow
room to exporters. The old concessional import of capital
goods and intermediates for partial re-export is now
applicable to all sectors of industry and the import duty
is lower at 5 per cent from the old 10 per cent. More
imports will now be cleared under self-certification, and
NRIs can pass through the green channel with the
confidence that only rarely they will be checked. The
Minister set himself the task of bringing about a
paradigm shift by concentrating the policy not to control
imports but to encourage exports. By the time the Press
conference ended it was clear that he has succeeded only
THE Justice Venkatachalaiah-led National Commission set up to review the working of the Constitution has started its work by allotting specific tasks to the members. There will be 10 expert groups, the functions of which have been generally elaborated on behalf of the Commission by Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy. The formation of the groups gives one the idea of "plays within a play" in traditional theatre. The tasks have been identified with persons. Read together, the two components in the exercise persons and work make things clear in terms of area-specification. Mr Subhash Kashyap will work on electoral reforms. Justice K. Ramaswamy will head the group on "the pace of socio-economic changes and development", Mr Justice R.S. Sarkaria would define, as he has done before, the Centre-State relations. Mr Soli Sorabjee will focus his attention on the enlargement of the Fundamental Rights. Mr P.A. Sangma has been made the co-chairman of the section meant to "strengthen the panchayati raj institutions"; he knows much more about the parliamentary procedures than about local self-government though! Then there is Mr C. R. Irani, an eminent journalist. He will look at the "effectuation" of the fundamental duties. The list of the names and the subjects is rather long. The Commission will prepare a background paper and a questionnaire. This will be sent to various non-governmental organisations (NGOs), consumer groups, political parties and other interested organisations. April 22, a date not far away, is expected to bring out the summation of the work of two or three groups. Then there will be a draft paper on each of the topics. Again, discussion will take place. Finally, the recommendations will be put before the Chairman. The BJP has considered it necessary to state through its spokesman, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, that a White Paper will be issued soon. Justice Reddy has done well to say that there is no such plan.
Political parties should
not come into the picture in crucial matters like the
Constitution's review. One needs to say, while in quest
of a perspective, that the Constitution is the result of
long accumulated, slow but revolutionary forces. The
British Parliament had nothing to do with it. The
creation and the working of the Constituent Assembly
which the mother group seems to connote, was blessed by
Gandhi and carried forward by men like Dr Rajendra
Prasad, Dr B.R. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru. The idea
of the Constituent Assembly had the assertion of the
people's will and creating as the best and most valid
form of a Constitution had been suggested from time to
time, at least from the time of Dr Annie Besant. There
were informal groups which discussed the necessity of
issues, both legal and political, but there was no
concept of a multiple committee within a single
committee's umbrella. The Constitution was the work of
many minds, most of them legal and not revolutionary, but
they reflected largely the political wisdom, the
knowledge of constitutional theory and practice, and the
dominant economic interests of the time. Long-term social
and economic development was envisaged through the
Directive Principles. At the moment of
Constitution-making, the dominant concern was the
possible political consequences of the question which
Abraham Lincoln had asked: "Must a government, of
necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own
people or too weak to maintain its own existence?"
Another main preoccupation was to maintain the unity
behind the Union without weakening the federal relations,
especially the relations between the Centre and the
States. The problem became complex and crucial with
different parties in power at the Centre and in the
States. The new dispensation has come along with the idea
of President K.R. Narayanan that we should try to find
out whether the Constitution has failed us or we have
failed the Constitution. Now that the reviewing process
has started, one only wishes that there would be no delay
in the presentation of the findings of the various groups
in their totality.
THE Supreme Court ruling in the Mohan Meakins case is significant because it reflects the universally accepted principle of making the polluter pay for the damage caused to the environment. Mohan Meakins is the post-Independence name for Dyer Meakins Brewery set up in the Daliganj area of Lucknow by an English entrepreneur for making beer and hard liquor. The popular impression is that the Mohan family which bought the factory has made unsatisfactory investment in making their units in Lucknow and elsewhere conform to the evolving anti-pollution laws. Since the brewery is located on the banks of the Gomti, which supplies drinking water to the city, the discharge of untreated effluents in the river pushed up the level of pollution to dangerous levels. On a number of occasions, the pollutants caused the death of fish. The case which was decided by the apex court was about the emptying of noxious effluents into the river from the brewery's Daltonganj unit 17 years ago. Nine directors and the manager of Mohan Meakins were found guilty of the offence of polluting the Gomti. The two-Judge Bench ruled that "any director, manager or other officer of the company, who had consented to or connived in the commission of the said offence, is made liable for punishment". It quashed the Lucknow Sessions Court and Allahabad High Court orders rejecting the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board's plea for the prosecution of Mohan Meakins' senior staff members. The apex court verdict has important lessons for the subordinate judiciary and powerful message for the anti-pollution lobby in the country. While setting aside the earlier orders the Bench rightly emphasised that "courts cannot afford to deal lightly with cases involving pollution of air and water, and the message must go to all concerned. The courts will share the parliamentary concern on the escalating pollution level of our environment... Parliamentary concern in the matter is adequately reflected in strengthening the measures prescribed by the statute". Green activists have a special reason to be happy with the Supreme Court order. There is no denying the fact that most environment-related cases are not given the importance they deserve by the subordinate judiciary. The apex court expressed unqualified displeasure over the tendency of the lower courts for treating environment issues casually.
Some more good news for
the green brigade was provided, at about the same time
the apex court delivered its verdict, by the simple
villagers of Alwar in Rajasthan. It is an established
fact that big industries and an indifferent civic network
are responsible for the slow death of most fresh water
sources in the country. Against this dismal scenario the
villagers of Bhaonta and Kolyala in Alwar deserve high
praise for bringing a "dead" river back to
life. They performed the laudable act without any help
from government. All they did was to follow the simple
principle of making small bandhs for collecting rain
water, which, in due course, gave new life to the local
river called Arvari. It had virtually disappeared and the
villagers' plea to the district administration and the
State government for help literally had fallen on deaf
ears. But the simple strategy of harvesting rain water
helped the villagers turn their dry fields into lush
green farms. It is just as well that President K.R.
Narayanan accepted the invitation to visit the village
and present the Down-to-Earth Joseph C. John Award to the
villagers for their contribution to improving the
environment. It goes without saying that periodic nudge
from the judiciary and private initiative together do
indeed make the task of protecting the environment
THE five-day wonder of Bill Clintons visit seems to have created a kind of euphoria which has many an interesting and intriguing aspect. It appears as though the equivocal American archetype, for once, presents a variant dimension. For to see Uncle Sam deviate into some strains of truth and candidness in the year 2000 is to experience another level of reality. The Indo-US relations have been bedevilled for so long as to raise doubts even when the signals become clear and loud.
The kind of chill that has characterised the dialogue for years could not but result in half-frozen reactions and responses. And now that a bit of the sun has suddenly materialised in the parlour of diplomacy, some thaw would naturally be expected. Yes, theres an air of authenticity about the recent proceedings and developments, but to be carried away and lose the sense of history and perspective is to fall into an affective trap. And the Indians, prone to emotional extravagance and we witnessed some embarrassing lapses on the part of our MPs eager to shake the Presidential paw and even on the part of the well-heeled worthies both in Hyderabad and Mumbai have, therefore, to keep their hopes and expectations in abeyance.
To be sure, since the Kargil issue, some pronouncements from Washington had started to create a dialectic of understanding, but the results of the Clinton visit seem to have exceeded surmises on either side. And it must not be forgotten that one rogue factor which erupted right during the presidential presence on our soil the fiendish and coldly-calculated massacre of 40 Sikhs in a peaceful, unguarded village in the Valley added pointedly to the gathering weight of American insights, rousing the ire and indignation of Clinton, such being the nature of the outrage. The ISI-sponsored terrorism, instead of queering the pitch of the crisis in Kashmir, found itself stripped in a most grievous manner. The theatre of cruelty had few takers in the Clinton entourage. To put it differently, the imponderables of the Clinton visit turned into palpable positives.
Even such an unexpected turn in perceptions must not unsettle our responses. For emotions and sentiments begin to yield diminishing returns once the kinetics of realpolitik and the new pressures at home start to function. Without a settled culture of commonalties and that side of the picture is still blurred no nuclear change in mutual perceptions is to be expected. In the world of diplomacy allergies and alignments have come to acquire very subtle masks. Again, we must not forget that in the final reckoning, even the White House has to contend with a deeply conservative and aggressive Congress which has been openly inimical to India.
Its also the time to remember that the American mercantile theology Max Webers thesis of the Protestant ethic linked to God and Mammon at once has come to stay, whatever the nature of American concerns. So, when the balance-sheet is drawn up, even presidential promises come a cropper. Whatever, then, the nature of rhetoric, the requirements of the corporate American mind global hegemony and economic overlordism would always prevail in the end. Even the marriage of convenience between high-tech American tycoons and their Indian counterparts and clones may not develop into a stable relationship if the winds of change remain a metaphor, and the envisaged tides of affluence peter out into advantages only for the elite and the powerful in India.
Let me, however, affirm that the Clinton visit has raised the levels of hope by several notches, and that the American President seems to have perhaps exceeded the brief carefully crafted by his think-tank and the allied interests. All these are obviously good signs, but these would remain cold comfort if on all the three major issues cross-border terrorism, respect for the LoC, and the threat of a sudden nuclear strike Pakistans attitude remains as refractory and wanton as at this moment. In fact, the American media and commentators have already reported Clintons failure in Islamabad, despite his tough talk and reprimand. Nor has his judicious mix of friendliness and admonition in his well-pondered TV address impressed the Pakistani people, nurtured for long on a diet of hatred and dark designs. The mullahs remain sullen and unimpressed and the youth incensed and primed for Jehad as ever.
Which returns us to Americas dilemma, and to the Vision statement signed ceremoniously in New Delhi by the American President and the Indian Prime Minister. Surely, the rhetoric is good and proper, the tone correct and uncondescending, the substance fair and fine. But it may be helpful to note that it would be a folly on our part to treat it as something definitive or sacrosanct. For the basic concerns of America permit an air of idealism to live in comfort with open opportunism. The American philosophers call it pragmatism. Having derailed the American Dream en route, the Vision part of the document involving the US could hardly inspire confidence. For the pragmatism of William James who enunciated and elaborated this philosophy in the second half of the 19th century was a different order of thing. The kind of realism he advocated in relation to the American experience had a fair amount of moral flavour. That fine edge has got blunted with the passage of time, and the visionary America is today not even a convenient fiction. It may now be seen chiefly as a fugitive in the work of great American thinkers, writers and artists.
I have, in a small way, tried to put the Clinton visit and the Vision Statement in historical perspective, but, I guess, its time now to aver that Bill Clintons idiom and wit, his symbolism and cognitive reach did create the impression of a new understanding of Bharat that is India. His homework which included a familiarity with the great historical, intellectual, philosophical, and mathematical India, and his acknowledgement of Indias superpower status as an emerging Info engine of energies combined with a show of concern for Indias marginalised hungry and houseless millions undoubtedly created an image which Clinton would love to carry home. And, of course, what seems to have pleased India most is a visible U.S. tilt towards it, for a change, and a better understanding of the Indian position on some vexing and difficult issues. And here some credit does go to the Indian team of experts and negotiators who were able to put the case across fairly forcefully. Yes, a certain amount of fog does linger and obscure the prospects, and there are other grey areas too in relation to trade restrictions, environmental and labour issues, among other things but, somehow the hopesll remain high till the Vision agenda is put to the test.
We may, finally refer to the Clinton effect, if you like. It has worked beyond their expectations and our own. But our disquiet will not be quite dissipated for several reasons. For among other roadblocks, we have to remember that the American Secretary of State, Madame Albright, who kept smiling discreetly, and kept her cool, is still around, and that she represents a certain kind of political species the refractory type that finds it hard to shed illusions and fixations. What Clintons successor will do to keep the Clinton effect in place is difficult to tell. A little sneeze again in the White House can cause an instant epidemic of cold in India. And the Clinton desire to connect may come unstuck before his own bewildered eyes as he retires to become an elder statesman in his Long Island new home.
And thats where
one wonders if the Clinton effect is going to
last, or turn, soon enough, into the Doppler
effect which has been defined thus: The sound
of anything coming at you a train, say, or future
has a higher pitch than the sound of the same
thing going out. Now the Clinton arrival which had
been drummed up all around was, indeed, on a high note
a five-day exciting and crowded schedule as
compared with the reluctant and niggardly five-hour
stopover in Islamabad. One hopes the Clinton
effect would not lose its pitch when Air Force One
touches down at the Washington airport named after John
Foster Dulles, a name that still riles the Indian
imagination, and continues to cast its ghostly shadow on
the affairs of the State Department. Its matter for
the US President to ponder.
killings of Chatti Singhpora
THE killing of 35 Sikhs in Chatti Singhpora village in Anantnag district in South Kashmir has sent shock waves, not only through the Sikhs in the Valley but in the entire community and others elsewhere in the country and abroad. Sikh settlers in the Valley date back to the period when the Valley formed part of the Sikh empire during Ranjit Singhs time. In the Valley they are spread over a hundred villages as small land-holders and operate petty businesses. During the decade old insurgency in the State they were not targeted by the terrorists but nevertheless had remained in a state of perpetual fear. When the mass migration of the Pandits started during the early nineties, the Sikhs in the Valley opted to stay, because the terror tactics of the insurgents and terrorists were directed at the Pandits alone.
The militancy problem in Punjab had preceded that in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan perceived a common platform for the separatists in J and K and the Sikhs seeking Khalistan. They were taken to be fighting for a similar cause and aiming towards a somewhat common objective. Kashmiri terrorists trained in Pakistan were made to believe that the Sikhs in general and those in the Valley were sympathetic to their cause. Therefore, when a batch of 43 Pakistan trained insurgents infiltrated into Indian territory, north of Poonch in the early nineties, they believed that the Sikhs could be depended upon to help them. Their two guides hid them in the forest, telling them that they had to await a suitable opportunity to sneak past the security forces covering forest tracks to the Valley. The guides were in fact working for the Army. After waiting for a few days the terrorists became impatient and asked the guides to arrange a truck for them from Poonch to take them to Baflias, below the Pirpanjhal pass, from where they knew their way to the Valley. A road journey would avoid the forest tracks. However they insisted that the driver of the truck must be a Sikh.
It so happened that on that day no Sikh driver could be found at Poonch. The brigade commanders Sikh driver volunteered to take the vehicle to carry the terrorists. How this brave driver from the Punjab Regiment displaying tremendous presence of mind and quick reactions missed death by a hairs breadth when the militants shot the two guides. How almost the entire group in the truck perished in the fire-fight with the military ambush is a story which must await another occasion to be told.
The point in narrating this incident is to highlight the fact that the terrorists in J and K were made to believe that the local Sikhs were with them or at least sympathetic to their cause. Consequently, they were never targeted. However, they often visited their villages and at times took shelter with them. The security forces have been aware of this, but realising the very difficult conditions for the survival of the Sikhs in these hostile environments, left them alone and never involved them in their intelligence gathering operations etc. The Sikhs on their part too realised the tenuous nature of their existence and preferred to stay aloof. For a minority community to live, day and night, in a hostile majority community area, in an environment of perpetual fear, where neighbours eye your property and belongings, selective killings and molestation of women go unchecked and unpunished by a communalised police and insensitive administration, can be the most frightening and soul destroying experience. No one knows more of this than the Pandits from the valley.
The rationale to target the Sikhs on such a scale in Chatti Singhpora is somewhat puzzling. Killings of Hindus in such numbers could have been easily carried out elsewhere in J and K with similar aim and purpose. If the intention was to merely reaffirm the view that J and K is the most dangerous place and a possible nuclear flashpoint, as noted by the American Administration prior to Mr Clintons visit to India, then the militants of various hues operating in the State could have chosen a target other than the Sikhs for creating the same impact. It could be a case of a foul-up or misdirection from the controlling authorities from across the border. Now intelligence reports relating to the intercepts from across the border instructing terrorist groups to target the Sikhs during the Clinton visit are being noted. What exactly was the action taken on these intercepts is not spelled out. This sort of lackadaisical approach to intelligence work so soon after the Subrahmanyam Report on the intelligence failure in Kargil merely affirms that, business as usual attitude continues to prevail.
These killings have created panic, chaos and raised the prospects of mass exodus by the Sikh community from the Valley. The Sikhs have experienced the pains of migration at a gigantic scale at the time of partition of the country and to a lesser extent during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Therefore, these fresh wave of migrations by the Sikhs will open new wounds and add yet another chapter to their travails. The Kashmiri Pandits too had to flee from the Valley to become homeless in their own country. But the question we need to address ourselves is: How can this uprooting of people within their own country be allowed to go on unchecked? What sort of a country do we live in where one can become a refugee in ones own land? A government that allows this to happen forfeits the right to govern.
When the initial migration of Pandits from the Valley started and the first set of batches arrived in Jammu in the refugee camps set up for them, there was palpable tension in the town. As a corps commander in the Jammu region I impressed upon the then Governor that the camps should be established in the Valley itself and provided the necessary protection. Such a step would have sent the right signals to the initiators of the migrations and that ethnic cleansing and driving out the minority communities by the majority would not be allowed to occur. Nothing was done and the trickle soon became a torrent. The ethnic cleansing and migration of the Pandits was complete and the mighty Indian State looked on helplessly.
If the Sikhs migrate from the Valley, be sure that sooner or later the minority communities in the districts of Poonch and Rajouri will be made to follow suit. Eventually the same fate could await Hindus and Sikhs in the district of Jammu too. This kind of situation can not be allowed to develop. The repercussions on the rest of the country, should such a situation become a reality, will be disastrous.
There are two possible ways to salvage the situation. One is to position security detachments in these villages and in addition arm the Sikhs living there. The other is to open suitable camps in the Valley and provide these, full protection, essential amenities including schooling for the children and adequate stipends to the families. The Pandits should be asked to come back to the Valley and into these camps. When the situation becomes normal, those in the camps can go back to their homes and rebuild their shattered lives. The government should not permit altering the revenue documents pertaining to the properties of Pandits and the Sikhs, should the latter migrate or move to the camps.
Such a course of action will send the right signals to those attempting ethnic cleansing and making J and K a single community entity. That is the only option available for preserving the plurality and unity of the Indian State.
of touch with reality
LET me begin with a question. When was the last time you saw one of our major political leaders in a village listening seriously to the problems of village women? Dont spend too much time thinking about it because the chances are that you will all end up saying never. Its true that when there is a disaster or a massacre or something equally horrific you see them descend like droves of vultures on the afflicted village but, in normal times, you will almost never see an Indian political leader stopping by some village just to find out about local problems. This is what made Bill Clintons visit to Nayla village so extraordinary a thing that pictures of him dancing with the village women made the covers of several major newsmagazines.
Our leaders use security considerations as the excuse not to mingle with mere mortals and here was the man with the tightest security in the world dancing and chatting with ordinary village women. Clinton was so affected by his brief encounter with rural India that he told the story of Nayla at the meetings he addressed afterwards in Hyderabad and Mumbai. He told gatherings of our most rich and powerful businessmen about micro-credit and the wondrous transformation it had brought about in the lives of illiterate, village women.
He did not tell them about Naylas women and their success story merely because he was fascinated by the novelty of his first brush with the real India but because he knows that the most important achievements of the 21st century will relate to what we dismiss as the social sector.
He did not make a single speech in India in which he did not emphasise the importance of literacy, healthcare and the environment. And, in doing so he inadvertently showed up our own leaders for being what they in fact are: yesterdays men. Yesterdays men whose heads are filled with yesterdays issue so we have the absurd spectacle of Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha and Mulayam Singh Yadav fighting over whether it was right for the Prime Minister to have spoken in Hindi or English when he and Clinton jointly addressed Parliament. Who cares? Nobody. But, so out of touch with reality are our leaders that they continue to dredge up issues of language, caste, community and creed in the hope that this will excite voters.
So outdated is the average neta that those who spoke at the meetings the American President addressed with the exception of the Prime Minister and Chandrababu Naidu made idiots of themselves. The award of comic act of the moment goes to Rangarajan Kumaramangalam and Pramod Mahajan. With the Chief Minister of Maharashtra following closely in their wake since he made his appalling, begging-for-investment speech not once but twice. Once before the President arrived and once after.
These gentlemen spoke at the Bombay Stock Exchange while waiting for Mr Clinton and here are some excerpts of what they had to say. Kumaramangalam, as Power Minister, heads a ministry that desperately seeks foreign investment but clears proposals in such a convoluted and debilitating way that prospective investors often end up running for their lives. It would have been extremely useful then if he had explained exactly what he had done to make the procedure less painful. Instead, what he ended up telling the gathering of businessmen was that India needed to double its power production in the next few years. Something that most of them already know. He also tried his hand at humour, My friend Pramod Mahajan who will speak after me is even writer than I am.
There was not a titter in the audience and when it came to Mahajans turn there was real shock when he announced that India had been an economic superpower in the past which was why Christopher Columbus had gone looking for it. As Minister of Information Technology he also ended up revealing his complete lack of understanding of what it can be used for by going on only about how many more IT colleges he planned to build.
It was left to Mr Clinton to explain that the importance of IT was that it could bring education to people who would never otherwise have had access to it. The best educational programmes in the world can be made available on Internet, he pointed out, so that you can be sitting in a village in India and have access to what is being taught in MIT and Harvard. It was also left to him to explain that the whole purpose of the Knowledge Revolution was to help us fight poverty, hunger and disease.
And, here, lets give two cheers to Chandrababu Naidu, who despite his inability to speak English well, managed with the help of slides to show the President that in Andhra he was already trying to use it for education. The reason why I give only two cheers to the man I have often described as the best Chief Minister in the country is because I find it very hard to understand why he opposes in Delhi the very things he is doing in Andhra. His MPs made such a racket in the Lok Sabha recently over the privatisation of SAILs steel plant in Vishakapatnam that the Central Government told them that if they wanted to run it the State Government could buy it off them for one rupee. SAILs losses last year alone were more than Rs 1500 crore money that could be much better spent on healthcare, schools, roads and improving the quality of life for the ordinary Indian.
Speaking of which have you noticed how our leaders keep referring to the average Indian as the common man? There is something deeply insulting about this usage but in the feudal-socialism that they practice they do not even notice.
There have been reams of analysis of the Clinton visit. There is not a political pundit in Delhi who has gone into the intricate depths of the shift in US foreign policy, the slap in Pakistans face, the gradual acceptance of our position on Kashmir and blah and blah and blah. And, even our serious, national newspapers converted themselves into tabloids to gush and giggle over every social engagement that the Clinton had. So, we know that the President enjoyed Mallika Sarabhais dance performance (according to her), we know he ate mountains of food at the Bukhara (according to them), that nobody in the Oberoi Mumbai caught even a glimpse of the President (according to my hairdresser) and that the Secret Service were rude and offensive (according to my hairdresser and Karan Thapar).
But, almost not a single
article has appeared which has even attempted to discuss
his emphasis on issues like literacy, healthcare and the
environment. Could it be because it isnt just our
netas who have not yet caught up with the 21st century
but us hacks as well?
IT appears from the full text of his speech on the Finance Bill that Mr Jinnah, while repeatedly emphasising that it was not in the power of the Assembly to make the Government impossible and on this ground alone opposing the Swarajist policy of obstruction, declared it to be his own intention and that of his party to try and coerce this Government in every possible manner, and said that it was for this precise object that he was there.
Now unless plain English words have lost their meaning, coercion in this case belongs to exactly the same category as the mending or ending policy of the Swarajists. If, as Mr Jinnah repeatedly asserted, it was not in the power of the Swarajists to mend or end the present Constitution, may we enquire in what sense and in what way it was in his own power to coerce the Government?
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