|Thursday, April 13, 2000,
TALE OF TWO LADIES
universality of Baisakhi
April 13, 1925
THE news about the interception of a truck carrying 10 Pakistan-bound containers of highly radioactive material by Uzbekistan's customs authorities recently is extremely disturbing. Pakistan is already a nuclear weapons state and does not require this type of material. That lends credence to the fear expressed by several western analysts that the one-tonne consignment may have been meant for making radiation bombs. Such suitcase-sized bombs are the ultimate weapon in the wish-list of terrorists on suicide missions, considering that these can cause havoc more extensive than any conventional explosives. The possibility of their proliferation is a nightmare for the entire world. One shudders to think what would have happened if one such bomb buried by Chechen rebels in a busy Moscow park in 1995 was not detected in time. And a bomb used overground can cause even heavier casualties and damage. There are reasons to suspect that Pakistan has not only been making such bombs but also exporting them. Since the truck carrying the 10 lead-lined containers, each about the size of a thick briefcase, from Kazakhstan to Quetta in Pakistan, was registered in Iran and its driver was an Iranian, speculation is that the bombs were being manufactured for that country. Such clandestine activity is nothing new in Pakistan. It has been running a global ring for buying, copying and stealing nuclear weapons technology for decades, with the help of which it is believed to have built at least 12 nuclear warheads. There are also reports to the effect that it is engaged in making biological weapons as well. The sensational interception of the radioactive material is yet another wake-up call for the civilised world that the rogue nation needs to be stopped in its tracks at the earliest.
The whole region has
become vulnerable following the disintegration of the
Soviet Union. Many nuclear facilities of the erstwhile
USSR were located in distant republics which are now
independent nations. To meet the severe resource crunch,
some buccaneers are willing to sell the unaccounted
stocks even to terrorists. The USA has been quick to
point that the radioactive consignment was discovered by
the Uzbek officials trained by it, using gadgets provided
by the USA. While that is a major achievement indeed, the
US involvement in such operations is not commensurate
with the dimensions of the threat. It is one of the few
countries which can help put in a better surveillance
system in place. The link between nuclear smugglers and
terrorists is well known. The introduction of simple,
hand-carried radiation weapons is a cause for extreme
disquiet in India. The challenge can be met only if the
rest of the world shares its sense of outrage.
ANOTHER relic of the decade of confusion (the eighties) is getting ready to move to the choppimg block. The Indian Labour Conference (ILC) later this week should formally recommend the winding up of the BIFR (Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction) which was intended to nurse sick industrial units to health but later took on the role of the hangman. Actually the ILC agenda is to find an agency to decide on closing the ailing units from among the lending instiitutions, banks or the BIFR. Given its dismal record, the BIFR will not retain the present authority and if it does not, its loses the logic of existence. So it should. Both banks and financial bodies like IDBI have sunk huge money in these mostly small scale industries with absolutely no hope of recovering even a fraction of it. Since they stand to suffer the most, the ILC is likely to ask them to initiate closure proceedings without loss of time. Nobody will shed tears over the BIFRs impending death, although its gradual loss of energy and sense of direction exposes the bankruptcy of successive governments policies. It was set up in 1987, as its name clearly spells out, to pump oxygen into ailing industrial units and revive them. But a piece of central legislation on sick industries came handy to the owners to delay a detailed investigation and exploit the time to strip the units of all assets. The Boards helplessness is manifest in an RBI finding. By 1998, more than 2.2 lakh small industries had gone sick or very weak with an aggregate outstanding credit of Rs 11,865 crore. Ironically, these figures represent a marginal improvement over those of 1997, although more medium and large industries joined the list in 1998.
muddled thinking is evident at every step of the
Boards gradual emasculation. In its supreme
unwisdom the government retained the power to refer sick
units to the BIFR. And typically again, it laid down an
elaborate procedure which allowed the sinking industries
to stall the inquiry. That has had a crippling effect on
the BIFRs work. Only slightly more than 4000 cases
were referred to it and it recommended a successful cure
only for 223. It has suggested the closure of the rest.
As conceived, the BIFR had great potential but was
hamstrung at every stage by bureaucratic bunglers. It had
to witness a jump in industrial sickness, not always due
to forces beyond the control of the untrained management.
This is the second knock small scale units will receive.
The export and import policy poses a grave threat to the
sector since foreign companies can now produce any item
in the newly setup special economic zones. Although meant
exclusively for exports, the fully owned plants will be
able to sell in the local market after paying all taxes.
This is a concession big and medium Indian companies do
not enjoy. For a sector which is in the forefront in
exports and job creation, the small scale units have been
denied the kind of encouragement and help they so richly
APRIL is proving to be a cruel month for the residents of Delhi, specially those who depend on public transport for reaching their places of work. Teachers and students too have to face predictable hardship because of the Supreme Court order prohibiting from April 1 the running in the national capital of buses, taxis and autorickshaws which are more than eight years old. The Delhi Government was evidently under the impression that it would be able to pressure the apex court into modifying its order in the "public interest". But the court rejected the request for the extension of the time limit by five years for the enforcement of the ban on polluting vehicles. Consequently, nearly 2,000 Delhi Transport Corporation and an equal number of chartered buses were withdrawn from service from the date fixed by the court. The two-day strike by taxi and autorickshaw unions in Delhi against the enforcement of the order of the highest court of the land was a clumsy attempt to browbeat the administration into submission. The strike merely added to the woes of out-station passengers and local commuters. The Delhi Government may have looked the other way but for a stern warning from the three-member Bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India himself, against the violation of its order. It must be understood that the objective of providing an efficient public transport system and ensuring reduction in the level of pollution can be achieved without sacrificing one for saving the other. A more responsive government would on its own have realised the importance of a pollution-free environment and an efficient public transport network. It is important to remember that the Supreme Court did not spring a surprising order on the Delhi Government when it responded to a public interest petition seeking reduction in the level of pollution caused by old vehicles.
The court passed the
order on July 28, 1998, in which it made it clear that
commercial vehicles which were more than eight years old
would not be allowed to ply in the national capital after
April 1, 2000. The government,perhaps, thought that the
order was some kind of an advance April fool joke. That
is why it did not make any effort to start the process of
phasing out vehicles which are the single largest source
of pollution in the metropolis. The court gave enough
time to the Delhi Government for putting together a
financial package for such taxi and autorickshaw owners
as may not have the money for effecting eco-friendly
changes in their vehicles before the April 1 deadline.
However, there should be no doubt whatsoever that without
the no-nonsense posture adopted by the judiciary, the
issue of environment protection may not have received the
attention of the authorities concerned. The World War II
vintage "phut phuties" caused both noise and
air pollution. The judiciary intervened to have them
banished from Delhi roads a few years ago. Its absence
did cause initial hardship to daily commuters. In due
course the demand and supply principle helped create an
alternative transport system for meeting the needs of
"phut phuti" passengers. The apex court's order
about polluting vehicles too is causing predictable
problems for the commuters. They would have to learn to
bear with it. They must, nevertheless, realise that
without the apex court talking tough the problem of air
pollution would not have received the necessary attention
of the state government. One can live on love and fresh
air. But without an efficient and eco-friendly public
transport system the two do not add up to much.
A TALE OF
INDIA is, of course, the worlds largest democracy. This much is indeed accepted on all hands in all lands. What is not sufficiently recognised, however, is that, though modelled closely on Westminster, what prevails here is democracy with Indian characteristics. Herein lie the roots of the many paradoxes and incongruities, some of them bizarre, of our democratic system. Of these, two merit particular attention for the simple reason that currently they are very much to the fore.
The first is manifest in the latest Act in the unending drama in Bihar where all the absurdities of Indian politics get magnified manifold. The issue is whether Chief Minister Rabri Devi should resign now that she is facing charges on which her redoubtable husband, Laloo Yadav, has gone to jail even if she is out on bail.
No matter which way the question is resolved, what is established yet again is that in our democracy there are no norms on which the polity is agreed. Allegiance to every elementary standard of behaviour is determined almost entirely by partisan imperatives that are then argued passionately, and street-fights often accompany perfervid debates. The most dismal feature of which phenomenon is that a political party or combination which takes one position at one time blandly adopts the opposite stance at another time, depending on what is expedient.
No principle is sacred or immutable. For, legal luminaries, media pundits, activist groups, et al, behave no differently from politicians. They too jump into the fray in a totally opportunistic manner. Instances of such goings-on are far too many and far too painful. Even a few should suffice to drive home the point.
It goes without saying that the Emergency of the mid-seventies was a monstrosity. It also stands to reason that the Emergencys many critics had later thundered that President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed should have refused to sign the Emergency proclamation though they knew that this was not permissible under the Constitution. The same ladies and gentlemen later changed their position by 180 degrees. The new Janata government had decided, rather arbitrarily, to impose Presidents rule in nine Congress-governed states. The Acting President, B.D. Jatti, asked for time to consider the controversial proclamations placed before him. The Janata stalwarts publicly berated him for exceeding his powers. They bluntly told him to sign on the dotted line or resign.
The Congress, badly defeated in the parliamentary poll, had protested vigorously against the Janata decision and urged Jatti not to sign the nine proclamations. Thirty months later Indira Gandhi was back in power. She repaid the Janata in kind by dismissing nine of its state governments. In the raucous shouting and legal battles that followed, the roles were totally reversed.
Similarly, since the dawn of the era of instability, every single political formation has unabashedly changed its position repeatedly on the issue whether the President (or the Governor) should give the first opportunity to form a government to the largest single party or to a grouping, pre-poll or even post-poll, claiming a larger strength though lacking a clear majority.
The current controversy in Bihar over Rabris future fits into the established pattern through with a big difference. The demand for her ouster, during the pendency of the case in which she has been chargesheeted, is loud but is not being pressed as forcefully as was expected. Her opponents and critics are not deterred by the fact that the timing of the CBIs chargesheet against her and her husband was suspect. Nor are the critics bothered by the argument that the Governor who sanctioned her prosecution is palpably prejudiced against her. What is troubling those determined to drive out Rabri, hook or by crook, is something different and deliciously ironic.
It is that if Rabri does go, she wont go alone. Two of the BJP leaders and senior ministers in the Union Cabinet, L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, will have to go along with her or even ahead of her. For, if she has been chargesheeted now for abetting her husbands alleged accumulation of wealth beyond his ostensible sources of income, they are being prosecuted on criminal charges in connection with the 1992 the Babri Masjid demolition. What is sauce for the goose is sauce also for the gander(s).
The BJPs initial instinct was the plea that the charges against Advani and Joshi had political overtones while those against the Bihar Chief Minister related to corruption. But it realised soon enough that to make this distinction would be counter-productive. And since the saffron party cannot afford to show the door to two of its top leaders, it deems discreet silence to be the better part of valour.
No wonder the fervour behind the anti-Rabri crusade has subsided. Indeed, a newspaper headline says it all when it announces: Nitish left alone to demand Rabris ouster. On the other hand, the Congress party (with the inexplicable exception of Sheila Dixit) is firmly behind the dictum that before Rabri is asked to quit, Advani and Joshi be excluded from the Vajpayee Cabinet. The Leftists are backing her to the hilt, and so is the diminishing tribe still capable of taking an objective view, untainted by partisanship.
That being the state of the play in Bihar, it is time to turn to the second glaring bane of Indian politics that is common to all parties but is currently more pronounced in the case of the Congress that has clearly fallen on lean days. Faced with multiple woes rooted in growing dissidence and the correspondingly declining authority of Sonia Gandhi the party has chosen to postpone its organisational elections. For the present, the postponement is for three months. But no one need be surprised if this period is extended, perhaps indefinitely.
It is surely a little difficult about doing away with internal party elections altogether. The Election Commission has at last started insisting on these elections as required by the long-ignored law. But resourceful party leaders do manage to duck the law if not also its spirit.
Come to think of it, the Congress hasnt had elections worth the name since 1972. In 1992, Narasimha Rao showed some signs of wanting to restore inner-party democracy. But no sooner did the AICC elect the Working Committee not to his liking Rao craftily undid the whole process. The BJP has its own way of doing things, indeed. It is currently demonstrating that in place of Kushabhau Thakre another nonentity would be elected party President. Other parties not wanting to be bothered by the distraction of internal elections have been more innovative.
The Shiv Sena, for example, simplified matters by electing Balasaheb Thackeray as supremo for life. And breathes there a soul in Tamil Nadu that can conceive of the AIADMK without Jayalalitha as its presiding deity, elections or no elections?
To cut a long story short, one of the fundamental contradictions in India, at least since the end of the Nehru era, has been that in a genuinely lively (indeed excessively so) democracy almost all parties are run on the authoritarian lines. Inner-party democracy is just not tolerated.
This should explain why party splits are so frequent. For, those who feel stifled for too long or think they have been denied their due decide to quit. Ironically, quite a few of them crawl back to the fold for reasons that will not bear too close a scrutiny.
No Congress leader of any consequence has yet walked out presumably because they draw some lesson from the fate of Sharad Pawar and P.A. Sangma. But there is no doubt that criticism of Sonias leadership has increased exponentially. Even some of her loyalists are making no secret of their dismay. Remarkably, all this criticism is made in private. No one dares to speak out. So far, at least, defiance of Sonia Gandhi is possible only in secret, as was underscored during the massive cross-voting in the biennial Rajya Sabha poll.
Frustrated and angry
Congressmen are content with venting their spleen against
the coterie surrounding the Leader. The joke
in New Delhi is that the coterie now consists of only one
individual: Arjun Singh.
Signs of changing US policy
THE Cold War edifice, so carefully crafted by the two super powers for almost half a century, began to crumble when the Berlin Wall came down. It collapsed totally when the giant Soviet monolith broke up into the still huge but somewhat emasculated Russia, and a host of independent former Soviet republics.
Strangely, however, the American foreign policy mindset did not keep up with the rapid changes occurring around the globe. First, there were too many cold warriors left in the State Department, White House and Pentagon bureaucracies, many of them quite unabashed in their continuing convictions, and others unable to reorient the perspectives they had diligently nurtured for decades.
Secondly, many American policy makers realised that the world appeared less complicated when they were sure of their enemy, with whom they had been engaged for years in a cat-and-mouse, cloak-and-dagger game. The world was neatly divided into spheres of influence, and each side tried to woo members of the other, while trying to ensure that there were no defections from their own ranks.
The first signs of change began when Washington realised that allowing Moscow to descend into political, social and economic chaos would unleash deleterious forces that would adversely affect the affluent West, and add to the severity of Third World conflicts that had so far been kept in check by the dynamics of super power balance. Thus, the USA was in the forefront of those arranging IMF bail-out packages for Russia. It also legislated millions of dollars to help Moscow safely reduce the number of its nuclear weapons. In another instance of enlightened self-interest, the USA also provided the funds to keep Russian nuclear and missile scientists gainfully employed lest they should be enticed away by rogue nations with nuclear ambitions.
It is not that every aspect of US-Russian relations became hunky-dory overnight. Differences remained. Russia was not fully in accord with the US approach to the sanctions on Iraq or with its plan to expand NATO by inducting former Soviet bloc nations; the USA, in turn, looked askance at Moscow supplying nuclear power plants to Iraq, and state of the art armaments to China. But, overall, the tendency was towards cooperation and away from confrontation.
The gradual thawing of Americas Cold War foreign policy manifested itself in various other directions such as the attitude towards members of the former power blocs. And now, nowhere is the change more evident than in the US policy towards India and Pakistan.
During the Cold War era, India was considered firmly in the Soviet camp, with its policy of nonalignment seen as a mere fig leaf to cover its leanings to the left. Pakistan, on the contrary, was perceived as a willing bulwark against Soviet expansionism. The alliance solidified further when Pakistan became an ardent participant in the CIAs clandestine campaign to aid the mujaheedin drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. So strong were the tries that bound the two that despite the strong American views against nuclear proliferation, US Presidents for several years turned a deliberate blind eye towards Islamabads nuclear weapons programme and kept on certifying Pakistans nuclear innocence so that US aid would not be terminated under the Glenn and Pressler amendments.
How things have changed! With the Soviet threat no more there, India is no longer a fellow traveller. Besides, when India opted to open up and globalise its economy, US corporate board rooms immediately sat up and took notice. And no wonder. They were looking at an expanding middle class that was already as large as the European population. So vast was Indias potential that it was immediately dubbed one of the 10 large emerging economies, destined to dominate global events in the years to come.
Even for confirmed cold warriors, the contrast with Pakistan is painful. Pakistan is sliding down the slippery slope of economic chaos, political instability and social disorder. Growing fundamentalism is threatening to Talibanise the entire nation. The final straw was in October last when the Pakistan military went in for another coup, dismissed the elected government and took over to rule by edict.
President Clintons recent visit to the subcontinent proves once and for all that Cold War calculations no longer drive US policy. True, frustrations, sometimes bitter disappointments, can still lead to occasional harsh words between two nations, but that is a passing phenomenon. What is truly significant is that today the abnormal has become the normal. America that would firmly oppose Indias claim to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, has now come around to expressing its willingness to consider Indias claim.
There are other parts of the world where the USA has been displaying a willingness to change. Perhaps the most surprising is Libya which, until recently, had been dubbed the worst among enemy nations. Libya had at one time been considered, with some justification, to be the fountainhead of global terrorism. Libyan Head of State, Col Muammar Gaddaffi, was liberal in supporting various terrorist groups around the world. When a Pan American flight was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, and exhaustive investigations led to the near certainty of the involvement of two Libyan intelligence agents, the USA immediately applied economic sanctions, and also used its clout to have the United Nations impose sanctions of its own, which all member-nations are bound to honour.
Advancing age and the bite of the sanctions have apparently softened Gaddaffis penchant for promoting violence. A few weeks ago he chose to comply with the UN Security Council demand to hand over the two suspects in the Pan Am bombing, to be tried next month in the Netherlands according to Scottish law. The USA also has reason to believe that Tripoli is no longer an automatic haven for terrorists of all hues.
In fact, a State Department delegation visited Libya last month, for the first time in two decades. It returned to report that US citizens faced no imminent danger there. With Washington about to lift its 13-year ban on travel to Libya, Iraq will remain the only country in the imminent danger category. Lifting of the ban is likely to lead to a visit by a Congressional delegation later this month.
Iran is another rogue state with which the USA has been anxious for quite some time to re-establish relations. Following the good showing of Iranian moderates in the recent elections, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright sent out a number of signals signifying American interest in a rapproachement. Last month, Albright announced the removal of some sanctions and held out the hope of a global settlement of outstanding legal claims.
In a totally uncharacteristic move, the Secretary also acknowledged that in 1953, the US played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Irans popular Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. She added: The coup was clearly a setback for Irans political development. Moreover, for the next quarter century, the US and the West gave sustained backing to the Shahs regime. Although it did much to develop the country economically, the Shahs government brutally suppressed political dissent. Even in more recent years, aspects of US policy towards Iraq, during its conflict with Iran, appear now to have been regrettably short-sighted. From the lone super power, that is some mea culpa!
universality of Baisakhi
THERE are a large number of festivals celebrated in different parts of the world. India is particularly known for fairs and festivals. However, our country being a multi-lingual and multi-cultural nation, different festivals are observed in various parts of the country. Baisakhi is a festival celebrated in the northern region, particularly Punjab. The people of Punjab know it as a seasonal festival. In Punjab it is the time for farmers to see their wealth in form of crops and to have hopes of growing more crops.
This day has also historical importance as various events took place on this day. When we talk of history, Baisakhi day becomes important for whole of our country as it was on this day that Jallianwala Bagh tragedy took place in 1919, and it was this tragedy which brought Mahatma Gandhi into the limelight and he stimulated the freedom movement. Following this incident, the Congress session at Amritsar became historic as to give a call to the people to rise to break the shackles of slavery. Thus, Baisakhi has carved a niche in the history of freedom struggle, without mention of which the history remains incomplete.
There is another significant event associated with this day which people may relate to Sikh history, but in my view it was an event which relates to the history of the world. It was on this day in 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru, took the historic decision to convert the weak and down-trodden into the mightiest of the mighty. It was a historic moment, which occurred to shake the foundations of the mighty Mughal emperor and changed the course of Indias history. It was at this very time that a new religion was born, known as Sikhism.
It was at this time that a new man was born with his identity, his own strength, sufficient enough to fight any injustice, and oppression, with his own unflinching faith in God and ready to make any sacrifice without any fear or feeling of suffering. Is such a time relevant only for the Sikhs or Indians as well? It was an event for the whole world, and historians like Arnold Toynbee and Cunningham bear testimony to this effect.
When we talk of religion, we are unable to go to that particular point of time, when religion started. Hinduism,being one of the oldest religions of the world, we do not have a record to tell us when exactly were the Vedas or Puranas written. Realising the importance of religion in life, we would have celebrated the day when this treasure of wisdom and spiritual tranquility became a part of human heritage. There are epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata which further enrich our thoughts and wisdom, but the period of their birth remains obscure. We know when Christ, Buddha, Mahavira and Mohammad were born. We all celebrate their birth anniversaries. In fact, it is because of these prophets that man could think of the welfare of others and progress went on. It was religion in any form propounded by any of the spiritual masters which led some people to dedicate their lives for the welfare of others and as a result of this dedication, the entire progress of mankind has been made. It is only Baisakhi which is associated with the birth of the Khalsa. Is it not, therefore, appropriate for the whole world to celebrate such a day?
Whenever a study of comparative religions is made or the history of world religions written, the Khalsa created by Guru Gobind Singh on Baisakhi would find a prominent place. He deserves such a place on many grounds. The most important ground is the purpose for which he was created to defend the weak, poor and oppressed and to fight to ruthless forces. Guru Teg Bahadur, the father of the creator of the Khalsa, had sacrificed his life for freedom of religion. The Gurus were not against Islam which is proved by the fact that a number of holy souls from this religion were close associates of the Gurus. They only wanted that no ruler should thrust their religion on others, thereby suppressing the freedom of following ones own religion. It was this freedom of religion, for the protection of which the Khalsa was provided with a kirpan to fight those who violated it. It is this freedom of religion now enshrined as one of the fundamental rights in the Constitution. It is this freedom of religion, one of the constituents of secularism, on the basis of which the Constitution was drafted. It is not only with war that the Khalsa was associated: he was also given the qualities of a saint. Remembrance of God, helping the poor and the needy and sharing income and wealth with others were the golden principles imbibed by a Sikh. The saint-soldier combination made him a perfect embodiment of the human being created in the image of God. These two aspects of the personality have made him so enterprising and resourceful that in their 300-year history, the Sikhs hold a unique position of being a nation with the maximum sacrifices as per their record and the maximum participation in the social, cultural and political affairs of not only our country, but a large number of other countries.
Today, they are among the most prosperous persons and considering their population, percentage wise among the most active in all other activities, be it politics, commerce, sports, arts and architecture. One, therefore, feels that the day of the birth of such a people is a day of rejoicing for one and all. It is a matter of great satisfaction and pleasure for all people that the 300th year of birth of Khalsa has come during their life time. The celebrations thereof of this unique occasion all over the world during this year have shown that the world has recognised its importance and relevance. It is a matter of pride for the Sikhs, their glorious history and rich heritage, their noblest principles and institutions and, above all, their scripture called Guru Granth Sahib, now belong to the entire world. It is now their duty to spread the message of universal love and unity of God as given by their Gurus.
NAZARETH (Ethiopia): The children may be pitifully thin, but in this town in southern Ethiopia a government grain warehouse is full to bursting.
Sacks of grain, piled from floor to ceiling, stretch in rows in every direction.
And this weekend labourers carted a stream of new sacks into the warehouses, two hours drive south of the capital Addis Ababa, their backs dripping sweat under the heavy loads.
Each warehouse has the capacity for 5,000 tonnes of grain and we have 40,000 tonnes of grain here alone, said Wuhib Tsigu of Ethiopias Emergency Food Security Reserve Administration.
UN relief rations stand at 15 kg per person per month, so the supplies in Nazareth alone are capable of feeding over 2.7 million people for a month albeit on a rudimentary diet.
One of the realities of a famine, unpalatable to many outsiders, is the fact there can be hunger in one part of the country and seemingly plenty in another and one of the main reasons for the imbalance is a lack of transport.
Last Friday the government signed a contract with trucking companies to mobilise 100 vehicles to ship grain from warehouses in areas where there is food to areas where there are shortages.
The transport problems highlight the fact that children may be starving to death in parts of Ethiopias arid Somali region, but it is not for an absolute want of national resources.
Instead food experts talk about a pipeline of food and argue that delays or slippage in the steady flow of relief has caused the crisis in the south-east.
You could say that something is wrong with the system and there is a need for donors to respond with greater flexibility, said Mark Bidder of the UNs emergencies unit for Ethiopia.
He argued that greater use should be made of food sold on the open market from areas of Ethiopia and eastern Sudan which produce a surplus.
Pledges of food by the European Union and other donors can take many months to arrive by sea to ports in Djibouti and Somalia and in the meantime reserve food stocks such as the Nazareth warehouses are put to use.
On the road to Nazareth, the dry bed of the lume river winds through a valley and out into a vast, parched landscape.
Our fathers and mothers are at home because they cant walk, but we are here from dawn every morning to line up and get water, Hailu Ghebre told Reuters.
Aside from one brief shower last week there has been no rain since September, he said as the animals kicked up a cloud of dust.
Ghebre and Oromo pastoralists like him will not starve, but face the constant economic pressure of sustaining their herds on difficult terrain with uncertain rainfall.
MR Mosley has commented on the seemingly universal belief among Indians that Hindu Moslem riots are largely fomented by British influence on the outworn theory of divide and rule. Some colour, he says, is lent to this monstrous suspicion by the comparative immunity of Indian States from the infection. It is, however, incredible that the stupidest and least scrupulous of Imperialists could deliberately stimulate events which can only encourage the pan-Islamic movement.
This is, of course, perfectly true, but Mr Mosley evidently does not know that a tendency to shortsightedness, to living perpetually from hand to mouth, is among the besetting weaknesses of a bureaucratic form of rule.
What British officials
of the class about whom he has heard the complaint care
for is not the effect of a Hindu-Muslim riot on the
pan-Islamic, issue which they are not far-sighted
enough to see, but its effect on their own position which
they imagine is rendered more secure by these divisions
among the people.
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