|Thursday, April 20, 2000,
for group's sake
WAR AND AFTER
eyes Indian market
April 20, 1925
FOR the people of India, the intrusion into Kargil was a heinous act of treachery on the part of Pakistan and an example of our slumbering when we ought to have been awake and alert. Those were the days of paving the path of better India-Pakistan relations with good intentions by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Those were also the days of Mr Nawaz Sharif's ultimate exercise in stabbing India in the back for which history will never forgive him. Our intelligence failure was glaring. Our battle-readiness was inadequate. Our faith was misplaced. Our diplomacy was unpragmatically righteousness-oriented. We lost many precious lives and much material. But we did not lose Kargil! This is, in essence, the crux of the findings of the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) headed by Mr K.Subrahmanyam. Mr B. G. Verghese, Lt Gen K.K. Hazari (retd) and Mr Satish Chandra assisted the well-known defence analyst. Even in its expurgated version, the Subrahmanyam Committee report emphasised that we need a strong political will, a more coordinated intelligence system and sufficient wherewithal to keep our national integrity intact. The KRC submitted its report to the Union Government on December 18, 1999. Having brought out almost every important fact related to the crisis, it recommended the setting up of another panel to review the national security system in its entirety. This suggestion has given birth to a ministerial group which will "further review the security system". The Subrahmanyam Committee had forthrightly said that the overall review could not be undertaken by an overburdened bureaucracy. "An independent body of credible experts, whether a national commission or one or more task forces or otherwise as expedient, is required to conduct such studies which must be undertaken expeditiously". There is nothing to suggest in Tuesday's announcement about the "Group of Ministers" that the overburdened bureaucracy will be kept out of the proposed exercise.
The new group will be
led by Union Home Minister L.K. Advani and include
Defence Minister George Fernandes, External Affairs
Minister Jaswant Singh and Finance Minister Yashwant
Sinha. National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra will be a
special invitee. Various studies will be commissioned in
accordance with the wishes of the group, which will be,
in fact, the Cabinet Committee on Security Affairs minus
the Prime Minister. One wonders whether this seemingly
high-powered body will be able to suggest even one
additional point for the improvement of the national
security set-up. A requirement laid down by the
Subrahmanyam Committee has been fulfilled. And that is
that! National security awareness is an unending process.
It mandatorily requires eternal vigilance. The names
associated with the group are big. But all the
individuals concerned have conclusively expressed their
views on the security issue. Needless exercises are
better left undone for, they are time-consuming and
expensive, besides being an obvious eyewash. If the Prime
Minister thought that it was absolutely necessary to form
such a committee, he should have constituted either an
experts' panel or an all-party security monitoring body.
One does not expect much from the new group. However, the
security threats are constantly increasing and a
purposeful, and not merely a formal, review mechanism is
urgently needed. Its basis should be permanent
NO two political parties are so ideologically close as the BJP and the Shiv Sena. Not for nothing did the Maharashtra outfit become the first ally of the larger Hindutva organisation. If anything, the Sena is more militant in its espousal of Hindu supremacy and anti-Muslim demagogy. This friendship, which appeared to be steady as a rock, has suddenly come under severe strain, with a formal break seemingly only a few weeks away. As the final warning the Sena asked two most trusted followers of its pramukh Balasaheb Thackeray to carry its pile of grievances to Delhi on Tuesday. And the twosome, Lok Sabha member Anand Geete and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Nirupam, did a competent job, ticking off the BJP for its recent policy aberrations, including the subsidies cut and the consequent price rise. This is totally surprising since the Sena avoids economic issues like the plague. Another policy lurch which it subjected to a withering criticism is Mr L.K. Advanis enthusiastic support to the mahajot idea in West Bengal. This also appears eccentric in view of the Sena being unknown in that state. But it sees a potentially dangerous precedent if the BJP were to forge a loose and indirect understanding with the Congress to fight the Left Front. After that the BJP can tie the electoral knot with the breakaway Congress faction in Maharashtra, which will leave the Sena stranded in a political no-mans land.
And this is not a baseless fear born out of the wellknown streak of paranoia in the pramukh. The political equations in Maharashtra are changing fast and all four big parties are constantly looking over their shoulders. Led by bloated egoes, these parties feel suffocated by the limitations which alliance politics has imposed on them. Within the ruling front the Congress and the NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) barely coexist and that too very uncomfortably. Those middle-rung leaders who walked out of the parent body to form the NCP led by Mr Sharad Pawar fear that they would lose their relevance in due course if the Congress consolidates its position. Anyway it is somewhat awkward to split the party and then join it to prop up a shaky government. If there is a better alternative to remain in power, the NCP will gladly seek an early end to the present arrangement.
A similar sense of
estrangement has gripped the Shiv Sena-BJP tie-up, but in
a more acute form. The BJP leaders feel that the Sena is
proving to be a liability and the future lies in riding
to power piggyback on the undiminished charisma of Mr
Pawar. The party sends out daily signals both about its
disenchantment with the Sena and its desire for the
friendship of the NCP. It never attacks the party or its
leader, even though Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal
of the NCP is the pramukhs most hated person. A few
weeks back, the Sena and the BJP got into an ugly public
dispute with Mr Thackeray and Mr Gopinath Munde of the
BJP talking about always carrying a pair of scissors,
obviously to snap the ties. The atmosphere was so charged
that the Sena asked the BJP leadership to discipline Mr
Munde or face immediate cessation of relationship. Union
Minister Pramod Mahajan rushed to Mumbai to broker peace.
It is the distinct possibility of the BJP changing its
partner in Maharashtra that provoked the Sena to hold the
press conference. Some days earlier it had planted a
rumour in a section of the newspapers that its three
representatives in the Union Council of Ministers,
including two with the Cabinet rank, were about to resign
to protest against the unbridled attacks on the Sena by
Mr Munde. Obviously the Shiv Sena fears the worst.
THIS is just the beginning of summer. But the heat has already become intolerable. Hisar in Haryana is sizzling. Reports from other parts of the country too are extremely disturbing. The entire country will not have to wait long to understand the import of the expression to be on fire. The residents of Chandigarh are complaining about inadequate supply of water. They will have to wait only until mid-May to realise that the supply of water they were getting in April was bountiful. If parts of the country which are linked to civilisation are crying for water, the situation in the rural areas is worse. People and cattle are dying for want of water. Drought and famine are stalking the countryside like a fire-spitting dragon from whom there is no escape. The option before the survivors in the drought-stricken regions is either to stay put and die or to move out and die of thirst in alien surroundings. In Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and elsewhere the sight of a water tanker results in pandemonium like the one which recession-hit Europe is depicted in Charles Dickens' novels. Reports from Delhi speak of the Prime Minister being seized of the gravity of the situation. Reports from the states speak of the Chief Ministers having evolved a programme for fighting drought and famine on a war-footing. For over 50 years the country has been fed on false promises . On paper any number of schemes have been drawn up by experts for sending drought and famine either to the devil or the deep blue sea. Since the Congress has been in power for more number of years than other parties both at the Centre and in the states, it will have to take a major share of the blame for the recurrence of a problem which can be solved through putting into place simple and cost-effective strategies. But a fair judge would put the entire political class and the bureaucracy in the dock for not doing enough for meeting one of the most basic needs of the people.
The problem was allowed
to get out of hand because of inadequate understanding
among officials and laypersons of the importance of not
disturbing the delicate balance of nature. But even with
better appreciation of the value of promoting
eco-friendly policies, neither the non-government nor
government agencies have done enough to put a permanent
halt to the unwelcome annual visit of the ghosts of
drought, famine and floods to the country. Kalahandi and
Bolangir in Orissa represent the country's collective
indifference to the welfare of those who only have votes
but no voice. Recently President K.R. Narayanan took the
decision to visit the twin villages called
Bhaonti-Kolyala in Alwar district of Rajasthan for
dedicating to the people a river they had helped bring
back to life without help from any government agency. All
they had to do to make the villages have enough water for
irrigation and other purposes was to revive the forgotten
Indian practice of trapping rain water. Some other
villages too have reported success in meeting their water
requirements through harvesting rain. It is the most
eco-friendly and cost-effective method for combating the
visitation of drought which leaves behind a disturbing
trail of death and devastation every year. Last
years super-cyclone which devastated Orissa could
not have been stopped through human intervention. But
human effort is all that is needed for making drought a
dead word in the dictionary of languages.
WAR AND AFTER
IT was in the afternoon of April 30, 1975, when the last US helicopter took off with a few remaining Americans from the US Embassy in Saigon when the Viet Minh forces were entering the embassy compound. Thus came the end of the chaotic Vietnam war after two decades of undeclared fighting by the USA against Vietnam. At the end of it, the tally of the dead included 3.6 million Vietnamese, 58,000 Americans and thousands of others, including the allies of the USA from South Asia, who participated in the conflict.
The War Remnants Museum in Saigon, since renamed as Ho Chi Minh City, exhibits telling statistics relating to the Vietnam war. More than half a million American soldiers fought in the war, and the bombs dropped by the USA were more than three times of all the bombs dropped by that country during the entire World War II. Apart from the extensive use of napalm bombs, the deadly biological warfare unleashed in the countryside under the name Agent Orange for nearly 10 years had destroyed Vietnamese forests extensively. The toxic effects of dioxin are still there and the victims in Vietnam are seen even now as deformed babies continue to be born. Ironically, the son of the US Naval Chief, who was in charge of Agent Orange, also died of cancer due to exposure to dioxin. Several legal claims filed by American war veterans for damages are pending to be decided in American courts.
Going back into the history of the Vietnam conflict, the defining moment came when the French forces surrendered at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The attempt of the French colonial power to reimpose its authority despite all that had happened after World War II when Japan swept out the French from Indo-China was firmly opposed by the nationalists of Vietnam led by Ho Chi Minh. Despite the aerial support given by the Americans, the French forces could not hold on for long and they surrendered to the Vietnamese led by General Ziap. Following the Dien Bien Phu surrender, a conference was convened in Geneva soon which was participated by France, Britain, China and the USSR. India played a prominent role and its representative, V.K. Krishna Menon, worked tirelessly for the success of the conference. Jawaharlal Nehru had put forward a six point formula for a long-term solution of the Vietnam tangle which was agreed upon and the Geneva Accord emerged.
A chronicler has recorded that during the negotiations preceding the Geneva Accord, Krishna Menon met Anthony Eden of England 16 times, Zhou En-Lai of China and Molotov of the USSR five times each, Pham Van Dong of Vietnam six times and the American and French representatives without count. The Geneva Accord provided for a temporary division of Vietnam along the 17th Parallel between the Communist-held North and the South led by the French puppet, Emperor Bao Dai. The eventual unification of Vietnam was to be determined by elections to be held in both parts of the country in 1956 and the entire process was to be supervised by an International Control Commission headed by India. The Geneva Accord was, however, sabotaged by the USA, which had supplanted the French in Vietnam. Bao Dai refused to conduct the elections and this was supported by the Americans who started extending military assistance to him on the ground that the free world was facing Communist aggression. The Viet Minh of North Vietnam led by Ho Chi Minh refused to accept this blatant betrayal and war ensued. The rest is history.
The tragedy of the Vietnam war was that it was pursued at the instance of three US Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon who were advised by some of the best and the brightest of US intellectuals, including McGeorge Bundi and Robert McNamara. Bundi was the National Security Adviser to Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and he should share the blame for initially pushing his country into the Vietnam quagmire after he came out with the domino theory that the free societies in Asia would be unable to withstand the Communist onslaught if the US ally, South Vietnam, fell to the Communists. Bundi went to the extent of suggesting at one stage that the USA should consider threatening to use nuclear weapons against Vietnam. Bundis colleague Robert McNamara pursued the war even more determinedly but he lived to realise his historic blunders. In his memoirs In Retrospect The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam he has confessed, Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why.
Neither Vietnam nor Laos and Cambodia, which were also dragged into the tragic Vietnam war at the instance of the Americans, had claimed any damages nor an apology. Nor has any senior American constitutional authority apologised for it to this day. On the other hand, the US Secretary of State Ms Madelein Albright who visited Vietnam in June, 1997, soon after diplomatic relations were resumed and an American ambassador posted at Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, said that Vietnam would not be fully accepted in the international community as long as it continued to suppress human rights and prohibit political dissent. Today we find NATO and the European Union dominated by the USA and its allies seizing senior political Serbian and Croatian leaders for war crimes and human rights abuse allegedly committed in Bosnia. President Milosevic of Yugoslavia himself is termed as a war criminal. Has anyone bothered to look into the record of war crimes committed for two decades on the unfortunate people of Vietnam? That the US Secretary of State could lecture to the Vietnamese about human rights, completely forgetting her countrys own record there was indeed extraordinary, to put it mildly.
Vietnam has since risen from the ashes. A country of eight crore people is vibrant and marching forward. The infrastructural facilities in the country have been fully restored and there is an excellent road from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and even further south to the port city of Vung Tau. Agriculture is flourishing in the Mekong Delta, literacy is 92 per cent and the inflation rate is very low. Vietnam exports large quantities of rice and textiles. However, the Communist leaders in power at Hanoi are cautious and circumspect in fully integrating the countrys economy with the globalisation process pushed by the Americans and the IMF. Vietnam has spelt out its national policy of renovation called Doi Moi under which foreign relations are to be conducted on the principles of peace, mutual benefit and national development. Vietnam was accepted as a full member of ASEAN in 1995.
Indo-Vietnam relations have been steadily improving over the past decade. India has been training senior military officers from Vietnam and it had also sounded India on the supply of military equipment as well as for overhauling its weapons of Soviet origin. The Vietnam Navy is cooperating with the Indian Navy, and Indian naval ships have visited Vietnamese ports. The President of Vietnam Tran Duc Luong visited India in December, 1999. The recent visit of Indias Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, was of considerable significance. He had invited Vietnamese armed forces to send experts to train Indian security forces in counter-insurgency operations. India has had a 2000-year old association with that country when maritime traders and warriors from South India established a flourishing kingdom in Central Vietnam. The remnants of Cham civilisation in Danang are still there and ruined Hindu temples are seen in the Myson Valley in Central Vietnam and other parts of that country.
India watched the
participation of several South Asian countries by
contributing armed forces to fight along with the
Americans in Vietnam. India had consistently opposed the
US role. It was in 1972 that India accorded recognition
to Ho Chi Minh regime, three years before the Vietnam war
ended, resulting in the emergence of a unified country.
There was an affectionate personal rapport between
Jawaharlal Nehru and Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of
Vietnam. India had extended technical aid, and there are
some agricultural farms which are supervised by experts
sent from here. Several Indian companies have set up
enterprises in Vietnam, and the economic and commercial
cooperation between the two has been beneficial to both
of Himalayan forests
ALTHOUGH all natural forests are valuable, those of the Himalayan region are even more so as their protective impact extends hundreds of miles beyond where they stand. On the one hand, the Himalayan forests protect the life and livelihood of the people of the mountains in innumerable ways. On the other hand, for thousands of years these forests have extended their protective shade over the civilisations which flourished in the plains, in the basins of the Ganga, the Brahmaputra and the Indus.
It is not easy for the people living in the plains, particularly its cities, to imagine how many different types of useful products people living near dense natural forests (wherever these still survive) can obtain from them. Recently I asked Raghu Bhai, my young friend in Jardhar village of Tehri Garhwal, to prepare a list of those useful plants from which people can meet their various needs directly. Very soon he came up with a list of 62 plants! He said, I am sorry there are some others which have slipped from my memory!
Here is a sample which will give readers an idea of the diverse and multiple uses: Local names are used here as Raghu Bhai did not have all the precise botanical names.
Maooloo: a mushroom type vegetable which also provides relief to burn injuries.
Maalu: its broad leaves are used to make not only caps and plates but also raincoats, very useful while working in fields. Its fruit has medicinal value.
Jaltangla: it is used to make a musical instrument for children.
Bhimal: it yields tasty fruit. Its fibre is used to make baskets and ropes, and its bark is used to make natural shampoo.
Rambaans: a tasty vegetable and, in addition, its fibre can be used to make purses, baskets, mats, etc.
These are just a few examples. Himalayan villagers can regularly obtain a number of vegetables, fruits, dry fruits and medicinal herbs from forests, if the forests near their homes have not been depleted already. In addition, they get fuelwood and wood for house repair.
What is even more important is that forests sustain the basic sources of livelihood agriculture and animal husbandry by providing fodder and leaf manure. For various kinds of artisan work these fruits provide wood, bamboo cane and fibre.
Springs and rivulets, which provide clean drinking water, are also sustained by forests. Forest cover ensures that rain falls gently and slowly on the slopes below, while the fallen leaves and roots ensure that a good part of this rain-water is stored for future use, to be released gradually in the form of springs and small rivulets.
On the other hand, where forests have been felled, there are no longer any roots to bind together soil and boulders. As rain lashes the naked slopes mercilessly, big stones come tumbling down to create killer landslides. Invaluable soil is washed down, eroding the land, silting the rivers, then flooding them.
The damage is not confined to the hills. The angry torrents cause even more damage in the plains adjoining the lower hills or the foothills the terai and bhabar land. Many of these villages are threatened and many others are washed away. A farmer of the Doon Valley whose field had been destroyed by an angry river said: I had been driven here by destructive landslides and thought I would live here peacefully in the plains. But the same terror has chased me all the way to these plains in the form of these destructive floods.
When Himalayan forests are felled, the destructive impact can travel to a distance of several hundred kilometres. Although this fact was well known, for several decades a nexus of corrupt officials and politicians allowed the destruction of Himalayan forests on a massive scale. On paper the fellings were done according to the principles of scientific forestry, but in reality many, many more trees were felled compared to what was stated in writing.
A lot of damage was also caused by excessive extraction of resin from pine trees. So many cuts were made in these trees and these were so deep that the trees became very weak and fell down even at the time of mild storms. This suited the timber lobby. The excessive extraction of resin damaged the forests so much that the K.M. Tiwari Committee, appointed by the government to enquire into this destruction, called it a rape of forests.
Such strong words are generally not used by an official committee, but in the present case these were certainly justified because of the extent to which all rules and regulations had been violated.
In the decade of the seventies and the early eighties there was a lot of opposition to this destruction of forests. The voice of the Chipko Movement and other such voices for protecting forests were finally heard by the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. A ban on green felling over wide areas in the Himalayan region was imposed, but now this is being lifted in Himachal Pradesh at least.
At one time very
conducive conditions had been created for the involvement
of people in the protection of forests. At some places
such as Henvalghati (Tehri Garhwal district) the Chipko
Movements efforts to save forests were followed up
by other kinds of work to regenerate the green cover. For
example, the forest near Jardhar village has been
regenerated very well. It was realised by these efforts
that, compared to the costly afforestation schemes,
villagers own initiatives to curb pressures on land
by mutual consent so as to provide it some rest could
lead to very good regeneration of forests. But such
initiatives are likely to be forthcoming only where
official policies do not alienate people from forests.
Peoples help to control forest fires is also likely
to become available more easily if such alienating
policies are avoided.
ONCE a friend of mine and his wife went to San Francisco. One cold evening the good woman had a fancy to eat gajak. The hubby searched for the Indian gur delicacy in several stores, but in vain.
Meanwhile, the wifes craving increased, so much so that the two cut short their American visit and flew back to India.
I have heard two or three other such tales too of Indian visitors, not wanting to eat American food, looking for something Indian and disappointed at not finding it, or making do with bread and some pickles.
But in the not many years since then things have changed a lot. At least I found it so when I visited my daughter in the USA last year.
Two days after I arrived, I was taken to a gathering in a Cape Cod town. An Indian friend of the American host brought there a large pack of samosas. All those present Americans, Germans, Finns, Indians and others enjoyed them.
Samosas are easy to get in the States, a know-all informed me.
He was right. I found girls selling samosas along with vadas and chaat at a celebration of our Independence Day in Boston. The same day I tasted gulab jamuns at an Indian scientists get-together around there.
I saw samosas, jalebis and rasmalai at some other Indian parties too. A Pakistani doctor, who knew my daughter, served, besides some other things, dal, saag, naan and a mango dessert at the dinner she cooked for her friends visiting Abba.
If you go by the names of Indian sweets I read on a carton that came from a Rajasthani store in Chicago, there is nothing an Indian with yen for mithai will miss in that city.
Then I was at a community dinner in a Buffalo temple. After several spicy dishes were served burfi and mango ice-cream. As if that were not enough, the guests had their fill of dandia dance as well.
In a New York street I saw what was labelled Divali mela. Samosa, vada, idli, chana bhatura everything was there. Among those who were buying these were several non-Indians.
In fact, going by the crowd of people and the atmosphere there, youd say that a slice of Delhis bustling Karol Bagh had been transplanted there.
Indian restaurant names like Bombay Mahal, Gourmet India, Tandoor Fast Food and Udapi in American cities told the same story. Some of them served, besides Mughlai dishes and a variety of naans, Gujarati thali, dosa, pakora, bhelpuri and golgappa. Also papad and mango lassi.
So did grocery store names like Kashmir and Madras Masala. Several brands of Indian pickles were there. And fresh vegetables like bhindi and karela. Interestingly, they catered to the Arabs needs as well.
In bookshops I came across titles on chutneys and Indian cooking in America. And now and then in the papers an article on Indian cuisine.
Of its own kind is the story an American girl told my daughter. They two often met at a bus stop.
The girl said that she liked Indian dishes. During a long stay in England she tried many of them. But her favourite was a particular sweet. She ate it as dessert day after day.
Then she found that she had gained 15 pounds. An Indian friend told her that the sweet she had gone all out for was mostly eaten at festivals and some other celebrations.
Not sure what it was, my daughter asked its name.
eyes Indian market
FRANCE is looking at a market of hundreds of aircraft and helicopters in India as its aeronautical giant, Aerospatiale Matra, prepares to receive President K.R. Narayanan in the southern French town of Toulouse tomorrow.
India has since the eighties bought over 50 Airbus aircraft built in France and has had joint production of hundreds of helicopters under an agreement. Airbus is a consortium of four companies Frances Aerospatiale, Germanys Dasa, British Aerospace and the Spanish Casa.
Many of these aircraft with Air-India and Indian Airlines have become aged and need replacement. Proposals have been given by the company for India to upgrade its Chetak (Aloutte) and Cheetah (Lama) line of helicopters, about 600 of which have been produced in Bangalore under a licence agreement with the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Proposals are also under consideration by the Indian Army for the company to produce various types of missiles. Since 1982, following agreements signed with Aerospatiale, the state-owned Bharat Dynamics produces the anti-tank light missile Milan in Hyderabad.
India is an important country for us because it is an advanced aeronautic, defence and space nation, says Philippe Advani, Managing Director of Aerospatiale Matra, India.
Advani, however, says the Indian President was invited to visit Toulouse not because Aerospatiale wanted to sell more aircraft to India but because it wanted the First Citizen of the country to be aware of the immense range and capacity of the company that employs about 50,000 people. He says the company has interests in all businesses and all the markets in aeronautics, space and defence and can offer customers global solutions to these needs.
Advani says the company is looking at a market of more than 100 commercial aircraft in India for Air-India, Indian Airlines and Jet Airways and is looking for manufacturing partners like HAL for what is billed to be the hottest name in commercial aviation, the A3XX Airbus.
While Air-India and Indian Airlines have been the main customers of Airbus, the private Jet Airways had recently bought five ATR-72s it ordered through the Franco-Italian consortium ATR. It has also an option to buy five of these aircraft later.
Among the other deals offered by the company are licensed production of the ATR 40 maritime patrol aircraft, the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) for the Indian Air Force, the development of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), besides upgrading the Chetak and Cheetah line of helicopters to the latest state-of-the-art Squirrel version. The company has also sold 14 Tb-20 ab initio trainers to the Rashtriya Uran Academy at Fursatganj, Rae Bareli.
Advani says the company, which had recently extended the licence with Bharat Dynamics for the production of the Milan missile, is prepared to help India in the development of various other types of missiles for its growing defence needs.
The invitation to
Narayanan to visit Aerospatiale, Frances largest
company, was extended by French President Jacques Chirac
when he visited India in January 1998. The French
government has a 48 per cent stake in the company, 65 per
cent of whose sales come from the civilian sector and 35
per cent from the military. Nearly 75 per cent of the
companys sales of over $12 billion last year came
from outside France. IANS
victims of domestic violence
SHE thought she was living the American dream when she settled here some years ago.
Newly married to a South Asian American who had a secure job at a well-known software company, she was looking forward to exciting possibilities. But, in a span of three years, she was beaten and tortured by her husband and even attempted suicide.
It was only when some members of the community and Chaya, an organisation for South Asian victims of domestic violence that provides resources such as transitional housing, stepped in that she finally escaped her abusive husband.
As the South Asian population grows exponentially in the Seattle area, incidents of domestic violence within the Indian American community are on the rise. On an average, Chaya receives as many as four cases per month.
Women who suffer physical and verbal abuse in their families are often left with very few options. They have little trust in mainstream culture, and often fear deportation and the ensuing shame of returning home.
Even if they do muster up some courage to seek services, the lengthy process and paperwork and language issues overwhelm them, Sudha Shetty, chairperson of Chaya, told the California newspaper India-West.
Research has proved that spousal abuse occurs even in the most elite households and, quite often, children who witness violence in their family grow up to become batterers themselves. If the victims of abuse get lucky and somehow are able to get the word across through friends or family, the victim, generally the woman, may be lucky to find a sympathetic community in providing the necessary help.
If it wasnt for some of the community members, I would be a dead person by now, confided a battered victim from a local county. Every day I would be beaten, starved and mentally tortured by comments from my in-laws. I had nowhere to go, she told India-West.
It sounds strange in this country, but some members of the Indian American community are still stuck on the issue of dowry in a marriage. Ironically, women who should be sympathetic often end up convincing the victims to reconcile and stay in the situation.
I was told to wait and be patient and not to provoke my husband and things will change eventually, confided a victim. But it got worse with time and no matter what I did, he would still find reasons to become violent.
Unofficial surveys of the South Asian population reveal that a larger number of cases of abuse are not reported. Because of the social stigma, the victims are encouraged to keep the problem to themselves, sacrifice for the sake of the family, and live the life of a model Indian woman. Even if they summon enough courage to report the incidents, the victims are often unable to access appropriate care due to the lack of culturally-specific services.
Although there are no accurate statistics for the South Asian community in King County, the estimated population is more than 25,000 in Washington state, of which Seattle is the capital. The Refugee Womens Alliance provided services to only seven South Asian clients during 1997 and 1998, whereas the number of domestic violence cases referred to Chaya more than doubled within the last six months.
In a period of six months alone, we received 13 cases and we are surprised because all these cases are referred through indirect resources, said Shetty.
Chaya is now developing plans to reach out to women by posting flyers in temples and public places. Other organisations such as the India Arts and Heritage Society (IAHS) are partnering Chaya to reach the community through its outreach programmes.
All the organisations should make a genuine effort to support Chaya and get the word out to our community, commented Amrik Kamoh, chairman of IAHS.
The organisation is not only rehabilitating the victims but also creating awareness amongst the community to take preventive measures in assisting families and educating women about their rights.
Added Shetty, As
members of this community, we have a huge responsibility
to create a healthy society. We need to work hand in hand
to focus on prevention, outreach and education to assert
that domestic violence is unacceptable. We need to break
the silence. IANS
IN a leading article on Parties in India, which we reproduced in these columns last week, the London Times writes: India is still a country where opposition to the Government is regarded as a signal proof of high political spirit and where parties are still inclined to follow slogans rather than principles. Its political evolution may not follow western lines.
If these words mean
anything they mean that in western countries there never
has been a stage in which opposition to the government
was regarded as a signal proof of high political spirit.
No statement could be more utterly or more ridiculously
untrue. In every country including England itself, the
birth of representative and responsible government has
been preceded by a period, long or brief according to the
circumstances of the case, in which the attitude of the
politically minded classes towards the government was
exactly the same as that of those classes in India at the
present time. Is the writer so ignorant of the history of
his own country as not to know what his forefathers did
in the days of the Stuarts.
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