|Wednesday, April 26, 2000,
and the law
decorum in Bihar
panel report upsets defence forces
improves lot of prisoners
industry faces threat
success and succession
Police and the law
Despite repeated condemnation of the functioning of the police in India, it seems there is no effort to improve its image of being the most organised violators of law. The latest proof of this unfortunate reality is provided by the recent developments at Jamia Millia Islamia, one of the Central universities in Delhi. The other day around 9 in the evening a group of policemen raided the university campus on the pretext of arresting "two criminal elements hiding in a hostel". When asked by some hostellers if they had the necessary permission from the university authorities to enter the campus the guardians of law lost their temper. Not realising that they were the violators of law as the students, busy preparing for their next morning's examinations, were right in questioning the policemen's method of discharging their official duty, the men in khaki turned violent and this led to a ding-dong battle between the two sides. Soon a reinforcement of policemen reached the university campus and then they freely used their lathis and the tear gas shells they had brought with them, resulting in serious injuries to a number of students. Even the students in the library and a nearby mosque were not spared. According to the police version, 66 of them were arrested, all on the charge of attempt to murder.
Now that a judicial
enquiry has been ordered and efforts are on to re-start
the examinations, which were postponed in the wake of the
gory developments, several questions are being asked.
What was the urgency that prevented the police from
adopting the right course of taking the Vice-Chancellor,
Mr S. M. Shahid Mehdi, into confidence and seeking his
permission before proceeding to arrest the two persons
facing criminal charges and hiding in one of the hostels
at the university? Were the policemen acting under
pressure from some political high-ups? Was the whole
exercise part of a plan to give the university a bad
name, as it had had a peaceful academic atmosphere for
the past few years, especially during the tenure of
General Zaki, the immediate predecessor of the present
Vice-Chancellor? Why has no action been taken against any
policeman, even those who reached the campus before the
arrival of the reinforcement and messed up the whole
matter? Where are the "criminal elements" now?
Have they also been arrested? What are the actual charges
against them? The students, who have had no union for the
past few years, have organised themselves under the
banner "Save Jamia Movement". They may succeed
in getting the arrested students released and the charge
of attempt to murder against them dropped. They may also
get some of the policemen involved in the unfortunate
incident punished for their questionable role. But the
real brain behind the whole episode may never be known.
Those who play such games do not leave any evidence to be
picked up by enquiry committees or commissions. The
academic atmosphere that has got vitiated may not be the
same at least for months to come.
Delete decorum in Bihar
Enter Rabri followed by Laloo.
Exit Laloo followed by Rabri. Exeunt all MLAs and the
Speaker. Bedlam in the background". This would,
perhaps, be the stage-direction note for the first scene
of the first act of the Bihar Assembly drama on Monday. A
special session has been convened to consider the Bihar
State Reorganisation (Vananchal) Bill, 2000. The occasion
in the pre-noon hour was sombre: obituary references were
to be made first to Marxist Coordination Committee (MCC)
MLA Gurudas Chatterjee who was gunned down near Dhanbad
on April 14. A few other leaders had died after the last
brief session and their services too had to be
remembered. But sorrow and gratitude are not inaugural
emotions in the Bihar legislature. Abusiveness and
whipped up anger have taken up vantage points in the
procedural agenda. Opposition leader Sushil Kumar Modi,
backed by his supporters, opens his mouth wide with some
caustic criticism of the chargesheeted Chief Minister and
her scam-tainted husband. The lady protests in
full-throated regional Hindi: "Hum sabka munh noch
lenge". We (meaning I here) will scratch the faces
of all of you." Inanities fill the House and when
momentary calm ensues the Opposition thunders in
cacophonous chorus: "Nikammi sarkar ko barkhast
karo". (Dismiss the ineffective government).
Someone, who wants to show his streak of humour,
interjects: "Ya, nikammi sarkar ko bardast
karo!" (Or, endure the useless government!). Elected
musclemen advance menacingly towards the Opposition
leaders. The topmost critic of the Establishment is
caught between two flying wooden missiles. He falls on
whatever is before him. The helpless Speaker adjourns the
House and recedes into his chamber. What would happen to
the prepared obituary references and the urgently needed
discussion on the Vananchal Bill? One of the old guard
says to a young MLA standing near him: "God alone
knows and He won't tell". Thus ends the first scene
of the tragi-comedy; nobody talks of the Theatre of the
Absurd, which is a dignified term in the dramatic
lexicon. We do not mourn the patently manifest absurdity.
Most state Assemblies, like Parliament itself, have seen
ugly shows. Crude action is action all the same. There is
no semantic difference now between uncivilised words and
unparliamentary expressions. Rabri Devi's Bihar is Laloo
Yadav's Bihar. It is not Srikrishna Sinha's and L.P.
Singh's state. There is no dividing line between the
Buddha and the Buddhu. So, why blame anyone? Those who
won the last Assembly elections experienced violent
delight which, according to the Bard and John Masefield,
brings violent ends. Undoubtedly, there will be more
shows of this kind and the "maili Ganga" will
flow undisturbed in her summer-shrunken bed. An elegy for
democracy is being written by face-scratchers and
votaries of machismo. Forget Vananchal. After all,
Bhagawan Birsa Munda of the Adivasis is dead and
"dhana" has gained control over
"vana". What remains is "anchal" and
Mata Rabri Devi can't care for it because she is busy in
IT is the Sri Lankan governments moment of truth. The murderous LTTE has seized the strategic Elephant Pass and a nearly fortified garrison. In military terms, the debacle is the worst the army has faced in the 17 years of fighting. It also means that the gains during the past four years have evaporated with Jaffna, the most prized trophy of the 1995 campaign, coming in the telescope gunsight of the guerrillas. When the northern city, the centre of Tamil minority politics and culture, falls it is as good as the government waving the white flag. The Elephant Pass is on the only road linking the mainland with the northern district. Control of it is vital to keep the LTTE out of Jaffna, its last recruiting centre. That is now lost. Also lost is the morale of the army to keep fighting. If the pass, defended by a contingent of over 10,000 soldiers has fallen, no other military target is safe. As it has often happened in the past, in the latest fighting too the soldiers seemed to have panicked at the sight of waves and waves of guerrillas known for their detailed planning and ruthless execution. As they retreated through a narrow corridor, they abandoned several pieces of artillery guns (as powerful as Bofors), rocket launchers and a mountain of ammunition. The army casualty is heavy since the government has appealed for urgent blood donation. An Army officer has virtually conceded that Jaffna, barely 40 km from the Elephant Pass and the former base and the present hiding place of the Tigers, will be the next theatre of fighting. Even if the LTTE stops short of capturing the city, its advance from the pass will bring it close enough to bring the airport within the range of the artillery guns. That means the only link with Jaffna will have to be closed down, forcing the soldiers there to fend for themselves. There is the sea route, but it is not safe from LTTE ground fire.
It is a grave crisis and
has persuaded President Chandrika Kumaratunga to cut
short her stay in London, where she is under treatment,
and return home. Her hope of defeating the LTTE lies in
ruins. Perhaps a military solution has always been very
difficult, if not impossible, and has now receeded far
into the background. A political solution, the option the
President followed until the middle of the past decade,
has often been frustrated by the devious LTTE supremo,
Prabhakaran. At one time England offered to broker peace
but left the scene when it found both sides inflexible.
Now Norway has shown willingness to step in and the LTTE
has already welcomed the idea. The Sri Lanka government
is yet to make up its mind and anyway, it is awkward to
enter into long-suspended talks immediately after the
devastating debacle. There is very little public
enthusiasm for a peace deal with the Tigers and now there
is open hostility and a demand to launch an all-out
attack. One analyst wants the government to appeal for an
international peace-keeping force equipped with
helicopter gunships and low-flying jets to bomb Tiger
hideouts. Opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe wants
peace but with all Tamil groups and not with only the
LTTE. The loss of the Elephant Pass has robbed the
government of an early wayout.
NUCLEAR INDIAS DIPLOMACY
THIS column is being written on the day when 187 nations begin in New York a three-week conference to review the NPT that was extended unconditionally and indefinitely five years ago. More by design than otherwise, several other events of significance have coincided with the start of the jamboree at the UN headquarters that would be wallowing in the most egregiously iniquitous treaty ever to find acceptance by a vast majority of nations.
In quick succession, Russia has ratified first the START-II arms reduction treaty that had gathered dust for seven long years and then the CTBT. The point is that the US Senate had ratified START-II nearly four years ago but had contemptuously rejected the CTBT only in August last. There is nothing to show that the Senate will take up the discarded treaty for reconsideration any time soon.
Why then has Moscow, under the rather dynamic leadership of Mr Vladimir Putin, been in such a hurry to persuade the Duma, the Russian Parliament, to put its seal of approval on both START-II and the CTBT? For the simple reason that while Russia has several differences with the USA on matters connected with nuclear weapons and missiles, on preserving the present nonproliferation regime, both are united. The Russians may be less becoming than the Americans in their discussions with us, but both want this country to sign the CTBT at the earliest.
The argument, of which we will hear a great deal in the coming days, is that Russias quick ratification of the CTBT will help the US Administration to seek a reversal of the Senates negative attitude to the test ban treaty. From this, it is but a small step to plead that the task would become easier still by Indias prompt signatures on the CTBT.
To this must be added what the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, vouchsafed to the media on his flight home after a five-day state visit to Paris. Indeed, he only confirmed what was no secret to the close observers of the scene. France is keen to sell India, on attractive terms, civilian nuclear technology, especially in the power sector. But it finds Indias inability to sign the CTBT an inhibiting factor.
Even this is not all, by any means. A lot more diplomatic pressures on India over the vexed nuclear issue are also building up, negating the smug belief, in the wake of President Bill Clintons visit, that Americas allies would follow his example and at least try tacitly to come to terms with this countrys minimum nuclear deterrent.
Japan, not content with its insistence on Indian compliance with the UN Security Councils resolution 1172 that demands a rollback of this countrys nuclear programme, is also gratuitously offering to promote talks between New Delhi and Islamabad at Tokyo. The Indian government has made its displeasure known. But the problem remains. Other countries like Australia, Canada and South Africa have no ambition to meditate between India and Pakistan. But they all do want the two new nuclear weapon powers of South Asia to abide by resolution 1172.
And then there is the stance of China. Much of the chill in India-China relations immediately after Pokhran-II has since thawed. The first security dialogue between the two countries has taken place and it was more cordial than public statements on the nuclear question in Beijing might indicate. However, the fact remains that China also holds fast to resolution 1172 even though it was the persistent Chinese help that had enabled Pakistan to go nuclear and build up ballistic missiles in the first place.
Under the circumstances, it is almost certain that at the NPT review conference, there will be an outcry that India must obey resolution 1172. This need not cow us down. However, since it is our objective that this countrys security imperatives should be married to the international communitys concerns about nonproliferation, some advance diplomatic action was surely called for.
Of this, unfortunately, there has been no sign. And the excuse that since India is not a signatory to the NPT and will not therefore be present at the review conference is not good enough. Hordes of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and lobbyists will be on the periphery of the conference and in a position to influence its proceedings. Ironically, the Indian NGOs descending on New York are even more bitterly opposed to Indian nuclear weapons than foreign critics are.
However, even this gloomy picture has its silver lining. India (and Pakistan) may be a good diversion for several participants in the prolonged parleys, but there is also a troublesome schism between the USA and its allies on the one hand, and Russia, China and France on the other that will not go away.
In fact, Mr Putin has made it crystal clear that he would withdraw not only from START-II but also from all other arms control and disarmament agreements, if America goes ahead with its National Missile Defence (NMD) plans. The Russian leaders threat and underlying anger are entirely understandable. American NMD runs counter to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, one of the earliest disarmament agreements. The Americans, intent on building up a shield against incoming missiles, want Russia to make the necessary adjustments in the ABM treaty that it refused to do.
Interestingly, there is yet no guarantee that a foolproof NMD can really be developed. But even the attempt to find out will be horrendously costly. If the Americans do not give up, Russia will have no option but to compete. This it is unable to afford because of the dire state of its economy.
Chinas opposition to missile defence is even more vehement than Russias because what it faces is the US-sponsored, less costly and more practicable Theatre Missile Defence (TMD) in East Asia. The idea behind this scheme is to protect Japan, South Korea and Taiwan the last a matter of the greatest sensitivity to Beijing ostensibly from North Korean missiles but actually from Chinas great and growing might in both the nuclear arena and missilery. No wonder, China is even more strident than Russia in opposing both NMD and TMD.
All this surely adds up to a window of opportunity but only if the diplomacy of overtly nuclear India rises to the occasion in future at least, now that it is too late to do much about the New York congregation on the NPT. Of equal importance is the need to mobilise non-nuclear adherents of the NPT to start a crusade for linking nonproliferation with global nuclear disarmament. It will be more useful to hammer home this message at NAM gatherings than to concentrate all our energies on isolating the military regime in Pakistan.
This inevitably means that Indian diplomacy must be more clear-eyed, skilful, sophisticated and hard-nosed than has apparently been the case so far. There is, of course, no need to cause unnecessary offence to anyone. But there are occasions when plain speaking is required. For instance, the time has come when Tokyo ought to be told courteously where it gets off.
Vigorous and purposeful diplomacy can be pursued, however, only if there is behind it strong domestic consensus. In this respect the Indian situation leaves a lot to be desired. The Vajpayee government has been assuring the USA that it is inclined to sign the CTBT and is trying to evolve a consensus to that effect. In reality there is little progress towards the desired end. An even more revealing indicator of the state of affairs is the way the Congress has tied itself into knots over what Mrs Sonia Gandhi said or did not say to Mr Clinton. But that is a different and painful story that needs to be told separately.
Under the circumstances,
it is almost certain that at the NPT review conference,
there will be an outcry that India must obey resolution
1172. This need not cow us down. However, since it is our
objective that this countrys security imperatives
should be married to the international communitys
concerns about nonproliferation, some advance diplomatic
action was surely called for.
Pay panel report upsets
FOUR years after the submission of the Fifth Pay Commissions report, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are yet to accept in full the pay and allowances package recommended for them due to certain anomalies. The Anomalies Committee, headed by former Defence Secretary Ajit Kumar and the three Vice-Chiefs, failed to break the impasse. The matter was then referred to the Cabinet Secretary and the three Chiefs of Staff, but again no satisfactory wayout was found. Eventually a Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Home Minister L.K. Advani with Ministers of Defence and Finance, deliberated the matter, but not all the grievances were redressed.
Based on the recommendations of the GoM, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced revised salaries and allowances for the armed forces in March. The revised salaries and allowances were officially notified on February 29 and Naval Headquarters issued an order for their implementation on March 2. The Army and Air Force Headquarters have not issued similar orders, giving rise to speculation that there is disquiet within the armed forces about the revised scales. The Navy has also now put the orders on hold to keep in step with the Army and the IAF.
The revised allowances mark an increase over the pay package awarded by the Fourth Pay Commission. The flying allowance, for instance, has been hiked from Rs 1200 to Rs 7,000 per month for pilots in the ranks of Squadron Leader to Group Captain. Flying Officers and equivalent will receive Rs 4,500, Flight Lieutenants and equivalent Rs 3,500 and Air Commodores and equivalent will receive Rs 5,500. This has been done because a large number of pilots are seeking premature retirement to move to greener pastures to join civil airlines.
The allowances in a few categories, however, do not mark a substantial increase over the recommendations made by the Fifth Pay Commission. Risk-related allowances have also been graded on the basis of rank and seniority. The pay package initially recommended by the commission in 1997 had not been implemented due to misgivings within the Services over risk-related allowances, especially the allowances paid to pilots, submarines and soldiers engaged in counter-insurgency operations or serving in extremely difficult high altitude areas like Siachen and Kargil. The personnel engaged in counter-insurgency operations will receive, according to the notification, from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,900 per month depending on their rank and the risks involved.
The high altitude area allowance for the personnel serving in Siachen and Kargil will vary, depending on the rank and the altitude of deployment. For officers unto the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel the risk-related allowances range from Rs 1620 to Rs 4,200, depending on the risks involved and the rank structure. Similarly, naval personnel serving in submarines and marine commandos will receive allowances according to their rank and seniority but what they have been offered is much higher than that given to Army personnel. The latter want their package to be increased to bring it to the level of the Navy
The combined expenditure on pay and allowances of the defence forces adds up to Rs 13,500 crore in this budget itself. Once the Pay Commission report on allowances is finally accepted, this figure will swell further.
It is understood that the armed forces have deliberately refrained from lodging formal protests as that would be interpreted as defiance of authority. They hope that the non-implementation of the notification would serve to have the matter reviewed. For the present, both the government and the Service Headquarters appear to be anxious to avoid an open confrontation. But unless formal moves are made in one direction or the other, the stalmate will have an unhealthy impact. The Pay Commission award is for 10 years, and in the case of the Services, about four years have already elapsed. This shows how much careful the present government is about the armed forces, which are continuously defending the nation against outside aggression and protecting the countrys sovereignty, unity and integrity against heavy odds.
The three Service Chiefs met the Prime Minister recently to protest against the ambiguities in pay and allowances and the unfair equation between the Services and the civil bureaucracy. The Prime Minister has referred the matter back to the GoM, which has promised to look into the whole issue afresh. So far, however, nothing has happened, as the ministers are too busy in protecting their own interests.
The problem of pay and allowances relates as much to civil-military parity as it does to intra-Service problems. For instance, for purposes of pay and allowances, a Lieutenant-General in the Army is treated on a par with a Director-General of Police. Yet in small towns, particularly in the insurgency-hit Northeast, meetings called by the Corps Commander a Lieutenant-General are usually attended by an Additional DGP, which creates serious operational problems. This is one of the reasons why insurgency is not coming under control for the past none decade in Jammu and Kashmir.
There is also a problem in equating civilians and military people below officer rank. The parity of powers and pay between the civilian Havaldar and the military Naik is skewed. This applies to the Air Force and the Navy as well. There is an anomaly in their pension also.
The Air Force had serious problems in accepting the Pay Commissions recommendations relating to flying allowances. There was much resentment in the IAF two years ago when a distinction was sought to be made between the pilots flying combat and non-combat aircraft, and technical officers and non-technical officers. The submarine allowance for naval officers had also become a subject of controversy. The high altitude and hazardous area allowances for troops stationed in Siachen and Kargil need to be studied afresh.
Laloo improves lot of
Bihar strongman Laloo Prasad Yadav is often criticised by political opponents for having done nothing to develop the state during his 10 years in power. But he has won the gratitude of fellow prisoners in Beur Central Jail for improving their lot in the few weeks he has been behind bars.
After the coming of Laloo, the condition of the jail has improved. At least the jail authorities now appear concerned about our needs, said a prison inmate.
According to jail insiders, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief has directed prison officials to ensure that inmates have regular supplies of electricity and drinking water. He reportedly reprimanded jail authorities, saying: How can the inmates survive in this oppressive summer without an electric fan? Laloo himself faced a shortage of water once and jail officials had to contend with an angry outburst from him.
Insiders said the RJD chief, who is in judicial remand in a case relating to alleged amassing of wealth, regularly meets other inmates to inquire about problems they face.
Inside the prison hospital room where he is currently lodged, Laloo reportedly distributes fruit among fellow inmates and keeps track of their well-being.
Behind bars, the former Chief Minister has also shown a religious inclination which not many knew of. Apart from offering daily prayers, he ate only vegetarian food and fruit during the Ram Navami period recently and has reportedly put up pictures of Hindu goddess Durga and spiritual leader Satya Sai Baba in his room.
His wife Rabri Devi may be in the Chief Ministers office, but there is no doubt about who is the power behind the throne despite the fact that he is in prison. Laloo receives ministers of the RJD and its partner, the Congress party, as well as bureaucrats and gives them instructions on every issue related to governance, sources said.
The Bihar government is in prison. Dont you see the dozens of VIP visitors who have parked their cars in the campus to meet and receive orders from Laloo? said a prison staffer. The barricades at the prison gate were removed on April 5 after the RJD chief was sent to Beur jail.
Laloo may have proved a hit with fellow inmates of Beur jail, but prison authorities complain that his presence does not allow them to maintain rules, such as one which requires visitors to seek their prior permission to enter the complex.
Since most of the visitors of Laloo are VIPs, we cannot ask them to seek permission, said one staffer, adding that prison officials allowed in all visitors whom Laloo wanted to meet.
Leader of the Opposition Sushil Kumar Modi, who belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has urged Bihar Governor Vinod Chandra Pande to rein in Laloos activities. Laloo Yadav is ruling from jail and we have requested the Governor to prevent him from doing so, Modi said.
The RJD chief has occupied the prison superintendents chamber where he meets his visitors. The BJP-led opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has demanded the immediate sacking of the superintendent, saying he cant even protect his chair.
Tea industry faces threat
Indias tea industry fears the erosion of its traditional market as a host of soft drink brands, with catchy advertisements and big budgets, are threatening to wean away tea drinkers.
Tea industry captains have expressed serious concern about the beverages market share with soft drink companies launching an advertisement blitz to woo the younger generation.
With more and more young people in India getting used to drinking soft drinks now, the colas might take a sizeable chunk of the tea market in the days ahead. And that is definitely a worrying trend, N.C. Baruah, secretary general of the Assam chapter of the Tea Association of India, said.
The soft drink industry in India has gone into overdrive in the past two years, pumping in millions of rupees in advertising on television or into sponsoring cultural events and sports, besides putting up attractive billboards and banners in every nook and cranny of the country.
Top tea industry officials say the time has come for the usually conservative plantation executives to chalk out a marketing strategy and innovate to promote tea as a generic product among Indian consumers.
The tea industry cannot be complacent and we must go for some kind of generic promotion of tea which can attract younger people, particularly stressing on the point that it has got medicinal values. We also need to adopt fresh and aggressive marketing strategies like making television advertisements to establish tea as the drink of the millennium, Robin Barthakur, secretary of the Assam branch of the Indian Tea Association, the countrys apex tea body, said.
Experts at the India International Tea Millennium Convention in Delhi last month stressed the need to promote tea as a health drink by publicising claims of foreign researchers about the medicinal properties of the beverage, particularly as a preventive against cancer and in reducing chances of heart attack. Tea captains say plans are afoot to promote herbal tea and ice-tea to provide the Indian palate a new taste.
Domestic tea consumption in India has fallen by at least 10 million kg in the past year, while overall tea production in the country last year was 806 million kg, a fall of 64 million kg compared to 1998.
It is very difficult to assess the exact consumption figure, but one thing is for sure there were hundreds of tonnes of tea which remained unsold with producers, a senior planter in Assam said.
But despite the fears of the tea industry, elderly people in the tea growing state of Assam say drinking the beverage has become a religion for them and there appears no danger of the industry being overwhelmed by the soft drink sector. Indian people will never discard their staple rice and roti (bread) for a continental dish and so is the case with tea. Nothing to worry at all, Arun Sharma, a noted playwright in Assam, said.
Of success and succession
PERHAPS the reason why spunky teenagers claim to know all the answers in the world is that they havent heard all the questions yet. This dolefully dawned on me the other day when I sought to sermonise to my son and his siblings wistfully waffling on the worldly ways of securing success in life. Firmly ensconced before the brain-box, I mean his personal computer, Gaurav purred and pouted at my pontifical pronouncements with his eyes riveted on the screen and ears attentive, or so I thought, to my talk which I was masterfully making to walk.
So, tell me how does one succeed in life, I proudly posed.
One succeeds to whatever ones parents leave behind, pat came the nerdy nasty matter-of-fact reply from one of the computer savvy netizens who seemed to have got lost between success and succession. Technically true though unexpected on the occasion. I was alternately amused and anguished, recalling Mark Twains famous words, All you need in life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
Yes, it was my father who once remarked: Your generation needs more vision than television which defies distinction between a beautiful singer and one who sings beautifully. I feel that the real problem is not whether machines think, but whether men do. Or, have men become the tools of their tools? The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.
It was at the post-prandial session that evening that my morning talk on success once again became the focus of conversation. With my armoury of admonitions brimming over, I charged: Nothing succeeds like success. Success has many fathers, failures has none..... A pause.....and peals of laughter greeted me leaving me dumbfounded. It did not take me long to figure out that behind the quizzical exchange of mischievous glances lurked the question of legitimacy of someone who had more than one father!
It was now the turn of my diligent daughter Garima to rescue me from the web of words which I had woven around myself as also from the web-savvy geeks. With alacrity and aplomb she recited this poem and carried the day:
SMALLPOX has been prevalent during the last few months generally in all parts of India with unusual virulence. Though the disease is said to be abating now, fresh cases are still reported, especially in large and crowded cities and towns.
A Madras message says that a milder form of the disease, known in England as Alastrum, has been prevalent there.
Lahore has also suffered
severely from this disease and many of the cases have
been reported to be of the milder type. This disease is
known to appear in an unusually severe form once every
five or six years but no one has been so far able to
foresee in what particular year it will appear and thus
warn the people to protect themselves against it before
the epidemic actually breaks out.
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