|Monday, May 15, 2000,
Reprieve for army rule
Proactivity on Yamuna
IS THERE HOPE FOR THE CONGRESS?
A six-year-old scapegoat
Nothing uniform about civil code
Recruitment of child soldiers in
Dewan for Travancore
Reprieve for army rule
TWELVE judges of the Supreme Court collectively crowned Gen Pervez Musharraf as the legitimate ruler, indirectly hailing him as the saviour of Pakistan. In the process they vested him with extraordinary powers. This is bad news for democrats but the men in black silk sweetened their Friday order somewhat by restricting his lease on power to three years from the day he toppled the Nawaz Sharif regime October 12 last year. He also gets a bonus of 90 days to hold elections and install a new National Assembly, Senate and Assemblies in the four provinces. If the army ruler respects the court order, the country should, Insha Allah (God willing), see the return of popular rule by January 10, 2003. It was not an easy decision to arrive at although there is the 1977 precedent when the same court validated a similar coup by Zia-ul-Haq, which became the model for the Friday ruling. The judges resurrected the questionable "doctrine of state necessity" to prop up their opinion. This doctrine states, quite rightly, that the country has to have a regime and what the good General did in October last and what Zia did 22 years earlier, was precisely to meet this obligation: give Pakistan a government. The court eagerly swallowed the army argument that Mr Sharifs was a one-man rule, he was corrupt and he was ruining the economy. It was to save the country from disaster that General Musharraf struck. At least at two places in the order the judicial voice let itself be heard by describing his action as an "extra-constitutional step" and dubbing the coup as a "constitutional deviation". And to fulfil the tasks the military ruler has set for himself he needs time and three years should do two years to prepare new electoral rolls and one year to set the machinery rolling. Why the extra 90 days? It is a throwback to the scrapped eighth amendment and the court throws a long wistful look at it.
Before Zia died in a
plane crash he took out an insurance policy against
persecution by a future elected government. He directed
the handpicked National Assembly and Senate (the
countrys Parliament) to change the Constitution to
provide him and his Ministers with immunity and also vest
the power to sack an elected government with the
countrys President but covered this draconian
provision with the fig leaf of democratic spirit by
making fresh elections mandatory within 90 days. This is
not the only outward link with the Zia gift of
constitutional homicide. In fact, the Supreme Court has
lamented the passing away of the Eighth Amendment which
has left the country with no effective remedy when the
elected government goes berserk. It has not asked for its
reinstatement and has even warned against such a step,
saying that while the army ruler has powers to amend the
Constitution in the interest of good governance, he
cannot touch the "salient features" which
mostly relate to the judiciary. If the court felt
embarrassed at its munificence to the General, it did not
show it. Perhaps it had no option; having upheld the
Provisional Constitution Order promulgated by the same
General, it had to give its stamp of approval to his rule
as well. If elections are indeed held by 2003, Pakistan
would have spent half of its existence under military
Proactivity on Yamuna
"THE Yamuna today is worse than a drain with no dissolved oxygen in it." This remark was made by the anguished Supreme Court on Thursday after finding its orders repeatedly violated by the Delhi Government. A Bench of the apex court comprising Justice B.N. Kirpal and Justice Ruma Pal considered the pollution of the Yamuna an administrative problem and ordered the government to pay a fine of Rs 10,000. The court was annoyed at the failure of the authorities concerned to check the discharge of untreated domestic waste water and industrial effluent into the river. The proactive attitude of the court in respect of one of our sacred but systematically insulted rivers is laudable. Although we know that the purification of the Ganga began with much fanfare during Rajiv Gandhi's prime ministerial days, any step did not yield the desired result. There is no reason why the Yamuna cleaning drive should meet the same fate. In fact, it is easier to clean the rather shorter water course than to purify the larger Gangetic system. The ways successfully adopted in the case of the Yamuna can be used to clean up the Ganga. The chief concern of the Supreme Court is not religious; it is using its powers to see some improvement in public health. It wants effluent treatment plants to be installed and industrial waste to be kept away from the river. It, however, gives an option. The offending industries can be shifted from the polluting sites. A human aspect comes in the way in the alternative situation. About eight lakh workers may be displaced or may lose their jobs. But the court says that jobs can be found for the unemployed in the relocated industries. The question often asked is: are the industries the sole factor for river water pollution? Sewage is not an industrial effluent. Delhi generates 27 million litres of sewage daily. Only 12 million litres are scientifically treated. Where does the rest of it go? It is mainly discharged into the Yamuna. The National Capital Region (NCR) is supposed to have 18 sewage filth treatment plants. But not more than three or four are functional.
Okhla shows us a case in
point. Its sickening waste can be treated if there is
enough electricity and the processing machines function
properly. Water and electricity shortage is considered to
be the problem of municipal corporations. The Central
Pollution Control Board is of the view that the
elimination of civic indifference can make a real
difference in the situation. Ruthless measures need to be
adopted to make and keep the river clean. The Delhi
government has identified five drains at Najafgarh, Dr
Sen's Nursing Home, Bramble, Shahadara and the Civil
Lines as good candidates for immediate attention. There
was a classic Allahabad case. In it, the Supreme Court
set aside the judgement of the Lucknow Bench of the
Allahabad High Court and restored the criminal complaint
filed by the UP State Pollution Control Board in 1983. A
large liquor company was found guilty. Its directors were
told that parliamentary concern in the matter of dealing
with offences under the pollution prevention and control
law was truly reflected in the strengthening of the
measure prescribed by the statute. The courts took the
matter seriously and ruled out an argument to the effect
that no case which had gone on for 17 long years was fit
for a decision. The court said that the long delay, in
fact, should call for an early decision. The Yamuna does
not flow quietly in Delhi and beyond. It has become a
filthy river. Its water is not potable either for men or
for beast. The court's initiative should be backed by a
popular campaign and the Delhi government should prove
its accountability promptly. Pollution-free air and water
are among the basic rights of the citizens, but people
should also bind themselves by duties. Much is being made
of EURO-II emission norms. More important than such a
standard is the availability of clean drinking water.
IS THERE HOPE FOR THE
THE best prescription for the Congress party today is that its members, desperate for office at the Centre, must prepare to be out of government for some time. If this is accepted I am sure that Congressmen will feel deeply disappointed with Mrs Sonia Gandhi. What use is a leader, they will ask, if she cannot promise them a government tomorrow. But those who think so will be over ambitious and not mindful of the larger interests of the party. Nor will they be realistic. This ambition of Congressmen is their greatest enemy. They must learn to serve, not to rule.
It is sad that this ambition to regain power was fostered among Congressmen by none else than Mrs Sonia Gandhi herself. Her acceptance of the role played by Mr Jayalalitha in bringing down the second Vajpayee government, supported by the demand that the Opposition commanded the requisite majority to form the government, gave the party a wrong perception. She should instead have followed the fine example set by Rajiv Gandhi after his partys defeat and the installation of the V.P. Singh government. He accepted that the people had not given him a mandate and he must stay out of power although the Congress had returned as the single largest party. His parliamentary party went along with his decision. He was unanimously chosen as the leader again. Sad that Mrs Sonia Gandhi did not follow this example. She had greater reason for following it. While Rajiv Gandhis Congress had still been returned as the largest party in the Lok Sabha, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, when she put forward her claim to form the government, could collect a rag-tag combination, which included uncertain allies like Ms Jayalalitha. Her famous tea party turned out to be a disaster.
This wrong ambition has still not left the Sonia Congress. Sometimes it has no link with the reality. Look at the way her publicists played up the fact that there was going to be a battle royal between Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and Mrs Sonia Gandhi at the conclusion of the debate on the Presidents Address. In trying to beat off the BJP-led government it quite unnecessarily played up the kind of performance Mrs Sonia Gandhi was going to make. What for was this done? In fact, it walked into its enemys trap. Could anybody have imagined that Mrs Sonia Gandhi could have beaten off Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee in a debate? Mr Vajpayee is the greatest speaker the country has today. How can anyone think of vanquishing him in a debate, where he has been a hero many times over. Why fight him in an arena where he was sure to score heavily? I am reminded of a time when many months after the defeat of Mr George Bush by Mr Bill Clinton in the US Presidential election. At a meeting both spoke. Mr Clinton was clearly the better speaker. Mr Bush confessed: "Now I know why he is inside and I am so far outside." This admission showed his good sense.
The Congress should equally have shown such good sense. It should not have invited a comparison. It should look to the positive aspects of its role. It should look to where it has scored. To the time when it scored heavily in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and somewhat in Maharashtra too. Those who criticise Mrs Sonia Gandhi should see these as her triumphs. The BJP on its own does not have such victories to show off. Those were resounding victories. But what has been the effect since? In Delhi, for instance, for more than a year newspaper readers have been reading only daily headlines from Congress members about how unacceptable the present state government is for them. Does the Congress party know what a negative effect it creates of the party and how badly that is going to be for it in the future? Would this not leave a mark on the peoples memory? Mrs Sonia Gandhi has not taken a decisive step on it. Either Mrs Sheila Dikshit must set right her party, achieve a vote of confidence or get out. Mrs Sonia Gandhi should not see any action she takes as a move against her wishes. She must learn to change and compromise and take decisive steps. Look at the way the BJP dealt with Mr Madan Lal Khurana.
It was because of Congressmens individual ambitions that the elections to the Rajya Sabha became a sorry spectacle for the party. In many cases the nominations of Congressmen became a disastrous mistake. Not that there was everything wrong with them. Like in Delhi, the nominations returned men of eminence. They could add lustre to any parliamentary party. But where did it leave local Congressmen who had worked for such a victory for their party? They were left high and dry. How could they now work for their party? The Rajya Sabha elections would have been one way of doing it. Look at how many tall leaders the BJP has built in Delhi outside the assembly. Local Congress leaders were totally left out. A bad reward they received; they are distraught and all that they do is to fight among themselves.
West Bengal taught a correct lesson to the Congress leadership by giving it a telling defeat in the Rajya Sabha election which it would remember for long. West Bengal has taught the Congress a lesson and showed after much debate and discussion how it can produce a new way for itself. It could be that the Congress would lose badly in the coming municipal elections and later in the assembly elections. But that would not matter so long as the Congress can keep its head high and its principles alive. Maybe people like Mr Ghani Khan Chaudhury would have the ambition of becoming the Chief Minister thwarted. It could even be that the Congress party in West Bengal could get divided. But if it regards the BJP as a communal party (from its point of view) and if its sole ambition is to defeat it, how could it join Ms Mamata Banerjees Trinamool Congress which is aligned with the BJP?
The Congress would have lost face with its supporters. In reaching this decision the Congress committed many major mistakes. The first mistake was to accept Mr Priya Ranjan Das Munshis recommendation in declaring Mr D.P. Roy as the party nominee. It was his duty and that of the Congress observers to see whether it was the right choice. Of course, the Congress leadership failed in making a correct assessment. It failed and misled Mrs Sonia Gandhi. This should be held against Mr Das Munshis assessment.
What the Congress should have done was to find a consensus candidate, Mr D.P. Roy or Mr Somen Mitra or anyone else, who could gather the greatest support in the assembly party. Not having done that the defeat and the consequent ignominy were certain.
It did well to reject Ms Mamata Banerjees invitation to the Congress to fight with her against the Left Front while she kept alive her equation with the BJP alliance. This would have been disastrous for the Congress. After reaching this decision the Congress should devote itself to realpolitik and reach understanding with the leftist parties on a local basis and maybe even individually with the Trinamool Congress. Mrs Sonia Gandhi should have squared it up with her meeting with Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, who must be relieved by the Congress decision.
But the leftists are in a bad shape. They have lost their elan in West Bengal. Mrs Sonia Gandhi should have grave complaints against them the way they have reacted to her in the past. Some of them opposed her entry into the political life of the country. Now they have come to request her support. The Congress should give it but only after getting its pound of flesh.
West Bengal should show
the path for the Congress. It should fight for its
principles and not be all the time hungry for office. Its
governments in the states where it is in power should try
to provide clean and efficient administration. It must
know that in Mr Vajpayee it has a formidable opponent who
is the main source of strength for the present coalition
government. It will not be easy to dislodge him except by
good politics. Short-term gains is not what the Congress
should be thirsting for in its draught for votes.
A six-year-old scapegoat
REMEMBER the Indian folktale where a tiger and a lamb were drinking water at the same side of a stream. The tiger, keen to kill and eat the lamb, wanted to pick a quarrel. Since the lamb was mild and gentle and could not rise to the provocation, the tiger charged that its grandfather had been insulted by an ancestor of the lamb. Now that was a legitimate excuse, and the tiger pounced on the poor lamb.
The long-standing feud between the USA and the Cuba often made me think of the lamb-tiger story. For the most powerful nation in the world, any excuse, real or imaginary, was enough to threaten little Cuba. Mind you, Cuba was not the only small nation to feel this pressure. Over the years the USA had constantly bullied nations like Libya, Iraq, Congo and Panama which chose to think and act independently.
But Cuba from the 1950s had been a constant pain in the neck for the mighty USA. When Washington refused to help Cuba in its revolution against dictator Batista, Cuba turned to the communist bloc for help. This was during the height of the Cold War. For the USA, which expected Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro to bow and scrape before it, this was an unforgivable act and it was determined to teach Havana a lesson.
The "lesson" took many shapes. When John Kennedy was the US President, he listened to the advice of the Central Intelligence Agency and other hawks in his administration and launched an invasion against Cuba. The attack failed because the Cubans refused to rise against their own President and welcome the invading forces. The incident came to be known as the "Bay of Pigs" fiasco and caused much embarrassment to the US administration. Two years later, in 1962, the USA and the USSR had an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation over the location of Russian nuclear missiles on Cuban soil. American warships boarded Soviet ships which were bound for Cuba but found nothing. Both sides backed down and the USSR agreed to remove the missiles. This was hailed as an American victory though the US administration had also agreed to remove the NATO missiles installed in Turkey. In fact, the confrontation was a draw though the US media hailed it as a triumph for Kennedy.
Somehow, the US Presidents and their governments could not stand the sight of Fidel Castro whose charisma among his own people could not be denied. He also became a much admired figure among the nonaligned nations. The heroic Cuban revolution and the very act of survival from a hostile US government enhanced his charisma. President Castro survived several bizarre assassination attempts launched by the CIA and other government organisations. Such failures were exposed by the US media and made the government appear silly. Yet, the USA would not give up. Despite making up with several communist regimes, the USA bore implacable hatred towards Castros Cuba and continued its trade sanctions. The USA even tried to persuade its allies to stop trading with Havana.
The most recent bone of contention between the USA and Cuba was a six-year-old boy, Elian Gonzalez, who had become somewhat of a media celebrity in the USA. Last November, Gonzalez, who along with some members of his family, tried to escape from Cuba to the USA and survived a shipwreck off the Florida coast which claimed the life of his mother. The ship, in fact, was a rickety boat. Survivor Elian came under the care of his great uncle who could not get along with his father.
This story was meat and drink to the US media. It had the right kind of dramatic appeal, the innocent young boy, fleeing Castros tyranny, losing his mother in the sea, and finally being rescued by kind relatives. It was a first rate propaganda coup for anti-Castro forces which had settled down in Miami, Florida. It was also expected that Elians father, still in Cuba, would rejoice at his sons deliverance. But no such thing happened. Elians father claimed custody of his son and take him back to Cuba. Elian, it was clear, had no objections.
This was embarrassing to the US Immigration Department which did not want to be accused of aiding and abetting in the "kidnapping" of Elian. The boys relatives would not return him to the authorities. Attorney-General Janet Reno, with the full consent of President Clinton, used federal sources to rescue Elian from his relatives and returned him to his father who had come to the USA. The reunion was emotional and happy; it was clear that the boy would rather live with his father than his opportunistic relatives who only wanted to use this incident as a stick to beat the Cuban government.
By and large, many Americans also supported the US governments action. They had seen for themselves on TV screens how happy Elian was to be reunited with his father. Of course, he had also been happy with his uncles, cousins who had offered him toys, games and so on. But that was a temporary phase. A six-year-old boy will always enjoy a change of scene, but his heart would be with his parents only.
But the anti-Castro brigade which had made Florida its headquarters would hear none of this. They made Elian a political issue and sections of the right-wing media joined the chorus of protest. With the 2000 AD Presidential elections approaching fast, the Elian issue had become a hot topic. The likely Republican candidate for the Presidency, Mr George Bush (Jr), severely condemned the government action in "snatching" away Elian from his relatives. The right-wing Republicans were shriller in their attacks and acted as though Elian had been kidnapped, when, in reality, he had been sent back to his natural guardian, his father.
It is sad that the US Presidential election, which should deal with more important national and international issues, got bogged down on yet another anti-Castro movement. Cuba under Castro may not be an earthly paradise like Florida. But it is more peaceful and crime free than Florida where the anti-Castro Cuban brigade had been accused of drug dealing, murder and other crimes. Florida, once a tourist paradise, had become a major law and order problem for the government, mainly because of the presence of Cuban thugs.
President Castro must be enjoying the embarrassment the US government was undergoing over the Elian issue. He congratulated President Clinton and Attorney-General Reno for their act in the Elian rescue. But it was a message the Democrats could have done without. To be bracketed with Castro is the ultimate in embarrassment for any US leader. Perhaps, that was the reason why the Democratic Party presidential candidate, Vice President Al Gore, kept himself aloof from the current controversy and did not support his own governments move in rescuing Elian.
All over the world,
millions of children are dying due to illness, wars and
malnutrition. The American people and media tended to
ignore these tragedies and focus solely on the mini-drama
at Florida. What is sad was the politicalisation of a
normal father-son relationship. It is clear that for
sections of American people and media, any stick is
enough to beat the Cuban government. What is happening in
Florida does not speak well of American leadership. It
would be a pity if a six-year-old Cuban boy becomes the
major issue in the forthcoming Presidential polls. It
would only reflect the immaturity of the American
politicians and media.
Nothing uniform about civil code
"WHATEVER may have been the necessity for polygamy in the earliest stages of society," wrote the great Muslim jurisconsult Syed Ameer Ali in 1880, more than three decades before he attained the unique distinction of becoming the first Indian judge of the Privy Council, "in modern times it can only be regarded as an unmitigated and unendurable evil."
Adverting to the "progress of thought" among the "great majority of Moslems" in India respecting the institutions of polygamy, slavery and the facility of divorce without the sanction of the kazi, Ameer Ali went on to make a statement which, 120 years later, sounds almost revolutionary today:
"To me it appears (he said, in his preface to the first edition of Volume II of his celebrated work on Mohammedan Law) that great changes are imminent in the social institutions and the personal laws of the Indians Musulmans. How they will be achieved, whether by a general synod of Moslem doctors or by the direct action of the Legislature, it is impossible to say."
What a paradox then that, but ten days ago in AD 2000, the Supreme Court of India should have to eat its own words on the reform of the Muslim personal law of polygamy and clarify "in order to allay all apprehensions" that it had not, ever before, issued any directions for the codification of a uniform civil code for the country.
And acknowledge in so many words that "this Court has no power to give directions for the enforcement of the Directive Principles of State Policy as detailed in Chapter IV of the Constitution which includes Article 44", for those principles "are not enforceable in Courts (and) do not create any justifiable rights in favour of any person."
Issued by Justice R.P. Sethi on behalf of an apex Division Bench, Justice Saghir Ahmad concurring, the "clarification" brings the curtain down on a 5-year old controversy kicked off by the courts earlier "direction" to the Government of India in Sarla Mudgals case.
"(T)here is no justification whatsoever to keep in abeyance anymore," an agitated Justice Kuldip Singh had then ruled, "the introduction of a uniform civil code for all citizens in the territory of India.... The Hindus alongwith Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains have forsaken their sentiments in the cause of national unity and integration, some other communities would not, though the Constitution enjoins the establishment of a common civil code for the whole of India."
Successive governments till date, he said, have been wholly remiss in their duty of implementing the constitutional mandate under Article 44. "We, therefore, request the Government of India through the Prime Minister of the country to have a fresh look at Article 44..."
"We further direct," he said, pronouncing on May 10, 1995, "the Government of India through the Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice to file an affidavit of a responsible officer in this Court in August, 1996, indicating therein the steps taken and efforts made by the Government of India towards securing a uniform civil code for the citizens of India."
Read together, the "request" and the "direction" created, on pain of contempt for disobedience, a situation of unprecedented piquancy on an issue which has eluded national consensus since independence and which has, more than once, threatened to destroy the fragile communal amity that underlies and is an essential condition of the countrys survival as a nation.
Starting off myself as an enthusiastic votary of a uniform civil code, my modest research in this increasingly contentious area of law where religion, tradition and modernity grapple with each other in ceaseless combat, has convinced me that, even from the purely legal point of view, the task is much easier envisioned than attempted.
One of the several reasons why this is so is the extreme originality and complexity of Muslim law as compared to Hindu law and the absence, resultantly or otherwise, of perhaps even a single "Hindu" scholar of the subject who can lay claim to some respect amongst the Muslims.
"There is a tendency in certain quarters," Prof Asaf A. A. Fyzee, another leading (and modern) exponent of Muslim law, points out, "to criticise the conclusions reached by classical authorities of Islamic law. It is undoubtedly true that the movement of society has rendered certain rules difficult to apply with equity. But valid criticism should be tempered with greater humility and hesitancy; it should be founded upon unremitting study of Arabic as a language and of law as a science, and illuminated with insight into the faith of man and the evolutionary processes in society. Without these safeguards, judicial valour cannot be exercised with benefit to the community."
Coming back to the verdict pronounced last fortnight on May 5, and arising out of a petition for review of Sarla Mudgals case and connected matters, the concurring opinion of Justice Saghir Ahmad concludes with a subtle reminder of the ground realities of a multi-religious democracy that no judge or law-maker can afford to ignore.
The reiteration of a reminder, to be more precise, that comes from none other than B.R. Ambedkar himself.
"I should like to point out (Ambedkar told the Constituent Assembly) that all that the State is claiming in this matter is a power to legislate. There is no obligation upon the State to do away with personal laws. It is only giving a power.... We must all remember... that sovereignty is always limited, no matter even if you assert that it is unlimited, because sovereignty in the exercise of that power must reconcile itself to the sentiments of different communities."
Judicial sovereignty no
less than executive, whether we like it or not.
Recruitment of child soldiers in
AT last, focus on the child. Last fortnight attention was drawn to the child in the labour sector, with India topping the list of housing or harbouring the highest number of child workers. And now, on May 15, a Coalition of UN child-right experts, ex-child soldiers, NGOs and military officials from Asia Pacific countries are meeting in Kathmandu to stop the use of child soldiers in Asia. In fact over 150 delegates from India, China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, the Philippines, Australia and Thailand are taking part in this meet.
But havent we woken up rather late to tackle this problem? In fact, correct me if I am wrong but it was in 1996 that Graca Machel (later Mrs Nelson Mandela) had come up with a comprehensive report which was submitted to the 1996 regular session of the United Nations General Assembly and one of the segments of this report was exactly this of more than 150 major conflicts since the Second World War, 130 have been fought in the developing countries and then to top this disturbing fact the report also states that armed conflict kills and maims more children than soldiers "to kill the big rats you have to kill the little rats". And also the fact that "governments and rebel armies have recruited tens of thousands of children some recruits are even 10 years old or even younger who serve the army in supportive roles as cooks, porters, messengers, spies. Children under 15 years of age are known to be serving in governments or opposition forces in at least 25 conflict zones. In Liberia, children as young as seven have been found in combat, while in Cambodia a survey of wounded soldiers found that 20 per cent of them were between the ages of 10 and 14 when recruited. In Sri Lanka, of the 180 Tamil Tiger guerrillas killed in one government attack more than half were still in their teens and 128 were girls ..." And as these facts and figures stare one in the face, the Coalition reports add more Take this one, for instance "When they counted the bodies, there were 49 dead LTTE child fighters, 32 of them girls between 11 and 15. In Sri Lanka, boys and girls in their early teens are routinely and forcibly recruited by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)" Or this fact "Myanmar alone is one of the largest sources of child soldiers in the world, both in terms of the conscripted Burmese military and ethnic insurgent groups pitted against it..."
It is a matter of shame that till date our policies have been totally lopsided. So much so that we even fail to register these disasters centring around warfare. One reason for this callousness could be that the so-called leaders of our country rarely send their sons to join the Army. Though there is no data available on this but this fact was brought to my notice by a retired Army Colonel who has done considerable work on different aspects related to the Army and warfare.
Coming full circle!
And on May 15 an exhibition of Eckart Muthesius "India 1930 - 1939 Architecture, Design, Photo-graphy", opens at the Lalit Kala Akademi. The reason why this exhibition caught my attention is simple. Read this and you will nod along with me that we have indeed come a full circle. "In 1930, the German architect Eckart Muthesius, at the age of 26 was commissioned by the Maharaja of Indore, Yashwant Rao Holkar Bahadur, to plan and construct a new palace. The project of the Manik Bagh residence developed into a 1930s international style work of art in interior design (what with Muthesius even adding objects of interior design by the Berlin, London and Paris avant-garde, including steel chairs by the Wassili brothers and Marcel Breuer and other furniture by Le Corbusier, Eileen Gray and others) and Manik Bagh aroused great interest in the international press of the time. Yet the adverse years after 1933, hostile to modernism, let the work of Eckart Muthesius fall into oblivion. The Maharaja of Indore died in 1956. The palace and its contents were later sold by the Holkar heiress Maharani Usha Devi and in 1980 various pieces of furniture such as lamps and carpets were auctioned with unexpected success in Monte Carlo and some of these were acquired by German museums (Bauhaus, Dessau, Kunstgewerbemuseum), thus at last bringing late acknowledgement to the Berlin architect whose work of art in India was broken up...."
And this exhibition will be on view till May 27 and it has been arranged by the Max Mueller Bhavan and German Cultural Centre (Goethe Institute, Munich).
A treat it ll be!
Changing times, changing patterns ...nothing very prophetic but these are realities stretching out. Earlier summer months were dead and dull but no longer so. The season seems undying, in spite of the soaring mercury and accompanying load shedding. And in keeping with the unchanging pace of happenings and events there starts off (from May 15) at the India International Centre, a festival of South Asian documentaries screening of 15 outstanding films from the region.
And soon after this
there will be a full focus on puppets and puppetry, again
at the IIC. In fact right from May 22 to May 28 there
will just be puppets, all along the way, with some major
puppet groups presenting special performances by their
puppets and the highlight will be a discussion on puppets
"as art, social message and political comment".
THE appointment of a European as Dewan of Travancore State has been strongly criticised on several grounds in spite of the fact that the officer selected for this post is said to be an able and experienced man who has given satisfaction in his duties to all concerned.
At a time when in British provinces people are demanding Indianisation of services, subjects of Indian States can hardly welcome the innovation of a European controlling the somewhat conservative interests of Indian States.
Moreover, there is no
lack of capable Indians within the State concerned who
could well have been preferred for the post, especially
as they naturally expect the privilege and there are no
special reasons for introducing the strange innovation.
It is surmised that this action is due to outside
interference, which, if true, is to be strongly
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