Monday, June 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Now sectarian killings
s deaths in terrorist-triggered explosions go, the number caused by the gory act on Friday at Pattan village in Srinagar district is about par for the course in the blood-splattered valley. 

Faulty education system
very year an alarmingly high number of students end their lives after the declaration of examination results by state and central school education boards.


Denial of development credit & after
by Balraj Mehta
HE World Bank-sponsored India Development Forum (IDF), which was in suspended animation after Pokhran-II, has revived its activity. But the upshot has not been up to the expectations of the Indian official delegation to its meeting in Paris this year after an interval of three years.

Of BJP-Sena uneasy relationship
by V. Gangadhar

HE strange friendship between the city slicker and the confirmed juvenile delinquent is cracking up. Particularly, since the juvenile delinquent is now seen in his true colours. 

Barbara Cartland beyond novels
by Anjali Majumdar
eaders may be forgiven if they are unable to guess who wrote this: " According to Indian belief we are each of us given a certain number of breaths for each incarnation."





Meet Matan, son of two mothers
by Anupam Gupta

N a startling legitimisation of homosexual morality, perhaps the first of its kind in this part of the world, the Supreme Court of Israel allowed last Monday a lesbian couple to be registered as the twin mothers of a child born biologically to one of them.


Launch of Punjabi channel
by Humra Quraishi
HE launch of Star’s Punjabi channel TARA dominated the so-called cultural scene here. The event took off with a press conference to announce the launch and then of course, a major partying session followed on June 2 (the launch day) which saw Taj Palace’s Darbar Hall crammed with Punjabis and non-Punjabis. 


75 years ago

The Lion and the Lamb
r Davies, continuing, stated that there was no question of racial superiority or inferiority involved in his statement, but it was one of difference in the natural endowment of different races due to different types of character and intellect.



Now sectarian killings

As deaths in terrorist-triggered explosions go, the number caused by the gory act on Friday at Pattan village in Srinagar district is about par for the course in the blood-splattered valley. A dozen individuals blown to pieces and three dozens injured. The killers are most certainly from one or the other Pakistan-trained squads; both the method and the professional touch carry the scent to their doorstep. The victims chose themselves because they were Shias, a minority sect of Islam. They had to die not because the terrorists found them inconvenient or antagonistic but because a few Sunni hotheads wanted to declare their dominance in the ongoing militancy. This is the first time that the Shias have been targeted just as the Sikhs were targeted for the first time in Chitti Singhpura some months back. This sequence gives the terrorist campaign a sinister twist. It is the Sunnis versus the rest and since only those “exported” by Pakistan are wielding the gun and felling people indiscriminately, it is a handful of sectarian killers versus the others. The blowing to bits of a dozen Shias in a faceless village is not likely to advance the cause of the militants’ patrons. Given the history of sectarian harmony in the Kashmir valley, this brutal act is unlikely to bring about a major shift in leadership in favour of one or the other group. Yet the terrorists went about the job of selecting a spot, planting an explosive device and setting it off with as much precision and care as they perhaps take in undertaking a similar bloody operation near a security forces camp. What then is their objective, if they have any? The orders have come from across the border; no sane person in the valley would have thought of a sub plot with such a deadly potential at this time. It appears that the Pakistani patrons of the group that carried out the Pattan blast are also simultaneously engaged in terrorising the Shias and have raised an army to rain death on their congregations. Is it possible that members of the Pakistani army have now been sent to the valley and did a bit of Shia killing as a diversion? No killing or sabotage carries a Pakistani signature as clearly as the latest massacre.

The Shias live in clusters, as minorities normally do. Protest demonstrations, pleasantly peaceful in the valley, have been confined to these areas. The next few days are crucial. The security forces should not only leave them unhindered to express their feelings of anger and anguish, but also step up vigil to abort a fresh attack on them. The second part is very vital to help the minority Muslims regain confidence. It is noteworthy that the protestors raised slogans against the militants and Pakistan. This display of antipathy and the murder of the Shias themselves raise the possibility that the mercenaries are finding themselves at a dead end with the security forces on high alert and Kashmiris getting weary of senseless and unending bloodletting. The government should keep this in mind and look for clues to either strengthen or jettison it. Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari is one of the few leaders in India and abroad who were present at the site of a major bomb blast but live to tell their tale. It was a providential escape from death and both community and political leaders are naturally happy and have greeted him. He is an important leader and needs the maximum security cover.


Faulty education system

Every year an alarmingly high number of students end their lives after the declaration of examination results by state and central school education boards. Since most high and senior secondary schools in the country are affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, the highest number of "post-result" deaths are reported from these institutions. Incidents of suicide by "failed" students from remote areas do not get reported. This year has been no different. One student in Delhi ended his life because he failed to clear the CBSE plus two maths paper for the third consecutive year. Another student left a suicide note in which he mentioned the exact location of a railway track where he had decided to jump out of a running train because he had failed to clear the economics paper. He was depressed because it was for the first time in the 12 plus years as an above average student that he had failed to clear a test in the first attempt. Some unsuccessful students run away from home to escape the humiliation of being rebuked by their over-demanding parents. Must the school education system evaluate the performance of students in terms of success and failure? Is it not possible to evolve a system of education which draws out and hones to perfection the hidden talent of each student as an individual? In Delhi and some other cities voluntary organisations have begun to set up helplines before the declaration of board examination results for providing guidance and counselling to students who do not find their names in the list of successful candidates. These organisations serve a useful purpose in the limited sense of extending a helping hand to only such students as may have the courage to ring up the given phone number or turn up at the given address for personal guidance. In real terms, these organisations are trying to provide some form of help to the victims of what is a flawed school education system. The larger issue of evolving a student-friendly curriculum for young and inquisitive minds has not received the attention it deserves.

Educationists, behavioural scientists and psychologists should accord the highest priority to the need for restructuring the current but grossly out of sync school education structure. The first essential step for sorting out the confusion would be to understand the difference between making students literate and thereafter opening to them the fascinating world of knowledge. The basic objective of making students literate is achieved during the first few years of schooling. Thereafter the system should begin to respond to the individual need of every student. A student who is unable to understand the principles of physics or economics need not be made to feel small or incompetent in a classroom situation. After all, intelligence itself is a relative concept. The same student may have gone on to become a gifted painter had he been given a box of paint and a brush or an extraordinary potter had he been allowed to play with clay — skills which may be missing in students good in physics and economics. However, in the final analysis, parents are primarily responsible for forcing children into studying subjects in which they (children) may have no interest. No one can assess the strength and weaknesses of children better than their own parents. But most parents ignore the warning signals for they want to realise their unfulfilled (and often unrealistic) dreams through the achievements of their children. Some schools now encourage regular parent-teacher interaction and have in-house career counsellors so that students do not have to go through the painful process of trail and error. It must be remembered that some of the great success stories of the last century were written by Indians who had received no or little formal education. Their success was based on their ability to read the book of life and relate lessons contained in it to their own situation. V.G. Paneerdas was one such individual. He came to Chennai with no education and little money. He began his "career" by selling tea from the pavement and went on to build a multi-crore rupees real estate business. He is dead but the VGP group today provides employment to graduates in engineering, architecture and management from some of the best institutes in the world. Had his parents been able to send him to school, the flawed education system might have instilled in him the same sense of inferiority which forces hundreds of "failed" high school and plus two students to end their lives every year.


Denial of development credit & after
by Balraj Mehta

THE World Bank-sponsored India Development Forum (IDF), which was in suspended animation after Pokhran-II, has revived its activity. But the upshot has not been up to the expectations of the Indian official delegation to its meeting in Paris this year after an interval of three years.

The economic sanctions as the cross retaliation for the nuclear tests against India by the group of developed countries led by the USA have not been lifted. No fresh commitment to extend long-term concessional credits, not even for poverty alleviation, let alone for economic growth projects, were made at the IDF meeting.

There were no takers for the pleas of the Indian delegation that the developed countries evolve a coordinated approach for long-term capital flows to India for development and poverty alleviation, the facile hopes entertained after the visit of US President Clinton to this country notwithstanding. The leader of the Indian delegation has ruefully noted the “declining trend” in these flows.

A far-reaching transformation in the scale and composition of foreign investment in India began after the market-friendly rather than pro-people structural adjustment of the Indian economy was initiated in 1991. This change in the pattern, not necessarily the nature and quality, of foreign capital flows to India was signalled when the World Bank’s Aid India Consortium, after nearly four decades of working, was reconstituted in 1992 as the IDF. This was the starting point for foreign private investment, direct and portfolio, to enjoy primacy over development credits, multilateral and bilateral, especially those on concessional terms, earlier advanced to India.

The transnational corporations (TNCs) were formally associated with the IDF. The World Bank entered into arrangements with the IMF and the WTO for coordinated action in the IDF. The Government of India was called upon to make adjustments in policies, statutory provisions and administrative procedures to facilitate the flow of private foreign capital to this country. This involved guaranteed high returns and total security for foreign private investors.

The World Bank in its annual reports has recorded satisfaction over the progress in India in all these directions. India, according to these reports, has been very responsive and in such areas as power generation, for instance, has gone beyond even what the countries in East Asia had done to attract foreign private investment. Yet India has so far failed to attract foreign private capital on an impressive scale. This is attributed by World Bank experts to inefficient administration rather than unsuitability of the economic reforms for India.

The IDF, year after year, elaborated the system of “conditionalities” for India to attract foreign private capital. The Government of India dutifully accepted and tried to operationalise them. But, in spite of liberal incentives, which in some cases, according to the World Bank itself, were even perverse, the inflow of private foreign capital has not been adequate and has been almost negligible for critical infrastructural projects. The flow of multilateral credits of the World Bank and bilateral development aid from the developed countries, meanwhile, started shrinking and stopped in 1998.

These multilateral and bilateral credits, which have been arranged since 1991, have helped India to only service its outstanding foreign debt. Some old credits in the pipeline because of their underutilisation were available to India to finance development projects that were passed after strict scrutiny. Many of the World Bank-aided projects were dropped to curtail the size of credits in the pipeline. India was thus sought to be “graduated” by the World Bank out of development aid by the end of the nineties. The nuclear tests provided an opportunity to achieve that objective two years earlier. There is no question now of its resumption.

The function of the IDF has, therefore, been to brief, persuade and pressurise the Government of India on policy issues and administrative measures that are expected to be endorsed by the government as its own. The IDF also tries to remove frictions and arguments between the Indian government and the World Bank-IMF combine that occasionally erupted in the past. The policy making options of the Indian government have thus been significantly curtailed even as it is called upon to provide the “political push” to implement the World Bank-IMF-WTO reforms.

The government of a country once drawn into the scheme of the World Bank-IMF-WTO conditionalities is necessarily required to come under constant and close surveillance on the implementation of the so-called economic reforms. If, however, it is unable to carry out the reforms consistently and efficiently, no blemish is found in the reform agenda. The government concerned is berated for lacking political will and authority. If and when, again, there is a change of government, the new regime is bound to the reform commitments of the previous government. After the Indian people have voted out as many as four governments in the nineties after the launching of the structural adjustment process and in spite of popular opposition to the so-called economic reforms, the reformers world-wide have applauded the successive governments in India for upholding the principle of continuity of the reform policy as their sacrosanct obligation. This has naturally encouraged the World Bank-IMF-WTO to intensify the pressure for “deepening” and “widening” the reform process. The government headed by Mr A.B. Vajpayee is now on this course. This is what the talk of the second phase of economic reforms is all about.

With the stoppage of the development credits of the developed countries to India since 1991, there were bound to be far-reaching implications of the launching of the so-called economic reforms without democratic sanctions. These implications extend to not just economic but also political processes at work in India and world-wide that have steadily and relentlessly unfolded in the nineties. The surveillance of the World Bank-IMF-WTO combine no longer covers the policies and performance of the government in India related to the servicing of foreign credits. It covers wider economic, social and political-strategic matters as well. Management of the exchange policy, the financial sector and the tax system was at once brought under the direct guidance of the World Bank-IMF-WTO combine. The politico-strategic matters, in particular the government’s expenditure on defence and internal security, to have tended, step by step, to come under question. Political alignments in India have not escaped the attention of foreign creditors either. The World Bank-IMF-WTO combine and their political controllers have made it clear that they would regulate the flows of private capital to India to secure satisfactory responses to all these issues. This position became stark with sanctions enforced against India for conducting the nuclear tests. It is significant that the World Bank in its annual report last year openly and squarely held political instability and nuclear tests responsible for the slow flow of foreign capital and the consequent depressed economic growth in India. There is indeed gross interference in the exclusive internal sovereign domain of the country by the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO.

This state of affairs would not have been possible to bring about in India by mere cajoling or arm-twisting. The structural adjustment process has nurtured vested interests in the Indian economy and polity which have tended to extend their cooperation and support to this process. The question now is whether the cooperative relationship between domestic and foreign vested interests based on a narrow and fragile social base can be smooth and survive the mass discontent and political tensions that have already developed and are likely to further develop in India as the adjustment process is sought to be pushed ahead.

The dazzling but totally false promises of transfer of capital and technology for growth and modernisation of the Indian economy is not providing either the financial “safety net” or the “psychological assurances”, with which the foreign creditors and their collaborators had expected to sustain the structural adjustment programme. The burden of the structural adjustment process too is becoming more and more harsh for the mass of the people and intolerable for acceptance in a democratic India.



Barbara Cartland beyond novels
by Anjali Majumdar

Readers may be forgiven if they are unable to guess who wrote this: "According to Indian belief we are each of us given a certain number of breaths for each incarnation."

And this too: Salvarajan Yesudian, a Yogi, says “Only by the conscious regulation of our breathing can we achieve the resistance which assures us a long life free of sickness”.

Dame Barbara Cartland did. Well, she must have certainly mastered the art of breathing for she died only 14 months short of a century. She knew a great deal more about how to live properly; what’s more she wrote about it. Be Vivid, Be Vital; Love, Life and Sex; Marriage For Moderns are some of her titles. Also books on etiquette and material for a correspondence course on writing romantic fiction.

Now a confession: I have not read a single one of her romantic novels; and only one of her books in the other genre — Look Lovely, Be Lovely. If you think that sounds mushy, as curdling as her novels, let me quote at random some of her advice and observations. Readers of any age from 10 to a hundred would benefit by taking her advice.

Here is her advice on slimming pills and such like, particularly relevant because of a product called Herbal Life is enjoying a certain vogue at present. Many people who should know better are hooked on it; and one purveyor of it (it is not sold in the shops; only by word of mouth) was heard to boast that he has never made so much money as he has now, for it is by no means cheap.

Too many women, says Dame Barbara Cartland, think (these products) are a delightfully easy way out of their weight problems...There is nothing magical about them in that they do not melt away surplus fat. All they do is diminish the sense of appetite so that you do not want to eat so much. Verily, says I, there never was a truer word spoken. The only one to benefit is the seller. Only recently a foreign man handed me a scrap of paper touting Herbal Life as I walked along Main Street. I told him what I thought of it.

I have shed six kilos — down to 60 now — by merely giving up sugar. I used to take two teaspoons in oats tea and coffee and some in my oats. Not now; also no cakes and biscuits and chocolates. Fruit yes: bananas, mangoes (the ones from Andhra are just coming in, Alphonsos being out of our range) and figs. Incidentally, Cartland does not advise figs and dates.

And in recommending vitamins she takes after my own heart. Our single biggest monthly bill is on vitamins. (We do not have any vehicle and do not smoke). Doctors will not tell you to take them — why should they?— though one of them told me that many of his fraternity did take vitamin supplements.

The experience of the Shute brothers, Canadian doctors, will be an eye opener to those who do not believe me when I tell of the ignorance — duplicity may perhaps be more appropriate — of doctors. Their findings on the enormous benefits of Vitamin E to heart patients were refused publication in medical journals. When I was in London, Ontario, not long ago, I spoke to the daughter of one of them, Dr Janet Shute at the Shute Institute. She confirmed that the medical profession had tried hard to suppress her father’s findings.

Dame Barbara says of Vitamin E: It is necessary for the heart, muscles, painless menopause, clear skin and a normal sex life. It is also a most important factor in keeping young. She should know.


Of BJP-Sena uneasy relationship
by V. Gangadhar

THE strange friendship between the city slicker and the confirmed juvenile delinquent is cracking up. Particularly, since the juvenile delinquent is now seen in his true colours. This sums up the present relationship between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. The alliance, after four years in power, was thrown out by the electorate, and is now a disgruntled opposition in the state.

But the mood in the respective party camps is quite different. The BJP, which had often been shunted to the role of a junior partner in the alliance, is now cock-a-hoop with hope and optimism. At the national front, the BJP-led coalition government had passed the test of time and is in no danger of not completing a five-year term. Prime Minister Vajpayee, despite occasional hiccups, is way ahead of other national leaders in popularity and was recently chosen by the Asiaweek magazine from Hong Kong as the leader of a “Dream Cabinet” of the region. The economy shows signs of picking up and the government has not made any major errors on issues like the Sri Lankan war or the ongoing militancy in Kashmir.

In Maharashtra, the BJP had all along resented the role of a junior partner. It had to bow down before the Shiv Sena, which had the monopoly support of the lumpen elements in the state. For years the Sena under the leadership of Balasaheb Thackeray had dominated the political scene, particularly in Mumbai city, through its terror tactics. Once in power, the Sena tried to change its image but without much success. When the Sena leaders pointed out that there had been no communal riots in the state during the Sena-BJP rule, cynical observers had explained that when communal elements were in power, they would not sully their image by inciting riots and creating tensions on the law and order front.

Despite being in power in a progressive, economically developed state, the Sena could not shed its role of a regional party with its focus only on Maharashtra. This attitude hampered its ruling partner, the BJP, which wanted the alliance government to be more active on the national mainstream. But the Sena was quite satisfied with its limited role mainly because the state, particularly Mumbai, was a goldmine and the Sena leaders were busy enriching themselves. The so-called development programmes seldom worked, the promises to the people were not fulfilled, corruption and favoritism were rampant. No wonder, the alliance lost the last assembly polls. Had the Congress not split at the national level, with Mr Sharad Pawar forming his own Nationalist Congress Party, the undivided Congress would have swept the polls in the state and come back to power with a huge majority.

The percentage of votes secured by the Sena and the BJP fell sharply during the last assembly polls. While the BJP still had the national government to rely on, the Sena was now bereft of power and without a base. Even before the polls, the Sena and the BJP were blaming each other over many issues. Today, their relations are at an all-time low and the BJP is keen on shedding its controversial partner before the next assembly polls are announced. The ruling Vilasrao Deshmukh government is not all that popular with the masses, but there are hopes it would survive in view of the bad vibes between the Sena and the BJP.

Sena chief Thackeray and his sidekicks had made several public announcements over the imminent fall of the Vilasrao government, but to their great embarrassment, this did not happen. The credibility of the Sena is now low. The lumpen elements in the Sena looked for miracles from the official residence of Balasaheb, “Matoshri”, but it was a futile wait. In the meantime, some of the recent announcements of the Sena leaders have caused acute embarrassment to its alliance partner and may lead to a split, sooner than later.

The Sena, it appears, is no longer enamoured of its “democratic and constitutional” role and is keen to go back to its bad old days when it bullied people, instigated violence and created communal trouble, ostensibly in support of the “Marathi Manoos” (local people). Mr Thackeray himself blamed the inactivity of the Sainiks and urged them to take to the streets to assert themselves. The issues involved were simple and ideal for rabble rousing. Why weren’t the signboards on most of the shops in Marathi? So launch an agitation and deface the English or Hindi signboards. An official agitation on this issue may start any moment.

The second issue is more sensitive and has an all-India impact. The Sena leadership has come out strongly Mumbai’s “North Indians” and has accused them of usurping the jobs meant for the locals. In a recent interview Sena strongman and former minister Gajanan Kirtikar has justified violence on this issue and pointed out how the recruiting boards of government agencies in the state are monopolised by North Indians, who favoured their own kith and kin from the region. The Sena stalwarts have already organised agitations in front of the railway workshops, nationalised banks, oil companies and other Central government units. Such an agitation would be manna from heaven to the Sena lumpen elements which are always ready to bash up unarmed, innocent civilians.

The BJP, while cautiously supporting the “sons of the soil” theory for the class III and IV category of jobs, would be embarrassed if its partner begins bashing up the large North Indian population. The BJP has painstakingly built up vote banks among the North Indians, some of whom have occupied high positions in the party. In the present delicate political situation, these leaders, under the threat of violence, may well opt out to join the Congress or the NCP. This will be a blow for the future of the BJP in Mumbai and Maharashtra, and it may risk going to the polls alone.

Under the circumstances, the BJP, by keeping itself aloof from the rabble-rousing programmes of its partner, may well decide to take a second look at the alliance. It will also hope that by distancing itself from the Sena, it may win crucial defections from the Congress and the NCP. One thing is certain. In the days to come, the political scene in Maharashtra is certain to be stormy.


Meet Matan, son of two mothers
by Anupam Gupta

IN a startling legitimisation of homosexual morality, perhaps the first of its kind in this part of the world, the Supreme Court of Israel allowed last Monday a lesbian couple to be registered as the twin mothers of a child born biologically to one of them.

Handed down by a Bench of three Judges, two of them women, the decision affixes, for all practical purposes, the seal of judicial approval on what have come to be known as same-sex marriages. The “marriage” of a woman with a woman, or a man with a man, which few in India would be able to comprehend as anything other than a physical absurdity, an ethical outrage and a legal impossibility.

But not in Israel or not any longer.

Born in California to Ruthy Brener Kadish, courtesy a sperm donor, four-year old Matan was “adopted” by his mother’s lesbian partner, Nicole Brener Kadish in California itself. On their return to Israel, whose citizens they are, the couple sought to register the adoption. And succeeded.

“It is impossible to say any longer that I am not his mother, and it is impossible to say any longer that we are not a family,” a jubilant Nicole told reporters after the Supreme Court’s verdict. ‘‘Matan has two mothers today.”

“The Supreme Court,” retorted Michael Eitan, a lawmaker from the Likud Party, “is more powerful than God, because to this day God has yet to create a single child from two mothers and now the Supreme Court has succeeded.”

The cogency of this fundamentalist critique notwithstanding, it cannot be denied that homosexual or same-sex marriages have a not inconsiderable constituency among both feminists and lawyers.

A “feminist critique of compulsory heterosexual orientation for women is long overdue,” wrote Adrienne Rich in her now famous essay on “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”, first published as a pamphlet by Only women Press, London, in 1979.

The assumption that most women are innately heterosexual, she said, stands as a theoretical and political stumbling block for many women. It remains a tenable assumption, partly because “lesbian existence has been written out of history or catalogued under disease; partly because it has been treated as exceptional rather than intrinsic..”

Yet the failure to examine heterosexuality as an institution is like failing to admit that the economic system called capitalism or the caste system of racism is maintained by a variety of forces, including both physical violence and false consciousness.

The denial of reality and visibility (she continued) to women’s passion for women, women’s choice of women as allies, life companions, and community; the forcing of such relationships into dissimulation and their disintegration under intense pressure have meant an incalculable loss to the power of women to “change the social relations of the sexes, to liberate ourselves and each other.”

Inability to perform heterosexual intercourse, argues David Feldman, Barber Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Birmingham, should not in principle make it impossible for two people to contract a valid marriage since non-consummation makes a marriage voidable but not void.

The essential basis for the relationship, he writes in his much-acclaimed work on civil liberties and human rights first published in 1993, is love and support rather than intercourse or child-rearing. “To speak as if sexual intercourse is the essential role of a woman in marriage seems to relegate the matrimonial home to a form of legitimised brothel.”

“Nevertheless (he acknowledges), there is no sign of the law being changed.”

The Supreme Court of Israel, however, is not the first court to change, or attempt to change, the law. The credit (or discredit) for that achievement goes to the Supreme Court of Hawaii, the 50th state of the United States.

Allowing in Baeher vs Lewin (1993) a lawsuit filed by three same-sex couples denied a marriage licence, the court, by a majority of 3 to 1, ruled that the state action amounted to discrimination on the ground of sex, violating the equal protection clause of the Hawaii Constitution. The couples included both lesbians and gays.

The plaintiffs correctly contend, held Justice Levinson, joined by Chief Justice Moon and Justice Burns, that the refusal to allow them to marry on the basis that they are members of the same sex deprives them of access to a multiplicity of rights and benefits that are contingent upon the marital status.

The operative distinction, said the dissenting member of the Bench, Justice Heen, lies in the relationship involved in the term “marriage” and that relationship is the legal union of one man and one woman.

The plaintiffs (he said) are not being denied entry into the marriage relationship because of their sex; rather, they are being denied entry into the marriage relationship because of the “recognised definition of that relationship” as one which may be entered into only by two persons who are members of the opposite sex.

The classification effected by the Hawaii Marriage Law, he concluded, is clearly designed to promote the legislative purpose of “fostering and protecting the propagation of the human race through heterosexual marriage and bears a reasonable relationship to that purpose. I see nothing unconstitutional in that.”

Nor do I, dear reader, in all humility and with due apologies to the Supreme Court of Israel.


Launch of Punjabi channel
by Humra Quraishi

THE launch of Star’s Punjabi channel TARA dominated the so-called cultural scene here. The event took off with a press conference to announce the launch and then of course, a major partying session followed on June 2 (the launch day) which saw Taj Palace’s Darbar Hall crammed with Punjabis and non-Punjabis. Initially the mood was formal, with speech rendering by the likes of I.K. Gujral, but within minutes that typical Punjabi enthusiasm overtook — loud, infectious music, Usha Uthup and Jaswinder and Mickey Narula singing non stop and getting most of the audience towards the dance floor — yes, most simply couldn’t help shaking a leg. And spotted on the floor were Rathikant Basu, Chairman and CEO of the Broadcast Worldwide, Kishwar Ahluwalia, CEO of this channel, Indian Express Editor Shekhar Gupta, Pioneer Editor Chandan Mitra, Gul Panang, Komal G.B. Singh, cartoonist Sudhir Tailang, Vinod and Kavita Nagpal, and not to miss the folk from Mumbai — Mahesh Bhatt, Tanuja Chandra, Neena Gupta, Kiran Juneja (wearing a particularly low cut shirt which distracted the attention of many). Spotted off-the-floor were Khushwant Singh, Kuldip Nayar and his lovely looking spouse (rare to spot such radiant faces in today’s soiree circuit), former Telecom Secretary R.K. Takkar, Vasudev sisters — Uma and Aruna — Gautam Kaul, Shiela Gujral, Pavan Varma and spouse Renuka, Siddharth and Anita Basu and, of course, several others.

Moving over from the partying and towards the actual analysis of the channel, it seems premature to pass comments or make a judgement at this stage (on the basis of the promos). However, to the one basic criticism that the channel base should have been located in Chandigarh, Ahluwalia said “studios were already present in Delhi and the building of new studios takes time. And then we will have our bureaus feeding us from all over Punjab and for talk shows etc we will be getting people from Punjab...”

Before moving on to the other happenings of the week, I must mention here that the Punjabi language had recently got another boost, after it was declared the second official language of Delhi, along with Urdu.

Jordan’s national day

May 25 was the national day of the Hashmeite kingdom of Jordan and much in keeping with the trend of the last few years the who’s who of the diplomatic and non-diplomatic circles were present. The Jordanian Ambassador to India, Mr Hisham Muhaisen, does manage to have on his guest list not only Kuwaiti and Iraqi diplomats but also those from Israel. A feat alright, but perhaps, he learnt this art of diplomacy from the former King of Jordan, for Jordan has been the only Arab state which maintained relations with not only its neighbouring Gulf countries but even with the so-called super powers of the world.

Another hotel

After a long gap I met Satish Kumar Mathur, the former chief horticulturist of Rashtrapati Bhavan, who, after retirement, has joined the Oberoi group of hotels. And this time Mathur was armed not only with a book (‘Wonderful Rose Gardens Around The World’ published by the Bengal Rose Society, in which he has written two chapters on gardens attached to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and also on the rose garden at the IGI Airport) but also brimming with details on the new hotel coming up in Shimla. “This is Oberoi group’s latest hotel in Shimla, Wild Flower Hall, at Mashobra and around it are perhaps the most dense forests in the country. We are working out plant landscaping in temperate conditions around this hotel.”

The hotel is scheduled to formally open in October this year.

Leh bound

Believe it ( I wouldn’t add ‘or not’) for you’ve really got to believe this fact - this week just before the Prime Minister reaches Leh, 11 ministers from the Centre would have already flown from New Delhi, to be there. To receive him, of course, and also to breathe some fresh albeit rarefied, air. All on the tax payers’ expense of course, who, all the while, suffocates in the worsening living conditions.

Sight of the week

I would dub it as the sight of the week — last weekend whilst I was at IIC to witness one of the puppet programmes a bizarre scene caught my attention — MF Hussain roaming around barefoot with a stick in his hand. Not far was his middleaged artist son Shamshad. Though they didn’t quite look as if they had been beaten (not even by the weather) yet looked terribly harassed, with the senior Hussain pacing the ground several times. I soon gathered that they were facing some car parking problem. Yes, finding a parking slot in New Delhi (not for yourself but for the vehicle) is now getting well nigh impossible.


Spiritual nuggets

O Death, we pay homage to thee for saving us from the scientific weapons of the learned, from the instruments and arms of kings and from the economic troubles created by businessmen!

— Atharva Veda, VI, XIII. I


Air water and earth,
Of these are we made.
Air like the Guru's word gives
the breath of life.
To the babe born to the great mother earth
Sired by the waters.
The day and night our nurses be
That watch us in our infancy.
In their laps we play.
The world is our playground.....

— Guru Nanak Dev, Japuji Sahib, Epilogue


Forests are like seers who enduring all obstacles give happiness and prosperity. To destroy them is violence.

— Adi Purana


Do no dishonour to the earth lest your dishonour the spirit of man.

— Henry Beston, The Outermost House

The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenges; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.

— Marya Mannes, More in Anger


The outer ecology is being destroyed because the inner ecology has been destroyed... When man is no more whole inside—divided, in conflict, like a fighting mob, in a crowd— that man creates a disturbance in nature also. And these are related.

— Osho, Dance your Way to God


Thou art my father,
Thou art my mother,
Thou art my brother,
Thou art my kin,
In all places Thou art my saviour,
What should I fear and why should I repine?
Through Thy grace
Have I grasped Thee,
Thou art my covert,
Thou art my pride,
There is none beside Thee.
The whole universe is the field of Thy sport.
Thou hast created all creatures big and small,
To each allotted his task
According to Thy Will.
All that is done is Thy doing,
There is naught that we can do.
Meditating on Thy Name
I attain the height of happiness;
Exalting Thee in Song
I am brimmed full of bliss.
By the grace of the perfect Guru
My heart is made full of rejoicings
Saith Nanak, and victory has been won.

— Guru Arjan Dev, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Rag Majh, page 103


75 years ago
June 5, 1925

The Lion and the Lamb

Mr Davies, continuing, stated that there was no question of racial superiority or inferiority involved in his statement, but it was one of difference in the natural endowment of different races due to different types of character and intellect. Does Mr Davies mean that the character and intellect of the British entitle them of rule over the greater part of the world and the other nations, who are endowed with different qualities, have only to submit to be ruled and dominated by this gifted race? If this is so, Mr Davies’s conception of justice shows him to be a typical representative of his race and he is unconscious of the fact that his theory is altogether unacceptable. He may as well say that the lion, as the king of the beasts, is endowed with virtues peculiar to its species and the lamb has its virtues too and must submit to the natural relationship between the two.

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