|Wednesday, June 14, 2000,
capital, Indian style
from U.P. and W. Bengal
jitters and joys
June 14, 1925
Wooing capital, Indian style
WORRIED over the falling inflow of foreign capital, the government removed a great irritant on Monday and opened some more industries for 100 per cent investment. The oddly named divident balancing law is gone, relieving manufacturers of consumer durables and such items as soft drinks and processed food. Under this scheme, these units, which were either fully owned subsidiaries or collaboration arrangements, were allowed to remit dividends provided they generated an equal amount in export earnings. In other words, the dividend payment to the foreign shareholders was linked to foreign exchange earning by way of exports. This restriction came into being at a time when foreign investment was actively discouraged in non-priority areas and the country was going through a tight foreign exchange position. In these days of open invitation to foreign capital this law has no place. It is not known why this was not revoked earlier. The government simultaneously allowed 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in power-related sectors, e-commerce and petroleum refining. Power generation was always open to FDI without any ceiling like in the case of Enron and Cogentrix, but there was the Rs 1500 crore limit in power transmission, distribution and metering. Now these whimsical conditions are gone. E-commerce is fully open only in the case of business-to-business (B2B) and not business-to-customer (B2C).
The decision on new refineries is inexplicable. Even Mr Pramod Mahajans questionable economic logic is not helpful. India has built up the capacity to refine crude to meet its needs of petroleum products, or is about to acquire that capacity. Both Mangalore Refinery and the Reliance project have to find foreign customers for their products and are busy selling petrol in select American cities. Why throw open refineries to 100 per cent FDI, unless somebody is interested in inviting a particular investor? These decision have come at a time when FDI is falling. Although India ranks 11th among developing countries in terms of FDI, the amount involved is very small. In 1999-2000 it was a trickle at $ 2.155 billion or about 0.31 per cent of all foreign investment across the world, which is a fraction of what China receives. What is more, even this share is coming down each year while the need for FDI is climbing.
While the Left and other
opposition parties are uncharacteristically silent, the
Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS affiliated outfit, threw up
a tantrum. It is meeting at Agra next week when it is
expected to mount a pointed attack on these open door
policies. It has been visibly edgy ever since foreign
operators in Indian stock markets triggered a plunge in
the Sensex by 361 points and forced the Finance Ministry
to cancel income tax cases against some of them. The SJM
is convinced that the governments policies are
adding to the clout of these operators and that is not in
the long-term interests of the country. Strangely, it
does not attack the Foreign Minister like the opposition
parties do but unnamed forces in the Prime
Ministers Office. Since the PMO guides all economic
policies, the blame should belong there, it says. Until
now the SJM has proved to be quite innocuous and the Agra
meeting is not expected to change that perception.
Yet another carnage
FOR the past several years, the only news that comes out of Bihar relates to corruption, maladministration or revenge killings. The godforsaken people of Bihar seem to have become inured to the first two. But the never-ending cycle of massacre still shocks them and the rest of the world for its scale and brutality. The latest one took place on Sunday night when 12 upper caste persons, including eight members of a family related to an independent MLA, were gunned down in Apsad village of Nawada district. The victims were shot, beheaded and their guts were gouged out. Even a five-year-old child was not spared. The carnage was well-planned and massive. Over a hundred persons are alleged to have perpetrated it. According to current indication, this was in retaliation against a similar incident that took place in the district a week ago in which six persons belonging to another community were gunned down. The latest incident takes the toll of the war of attrition between two criminal groups in the district this month to 24. The figure will ensure that the average of 5000 people being killed every year in similar incidents in Bihar would be equalled, if not improved upon. The killings are alleged to be because of a supremacy battle between two ministers from Nawada district. The Opposition has quickly demanded the sack of the Rabri Devi government with its leader, Mr S.K. Modi, shouting from the rooftop that criminals and goondas are ruling the roost in Bihar while the administration has remained a mute spectator. But the fact of the matter is that each and every party in Bihar has contributed to criminalisation of politics. Providing political protection to criminals is old hat in Bihar. The killers now strive to become MLAs and MPs themselves. Under these circumstances, it is futile to expect any improvement in the grim situation. Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav claims that he has declared a war on extremism. But one of his party MPs from Chhapra says that false cases are being lodged by the police in his area against innocent persons in the name of curbing extremism.
Political protection is
only one of the causes. The situation has worsened
because there are few honest means of earning money.
Society is divided along caste lines. Police corruption
and inefficiency is well known. To cap it all, there is
just no political will to crack down on crime. According
to an agenda paper circulated by the state government,
there should be a package of, hold your breath, Rs 27,334
crore for curbing extremism in Bihar and the Centre
should provide Rs 23,370 crore for this purpose. Till
that kind of money is found, Mrs Rabri Devi and Mr Laloo
Yadav say that they are helpless. Some helplessness this!
Cricket fans are suckers
DR Ali Bacher's testimony before the King Commission in South Africa should leave no scope for doubt that WWF wrestling matches are more clean than those organised by the International Cricket Council. In the case of the WWF games the spectators know that the antics of the wrestlers, who whip up hysteria by using foul means and equally foul language, are meant to entertain them. But international cricket is, or rather was, a different ball game. Fans, at least in India and Pakistan, turn up in droves not only to be entertained, but also to cheer their team to victory. Now the head of the United Cricket Board of South Africa would have the fans in the subcontinent believe that they were suckers. The "pitched" battles between India and Pakistan on the cricket field were as real as WWF bouts. This is the sum and substance of the testimony of the boss of South African cricket. He has informed the commission that a former Pakistani cricketer, Majid Khan, had told him that Pakistan had been paid to lose to India and Bangladesh during last year's World Cup tournament in England. Tongues had started wagging immediately after the biggest upset of the 1999 World Cup caused by Bangladesh. It was an inconsequential match for Pakistan as it had already qualified for the super six stage of the tournament. The rumour was that the Pakistani players had decided to make some pocket money by losing to Bangladesh. They became rich, but the bookies became millionaires. Majid Khan has confirmed that he had indeed told Dr Bacher that Pakistan's match against India too was fixed. The Indian fans have a reason to feel cheated, because they believed that the Indian victory was clean. The victory had given India a unique record of never having lost a World Cup match to Pakistan.
Logically, if 1999 was
fixed, then 1992 and 1996 too must have been fixed. Why?
Because Pakistan was the better of the two teams in 1992,
when it won the World Cup, and in 1996, when it lost the
Bangalore tie after showing glimpses of its true
potential. It must be understood that bookies make a
killing by paying key members of the stronger team to
"throw the game". Australian players should
logically command a higher premium in the sleazy world of
betting and match-fixing, followed by those representing
South Africa and Pakistan. The Qayyum Commission has
exposed the dirty face of Pakistani cricket. The facts
which have emerged thus far from the testimony of players
before the King Commission indicate the diabolical
control of the underworld over international cricket. The
reports of death threats to players and administrators
should not be taken lightly. The dreaded D Company of
Dawood Ibrahim does not like people who squeal. It is
only a matter of time before the Australian Cricket
Board, which became a party to the acts of wrong-doing by
keeping the lid on the money-making enterprise of Shane
Warne and Mark Waugh, too would be forced to come clean.
But the most disturbing aspect of the on-going enquiry in
South Africa and the secretly taped conversation of
Indian players is the "matter-of-factness" with
which information is being given. Dr Bacher had screamed
from the rooftop that South African cricket was clean
when the Delhi Police first mentioned the name of Hansie
Cronje in connection with match-fixing. Now it transpires
that cricket administrators and players knew all along
about the role of the underworld in corrupting the game
and players. But they chose not to talk. The skeletons
have just begun to come out of the closet. Some of the
names which currently figure in cricket's hall of fame
may soon have to be transferred to the rogues gallery of
U.P. and W. Bengal
THE elections to the state assemblies in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are only a few months away. Both states are of immense importance to the main parties which want to dominate the political scene in the country. The question for political strategists now is how they will fare when the elections take place next year.
Fortunately in both states they will not be taken by surprise. Recent events have shown which way the wind is blowing. The main parties in the two states the BJP, the Congress, the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, and the BJP, the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP in UP have received soundings in recent elections which should make them plan better. In West Bengal, the results of the civic elections made the parties realise where they stand in a state where the Left Front after long years in power is said to be on the decline. In UP, the byelection in the Soron constituency, which had earlier been a BJP seat, has now been won by former Chief Minister Kalyan Singhs Rashtriya Kranti Dal (RKD). This has hit the headlines.
The constituency administered a shattering rebuff to the BJP, and the honour for that has gone to Mr Kalyan Singh. True, the RKD won by the small majority of only 195 votes over the BSP nominee. But that is not of much importance. What is important is that the RKD reduced the BJP to the fourth place and the saffron party candidate had the undignified experience of losing his security deposit. The fifth place was taken by the Congress, but that too is not important because the Congress was never in the reckoning in this constituency.
The main threat from Mr Kalyan Singh has come to the BJP. Mr Kalyan Singh in launching an intemperate attack personally on Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee has started the revolt against him and the BJP. How his opposition will shape remains to be seen. When Mr Kalyan Singh left the BJP, it was thought that the backward class vote would now be denied to the BJP and would instead go to him. Mr Kalyan Singh is an important Lodh-Rajput leader. Already BJP leaders have started talking of changing the Chief Minister of UP, Mr Ram Prakash Gupta. The choice may fall on Mr Rajnath Singh, Union Minister and former President of the BJPs UP unit.
In this situation what are the BJPs options? It cannot do much. The Samajwadi Party is appealing to the minorities and the Yadavs. The BSP is concentrating on Dalits. The BJPs appeal used to extend to the upper castes but the Congress is also spreading its wings there. Now Mr Kalyan Singh has started militantly appealing to the backward castes. Will the BJP try to make up with Ms Mayawatis BSP? This looks unlikely because the BSP wants to go it alone. It will certainly not help the BJP to remain in power in UP because its own sights are fixed there. In the meantime, Mr Kalyan Singh will go on breaking the defences of the BJP. For the BJP, Uttar Pradesh has great importance. It sends 85 MPs to the Lok Sabha. It is the state from where the BJPs top leader, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, has been elected.
What are the Congress chances there? It is not in any better position because while it has only a small presence in the present assembly, the organisation is deeply split, with the present President of the pradesh Congress, Mr Salman Khursheed, fighting for his political survival against Mr Jitendra Prasada, a former chief of the partys state unit. How much of this fight is confined to the state unit and how much of it is a proxy war against Mrs Sonia Gandhi is what the country wants to know. The Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has made it appear that Mr Salman Khursheed is her personal choice. This has been an unfortunate stance for the head of the organisation to take. She should be above lower-down rivalries. If Mr Salman Khursheed is removed will it mean that the Muslims who have started returning to the Congress will again turn away from it and possibly go to the Samajwadi Party? Mrs Sonia Gandhi should be able to resolve this problem competently.
One of the old Congress allies, the ambitious but never-do-well Jat leader, Mr Ajit Singh, has already snapped his ties with the Congress and decided to try his luck with other parties. He has been making friendly noises towards Mr Kalyan Singh. The Congress would do well to join the BSP, but will Ms Mayawati give it much room to extend itself in the distribution of tickets? Then where does the Congress go? It is so weak that it cannot do without alliances. Its best bet would be to close up its ranks and fight doggedly for secularism while appealing to all sections of the poor castes.
In West Bengal, the Congress has gone beyond the hopes of its admirers. The Left Front has done well in the civic elections. While losing some municipalities which it commanded earlier, it has retained most of them. Surprisingly, the next best performance has come from the Congress which has put back Ms Mamata Benerjees Trinamool Congress, which was hoping to ride the West Bengal municipal wave. More surprisingly, the BJP does not figure at all in the election results. The BJP, which was hoping to ride to respectability on the shoulders of Ms Banerjee, has been dismayed. The Congress, which was not given any chance in the pre-poll surveys, has done extremely well. The dismay for Ms Banerjee has come mainly from the fact that her Mahajot movement against the beleaguered Left Front has not taken off. Mrs Sonia Gandhi showed foresight in not joining the Mahajot. This has shown her steadfastly standing against Ms Banerjees alliance with the BJP. Ms Mamata Banerjee had been inviting the Congress to join her anti-Left Front movement while she was keen to keep alive her alliance with the BJP. Mrs Sonia Gandhi showed good sense in refusing to toe this line despite a large section of the party, headed by Mr Ghani Khan Chaudhury, the PCC President, supporting it. She is now reaping the reward. Mrs Sonia Gandhi can make it the start of the revival of her party.
She could build on this by coming to separate and limited alliances with the Left Front as well as Ms Mamata Banerjee. Is this possible because these two parties are going to fight like hell against each other? In this there is a great opportunity for the Congress to forge ahead. The electorate has shown that it has faith in the Congress. It should try to find out whether it would be worthwhile for it to fight the Left Front. The least the Congress can hope for is, with the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress fighting each other, to acquire a kind of a strength which will enable it to dictate terms. Does it have the organisation and the kind of leadership that it needs for that purpose?
cost of decision-making
AFTER 16 long years, the distant dream seems to be coming true. The government has taken a decision to procure Advance Jet Trainer (AJT) for the IAF. However, the saga of AJT does not end here. The delivery schedule could well last two to three years for the direct purchase aircraft. Other 42 or so to be produced by HAL, Bangalore, after a complete transfer of technology will not be forthcoming before the closing years of the first decade of the new millennium.
The IAF has been in desperate need of AJTs to replace the ageing MiG-21s which are being used for intermediate training. MiG-21 was never intended to be used for training. In fact, it was designed for high speed, high altitude interception during the fifties. Its a difficult aircraft to handle and is unforgiving if mishandled. Its system and the cockpit being of the fifties vintage make it difficult for the pilots to adapt to modern-day fighters like Mirage-2000 or MiG-29. For want of a better alternative, the IAF was compelled to use MiG-21 for the role it was least suited.
The absence of a genuinely advanced trainer for phase-III training that will help the fledgeling pilots to acquire operational standards before graduating on to the frontline combat fighters was urgently felt by the Air Force. To fill this gap, an Advance Jet Trainer with high performance, modern avionics, weapon systems and the state-of-the-art cockpit was required. With this in mind, an Air Staff Target was prepared by the IAF in 1984. It took two years for the government to formally accept the need for AJT. The government finally gave the go-ahead signal in 1986 for initiating the evaluation process.
After short-listing the bids, a joint IAF, HAL and DRDO team evaluated two contenders extensively. Both British Hawk and the Franco-German Alpha jet met the Air Force staff requirements. The government was requested to initiate the procurement process at the earliest.
From then began the episodic inactivity and vacillation on part of the government which only compounded the IAFs problems. To add to the IAFs woes, the Ajeet trainer prototype,an indigenous effort, crashed. Soon the Bofors case overtook the events. South Block bureaucrats shut all business and the AJT question went into oblivion. This worried the IAF, but the government remained insensitive to its travails.
However, it was not before 1993 that the Cabinet Committee cleared the proposal. Though AJT was listed to top priority and the commercial negotiations began in 1994, the government just kept dawdling for some reason, or the other. ACM Mehra was forced to say publicly, The IAF would be doomed if it was not given AJT urgently. ACM Suri was equally emphatic when he said, How can you do graduation without passing intermediate? Kaul went a step further in saying, How can I ask my boys to fight without training them? Yet nobody seemed to have cared.
For all these years when the government was dilly-dallying, the Air Force kept on losing young lives and expensive aircraft in air accidents. The pilots were unable to acquire requisite operational standards before graduating to squadron service. The problem was compounded because of the aged MiG-21s that had already seen three and a half decades of active service. It was too old to fly trouble-free in the hands of inexperienced pilots.
As per the governments own admission, the IAF lost 82 aircraft in crashes in three and a half years between 1993 and 1996 resulting in a loss of Rs 457.5 crore.
The Air Force was losing on an average 22 to 24 aircraft annually. It is tantamount to losing a squadron plus the reserves every year. In another statement in Parliament on March 11, 1999, the government stated that the IAF had lost 17 MiG-21 variants as a result of 29 fighter accidents between January, 1997 and April, 1999. The last decade was a mute witness to 130 MiG-21 variants getting involved in accidents. Off all human error (aircrew) accidents, 37 per cent pertained to MiG-21 variants.
The Controller and Auditor-General in his report to Parliament in 1998 stated: Non-availability of AJT coupled with the unsuitability of MiG-21 for transition training role for Air Force pilots continues to take a heavy toll of training related accidents.
Parliaments Standing Committees on Defence have also been raising the AJT issue and expressing their concern over the inordinate delay in meeting the IAFs requirement from time to time. The committee in its report to Parliament in April 1997, stated that it was deeply distressed to note that in the area of defence, timely decision making is wanting on the part of the government. Sadly, in our system while the responsibility for war preparation rests on the shoulders of the Chiefs, the power of decision making lies with bureaucrats. Nobody has been able to change this perverted system so far.
Competition among foreign vendors to secure the lucrative order was one factor that delayed the decision process to some extent. The procurement of military hardware is not only a matter of trade and economics but it also entails devious political considerations. The Czecks offered their L-139 as late as 1996 and again made a bid in 1998 with upgraded L-159. The Russians jumped into the race belatedly with their offer of Yak-130 and MiG-AT. The MiG-AT prototype was yet to roll out of the Russian factory at that moment. And still the government in its wisdom decided to put the AJT project on hold. In their endeavour to clinch the deal, the Russians even offered co-production of MiG-AT in 1998.
As if this was not enough, the Air Force was put in a quandary when it had to chose between AJT and the Su-30, a long-range, multi-role, state-of-the-art fighter. In fact, the government had already made up its mind. The IAF had to only condescend. Forty Su-30 (two squadrons) were hurriedly contracted at a cost of Rs 6250 crore. The IAFs flying training was in jeopardy once again.
Now the government has mercifully reached a single vendor situation with the British Hawk. For the first time the government has begun price negotiations for 66 AJTs. The Parliamentary Committee on Defence wanted a fresh look at the option as the final choice was being made on the basis of the assessment made in the 1980s. But the IAF was in no mood to get involved yet again in uncertainties.
Sixteen years after the Air Force asked for AJT, the government will now be shelling out Rs 6500 crore at the rate of Rs 100 crore plus a piece. In all probability, this would be the price of a desophisticated Hawk meant for training only. To save the money now, its dual capability will be denied to the Air Force. Inflation in matters of military hardware is normally 10 to 15 per cent higher, and any delay only adds to the cost.
jitters and joys
I am June. I am perhaps the most dreaded month. For my days are hot, very hot. One of them (the 21st) is the longest day of the year.
But I am not as bad as many people imagine. They only think of my heat and hot winds, not of the joys I bring. So I am to them a long midsummer nightmare.
May is almost as hot as I am. But it is more colourful. Though no longer splashy, yet all the bougainvillea tints are there. Gulmohurs, which come forth after mid-April, go on into May for two weeks or so. More than that, the month sees the amaltas in glory.
I lack the gay colours of May. By the time I come, the gulmohurs are all but gone. The gold of the amaltas is fading. The leftover flowers on some shrubs and trees remind you of what remains of the once festive decorations at a big show.
However, I am not altogether without colour. Flowers like the champak and jasmine are in bloom yet. Add to these the tints of melons, watermelons, litchis, apricots, peaches and cherries. They make for a medley of nice fruity colours and flavours.
If the red of gulmohurs is not there, the green of their feathery leaves is. In fact, there are many shades of greenof the neem, imli, jamun and pipul. If watered with care, the grass has its own soothing green.
Feeling thirsty? Sip or swallow a glass of sharbat or squash. Or the raw mango drink, ambi ka panna. It is not only tasty but also beats the heat. Or thundai the very name gives you a feeling of coolness.
Or open a fizzy bottle. Or a fruit juice tin or tetrapack. Some people enjoy fresh watermelon juice or fruit punches. Or chilled beer or iced tea or cold coffee with ice-cream.
Or you may go for milkshake or milk laced with almonds or pistachio. Or Punjabis favourite, lassi. Indeed, as a soft drink slogan says, its fun to be thirsty.
Much in demand is kulfi. And icecream in cones and sticks and bars, and also in cups topped with nuts and bits of fruit.
Some hotels arrange summer fiestas. For a week or a fortnight they serve all kinds of cool or chilled drinks and delicacies. June and joy them seem to be synonymous.
I almost forgot mango, the king of fruits. Coming in April, it floods the market now. Everybody loves mangoes. From a toothless baby to a toothless old man all suck or slurp it with delight.
Some people eat too many mangoes at a time. Then they fear an upset stomach or a bout of prickly heat. But a cool drink of milk and water takes care of all the ill-effects.
These are the days of coolers and air-conditioners. But there is nothing like the cool, fresh feeling you have in your bed on a wet grassy lawn or on a roof under a starry sky.
Fewer mosquitoes hum in the air now. My heat and hot winds combine to dry up their breeding places. In other words, I succeed where all the anti-mosquito sprays, creams and coils fail.
While the sun scorches, you see signs that tell of the beginning of the summers end. For a day or two cool and dust-raising winds blow. They bang the doors like playful children.
In their wake come clouds. At first thin, they soon get thick and dark and cover up the sky. It lightens and thunders and then it rains.
asserting old ideological position
CHANDIGARH: The Akalis are once again asserting their old ideological position. They are seeking a more federal constitutional structure and wish to have more political and fiscal powers. They have raised serious objections to the Centres continuous intrusion into the areas which were clearly marked for the States.
One reason for this approach is that the Akalis would like to be seen as different from other parties, particularly the main centrist parties like the BJP and the Congress. We have had for a long time a clear marked and very distinct approach to many political and economic issues. We have been very consistent in raising these at all platforms available to us. The Akalis not only represent an upwardly mobile minority, but are also sure that the states must be given more powers, if the Indian polity has to achieve the desired goal of a strong, prosperous and just India, says party General Secretary and Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh. But how consistent have the Akalis been in their approach and in practice. Not many can defend the Akalis in this regard.
But first what exactly are the Akalis seeking now? Before the 11th Finance Commission, the ruling Akali Dal has raised certain basic issues. And this is in the realm of fiscal autonomy.
The Commission has been called upon to draw a monitorable fiscal reforms programme for reducing the revenue deficit of the states and at the same time recommend the manner in which non-Plan revenue grants to States should be linked to the progress in the implementation of the programme. While the monitorable fiscal reforms programme is aimed at reduction of the revenue deficit of the States, the grants to States are linked to the assessed deficit in their non-Plan revenue account. In our view, there is a contradiction in the additional term of reference. If the monitorable fiscal reforms programme is aimed at reduction in revenue deficit of a State, the linkage of grants to the state should also be with reference to the revenue deficit and not to the non-Plan revenue deficit, the Akalis say.
They have raised serious objections to the terms assessed deficit used in the additional term of reference made to the Commission. Obviously, assessed deficit would be on the basis of certain assumed norms, which are usually unrealistic and rosy. The tendency in the past has been to convert the revenue deficit projected by the State into revenue surplus almost by the sleight of hand. This is evident from the fact that, in the case of Punjab, the Tenth Finance Commission had projected a non-plan revenue surplus of Rs 1775.44 crore for the period 1995-2000, while in reality, the state incurred a non-Plan revenue deficit of Rs 7230.08 crore. At the present juncture, almost all states in the country are under fiscal stress. Drawing up of a monitorable fiscal reforms programme based on the assessed revenue deficit would not only be unrealistic, but unfeasible to implement. A monitorable fiscal reforms programme to be drawn up by the Commission should be based on the revenue deficit actually incurred by the states during the period 1995-2000, both in absolute terms and in terms of rate of growth and should not be on the basis of assessed deficit for the period 2000-2005, the Akalis further say.
The distinction between revenue deficit and non-plan revenue deficit is totally artificial and should be done away with. The fiscal reforms programme should be linked to the total revenue deficit and not to the non-Plan revenue deficit alone. It would lead to more fiscal autonomy.
Of late, some State Governments signed an MoU with the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for taking various measures towards fiscal consolidation. For obvious reasons, such MoUs have failed to achieve the desired objective of restoring these financial health of the states. We would, therefore, suggest that the 11th Finance Commission may recommend monitoring of the fiscal reforms programme only with reference to reduction in the revenue deficit of a State and it may be left to the respective State Governments to draw up a detailed programme for achieving the targeted reduction in revenue deficit, the Akalis say.
It was suggested to evolve only one parameter for monitoring the fiscal health of the state. While the monitoring may take place with reference to this single indictor, the State Governments may be called upon to draw up a detailed monitorable programme to achieve targeted reduction in the revenue deficit over a period of 5 years beginning 2000-2001. And in case of disagreement between the States and the centre, the matter should go to Inter-State Council.
Another factor adversely impacting upon the states fiscal is the ballooning public debt. The two largest contributors to the states public debt are central loans and the so-called grants under the centrally sponsored schemes. In fact, most of the Plan grants received by the State Governments are in the form of 70 per cent loan and 30 per cent grant-in-aid. In the current fiscal scenario of the State, any unrealistic capping of the states outstanding public debt is likely to adversely affect the tempo of development due to shortage of funds. Therefore, there is a need for striking a prudent balance between the requirements of the states for meeting their developmental needs and management of the public debt, the Akali memorandum says.
All centrally sponsored schemes, specially in the areas falling in the state list, should be discontinued forthwith and the resources thus released distributed amongst the states according to an objective, fair and transparent criteria, which the commission may formulate. The loan: grant-in-aid mix of the Plan grants may be changed from 70:30 to 40:60 with effect from April, 1995.
The Akalis have come to power in Punjab for half a dozen times, directly or indirectly. They have moved between seeking a genuine federal constitutional framework to a separate nationhood. While the dominant moderate view has been to seek a distinct state of Punjab for the Sikhs within the Constitution of India and with total commitment to the sovereignty and integrity of the country, the more extreme view has been a separate abode for the Sikhs. Even leaders like the present Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had wavered. He tore the Constitution and signed a memorandum for the creation of Khalistan. But that was under high pressure.
But the problem with leaders like Mr Badal had been their vacillation. Here two examples would suffice. In 1977, when Mr Badal was leading the Akali-Janata coalition, he had called a meeting of like-minded Chief Ministers to chalk out a concrete programme to have more political and economic autonomy for the states. Chief Ministers from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir and other states responded enthusiastically. But when the then Prime Minister, Mr Morarji Desai snubbed Mr Badal, he quickly called off the meeting.
Again, the Akalis have taken a consistent position on Article 356 that the Governor or for that matter the Union Government should not have any right to dismiss any elected government in any state, but recently they voted for the imposition of Presidents rule in Bihar. Interestingly, the Akalis have suffered a lot as none of their governments have been allowed to complete a full term of five years so far. The First government to be axed out in Independent India was lead by the Akalis in Pupsu in the fifties. Kerala suffered afterwards. Yet the Akalis developed cold feet. There could be numerous other examples to show that there is a lot of difference between posturing and actual practice. This makes them weak and Mr Badal perhaps has to explain this dilemma as he is the most enigmatic of the lot.
The Sarkaria Commission was in response to their Anandpur Sahib resolution. It is another story that successive governments in Delhi have paid lip sympathy to that voluminous report. Now again, the Akalis of all hues are getting set to make a detailed representation to the new committee on constitutional reforms. Lawyers and experts have been engaged to draft the memoranda.
THE true religion can only be one, just like science. You do not have a Mohammedan physics, a Hindu physics, a Christian physics; that would be nonsense. But thats what the religions have done they have made the whole, earth, a madhouse. If science is one, then why should the science of the inner not be one too.
The Rajneesh Bible, Vol III, discourse 11
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with Thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
.... I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord
The Holy Bible Psalm, 116: 7-9,13
Dadu, know that the path of the saints is arduous; only he will travel on it who, absorbed in the Lords Name, dies while living. O Dadu, hard is the path, none can step upon it alive; only he can tread on it who while living dies.
Dadu Dayal, ed. Parashuram Chaturved, p.233: 21-22.
All die, without
Paltu Sahib ki Bani, Pt I, Kundli, 117
It is Thou that come as
English rendering of the popular Sanskrit prayer, Tvameva mata cha pita tvameva....
AFGHANISTAN is making rapid strides towards material and moral advancement under Amir Amanullah. Already there has been praiseworthy work in the direction of female education and other matters. The latest advance made lies in the matter of handling the beggar problem. According to an Afghan journal a sort of a poor law administration, consistent with the conditions of the country, has been initiated by the promulgation of a royal firman, which is intended to deal with able-bodied, female and child beggars. Parents or guardians are to be made responsible for the maintenance of children found begging and for putting them either to school or to some useful occupation. Children who cannot be thus disposed of will be taken care of by the State. The aged and the infirm will be likewise maintained out of State reenues while the able-bodied will be put to productive work, the former being placed under the supervision of the Kotwal.
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