|Monday, June 19, 2000,
fields of Bihar
of WTO regime-I
of Microsoft split
is behind the blasts?
ANOTHER day, same week, another massacre! Bihar has proved true to its ugly reputation yet again. The name of Mianpur has been added to the long list of remote villages, which have been a witness to human butchery of the worst kind. Thirtyfive villagers were gunned down there on Friday night by the outlawed Ranvir Sena of upper caste landowners. The standard cause in retaliation to was present this time as well and the rest was only a matter of filling in the blanks. Dalelchak-Baghauara, Senari, Bara, Apsarh . all these took place on a similar revenge plea. The never-ending barbarity is a slap on the face of civilised society. Even more humiliating is the grim realisation that neither much has been done about it nor much is likely to be done even now, beyond the ritualistic condemnation. After each death dance, shrill cries of central intervention are raised, as if that is going to make any difference. Even if it could, that option is hardly available. The BJP-led government at the Centre just does not have the requisite strength in the Upper House to bring about Presidents rule. Even otherwise, the embarrassment caused by the failure of one previous such attempt is fresh in public memory. So is the Nitish Kumar fiasco after the recent elections. Fresh attempt would be tantamount to playing into the hands of the RJD, which has been saying that the massacres have been engineered only to grab power. That, in effect, means that the Rabri Devi (mis)rule will continue in Bihar, unless the Congress has second thoughts about its support to her government. In all this politicisation of the situation, the Congress indeed is in a precarious position. It does not know how to extricate itself from the mess. It is damned if it continues to support Mrs Rabri Devi and it is damned if it withdraws the backing, since that would pave the way for an NDA government.
The fact of the matter
is that there is a near-total breakdown of law and order
machinery in Bihar. The caste wars that have broken out
there are the effect and not the cause of it. Caste
tension has always been there. It has been aggravated by
caste-based politics. In a situation where every posting,
whether it is of a DM or of a DSP, is decided on the
basis of caste affiliations, polarisation of society is
inevitable. Even the police is badly fragmented and its
role has been suspect in almost all the massacres. To cap
it all, politicians nonchalantly provide support to the
killers. That is what the Ranvir Sena has alleged this
time as well. When the accused of certain carnages are
very much there in the state ministry, such allegations
cannot be dismissed out of hand either. The absence of
land reforms prepared the ground for this bloody harvest.
People of particular castes grabbing the limited sources
of income become the catalysts and with the state
government protecting them, the entire state goes up in
flames. This conflagration has spread far too wide to be
brought under control with the help of normal means. The
Prime Ministers call to the public for return to
sanity is nothing but a gesture of helplessness. Bihar
requires a tall and principled leader who is equal to the
gigantic task. Unfortunately, the state has thrown up
only pygmies in the past decade, with dubious morals to
SEVERAL factors have combined to pull down the value of the rupee against the dollar. Imports are soaring, both of oil and non-oil products, indicating that economic revival is taking hold. That is good news but it also means a higher demand for the dollar and hence pressure on the Indian currency, exacerbated by a spurt in crude prices from $ 25 a barrel to $ 30 a barrel last week. The rate of inflation has climbed from less than 3 per cent through most of last financial year to 6.59 per cent last week. Higher inflation translates into depreciation of the rupee. Foreign exchange reserve with the RBI has come down by more than $ 1 billion to $ 36.85 billion in just about two months. The level of reserve is satisfactory and there is no immediate cause for worry. But the trend is worrisome. An IMF report expects a sharp fall in foreign direct investment (FDI) which is already poor in the case of India, barely 0.7 per cent of the world total. This year the inflow may be just a trickle or about $ 1 billion 40 per cent of last years. All this reflects in the sharp plunge in the value of the rupee since Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha presented the budget. On that day Rs 43.61 could buy a dollar; today one will need Rs 44.67. Effective devaluation works out to just over 2 per cent. The budget itself projected a drop in the value by 5 per cent and an official spokesman confirmed this by saying that all calculations in the budget were made on the assumption that the rupee would fall to the 45 level by the end of the financial year in March next. That seems to be proving right. A cheaper rupee as against the dollar is not a threat. Exports become correspondingly competitive and imports become costly, forcing the country to either do a bit of belt-tightening or look for alternatives. This is evident from a healthy rise in exports of 30 per cent in April which means higher foreign exchange earning to meet the increased import bill.
Both the Finance
Ministry and the RBI are warily looking at the currency
market. Mr Sinha has said that the present rupee-dollar
parity does not cause much concern but continued weakness
of the rupee will be bad for the economy. RBI Governor
Bimal Jalan first tended to ignore the shrinking rupee,
obviously pleased at the prospect of higher exports. Then
the bank intervened by selling dollars to cool the
sentiments and help the rupee stabilise within a narrow
band of 44.60-44.70 to a dollar. It stays there but may
not for long. Exasperated at business newspapers daily
writing about the rupee hitting a new low, he berated the
reporters for sensationalising marginal adjustments and
for the general tendency to quote non-experts to explain
away the downward movement of the rupee. But that has not
changed the situation and headlines continue to be scary.
Dr Jalan is right in one respect. Repeated gloomy
predictions sharpen the attack on the currency and
reinforce the predictions. It is a self-fulfilling
prophesy. But the RBI cannot wish away the clutch of
negative developments, the two powerful being the
widening balance of payment deficit and inflation. At the
wholesale level it is under 7 per cent but at the retail
level it must be at least 2 percentage points more. If
the Indian currency loses some more weight, these two
factors will emerge as the villains.
Implications of WTO regime-I
WITH the advent of the Green Revolution during the late 1960s, Punjab emerged as the most advanced state in agricultural development. It also became the most prosperous state in terms of per capita income. But now it has lost this status to Maharashtra. In terms of human development index, it comes next to Kerala whose per capita income is half that of Punjab. In fact, agriculture has a limit to grow and help the all-round growth and development of the economy. Development in the agricultural sector could not generate corresponding development in the manufacturing and tertiary sectors within the boundaries of Punjab. Even its Green Revolution remained limited mainly to wheat and paddy. Consequently, it became the supplier of foodgrains for the rest of India. The crops of the Green Revolution have already started withering away.
The importance of agriculture in Punjabs net state domestic product (NSDP) has gone down over a period of time. The share of agriculture in the NSDP was 34.69 per cent in 1991 compared to 48.62 per cent in 1961. It further went down to 24.52 per cent in 1997-98. In terms of economic theory, it is a positive development. But the high share of the labour force in agriculture is a disturbing feature. In 1961, agriculture absorbed 55.89 per cent of the total labour force in Punjab which rose to 62.27 per cent (thanks to the Green Revolution which ushered in during the later half of the sixties) in 1971, came down to 58.03 per cent and 55.26 per cent in 1981 and 1991, respectively. In other words, Punjabs agriculture has not shown any structural change in terms of labour force absorption during 1961-91. This has been one of the main limitations of the Punjab model of growth and has led to an ever-widening rural-urban gap. In 1961, as much as 55.89 per cent of the labour force produced (and in a way consumed) 48.62 per cent of Punjabs NSDP whereas in 1991 almost the same proportion of the labour force produced 34.69 per cent of the NSDP. The hiatus would look rather larger if we compare the physical quality of life in rural and urban areas.
Another disturbing feature of Punjab agriculture concerns the rising proportion of agricultural labourers in the total agricultural work-force. The share of agricultural labourers in the total agricultural work-force was a mere 17.30 per cent in 1961, which swelled to 32.10 per cent in 1971 and further rose to 38.26 per cent in 1981 and to 43.11 per cent in 1991. Consequently, the share of agricultural labourers in the total work-force increased from 9.67 per cent in 1961 to 20.11 per cent in 1971 and to 22.76 per cent in 1991. The share of cultivators as a proportion to the total agricultural work-force and that to the total work-force, too, witnessed a decline, from 82.70 and 46.25 per cent in 1961 to 56.89 and 31.44 per cent in 1991, respectively. It is clear evidence of transformation of a significant proportion of rural population into landless agricultural workers.
Within the primary sector, the share of agriculture declined in favour of livestock during 1970-99. It took three decades for the share of agriculture (in the primary sector) to decrease from 74.11 per cent in 1970-71 to 57.31 per cent in 1998-99. The share of livestock during the same period increased from 25.42 per cent to 40.63 per cent. The share of forestry and logging increased from 0.35 per cent in 1970-71 to 1.99 per cent in 1980-81, but thereafter it experienced a decline. The share of fishing never crossed 0.5 per cent till 1997-98. Clearly agricultural and livestock still account for 98 per cent of the total primary sector income. Interestingly,their combined share was 99.53 per cent in 1970-71. It is clear from the foregoing discussion that intra-sectoral diversification of the primary sector of the Punjab economy took place only from agriculture to livestock in terms of generation of income.
As regards the diversification of Punjab agriculture, it remained a non-starter, despite the recommendations of various experts and expert committees (Johal Committee Report). Wheat and paddy together account for more than three-fourths of the total cropped area. This combined with cotton accounts for 82 per cent of the total cropped area. The area under pulses suffered a major setback (from 19.1 per cent in 1960-61 to 7.3 per cent in 1970-71 and a mere 0.9 per cent 1998-99). The share of wheat and rice in the area under foodgrains increased from 53.11 per cent in 1960-61 to 68.4 per cent in 1970-71 and 95.6 per cent in 1998-99. In terms of their share in foodgrains production, it rose from 62 per cent in 1960-61 to 80 per cent in 1970-71 and to 98 per cent in 1998-99. The share of wheat and rice in the area under rabi and kharif foodgrains rose from 60 and 32 per cent in 1960-61 to 98.5 and 97.1 per cent in 1998-99 respectively. Their respective share in rabi and kharif foodgrains increased from 70 and 34.2 in 1960-61 to 99.2 and 98.9 in 1998-99 respectively. The preceding statistics amply reveal that Punjabs agriculture has concentrated mainly around wheat-paddy rotation. Clearly, Punjab agriculture has emerged as mono-crop agriculture instead of diversified agriculture. This is mainly because of the fact that the wheat and paddy combine still give a better return over other crops.
As regards the per hectare yield of wheat and paddy, the gross cropped area and cropping intensity, they have nearly reached the plateau. The yield of cotton, both American and desi, has gone down over a period of time.Nevertheless the Punjab yield of wheat and paddy is higher than the all-India average. But compared to China, Punjabs paddy yield (in 1997) was just 54.6 per cent of the later. However, the yield of wheat in Punjab is not much lower than that of China. But Chinas yield of cotton lint is more than double that of India and almost double that of Punjab. Clearly, India has a scope of learning from China and thus raising its yield of paddy and cotton.
Punjabs agriculture is concentrated not only on the wheat-paddy rotation and almost stagnant yield (and that too at a higher cost) but also its importance in Indian agriculture has either started declining or has a stagnating tendency. The share of Punjabs wheat production in India was 21.6 per cent in 1970-71, rose to the maximum (32.4 per cent) in 1985-86, but witnessed a declining trend since then. Its share in 1998-99 was 19.9 per cent. The share of Punjabs paddy in India oscillated between 8.5 per cent during 1985-86 and 10.3 per cent in 1994-95. It showed a downward trend since 1994-95. Punjabs percentage share of wheat and paddy in the central pool, too, has experienced a downward trend during 1980-99. Punjabs respective shares of wheat and paddy in the Central pool were 73 and 45 per cent in 1980-81. The corresponding figures for the year 1998-99 were 48.6 and 39.1 per cent.
The stagnating and/or declining shares of Punjabs wheat and paddy in Indian wheat and paddy production and in the Central pool are clear indications that the rest of India as a market for Punjab would go down and down in future. This combined with the ample scope of increasing the production of wheat and paddy in the rest of India (by bringing a 38 million hectares additional area under cultivation, providing irrigation to an additional area and thus increasing the cropping intensity) further supports this proposition. There is a clear message that Punjab must diversify its agriculture and economy find out a foreign market for its surplus production. But it leads to a couple of questions. How would Punjab diversify its agriculture and economy? Privatisation and liberalisation alone may not be able to do it. Globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation of agriculture under the WTO regime constitute another great challenge to Punjabs agriculture.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) came into being on January 1, 1995, consequent upon the GATT Agreements of 1994. The agreement has far-reaching implications for Indian agriculture in general and Punjab agriculture in particular. Agriculture, which was earlier outside the purview of GATT, has now been integrated into it and subsequently into the WTO. As a consequence, agriculture has become an integral part of the global and multilateral trading system. The full impact of this agreement would be realised from January 1, 2005, when it would be fully implemented.
As a signatory to the agreement, India is committed to implementing various agreements and provisions pertaining to agriculture. These include the commitments on agriculture, the commitments on market access, domestic support and export subsidies, the agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary measures, etc. As a result of the agreement, all the quantitative restrictions are to be abolished and non-tariff border measures are to be replaced by the tariff measures during the implementation period from January 1, 1995, to December 31, 2004. Recently the Government of India abolished the quantitative restrictions on 714 items which include dairy products and several agriculture-related commodities. The minimum market access quota is to be expanded to 5 per cent of the total domestic consumption by December 31, 2004. However, there are certain protection provisions in the form of safety trigger, custom duties, anti-dumping clauses, countervailing duty rights, etc.
As a result of the commitment to subsidy reduction, the upper limit of the total aggregate measurement of support (total AMS) for the developing countries like India would be 10 per cent of the total value of agricultural production, Nevertheless, the domestic support measures (such as green box policies) that have a minimum impact on trade are excluded from reduction commitments. Such policies include general government services in the area of research, disease control, infrastructure and food security. Besides, direct payments to producers under various programmes and certain government assistance to encourage agriculture and rural development in the developing countries are also excluded from total AMS. As regards export subsidies, the developing countries are required to reduce the value of direct subsidies to a level of 24 per cent below the 1986-90 base period and the quantity of the subsidised exports is to be reduced by 14 per cent over a 10-year-period. Here, too, there are limited flexibilities.
It is now clear that Punjab agriculture is going to be influenced by the WTO regime both positively and negatively. Many experts are of the view that the AMS limit would not affect Punjab agriculture as the total AMS is much below the upper limit. It may be so in the present context, but given the falling trend in the global primary commodity prices and measuring the AMS at border prices, the total AMS may exceed the upper limit in the near future. That may tantamount to a reduction of subsidies, affecting the global competitiveness of Punjab agric- ulture. Just to mention a few, the wheat price in the global market declined from $239.9 per tonne in 1980 to 121.3 per tonne in 1998. The corresponding prices of rice, sugar and cotton were $570.5 and $292.5, $877 and $189, and $2843 and $1389, respectively.
Again, certain studies show that as a result of Indias intervention in the global rice market, export prices would further fall and import prices would rise. This change, both in export and import prices, is going to affect Punjab adversely. Certain other studies are apprehensive of food insecurity in many developing countries like India owing to the liberalisation of agricultural trade in the WTO regime. However, there are some studies which support the view that Punjab would gain from its participation in the liberalised trade regime in agriculture. Their conclusions are largely based on the expected rise in the prices of world agricultural commodities after the full implementation of the GATT Agreements from January, 2005. However, given the downward trend of global primary commodity prices and findings of the study, one may conclude that the global competitiveness of Punjabs wheat and rice would further decline.
More so, given the wheat-paddy crop culture, the stagnating yield of wheat and paddy and a large proportion (nearly 70 per cent) of marginal, small and medium sized operational holdings, Punjab agricultures competitiveness is further hampered. At present, Australian wheats border price at Bombay port ranges between $105 (Rs 4541) and $110 (Rs 4775) per tonne. Compared to it, Punjab wheats procurement price in the current harvest season (April 2000) is Rs 5800 per tonne. And if we add the other charges (such as market charges, handling costs and railway freight) which are nearly 50 per cent of the procurement price, then the price of Punjab wheat at Bombay port would be nearly Rs 8700 per tonne.
Clearly, Punjab wheat is not competitive with Australian wheat in terms of price. It can be made competitive if 92 per cent import duty is imposed on external wheat. It may be mentioned here that even under the WTO regime, India can impose 100 per cent custom duty on wheat import. However, even such a step would not make Punjab wheat competitive in the global market. For that we would have to enhance productivity, of course, at a lower cost. The Government of India at present has imposed only 50 per cent import duty on wheat.
(To be concluded)
The writer is Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala.
ONLY a generation and a half ago the Bahu of the house lifted her gunghat and displayed her physiognomy only when permitted to do so by her Saas. She was permitted to speak only in whispers and allowed the darshan of her husband occasionally only at bed time. There was much more for a duty-bound bahu to do like cooking, washing and sweeping and other household chores.
But how times have changed! In many homes, the roles have been reversed and the Saas is at the receiving end. A serial like Tu Tu Main Main now portrays the emerging bahu in a belligerent mood. But why not, ask many!
Such was the case when an Assistant Sub Inspector from the Special Branch very unlike the liberally proportioned ubiquitous cop visited us some time ago to verify my wifes credentials for issue of a new passport. He was an unusually genial young bureaucrat of our penultimate instrument of state.
Notwithstanding Tatkal or Saral of which we hear so much these days, none of our bureaucratic procedures have been liberalised, in fact, they continue to be utterly hidebound. The lower the grade, the more pompous the babu is. He has any number of banana skins in his armoury (his rule book, which is a hangover of colonial times) for you to slip on. The Assistant Sub Inspector first asked us for our ration card and since it was a military one, queried why it was so different. But he was no novice which I discovered from his next question. After looking all over it and from all sides, he asked me if I also drew my rum ration on this card. I knew what he was leading me to but got the better of him by saying that I was a teetotaller, which I am. He was not convinced and indeed baffled that a Sikh and a sailor could not be spirited. Anyway, the subject was not pursued but his discomfiture was very evident. One of the few things which India and Pakistan still shared is a humourless, seemingly parasitic and non-accountable bureaucracy that treats the populace with sniffy disdain and contempt!
Having then satisfied himself by some harmless interrogation, that my wife was a law abiding citizen having no links with the underworld, he asked us to produce two certificates from two respectable neighbours to the effect that they knew her personally and that she bore a good moral character and was fit to receive a passport. One of the stipulations was that they were not to be from the same family. I promptly made an attempt to contact my neighbours to obtain the testimonials. One of them obliged but the other was a foreigner and hence was not qualified to certify a desi womans character.
By this time it was late in the evening and the cop was in a hurry to complete his assignment and go home. We were at our wits end and not knowing how to find the second person in the vicinity to certify my wifes character. Just then our daughter-in-law came down the steps to get the car key and I introduced her to the officer. He rose to the occasion and promptly agreed that we could ask our daughter-in-law to certify her mother-in-laws character, for after all she came from a different family!
And so our
daughter-in-law grabbed the opportunity and signed on the
frayed slip of paper to certify that all was well with
the morals of her mother-in-law! All this with both
ladies going red in their faces and my son and I laughing
up our sleeves!
Morality of Microsoft split
THE worlds most powerful state battling the worlds most powerful corporation! USA vs Microsoft. Last fortnights verdict of US federal district judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, halting Mr Bill Gatess triumphant march to monopoly status and ordering the break-up of his $ 360 billion software empire into two, is the most momentous judicial decision affecting the economy rendered anywhere in the free world since the New Deal tribulations of President Roosevelt in the 1930s.
Following a full trial, Judge Jackson ruled on June 7, snubbing the richest man on earth, Microsoft has been found guilty of anti-trust violations, notwithstanding its protests that it has committed none.
Microsoft (he said) as it is presently organised and led is unable to accept the notion that it (ever) broke the law or (to) accede to an order amending its conduct.
The court had, therefore, reluctantly come to the conclusion, he said, that a structural remedy has become imperative.
The remedy, recommended by the US Department of Justice and 19 other states of the USA, all plaintiffs in Judge Jacksons court in Washington, is to carve Microsoft into two as if the company (to quote Steven Levy in the Newsweek magazine) were a chicken breast on a butcher block.
There are no two sides to Microsoft, an angry Bill Gates, visiting Seoul for the Asian Enterprise Summit, told a press conference on June 14, a week after the verdict. It is one company, one brand, one research group. There arent two companies.
There will be, though, if the verdict stands appellate scrutiny. Hitherto a monolith straddling the cyber world like a colossus that can only be seen and not touched, Microsoft will now have to be broken up into two separate and independent companies expected to compete with each other and strapped by judicial restrictions. One company that would develop and sell Windows and another that would develop and sell everything else (including the Internet browsing technology).
Both with roughly equal revenues.
Microsoft, ordered Judge Jackson, making sure the divorce is genuine, not paper-deep (like divorces to escape land ceiling laws in India), must transfer the assets of one of them to a separate entity along with all personnel systems and other tangible and intangible assets as are necessary to operate the separated business as an independent and economically viable entity.
Valid for a period of 10 years from the date on which it is effectuated, the ruling bars any alliance or rapprochement between the two companies in the future so as to preclude the re-emergence of monopoly. With this strategic aim in mind, it binds both of them to inform the plaintiff governments of any agreements that may be concluded between them. To inform, that is, the federal government as well as the 19 states who are the plaintiffs and had sued Microsoft in an anti-trust action.
Nor, to the same end, can the two companies have any commercial agreement with each other on terms more advantageous than those offered to third parties. Or, to cap it all, provide each other with any technical information regarding any product or service that is not made readily available to other competitors in the field.
It is apparent that Judge Jackson means business in curbing the business of monopoly and has wielded the surgeons knife on Microsoft with firmness and skill, his disclaimer to the contrary notwithstanding.
I am not an economist, the Judge told Newsweek magazine in its issue of June 19, and I am not an economic policymaker. I was presented with what appeared to be a remedy which reflected the thoughtful work product of the officials of the Department of Justice and the Attorneys General of 19 states, and they had the benefit of a lot of economic advice, and it appeared to me to address the violations that I had found, and to conform to the Supreme Courts prescriptions as to the appropriate form of a remedy in an anti-trust case of this character.
Are you (asked the magazine), a Ronald Reagan appointee, attempting to regulate the technology industry?
I have no desire whatever to regulate this industry (answered Jackson) none and would gladly be relieved of it if there were any way to do it.
I dont think this trial is gonna define the 21st century (he added). It will become more important when the Supreme Court addresses it (in appeal). I certainly dont think that anything I have done in this case is going to live in the annals of legal history.
behind the blasts?
SHOULD I repeat that Christians are perturbed by the ongoing attacks on the members of their community and by the attitude of the men at the helm of affairs, to these attacks? Another dangerous offshoot, which could be termed as another step in the divide and rule strategy, is that certain political interests are trying to put one community against the other or as a well known Christian gentleman of the city commented: They are even trying to put our own men against each other... And on the day of my filing this column -June 17 - an announcement has come through that July 8 will be observed all over the country as a day of protest against these series of attacks. When contacted John Dayal said: The establishment seems to be diverting the attention of the masses and till date havent been able to find out who is behind the blasts. Strange that it may sound they seem to be coming to various conclusions even before a probe can take place....in fact there is fear that these attacks may increase and the Christians have started calling certain sections of the Sangh Parivar as terrorists for they are striking fear in members of the minority communities. When asked what would be the future course of action if these attacks continue he said: Well get killed what else! And what is terribly painful is that the fundamentalist wing in this government is spreading poisonous propaganda. D.K. Manavalam, senior-most Christian bureaucrat in the country who had last year been unceremoniously shunted from the Centre and is at present posted as OSD at the West Bengal governments office here, minced no words when he said, I personally feel that things have gone beyond the control of Advani or Vajpayee as at the grassroot level there is so much of propaganda and hate material being circulated by the VHP and the Bajrang Dal against the Muslims and Christians. Reacting to the conversion theory he said: Maybe certain sections of the Christian community are spreading the message of Jesus but this is their right as enshrined in the Constitution of India. And Father Anand of the Catholic Bishop Conference of India (CBCI) again stressed that they (the government) are playing up the theory of conversions but do they have any proof. We have repeatedly given clarifications regarding the so-called conversions...our lives revolve around prayers and we have no means to counter these attacks and the ongoing vicious campaign and propaganda against us. John Raphael, Director of the Delhi School of Music summed up his feelings in these two sentences Of course this is nothing but politics at work. Earlier one never heard of these attacks but for political reasons these things are now taking place.
Before moving ahead I must mention that there is criticism of the functioning of the Minorities Commission of India, as though it is yet another of those setups which is being dictated or used by the vested interests in the government. Its former chairperson Tahir Mahmud had once described it as a Commission possessing just milk teeth but now it seems that even those teeth have been uprooted by well qualified doctors hovering around in the various camouflages. Sad, for what can a toothless commission do for a hapless lot!
Before details of these attacks depress you let me quickly distract you all (right, Ive learnt this trick from the men at the helm of affairs). Foremost the Delhi Symphony Society held a three day seminar on the European classical music in India. And the first query which I shot at Gautam Kaul its honorary secretary and one of the enthusiasts behind this seminar was whether a day would come when hard core fundamentalist groups would try to link European music in India with Christians or Christianity and would try to sabotage that too, and this is what he said: No, such a day would never come for all the instruments used in the Bollywood film industry owe their origin to the European classical music and music industry would close down if these instrument are not used.
And as my own knowledge of the European classical music is limited so I will not comment on the proceedings of this seminar except on the fact that it should have been opened for a larger audience. But Kaul stressed: It was meant to be a discussion between various people who are running Western classical music societies and music schools in the different cities of the country. And many music enthusiasts had come from Bombay, Bangalore, Calicut, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Kodaikanal, Madras, Pune and, of course, several from New Delhi were also to be spotted.
Hectic preparations (read rehearsals) are on for the Punjabi musical, Wichhre Paani, all set to be staged at the IHC on June 19 and 20. Produced by Impresario Asias K.K. Kohli, who stressed that it is for the first time in the history of Punjabi musicals that we have included kathak to symbolise the five rivers of the Punjab and the story is told through the medium of the rivers Beas is devotional, Ravi is frivolous, Chenab has a romantic trait, Satluj gave impetus to patriotism, Jhelum brings the tranquillity of the mountains and the message of peace. Wichhre Paani is like a long playing record of Punjabs heritage through the age-old haunting melodies that every villager is familiar with...
And, yes, credit must be
given to Kohli for roping in the best talent. Shovana
Narayan is the choreographer, set designing by Naresh
Kapuria, lead singer is Madanbala Sindhu, scripting is by
My heart is yearning for
the glimpse of my Master,
Guru Granth Sahib, Majh, M.5, p96
* Plant the seeds of
charity and you shall reap the flowers of friendship in
the garden of life.
Herbert Porter, The Philosophy of Life
Obey the scriptures until you are strong enough to do without them; then go beyond them. Books are not an end-all. Verification is the only proof of religious truth. Each must verify for himself; and no teacher who says, I have seen but you cannot, is to be trusted, only that one who says, You can see too.
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