|Tuesday, June 27, 2000,
the gentleman's game
to go beyond fertilisers
sutra in operation
Double cross connections
UNION Communications Minister Ram Vilas Paswan can come up with a problem for every solution. He has just ordered the splitting up of the DTS (Department of Telecom Services) into two and one is left wondering what new crisis this clever move is about to create. The whole thing is a mess. The DTS was carved out of the Department of Telecommuni-cations (DoT), the monolith which laid down policies, built telephone exchanges and maintained the system. The DTS thus became the service arm of the DoT, facilitating its conversion into a corporation. This has now been further broken up into Department of Operations which will take over the entire work of the present DTS. The old department will continue to exist with its empire shrunken to supervising the introduction of corporation, hopefully by October 1 next. Logically the rump DTS should merge with the DoT since it will be basically doing administrative work. But that will militate against the logic of the bifurcation which was to put together a unit for Mr Vinod Vaish to preside over as secretary. From the looks of it and from a distance, it is obvious that the Ministers contortions are solely to retain Mr Vaish as secretary in his Ministry. This official is obviously very powerful and has patrons in very high places. He was first moved to the DTS seven months ago when the department was created. There was a loud protest and the government brought in a senior departmental engineer as secretary and sent the IAS officer to a low-profile department. When the secretary retired, Mr Vaish was back, again provoking opposition and a long agitation by the entire staff. Now he gets his post, the engineers get a peer as the secretary of the operations wing and things are poised for another bout of shadow-boxing.
The confused moves are
the least of the damages inflicted on the telecom system.
The morale and discipline of the staff have dipped at a
very inopportune moment. This sector has to expand fast
if the country is to make any progress in this most vital
communication infrastructure. At present India has less
than three telephones for every hundred citizens and the
government wants this number to increase to five by 2005
and to 10 after another five years. This will need an
investment of $ 35 billion in the first stage and further
$70 billion in the second. Mr Paswans 10-day tour
of the USA and Britain was meant to woo potential
capital. But the go-slow and shutdown of the system for
two days and now the whimsical decision to shave off
peripheral functions to ensconce a particular officer are
bad advertisements. There may even be opposition to the
idea of a corporation if the officers of the telecom
services stick to their old stand. Anyway they feel
emboldened by their success in preventing Mr Vaish from
being their secretary. They may keep up their tough
bargaining and that will spell trouble. One thing going
in favour of the Minister is the support he has drummed
up from Group C and D employees. In things telecom that
is not enough.
INDIRA Gandhi as a politician was an enigma wrapped in a mystery. There are those who admire her and there is an equally vocal section which holds her responsible for most of the nations ills. But there would be little dispute between the pro and anti groups on the two grave mistakes she made during her long stay in power. One was the imposition of the Emergency and the other was the decision to order the Army to launch Operation Bluestar. By a strange coincidence the Emergency was imposed in June and the reprehensible Operation Bluestar too was launched in the same month. For the first major political blunder she was served a sentence of banishment from power for a period of five years. The verdict was delivered by the people of the country. The Janata Party cut short her term in the Opposition when its disparate and desperate leadership was forced to order mid-term elections. The real janata decided to pardon her by voting in her favour in the Lok Sabha elections in 1980. The launching of Operation Bluestar was, without doubt, a bigger mistake than the imposition of the Emergency. It was a fatal error of political judgement and she paid for it with her life. Will her countless detractors grant her some points for treating as unacceptable the advice she received for having two Sikh policemen removed from security duty at her office-cum-residence? Be that as it may, on hindsight it can be said without the fear of being contradicted that often responding positively to wrong advice was a Shakespearean flaw in her political make-up. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party sponsored show over the declaration of the Emergency on June 26, 1975, suggests that being influenced by patently wrong advice is a common failing among Indian politicians of all shades and hues.
And it was not just the
BJP which took the lead in reminding the nation about the
horror that visited its people 25 years ago. Public money
was squandered, unless the DAVP too has been
privatised, by putting in half-page ads in
most newspapers in which Prime Minister Atal Behari
Vajpayee was shown as stating that It is one thing
for the nation to be independent. It is another for its
people to be free. Without meaning to hold any
brief for the excesses committed during the
darkest period in the history of independent India, it
may be pertinent to ask the sponsors of the project,
evidently with low political objective in mind, to state
fearlessly and honestly those aspects of life which have
changed (for the better) for the free people
of India. How are non-Emergency atrocities committed by
organs of the State different from those committed during
the Emergency? The death of a key witness to the murder
of a Christian priest in police custody would have
qualified for a hearing by the Shah Commission which
tried Indira Gandhi for the Emergency excesses. The
Emergency had given extra-constitutional powers to Sanjay
Gandhi. It may be in order to recall that Mr Arun Nehru,
Mr Sanjay Singh, Mr Bansi Lal, Mr Jagmohan and, of
course, Ms Maneka Gandhi were then seen as part of the
Sanjay Gandhi brigade. With the exception of Mr Arun
Nehru, who joined the brigade after the Emergency, the
remaining members of the all-powerful coterie were
perceived to have played an overactive role in committing
excesses against the poor. Mr Bansi Lal was till recently
Chief Minister of Haryana and was leading a coalition
arrangement of which the BJP was an important member. How
come most of Sanjay Gandhis
collaborators are now important members of
the BJP, and those who were returned to the Lok Sabha
last year are ministers in the NDA government at the
Centre? Is it to be presumed that the BJP enjoys the
status of a holy river in Indian politics? A dip in it
washes the misdeeds of political sinners, particularly
those Congressmen whose names were associated with the
Emergency excesses! Indian politicians are, perhaps, not
aware of the dictum that those who live in glass houses
should not hurl stones at others.
Arming is not the answer
THE decision of the coordination committee set up by the ruling coalition in Bihar to provide weapon licences to village youth in the state and also to give them arms training so that they can function as self-protection groups is not based on a realistic appraisal of the ground situation. The poorest of the poor are hardly in a position to afford guns, and those who can buy these are not the most vulnerable targets in any case. There are thousands upon thousands of isolated villages in Bihar which become the victims of mindless violence, be it at the hands of Naxalite outfits or the private armies of feudal lords. The recent trend has been that the attackers come in hordes of 50 to 100 armed men. Even if five or 10 people in a small village are well armed, they will hardly be in a position to provide adequate protection to themselves against the onslaught by such large groups. In fact, the presence of guns may itself be an added attraction to the well-organised groups, which are always on the lookout for weapons that can be looted. In the countryside of Bihar, news about the availability of weapons in a particular cluster travels fast. Even if certain selected areas are armed, the state government is just not in a position to arm each and every hamlet, considering that there are just too many of them. In the prevailing situation, small clusters of huts which do not happen to have a gun would become prime targets.
There is another danger as well. Society has become so hopelessly criminalised in certain districts, particularly central Bihar, that the weapons provided as a well-meaning gesture might very well be used for settling personal scores. It is not as if locally manufactured illegal weapons are in short supply, but the induction of a large number of legal, good-quality weapons might cause yet another spurt in crime. It may also trigger an indirect escalation of the caste wars, which are sought to be curbed. As such, more dispassionate discussion on the subject is necessary before implementing the scheme. The coordination committee has not applied its mind to the extent necessary to the real contributory factors. One of them is the fissures in the police force along caste lines. There is need to debrief and motivate them and also to provide them with enough arms and ammunition. The communication network needs to be strengthened. Leave alone jeeps and telephones, there are many police stations which do not even enjoy the luxury of having pencils or scraps of paper on which an FIR can be lodged. It is these issues which the coordination committee should have addressed. The spectre of political protection provided to ganglords can also not be wished away with mere denials. Also needed is more effective coordination between the Centre and the State. So far, both have treated the never-ending cycle of violence as a stick to beat the other with. While Mrs Rabri Devi and Mr Laloo Yadav have vitiated the atmosphere by alleging that the massacres are engineered by the Opposition parties to pull down their government, the Centre too has not been over-eager to lend a helping hand to the extent possible. Both have to display more maturity for the sake of innocent victims. The vicarious game of passing the buck has been played for far too long.
SUCH a great deal as we see in the media continues to make the game of cricket look like a snake-pit so that the bewildered fan, the world over, seems to have felt cheated, insulted and outraged. Perhaps this kind of over-reaction and obsessive concern is not unwarranted in view of the fact that in most of the Commonwealth countries, the British sentiment in regard to the gentlemans game has, since the end of the Raj, come to acquire several dimensions which vary from the Freudian to the fanatical-jingoistic, forming a most complex and destructive syndrome in which religion, country, club, school, mob-mind, etc, become hopelessly entangled. As a consequence, the worship of the new super-stars, and the cricket field as the Mecca of the faithful naturally assumed the character of apostasy when the entire edifice of adoration came down with a crash as the handiwork of the little gods themselves.
It was disgrace abounding and the shock-waves have, without question, made some of these national heroes look pathetically small money-grabbers in designer-suits, logo stickers and Nike-Reebock shoes. Since the whole thing remains a huge nebulous dark cloud, no wonder, no cricketer of this generation feels safe enough to escape the soiling game now afoot. And we see on the TV screen masters and minions squirming, grimacing, shrugging off the questions, or trying to hide behind wan smiles, platitudes and puerile answers, And whats really disturbing and morally offensive is the knowledge that from the highest in the game hierarchy at the national level, from the umpires and the managers to the groundsmen and food-vendors are eye-deep in this business.
It may be recalled in passing that the English county-cricket has still something of the charm and airs of the game, redolent of the manners, courtesies and graces associated with the nostalgic days of this leisurely, happy sport. And though in the British Isles, soccer has displaced cricket grievously and assumed, as in some European and Latin American countries, gangster-warfare aspects, county cricket continues to have its own special place in the hearts of the faithful.
If one examines the entire issue and noise a little more dispassionately and rationally, the kind of media and state attention paid to it is bound to strike one as grotesque, closer to a music-hall farce than to a national tragedy. Thus when the Cronje case hit the headlines, such national disasters as the ravaging, devastating famine in some parts of the country, not to speak of several other issues of life and death involving our economy, our culture, our security, disappeared from the headlines to find room in small snippets or corners here and there. It only reflects sadly, very sadly, on our moral and intellectual culture today.
So when we raise false gods, and turn sports and its pleasures into commodity, we are bowing only to what Bacon called idols of the market-place. And in making sportsmen whose price abroad (and now in India also) runs into millions of dollars, and whose fortunes would make even big industrialists sit up and take notice the nations new gods, we are simply enacting a mimic theatre of absurdity which has almost the stink of the sewer about it.
The spectator interest or at least involvement had already begun to show signs of fatigue, ennui and boredom to some extent even before the present crisis had erupted with so much force. The excessive amount of cricket played the year round, and the casualness of the players attitude regarding the outcome of these week-after-week encounters had made cricket a mechanical, soulless affair which perhaps engaged the eye or the ear, but left little stir in the heart. The air of indifference, the blase faces and the body-language of the players told enough of the story. Only fat fees and ad money and other attractions mattered for the stars.
No wonder, the Law of Diminishing Returns in spectator interest was a natural consequence. Millions watching the game on TV networks felt no sense of great loss or injury or insult if this game was won or lost. The bite, the sting had nearly gone out of the proceedings and the results. Thats why the Asian Cup drama in Dhaka lately remained, except for the naive and the gullible, just an amusing diversion. And, of course, the menacing clouds of doubt and suspicion now hanging over the heads of the heroes in the field, and of those pulling the wires at different levels of administration did add to the air of cynicism around. The basic fact to grasp is that the trust in the bona fides of the gods of the game is irretrievably damaged, and may perhaps never acquire the same quality.
There are also a couple of other points to consider, the gambling aspect and the political aspect. To take up the political first, let me affirm that I am not referring in this context to the board politics, state cricket subedari politics, etc. That kind of politics another name for internal intrigues, animosities, allergies and manipulations may be seen almost in each area or field of life, from the church and the school to the home and the family. To control levers of power is an instinct which Adler places even above the more tenacious and destructive instinct of sex. We simply cannot do anything when one assumes the energies of the other. Our concern here is with the politics of the political animal, with the political herd or party when in the governance of the country, all the darknesses of man begin to show up. Thats the politician in his being and essence.
We have since Independence in 1947 increasingly devalued such politics from decade to decade, and thus, to talk of Gandhian or even Nehruvian politics of values and vision is to invite ridicule, if not some kind of contempt. So, we talk of politics as it has come to be a naked game of power, money, loot, of dynasty, sycophancy and deceit, And since we have come to accept the game, and are in some ways involved in it as voters and participants, to accept how the game of cricket as a parody and a proxy is not beyond the imagination even of the common fan. Its all national politics and cricket politics now one grand game on show!
In the end, I recall a few lines from my target piece of November, 1991, Sports, politics and human nature, the lines that are clearly suggestive of the crisis of national shame we face today.
And there is, I trust, something in us that loves the spectacle, the drama, and the circus, something that pleases at once the eye and the spirit. And something in it administers to our imagination, and to our dreams.
The mischief obviously lies not in sport qua sports, but in the style, the idiom and the mechanics that have become now a scaffolding for the whole structure of such sports. The ballyhoo and the razzle-dazzle, therefore, make not a small part of the game. And when one adds to the emerging scenario the open and unashamed commercialisation of sports, the increased avarice and cupidity of players and teams alike, and the power politics of the sports establishments in which politicians, bureaucrats and retired stars have created their jealousy-protected and nourished constituencies, one may see how international matches and meets in the end leave behind a whole brand of blind sentiments, inflamed and injured egos, ruptured relationships....
And then, of course, there is the Freudian side of sports. A playfield is, thus, like the theatre, a ground for the purgation of the instincts of power and aggression. Sports, in sum, bring out at once the best and the worst in man. If it is an enlargement of the spirit on the one hand, It is, in competitive situations of a certain order and pitch, a debasement, on the other. The innocent story of bat and ball, or of stick and ball, of assault and thrust has its own sexual side. It is not perhaps commonly known that the word game is also a British expression for prostitution, and that the sporting house is an American slang for a brothel.
P.S: What I wrote nine
years ago now stands fully confirmed. In a couple of
those candid TV panel discussions by some of the top
officials, media scribes and insiders, it was
admitted that for over a decade there was a deep
conspiracy of silence, alibis and
equivocations to shield the guilty in India. And it was
acknowledged that three things needed to be done
immediately to stem the rot: (1) the boycott of such toy
cricket centres as Sharjah, Toronto, Dhaka, Singapore and
Kenya, (2) the appointment of an independent vigilance
commissioner for sports, (3) the voluntary sanyas by the
existing board authorities. And now comes Cronjes
full confession before the commissioner to prove our
Need to go beyond fertilisers
THE use of fertilisers has played a significant role in raising the productivity of Indian agriculture. It is common knowledge that the Green Revolution was based on a package of agricultural inputs which included fertilisers, water, high-yielding varieties of seeds, etc. Today fertilisers are gaining prominence as an important agricultural input in our quest for attaining consistent surplus in the agricultural sector.
No wonder the government has a separate Ministry of Fertilisers for the past so many years, and along with that from time to time chemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors have been added to it. The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers has come out with its six-monthly performance report on the pattern of the half-yearly results of the corporate sector. In such reports only the brighter sides are generally highlighted. But one would always expect that performance reports also highlight the problems in those sectors which have an important bearing on the nation. The report card of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers reads well, but there are certain important issues which have been glossed over.
Both the production and use of fertilisers have been increasing by leaps and bounds in the past more than four decades and a half. The available data show that the production of fertilisers has increased from 80,000 tonnes in 1955-56 to 85,99,000 tonnes in 1996-97. Similarly, the consumption has increased from 66,000 tonnes in 1952-53 to 143 lakh tonnes in 1996-97. The use of fertilisers has helped in increasing the grain input of the country to the extent that we are self-sufficient in its production, and in times of natural calamities like drought, we are able to meet our food requirements from domestic sources only. This is the positive aspect of the use of fertilisers.
However, the negative aspect of the whole thing is that our production of fertilisers, as the report card itself projects, is not economical. The subsidies which are being paid to the fertiliser industry are enormous. The report also admits that India has no comparative advantage in the production of fertilisers. Therefore, to keep the fertiliser units viable the government has been paying huge subsidies to this sector.
The available data show that the amount of subsidy being paid to fertiliser units has increased from Rs 505 crore in 1981 to Rs 6,093 crore in 1996-97, which is almost 12 times the subsidy in 1980-81; on the imported fertiliser the subsidy has gone up from Rs 335 crore to Rs 1,350 crore while that of subsidy on the domestic sector has risen from Rs 117 crore to Rs 4743 crore. This amount of subsidy is playing havoc with the state finances. This is a real drain on the Central funds. All the attempts in the past have not been successful in curbing the subsidies on fertilisers. The important point that has to be remembered is that we have gained self-sufficiency in grain production at a very high cost. This amount of subsidy is unsustainable.
The fertiliser units require a lot of LPG to run them. Since we have no sufficient reserves of LPG we are being forced to import LPG at a very high cost. The important question that we have to ask is that if the country has no comparative advantage in the production of fertilisers then why should we not close down the fertiliser units and meet our requirements from imports? It would turn out to be much cheaper and we will not be forced to pay a subsidy of Rs 6,000 crore year after year.
The other important aspect is that since India has large reserves of coal, why can the coal energy not be harnessed to reduce the production cost of fertilisers?
There is also an environmental aspect to the fertiliser industry. Indiscriminate use of fertilisers by farmers is also making vast tracts of agricultural land useless. Though the ministry is aware of the damage being caused to the environment by the use of fertilisers, not much has been done to tackle this situation.
Another important question is: do we really need to use fertilisers on such a large scale to increase our agricultural output? As studies by many economists have shown that better use of irrigation water can achieve the same result at a much lesser cost. One economist has worked out that if the fertiliser subsidy budgeted for 1997-98 is used for sinking wells, it could generate capacity to irrigate at least three million hectares of land and that within less than three years the additional output due to increased irrigation would more than compensate the loss of output due to the increased prices of fertilisers and the consequent reduction in its use. This is an important issue which needs to be discussed seriously at all levels.
Along with the use of fertilisers has come the use of pesticides and insecticides which have become health hazards in a big way. Though the fertiliser industry is aware of the problems being faced by consumers, it has not done much to reduce the consumption of fertilisers.
The ministry is aware of the hazards posed to peoples health by fertilisers, pesticides, etc, and is, therefore, encouraging research on bio-fertilisers. But it is moving very slowly in that direction. The ministry can however, play an important role by encouraging research on bio-fertilisers and reducing their dependence on important fertilisers.
The other drawback from
the use of fertilisers is that its different varieties
need to be combined in appropriate proportion with other
fertilisers like potash, which is not manufactured in
India at the moment. The indiscriminate use of urea
without potash could damage the productivity of
agricultural land in the long run. In this connection the
ministry has happily set up an expert committee to
prepare the R&D road-map for the fertiliser industry
and also monitor its progress. This needs to be taken up
THE computer. A symbol of technology. With the latest Windows. Mercifully, not Doors. At least, so far. With Office 2000. With all the software from Microsoft. Also from others. Like the Via Voice. From IBM. The words appear on the screen as you speak. The engagements are recorded. Reminders given on time. Yet, the computer is no substitute for the good old steno-cum-secretary. He is still needed. All the time. In every office.
And while in position, he is the master. Nobody can meet the boss without his nod. No one can speak to the boss unless he permits. Yet, despite all the importance, the stenos as a tribe are becoming scarce. By the day. Difficult to come by. Especially, the efficient variety. Where have they gone? To Dubai? Or are they a dying species? Search is usually futile. They seem to have just vanished.
But, I am lucky. I was able to get a good steno. He (Yes! By choice) has been with me for the last few years. He is quiet. Soft-spoken. Decent. Well behaved. Dependable. A willing worker. A human dynamo. Day or night, he is always there. Never tires. Never complains. Ever ready. I have always admired his effort. Till recently, he was using an old typewriter. And turning out reams of typed pages. Every day. At all times of the day and night. But sometimes, even he slurred. Made an occasional mistake. Now and then. Innocent but interesting. Minor but meaningful. Little samples.
One word abroad was made into two A broad. A sentence read Today, the bald men fight for a comb. He said Today, the bold men fight for a tomb. Another one was The bride made the whole family happy. The transcript read The bribe made the whole family happy. The defective was made detective. Fiscal fitness was preferred to physical fitness. The herd of cows was changed to heard of cows. I love honey was made I love money. Honble Mr. Justice... was misread and typed as Horrible Mr. Justice.... A ladys progress by leaps and bounds read progress by lips and bonds. The police force was reduced to a police farce. The public was made pubic Pregnant woman was changed to a pregnant man. Rome was not built in a day read Home was not built.... Sane was changed to same. Six was typed as Sex. A promise of a treat was made into an outright threat.
Each alphabet is important. Every letter matters. The mistakes illustrate this. And language is not all logic. Yet, it is a necessity. Just as a bird cannot fly without wings, man cannot communicate without words. Language gives dress to the thought. It is an efficient instrument in thinking. It takes the labour of a lifetime to learn a language. And there are rules. To follow. A grammar. That governs. One little mistake makes a mess of the message. A single letter changes the meaning and thought. Precision is a pre-requisite. Just imagine the embarrassment when A public exhibition was dubbed as A pubic exhibition. And the absolute howler had escaped attention. Of everyone.
Besides, the mistakes also indicate the existence of a malady. The police may not be popular. It is understandable. Somebody may have a reason to call the force a farce. It is also correct that we do not lose our sense of humour. But, it appears that there is a definite pattern to the mistakes. Symbolic of a deeper malaise. Otherwise, why shall bribe and money be preferred to bride and honey? Or how can fiscal fitness be more popular than physical fitness?
sutra in operation
CHANAKYA, in a slightly different context, had advised the rulers to constantly ponder over the following factors: Ka kaala, kaani mitraani/ko desha, kau vyayaagama/kasyaham, ka cha me shakti/iti Chintyam muhur muhur/ (Is the time ripe? What about our allies? Which target? How will be the losses and gains? How am I placed to deal with the situation? Do I have my own strength? A king (ruler) should always keep all such aspects in mind).
The contemporary Indian politician has proved himself to be the best practitioner of this Chanakya sutra. And when they do so, they could do it with perfection. Every action is guided by the exigencies of pleasing the allies, political gains and losses and the survival interests of the respective player. As Chanakya suggests elsewhere, sheer political oneupmanship is the main tool of the modern Indian politicians. A series of developments in the past few weeks reveal how the rival political formations try to gain tactical mileage by the simple means of twisting facts and blowing up others weak points without the least regard to truth and the peoples rustic wisdom.
At times, while thoughtlessly trying to score points over the rival political parties on issues like the Bihar massacre, they themselves get into trouble. Thus the whole political debate is being reduced to misleading the public opinion and settle score with the rival parties through plain ruse and deceit. Any issue that can embarrass the opponents has to be highlighted even while trying to play down ones own drawbacks. Every move is solely aimed at short-term gains. This is the only explanation for the BJPs sudden decision to observe the declaration of Emergency as a partisan political programme. No one questions the need for highlighting the deadly blow inflicted on the democratic fabric of the country on that black day 25 years back. However, if the idea is to remind the nation of the inglorious bid by a mindless coterie to subvert democracy and to rededicate itself to parliamentary system, the whole endeavour should have been set in a positive mode.
It should have been a genuinely national programme in which the entire spectrum of public opinion could have been represented. This could have sufficiently embarrassed the Congress in case it tries to dissociate itself from the observation of the black day. Instead, the Prime Ministers wiz kids thought that an anti-Emergency campaign could better demolish the Congress and its dynasty. Ironically, the BJPs partisan politics only helped the Congress turn the tables on the ruling party. For, the BJP had coopted almost the entire Emergency crowd into it and given high positions. While Sonia Gandhi has only been the wife of an Indian Airlines pilot, it was Vajpayees present ministerial colleague Maneka Gandhi who has been the real queen of the Emergency.
As wife of Sanjay Gandhi, the ruthless perpetrator of the extra-constitutional centre of power , she has been in the inner circles which had controlled the entire demolition operation of the Indian democratic structure. She had defended Sanjay before and after his death. Other Sanjay pals like Rangarajan Kumaramangalam and Jagmohan have been rewarded with high positions. Bansi Lal has been the BJPs ally until he was ditched in favour of Chautala.
This has also provoked those like Chandra Shekhar to reveal what he said was the real role of the RSS during the Emergency. The Opposition even tried to blame the BJP for what it said reintroducing MISA in the form of a new anti-terrorism Bill. The MISA has been the main instrument during the Emergency to dump political opponents into jail. The critics now allege that the new Bill is worse than the much dreaded MISA. Thus the whole move has become more counter-productive for the ruling party.
Similarly, the Congress too got it hot when it tried to outsmart the BJP on the issue of the UP Religious Places Bill which puts restrictions on the minority institutions. Mulayam Singh and Mayawati were the first to assail the Bill. The BJP was quick to resort to the Chanakya sutra to expose the Congress hypocrisy by citing that two of its governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan had already passed similar law. This silenced the Congress.
Selective use of truth to defame the adversaries has been an effective political sutra. Last week, a friendly public interest litigation was filed against the foreign trip of the Congress Chief Minister of Maharashtra. This week, BJP leaders protested against the waste of tax payers money by Delhis Congress Chief Minister who is also scheduled to go on a foreign tour. But in their haste to defame the rival Chief Ministers, the BJP leaders forgot that they should not throw stones from a glass house. The Congress quickly hit back by citing the exodus of one-third of the Union Ministers abroad on one pretext or the other. Thus the whole thing backfired on those who had tried to gain public sympathy on an anti-foreign jaunt plank.
Our politicians draw heavily on the wily Chanakya by resorting to plain perfidy and obfuscation to put the rival sides in bad light. When the BJP Government went in for a Constitution review the Opposition assailed it as a bid to change its basic structure and impose a presidential system of government. Soon the Congress too joined the Opposition outburst oblivious of the fact that it too is very vulnerable to the same charge. When the Congress had a two-thirds majority, it too had talked of the virtues of the presidential system. Thus the BJP promptly returned the fire by citing a series of moves made by the Congress for Constitution review, including the appointment of the Swaran Singh panel.
A similar tit-for-tat is being enacted by the two guilty rivals on the issue of economic reform. Every time the Congress ventures to attack the BJP for sacrificing the national interests through foreign appeasement, the BJP hits back by emphasising that the reform itself was initiated by the former. Even such ardent reformers like Yashwant Sinha have blamed the Congress for committing the future of generations by signing the WTO, and claiming that once this was done, the BJP Government had no other option but to follow it. This has led to a rather curious situation . Both sides concede that they supported the reform measures but also blame each other for doing so.
Bihar has become the playground for the worst kind of political opportunism and unabashed resort to realpolitik. It is not Laloo alone. Every major party in Bihar has something to conceal because they are also guilty of indulging in several dirty tricks. Contrary to what the media tries to make out. Laloo has never been the kingpin of the fodder scam. Even if he has benefited more from the scam, it was because he has been the boss in Bihar for too long. Leaders of every non-Left party, including the BJP have benefited from the racket in varying degrees. But the irony has been that the outside perception is apparently not shared by a majority of the Biharis, especially in the lower rungs, who otherwise might not have re-elected his RJD to power.
Every bout of massacre in Bihar invokes demands from the NDA parties for the dismissal of the RJD Government on the basis of a breakdown of law and order. This time even the Prime Minister has endorsed the demand but expressed helplessness due to lack of numbers in the Rajya Sabha. This put Vajpayee in an indefensible position when the Opposition attacked him for his double standard. If law and order is a reason for dismissal of Rabri Devi, Home Minister L.K. Advani should be the first to be dropped. After he took over, there has been a sharp rise in crimes, bomb blasts, killings and ISI activities.
In Kashmir, in the first six months of the millennium, 195 security personnel were killed 47 more than during the same period last year. Killing of the militants increased from 385 to 520 this year. Seizure of explosives, etc has doubled, indicating a sharp rise in the terrorist activities. If Naxalite-landlord clashes in Bihar can be case enough to dismiss a government, the same will have to be applied in states like Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh as well. Such social issues are more than mere law and order problem. These caste clashes are in fact tension between the landless dalits led by the MCC and PWG and the Ranvir Sena of the Bhoomihar landlords. The latter has been the main vote bank of the BJP.
In the latest massacre, the Bhoomihars have targeted new caste groups like Yadavs, Kurmis and Dusadhs. The last two are the caste of NDA leaders Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan, respectively. This has led to more realpolitiking with Laloo Yadav charging the NDA with precipitating fresh law and order problems through the Ranvir Sena with a view to toppling the RJD government. On the other, Nitish Kumar and Paswan charge Laloo with masterminding the attacks on the Kurmi-Dusadhs with a view to alienating the two communities from its NDA leaders.
autonomy demand has been an issue on which principled
politics triumphed. Pressures of strong nationalist
sentiments acted as a restraint on the all-India parties.
The National Conferences numerical inability to
topple the NDA government and the firm RSS stand on
trifurcating the state emboldened the BJP to spurn the
autonomy move. Genuine internal debates on ideological
and policy issues has been a sign of principled politics.
Internal debates on programmes disappear the moment
coterie-led one-leader authoritarianism takes over. Lack
of protests within the party, compulsions of coalition
politics and the sheer survival of the government make it
necessary to resort to the mindless short-cuts.
Consciousness, the Self
I the second and third persons cannot exist,
In their time, both past
and future are only the present
Can there be space, can
there be time, except for me?
Both the wise and the
ignorant regard the body as I
To the ignorant and for
the wise, the world exists,
The controversy whether
fate is stronger than free will or vice versa is only for
those who do not know their source.
To see God as apart from
the seer is only a mental image
Sri Ramana Maharishi, Sat Darshanam (Forty verses on Reality)
Yes, though I walk the
valley of the shadow of death,
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