Monday, July 17, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Jammu & Kashmir: useless offers

THE release of Hurriyat leaders and the Home Minister’s offer to have talks with them within the framework of the Constitution of India to solve the problem of Jammu and Kashmir has opened the Pandora’s box. There is no unanimity in the Hurriyat leaders’ utterances. The dominant view is to involve India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir in thrashing out a solution.

JKLF leader Amanullah Khan has jumped into the fray and dreams of an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir, inclusive of the Indian side of the state and the Pakistan-occupied territory. The National Conference has demanded the pre-1953 status.

Pakistan is likely to fish in troubled waters and would arouse religious sentiments. No acceptable solution is in sight in such circumstances. Rather the problem has become murkier. What is the use of making such offers? The Home Minister owes an explanation to the nation.

Like his father, Dr Farooq Abdullah is undependable as he speaks in two different languages. He assures the Central leaders that the autonomy resolution is only for discussion but it has been passed by the state legislature. He argues that the restoration of the pre-1953 status does not impinge on the accession of the state to the Indian Union. To the people of Jammu and Kashmir, however, he poses as a crusader demanding the powers they have been deprived of by the Government of India.


He has not explained how the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the Election Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India is detrimental to the interests of the state, and what benefits would accrue to the J&K people by calling the Chief Minister and the Governor as the Prime Minister and Sadar-e-Riyasat respectively. Obviously, he has a hidden ambition to become a Raja to run the administration according to his whims and desires, the Centre having only powers to deal with defence, foreign affairs, communications and currency.

Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. It is not financially viable and is getting many more times financial assistance than any other state of the Union. People have sacrificed their lives in three wars and the Kargil conflict and are still dying to fight militancy in Kashmir to safeguard the unity and integrity of the country.


Who cares for tigers?

It was the antithesis of the mass hysteria on the “ratha yatra” — the whole nation falling silent under the gloom. The Nandankanan tragedy claiming the lives of 12 tigers has put into incoherence our thought process. One had read about the mass hunting of tigers by kings and rapacious shikaris but none of this kind had happened before.

Such is the impact of the catastrophe that it can blunt one’s sensibility towards the unabated stray killings going on elsewhere. When four tigers were killed by poachers during the closing months of 1999 at Corbet National Park, one writhed in helpless agony. How could the nation afford to lose its scarce wildlife?

And why on earth has not even a single culprit ever been caught and imprisoned? The tiger is the rarest of the rare species struggling for survival. Is it not worthwhile to amend the law so that poachers are given extremely severe punishment? For the tiger is facing an undeclared war. And in war it is a crime to be soft on the enemy. Those defending the national animal should be given a free hand. In the case of wildlife, the country can hardly afford to be on the receiving end.

The tiger, the mighty feline that stalks our jungles, is breathing in an stifling atmosphere of insecurity. The animal is neither safe in the sanctuaries nor in the zoos. He is being crucified by ineffective laws, meaningless modalities, a casual approach and criminal dereliction of duty. Nandankanan has exposed our fallacy of creating an “oasis” just for tourists.

The vulnerability of our wildlife has reached scandalous proportions. Already there is a strong feeling that India has failed to check poaching. It lacks the infrastructure and the required expertise. It lacks the will and the resources. A poor nation would be hard put to saving the “king” whose territory is being encroached upon by a 100 crore people!

But, then who will save the tiger? The Union Government? Which has, as the media says, passed on the onus to the states? Which has disowned its responsibility and thus diluted the spirit behind the project? Its failure to bring in stringent anti-poaching laws and to raise an effective task force to check poaching defeats the very purpose for which “Operation Save The Tiger” was launched.


Speedy disposal of court cases

It is indeed a pleasant news that the Chief Justice of India has directed the Delhi High Court to take up the disposal of the pending cases in the subordinate courts on a war-footing. Difficult situations require drastic remedies.

The fact that over 32 lakh cases are pending in various High Courts and more than 36 lakhs in the subordinate courts is alarming. The cases involving punishment upto six months’ imprisonment for petty offences should be disposed of summarily by not granting more than one adjournment per case and/or through Lok Adalats by amending the law suitably. Likewise, the cases involving civil disputes of the value up to Rs 1 lakh and other petty cases should be disposed of by the subordinate courts and/or Lok Adalats by not granting more than one short-term adjournment.

New Delhi

Honking is disturbing

The Chandigarh Traffic Police is taking various steps to make the people aware of the traffic rules and behave responsibly while driving. On several occasions it has observed “traffic weeks” and distributed pamphlets. Recently it installed public address systems at the crossings to educate the public about the importance of observing the traffic rules.

All seems to be very good. But one aspect the Traffic Police has not yet taken seriously is the misuse of the horn by drivers. We take everything lightly until it reaches the stage of no return. We never took seriously the menace of air pollution by vehicles and industrial fumes, and now we are facing the consequences. Likewise, we don’t consider noise pollution as pollution at all.

I have noticed at traffic lights that the driver of every class of vehicle — be it a scooter, a car, a bus or a truck — starts blowing his horn as soon as the red light turns amber (why to wait for green) to show his hurriedness as if the driver in front of him wants to stay there overnight.

This unmindful collective honking at the traffic lights is unnecessary and irritating, and disturbs the mental equilibrium of other drivers. It may sometimes lead to fatal accidents. We Indians have become immune to the increasing level of noise pollution. But it hurts me whenever anybody presses the horn button without any need. I think the Indian drivers lack traffic sense and need to be educated about the proper use of the horn.

I would, therefore, suggest that the Traffic Police should educate the vehicle owners/drivers through the public address system, pamphlets, hoardings and the media not to unnecessarily blow their horns. People should maintain their calm on the roads.


Spread sanity

I have read with interest TV Rajeshwar’s article, “Attack on Christians: A Serious National Issue” (July 5). I fully appreciate the concern of the author. He has in-depth touched the subject and beautifully illustrated it with fine examples. The finest example was wherein the Pope during his visit to India desired (or proclaimed/ordered/instigated) that every house be provided with a Bible. Pope John Paul seems to be crazy about the spread of his own religion — the Christianity, sadly at the cost or displeasure of other religions. India is a secular country where all are enjoying all powers to practise their religion. Sadly, the Pope has not appreciated this aspect of India’s secularism. He should have appealed to all Indian nationals to display religious tolerance.

Our worthy Prime Minister is a “Shareef Aadmi”. The RSS is a spoilt child. It is very difficult for the PM to stop the RSS mischief. No religious person should do anything which is disgraceful and which brings a bad name to the nation. We are all Indians first and then persons of a particular sect. Christians must exercise restraint and not adopt their tactics of converting non-Christians to their fold. Christian missionaries have been alluring non-Christians by offering money, marriage, foreign visits and so on.

The Prime Minister on his part should ensure that even the poorest of the poor get these Rs.


Insects in soft drinks

Recently disturbing and too frequent news reports are appearing regarding insects in soft drink bottles even of very known and popular brands. Similar news about a popular brand of chocolate has also appeared.

These are recent and of popular brands, but similar reports are there from time to time. Even water being supplied by taps contains worms many a time.

The persons at the helm of affairs deserve severe punishment. As a last resort, their manufacturing licence can be cancelled followed by a ban on the item. However, if the manufacturer can prove that the fault is not at his level but at the retailer’s level, then the latter should be given harsh punishment.


Kargil-II is avoidable

That a tunnel connecting the rivers Chenab and Ravi can ward off Kargil-II is a novel idea. And as with all new ideas, there are not many takers for it. In order that it may catch the imagination of the people and the government and become a reality, there is need for organised publicity. The million dollar question is how to do it.



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