Friday, July 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Fallout of autonomy postures

MR HARI JAISINGH is correct in his observation (“Fallout of autonomy postures: is a bold, creative response feasible?”, July 14) that for more than 50 odd years the same political drama has been enacted in Kashmir. The actors might have changed, but the script remains unchanged. It is unchanged because the script writers in New Delhi cannot agree on the message that it should convey. Should it project the secular, liberal democratic face of the Indian Union or the grim visage of a central authority determined to retain control over an increasingly alienated people?

While the script writers wrangle, Kashmir pays the price. The cream of Kashmir’s youth is buried in the graveyards spread across the valley. The current lead player, Dr Farooq Abdullah, struts and frets between demanding autonomy and placating New Delhi. No Chief Minister of J&K has challenged New Delhi’s authority and survived. The stakes are far higher than merely Dr Abdullah’s survival; the issues involved in the Kashmir drama go far beyond the border of his State.

The autonomy of the kind as sought by Dr Abdullah is not something which can be obtained through aggressive tactics. A recommendation which, among other things, leaves only external affairs, defence and communications in the hands of the Centre and redesignates the Chief Minister as Prime Minister (as before Independence) obviously concerns a matter on which a national consensus has to be evolved. Any attempt to force the issue can only be counterproductive.


Dr Abdullah can also be faulted for the timing of the measure. Clearly, just a year after Kargil which has seen an aggravation of the security situation in the State, this is not the best of times for such a controversial measure. What is worse, it is not difficult to discern a political motive. Since Dr Abdullah’s has not been the most successful stint in power in recent times, it is possible that his resort to the dramatic measure is a desperate attempt to boost his sagging political fortunes.

The timing is also significant in the context of the Centre’s recent decision to renew the dialogue with the Hurriyat, implying the existence of political forces nearly as important as the National Conference in the valley.

Now when Prime Minister Vajpayee has declared to continue the dialogue, a patient evaluation of the situation may yield agreement on some points.


NO GOING BACK: “Fallout of autonomy postures” raised a very pertinent question: “Is a bold, creative response feasible?” I would like to say boldly that it is. Our leaders in Delhi have committed terrible mistakes in the past 53 years. They blame only the Kashmiris for their inability to assimilate themselves more fully into the “Indians mainstream”.

Why do we forget that Delhi’s paranoid policy-makers denied Kashmir fair elections for nearly 30 years? They viewed any popular Kashmiri leaders with misgivings. We would probably have had no Kashmir problem at all today if the wrongful dismissal of the Farooq Abdullah government in 1984 had not led to a series of mistakes.

The time to apply the required correctives is yet not gone. Prime Minister Vajpayee has wisely said that autonomy can be discussed. However, autonomy does not mean the pre-1953 position which is a euphemism for secession.


EFFECTIVE COORDINATION: The autonomy issue requires freshness of approach because of the new role to be played by States independently. All that is needed is more effective coordination among the States and the Centre to protect the interests of various regions.

No doubt, Dr Farooq Abdullah as a politician is an enigma wrapped in mystery like his father. These are people who admire him and there is an equally vocal section of those, specially in Jammu and Ladakh, who hold him responsible for most of the ills in the State.

The devolution of powers to the States is essential to prevent the abuse of power by the Centre. It is thus time to pay heed.


Woes of students

The decision of the Punjab Government to debar the students who had not done their 10+1 and 10+2 from Punjab from appearing for the PMT test was appreciated by everyone, but a few days later Chandigarh students were also allowed entry on the plea that the city is the capital of Punjab. We wonder why the students from Punjab are denied the right to appear in the test for admission to Chandigarh Medical College. Why this injustice to Punjab students? Don’t they have this right in their own capital?

The Punjab Government introduced NRI seats to raise funds and their number has increased to 30 for the MBBS course. Any NRI seat left vacant can be purchased by a wealthy person. Any reserved quota seats left vacant will go to NRIs. Why not to the general category?

The government must manage money from other sources. General category students burn midnight oil to achieve success, and their helpless parents spend their hard-earned money on their coaching. Don’t we need hard working and intelligent future doctors?

I as an affected parent appeal to the Punjab government to increase the MBBS seats at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, from 50 to 100 so that the unrealised dreams of hard-working students get realised and any seat left vacant in the reserved category should be given to students from the general category.


Dangerous logic

Mr George Speight and his associates held the Prime Minister of Fiji and his Cabinet colleagues as hostages at gunpoint for 55 days in the name of indigenous people, flouting all norms of constitutionality and democratic functioning. He seems to have largely succeeded in his mission. But his logic is dangerous.

If indigenous people in other countries were also to follow the example of Mr Speight, there would be a spate of political upheavals, coups and violence worldwide as witnessed in Fiji.

Many countries in Latin America and Africa as also New Zealand, Australia and the USA have a sizeable presence of aborigines who, according to a writer, have for long been subjected to “discrimination, deprivation and decimation” at the hands of the White settlers.

  Wing Cdr S.C. KAPOOR (retd)

Law must be respected

I do not agree with most of the suggestions given in Chandigarh Tribune (July 10) as to how to check brawls and fightings among youngsters in the market place. These suggestions are too mild to produce any meaningful effect on children. This, in other words, amounts to following the line of least resistance.

The prevailing dismal situation in the market area of Sector 7 in Panchkula reflects a total loss of respect for law and order, which calls for stern measures by the authorities.

The progeny of the rich and the influential class must be made to realise that they have got to behave in an exemplary manner as their family background demands it and that they are not above the law of the land.

Ambala Cantt 


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