Friday, August 25, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Reservation as political madness
HE passing of the 88th Constitution Amendment Bill by the Lok Sabha and the tabling of the report of the Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes members have the potential to revive the debate on the utility and the futility of caste-based policy of reservation. 

Unguided missile!
CHOOL children once loved books on fictional wars embellished with exploits by the hero. The stories have to be dramatic and beyond the realm of possibility to sustain adolescent interest. Of course, teenagers no more read such books and the practitioners of that genre have become extinct.


World of New Class “lords”
Where do ordinary citizens stand?
by Hari Jaisingh
LARGE number of ministers, MPs and knowledgeable persons were rightly agitated over the wrong diagnosis of Union Power Minister P.R. Kumaramangalam's illness at Apollo Hospital in New Delhi. Their feelings were genuine and these reflected general disgust of the rich and the mighty at the way matters of life and death are handled even by prestigious institutions after a hefty payment for their services.


P.R. Kumaramangalam
August 23, 2000
Complaining CMs 
August 23, 2000
Rupee’s next destination 
August 22, 2000
Now, a petrol shock 
August 21, 2000
System constraints bedevil education
August 20, 2000
Trade union of CMs 
August 19, 2000
The Kashmir divide
August 18, 2000
Ill-planned yatra ends
August 17, 2000
Back to tolerant age
August 16, 2000
STD tariff set to fall 
August 15, 2000
It’s Terroristan 
August 14, 2000
Now, cybersex industry
August 13, 2000
Explosive frustration
August 12, 2000
Why Advani is angry
August 11, 2000
Black shadow on green cards
August 10, 2000

India and the war for talent
by Rohin Dharma Kumar
OUNTRIES and companies are competing to recruit the right kind of information technology (IT) personnel from Asia, particularly from India. They think the cream of India’s IITs and IIMs are theirs for the asking. While countries like the USA, Germany and Japan are considering visa relaxations, companies are struggling to hire and then retain their best workers.

West has no answers to our problems
By M. S. N. Menon
ROM Plato’s “Guardian” to Laloo Yadav, it is truly a fall from the sublime to the ridiculous. But how has this come about? The answer is: from an unthinking imitation of the West.





Reservation as political madness

THE passing of the 88th Constitution Amendment Bill by the Lok Sabha and the tabling of the report of the Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes members have the potential to revive the debate on the utility and the futility of caste-based policy of reservation. Those who see merit in the policy and want it extended to "virgin territories" appear to have acquired the necessary political muscle for implementing Mr V.P. Singh's dream of Mandalising the country. But the frightening silence of the section which is effected by the limitless extension and reckless expansion of the reservation policy should not be seen as "popular" approval of what is essentially part of vote bank politics. The amendment seeks to restore the right to promotion to members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes by lowering qualifying standards. This privilege was withdrawn by the Supreme Court on the ground that it amounted to extending double benefit to the beneficiaries of the reservation policy. Those who are opposed to the restoration of "promotion rights without merit" in government jobs on the plea that it violates the principle of natural justice have evidently not done their home work. The very policy of job reservation for certain sections of the "equal citizens" of the country militates against principles of equality and natural justice. The founding fathers of the Constitution had introduced the provision for a period of 10 years to enable the underprivileged sections to come out of centuries of "forced backwardness", through state help, and take their legitimate place as equal and proud citizens of free India. Of course, 10 years was too short a period for ending centuries of repression of and discrimination against the majority by a minuscule elite. However, instead of banishing the caste-based backwardness to the pages of history, the political class as a whole has now begun to see "merit" in expanding the area of job reservations.

The Constitution amendment is not the only piece of bad news for the anti-reservation lobby, which had reacted with rare vehemence and violence when Mr V.P. Singh decided to implement the Mandal Commission recommendations for extending the privilege of job reservation to other backward castes. The Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has marshalled "evidence" and given seemingly reasonable "arguments" for bringing even the judiciary within the ambit of job reservation. The committee also has its eyes on the non-partisan policy of recruitment followed by the armed forces. If the political class really cares for the country and the class whose interests it claims to be protecting through an open ended reservation policy, it should begin to think in terms of India's rating as a free and fair society in the international community. The evolving global village has given new meaning to the Darwinian theory of the survival of the fittest. Indian professionals have attracted global attention to their achievements on the basis of their merit. However, it would be a great folly to ignore the welfare of the underprivileged sections of the people with the limited objective of hassle-free integration with the global community. The current approach for securing the interests of the dalits needs to be drastically overhauled. Instead of lowering standards for admission to professional courses, the dalit students should be allowed specialised coaching in the best institutes in the country at state expense to help them "earn their spurs" on the basis of merit. They should be encouraged to receive schooling and college education in the best institutions in the country, like Doon School and St Stephen's, at state expense. If the dalit youths want to join the armed forces, they should be sent to sainik schools. If they want to serve the legal profession, the state should pick up the tab for their education in the best law colleges in the country. But under no circumstances should the demand for job reservation in the armed forces and the judiciary be given parliamentary approval. There has to be a method even in the "reservation madness". It is about time the political class as a whole started thinking in terms of giving merit, and merit alone, the place it deserves and a gradual rolling back of the policy of reservation. Giving the policy of reservation an aura of respectability is like encouraging normal persons to use crutches for life instead of giving them the confidence to walk without support.


Unguided missile!

SCHOOL children once loved books on fictional wars embellished with exploits by the hero. The stories have to be dramatic and beyond the realm of possibility to sustain adolescent interest. Of course, teenagers no more read such books and the practitioners of that genre have become extinct. Not exactly it would appear. One man, surprisingly a journalist, has thought up a nuclear war and since nuclear missiles and their use are going out of fashion in the West, his plot centres on Asia with three nuclear powers and two of them nursing ancient animosities. The reporter has worked in Beijing for some time and so makes China fire two ICBMs to flatten Mumbai and New Delhi. How many books he has sold is not clear but he has won over one reader, an important one at that. He is Defence Minister George Fernandes who claims to have been swept off his feet by the powerful logic of the novel. Logic of the novel? Yes, the Minister not only finds the plot very plausible but the climax inevitable given the unconcealed Chinese desire to be a world power and India’s potential to block it. Of course, Pakistan too drops a nuclear bomb to stop an advancing army column in Rajasthan desert but India snuffs out the western neighbour by launching wave after wave of war jets. China gets into the act not only to avenge the rout of its long-time ally but also to teach India a lesson for organising a Tibetan revolt with one single stolen aircraft and stopping its march into Arunachal Pradesh! And Mr Fernandes finds all this logical and unstoppable. Luckily, it is too early to hit the nearest underground shelter; for the denouement is slated for 2007, seven years hence. By then key industrial hub would have moved south and political decision-making would be more decentralised. Hopefully, therefore, the two Chinese nuclear-tipped missiles would not bring the country to an abrupt stop.

Mr George Fernandes is the original and life-long China-basher, his hatred for that country goes back to his socialist days when his ideology spun around virulent anti-communism. While he has managed to forget his socialism, the ante-communist remnant has got stuck somewhere in his system and erupts at the slightest provocation. Just before and after the Pokhran blasts two years ago, he accused China of being an implacable enemy, capturing Indian territory and building helipads there. He had no proof but then he needed no proof to see a permanent villain in the neighbouring country. Many suspect that he would love a good fight with China but what holds him back is the government’s policy of normalising relations with it. In sharp contrast, he is somewhat soft on Pakistan and his famous safe passage offer to Kargil intruders being one piece of evidence. Being George Fernandes, he finds nothing amiss in pursuing a line that goes against the government policy and may undo the effects of men like Minister of External Affairs Jaswant Singh and President Narayanan who have ironed out some of the differences in perception between the two countries. Nuclear war is alright as a theme for pulp fiction but not as a policy to be pursued. The deterrent theory, with its core in second and retaliatory strike, will ensure a chain reaction, two warring nations emptying their arsenal on the other. No doubt, Americans, known for frank-talking, called this MAD (mutually assured destruction) and even a born again anti-Soviet Union leader like President Reagan negotiated a reduction in the number of missiles and nuclear warheads. MAD it indeed is and as Defence Minister, Mr Fernandes should be the first to banish the thought from his mind. 


World of New Class “lords”
Where do ordinary citizens stand?
by Hari Jaisingh

A LARGE number of ministers, MPs and knowledgeable persons were rightly agitated over the wrong diagnosis of Union Power Minister P.R. Kumaramangalam's illness at Apollo Hospital in New Delhi. Their feelings were genuine and these reflected general disgust of the rich and the mighty at the way matters of life and death are handled even by prestigious institutions after a hefty payment for their services.

Acts of negligence and callousness at hospitals and public places are unpardonable. These, once again, underline the serious gaps between promise and performance. Distortions in our functioning are fundamental. They need a unified condemnation and response. We cannot be selective. The poor and the rich must draw the same attention and concern from the powers that be.

In fact, I wish the VIPs could show the same concern for the ordinary citizens who suffer day in and day out because of the callous system and at the hands of those manning it. Have those occupying high positions ever cared to find out how ordinary people are treated in government and non-government hospitals and dispensaries?

To say this is not to dilute the gravity of the question raised with regard to the Union Minister's treatment. I had known him personally and admired him for his brilliance and intellectual sharpness. It is a different matter that he changed his politico-ideological loyalty from the Congress left to the saffron right. This is probably because he genuinely felt that ideology has ceased to count in today's competitive world of globalisation and liberalisation.

Perhaps he was right. But more than the question of ideology, what disturbs me is that we have not cared even for small things of governance that can make a difference in the life of unprivileged sections of society.

What needs to be treated as a matter of national concern is the attitude of those in positions of authority towards the children of a lesser god. The ruling elite need to come out of their cosy drawing rooms and see for themselves how the country's ordinary citizens have to sweat it out in subhuman conditions to get even small jobs done. The Tribune's focus under the "Citizens and public office" series last year gave us an insight into the shocking state of governance and the response of those who are supposed to serve them.

Leadership does not confer privileges; it entails responsibilities. This message seems to have been lost in today's politics of power. Have our leaders ever bothered to know why even after 53 years of Independence, half of the population should still be living at the country's poverty line or below the poverty line? Why have they not been able to come up on the socio-economic ladder? Why have they to remain illiterate in this age of information technology and enlightenment?

We, of course, legitimately boast of India's emergence as an information technology super power. We have also opened up the economy for investment by multinationals. But the moot question is: have we evolved the right strategy for development? What about our house-keeping? Are we doing what we ought to do for the people whose votes politicians seek periodically?

Our politicians sell dreams of a rosy future. This is their favourite pastime. They first "sell" dreams and then exploit them for self-aggrandisement. They even do not hesitate to exploit the grinding poverty to obtain votes.

Most politicians thrive on the people's ignorance and illiteracy, notwithstanding the boom in the electronic media. What is not being realised is that adding colour to poverty does not make it a glamorous spectacle.

Development cannot be viewed in isolation. It has to be all-embracing. Distorted development is nothing but a new form of colonial exploitation. A grave environment crisis and other reckless acts result in the loss of millions of trees every month. There is an alarming drinking water shortage. Then, no one seems to lose sleep over the fact of growing wasteland through erosion, water-logging and salinity. Who is to blame? The answer is simple. The nexus involving criminals and the ruling clique which is playing havoc in every sphere of life.

The old order is surely changing. But age-old feudalism is giving place to neo-feudalism. New Class "lords" have even perfected the old colonial policy of divide-and-rule into a fine instrument of governance. There is a plethora of laws, decrees and rules which serve a few or the state and impinge on the citizen. Here, the real challenge lies in creating the right infrastructure, cutting down red-tapism and providing the right environment for work and growth.

Small reforms and basic correctives in the system can make a difference. But, in contrast, what we find is that ordinary citizens without the right connections are doubly cursed. Their work does not get done without humouring the patwari, the thanedar or the babu.

Does not the conscience of our leaders prick at the revelation that India ranks third among the world's most corrupt countries? What steps have they taken to erase this?

Globalisation and liberalisation do not mean adopting a liberal attitude to corrupt practices. Liberalisation is a state of the mind. It requires a broad vision, a long-term perspective and the right initiative for development. The trouble with our leaders is that they are guided by ad hocism and isolated thinking. They have become insensitive to the critical question of poverty and development. The gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened. The tumult is but natural as the country is caught up in a revolution of rising expectations and of declining resources.

How do we divide the national cake? Mr Chandrababu Naidu's conclave of Chief Ministers in New Delhi on Monday on the sharing of resources did bring some focus on the problem of finance.

However, the problem is not merely one of equitable distribution of resources, though it remains a major cause of unrest. There are several other facets such as the management of resources, manpower coordination and a correct sense of direction, which cannot be ignored while handling the highly explosive human issue of ensuring a fair share for one and all of the national cake.

The growth thrust has become lopsided simply because the priorities have been politicised. There is, of course, no point in bragging about the green revolution and the white revolution. An unchecked baby boom is swallowing every kilo of grain and pint of milk produced. Are our rulers really concerned about this? Certainly not. Herein lies the nation's tragedy.

Each VIP thinks not of society and the country as a whole. He is self-centred and is virtually obsessed with self-promotion and widening his sphere of influence and cornering more and more wealth. What is disturbing is that every person of influence wants to gain at the cost of the public exchequer! In fact, high principles today have come to mean "quick buck" and "quick fix".

Has anybody ever tried to work out how much money has been tucked away by the VIPs in overseas banks? Mr Swraj Paul, the well-known London-based industrialist, once told me that a survey suggested that a number of five-year Plans could be financed if the wealth hidden overseas by the Indians was unearthed!

The harsh fact is that the rulers neither do their homework nor do they address themselves to the basic problems facing the country. They prefer to live in the world of their own make-believe and are generally unconcerned about the poor and the unprivileged living in slums in sub-human conditions.

How can we apply correctives? How can we improve things? There is nothing like a magic wand which can make the country an honourable member of the 21st century's super-power club.

Not that Indians are not a talented lot. Indian brain is among the most fertile and sharp in the world. A mere look at the Silicon Valley will make us feel proud of the Indians working in the USA and elsewhere. They have made a place for themselves by hard work, dedication and the right application of talent. We must find out why Indians could do so well abroad but not in the land of their birth.

The answer, however, is simple: create proper infrastructure and provide the right environment for work and growth, and then see the difference. In fact, instead of indulging in politicking, factionalism and intrigues, if we learn to work as a team with a positive frame of mind, the country can grow by leaps and bounds in every field of activity.

We cannot have leaders made to order. After all, they are made or unmade by the people. That is the strength of democracy. However, we have to learn to discriminate between a good leader and a bad leader and to go in for the right persons to lead the country. As a nation, we deserve a better set of leaders and a better deal. This is possible if we begin to look beyond the narrow canvas of intrigues and sycophancy.


India and the war for talent
by Rohin Dharma Kumar

COUNTRIES and companies are competing to recruit the right kind of information technology (IT) personnel from Asia, particularly from India. They think the cream of India’s IITs and IIMs are theirs for the asking. While countries like the USA, Germany and Japan are considering visa relaxations, companies are struggling to hire and then retain their best workers. An unprecedented number of incentives, including stock option, in-house kitchen, gyms, valet services, long-term loyalty bonuses, generous pension, free lunch and in-house laundry, are offered to retain them. Getting the right man is difficult. It is even more difficult to retain him. The biggest challenge facing the knowledge economy is the war for talent.

Famous firms like Price Waterhouse, McKinsey and Goldman Sacks have lost many of their best consultants. Companies like Microsoft and Oracle and well-established Internet firms such as Excite find it harder to stop their best leaving. Their losses are the gains of start-ups. Top law firms like Jonathan Axelrad of the Silicon Valley and the executive search firm such as Heidrick & Struggles too are feeling the heat. They persuade MBAs to choose them and are pulling out all stops for that purpose.

Today, knowledge is the real basis for economic growth. Every year about 20,000 students graduate out of our six IITs. Most of them are available to MNCs just for the asking. How can we become one of the world’s economic powers if we do not retain our whiz-kids? They alone can “e-volve” in this “e-world”. Every company in this e-world is competing to put more intelligence into everything it produces. There is a serious shortage of people with ability to execute intelligent ideas. Delhi IIT girl Lavanya has earned the distinction of being among the world’s brightest students.

Indians constitute over 42 per cent of the skilled workforce in the USA. Their presence is everywhere, from the Silicon Valley to the Wall Street. Nearly half of all Indians are professionals, and are the richest foreign-born group in the USA. The flow of IITians to the USA has almost doubled from 10 per cent in 1984-86 to 17 per cent in 1997-99. The estimated need for IT workers for the American IT industry is 3,40,000. Germany is short of 300,000 computer specialists. This can rise to around 400,000 by 2003. Japan plans to hire 10,000 Indian software engineers over the next five years. Put simply, if the needs of these countries were not met, their economy may crash.

Once Western countries considered that Asians were hopelessly devoid of ideas about how to turn things around. Even an Asian like Singapore diplomat Kishore Mahbubani thinks so. His book, “Can Asian Think?”, offers no answer to this question. But he gets the credit for raising this long overdue question which many avoided for fear of its racist appeal. It is time for us to ask why so many Indian minds flourish only after they have gone to the West. Look at the Nobel Prize winners, scientists and entrepreneurs of Indian origin living and working in America.

Our talented people leave the country because the intellectual atmosphere here is stiffling and the established hierarchy respects seniority over brains. This brain drain has to be reversed. This is how the Prime Minister of Singapore described this situation: “If we sit back and do nothing, the West will forge ahead in the Internet economy. Asia meanwhile will lose more and more of our talents to start-up opportunity beckoning in the US.”

Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji in April 1999, invited business school graduates of his country studying in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, to return home. He said China’s greatest need was management expertise. India is a huge exporter of academic and management talent. Is higher education in India hugely subsidised for the Western countries’ sake?

Indian immigrants to the USA not only found jobs but also founded companies in the Silicon Valley. If sales of US software firms went up from $63 billion in 1990 to $141 billion in 1999, Indian entrepreneurs have played a major role. These entrepreneurs and specialists provide proof that India can emerge as a global leader with its vast number of IT professionals. Hi-tech prosperity awaits India provided this country “e-volves” plans to use its vast pool of talented workers — the real passport to hi-tech prosperity.

According to Universities Handbook-97, there are 229 universities in India. The country produces 2,40,000 engineers and managers. Of this, 60,000 are electronics engineers and 55,000 are MBAs produced by around 400 management institutes. This is twice as many as the USA churns out every year. The German media talks of India’s envious ability to generate first-rate IT experts. In spite of such an enviable production of brainy, diligent, innovative and inventive youth, India has so far attracted just under $ 500 million in venture-capital investments. How sad!

In today’s knowledge economy, getting hold of capital is becoming easy. Companies are coming to finance ideas of would-be entrepreneurs. One such company has been set up at a cost of $1 billion by J.P. Morgan to e-finance units and will back promising ideas from inside and outside the firm. “Come to Morgan, learn a skill, understand the markets from within the security of a big institution, and if you come up with a great venturable, incubatable idea, we will fund it rather than the all-or-nothing, bet-your-life-on-one-venture insecurity of going to a start-up”, says Mr Nick Rohatyam of Lab Morgan.

Developed countries are not liberalising their immigration policies out of any genuine love for foreign workers. It is a virtue born out of necessity. As long as America needs brainy workers and immigrants want better life, it will be difficult to stop the exodus. After all, these brains cannot be drained to the gutter. Many of our best minds flourished after they had gone to the West. Let India assure a good life and pay for our best. Otherwise, headhunters will drain out all our best brains. Remember, today it takes only a few powerful ideas to change the shape of a nation’s economy.

The writer, a computer engineer, is an MBA student at the IIM, Calcutta.


West has no answers to our problems
By M. S. N. Menon

FROM Plato’s “Guardian” to Laloo Yadav, it is truly a fall from the sublime to the ridiculous. But how has this come about? The answer is: from an unthinking imitation of the West.

Who should rule over men? asks Plato. The “Guardians”, he says. But they are not easy to find. Hence he put laws above men. “However, high a man may be, the law is above him”, says our Supreme Court.

But we put our men, of success in particular, (why, any successful charlatan!) on a high pedestal — above the laws. Naturally, from such heights, they look down upon the people. The new Brahmins are above the law. Or a law into themselves, which is what turned India into a “functioning anarchy” in the words of Galbraith.

If we are not to trust men and the laws, what shall we trust? We are still groping for an answer. But there is nothing in our texts to help us, for they were borrowed from the West. And the West has not raised this question, for it obeys the laws.

The West is like a doctor. It sought cure for specific maladies. The aim was not a life of health and happiness.

Plato lived at a time of revolting sophistry. So, he prescribed ethics. Machiavelli, the political pragmatist, lived during the most turbulent days of Europe. So he justified every means to quell the turbulence. Principles and morality did not count for much with him. Thomas Hobbes lived during the time of the civil war in England. He hated anarchy, opted for absolute monarchy and asked the people to surrender their power to the state, the Leviathan, in return for protection. The alternative, he said, was a state of nature, which was “nasty, brutish and short.” But absolute monarchies turned into absolute tyrannies.

John Locke was shocked by the arbitrariness of monarchies and aristocracies. He advocated democracy and inspired the French and American revolutions. “All men are created equal”, he proclaimed, and thus abolished distinctions between man and man. Locke went back to the rule of law. Law, he said, is to made by the people — by their representatives.

Little did these philosophers think of human destiny, of a final solution. They believed that history moved in a circle or was static. The idea of progress as a long linear movement began first with Hegel and then with Karl Marx.

But who is to decide the destiny of man? God or men? God, said the Church. Men, said the philosophers, for God was always on the side of monarchies and aristocracies. To Nietzche, God was dead. He said that belief in heaven reduced the dignity and value of human existence. According to him, Christian ethics deprived man of the fullness of life.

Marx was appalled by the havoc caused by the industrial revolution. Naturally, he opposed capitalism, as also God and religion. He saw history as a march towards a Communist society and called the process “dialectical materialism.” And Thomas Paine, the philosopher of the American revolution, saw in religion nothing but support to tyranny. He was reacting to the religious bigotry of his times.

Hegel’s idea that history has meaning and goal gave birth to the great theory of evolution. But is evolution continuous? Is it progressive? It is not. Evolution is marked by ups and downs. History is full of such reverses and advances.

What, then, is the sum of the western experience? Simply this, that these are episodical experiences, reactions to particular situations, (this is true of Marxism too) and they do not constitute a final vision and understanding of society. But the western world would have us believe that it has arrived at the final vision and that democracy is the perfect form of society, that capitalism is the best means for human progress etc. This is mere bunkum. That history is teleological is a modern concept. The philosophers of the past were unfamiliar with it. That is why western political experience can be of no great relevance to us.

But, imagine, it is western political theories, based on western experience, that guided us when we set about putting the life support structures of an independent India! We copied the constitutions of Britain, the USA and France. We simply replicated the British institutions. Did we take our own experience into account? Or, rather, did we know the nature of our own polity and civilisation?

I am afraid we were blissfully unaware of the essentials of our civilisation.

What are the essentials of our civilisation? Our civilisation is based on freedom — freedom to think and say what we believe in. This is its principal characteristic. The same cannot be said of others. This is how India became the home of diverse religions and philosophies and arts. Freedom led to tolerance. This too was absent in other societies. And tolerance led to an immense diversity. (Others did not have this advantage.) And it is this diversity which enriched the Indian civilisation and made it so glorious — the “wonder that was India.”

But this freedom imposes on the Indian an obligation: he cannot say or do anything which will take away this freedom and diversity and, therefore, the richness of our civilisation. No one in this country can say: “I alone am right; follow me.” Such assertions come from bigots. They take away our freedom (to be what we are), our tolerance, our diversity and finally the richness of our civilisation.

Western societies were homogenous. They were mono-cultural. The two-party arrangement and the parliamentary system of government were natural to them. But do they suit us? They do not. Our country is not homogenous. It is multi-cultural. How to govern such a country is not to be sought in the West. It has to be found right here in India.

Mindless application of the divisive parliamentary system led to the fragmentation of our people. Today the Indian polity is the most fragmented in the world. It is divided, as is to be expected, along the fault lines. Every election widens the fault.

The point I want to make is this: we were wrong in copying the framework and institutions of other civilisations. We should go back to our own civilisation for inspiration. And there can be no better principles than freedom, tolerance, diversity, for the efflorescence of life.

In the past over 50 years, we went against the spirit of our civilisation. In a country of diversity, we sought centralisation. We spurned decentralisation of power and panchayats. And although the Congress, the major party, was an umbrella for diverse interest groups, its leaders did not know how to meet the expectations of all. So, one by one, they left the Congress. But only to be disappointed, for politics is a game of numbers. So they are back under a new umbrella — this time of the BJP.

But, is coalition politics the final stage of our political evolution? It is — at least in form. Our Prime Minister calls it the “new Dharma.” Coalition reflects our diversity, freedom and the federal spirit. What is more, it meets social justice.

But, remember, this is an experiment. It is in infancy. We have not given any thought to it. It must grow and mature. In the meantime freedom, tolerance, diversity, richness should be the touchstone for every question. Does anything promote these achievements? That is the test.



The difficulty ... is not to avoid death, but to avoid unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death.

Socrates; Plato, Apology


May this life enter into the immortal breath;

then may this body end in ashes.

Remember, O my mind, the deeds of the past,

remember the deeds, remember the deeds!

Isha Upanishad, 17


When a person here is deceasing, my dear, his voice goes into his mind; his mind into his breath; his breath into heat; the heat into the highest Divinity.

Chhandogya Upanishad, VI. 8.6


No soul knoweth what it will earn tomorrow and no soul knoweth in what land it will die. Lo! Allah is knower, Aware.

The Quran, Surah XXXI, 34


... for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return

The Holy Bible: Genesis. 3.19


The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

The Holy Bible, Job, 1, 21


What is death? Either a transition or an end. I am not afraid of coming to an end, this being the same as never having begun, nor of transition, for I shall never be in confinement quite so cramped anywhere else as I am here.

Seneca, Letters to Lucilius


In the midst of life we are in death; of whom may we week for succour, but of the thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased?

Book of Common Prayer


The death ... of the soul takes place when God forsakes it, as the death of the body when the soul forsakes it.

St. Augustine, City of God, XIII. 2

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