Monday, September 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Better Indo-US relations
HE last lingering Pokhran effect has disappeared from Indo-US ties, which have lifted to a new level. 

Victory for poll panel
hough the Election Commission has failed to secure the expected consensus regarding its viewpoint on the question of enforcement of the model code of conduct, it has scored a clear victory with most of the political parties, including the BJP. 


Reforming the Security Council
Confidence-building as a prerequisite
by Satyabrata Rai Chowdhuri
N a report containing his recommendations for the world leaders when they gathered in New York on September 6 for the historic three-day Millennium Summit, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the Security Council, the key organ of the UN.


South scrambles for share in IT cake
September 17, 2000
Finance Commission report
September 16, 2000
Revolution in military affairs
September 15, 2000
A Revolution at the crossroads
September 14, 2000
His master’s choice
September 13, 2000
New York is not Nagpur
September 12, 2000
A bunch of pious hopes
September 11, 2000
The state: protector turns pleader
September 10, 2000
Procurement date
September 9, 2000
Calling USA on the cheap
September 8, 2000

Lightening the African debt burden
by Hari Sharan Chhabra

t the recently concluded United Nations Millennium Summit, leaders of all Third World countries took a pledge to protect their people from misery and develop an agenda that would get rid of poverty, disease and ignorance. 


by Anupam Gupta
Pray, why this loud prayer?
RELIGION and noise pollution. A sensitive, if not startling, subject for a legal discourse. With a rather uncomfortable potential for generating misunderstanding.


by Humra Quraishi
From parties to films to Press meets
here’s been so much happening here, every evening...right from parties, to films to Press-meets, to meeting the who’s who (though I think it’s time we change the who’s who list, for the same names make one giddy).




Better Indo-US relations

THE last lingering Pokhran effect has disappeared from Indo-US ties, which have lifted to a new level. This is the central theme of the joint statement issued at the end of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to Washington. The USA has travelled far to shed its deep suspicion of this country and end its tilt towards Pakistan. Clearly India has acquired the status of a regional power, competing with China for a role in South and South-East Asia. This is reflected in the changed perception of the host country of the Kashmir issue. It has given up its insistence on pushing India to resume unconditional talks with Pakistan. It has now set three conditions: the Kashmir dispute is bilateral and does not brook third-party mediation, the climate must be congenial (meaning it is not now) and, finally, Pakistan should scale down the level of violence in the state (this is close to describing it as a terrorism-exporting country). All this marks a sharp improvement in bilateral ties and stem from several favourable factors. President Clinton has permanently banished the Cold War mindset which looked at this country with considerable misgiving. The new worldwide tide in favour of democracies has also helped. India’s opening up the economy has enthused the free-market warriors in the USA, forcing the administration to put an end to its original ideological prejudice. This country’s status as an emerging information technology super power has demolished the final barrier to normal relations. Each one of these is a powerful force by itself and collectively they have helped in shifting the equation to a higher stage. As one commentator has noted, just over two years ago, India was in the dog house after the government headed by the “Hindu nationalist party” set off the Pokhran blasts, mocking at the US efforts at nonproliferation. Now there is only a passing reference to India’s plans to deploy nuclear-tipped missiles. The world has indeed changed.

Another major gain is putting cooperation in an institutional frame. This will take the job of nurturing the relations from individuals to the government machinery. It is also noteworthy that both presidential candidates in the USA have pledged to follow the Clinton line on India. Front-runner Al Gore, Vice-President now, lavished praise on Mr Vajpayee and his poetry, somewhat incongruously. But he made his point. When this country signs the CTBT, as it is most likely to, the last irritant will go and economic relations will gather momentum. That will be the real and meaningful link. In the post-Cold War era, politics and strategic alliance have no place; countries come together or drift apart with their mind full of dollars. In a few more years India will have an environment conducive for the capitalist model of growth and entrepreneurs more confident of their products and better versed in the western ways of doing business. In other words, this country will be ready to develop stripes and become an Asian cub if not a tiger. And Americans have a pronounced weakness for Asian “tigers”. The Prime Minister added to the hype generated by his visit by projecting a growth rate of 9 per cent. On present indications, it is much too ambitious and impossible to achieve. Even the present rate of 6 per cent or thereabouts is attractive enough to enthuse prospective investors. Integration with world capitalism demands extraordinary discipline and that is the next major task before the government and the nation. One last thought though. President Clinton wanted to achieve two things: to broker a West Asian peace accord and force a pact in South Asia. He has been frustrated on both counts. But he has done the third best thing. He has warmed up the ice-cold relations with India. Well done! Top


Victory for poll panel

Though the Election Commission has failed to secure the expected consensus regarding its viewpoint on the question of enforcement of the model code of conduct, it has scored a clear victory with most of the political parties, including the BJP, agreeing that the date of announcement of the election schedule was the right time for the code to come into force. In fact, it is a triumph of public morality over the ruling politicians' propensity to misuse the tax-payers' money to secure votes in a brazen manner. The BJP has given its nod with the rider that the time gap between the announcement and the issuance of the notification for holding an election should not be less than 15 days, even so its expression of support for the commission's move is highly significant in view of the fact that the saffron party leads the coalition government at the Centre. The reason is that Saturday's all-party meeting held at the instance of the commission may lead to the withdrawal of the petition in the Supreme Court which the National Democratic Alliance government had filed, challenging the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court upholding the position of the Election Commission that the model code of conduct must come into force with the announcement of the poll schedule. This means that at a time when five states are going to the polls to elect their assembly early next year, the commission will be able to have its way without much difficulty.

The issue of enforcement of the commission's model code is part of the reforms the Chief Election Commissioner, Dr M.S. Gill, has been pleading for in the conduct of elections. For the past three years, he has been seeking the attention of the Prime Minister and others concerned to make the elections more meaningful, but without success. In November last year, he wrote a letter to Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, besides many previous missives, pointing out that there were at least 10 major problems which must be attended to to provide more strength to the system of democracy the country has opted for. But his request has failed to evoke a satisfactory response from the PMO. His proposals—which included those relating to the model code of conduct, the Election Commission's composition and constitutional protection to all members of the commission—if accepted, could have transmitted the right signals to the political parties to prepare themselves to behave in a more responsible manner to ensure that Indian democracy continued to progress on healthy lines. However, with the support of the majority of the eight national and 31 regional parties which participated in Saturday's meeting on the issue of the model code of conduct, the commission can continue its crusade for electoral reforms. It should try to see to it that the period between the poll announcement and its notification should be reduced to the bare minimum—even the gap of 15 days as demanded by the BJP appears too long. Only then can all political parties be provided a level playing field. After all, how can an election be described as being 100 per cent fair when the group of parties in power (as single-party rule has nearly become a thing of the past) is allowed abundant time and avenues to influence the voters' decision by showering largesse on them? Of course, absolute fairness is unthinkable under the circumstances, but there are ways to make elections reasonably fair. One way is minimising the advantages the ruling politicians have over those in the opposition. Top


Reforming the Security Council
Confidence-building as a prerequisite
by Satyabrata Rai Chowdhuri

IN a report containing his recommendations for the world leaders when they gathered in New York on September 6 for the historic three-day Millennium Summit, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the Security Council, the key organ of the UN, needed to be reformed, for it did no longer reflect the ground realities of the post-Cold War world and the new equations of power in international relations. If the Security Council is reformed, he added, it would help the UN in gaining greater legitimacy in the eyes of all the world’s peoples. “But the question is going to be how to structurally do that without creating more gridlock,” he pointed out.

It is indeed a fact that of all the organs of the United Nations, none has shown a greater discrepancy between promise and performance than the Security Council. This is due to the fact that the Council is not an accurate reflection of the UN membership, nor even an accurate reflection of the current distribution of power among the member-States. This undermines the legitimacy of its decisions. Therefore, perhaps the strongest argument for its reform is that any change which better reflects the political realities of 2000 rather than 1945 will enhance the legitimacy of the Council’s decisions.

Demands for the reform of the Council have been countered in recent years with two key arguments. First, it has been argued that the composition of the Council is, and should continue to be, linked to the ability to exercise international responsibilities. Permanent membership of the Council was predicated on the assumption that the strength of the present five states both permitted and obliged them to accept special responsibility ensuring the maintenance of international peace and security.

Second, it has been argued that the UN is now working far more effectively than ever before. Council debates are no longer characterised by the familiar Cold War polemics, and it is taking decisions and authorising UN operations on an unprecedented scale. The veto, used about 200 times between 1946 and 1990, has been used only once in the past 10 years.

However, it must not be forgotten that the history of the Security Council has shown that its permanent members act not in pursuit of the ideas and aspirations set out in the UN Charter but in pursuit of their respective national interests. Where such interests coincide with the wider interests of other Council members and perhaps even the international community as a whole, the Council will prove able to take decisions and authorise UN action. Thus the effectiveness of the Council rests not on the commitment of its members to international peace and security per se but on the extent to which the interests of member-States, and in particular of the permanent members, coincide.

Therefore, successful reform of the Council — where successful describes reform which would not seriously damage the ability of the Council to take decisions or, in the current climate of permanent member consensus, encourage the repeated use of the veto power again — should be possible if the interests of the new members are not in direct conflict with the interests of the remaining permanent members.

Moreover, if the members of the Council are indeed cooperating with one another to an unprecedented degree, then this only serves to strengthen arguments to making reforms now. Cooperation is essential if successful reform is to be achieved. To wait for cooperation in the Council to decline before seeking to institute change is asking for failure.

The lobby for reform among UN members is a strong one, and is growing stronger. Supporters of reform argue that it would enhance the legitimacy of the Council; defenders of the status quo argue that change would undermine its authority. However, the arguments against reform cannot be sustained in the long term. A reformed Council might be less effective than the existing one, but this would depend as much on the political will of the Council’s members as on the nature of any reform. What is clear is that any reform must be carefully engineered to ensure that it does not bring with it a reversion of the stalemate of the 1960s by destroying permanent consensus and promoting a retreat to the frequent use of the veto power, but ensure its effectiveness while enhancing its legitimacy.

There are a number of possible ways in which the Security Council can be reformed. Proposals for reform fall into five broad categories: the abolition of the veto power; the introduction of a two-tier structure of permanent membership; amendment of the Charter to allow immediate re-election of non-permanent members; the addition of new permanent members, possibly with reformed voting arrangements; and the redistribution of the existing permanent seats.

The veto power, which reinforces the anachronistic nature of the Council by ensuring that no decision can be taken against the wishes of the permanent members, has drawn criticism since the earliest days of the UN. Its abolition could conceivably contribute to the effectiveness of the Council by ensuring that no permanent member could block a decision supported by the other members of the Council.

The second kind of reform which might be implemented is the introduction of a two-tier structure of permanent membership with the existing permanent members retaining the use of the veto power but with a second group of permanent members without a veto being created. Perhaps the greatest difficulty with this proposal is that it would exacerbate international and regional tensions by establishing a further hierarchy of states among the UN membership. This would serve to reinforce the existing anomaly of permanent membership for countries such as Britain and France while enforcing arbitrary decisions about which other regional countries are important enough to deserve a permanent seat and yet which do not deserve to be accorded the same status as the current permanent members. Nevertheless, several aspirants to permanent seats have indicated that permanent membership of the Council without the veto power is an option that they are ready to consider.

Allowing immediate re-election to the Council for non-permanent members could have the effect of introducing a form of de facto permanent membership with the veto power for particular regional powers. One advantage of this reform would be that the alteration of the UN Charter required in order to implement it would be minimal; amendments are needed only for the removal of the last sentence in Article 23 (2) that stipulates that retiring non-permanent members may not stand for immediate re-election.

The Security Council could also be enlarged through the addition of one or more new permanent members, perhaps combined with the introduction of alternative voting procedures. However, it is not entirely clear which States would be given permanent seats in an enlarged Council. Japan is widely regarded as having the strongest case by virtue of both its international economic importance and its significant financial contributions to the UN budgets. However, the Japanese case is complicated by Germany’s claim to a permanent seat alongside it. India is also a contender to be reckoned with. A number of important countries, including the USA, Russia, Britain and France, have also supported New Delhi’s case. During Indian President K.R. Narayanan’s recent visit to France, President Jacques Chirac said at a banquet hosted in honour of Mr Narayanan: “India is naturally destined to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. France supports and will support your candidature.” He added that the perspective of India becoming a permanent member of the Security Council “gives full meaning to our common determination to contribute to the construction of a harmonious multipolar world.”

Redistribution of the existing permanent seats would involve the removal of one or more of the existing permanent members and their replacement by new candidates. The obvious candidates for removal from the Council are Britain and France; neither State can claim to be a top-ranking world power either in economic or military terms and both have contributed to a perceived Western bias in the Council. However, neither Britain nor France would give up its seat on the Council to Germany and neither would accept its own removal and replacement by Japan without the simultaneous removal of the other.

Perhaps, the most crucial prerequisite to the reform of the Council is confidence-building. All those involved in negotiating and implementing a change will need to bear in mind that the United Nations will be no less and can be no better than its membership makes it in the context of its time.

The writer, a former Professor and Head, Department of Political Science, Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta, is Emeritus Fellow, UGC.Top


Lightening the African debt burden
by Hari Sharan Chhabra

At the recently concluded United Nations Millennium Summit, leaders of all Third World countries took a pledge to protect their people from misery and develop an agenda that would get rid of poverty, disease and ignorance. At the same time, countries of the developing world appealed to the rich developed nations to move faster in providing them relief from external debt. The President of Nigeria, Mr Olusegrin Obasanjo, presented to the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, a petition signed by some 21 million people urging G-8 nations to cancel global debt.

The African countries presented a special case for immediate relief from debt. After all, among the 40-odd heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC), 32 are from the African continent who are clamouring for debt reduction. Mozambique, Uganda, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Benin, Mali, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau are some of the African countries that find the debt burden unbearable.

The HIPC initiative was started by members of the 19-member Paris Club in 1996 when the bilateral creditors agreed to write off a major portion of each country’s debt on humanitarian grounds. The initiative was taken because most countries had become defaulters and were in no position to pay even the interest, what to talk of the principal amount.

A country’s debt was considered “sustainable” at 200-240 per cent of exports or 280 per cent of fiscal revenue. Some more regulations have had to be followed. In most cases, debt would have been reduced only after six years.

First, the debt-ridden countries had to implement structural adjustment policies (austerity measures, devaluation, privatisation, march towards democracy, etc) for three years to reach a “decision point” when creditors approved the amount of debt that would be reduced at the completion of the of the process. To reach completion point, a country had to sustain the reforms (SAP) for a further three years.

The Paris Club has been keen that all savings from debt relief are spent on poverty reduction. It does not want the debt-ridden countries to get involved in conflict situations and is strongly opposed to any increase in their defence expenditure. The savings from debt reduction must go towards programmes of poverty reduction and eventual eradication, insists the Paris Club.

The Paris Club, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund frown upon the three African countries — Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia — which are involved in conflict situations. That is why debt relief to these countries has been delayed.

Uganda was the first country to qualify under the HIPC programme. But since it is involved along with Rwanda in the civil war in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, some creditors this May postponed further debt reduction for both of them. Creditors are seriously worried about Ugandan and Rwandan involvement in the conflict. The Paris Club is not at all worried about the criticism from debt lobbyists. It believes that withholding debt relief would force Uganda and Rwanda to stop fighting. It fears that any escalation of the conflict could compel the two countries to spend more on defence expenditure and put debt relief savings at risk. A Paris Club spokesman has said: “We do not want to fuel armed conflicts.”

In the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia was one of the first countries to be considered for an HIPC deal way back in 1996, but its debt reduction programme is in jeopardy, because of its ongoing conflict and war with neighbouring Eritrea.

Mozambique has had 1.7 billion dollars waived under HIPC in June, 1999. It further received 254 million dollar in April, 2000. Tanzania is another fortunate country in Africa. This April creditors announced plans to write off two billion dollars, the largest deal so far. This has reduced the country’s debt by 40 per cent.

Some African countries like Mali and Burkina Faso have fallen behind schedule in debt relief because they have not followed the necessary reforms and have delayed their programmes of poverty eradication.

While the HIPC initiative is following its course, the Paris Club has come out with HIPC-2, which is also called the enhanced initiative. This has lowered the sustainability ratio to 150 per cent of exports and 250 per cent of fiscal revenue. This initiative has also strengthened links between debt relief and poverty reduction. The enhanced plan requires countries to implement reforms for three years and to draw up democratically agreed poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSP) before reaching decision point.

It is noteworthy that debtors can now reach completion once they have implemented PRSPs and other specific macroeconomic policies for at least a year.

Thus in theory the fastest reformers should have their debt reduced more quickly than before. HIPC-2 also requires creditors to provide interim relief by reducing debt service (payment of the principal and interest) between decision and completion.

In conclusion, one may say that the Paris Club’s latest initiative, the HIPC-2, provides for deeper relief and should make more countries eligible for debt reduction. Top


Pray, why this loud prayer?
by Anupam Gupta

RELIGION and noise pollution. A sensitive, if not startling, subject for a legal discourse. With a rather uncomfortable potential for generating misunderstanding. Anywhere and everywhere but especially in the country we dwell in, replete with religious stirrings and not-so-religious intrusions of all kinds and at all times. Away from the public glare, however, and pushed to the background by the dramatics of the Veerappan case, the Supreme Court addressed the issue last month with not inconsiderable firmness.

The question involved in this appeal, said the court on August 30, deciding an appeal by a Chennai Pentecostal Church and speaking through Justices M.B. Shah and S.N. Phukan, is whether in a “country having multiple religions and numerous communities or sects, a particular community or sect of that community can claim a right to add to noise pollution on the ground of religion?”

That is putting it rather plainly, I would think, but the apex Bench chooses to make it plainer still to leave no one in doubt. “Whether beating of drums (it asks) or reciting of prayers by use of microphones or loudspeakers so as to disturb the peace or tranquillity of the neighbourhood should be permitted?”

That conjures up images of a common, almost daily, experience in the Indian setting. The question is posed generally, without reference to any particular community, minority or majority, despite the happenstance of a Church being the petitioner before the court. Nor, given the secular character of the Indian Constitution and its guarantee of equal protection of the laws, could it be otherwise even though the court does not, as it ought to have, say so explicitly.

“(N)o religion prescribes,” holds the court, answering its own question, “that prayers should be performed by disturbing the peace of others nor does it preach that they should be (performed) through voice-amplifiers or beating of drums.”

“In our view (it continues), in a civilised society in the name of religion, activities which disturb old or infirm persons, students or children having their sleep in the early hours or during the daytime, or other persons carrying on their activities, cannot be permitted.”

One of the most striking developments in independent India, US Prof Marc Galanter, a noted expert on Indian law, wrote way back in 1971, is the successful emergence of an avowedly secular state encompassing the bulk of the world’s Hindus. There is disagreement, however (he said), about what this secular state implies — whether it implies (1) a severe aloofness from religion, (2) a benign impartiality toward religion, (3) a corrective oversight of it, or (4) a fond and equal indulgence of all religions.

Three decades later, Galanter’s appraisal of the success of Indian/Hindu secularism may sound highly optimistic, especially when judged in the light of the recent spate of attacks on Christians all over the country.

There cannot be any doubt, however, that of the four categories enumerated by Galanter, now Evjue-Bascom Professor of Law and South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin, the August 30 verdict of the Supreme Court, adjudging religious noise by the standards of noise pollution, falls outside categories (2) and (4) and within categories (1) and (3) of the meanings or implications of secularism.

The verdict reflects, in other words, neither fond indulgence of, nor even “benign” impartiality toward, religion, but a sharply corrective oversight of it. Something that was possible only if the court kept severely aloof from the activity sought to be reformed or circumscribed.

“It should not be forgotten,” Justice Shah, writing for the Bench, adds, “that young babies in the neighbourhood are also entitled to enjoy their natural right of sleeping in a peaceful atmosphere (untroubled by religious microphones and drums). A student preparing for his examination is entitled to concentrate on his studies without there being any unnecessary disturbance by the neighbours. Similarly, (the) old and infirm are entitled to enjoy reasonable quietness during their leisure hours without there being any nuisance of noise pollution. Aged, sick people afflicted with psychic disturbances as well as children upto six years of age are considered very sensible to noise. Their rights are also required to be honoured.”

These are clear, strong and comprehensive words, amounting to a charter of public rights evolved by the Supreme Court against intrusion by religious noise.

It can no longer be doubted, the court’s American counterpart, the US Supreme Court ruled in 1989 in Ward vs Rock Against Racism, in a slightly different context, that government has a substantial interest in protecting its citizens from “unwelcome noise”.

This interest, it held, is perhaps at its greatest when government seeks to protect the well-being, tranquillity, and privacy of the home, but it is by no means limited to that context, for the government may act to protect even such traditional public forums as city streets and parks from excessive noises. A city enjoys (it said) a substantial interest in ensuring the ability of its citizens to enjoy whatever benefits the city parks have to offer, from “amplified music to silent meditation.”

The August 30 verdict lacks the intellectual spark and rigour of the American judgement nor does it deal directly with non-religious noise in public places. But its accomplishment in carving out an individual’s right to silence, or silent meditation, in the face of organised cacophony stands out no less.Top


From parties to films to Press meets
by Humra Quraishi

There’s been so much happening here, every evening...right from parties, to films to Press-meets, to meeting the who’s who (though I think it’s time we change the who’s who list, for the same names make one giddy). Let’s start from last Monday when the Ministry of External Affairs hosted a dinner in honour of the filmmakers, directors and producers participating in the Asian Film Festival. It was a perfect evening, though for some reason (could be the language problem) most of the foreign filmmakers kept to themselves and there were none from the Indian side, with the sole exception of Kalpana Lajmi. No, none from any of our cinema centres (Mumbai, Madras or Calcutta) and though that very evening several of the filmstars (Naseeruddin Shah etc, shooting for Mira Nair’s film) were in town but one was told they were so caught up in the shooting that they couldn’t spare time. And then, as one waited for the host — Ajit Kumar Panja, Minister of State for External Affairs — there was no sign of him and the party began without him. Since I was sitting on the same table as Kalpana Lajmi, soon we began talking and she spoke of her forthcoming film ‘Daman’ on domestic violence. Intelligent that she is, Lajmi has stretched the theme to beyond the

physical and centred it around the mental tortures the woman has to go through in an unhappy marriage. “Even when the man slaps the woman it all starts in his mind and then it turns into action.... and this situation of violence is rising in the so-called educated homes... thankfully women have begun to talk about their poor marriages and also the fact that because of economic factors most of them are trapped in that unhappiness.”

Prominent faces to be spotted that evening were of Bhupen Hazarika, Aruna and Uma Vasudev, Satish and Kiran Gujral, Uma Sharma, Sharon Lown, the acting Ambassador of Sri Lanka, the new Ambassador of France together with several diplomats from his Embassy, the Ambassador of Netherlands, the Ambassador of Turkey together with his deputy, plus the entire team from the ICCR — Himachal Som, Divyabh Manchanda and several others.

Then, Khushwant Singh hosted a cosy do at his home for Lord Swraj Paul. The best aspect about Khushwant’s get-togethers is that they start right on time and end within an hour. This one, for instance, began at 7 pm sharp and ended at five minutes to eight o’clock. In fact, Swraj Paul got up all too suddenly and jokingly quipped “in this house there is a two-minute dividing time!” (Presumably the dividing time between when you leave or else are then asked to leave). And it is this respect for time that perhaps is the prime factor for Khushwant managing to write yet another novel — this time revolving around superstitions and how an Indian’s life revolves around them. Before you accuse me on concentrating only on him let me fit in the other details. Paul looked much younger than his 69 years and has a certain softness on his face-which is rarely to be seen on the faces of other hardcore businessmen. (This could also be because he is very happily married and is a thorough family man). And he spoke on how well the Indians are doing in the European countries : “India is known by the Indians there and not by its Embassy people “, how this country will definitely become a super power, the great demand for Indian IT (Information Technology) professionals in the UK and Germany. And Paul refused to call this another of these brain-drain waves Correct, for if we do not value talent here then obviously the talent cannot sit back hunchbacked and starving.

The guest list at Khushwant’s do included Bubbles Charanjit Singh (lovely looking lady with soulful eyes, who owns the Le Meridien hotel), Kaamna Prasad, Mrs Manmohan Singh, Prabha Chandran, Uma Nair and a couple of Rahul Singh’s friends which included a former Miss India Maureen.

And though I was not invited to meet the Microsoft man Bill Gates (thankfully, for I haven’t really graduated or say moved beyond the emailing stage) but colleagues who did get a chance to cover his tour here, said he was disappointed that he couldn’t meet the Prime Minister. In fact, reliable sources point out that though the NASSCOM man Dewang Mehta had to also go to the USA, but finally stayed back to welcome Gates. Before we move on another little piece of information on Gates — in spite of his obsession with software and all that it involves, Gates is a family man. Here he was accompanied by wife Melinda and though I am not sure whether the couple’s two children (one and three years old) also came along, but the word going around is that he spends a lot of time with the family.Top



If, whether for his own sake, or for the sake of others, a man wishes neither for a son, nor for wealth nor for Lordship, and if he does not wish for his own success by unfair means, then he is good, wise and virtuous.
— The Dhammapada, Chapter VI, 76-77, 80-84


When the fountain has gone up it comes down.
— A Persian proverb


Luck never made a man wise.
— Seneca, Letters to Lucilius


Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.
— The Holy Bible, Acts, 20:35


When I give I give myself.
— Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 40


Thou shalt confess the vain pursuit

of human glory yields no fruit

But an untimely grave.
— Thomas Carew, On the Duke of Buckingham, poems.


What are the signs by which we can recognise a person in whom the psychic is awake?

We can only speak of the external signs and they are: Absence of egoism; neither in thought nor in speech nor in action does such a person show ill-will towards anyone. Sweetness, benevolence and joy flow from him constantly. In his presence one feels elevated, purified, cheerful, fulfilled; devotion and godly movements gather momentum.
— M. P. Pandit, More on Tantras; Some Questions


Never retaliate against any man,

Even if he curses or harms you.

May you invoke the blessings of God

On him by your prayers.
— Rig Veda, 1.141.8


He who has seen God finds that God alone has become the world and all its living beings; it is He who has become all. Such a person is called a superior devotee.
— The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, XXXV

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