Friday, September 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


One more “patent” victory
HERE is good news for the Indian farmers, specially those in the business of growing export quality Basmati rice. RiceTec Inc, a Texas-based company, had obtained a US-patent for "Basmati rice lines and grains". The Government of India challenged the claim through the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. 

The Prague protestors
INANCE Minister Yashwant Sinha is getting angry and intolerant. The just concluded World Bank-IMF conference had a taste of it when he went out of his way to dub mostly peaceful protestors as a “bunch of hoodlums”. A very harsh criticism this, particularly when high-profile international economic and trade jamborees invariably attract noisy demonstrations by assorted groups. 

Frankly Speaking

by Hari Jaisingh
India’s security concerns
US response vital for a new order

AVING declared India as America's "natural ally" in today's unipolar world, New Delhi needs to evolve a fresh strategy for its main security concerns (nuclear-proliferation included) and other problems it is faced with vis-a-vis Pakistan and China and their collaborators.


End of Olympic road
September 28, 2000
Putin as Russian President
September 27, 2000
Hapless growers
September 26, 2000
Between India & USA
September 25, 2000
Problems of plenty hurt farmers’ interest
September 24, 2000
India quits Sierra Leone
September 23, 2000
Vajpayee's U.S. Yatra
September 22, 2000
Beyond Malleswari’s
September 21, 2000
Pakistan under attack!
September 20, 2000
Not by disinvestment alone
September 19, 2000


by I. M. Soni
LOB is an Irish word that originally meant mire or ooze but almost a century ago took on its present meaning: a clumsy or dull slovenly person one whose personality or appearance is often offensive.


Myanmar: India’s unjustifiable silence
by Arvind Bhandari
NDIA’S impassive attitude towards the goings-on in Myanmar once again brings to the fore a vexed issue of international diplomacy. How far should a country remain, in the name of non-interference, a silent spectator to wrongdoing in another country, especially when it happens to be an immediate neighbour?


Some reflections on Putin’s India visit 
By M.S.N. Menon
LADIMIR Putin, the Russian President, will be here in a few days. Are we ready to receive him? We are not. We are confused. After Vajpayee’s American visit and its positive signals, we are not sure how to fit Russia into our global outlook. And yet Russia is far more important for us.




One more “patent” victory

THERE is good news for the Indian farmers, specially those in the business of growing export quality Basmati rice. RiceTec Inc, a Texas-based company, had obtained a US-patent for "Basmati rice lines and grains". The Government of India challenged the claim through the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). The authority produced clinching evidence for establishing the Indianess of the variety of rice which is popular all over the world for its large grains and appetite-building aroma. After a prolonged legal battle RiceTec was forced to withdraw its bogus claim which had adversely affected the export of Basmati. Before the US firm created a false scare in India the country was exporting over 600,000 tonnes of the premium quality rice per year valued at about Rs 1,700 crore. Now that the issue has been settled in favour of India and RiceTec has withdrawn its claim the export of Basmati may come out of its current phase of sluggishness. It is a second major victory for India in the "patents war" ever since it introduced economic reforms without putting up fences and hedges for protecting its territory from being encroached upon by global market sharks. Three years ago the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research [CSIR] had successfully challenged the patent for turmeric obtained by another US firm. The US Patent and Trademark Office accepted the evidence produced by India as correct. Subsequently, the patent it had granted to the American firm for the use of turmeric powder as a wound-healing agent was cancelled. The cancellation of the turmeric patent and the withdrawal of RiceTec's claim over Basmati are significant developments. The turmeric patent was, perhaps, the first case of "poaching" of the traditional knowledge base of a developing country being successfully challenged.

The Basmati victory too should help remove fears of India's helplessness in preventing bio-piracy and illegal appropriation by other countries of the inventions and practices which have their roots in ancient wisdom and knowledge. However, for protecting the traditional knowledge base from potential poachers in the global village India would have to think in terms of drawing up a comprehensive inventory. Without such an inventory it would be difficult to protect the millions of varieties of flora and fauna, which have been in use for centuries as food, medicine and tonic, from illegal claims. Each plant and herb would need to be identified and duly patented for avoiding legal disputes with the free market sharks. Basmati and turmeric were not the only Indian entities for which patents were taken out in the USA. The rights for the medicinal use of the ubiquitous Indian Neem plant have been as much a matter of dispute between India and the European Union as rice and "haldi". In May the EU finally accepted India's claim and surrendered its patent on a Neem-based insecticide. However, the larger war for reclaiming India's exclusive right to commercial exploitation of Neem products is still being fought in the USA, Canada and Japan. The USA alone has awarded 59 patents to Neem-based products. It is evident that neither APEDA nor the CSIR can be expected to effectively fight the bio-pirates in a war for which the rules are unclear. India should press the global community for the adoption of a rational and practical policy for combating the menace of bio-piracy. Setting up of a global patenting authority could be one option for dealing with the problem which the globalisation of the economy has created.


The Prague protestors

FINANCE Minister Yashwant Sinha is getting angry and intolerant. The just concluded World Bank-IMF conference had a taste of it when he went out of his way to dub mostly peaceful protestors as a “bunch of hoodlums”. A very harsh criticism this, particularly when high-profile international economic and trade jamborees invariably attract noisy demonstrations by assorted groups. It was so in Britain two years ago when the European Union held a summit meeting and over 40,000 men and women from all over the continent collected to demand immediate waiving of all western loans to very poor countries. A conference convened by the OECD (a larger club of rich nations) at Bologna in Italy on small enterprises again last year, had its quota of agitators, decrying globalisation and forced free trade. Most of them were young and blamed their countries for upholding the profit interests of big companies. The Seattle meeting of the WTO and how tens of thousands of protestors repeatedly clashed with the police and nearly scuttled it in November last is recent history. Alarmed at the growing hostility of a variety of people, the super-rich G-8 chose an island, Okinawa in Japan, to hold its annual summit in July last. One observer wryly remarked that the only safe venue in future would be an aircraft carrier! Now the drama was played out at Prague, where more than 1200 delegates had converged for the once-in-three-years Fund-Bank meeting. For Mr Sinha the agitators might have looked like anarchists bent on disturbing a solemn occasion dedicated to the niceties of the global high finance. But World Bank president James Wolfensohn was more receptive. “These people are raising legitimate questions,” he said, underplaying the scale of violence. It is possible that the Finance Minister saw in the peaceful demonstrators his own tormentors from the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. He reminded the meeting of this country’s Gandhian pedigree and heritage, whose soul is mass agitation.

Who are these motivated groups and what they are against? In Prague they were mostly trade union activists, a sprinkling of communists and political workers. In Seattle liberals formed the vast majority. And they have amazing, almost bewildering, goals, from environmental protection, a sharper attack on world poverty, curbs on free trade and a check on globalisation and what have you. There are some gay groups, women libbers and student factions in this astonishing coalition. Two unrelated ideals unite them and energise their movement. One is the ravages of globalisation and the resultant destruction of environment in the Third World. The World Bank, IMF and the WTO are seen as servile instruments of the marauding multinational companies and the rich countries. The South-East and East Asian crisis of 1997 is blamed on these policies and institutions. The critics are not impressed by the incessant talk of strengthening democracy; the Fund and the Bank have a black record of aiding and abetting dictators in the past. The second “inspiration” is the daily picture of utter poverty that television carries to every home in the West. These are deeply disturbing and as citizens of rich countries they tend to hold their governments responsible. But the biggest change is the collapse of the Soviet Union. Attacking the West does not carry a ideological stigma any more and these men and women have merely occupied the space the Soviet Union had vacated. These protestors are in effect fighting the battle of the Third World and deserve praise for descending on Prague in large numbers, over 5000, despite the extreme steps taken by the Czech Republic. No Mr Sinha, they may “a bunch” but they are certainly not “hoodlums”.


India’s security concerns
US response vital for a new order
by Hari Jaisingh

HAVING declared India as America's "natural ally" in today's unipolar world, New Delhi needs to evolve a fresh strategy for its main security concerns (nuclear-proliferation included) and other problems it is faced with vis-a-vis Pakistan and China and their collaborators.

The world can no longer be seen on a piecemeal basis and in isolation. Globalisation is a fact of life, both in terms of economics and politics. Even terrorism is globalised. Pakistan-sponsored terrorism is, therefore, not limited to the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. It has already acquired sinister dimensions, especially its Taliban variety. The USA and other democratic societies are as much threatened by it as is India's secular polity.

Have New Delhi and Washington worked out a concrete plan of action to meet the threat posed by the Islamic fundamentalism of the Pakistan-Afghanistan variety, the battlecry of jehad and its operational arm of terrorism? The joint statement issued by President Clinton and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee does suggest a few follow-up steps, but they are not good enough to meet new threat perceptions emanating from across the border.

Both India and the USA must think and act in concrete terms, individually as well as jointly. The onus is, of course, on Indian leaders to take the lead since the country has been bearing the brunt of trans-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and beyond.

The old equations have surely changed. But new equations remain to be evolved amidst new strategic challenges facing India. For this purpose, New Delhi must have its own dynamic security logic which should be broad-based and not be country and programme specific.

India's problem areas are manifold and they mainly emanate from Pakistan. Islamabad has been playing the Kashmir card operationally along the LoC as well as at international fora. New Delhi is obviously paying for its past follies and policy blunders committed by its leaders at different times in different situations right from 1948. Well, that is a part of history.

The Kashmir issue has now got complicated because of Islamabad's new dangerous game of jehad and the increasing Talibanisation of the valley. The foreign mercenaries recruited for this purpose pose the biggest ever threat not only to the country's democratic concept but also to its secular values.

Amidst this disturbing scenario, one redeeming aspect of the situation is a somewhat positive attitude adopted by US President Bill Clinton towards this country. This was very much visible during Mr Vajpayee's recent visit to Washington.

Mr Clinton has no doubt acted tough with the Pakistani military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf. Still, from the Indian point of view, even the latest US stance does not help India much to tackle effectively the problem of jehad-oriented terrorism.

The moot point is: Is Washington geared up to fight the forces of Talibanised fundamentalism and terrorism which are now directly linked with arms and drug trafficking? Policy-makers in Washington have surely the requisite appreciation of the twin threats. However, I doubt if they are yet ready to launch a counter-offensive against Islamic fundamentalism. This is understandable. As far as India is concerned, the problem is very serious since it directly threatens the country's secular and democratic character.

Indian policy-makers will have to be more specific and take a tougher stand on Kashmir than has been the case so far. Kashmir is not for sale. Nor can it be bartered away to suit Pakistani interests.

India's stand is principled, though we are living in a highly unrealistic world. It needs to be realised by South Block that no one will take us seriously unless we strengthen our economic base, properly manage social tensions, improve our house-keeping and ensure political stability.

Of course, New Delhi cannot avoid discussing Kashmir. But it can jolly well set the agenda for a dialogue from a position of strength. And this must be a straight and business-like dialogue. The conditions for this purpose spelt out by New Delhi are reasonable. That is, Pakistan must end cross-border terrorism and stop violations of the LoC.

In any case, Pakistani rulers must realise that we can never give Kashmir to Pakistan. The world too ought to appreciate India's basic stand and its concerns. The sooner this is done the better will be the prospects for peace in the subcontinent.

As part of our strategic thinking, we cannot also overlook the China factor. Beijing has been an active collaborator in Islamabad’s nuclear and missile programmes.

In his speech to the US Congress and during an interaction with America's think tanks, Prime Minister Vajpayee put things in proper perspective by stressing the need for the USA to see India in a larger Asian framework and not vis-a-vis Pakistan alone. He also made an indirect reference to China and its nuclear programme.

It is indeed highly unfair to see India’s nuclear programme de-linked from China's ambitious nuclear and missile plans. In this context, India's reluctance to sign the CTBT needs proper appreciation by the western world.

New Delhi expects Washington to accept India as a nuclear power. It should also agree to share its nuclear technology so that nuclear explosions could be avoided. The USA should not be discriminating against India. After all, it has shared with China its simulation technology.

During his visit to China, President Clinton chose to treat the nuclear tests by India as an Indo-Pakistan issue. He was totally wrong in making such an assessment. The nuclear problem in Asia has to be seen not as an India-Pakistan issue. It must be viewed as a Sino-Indian problem. After all, Pakistan is merely a proxy of China. So, the issue must be addressed in the context of Chinese proliferation along with a nuclear Pakistan.

Why not see the entire issue historically? Zulfikar Ali Bhutto openly talked about Pakistan's Islamic bomb. He collected money for this purpose from Libya, Saudi Arabia, some other West Asian countries and Iran.

General Zia-ul-Haq cooperated with the USA in supporting the mujahideen in Afghanistan in their fight against the erstwhile USSR forces. Later, Pakistan was helped by Western powers to intensify its nuclear programme. The Pakistanis then were talking about their strategic depth in Iran and their close ties with the Saudis. Later came the sale of 40 CSS-2 missiles from China to the Saudis.

China-linked nuclear proliferation continues unhindered. Beijing also continues to supply nuclear technology and components to Islamabad notwithstanding the promises made by President Jiang Zemin during his visit to the USA. The harsh truth is that China has acquired supremacy in the nuclear and missile arena in Asia. Apparently, it can use Islamabad to countervail New Delhi.

Viewed in this light, India has become the target of an invisible Sino-Pak axis. This does pose a serious strategic challenge to this country, notwithstanding the fact that New Delhi is anxious to improve its ties with Beijing and sort out border and other problems with the communist giant.

It is a fact that till recently the USA was very much part of the Sino-Pakistan nexus. We can still not be sure how far the US attitude will change on the basic problems facing this country.

India's genuine concerns have generally been ignored by Washington. The least that New Delhi expects from American policy-makers is the appreciation of the fact that India is threatened by China on the north-east and by Pakistan on the north-west.

The time has come for India to play a dynamic role and put across its viewpoint decisively. It must be clear about its goals and targets and firmly deal with the threats of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. What can be more disturbing than the fact that a large number of "terrorists" have been arrested but not even a single one is convicted. This is in sharp contrast to the handling of terrorism by the USA.

India needs a clear policy direction. Take the case of its nuclear policy. It has both regional and international ramifications. It has been seeking total elimination of nuclear weapons globally. At the regional level, India perceives China to be a link between the horizontal and vertical proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery system.

China, of course, may not put itself in an adversarial role vis-a-vis India, but its gameplan is obvious. It wants New Delhi to be tied down with Islamabad which provides greater diplomatic manoeuvrability to Beijing.

Be that as it may. India has to play a larger role in Asian and global affairs. For this purpose, it has to carefully come out of its adversarial relations with Pakistan and radically change its negotiating postures with Islamabad. Is this possible? Perhaps, not yet.

But with right support from Washington, it will be easier for New Delhi to achieve its policy objectives. For all practical purposes, it is a war of nerves between the leadership of a democratic and secular India and that of a theocratic Pakistan. And to meet multi-dimensional diplomatic and strategic challenges, we will have to prove our mettle and put our best foot forward.

Islamabad today has become a major destabilising factor in the Asia-Pacific region, thanks to its patrons in China. Since it swears by terrorism and jehad, it must be declared a terrorist state. The sooner the USA recognises this harsh fact the better for a new global order for just social and economic gains.


by I. M. Soni

SLOB is an Irish word that originally meant mire or ooze but almost a century ago took on its present meaning: a clumsy or dull slovenly person one whose personality or appearance is often offensive.

The moment we mention a slob, we are in danger of being called a snob, which first meant a shoe-maker or cobbler or his apprentice.

The slob exudes a particular flavour: his hair is unkept, he usually has a day’s growth at his chin and cheek. His teeth are stained, he is never well-dressed nor is his dress well-pressed. There is an unmistakable air of slovenliness about him.

Slobs come in all sizes and shapes and they are sprawling all over the land, creating havoc with the surroundings. They are the invisible pollutants of environment. These eco-enemies ought to be identified and consigned to the “use-me” of society.

Visit any park in your city and see for yourself. Licked icecream cones, paper plates and napkins pockmark the grass. Travel by train or bus and see the slob’s autograph everywhere. Dirt all around the bus or the compartments is a tribute to the unfailing character of the slob.

He is a master on a messing expedition. Nothing can deter him from throwing garbage around him, just as his own presence brings an intolerable stink with it. You can knit your eyebrows, turn your face away but you cannot escape it as you cannot escape foul weather.

A slob is a slob. He has been reared that way. He knows no other way of living. See him in the coffee house. He uses the empty cup as an ashtray, inciting the establishment to serve coffee in ashtrays!

See him smoking in the train or bus (where it is prohibited) in office or home. Butts are all over the place. The ashtray does not attract his attention. It is a small thing compared to the floor! This is slobbery at his very best.

Perhaps, his only regret is that there are no awards for slobs instituted by any government, otherwise he will win them all unclean hands down.

Once I made bold and asked one who looked like a super slob as to why he was treating the beautiful garden as a little ground. His reply was revealing and I think sums up the attitude of slobs over the country. “If you are so much concerned, why don’t you clean it?... They have employed cleaners for the purpose.”

He has no desire to walk a few steps to the waste-paper basket on which is thoughtfully inscribed, “use me”. But our slob is a thoroughbred. He does not use anybody or anything except his unclean ways.

Slobs are swarming all over the place now. Worse, they are multiplying fast. Take the louts that use the public loo. They seldom pull the chain that must be pulled.

Take the typist that brings the copy to you bearing his fingerprints on every page.

The postman who flings away your mail mindlessly over the fence, rain or shine, if not on a dunghill.

There is only one plus point in slobbery — the neatkins become conspicuous by comparison.


Myanmar: India’s unjustifiable silence
by Arvind Bhandari

INDIA’S impassive attitude towards the goings-on in Myanmar once again brings to the fore a vexed issue of international diplomacy. How far should a country remain, in the name of non-interference, a silent spectator to wrongdoing in another country, especially when it happens to be an immediate neighbour?

The hapless people of Myanmar are being ruthlessly trampled under the jackboots of a vicious military dictatorship. Following the recent crackdown on Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel laureate and leader of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, many countries, particularly those of the West, have expressed sympathy for the oppressed Myanmarese and castigated the faceless Generals who rule the roost in Yangon (formerly Rangoon). But India’s response to the travails of Myanmar has been muted.

This is so despite the fact that the numerous appeals of Ms Kyi to “democratic parliaments” worldwide for support have been directed particularly towards India, which is a big democratic neighbour.

Even in the face of the Myanmar military junta’s earlier act of inhumanity, when it denied a visa to Ms Kyi’s dying British husband Michael Aries, who wanted to meet his wife for the last time, New Delhi maintained a deafening silence. It neither made any appeal to the junta to show compassion and issue a visa nor uttered a word of regret when the unfortunate man died without meeting his wife. In sharp contrast was the opprobrium earned by the Yangon junta from several countries.

New Delhi’s stony attitude towards the goings-on in Myanmar is regrettable. The principle of non-interference in the affairs of another country is all right up to a limit. But if the wrongdoing in a country is excessive, any criticism of the wrong-doer ought to be treated as a legitimate voice of reason rather than undue interference. Such criticism cannot be regarded as inconsistent with the maintenance of diplomatic relations. India’s act of omission is all the more distressing because as the largest democracy in the world it has a special obligation to support a people struggling for democratic rights.

India has become Myanmar’s largest export market, accounting for 23 per cent of its total exports. An Indian official delegation visited Myanmar recently. It was decided to enter into joint ventures for exploration and exploitation of nickel and coal in India’s border areas in the North-East. The two countries will shortly exchange technical terms.

The Indian official delegation was accompanied by a 10-member business team comprising representatives of FICCI and the CII. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the CII and the Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The two countries also have border trade. This takes place between Moreh in Manipur on the Indian side and Tarnu on the Myanmarese side. It is now being considered whether these border points could also be used for normal trade transactions. This will require inter-bank arrangements. Actually, officials of the Reserve Bank of India and the United Bank of India have held talks with the Myanmar Finance Ministry and Myanmar Central Bank with a view to expanding banking ties between the two countries.

India would be interested in natural gas supplies available by a pipeline network from Myanmar. Currently, Myanmar has entered into a collaboration with Thailand for exploiting its off-shore gas reserves. This will involve setting up a pipeline network in the South-East Asian region.

Roads are being built in Myanmar’s eastern border areas with Chinese help. India wants to build roads in those areas of Myanmar which are close to the Indian border. Already, India’s Border Roads Organisation has been entrusted with the project to build the Tarnu-Kalemyo road along the India-Myanmar border.

Myanmar has been ruled by the military (called Tatmadaw) since 1962. In 1990 elections were held for Parliament and Ms Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won 82 per cent of the votes polled. But the generals have refused to surrender power, using naked force to suppress the NLD. Since May, 1998, when Ms Kyi gave the military an ultimatum to convene Parliament, 196 NLD MPs and about 1500 pro-democracy activists have been jailed.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has twice sent his emissaries to expostulate with the military government. The USA has been putting pressure on the Generals to have a dialogue with Ms Kyi. Australia is pressing the military junta to at least set up a human rights commission. The European Union has imposed sanctions against Myanmar. The World Bank has indicated its readiness to give aid of nearly one billion dollars if the junta opens negotiation with Ms Kyi.

Despite all the initiatives, the impasse in Yangon remains unbroken.


Some reflections on Putin’s India visit 
By M.S.N. Menon

VLADIMIR Putin, the Russian President, will be here in a few days. Are we ready to receive him? We are not. We are confused. After Vajpayee’s American visit and its positive signals, we are not sure how to fit Russia into our global outlook. And yet Russia is far more important for us.

Putin is different from Yeltsin. He is, they say in Russia, the “conscience of Russia”. He reflects its dauntless spirit. Yeltsin was a beaten man, and counted for little in the world. He came and went, and left no impress on this country.

Friendship between India and Russia meant much to us. For about 50 years, it stood by us like a brooding, caring spirit. Today we must recall the depth of that friendship. Nehru had said of it: “The Soviet Union has given us many precious gifts; the most precious gift of these is friendship.” And Lal Bahadur Shastri had said: “Today we have the best of relations with the Soviet Union, and we are the best of friends.”

And this is what Indira Gandhi had said of its significance: “I should like to express our deep appreciation of the invaluable help that Indo-Soviet cooperations has brought to us in our advance towards a self-reliant, modern industrial economy.” And Rajiv Gandhi has said: “You have stood by us in our difficulties. It is adversity that tests friendship and the Indian people regard the Soviet people as reliable friends.”

And, finally, we come to Gorbachev. He had said: “We proceed from the view that a united, strong and peaceful India is an inseparable and highly necessary part of today’s world.”

Thus, Indo-Soviet friendship was something special. It was a relation born of mutual trust and respect. The Russian people had always looked upon India and its people with admiration, and thought of India in fabulous terms. Their legends abound in tales of a “golden India” with “golden palaces” and of a great civilisation.

So, when India went under colonialism, they were outraged and when it was liberated, they exulted. But the West continued to look down upon us.

And we also looked upon the Russian people with respect and admiration, for they were a people ready to make great sacrifices for their ideals. It reminded us of our own tradition of sacrifice.

History was, however, cruel to the Russian people. They have suffered immensely. About 20 million perished under Stalin’s tyranny to establish Communism; and over 50 million died in the war against the Nazi hordes. Though Russia was victorious, peace eluded it. It was engulfed in a cold war. Though they faced its rigours bravely in the end they were devastated — not so much because they lacked courage and fortitude, but because their leaders failed them. A proud people were reduced to penury and poverty, and, what is worse, suffered the worst forms of humiliation.

And yet all is not lost. They are fast recovering. Their spirit is astir. Putin represents this will to overcome.

It is true India did not stand by Russia in its hour of need. There were two major reasons: 1) Russia was in a state of anarchy; and 2) the debacle of the Soviet Union was a major blow to India, too. We are also recovering from it.

Now that we are meeting anew, our first resolve should be to repair the feeling of hurt. And to prevent the birth of another cold war. In fact, Russia, India and China have no option but to work with the United States for the present.

Moscow had always wanted India to be a powerful country. It never thought of us as rivals or as a potential threat. The same cannot be said of any other major power. Certainly not of America. They all wanted India to remain weak. Which explains why the Indian people were drawn so close to the Russians.

Independent India faced famine. Moscow promptly gave us foodgrains. We wanted industrial and technical assistance. Moscow provided them for rupee payment. And India wanted arms to defend itself. Moscow provided them at half the world prices. Thus, Indo-Soviet friendship took on the character of an unbreakable bond.

All the while, the West held an animus against India. Perhaps because we brought about the demise of the colonial empires. Perhaps because we did not join the anti-Communist alliance. By arming Pakistan, the USA set fire to the sub-continent. It is still burning. It denied financial and technical assistance to India and said no to arms supplies. And Dr Kissinger went to the extent of instigating China to attack India in 1971 and sent the US 7th Fleet to the Bay of Bengal to intimidate us. The record is perhaps unpardonable.

But times change. Contexts change. Enemies become friends. Today, there is no reason why India and America should not be friends. No doubt, we have disagreements over certain issues. But we can work together in many other fields.

India’s problem number one is the proxy war, waged by terrorists for the past over a decade. This is the handiwork of our neighbour, Pakistan, still the “ally” of America. Terrorism has grown over the years and now it is a worldwide phenomenon. Both America had Russia are its victims. We have a common cause to stamp it out. We must work together, for then alone will the terrorists be impressed. Our work should begin in Afghanistan, the source of much of the mischief today.

But more than the havoc it has already caused, it is the potential of terrorism to disrupt the world’s energy supply that is really worrisome. It can bring the world to a halt. India is no less worried on this account.

This pre-supposes cooperation between the USA, Russia, China and India not only to eradicate terrorism, but also to establish a system for joint exploitation of the energy resources of Central Asia. If American oil companies want to exclude Russia from Central Asia, (there are such efforts) this is to revive the cold war. India will have no part in it.

We have come to rely on Russian arms supplies. And we have been engaged in joint research and production. These are possible only with Russia, not with private US companies.

As for economic cooperation, our economies are complementary. Russia needs all the tropical products that India has. For example, tea, coffee spices, tobacco, cashew, rubber etc. And, of course, various manufactured products. And we need their oil and heavy equipment.

India and Russia are committed to a multi-polar world. But, for this, we need not run a crusade against America. The trend is towards a multi-polar world. And America should be more circumspect about its pursuit of human rights.

In the final analysis, it is our joint work in the United Nations which will be crucial, for the USA has little interest in the UN work.

The vast majority of the world’s peoples are still in want of some help or other, and only the UN can organise such help. It is through the UN that India and Russia can create favourable conditions for themselves and others.



The vessel of a thousand sins, and

plunged deep in the heart of

Life's outrageous sea,

I seek in thee, the refuge of despair,

In mercy only, O Hari! Make me Thine.

But for Thee I am masterless;

Save me;

There is none to earn Thy mercy

Since our fate weaveth this bond between us,

Master mine,

O guard it well and cast it not away.

Lord Madhava, whatever mine may be,

Whatever I, is all and wholly Thine;

What offering can I bring

whose wakened soul

Seeth all being bound to thee for Aye.

—Sri Yamunacharya, Stotraratna, 48, 51, 53.


O merciful Jesus enlighten Thou me with a clear shining, inward light and remove away all darkness away from the habitation of my heart. Repress thou my may wandering thoughts, and break in pieces those temptations which violently assault me. Fight thou strongly for me, and vanquish the evil beasts, I mean the alluring desires of the flesh, that so peace may be obtained by Thy power and that Thine abundant praise may resound in Thy Holy Court, that is in a pure conscience.

Command the winds and tempest; say upto the sea, Be still; say to the north wind, Blow not; and there shall be great calm.

—Thomas A Kempis


O divine virtuous Goddess Sarasvati

We bow to your feet, O Goddess of speech

The all- pervading with cosmic vibrations,

We surrender at your Divine feet.

O Goddess, shelter to the seeker,

Blessed of the Three Worlds,

Worshiped by Divine seers.

Your melody is with the

nine aesthetic senses and divine poetry,

Adorned by the various taste of learning.

O the one seated on the throne of swan,

O the one endowed by white complexion

Pure as snow and moon,

The one seated on the white lotus,

Remove from us lethargy

And expand our horizon of vision.

O Goddess, you are the embodiment

Of artistic skills and string of knowledge.

O the one holding the divine book of learning

And the Vina,

We submit ourselves in entirety

At your lotus feet.

O Goddess, remove from our minds the poison

Of hatred.

—Prayer to Goddess Saraswati 

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