Monday, November 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


E D I T O R I A L   P A G E



Ganga-Mekong initiative
T is ironic that the Ganga-Mekong Suvenaphoum Project (GMSP) should get going at a time when the author of India’s “Look East” policy, Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao, is in all sorts of legal troubles.

Coarse moral reaction 
T would be unfair to treat the two Gujarat BJP leaders — Mr Ashok Bhatt and Mr Harin Pathak — as criminals just because a sessions court has framed murder charges against them.


Beyond buyer & seller relationship
By R. S. Bedi
OW that the dust has nearly settled down on Russian President Putin’s visit to India, it is time to put heads together to discern the impact of his visit, particularly in the vital area of defence. 

Unipolar globalisation
By Bharat Jhunjhunwala
HE Vajpayee government is committed to the creation of a multipolar world through free trade. But the role of free trade in equitable distribution of wealth is very limited.



Is it dictated by public attitude?
November 12, 2000
Law of arrests
November 11, 2000
US election drama
November 10, 2000
Making same ends meet
November 9, 2000
Congress elections 
November 8, 2000
Kashmir cries for sanity
November 7, 2000
Go, Governor, go
November 6, 2000
Wanted long-term defence planning
November 5, 2000
Crime and politics
November 4, 2000
Cricket jurisprudence
November 3, 2000
Bold indictment
November 2, 2000
Azhar, Ajay and avarice
November 1, 2000


Good government
By Randeep Wadehra
HAT is good government? This question, albeit rhetorical, has been exercising thinking individuals the world over. John Jay Chapman would like to give credit to private virtue for a good government.


By Anupam Gupta
Apex court comes of age

“THE mission was proceeding speedily when it hit a roadblock. A speedbreaker can be crossed, but here was a wall.” Thus speaks Nakkheeran editor R.R. Gopal to T.S. Subramanian and Praveen Swami in the latest, November 24 issue of the Frontline magazine, referring to the Supreme Court’s dramatic intervention in the Veerappan affair.


By Humra Quraishi
Arab, African Ambassadors show their solidarity
efore I distract you all with what the Delhiites are doing and undoing let me fit in the details of the PLO Ambassador's Press conference, held here last Monday, to highlight the ongoing tense situation on the West Bank.


New test to detect cancer
housands of lives a year could be saved by a revolutionary new test that can detect most common forms of cancer before there are even any symptoms.

  • Facts about global warming

  • Domain names in Asian scripts

  • Net no fad

  • Treasures of the deep




Ganga-Mekong initiative

IT is ironic that the Ganga-Mekong Suvenaphoum Project (GMSP) should get going at a time when the author of India’s “Look East” policy, Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao, is in all sorts of legal troubles. But, in a way, this cooperation between India and the countries of the Mekong basin — Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam — is only a continuation of ancient historical, cultural and geographical ties between these civilisations. Because of an inexplicable distancing, political, strategic and economic cooperation with India in the recent past has been rather indifferent, despite the fact that India was a participant in the Mekong development plan of ASEAN and supported all the existing initiatives. Most countries in the Mekong basin are relatively poor and need to catch up with the regional standards of economic prosperity. India can lend a helping hand in a mutually beneficial manner, given its state of economy and the recent opening up. The Vientiane initiative seeks to make a new beginning by assisting the countries in the region to promote such badly needed development. This is to be achieved in a step-by-step manner by making tourism, culture and education the engines of change. The distances between the countries seem greater than these actually are mainly because there is very little interaction on a citizen-to-citizen basis with India and the road and rail network is virtually non-existent. The most ambitious component of the new initiative is transport networks - an “Ëast-West corridor” and a “trans-Asian highway”. The framework envisages strategic studies for joint marketing, launching the Mekong-Ganga tourism investment guide, facilitating the travel of people in the region, expanding multi-nodal communication and transportation links to enhance travel and tourism and promoting cultural-religious package tours. Once these “building blocks” are in place, the next stage will be the acceleration of trade, investment and technology transfer.

In place of lauding this initiative, which can some day knit the entire Asia like the European Union, some western analysts have tried to project the declaration as a counter-poise to China. This interpretation has been bandied about merely because China is not included in the venture. The External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, has done well to state categorically that this organisation is not directed against anyone. It is not a formal grouping of nations either. He was also at pains to stress that it was not a military grouping. One hopes the GMSP will be able to remove all misgivings through its functioning. It will also have to guard against mutual rivalries that can develop, say, between India and Myanmar and other neighbours. Now that the eastward march has started, it will be only enhanced with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit to Vietnam scheduled for early next year. 


Coarse moral reaction 

IT would be unfair to treat the two Gujarat BJP leaders — Mr Ashok Bhatt and Mr Harin Pathak — as criminals just because a sessions court has framed murder charges against them. The real accusation is that two incited a furious mob to anti-police violence and some easily excitable supporters first attacked a constable standing alone and when a head constable came to rescue him they stabbed him to death. This happened in 1985 and as the agitation against doubling of the reserved quota from 24 per cent to 50 per cent for the dalits, adivasis and OBCs acquired a communal colour, paving the way for the rapid growth of the BJP in Gujarat. The then Congress-led government of Mr Madhavsinh Solanki ordered an investigation by the crime branch and it filed a chargesheet against 12 persons, including the two Ministers, within the stipulated 90 days. One of the accused is the shopkeeper-brother of a junior Gujarat Minister and he is said to have actually wielded the knife. As the twosome rightly argue, the case is 15 years old, memory of the witnesses unreliable at this point of time and circumstantial evidence, mandatory to hold them guilty beyond reasonable doubt, is thin. They say they will fight the case in the court and good luck to them. But the point is not about law but about political morality. Opposition parties like the Congress and the CPM and the CPI had demanded their resignation but initially they refused, darkly hinting at a political conspiracy. A chargesheeted Minister should quit, and quibbling over the law and rivalry has no place in this. They did not challenge the legal validity of the charges, as Ms Jayalalitha did at every stage. Either they were complacent or plain lazy. They are being asked to pay a price for that now.

The shocking aspect is the arguments they and their party advanced until the realisation dawned that an open defiance to the law would be a self-inflicted wound. It was said the agitation they led was a political act and did not carry legal odium. They refused to resign until the very last minute but bowed out when Prime Minister Vajpayee ordered Mr Pathak to quit. BJP vice-president Jana Krishnamurthy invented a new defence of the two. Every politician faced such a situation (perhaps meaning agitators turning violent) and perhaps also leading to death and destruction. Then came the perverse twist. Such acts do not exude the moral turpitude stink. But then what does? Why, corruption charges like the Bofors and JMM bribery cases! In his newly patented moral scale of one to ten, incitement to murder will sit low at one but luring legislators to stay in power will soar to nine. Thus the BJP men get off lightly and corrupt Congressmen receive sledgehammer blows. In his view, party affiliation and not the nature of crime determines the quantum of punishment. Never has political morality dipped so low as now.

That is not the only dismaying indicator of the developing political mindset. Today the leaders, all leaders, have lost sight of the moral side to politics. It is politics and politics all the way and let morality be damned. Until a few years ago, moral reflexes used to be slow but would show up after some hesitation. In those days when Indian democracy was young top leaders quit over a railway accident or an unacceptable piece of legislation. Inadvertent decisions led to instant resignations. The squabbles in Uttaranchal and the Karia Munda conundrum speak poorly of the rusty consultation system. The Congress is fast immobilising itself. The coterie around president Sonia Gandhi sees in Mr Jitendra Prasada a dangerous ISI-sent agent carrying deadly RDX in the shape of dissent. The CPM could have been more graceful in permitting Mr Jyoti Basu to retire. The list is endless and growing. The time has come for political parties to set up rapid action moral cells to move at the very first whiff of a questionable action. This waiting for a pandemonium is Parliament or press to initiate correctives is highly injurious to democratic health.


Beyond buyer & seller relationship
by R. S. Bedi

NOW that the dust has nearly settled down on Russian President Putin’s visit to India, it is time to put heads together to discern the impact of his visit, particularly in the vital area of defence. The first ever visit in the last eight years by any Russian Head of State somehow followed in the shadow of US President Clinton’s March visit. Comparisons are odious but sometimes inevitable. Mr Clinton’s charm overwhelmed India. Whereas similar effusiveness was not visible during Mr Putin’s visit. His was a business-like approach with a mission to consolidate old ties. Economic considerations were paramount in his determined diplomacy. He described India as an “equal partner, long-term friend and an ally”. The strategic pacts signed by him included substantive agreements on defence, space, energy, communication, technical cooperation and foreign affairs, just to mention a few.

Russia is conscious of the fact that India is attempting to diversify its relations with the USA, western Europe and Japan. Besides, the commercial interest in cementing old ties, the urge to balance the US strategic posture is obvious. India can draw satisfaction from the fact that Indo-Russian relations are today based on the mutuality and equality of interests.

I will, however, confine myself to the defence issues envisioned in Indo-Russian relations only. Mr Putin’s visit heralded an altogether new era in Indo-Russian defence ties. It took him finally to sew up the long protracted negotiations on a $ 3 bn (Rs 13,800 crore) multifaceted defence deal. Russian intransigence in sticking to their terms was proving hard. Though the SU-30 development project was already in progress, negotiations pertaining to the Admiral Gorshkov carrier and T-90 tanks were faultering here and there. If the Russians relented, it was only because Mr Putin’s visit had to be seen a success story only. Both the Russians and the Indians were keen that the deals went through for their respective reasons. For the Indian armed forces, whose defence preparedness was severely affected due to cash crunch, it was a windfall ending a decade-old drought. And for the Russians it was the biggest single defence deal at a time when their economy was in tatters.

The strategic partnership agreement signed between the two nations will help expedite the implementation of these complex treaties. The inter-government commission on defence and technical cooperation co-chaired by Defence Minister George Frenandes and Deputy Prime Minister Klebnov would raise the level beyond that of the Joint Working Group in action hitherto. The working groups headed by the Defence Secretary and the Secretary for Defence Production of two countries will provide the necessary support to them.

Mr Putin’s visit saw to it that these commercially rewarding defence deals were clinched without much ado, even if in principle. Today’s cash-strapped Russia is driven by the sole criterion of economics in which dollar plays a principal role. The growth-driven market-based economy is essential for its recovery. It found itself disillusioned with the USA and the West when it realised that it was becoming progressively more dependent on them. With its Switzerland-size economy, it had no option but to resort to a heavy sale of armament for the sake of foreign exchange. For all practical purposes, Russia has turned India (and China) into a captive market. Last year, Russia was only second to the USA with its $ 4.8 bn arms sales. Nearly half of it came from China and another $ 1.6 bn from India.

To what extent did Mr Putin go beyond the business of selling weapons to India? Though we signed multi-billion dollar deals, he remained unenthusiastic about India’s nuclear ambitions. Nor was he forthright about a permanent Security Council seat for India. Did we capitalise on the fact that the defence deals were cardinal to his visit before agreeing to invest billions of dollars with him. Russia’s military-industrial complex would be hard pressed to survive without India’s as a capital market for it.

Let us look at these defence deals from this point of view. First the SU-30 deal. The sinking Russian economy got a shot in the arm when India signed $ 1.28 bn defence deal for the purchase of 40 yet-to-be-developed SU-30 MKI aircraft with another $ 300 million for indigenous development and the import of avionic systems. The contract provided for immediate supply of 8 SU-30K air defence aircraft in 1997 and 32 upgraded SU-30 MKI multi-role aircraft between 1998 and 2001. An order for another 10 was placed in 1999. “Not one upgraded SU-30 MKI has yet been delivered, despite an investment of $ 600 million and a delay of two years”, says the CAG’s latest report on defence. The way the project is progressing it has all the potential of being pushed back further.

The DRDO failed to develop the indigenous component of avionics and other sub-systems for integration in time. But more than that, it was the economic difficulties ailing the Russian aviation industry that caused the delay.

It is now hoped that we will receive 4 SU-30 MKI aircraft by 2001, 12 by 2002 and 16 by 2003. The existing 18 SU-30s, at present with the IAF, will then be upgraded by 2004. If this works out hopefully, the IAF will have elite multi-role state-of-the-art aircraft in its inventory. India will then have another nuclear-capable strike aircraft besides the Mirage-2000. It will take care of the long-range threat from China which can now operate with impunity from the airfields other than those in the Tibetan plateau.

Because of the IAF’s bad experience with MiG-29s and the high cost of Mirage-2000s, it began to show interest in SU-27s towards 1994-95. The Sukhoi Bureau promptly agreed to develop SU-27 long-range interceptors into the SU-30 MKI multi-role version. It was a complex project entailing the incorporation of fore wings, the thrust vector system, a higher thrust engine, a new radar, modern avionics and provision for precision air-to-ground weaponry. The first lot sent to India in June, 1997, was essentially SU-27 PU aircraft built for the Russian air force, but instead delivered to the IAF. The delivery of next 10 was also delayed to mid-1999. After all the SU-30 MKI aircraft are delivered, 140 more will be built in India under licence at HAL, Nasik.

Next came Admiral Gorshkov. Unable to meet its running cost, the Russians retired this carrier in 1996. The 44,500 tonnes carrier was then available for sale at a scrap value of $ 200 million. To India, however, the Russians agreed to give it free. But wait. Free, provided it was retrofitted in Russia only, for which India had to shell out $ 500-650 million. If that was not enough, India would have to necessarily purchase 45 MiG-29 Ks as part of the package deal. Russian company MiG-MAPO will develop MiG-29 Ks for deck operations. Incidentally, the original team of MiG designers had left the company long time back.

That is the aircraft carrier being gifted free to the Indian Navy. It is “more of a heavy air capable cruiser than an aircraft carrier” in the real sense. Being new in the art of building aircraft carriers, Admiral Gorshkov was the fourth in the series of carriers ever built by the Russians. It was commissioned in the Soviet Navy in 1987 and later damaged extensively in a fire accident in 1994. It was only towards the early nineties that the Russians built their first heavy aircraft carrier with SU-33, a derivative of SU-27 on board.

The Russians are now examining the Western origin of INS Viraat before undertaking the refitment of Admiral Gorshkov. Aware of the weakness that India is not in a position to produce an aircraft carrier indigenously for the next 10 years and the fact that it needs one in the interim period urgently, the Russians have managed to clinch the deal in principle.

The T-90 tanks have their own story to tell. T-80 UD tanks acquired by Pakistan, which are a generation ahead of India’s T-70s, compelled the Indian Army to look to Russia for help. The Russian economy and the defence industry at that time were in doldrums. It was desperately looking for big orders to bail it out. They promptly offered top of the line T-90s to India, for which the negotiations took place during the March, 1999, visit of Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev. Later, a total of 310 T-90 tanks were contracted, of which 110 were to be purchased outright, the rest being indigenously produced on transfer of technology.

Three tanks offered for trial in India failed to cope with the June temperatures of the Thar desert. Their turbo-charged engines got over-heated and the power-packs derated. In one case, the engine suffered extensive damage due to the excessive heat of the summer. In order to perform trouble-free in the sands of Rajasthan and the plains of Punjab, these would need far-reaching modifications. We must insist on the requisite performance parameters even though the need to replace the old T-55s and the Vijayantas is acute. The urgency also stems from the fact that Pakistan had earlier procured T-80 tanks from Ukraine despite strong objections from the Russians, who make its 125 mm gun

These deals stand finalised in principle between the two governments. But the need to ensure cost and quality cannot be over-emphasised. India must also endeavour to go a step further and transcend the buyer and seller relationship to a higher plane of understanding, which will help boost India’s own aviation R&D.

The writer, a retired Air Marshal, is a former Director-General, Defence Planning Staff, Union Ministry of Defence.


Unipolar globalisation
by Bharat Jhunjhunwala

THE Vajpayee government is committed to the creation of a multipolar world through free trade. But the role of free trade in equitable distribution of wealth is very limited. Most of it is captured by the powerful on the strength of their organisational or military power — even in a globalised world. The way to the equitable world lies through strength and power, not free market. Wars may have to be fought to remove the peaceful injustice of the existent unipolar world.

According to the theory of free trade, when the price of oil increased to $ 35 from $ 2, its supply should have risen and competition should have forced down the price. On the other side the oil users, say rayon producers, were willing to pay up to $ 35. Cheap oil would lead to an increase in the production of rayon. The price of rayon will fall till its producers would not be able to pay such a high price. Some middle price will be settled by the market which will then determine the distribution of the surplus. In such a situation, free trade will indeed lead to an equitable distribution of global wealth.

But, of course, we know that is not how things have worked out. The price of oil has come nowhere near the free market levels. The reason is obvious. Their supply is not unlimited. As a result, there is no settlement between minimum and maximum prices. Any price between $ 2 and $ 35 is feasible. The swings in the price of oil indicate who is capturing more of this surplus. When the price fell from $ 22 to $ 10, the users captured $ 12 of the surplus. When it rose from $ 10 to $ 35 the producers captured $ 25 of the same. This “capturing” was entirely determined by the relative power of the users and producers. Free trade fails in any such situation where there is scarcity.

There now are two different aspects before us. One is the cost cutting due to competition and the second is the appropriation of the surplus. The USA is rich because it has done well on both accounts. It has least restrictions on labour hiring and firing. It has less overload of administrative and welfare bureaucracies. It is constantly engaged in technological innovation to reduce its costs of production. It has subjected its industries to global competition and forced them to become competitive. It has thus benefited from free trade.

It has simultaneously used its power to capture a large part of the global surplus. It has waged wars in Iraq and Kosovo where its oil interests were involved. It has used the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO to put pressure on countries like India and East Asian “Tigers” to open up to US exports and investment. It has pushed the TRIPS agreement in the WTO to protect its technological monopolies. It is the combination of trade-friendly domestic economic policies and surplus-extracting external political policies that have enabled it to command the world economy.

Thus we have a unipolar world within a free trade regime. It is unipolar because the USA is using its political power to capture more of the global surplus. It manages to import minerals, agricultural produce, garments, etc, cheap, and also to export aeroplanes, computers and satellites at high prices. Free trade has been able to do nothing to prevent such concentration of wealth in the USA. A unipolar world is, therefore, entirely compatible with free trade.

It follows that if we cannot rely on free trade to create a “just and equitable world order” as Russian President Putin and Prime Minister Vajpayee proclaimed in their New Delhi declaration. Free trade is entirely compatible with the capturing of global surplus by a few militarily powerful countries.

We need a different strategy to build a just world order. First, we have to lead the non-West world into demanding that the UN, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO focus on equitable distribution of the “surplus” along with the promotion of free trade. These institutions should undertake a study of the minimum and maximum possible prices of the major commodities and then work out a formula for the determination of a “just” price. They should be required to assist the developing countries in getting a fair share of the global surplus which is being appropriated almost entirely by the Western countries presently. Instead of asking the developing countries to maximise their exports, they should concentrate on maximising the prices while limiting the quantity of exports. The real action lies in the appropriation of global surplus, not in the benefits of competition though they are important in their own right.

Secondly, too much emphasis on “peace” is harmful in an unbalanced world order. “Peace” has become a prescription for the continuation of the imbalance. The developing countries should recognise that the distribution of the world’s resources follows the logic of power, not economic theory. Unless the developing countries organise their political and military power they will not be able to create a just global economy.

The writer is a Delhi-based economist.


Good government
By Randeep Wadehra

WHAT is good government? This question, albeit rhetorical, has been exercising thinking individuals the world over. John Jay Chapman would like to give credit to private virtue for a good government. But, as we all know virtue is not exactly in abundance anywhere. As it does not grow naturally, it has to be enforced or instilled with the help of a strict regimen. Some compare it to cultivating a barren land — but that appears rather harsh.

Why is it necessary to have a government at all? As Shelley states in An Address to the Irish People, “Government is an evil; it is only the thoughtlessness and vices of men that make it a necessary evil. When all men are good and wise, government will of itself decay.” In other words we need a government because we have not yet reached the stage of enlightenment that would make all external forms of governance redundant.

Indeed, if only we could govern ourselves and lead a life of virtue all governments would vanish. But then where would politicians be? And our junket hungry bureaucrats? Imagine, no annual ritual of IAS exams and mug shots of preening candidates in the local press! No comic scenes of the grown ups going through juvenile wiles just to get a piece of the sarkari cake. Life will lose a lot of lustre... and colour. The US journalist HL Mencken takes a cynical view when he states: “Government is actually the worst failure of civilised man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent.”

Some have tried to compare different forms of government like democracy, communism etc. However, they have not been able to conclude whether our system of governance is an abject failure, a resounding success or a mixed blessing. No attempt has been made to differentiate between a systemic failure and the individual inadequacy.

For example, was the Emergency an example of a chink in our Constitution or was it because our ruling elite could not uphold the principles of Constitution in letter and spirit? Is the current spate of violence in J & K a proof of our governing agencies’ ineptitude or some deeper, more sinister malaise? Why is the common man left to fend for himself — generally speaking?

Let Thomas Carlyle have the last word: “Men are to be guided only by their self-interests. Good government is a good balancing of these; and, except a keen eye and appetite for self-interest, requires no virtue in any quarter. To both parties it is emphatically a machine: to the discontented, a ‘taxing-machine’; to the contented, a ‘machine for securing property.’ Its duties and its faults are not those of a father, but of an active parish-constable.”

You sentiments exactly, dear reader?


Apex court comes of age
By Anupam Gupta

“THE mission was proceeding speedily when it hit a roadblock. A speedbreaker can be crossed, but here was a wall.”

Thus speaks Nakkheeran editor R.R. Gopal to T.S. Subramanian and Praveen Swami in the latest, November 24 issue of the Frontline magazine, referring to the Supreme Court’s dramatic intervention in the Veerappan affair.

A longtime friend of the brigand and official emissary who has already met Veerappan five times for the release of Kannada cine idol Rajkumar, Gopal’s statement (made in the course of an interview recorded on November 3) is evidence almost from the horse’s mouth of the sheer impact of the court’s intervention in an area where governments have been too scared to do anything except crumble.

Four days later on November 7, Tuesday last, the wall grew into a mountain.

“It seems to us certain,” declared the Supreme Court in its final judgement, quashing all the release and bail orders issued down south to placate the outlaw, “that Veerappan will continue with his life of crime and very likely that those crimes will have anti-national objectives.”

“While we cannot assert,” said Justice S.P. Bharucha, ruling for himself and Justice D.P. Mohapatra, “that conceding to Veerappan’s demands was a (deliberate) ploy of the government of the State of Karnataka to keep him out of the clutches of the law, we do find that it acted in panic and haste without thinking things through in doing so.”

Highly educated and absolutely clean, Karnataka’s Chief Minister S.M. Krishna is one of the few politicians in the country today who deserve to be where they are. And yet, keeping everything in mind and leaving no factor out of the reckoning, there can be no manner of doubt whatsoever that his government has been rightly censured by the Supreme Court. And censured for what should hurt an honest intellectual the most: for lack of thinking.

“For students of the handling of hostage crises,” write Subramanian and Praveen Swami in their cover story, “the Rajkumar kidnapping might one day form a textbook study of everything that ought not to be done while seeking to secure the freedom of prisoners.”

With a total of 135 cases pending against him, 119 of them of murder — 32 policemen (including a Superintendent of Police), 10 forest officials and 77 civilians have been killed by Veerappan till date — Veerappan verily is what I described him as in a previous article of September 4: India’s oldest surviving terrorist. Whether he stands charged under the TADA, or any ordinary criminal law, is wholly irrelevant to that description.

However grave the apprehension, however high the stakes — the jeopardy to Rajkumar’s life and the fear of an anti-Tamil backlash in Karnataka — governments which deal with terrorists the way Chamberlain dealt with Hitler at Munich, swallowing insult and buying peace at all costs, end up by forfeiting first their moral and then their physical authority to govern.

Even more than the 44-page judgement of Justice Bharucha, the concurring opinion of Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, just nine pages long, addresses this dimension of the Veerappan case. With a conceptual candour unprecedented in the history of the Supreme Court.

“Governments (writes Justice Sabharwal) have to consider and balance the choice between maintenance of law and order and anarchy. It does not appear that anyone considered this aspect.”

It does not appear, he says, that anyone considered that “people may lose faith in the democratic process, when they see public authority flouted and the helplessness of the government. This aspect of paralysing and discrediting the democratic authority had to be taken into consideration.”

Then follow words which take us suddenly from law to political theory, the theory of the State, and from the high moral ground of the 21st century to the rock reality of the 19th.

“It is the executive function,” he says, “to decide in public interest to withdraw from prosecution (under Section 321, Cr PC). But it is also for the Government to maintain its existence. Self-preservation is the most pervasive aspect of sovereignty. To preserve its independence and territories is the highest duty of every nation and to attain those ends nearly all other considerations are to be subordinated.”

Compare this with the wordy, starry-eyed jurisprudence of human rights spawned by the Supreme Court in the 1990s, and you will realise the difference.

That was a Supreme Court indulging in the fancies of the day, in constitutional wool-gathering of all kinds and carrying a burden its shoulders were too frail to bear.

This is a Supreme Court come of age.


Arab, African Ambassadors show their solidarity
By Humra Quraishi

Before I distract you all with what the Delhiites are doing and undoing let me fit in the details of the PLO Ambassador's Press conference, held here last Monday, to highlight the ongoing tense situation on the West Bank. In what seemed a slight departure from the routine Press conferences, Ambassadors of several Arab and African countries could also be spotted, as though expressing solidarity with the Palestinians (prominent among them were the Ambassadors of Libya and Saudi Arabia). The Press Club hall was packed----- this could be because the PLO Ambassador, Dr Khaled El Sheikh, has been posted here for several years and enjoys a good rapport with the people and also the fact that curiosity had already been highlighted because television and the Internet had been projecting some horrifying pictures of the dead and the dying.

Contrary to reports that the actual violence had subsided the Ambassador stressed that Palestinians were getting killed every day. "Even yesterday, November 5, two were killed and 51 were left injured, which included an infant and a school girl returning from school...Human Rights Commission moved in after an Italian reporter approached them, pointing out that Israel was resorting to some barbaric methods ---- targeting the head and chest whilst shooting...Even independent reports have indicated that 32 per cent were hit by live ammunition while 38 per cent were casualties by other means like gas bombs, rocket attacks and tank shells. To add to the Palestinian's plight Israel has targeted food stores, wheat mills and power stations. The Palestinian economy is suffering a daily loss of 20 million US Dollars."

The Ambassador looked somewhat uncomfortable whilst answering queries related to India's attitude vis-a-vis the Arab countries and the obvious tilt towards Israel. Stretching his diplomatic skills to the utmost he said "India supported the resolutions at the UNGA and Human Rights Commission. This goes in line with the traditional stand of India in supporting the struggle of the people of Palestine to achieve their inalienable rights..." Should we call this a traditionally safe answer!

V.S. Naipaul, Nadira and....

Two years back I had met VS Naipaul and his Pakistani wife Nadira at Khushwant Singh's home. And this week, once again, I met the couple right there. Both looked relaxed and younger than their actual years (please don't ask me precise details for I will not be able to furnish their exact ages) but what I want to put across is the fact that marriage rather remarriage (for both) seems to have done a lot of good to them. Though Naipaul looks the quiet and the introvert types, she is the exact opposite - you know one of those vivacious Punjabi women who have that great zest for talking, "maine yeh kiya ji aur..." Anyway, they make a good couple and fit well with the cliche --- opposites attract. And stay attracted!

Some hope ?

Youngsters seem to have taken over the city. Yesterday photographer-cum-crusader 14-year-old Sahir Raza exhibited his photographs at the Constitution Club to highlight the plight of the Yamuna (what with it turning into a dumping ground for all possible wastes -human to synthetic). Son of activist Shabnam Hashmi and scientist-poet Gauhar Raza, I have spotted this young boy at dharnas, protest meets. Each time his solemn and thinking expression made him stand out. And now, of course, his photographs --- some of them shot wading through the waters, filth! Maybe he manages to achieve the impossible ----actually save a choked, dying river through his sheer determination to continue highlighting its plight. And today, Saturday, the day I am filing this column 20-plus Manish Datt, better known for his Cuban cigars outlet at Santushti Shopping Complex, has added yet another attraction to the seven-inch handrolled wonders - every Saturday afternoon there will be live music in front of the outlet... after all, music and cigars and you and me go together ! And it will be a weekly feature ---- that is every Saturday afternoon, right through this winter ---- live jazz and a cigar in your mouth.

Just by the way, has winter set in your towns and cities? No, not here, and I feel so upset for those Delhiites who have over-enthusiastically pulled out their silks and are now contemplating going down to Europe to wear them !

In fact, at the reception hosted by the Austrian ambassador and spouse Shovana a great majority of the guests were in their silks and yet continued complaining that winter was not setting in. But I must say (or write) that it was one of those perfect evenings. Western classical music by Viennese artists and one of the best food spreads. ...People ate and overate (for instance, I took three helpings!) and many could be heard complimenting Shovana for the excellent arrangements. They indeed make good hosts. 


New test to detect cancer

Thousands of lives a year could be saved by a revolutionary new test that can detect most common forms of cancer before there are even any symptoms.

The cheap test, based on a simple blood sample, can find cancers as soon as they start forming and has been described as the `holy grail’ of cancer diagnosis.

Most cancers have no early symptoms, and are only diagnosed after it is too late to treat them effectively. The new DR-70 test offering early detection makes successful treatment far more likely.

The test, which costs around £ 50 ($70), in the UK can tell whether someone has any one of 13 different cancers, including those of the lungs, breast, stomach, ovaries and cervix.

The invention, developed by the Californian firm AMDL, has been approved for sale in Canada, and restricted sales began in the USA last May. It is also being used for widespread screening in Hong Kong.

Independent clinical trials have been conducted in China, Chile and Taiwan. The results, published in the respected medical publication, the Journal of Immunoassay showed that the test was more than 90 per cent accurate for cancers of the stomach and lung, and slightly less reliable for breast and rectum tumours.

The test identifies the antibodies produced by the immune system when a tumour starts growing. “As soon as the cancer is formed, and you produce the antibodies to fight it, you can detect it”, said Campbell. The test requires just 2cc of blood and takes as little as two hours to perform.

The test is especially attractive because it is non-invasive and much less daunting than others, such as mammograms for breast cancer. It also tests for a wide range of cancers, and so could replace individual tests for each type. (The Guardian)

Facts about global warming

The world’s climate is changing and our planet is becoming a warmer place. And the vast majority of climate scientists believe that the burning of oil, coal, gas and other fossil fuels is emitting greenhouse gases which are causing the planet to heat up, making our climate more erratic, and leading to an increase in both floods and droughts.

So-called `natural disasters’ have quadrupled in number in the past 30 years, rising from 16 in the 1960s to 70 in the 1990s, according to a major insurance company, Munich Reinsurance. Volcano eruptions and earthquakes however have remained much the same.

1. The world is heating up. Temperatures are rising more quickly than they have done for 10,000 years.

2. The 1990s were the warmest decade on record.

3. The earth’s average surface temperature has warmed between 0.3 to 0.6 degrees Celsius in the last 100 years. It may rise by 2 degrees in the next 100 years if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their present rate.

4. Sea levels have risen by between 10-25 centimetres in 100 years as polar ice caps have melted. They are projected to rise another 50 centimetres by 2100.

5. The chief greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. (Observer News Service)

Domain names in Asian scripts

The Internet spread its global wings further on Friday with the trendy web tags .com, .net and .org attaching themselves for the first time to thousands of domain names written in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean script. Web users around the world began snapping up Internet domain names for personal or e-commerce Web sites in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. (Reuters)

Net no fad

A leader of one of the world’s most successful Internet companies has warned investors not to be fooled into thinking the Web was a passing fad just because so many companies had withered along with Net hysteria. “One of the myths now is ‘That was fun but now it’s over’,” said Jeffrey Mallett, president and chief operating officer of U.S. Web portal Yahoo. (Reuters)

Treasures of the deep

Around 350,000 pieces of antique Chinese porcelain, from the biggest maritime disaster of its day and a huge marine salvage operation, are to be auctioned over the Internet. The porcelain, some of which went on display at Harrods department store on Thursday, will be put up for auction in over 16,000 lots, with round-the-clock bidding over a period of eight days from November 17. (Reuters)



The road to happiness is always under construction.


If opportunity does not knock, building a door.


In outer space there are no speed-breakers.


Goodwill is love in action.


If you betray you will be betrayed.


You cannot build castles on the foundation of sand.


Right is right, even if there is a lone voice for if and wrong is wrong, even if it is practiced by a vast majority.


See every difficulty as a challenge,

a stepping stone,

and never be defeated

by anything

or anyone.


If I keep weaknesses of others in mind they soon become a part of me.


That which is simple is close to truth.


If revenge is sweet, why does it leave a bitter taste.


Goodwill is the mightiest force in the universe.


Happiness is no laughing matter.


You cannot climb uphill by thinking downhill thoughts.


Some persons think they have made a success of life when all they have made is money.


The world will be better place when individuals become better.

— From Purity, April 1997, July 1997, April 1998, July 1998.

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