The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, November 26, 2000

Women writers in Hindi on top and soaring
Review by  Satya Pal Sehgal

The much maligned philosopher
Review by V. N. Datta

Roots of corruption in society
Review by
Randeep Wadehra 

High linguistics in local language
Review by Jaspal Singh

Bribe and official bragging
Review by Kuldip Kalia


Hindi literature

Women writers in Hindi
on top and soaring
Review by Satya Pal Sehgal

OF late, many novels in Hindi written by women have attracted popular attention. From the celebrated Krishna Sobti to the younger ones like Alka Saravagi and Jaya Jadvani. Even a limited acquaintance with these works would reveal that novel writing in Hindi by women has come of age. In the sense that not only the number of significant women novelists has increased but also the range of subjects they deal with. And, of course, with deftness which have received immediate attention and respect. Readers of these columns must be informed about by Matrai Pushpa’s "Chak", Chitra Moudgal’s "Awan", Jay Jadvani’s "Tatmasi", Geetanjali Shri’s "Hamara shehar us baras", Prabha Khatan’s "Peeli andhi", Mridula Garg’s "Vanshaj", novels which have appeared lately.

For an extended study, I have taken up "Samay sargam" by Krishna Sobti (Rajkamal, Delhi) and "Kali-katha: via bypas" by Alka Saravagi (Aadhar Prakashan, Punchkula). "Samay Sargam" is not only a novel by a women who has commanded the most respect beyond the borders of Hindi, but also provides a text which cries out for evaluated because of its many merits. Alka Saravagi’s "Kali-katha" was an instant hit and the phenomenon and the novel which generated it must be analysed.

"Samay sargam" is a novel about aging people. Or is it just about Aranaya and Ishan who see the other bank of the river! Is it an autobiographical novel? In any case, "Samay Sargam" is almost a unique text in Hindi novel as it studies characters who feel that their time has come, that it is almost the end of the road. The novel does not reach classic heights, though the subject has the potential. However, look at the text as an attempt to confront the subject which is not mere "fiction" but life itself. That makes us realise the accomplishment of the writer better. Interestingly, another novel, "Antim Aranya" by Nirmal Verma, published this year, also focuses on death. A comparative study of the two may be illuminating. Comparison between the two is stark in courage, intellectual distancing, objectivity and world view they apply to understand the ultimate.

As the title of the novel by Sobti suggests, there is a melody and rhythm throughout. And it is not by accident that Aranaya, the protagonist, also loves music. She is just not a lady getting old, though as a close reading of the novel reveals, this is more of an apprehension. She struggles and her struggle is basically against this apprehension. Otherwise, she handles her routine quite efficiently, without self-pity. And she is single and alone! That is what is peculiar about her! Peculiar about Hindi novel as well! A woman in search of her identity outside the family fold getting old! No remorse for her. Except, perhaps her own body.

There are these lengthy discussions with Ishan on the virtue of family. And she is not an anarchist! She values relationships. But she cannot be over-appreciative of the protection the family provides if it saps her confidence in her own self.

In fact, this central character of the novel has a perceptible social consciousness. Through her, the novel tries to relate itself to current history without indulging in social analysis. It proceeds chiefly with the friendly interactions Aranaya amd Ishan have. Interactions of two lonely, single, conscious beings. Aranaya brings in a social tinge, she acts so that the "idea" in the novel is located in the civil, social life rather than the spiritual. One may say that the novelist is definitely conscious of the"’message" and visualises novel as a medium for that.

Because of that, the novel does not end when the end comes. Sobti adds an epilogue, an appendix to the novel, it is part of the story-line but having an independent title "Yah dharati". This particular chapter of three pages coming at the very end of the book discusses Kashmir, human rights and the hegemony of superpowers. And of course environment. And the very last line of the chapter is — "Nuclear weapons ! Never ! Never".

Is this chapter an attempt to create an "alienation" effect as German playwright Bretolt Brecht perceived and practiced in his plays? So that the audience, in this case readers, come out of the story and face the concreteness of history without illusions, there and then ! Frankly speaking, the "attempt" looks quite weak artistically. However, this is in consonance with the intrinsic attempt of the novelist, that is to create a text for the coming generations as attempted by Kumar Vikal in his famous poem "Dhara samaparan" ("Nirupama Dult mein bahut udaas hoan").

Chapter 20 of "‘Samay sargam" carries a letter from a Yugoslav soldier from his death bed to his unborn son! And he wishes him a life full of strength and love! A world plentyful. As such Krishna Sobti’s characters face their destiny positively and in a varied manner. And the novel also retains the unique magic touch of Sobti’s pen, though the treatment of language is unlike Sobti’s. It is Sanskritised. Philosophical expressions in the novel are a little obscure. The shift in language style needs explanation. Interestingly, the language of Hindi writers tend to be Sanskaritsed whenever they turn philosphical! Has stereotype taken over Sobti?

Almost 30 years younger there Sobti, Alka Saravagi belongs to the so-called post-modern times in Hindi fiction. This periodisation is entirely arbitrary. In fact, the debate over post-modernity has never fully developed in Hindi criticism. As far as literary output goes, changes in forms of narrative are quite evident. New Hindi fiction presents many examples and Alka Saravagi’s novel "Kali-katha" is one such. It is precisely the presence of sutradhar in her case. A few more strategies which keep on breaking the linear growth of the novel to develop a novelistic form quite different to the most of the modernistic realistic tradition have seen in last 50 years.

The characterising of the form of her novel apart, Saravagi does attract the reader’s attention for it. However, such innovative, new forms are not exclusive to Saravagi and are a trend. May be Saravagi has done it better than others or she appears more authentic as a whole, including the form. Discerning readers may raise the question of originality and point towards foreign sources. That would be unfair for a few reasons. In an interview given to literary monthly "Hans" Saravagi said she has not read much, including some classic Hindi novels! That she is part of an emerging trend would be a better explanation. And that trend owes itself to changed history. Worldwide. Rightly or wrongly.

It is the content of the novel and novelist’s sobriety and maturity in dealing with her theme and also her capacity to throw possibilities for future which are the possible reasons for her success. That her novel suits the temper of established criticism in Hindi is another matter. The novel which revolves around the Marwari settlers in Calcutta, may not be an exhaustive study of the Marwari diaspora, but it definitely provides an understanding hitherto unavailable to general Hindi readers. Even the protagonist of the novel, Kishore Babu, wants one. He wants to knowwhether the Marwaris really betrayed the cause of independence, helped the Englishmen annexe and India rule over it? Are they really a community doomed to cultural "exclusivity" and "backwardness’? Why did they leave Rajputana for far off Bangal and Assam, never leaving Marwar behind, even for a moment, mentally? What does success in trade mean to them? Precisely, it is the "humane" which Kishore Babu, now at the fag end of his life, is looking for in the story, beginning from his great-great-grandfather.

It is here the basic contribution of the novel lies. Saravagi has succeeded in portraying the lows and highs of the Marwaris, through the family of Kishore Babu and his ancestors on a "humanistic" plane. As she herself belongs to the community, she has an insider’s view of the "dynamics" of the community and a reasonable detachment as well. Her observations are sharp and she can provide enough realistic details, necessary for a novel which revels in the past. And she has the felicity of the language as well. A language amply suited to the task before her. The great cultural hubbub of Calcutta, the great literary past of Bengal does not inhibit her writing. In a way, her novel in Hindi establishes in a subtle manner the exclusivity of the Marwaris in Calcutta. Calcutta, as the Bengalis would love to remember, may be missing here. Calcutta is here as the Marwaris live it — always attached to "des" - - the Rajputana, Marwar. Incidentally, the ancestors of Kishore Babu belong to Bhiwani city, which is at present part of Haryana bordering Rajasthan. The novel is about Bhiwani as well, because here lies the root, the havali, which the great-grandfather of Kishore Babu dreamt of while leaving for Calcutta in the 19th century.

"Kali-katha" is also the story of the protagonist Kishore Babu, who after a bypass surgery has lapsed into that zone of darkness and light for which mental asylums are thought to be the last refuge. In this overt break-up of the personality emerges a past which looks for synthesis and validity. A guilt and a rage which needs to be finally washed off. Through him, the socio-political history of the prepartition and post-partition Calcutta takes shape. Kishore Babu did participate in the freedom movement in his own way but could never fully resolve the dichotomy between "self" and the "other". He also fails to reconcile the dichotomy between "tradition" and "modernity" and "ideal" and "practical". His friend Amolak did. That is why he surfaces again at the end of the novel after being killed in Babri Maszid demolition riots. So Amolak is the conscience of the story who haunts Kishore Babu. He is a staunch Gandhian.

Through Kishore Babu’s personal saga, this novel too turns into a novel of "messages". Hindi fiction has predominately used novel as an explicit carrier of "messages". Saravagi has done it with a "purpose" and she might be fully aware of the debate between "purpose" and "art". It appears she has taken a conscious decision in favour of "purpose", and . That decision has become her virtue rather than a weakness as it happens in the case of other story-tellers. For a first novel, she shows a distinct sense of proportion and the novel is almost without a blemish, if one does not disagree with the fundamental of this stream of the novel.

What the novel does best is that it presents the possibilities of a young women fiction writer on a grand scale. Look at this. The central character of her novel is a male. In fact, the entire novel is crowded by male characters. Never for a moment we doubt or underestimate her capacity to depict male characters. For once, this is not a woman-centric novel as coming from a woman writer. Though its feminist reading is possible, the novel is not a very good example of that. On the contrary, it provides the readers with an opportunity to learn that there are accomplished woman writers around who are not gender-specific.



Off the shelf
The much maligned
Review  by V. N. Datta

BERTRAND Russell, the Nobel Prize winning philosopher, was indeed one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. His appeal was universal. He was an original thinker known and respected for his power of analysis. His erudition was amazing, his crticism solid and his intellect for analysing fundamental questions of life and knowledge piercing and lucid. He remained all his life a highly controversial figure on some issues such as war and peace, morals and marriage, and the problem relating to metapolysis, but he never deviated from his strong beliefs.

He was firmly committed to the scientific spirit of enquiry and humanistic ideals, to which he attached total importance. As a philosopher his contribution was outstanding and I can think of no other philosopher who exercised such a profound influence on the thinking of the intelligentsia of his time as he.

The book under review is "Bertrand Russell, 1921-70: The Ghost of Madness" by Ray Monk (Jonathan Cape, pages 574, £ 25). This is the second of Monk’s two-volume biography of Russell and is a sequel to the first which was reviewed in The Tribune and which ended with World War I, Russell’s pacifist role, and the termination of his prestigious Trinity College, Cambridge, Fellowship that led to his migration to the USA. World War I also marked the point when Russell abandoned doing serious work on mathematical logic.

Ray Monk is a well-known philosopher, who had established a reputation as a highly competent and versatile biographer after his study "Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius". Monk confesses that he had no difficulty in writing a straight forward biography of Wittgenstein because his subject had no guile and indulged in no trickery. All that he had to do was to sit back and make Wittgenstein speak. But that was not the case with Russell who was a very complex person ridden by fear, arrogance, self-righteousness, vanity and other weaknesses to which flesh is heir to.

Contrasted with his highly sensitive and sympathetic portrait of Wittgenstein, this work casts Russell in the most unfavourable light, generating hardly any admiration for him either as a philosopher or a man, though Monk acknowledges reluctantly that Russell had placed mathematics on a logical foundation and this attempt enormously helped shape the tradition of analytical philosophy as well as spawning the discipline of mathematical logic. But Russell’s interests were wider and extended far beyond the English academia. Monk gives an overall impression that Russell was flippant in what he thought and said.

It must be acknowledged that throughout his life Russell was a firm believer in liberalism and parliamentary democracy. The extreme type of communism which represented appalling despotism and terror of Lenin and Stalin repelled him and he propagated ideals of moderate socialism. According to him, the marxist interpretation of history which regarded human action as determined primarily by class interests was untrue and rash.

He wrote that the view that "dialectical materialism governs human history independent of human volition is mere mythology". He emphasised that truth was one thing but official truth was another. He accused the nation of "double think" and "double-talk", which had become a habit with some of the leading intellectuals and politicians of his time. To Russell nothing was a worse curse to humankind than poverty which he wanted to be eliminated at any cost. He opposed vehemently the suppression of truth and the spread of falsehood by means of the public agency.

According to Monk, one of the favourite themes of Russell was to make a distinction between wisdom and knowledge. Russell regarded philosophy as the queen of sciences because it gives wisdom which fortifies man’s capacity to take cognisance of all factors in a problem and to give each its due weight and thereby enable him to arrive at his own independent conclusion. Such a temper fosters a spirit of freedom from personal prejudices and predilections.

Like a police prosecutor, Monk investigates Russell’s motives and apportions blame on him on a number of counts. The first charge is that in frittering away his time and energy in journalism and pamphleteering, Russell gave up creative work for which he possessed outstanding intellectual gifts. Monk emphasises that Russell’s later attempts to re-enter academia and make his mark evoked a cold reception. Monk points out that Russell’s journalism covered a wide field, touched on a variety of themes and was more popular than his masterpiece "Principia Mathematic". Monk condemns his journalism as "superficial, trite, naive, trivial and topical".

Monk’s second charge is that Russell, a thrice-divorced husband, treated his wives cruelly and neglected his children and grandchildren. He blames Russell for the nervous breakdown of his son John who become a schizophrenic and the unhappiness of John’s daughter. Monk passes no judgement on the antics of his wives and the unstable behaviour of John and his wife. He also ignores the enduring love for Russell of his daughter Kate and her children and his first wife Alys.

Monk does not tell us why Russell took to journalism. It was for the propagation of public causes for which he needed money. He had realised that the cause of peace in the world torn by conflicts was of fundamental importance, and in this education was the most powerful weapon. That is why he founded a school which he had to finance by writing articles and giving lectures in the USA. Despite financial strain, Russell and his wife Dora managed to run the school until the 1930s.

In this school, Russell devised innovative methods of teaching by using the latest psychological theories while ignoring his own miseries such as disruption of his marriage. He knew that he could not earn a living from logical analysis.

When he was young Russell had given away quite a substantial amount of money to the budding London School of Economics, founded by the Webbs. It seems that in this highly provocative study Monk’s attempt throughout is to fault Russell, and the main reason for this virulent indictment is that Russell gave up the study of philosophy and indulged in frivolous journalism which did no good to him or to society. But Russell needed money. Asked why he had written a short essay for Glamour, a popular advertising magazine, he said, "I did it for £ 50."

To be charitable to Russell, it may be said that he gave up philosophy because of Wittgenstein’s severe criticism of his own intellectual self-confidence. Russell realised that he could no longer make any original contribution to philosophy. One could admire this attitude as a sincere example of intellectual honesty which only a few are capable of showing. He told Virginia Woolf: "The brain becomes rigid at 50."

Monk ignores Russell’s great qualities of mind and sensitivity. Russell had an artist’s mind and said simple things which clever people could not say and simplified profound and abstruse problems of philosophy with utmost lucidity. It seems that he seldom wrote anything he did not enjoy writing. Monk finds it absolutely ridiculous and dishonest on Russell’s part to preach day in and day out the gospel of love and tolerance but act in practice just the opposite. There was a wide gap between what he said and what he did.

Monk hardly says anything on Russell as an intellectual of his age distinguished for his quick grasp of problems he was trying to resolve, his detached way of looking at the universe, and his trenchant criticism of cant and hypocracy which he saw in the conduct of human affairs. In his analysis of human problems he made a remarkable use of irony and contradiction in arriving at startlingly new generalisations.

In the decade following 1945 when dark clouds of nuclear war threatened world peace, Russell sent telegrams to world leaders appealing for peace and disarmament. This initiative was greatly commended by Nikita Khruschev, John F. Kennedy, Jawaharlal Nehru and Zhou Enlai and others but, strangely enough, Monk calls that efforts on Russell’s part as funny and ridiculous.

In Monk’s eyes, Russell never did anything right. In his old age Russell was no longer a pacifist. He supported a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union to prevent it from developing the bomb. He wrote, "Communism must be wiped out, and world government must be established."

This work is disturbingly biased but it still brings out Monk’s qualities as a writer of exquisite prose.Top


Write View
Roots of corruption in society
Review by Randeep Wadehra

Vigilance Professional edited by S. Subramanian. Associ-ation for Advancement of Police Security Sciences, Hyderabad. Rs 125.

LET me start this piece with a heartening news. We all talk of corruption. We beat our breasts in the drawing room, the club room and, well, even on the street, telling anyone who cares to listen how corruption is eating into the very vitals of our society and how the polity has gone to the dogs, literally as well as metaphorically. When it comes to positive action to stem the rot, well, we sagely point out that it is beyond us.

That there is really no need to soil one’s hands while fighting corruption has been proved by the publishers of this book. It dwells on such burning topics as "Corrupt judge — trapped and convicted" by S. Krishnamurthy, an expert on court martial and disciplinary inquiries; "Strategies to deal with corruption in organisations" by C.V. Narasimhan, a retired IPS officer; "Ethics in organisations" by C.L. Ramakrishnan, a retired IPS officer; "Basic concepts of vigilance" by K. Madhavan, a former joint director of the CBI; "Liberalisation of regime and vigilance" by former CBI Director Joginder Singh and several other equally qualified and experienced professionals.

One is looking forward to the documented expose on our politicians, cricketers, film stars and other icons in the subsequent issues of this well produced professional journal. At an annual subscription of Rs 500, this is an invaluable addition to your reading material for, it impels you to think about the ways and means of cleansing the system. I hope you share the optimism of the journal’s editor that it is still not too late to bring back the fragrance of honesty and uprightness in our society. At least I do.

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Patterns of Work Culture by Jai B.P. Sinha. Sage, New Delhi. Pages 260. Rs 200.

One of the pearls of corporate wisdom is to cultivate employee loyalty. This can be done by winning over their trust. This trust is essentially built on the bedrock of transparent corporate policies wherein the worker has a sense of participation in the running of the organisation’s affairs. The environment in which a person works determines an organisation’s work culture, which is an important ingredient of the larger social culture.

According to Sinha, social culture is the totality of assumptions, beliefs and values acquired and held by a majority of people in a geographical area for the purpose of adapting to the ever-changing environment and developing an identity in order to maintain continuity in the core areas of lifestyle. Thus their desire to maintain continuity and to adapt to external demands is reflected through social systems, institutions, physical artifacts and popular behaviour.

It is within the above parametres that work culture is defined in an organisation. Technology, corporate assets and human resources combine to establish goals, delegate roles and set off the corporate dynamics to give birth to its work culture.

It should not come as a surprise that every organisation has its unique work ethos and culture, which is normally impossible to replicate. Yet it is possible to define in lucid terms, to quote the MOW team, "the degree of general importance that working has in the life of an individual at any given point of time."

This importance, says Sinha, is understood at two levels of concepts. The base-level concepts are commitment, participation and knowledge, which form the primary psychological base, consisting of effect (emotions and feeling), action and cognition. Commitment and participation combine to give rise to involvement. Commitment and knowledge determine the degree of one’s interest in work. Participation and knowledge influence the extent of one’s engagement in work. Therefore involvement, interest and engagement form the second level concepts which determine the importance of work.

Organisational culture is a concept different from work culture. It includes factors as divergent as organisational mission, philosophy, goals, objectives, systems, technology, managerial practices and relationships. Employee beliefs and values regarding work are also factored in. Ideally, these factors when properly harnessed result in qualitatively and quantitatively optimum productivity. However, it should be noted that when employees begin to maximise their personal or sectional gains, or meet their socio-personal obligations without caring to perform well or strive to achieve corporate goals, it becomes a case of non-work culture.

Based on the above premises, Sinha asserts, "Work is not intrinsically valued in India. There exists a culture of aram, which roughly means rest and relaxation without [being] preceded by hard and exhausting work. Although there are large regional variations, it is not infrequent to find a large number of people sitting here and there and doing nothing. Even those who are employed often come late to office and leave early unless they are forced to be punctual..."

He has contrasted this with the social culture prevailing in Japan. He further points out that there is need for triggering off the process of building a work-centric culture. This is possible by taking into consideration the following sets of interrelated factors:-

  • The import of western forms of organisation with their technological requirements;

«streams of Indian cultural influences;

  • major policy decisions, new economic arrangements, the changing industrial scenario, globalisation of the market and other environmental imperatives;

  • sector-specific strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities; and

  • the available perspectives on culture building in the behavioural sciences.

Of course, the quality of leadership plays a decisive role in culture building. M.N. Srinivas talks of vertical solidarity. Schein avers, "Organisational cultures are created by leaders, and one of the most decisive functions of leadership may well be the creation, the management and — if and when that becomes necessary — destruction of the culture."

Giving the Indian perspective, Sinha points out that here an effective leader has, first of all, to be nurturant who cares for his subordinates, shows them affection, helps them grow and gain experience and expertise, and takes interest in their well-being. The leader allows his subordinates to cultivate a personalised relationship with him, and to depend on him for guidance, direction and emotional support. However, his nurturance is "contingent on his subordinates putting in hard and sincere work. He himself is a role model...."

It is true that despite all the hype of India being an IT superpower, we as a nation have yet to evolve a reasonably identifiable work ethics, let alone a full-fledged work-conducive social culture.

Certain organisations, even in the private sector, are running on colonial style work principles — you have to visit our tea estates to witness this. Then there are organisations that are part American and part British in character — the boss would like his workers to work in an informal environment but expects them to treat him as an overlord! The Japanese style work-culture wherein the decision making process and communication is a two-way traffic, is yet to strike roots here.

Sinha’s tome is an invaluable addition to the growing literature on the current management-related problems. It provides us with case studies backed by figures. Most importantly, it gives both employers and employees plenty of food for thought and a benchmark for self-assessment.

In an age when there is a dire need for global managers capable of working in cross-cultural environments, Indian corporations can ill-afford to have outdated managerial practices and an archaic work culture. As for social culture, our ruling elite will have to update its worldview, but that is wishful thinking at least in the foreseeable future.

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Communities and Conservation by Ashish Kothari. Sage, New Delhi. Pages 505. Rs 325.

Our natural habitat is threatened with extinction. Everyday countless species of flora and fauna get wiped out, with no hope of regeneration despite all the talk of cloning and other regenerative techniques. Biodiversity might well become a mere word in the lexicon of hapless environmentalists, unless something drastic is done to stem the rot.

This is being increasingly realised around the world. Conservation is becoming the mantra of people and organisations around the world. UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere [MAB] programme aims at improving scientific understanding of natural and social processes relating to man’s interaction with his environment.

It aims at achieving this improvement by providing information useful to decision-making on resource use, promoting conservation of genetic diversity as an integral part of land management, enjoining the efforts of scientists, policy makers and local people in problem solving ventures, mobilising resources for field activities and strengthening of regional cooperative structures.

There is a growing global emphasis on community based conservation (CBC). There are several reasons for this. In developing countries like India over two-thirds of protected areas have human habitation resulting in human activities apart from tourism. This daily interaction of local communities with this species sought to be conserved does pose special problems which defy easy solutions. For example, when exclusive zones — free of human presence — were sought to be created, there was violent resistance from those who would be either evicted from such areas or would be deprived of the economic benefits that sustained their survival.

It is true that outside the protected areas too there is significant wildlife that needs conservation. To avoid conflict, CBC would be ideal. This becomes all the more imperative since the various governmental agencies are unable to perform the task of conservation due to various constraints. In order to garner political support it is essential that CBC succeeds, for the politician always sides with the majority. A strong CBC-driven public opinion will force political parties to give conservation top priority.

On the other hand, the tendency to separate human activities from conservation processes should be checked. In fact the common man should be made aware of the effect that his various activities have on our bio-wealth. This would make him demand more eco-friendly products and services. Once CBC gains momentum, the costs relating to conservation will dramatically go down as there would be no need for spending on large-scale vigilance.

Voluntary contributions in the form of labour, material and services will obviate the need for maintaining a large conservation-related work force.

This book presents a regional as well as global overview of the need for CBC and various conceptual and practical issues facing it. It gives country profiles of CBC in India, Mangolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. It highlights the factors that either hinder or assist CBC.

It then goes on to explore a range of issues which are gradually confronting CBC — namely, the importance of institutional structures, the relevance of traditional and local knowledge, the legal and policy frameworks, the gender and other equity issues, as well as the issue of benefit sharing.

Carrying relevant case studies, statistics and maps, this book is indispensable for the conservationist and the layman alike.Top


Punjabi literature
High linguistics in local language
Review by Jaspal Singh

GURCHARAN SINGH ARSHI Singh Arshi, the "seniormost" university professor of Punjabi at Patiala, is also easily the most prolific literary critic. Although he has tried his hand at every genre of literature, he has made a mark only as a critic.

Till now he has contributed 10 volumes to this particular field but "Sahit Smeekhia", "Sidhant ate Vishleshan", "Smeekhia Drishtian", "Pachhmi Kaav Shastar" and the latest "Sidhant-Chintan: Astitva ton Virachna tak" have been the most talked about in literary circles.

He has worked really hard with a sense of commitment to complete this arduous work keeping in view the needs of his students.

The sheer range of his study is breath taking to ordinary mortals. The present volume, "Sidhant-chitan: Astitva on Virachna tak", (perspective of literary theory: from existence to deconstruction), arsi publishers, Delhi, covers the entire range of modern critical thought which even seasoned scholars cannot easily grapple with.

Fifteen chapters in this book deal with "Existentialism", "Marxism", "Russian formalism", "New American criticism", Psychoanalysis", "Structuralism", "Thematics", "Stylistics", "Semiotics", "systems theory", "orientalism", "feminism", "post-structuralism", "postmodernism", and "deconstruction" — a mind-boggling intellectual recipe indeed! It needs the nerve of an Arshi to touch this high explosive and with such exemplary daring.

Existentialism, the author says, begins with man not with nature as most of schools of thought do. an as "being" is diffused in the entire expose of existence. Thought, action and realisation are the properties which ":being" is invested with. But the "being" in order "to be" must "exists".

Soren Kierkegaard, Martin heidegger and jaan Paul Sartre are the main thinkers to propound these ideas Sartre says, "Existence precedes essence", therefore the march of "being" from being-in-itself to being-for-itself has to be understood in relation to such concepts as "choice", "finitude", "guilt", "action", "anxiety", "responsibility", "anguish" and "death".

In literature Detoyevski, Kafka, Sartre, Camus, Samuel Beckett and so on were influenced by existentialist thought.

Marxism, according to Arshi, is the product of the ideas of Karl Marx, Engels, V.I Lenin and Joseph Stalin. Dialectical materialism and historical materialism are the basis of Marxism. The concept of ideology as "false consciousness" is elaborated as a set of ideas and institutions that legitimise the hegemony of a particular class in a given social system.

The author defines surplus value — a central Marxism concept — as the difference between wages and the price of commodity, which according to him, was a concept borrowed by Marx from Adam Smith, Malthus and David Ricardo. This obviously is a misrepresentation of this concept for which Marx devoted three volumes to study it in all its ramifications in the capitalist mode of production. The classical economists had an entirely different idea of exploitation under the capitalist system.

Contribution to Marxian literary theory by people like Ernest Fischer, Ralph Fox, Cristopher Candwell, George Lukacs, Pierre Macherey, Lucien Goldman and Fredric Jameson has been briefly commented on. But seminal thinkers like Plekhanov, Gramsci and Mao Zedong have not been given the space they deserve in the Marxist critical theory, nor do the neo-Marxists of Western Europe.

Russian formulism, Arshi says, came into being in 1914 and it held its sway till 1930. Two 19th century Russian thinkers, Alexander Potebnya and Alexander Vaselosky, influenced the formalists. Both thinkers held that the study of literature is basically study of the literary language deployed by the author and secondly, the poetic language has to be differentiated from practical scientific language or from referential prose.

The third dimension to this perception was added by the later formalists who concentrated more on the poetic image that mediates between the material world and the aesthetic creation by imposing another level of signification on it. The traditional dichotomy of "form" and "content" was rejected by the Formalists since they believed that "form is content".

The formalists also grappled with narrative techniques used in textual structures of the literary compositions. Shklovsky, Tomashvsky, Tynjanov, Eichenbaum and others associated with the "Opajaz group, "really held their sway in Russian literary circles in the early days of the Soviet Union before being officially snubbed by the powers that be.

New American criticism, though it has its roots in the early 20th century critical ideas made its mark as a powerful literary movement by the end of first half of the century. By this time all major statements of this school had appeared. Ezra Pound, T.S. Elliot, I.A. Richard, William Empson, John Ransom, Cleanth Brooks, R.P. Blackmur, Theodore Greene, Allen Tate and other members of the "Fugitive Group" had propounded their major postulates during this period.

The new critics concentrated on text, "texture and structure of the literary composition without any reference to the biographical aspect of the author. Allen Tate particularly dealt with the romantic tension in poetry" that helps in the realisation of meaning in a poem which was considered to be autonomous organic structure of images and paradoxes that could be deciphered only through a "close reading".

Psycho-analytical criticism is based on Frendian psychology and its later development at the hands of Alfred Adler, C.G. Jung and other neo-Freudians like Karen Horney, Eric Fromm, Ernest Jones and even Jacques Lecan who added a new dimension to it by drawing some inspiration from the linguists like Saussure and Jakobson.

Structuralism as a method of literary criticism was mainly based on Saussurian linguistics, Geslalt philosophy, Marxian dialectics and Freudian psychology. The brilliant application of this method by Clande levistrauss in anthropology added to its prestige as a method of analysis for folk-forms and literary compositions.

Structuralism held its sway in the sixties and seventies of the 20th century in the wester world of intellection. Structuralists also borrowed from the Russian Formalists, particularly from V. Propp, the ideas of "Opojaz Group" and the "Pragve Circles of Linguistics", College de France and Ecole des Hautes Etudes became the main centres of structuralist studies since people like levi-strauss, greimas, Benveniste, Roland Barthes, Lacan, Foncault, Althusser, Kristiva and other members of the "Tel Quel" group were mainly concentrated in these centres in France.

For the structuralists every literary or cultural text is an organised whole of different units and elements that constitute a network of relations and is always in a state of flux and transformation. Thematics is the way of studying literary texts by unlocking thematic units which comprise them. Critics like Georges Poulet and Engene Falk are its main exponents. Folk has used "component motif" and "leitmotif" to denote the repetitive occurance of certain thematic images and patterns in the text.

Stylistics is intimately linked with linguistics. It is a linguistic study of texts at the level of phoneme, morpheme and syntax, so that the process of realisation of meaning is understood by decoding the linguistic strategies used in the discourse. Charles Bally is the main critic to initiate this kind of analysis. Concepts like "norm" and "deviation" in the use of language, "foregrounding" and "backgrounding" certain aspects in the narrative structure and laying bare syntactical devices in the textual discourse are some of the analytical tools applied by the stylisticians.

Marcel Cressot, Leo Spitzer, Erich Auerbach, Damaso Alonso and Stephan Ullmann are some other practitioners of this method in literary criticism.

Semiotics is another modern school of literary criticism. It is based on the ideas of Fardinand de Saussure, the father of modern linguistics. Two American philosophers, C.S. Peirce and Charles Morries, added a positivistic dimension to this science. Semiotics is defined as the study of signs, including languages, folk forms, beliefs, films, kinesic movements, including dance, painting sculpture and musical patterns etc. In short everything that can send out a message is the subject matter of semiotics.

Roland Barthes, Umbert Eco, Thomas Sebeok, Yuri Lotman, H.S. Gill, Todorov, Michael Riffaterre and so on are the main semioticians. They have analysed dozens of "texts", both literary and cultural, and have come out with exciting results.

The Systems Theory has also been one of the most modern literary fads. This perspective has been used both in social and physical sciences, particularly in bio-sciences. Its founder, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, was an Austrian biologist and philosopher.

In the field of language Sanssure was perhaps the first thinker who defined language as a system of signs which express ideas. Literature as a system has been analysed by people like Clando Guillan and Anthony Wilden.

Recently Orientalism has been a very fashionable term. A number of Asian scholars living in the West are very active in this field. Mention may be made of Edward said, Homi Bhaba, Gayatri Chakravorty and Ijaz Ahmed. All of them are trying to prove that the westerns treat the natives of the Third World as infants and children, sometimes they even treat them with "love" and "affection".

The credulous people of the Third World buy these gimmicks and start behaving like obedient "sons". The subaltern consciousness vis-a-vis the western overall hegemony has paved the way for an eastern point of view.

Since most of the Third World intellectuals are western trained, they still try to impose a western perspective as universally relevant to all times and places.

The creation of "orient" by western scholars has been a systematic epistemological ploy to tame the "wild" East.

Feminist criticism views the literary texts from the women angle. The use of language in respect of women by male writers is not the same as in the case of men. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronounce and syntactic structures describing the female display a kind of male prejudice and an overall male hegemony in the patriarchal order of society. Simone de Beauvoir’s "The second sex" is probably the first text to raise the problem of famine treatment in writing. Later on, Mary Ellmann, Toril Moi, Luce Irigaray, Elaine Showalter and so on analysed the texts from a femine angle treating the women as a separate oppressed class of society.

Arshi’s post-Structuralism, post modernism and deconstruction have many things in common. Most of the structuralist thinkers like Michael Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida are presented as post-structuralists and post-modernists as well. Jurgen Habermas, Jean Francois Lyotard and Fredric Jameson have been rightly included in the category of post modernists. Jacques Derrida and Paul de Man are presented as the main exponents of deconstruction. Hence the last three chapters overlap one another. There are certain errors in names when they are spelled in Punjabi. Most of the names being of French and East European origin, create a problem of pronunciation for an outsider.

Similarly Derrida’s "grammatology" has nothing to do with grammar. It deals with the study of the writing process and the problems of phonocentrism" and "kogocentrism" — that is the problem of the spoken word and its written version where it is devoid of all articulatory strategies of communication.

Another lapse on part of the author is that his treatment of Roland Barther, a seminal structuralist and post-structuralist thinker, is inadequate. A lot of work on semiotics has been done at Patiala and JNU under the guidance of H.S. Gill, which strangely does not find a mention anywhere in the book. Incidentally his work has been globally acclaimed and Gill has contributed brilliant articles to world famous encyclopedias and was recently invited by college de France to deliver a series of lectures on such themes.

Despite these minor lapses, which the author can do away with in the second edition, this attempt by all means is singular and is immensely useful to students, scholars, and teachers of literature.

It is for the first time that such a comprehensive work on such complex theories in the field of critics thought has appeared in Punjabi. Well done!



Bribe and official bragging
Review by Kuldip Kalia

Corruption at the Grassroots the Shades and Shadows edited by N. Narayanasamy, M.P. Boraian and M.A. Jeyaraju. Concept Publishing, New Delhi. Pages 198. Rs 275.

CORRUPTION is a global phenomenon, Indra Gandhi said. The principles, values and the so-called morality stand relegated to the background. Money has become the fundamental and dominant aspect of life and its vulgar display ensures a respectable status in society. Nobody bothers to know the means adopted for amazing the wealth. The nexus between dishonest officers and corrupt politicians makes a mockery of plans, policies and schemes. In a nutshell, it is the personal interest and not national interest which matters the most. Even a compromise with national security cannot be ruled out.

The book under review expresses concern about rampant corruption; tries to trace its roots; highlights its causes and explains the consequences of corruption on administration, economy, the political system and the moral of the people. Also it examines in detail the effectiveness of the existing programmes and policies to contain corruption. Above all the strategies planned to eliminate corruption at the grassroots are discussed in a comprehensive manner.

Persons like Gunner Mydran want us to believe that corruption, besides its negative effects, has some advantage too. Truly speaking it ensures that the file moves as and when the palm right is greased. So it increases economic efficiency. In this context, why forget Nehru? Once a Congressmen went to him against the Chief Minister of Kerala for indulging in corrupt practices. Nehru asked what is the amount?When said, Rs 1 lakh? "Oh no! Please go home, Rs 1 lakh is not corruption." Similarly when a minister, Parampally Govinda Menon, was charged with having taken Rs 5 crore, Menon had said "I have taken 5 paisa on average from each voter in my constituency. Is that corruption?

Corruption is such a complex phenomenon that one may call it bribery, nepotism, misappropriation of resources, giving or receiving gifts, cheating, fraud, dishonesty, embezzlement, commission, scam or kickback. It is therefore, difficult to define corruption in fixed words or terms but one thing is certain that whenever there is any deviation from the code of conduct, by and large, it amounts to a corrupt practice.

Poverty, low salary and power without accountability are said to be the reasons for corruption. It continues to grow and enters everywhere. Even then it is not a casual or haphazard activity. It is being practised in a systematic nd organised manner. However it never operates independently or in isolation. Thus there is always a strong chain and there is hardly any chance of its being broken.

With the introduction of panchayat raj it has really come down to the grass roots level and thereby forming a long chain from Parliament to panchayats. In fact it has been woven into the "wrap and weft" of the rural fabric. District collectors, taluk office, police stations, government hospital, courts and, above all, local politicians are said to be hotbeds of corruption. Even schools in villages are not running properly the mid-day meal to children does not reach and, medicines which are to be distributed free at primary health centres are sold to uninformed patients. The most fertile areas of corruption are public works, including construction of roads and bridges or sewerage etc.

Moral values has deteriorated to such an extent that price tags for a posting of a particular PHC is Rs 1 lakh. This was revealed when the doctors were asked to explain the reason for their corrupt practices. This shows how corruption distorts the welfare goals and even marginalises the development process.

So much so the definition of a good officer has changed. Now a good officer is one who never asks more than the prevailing rate of bribe. The most famous julie in the corridors of the power is: "Somebody made a complaint against a corrupt official, then the officer with whom he had lodged a complaint asked him the amount he would shell out for taking action against the official."

Multinational corporations entered the country by paying a bribe or promising a kickback. The deputy secretary or the secretary who prepares notes in their favours is alleged to have been promised a lucrative job. Even the judiciary is not out of the vicious circle created by corruption. Charges against some judges were made, enquired into and finally they were found guilty but nothing was done therefore. Moreover judges take two to three years to pronounce judgement after arguments are closed. This can in no way be termed as being morally up right. They feel comfortable punishing a pickpocketers but when it comes to a company polluting environment, the pace is remarkably slow.

Even the cultural values are eroded. Whosoever wins or comes out victorious is called "Sikandar" irrespective of the means or ways the adopted. Not only this, the conceptual values are down to the level that "taking" bribe is corruption and not "giving it". There can be a difference of opinion on the causes, and consequences and the dimensions of corruption but one thing is certain: the worst affected are the poor and villager.

All the same, it is an undesirable fact that there is hardly any sphere, class or category which is "untouchable" for corrupt practices. It is an irony that the poor have to borrow money at much higher rate to make an advance payment of bribe. There are instances where the benefits or gains were marginalised because of hefty payment made to the brokers. In fact there is a degree for tolerance of corruption.

Various committees and commissions, like the Santhanam Committee, the Administrative Reforms Commission, the Vohra Committee have dealt with the deadly problem of corrupt practices and highlighted the nexus between the criminals, bureaucrats and politicians.

The electoral system itself is said to be the root cause of corruption and there is a demand for its overhauling. The decline of moral standards, excessive intervention, criminalisation of politics or the politicisation of criminals were the other factors. Even the so-called LPG (liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation) is said to have opened the floodgates of corruption.

However there is reason to believe that transparency in dealing, committed leadership, public involvement, ensuring accountability and a sense of belonging can be helpful to a greater extent in combating and curbing corruption. Corruption has "poisoned our polity and polluted our society" to an extent that even a honest person expects a word of appreciation when he does so, perhaps, forgetting the basic norm of society to which he belongs. It is rightly said, "corruption flourishes amidst poverty and the corrupt grow rich."



Why the coloured feel frustrated
Review by Jaswant Kaur

Racism in Britain by Harish Malhotra. Kafle Prakashan, Chandigarh.Pages 156. Rs 80.

THE author of the book is a journalist of Indian origin, resident in Britain. He completed his graduation from DAVcollege, Jullundur and has a masters degree in race and ethnic studies from Warwick University, London.he is committed to fight against any injustice anywhere.

The book contains 11 chapters which throw light on the various aspects of racism in British society. He describes how the word race originated and how was it used differently in different countries. He quotes from various books to prove his point. He starts with race and racism and concludes with the various effects of this discrimination which the Indians living inBritain have to face. He has also come up with some recommendations to arrive at a solution.

India is deeply involved in Britain not only because it ruled over India but because Indians live in Britain who have to constantly face racial injustice. They are deprived of basic rights which an ordinary man enjoys in ordinary circumstances.

The author says that the word race in the 17th and 18th centuries was used in English primarily in the sense of lineage or line of descent. It was only in the late 18th and 19th centuries. It was used to refer to discrete categories of people, defined according to their physical characterists such as skin colour, cranial capacity, facial angle, etc.

Racism is described as a theory in which one part of society, generally a majority, claims itself to be superior to the other groups which is a minority. Thus racism is closely related to political power. The so called superior group deprives the minority group of certain privileges which the majority enjoys. It exercises power over the other and makes them dance to its tune. It thinks that discriminatory relations between groups are morally and scientifically justifiable.

Britain is a racist society. It comprises of two groups — whites and blacks. The white group consists of the Indigenous whites and the black group represents Asians and African-Caribbean people who have migrated to England. The whites being in majority consider themselves superior to the blacks who are lesser in number.

The black colour skin of Asians and Afro-Caribbean people is used to distinguish them from the Indigenous whites. The black colour has been traditionally used to symbolise bad and wicked as well as dismal and unlucky whereas white is considered to mean a fortunate, favourable and of pure, open candid behaviour. Blackness stands for death, mourning, evil, sin and danger and the white colour for purity, virginity, innocence and perfect human beauty.

So when Asians and Afro-Caribbean people with dark coloured skin migrated to England, the old and traditional word black was used for them. They are considered bad for British society and are thus dominated by the local whites.

At the end of World War II in which Britain had lost many people, its economy started declining. The major part of population consisted of old men and women. In order to meet the increasing demand for skilled and unskilled labour the government started importing cheap labour from Commonwealth countries. The prevailing unfavorable conditions in the form of unemployment, falling standard of living. Over population and political unrest forced many people from the West Indies. India and Pakistan to migrate to England and settle therefore better living conditions.

The early migrants in the 1950s and 1960s were mostly young and single. They intended to return to their native land after earning enough money which could help them to live happily. But further deterioration of the economy in their own countries forced them to change their mind. Many of the permanent settlers had children born in Britain and rest of them have brought their families from their native land to settle there.

At the end of this period, the British economy started sliding and had to face problems of unemployment and a law standard of living. The whites started blaming the blacks for their unhappy condition. As such the British government passed many acts like the Commonwealth Immigration Act 1962. The Commonwealth immigrants act 1968, the Immigration Act of 1971 and the British Nationality Act of 1981, etc. These acts further worsened the condition of the black immigrants. These Acts were passed in order to restrict the migration of more Asians and Afro-Carribbean people. These Acts were firmly established the racial line.

The Immigration Act of 1971 curtailed the right to family unity of those who were already settled there. Certain categories of children who were born in Britain was deprived of citizenship when the Act of 1981 came into force.

So even the law-making machinery is not free from racial discrimination. In fact it helps in propagating it. Not only this, the police force is also not free from it.

The author has given many examples which prove that the police has done injustice to the blacks and thus motivating the whites to have to superior command over them. The police has proved to be defenders and protectors of racists. It regards black people as a potential threat to public law and order.

The author has referred to several incidents when Black people are stopped on the streets and reached but are often not told the reason for it. Cases of arrest without any crime have increased progressively over a number of years in the case of blacks.

Another example of racial discrimination is that of the media which promotes the activities of the police has developed a close liaison with the press which helps in building up a wider support base for these practices. Thus journalism has developed as a parallel to the police’s own suspicions and operations against black people.

The processing of complaints budget by the blocks against the police with the police complaints Authority are subject to undue delay because the system relics on the police to investigate the matter, which results in equivocal findings and even if complaints are upheld, no disciplinary action is taken against the concerned policemen.

The condition of elderly black people is worse. The effect of immigration, insecurity of a new environment are the problems which arise because their relatives and friends are likely to be oversees. These elderly people face the problems of low income, poor housing, poor health and mobility and in addition they have to face racial discrimination which increase their sense of insecurity.

The white elderly people are taken care of better than the blacks. Many of the elderly black people are not aware of the old age pension scheme, supplementary benefits, phone helps, etc. Even if they know, they are not provided with sufficient help. Elderly white people have their separate homes and other facilities but if the same facilities are given to the black elderly. They protest against this gesture.

The white elderly are given a home to environment whereas in the case of the blacks it is the opposite. They are not even given food they like to have. In most of the cases the workers do not even understand their language.

The author says that children face racial discrimination in schools. Parents who encourage their children and admit them in various schools so that they became independent, find that their children are labelled as "naughty", "disruptive" "bad". The teachers humiliate the child in the class or in front of the whole school and make an issue of a trivial incident. As a result, the child loses its confidence and self-respect.

In order to regain his self-coincidence and self-respected the child join peer non-groups indulges in wrong practices. Some of them are expelled from the school because of the incapacity of school teachers to understand them. The permanently excluded students are not provided with any kind of educational facilities which make them to loiter aimlessly feeling neglected, and resentment starts building up in their mind. the white students, however, are specially cared for by the teachers.

Health is another area where racial discrimination prevails. The author has referred to a report called "Inequalities in Health" which showed a big difference in the health status-between people doing manual jobs and people in professional jobs. The health problems are more in manual jobs as compared to the professional ones. Most of the people employed in manual jobs are blacks and are not even provided proper health facilities. Racism operates to keep black people in worst jobs and housing.

Racism in Britain is an attack on basic human rights. It promotes a feeling of hatred and disrespect for the other group of people. Living in the same country is against basic human rights which all human beings should enjoy. It is prejudicial in nature and causes injustice to one group and simultaneously placing the other group in an unfair superior condition.

The social order and its institution need to be changed so that every human being can enjoy his or her life freely without any restrictions.

Life is meant for loving, caring and respecting the people who form your surroundings. It should not be wasted by the state excising unfair advantage, hatred and disrespect for others.



Need for new, reinvented Parliament

This is an extract from "Reviewing the Constitution" edited by Subhash C. Kashyap, D. D. Khanna and Gert W. Kheck.

THAT representative democracy and parliamentary institutions have endured in India for five decades is a great tribute to their strength and resilience. There has, however, been in recent years some thinking and debate about the decline of Parliament, devaluation of Parliamentary authority, falling standards of debate, deterioration in the conduct and quality of members, poor levels of participation and the like. A degree of cynicism towards parliamentary institutions and an erosion in the respect for normal parliamentary processes and the parliamentarians presents a disturbing scenario. Very little effort seems to have been made to examine and analyse what really plagues Parliament or to find out the reasons for the erosion of the traditional authority, high esteem and pristine glory of the institution of Parliament.

During the past nearly 50 years, the structure and functions of Parliament had developed under the shadow of the Fabian slogans of democratic socialism, economic democracy and distributive justice. The information explosion, technological revolution, growing magnitude and complexities of modern administration and the concept of welfare state cast upon Parliament vastly extended responsibilities of social engineering through legislation and of managing the lives of the citizen from the cradle to the cremation or burial ground. Inadequacy of time, information and expertise with Parliament resulted in poor quality legislation and unsatisfactory parliamentary surveillance over administration. As B.K. Nehru once said, during the entire period of nearly 200 years of their rule in India, the British colonial rulers passed only some 400 laws while in the first 40 years, Parliament had passed nearly 4000 laws. The big difference was that the 400 laws were obeyed or had to be obeyed while the 4000 pieces of legislation were not obeyed. Those to whom many of these laws relate did not even know or understand them.

Little effort has been made to develop the essential prerequisites for the success of parliamentary polity — discipline, character, high sense of public morality, an ideologically oriented two-party system and willingness to hear and accommodate minority views.

In a situation where the government lacked a comfortable majority of its own and the opposition was too weak to emerge as an alternative, the options were very limited and Parliament was bound to remain less effective. This is what happened during the 1989-1999 decade. Members irrespective of their party affiliations had themselves become a new caste and part of the establishment and co-sharers in the spoils. Politics and membership of Parliament had emerged as a whole-time, highly lucrative, hereditary profession. Following the changed composition of the successive Houses, there was faster devaluation of old values and an increase in disorders and pandemonia on the floor during the zero hour and at other times. There was general apathy among members, Ministers and the public at large towards the work of Parliament. Absenteeism among members had assumed alarming proportions and defections for money and office were a common phenomenon.

Several archaic practices and time-consuming procedures most unsuitable for present-day needs have continued. The legitimacy of government and of representative institutions under the system was inextricably linked to free and fair elections and to the system being able to bring to power persons who truly represented the people’s will and had the necessary abilities to govern. Recent efforts notwithstanding, due to the role of mafia gangs, muscle power and money power, free and fair elections continued to be difficult in some parts of the country, thereby affecting the representative credentials of our elected members. Therefore, it would be necessary to reform the electoral system and the party system before parliamentary reforms could be thought of.

Reforms and urgent remedial action seem imperative for making parliamentary institutions and processes effective and potent instruments of ensuring sustainable economic growth, so vital for the success of the new economic policy. The role expectation of Parliament is linked with the role perception of the state. Economic reforms should lead to cutting back on government involvement and drastic reduction in the role of the state in the economy. This should naturally get reflected in the reduced role for Parliament and its committees. Also their processes, control mechanisms, debating and decision-making procedures would have to be revamped and made faster. Floor management techniques would have to be professionalised at the level of whips, parliamentary officials and presiding officers.

For Parliament, it is of the utmost importance to constantly review and refurbish its structural-functional requirements and, from time to time to consider renewing and reforming the entire gamut of its operational procedures to guard against putrefication and decay. The case for reforming Parliament is unexceptionable and, in a sense, has always been so. The real question is of how much and what to change to strengthen and improve the system. We have to be clear about the precise need, the direction and the extent of the reforms that would be desirable at present. It is obvious that mere first-aid and trifling cosmetic adjustments would not any more be enough. What is needed is a fullscale review. We have to be prepared for fundamental institutional — structural, functional, procedural and organisational — changes. The overriding guiding norm and purpose of all parliamentary reforms should be to make both the government and Parliament more effective to meet the challenges of the times and the changing national needs in the context of the objective of faster economic growth.

Both Parliament and the government should be collectively concerned with concurrent and contemporaneous monitoring and evaluation as also the implementation of economic reforms, scrutiny of the overall performance of the economic targets, achievements, shortfalls, etc. Some serious thinking is called for in the matter of reforming the budget procedure in Parliament and bringing it closer to the needs and compulsions of the new situation. The number of occasions on which voting by division may be needed during a budget session is very large. Also, a defeat of any demand for grant is deemed to be an expression of lack of confidence in the government. There is every possibility of a division being asked for more often only to embarrass the government. It would be unrealistic to expect all the members to be present all the time throughout the session. It would, therefore, be wise to reduce to the barest minimum the number of days on which voting by division is considered imminent. Also, the time may be fixed by agreement and announced in advance with appropriate whips issued and attendance ensured otherwise.

The financial cost of parliamentary democracy has been skyrocketing. During the last five decades it has gone up by over 100 times. Also, the figures of the cost on Parliament seem fudged inasmuch as much of the expenditure is shown under other heads.

A matter often raised is that of salaries, allowances, amenities, facilities, etc., extended to the members. While for some, entering Parliament involves a financial sacrifice, for many others it provides much sought for rewards and benefits. There are two extreme views on whether the members are heavily pampered and overpaid or they are misunderstood and grossly underpaid. Much can be said on either side. According to one guess, if every member is paid Rs 1,00,000 to Rs 2,00,000 a month in cash and all perks and direct and indirect financial benefits from the state are withdrawn, the public exchequer would be a gainer. This would imply that at present, a member on an average gets in cash or in kind not less than Rs 1 lakh a month. If the state legislators are included, the total number comes to above 4000. Besides, we have Ministers, chairmen of boards, public undertakings, etc., and politicians occupying innumerable offices with Minister’s status at the state and Union levels, each one costing 10 to 50 times the cost of an MP. All this put together makes the cost of maintaining our huge army of whole-time professional politicians very heavy and hardly commensurate with the returns to society. While stressing the need for cutting down the administrative expenditure, we have to think of cutting down the staggering cost of democracy as well. There is need to drastically slash parliamentary spending under various heads. Even if the resultant economy in the context of the overall national budget may not seem very large, the psychological impact is bound to be massive. Strictest self-control is also necessary because parliamentary budget, by convention, is not questioned or debated.

A strict limit needs to be placed on the number of Ministers and equivalent posts, both at the Union level and in the States. In countries like the UK, the number and names of departments are fixed. Ministers may change but not the departments. In India, on the other hand, departments are created, merged or split from time to time to suit the whims of the Prime Minister or the changes in the Ministers in charge. This causes confusion, instability, uncertainty and wasteful expenditure.