Saturday, December 9, 2000,
Chandigarh, India

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Paralysed Parliament
ARLIAMENT working is being disrupted by an angry opposition and the media should normally be harsh on it. Not this time. 

Politics of farm subsidies
HE recent Agro-Tech Fair in Chandigarh has thrown up the thorny question of farm subsidies once again. Predictably, one heard conflicting views. 

Rlys: business as usual
WO railway accidents in the past few days have kept the attention riveted on the quality of steel used in the tracks. 


Optimism and reality

PTIMISM — often unrealistic — has in itself become a very handy trait of VIPs in India. Take, for example, any important political leader of any political party and see how vocal he or she is about the great future of our country.


Sharpening a controversy
December 8, 2000
Enron’s power burden
December 7, 2000
All aboard peace wagon
December 6, 2000
Resignation gesture
December 5, 2000
Death at 70 kmph 
December 4, 2000
Security Council reform: The long wait continues
December 3, 2000
Tasks ahead for Talwandi
December 2, 2000
Towards Baghdad again
December 1, 2000
Peace demands determination
November 30, 2000
Attack on farm science 
November 29, 2000
Peace offensive
November 28, 2000


Will India change its defence perspective?
“BUT while the structures may be reframed and updated, the major task before the political leadership at the highest level is to bring about an attitudinal change”, said Mr K. Subrahmanyam, Chairman of the Kargil Review Committee, while delivering the Field Marshal K.M. Carriappa Memorial Lecture, “Challenges to Indian Security”, in New Delhi the other day.


OPEY” is a distinct character among the seven dwarfs in the old fairy tale about Snowwhite as shown in cartoon strips. He is not dwarfed by the other six in any way. In the past in real life too a dope addict stood out from the rest.


Soul-searching on Kashmir
ISTEN to retired Lieut-Gen Hamid Gul, once a hatchet man of military dictator Zia-ul-Haq. “An undivided India was a prosperous society. Together we could regain that glory. For instance, friendship between India and Pakistan could result in a short-cut route to Europe.


Keeping Ayodhya issue alive suits political parties
ET me begin by saying that I think Ayodhya is a dead issue. I believe it died the day the Babri Masjid came down eight years ago, last week, on December 6. 




Paralysed Parliament

PARLIAMENT working is being disrupted by an angry opposition and the media should normally be harsh on it. Not this time. There is unanimity at least among newspapers to blame the BJP, and the Prime Minister in particular, for the daily disturbance. The provocation is his stout defence of the three Cabinet colleagues who figure in the findings of an assistant sessions judge for their role in the Babri Masjid demolition. No, he was not expected to seek their resignation or drop them; two of them are very senior and cannot be jettisoned and the third has her backward caste in her favour. But the Prime Minister could, and should, have been on the defensive and not aggressive or even assertive in rejecting the opposition demand. It is this abrasiveness and also some unclever twisting of facts that have led to the impasse. Of course, there is the unconcealed desire of the Congress to get political mileage out of the popular indifference by renewing interest in the eight-year-old controversy. Prime Minister Vajpayee has said that the three were at the site to protect the masjid but they failed when the mob went out of control. But this flies in the face of the long report the judge has prepared. (It was translated into English and circulated by the CPM late last month.) He has found after a three-year study that the three, more so Mr Murli Manohar Joshi and Ms Uma Bharti, egging on the armed volunteers to pull down the structure. As for Home Minister Advani, he attended a meeting at the house of Bajrang Dal leader Vinay Katiyar where it was decided to demolish the masjid and pave the way for the construction of a Ram mandir. Just before the fateful day, he told a public meeting that the kar seva that year 1992 would not be confined to bhajan and puja, although he later clarified that he did not mean kar seva with shovels and pickaxes, as it ultimately turned out to be. True, he did say a day after the destruction that it was the saddest day in his life but the very next day sought to defend the mob vandalism. Anyway, there is a court case of a criminal nature and he is the Home Minister; there is incongruity in this and also in asking a junior Minister (Mr Harin Pathak) to quit because a court has chargesheeted him and applying a different code to the second seniormost leader in the Union Cabinet.

As though this is not enough, the Prime Minister has kept the controversial statement very much alive by expressing his firm belief in building a temple at Ayodhya. He is entitled to his private views but his position warrants that he keeps them to himself. Every word he utters becomes official policy or at least a guideline to official policy. That imposes a restraint on him and it seems he is chafing at this. He and he alone can cool the situation and so far he is reluctant. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have been thrown into turmoil all through this week and while opposition stands to gain very little except the pleasure of embarrassing the government and some of its allies, the government cannot push through its ambitious legislative programme. There is no point in criticising the Congress for being obstructive. The BJP, now the leader of the ruling alliance,did the same thing on two occasions. Once it stopped work in the Lok Sabha for 13 consecutive sessions demanding the resignation of a junior Minister whose name found a mention in the report on the securities scam. It set a new record of stopping parliamentary work for 18 days, this time training its gun on Mr Sukh Ram after a huge cache of cash was found in his official residence. In between there had been minor and milder pandemonium as when the BJP charged the then government of throttling democracy in Gujarat. This is not to condone the Congress offensive but to bring out an alarming development of the opposition of the day throttling the working of the two Houses to highlight a point that is generally done on the streets. An agitation in an airconditioned chamber before television cameras has only limited value. This should stop and the Prime Minister has more than his individual share of responsibility.


Politics of farm subsidies

THE recent Agro-Tech Fair in Chandigarh has thrown up the thorny question of farm subsidies once again. Predictably, one heard conflicting views. On the one side are the politicians, advocating substantial subsidies for farmers who make a massive electoral constituency. On the other are the agro-economists, planners and industrialists who stress that subsides should be phased out fast to prepare the farming community to face competition under the inexorable WTO regime. Mr. Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Ministers of the Green Revolution states of Punjab and Haryana, sought to paint an alarming picture of Indian agriculture if the Central government "buckled under" WTO pressure on subsidies.Freely quoting data and statistics, they claimed that farmers in the USA and other rich nations enjoy much larger subsidies than their Indian counterparts. A strong defence of phasing out of subsidies came surprisingly from Mr Sharad Joshi, till recently a radical farm movement leader who never in the past hesitated to ask for the moon for the agriculturists. His radical shift in stand vis-a-vis subsidies is perhaps understandable in his present position as Chairman, Task Force on Agriculture, set up by the Union government. He made bold to say that the WTO regime would free Indian farmers from "the shackles of government controls."

While it would be difficult to reconcile the opposing pro-farmer and pro-globalisation views on subsidies, harsh realities in the wake of India's integration into globe economy cannot be swept under the carpet. The Indian farmer has no choice but to face competition in the coming years. At the same time, the government should also not lose sight of national interests while trying to adopt itself to the changed situation. While tackling the challenge of quantitative restrictions (QRs) thrown up by the WTO, New Delhi should take a fresh look at the whole issue of subsidies. At present, it is spending its energy on the issue of abolition of export subsidies by developed countries. But the real question is the disguised support given by them to their farmers. This is being maintained as "domestic support" to agriculture.

The developed OECD nations invested $361 billion to support their farmers in 1999. Japan's backup to its farmers is higher than the contribution of its agriculture to its total GDP. In contrast, India's support to agriculture has been on the decline as per the policy review carried out by the WTO itself. It is strange that the Indian government has fallen into the subsidy trap laid by the very same OECD countries. It is an open secret that many developed countries, in pursuit of their economic and investment interests in their erstwhile colonies, have included provisions for concessional trade with such countries. Tariff Rates Quota(TRQ) which enables the developed countries to trade with such countries on special concessional terms with low tariff levels is a clear trade distortion contained in GATT. As much as 28 per cent of the overall global trade is governed by TRQ. Naturally, India and other countries are adversely affected on this account. The undertaking by developed countries to reduce export subsidy levels by 36 per cent below the base period level requires fresh examination. In fact, due to the subsidy war between trading blocks there had been a substantial increase in subsidy levels. Reduction from such high levels do not bring real benefits to India and other developing countries. It is time the government looked at the basic problems with the requisite seriousness.


Rlys: business as usual

TWO railway accidents in the past few days have kept the attention riveted on the quality of steel used in the tracks. At the same time, there is need for removing an even bigger problem which is eating away the innards of the department employing more than 16 lakh people. And that destruction is being caused by all-pervasive corruption in their ranks. Ordinary passengers have been saying this since long. Now that the Defence Minister of the country has also uttered this bitter truth, somebody has to wake up and take notice. Delivering a lecture at Guwahati University in Assam’s capital Dispur the other day, he revealed that even Army officers had to bribe the railway staff to get tickets for trains bound for Jammu and Kashmir so that they could join their units on the front. Mind you, all this happened during last year’s Kargil conflict with Pakistan! Among those who were made to cough up “speed money” were officers of the rank of Major. The Army officials identified themselves and also told the railway staff that they were going to the battlefield and may not come back alive but even that did not move the Shylocks. Could there be a bigger indictment of the rot that has set in? If this is the treatment meted out to Army officers going to the border, the plight of the common man can be well imagined. The fact of matter is that there is a mafia in operation and you have to pay a bribe to get everything done. It was hoped that the introduction of computerised reservation would help matters but even that hope has been belied. Why, even the Railway Police personnel can be seen making a quick buck by allowing ticketless passengers to barge into reserved sleeper coaches.

Mr Fernandes has been a Railway Minister himself. He owes an explanation to the nation as to what he did to break this mafia stranglehold during his tenure. The absence of action is attributed to the clout enjoyed by powerful employee unions. That is true indeed. Unions do jump to the rescue of even the most corrupt members. But that is not the whole story. Politicians themselves are hesitant to act against the culprits because they fear that this will affect their electoral prospects. Ironically, those who accept bribes almost openly also happen to be “dependable” party workers and nobody dares to annoy them. Senior officers say in private that they are in the know of things and are even willing to bell the cat but have to look the other way due to political pressure. Now that Mr Fernandes has recounted the situation, will he persuade his colleagues in the Cabinet to let the anti-corruption drive get going in some way? An ordinary person can only grumble and protest. A senior Central Minister is expected to do much more than that. 


Optimism and reality
By K. B. Sahay

OPTIMISM — often unrealistic — has in itself become a very handy trait of VIPs in India. Take, for example, any important political leader of any political party and see how vocal he or she is about the great future of our country. Only the other day it was claimed by an eminent leader that soon India would emerge as a great world power. Look at the election manifesto of any political party and you are likely to get convinced that Ram Rajya is not far away and soon the country would be free from poverty, hunger, unemployment, illiteracy etc.

Well, in a way, it is understandable why the politicians always like to paint a rosy picture of India’s future: they are in fact constrained to do so to get votes. But the most surprising is to find an expert or an intellectual painting an unrealistically bright future for our country without realising that such hollow optimism could be even harmful for the nation. To explain and highlight this “optimism syndrome” let me give only two examples here.

In 1993 a book entitled “The Inevitable Billion Plus” edited by Dr Vasant Gowariker was published. The book contains 28 articles written by eminent experts that are full of optimism. The articles deal with the issues related to our population growth and discuss the ways to manage the billion-plus population that India is now certain to have. The authors of these articles deal with the issue of solving the problems of illiteracy, sustainable development and of shortages of water, housing, energy, nutrition etc. in the country with a billion-plus population. And mostly the views expressed in these articles are quite “positive looking”. However, the most optimistic article in the book is the very first one, written by Gowariker himself. The article entitled “I Predict” by Dr Vasant Gowariker, the former Science Adviser to the Prime Minister of India, is not only highly optimistic but is also quite self-assuming.

Gowariker first makes his own analysis and prediction of India’s Crude Birth Rate (CBR) and Crude Death Rate (CDR) and then asserts that “Having predicted the CBR and the CDR at 21 and 8, respectively, I forecast that the natural growth rate six-and-a half years from now (i.e. in 2000 AD) would be around 1.3 per cent; the annual exponential growth rate (1991-2001) will be around 1.42 per cent, a steep decline from the present 2.14 per cent (1981-91).” He also asserts that “I predict that India is very close to demonstrating that it has turned the corner in its long democratic march towards population control without losing its prideful identity as the largest democracy in the world.” He further predicts that “India will reach the threshold of the Net Reproduction Rate (NRR) of 1 within a decade from now around which time the benchmark figure (i.e., one billion) will appear and India’s population will begin to move towards stabilisation at the billion plus level. There is a lot of difference between India reaching a billion mark in this century and reaching it a year or so later.”

Gowariker did not let this article of his remain only in the book; instead he also published it in our newspapers. Naturally, such optimistic predictions coming from none other than an Adviser to the Prime Minister led to lot of euphoria in the people.

But how valid are Gowariker’s demographic predictions? A team of experts headed by the Registrar General of India has analysed and published the “Population Projections for India and States: 1996-2016”. According to this projection published in 1996 our population would be growing at the rate of 1.55 per cent per year in the year 2000 and not at 1.3 per cent as claimed by Gowariker. The annual exponential growth rate of our population between 1991 and 2001, according to the Registrar General, would be 1.81 per cent which is significantly higher than Gowariker’s projection of only 1.42 per cent. In fact, our population, according to the Registrar General, would still be growing at the rate of 1.42 per cent way ahead in 2016 AD. Gowariker’s prediction that India would reach the threshold of NRR of 1 by the year 2003 is far off from the Registrar General’s prediction according to which NRR of 1 would not be reached in India before 2026 AD. Further, according to the recently (1998) published report of World Watch Institute too India’s population would increase to a phenomenal 153.5 crore in 2050 making it the most populous nation on earth. Thus the highly optimistic but erroneous predictions of Gowariker have done great harm to the nation by generating a false and harmful sense of accomplishment in people about population control in India.

Let me now take up another recently (1998) published book entitled “India 2020” written by none other than Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who is Scientific Adviser to the Government of India and is indeed one of the most outstanding technocrat scientist of our country. Kalam (with Y.S. Rajan) in his book presents a blueprint for making India a developed country by 2020 AD. He asserts that “A developed India by 2020, or even earlier is not a dream. It need not even be a mere vision in the minds of many Indians. It is a mission we can all take up and succeed”. Indeed very optimistic.

Kalam very rightly highlights India’s rich natural resources and its formidable pool of technical and scientific human resources and provides a comprehensive programme of technological action plans which if taken would place India in the league of developed nations within a couple of decades. But surprisingly, Kalam does not seem to be at all worried for India’s burgeoning population despite the fact that he, unlike Gowariker, does not have any misgiving about India’s demographic dynamics. He clearly mentions in his book that India’s population would become about 120 crore in 2010 and would reach 140 crore by the year 2020. He is fully aware that our population is currently growing at the rate of 1.8 per cent per year and the growth rate would come down to only about 1.5 per cent by the year 2020.

But in spite of having such a factual and clear picture of India’s demographic scenario, Kalam does not seem to be worried about this population explosion. It seems Kalam believes that his technological programmes and achievements would not get deterred by our rapidly growing population and his proposed plan of actions would remove poverty by 2010 and make India a developed nation by the year 2020 despite the population boom.

While reading Kalam’s book I often and again got reminded of Pandit Nehru’s plans and visions for India’s future. The only basic difference between the two that I could find is that while Nehru wanted to provide the technological thrust under the state’s control, Kalam appears to be in favour of freedom of entrepreneurship. Kalam’s plans and visions for India are as glorious and theoretically as correct as that of Nehru. But we all know how badly the Nehruvian model flopped and today, that is even after 50 years after Independence, one-third of our people are below the poverty line, about half of the population is illiterate and about two-thirds of our children are malnourished.

The Nehruvian model failed mainly because Nehru (i) considered a large population to be the greatest source of power for any nation and hence did not care to control India’s population growth; (ii) neglected school education despite the Constitutional directive and (iii) did not allow freedom of entrepreneurship. However, Kalam’s model, which is as grand and wishful as that of Nehru, does not deny freedom of entrepreneurship, rather supports it. But it seems that towards the issue of population growth Kalam is as indifferent as was Nehru and I am afraid that in its present much worsened state the population factor alone is now sure to frustrate Kalam’s otherwise commendable model to make India a developed nation by 2020.

Finally, let us visualise the possible impact of these two books written by two of our most respected experts on the nation vis-a-vis its population problem. Gowariker says that the problem of population growth is well under control and is almost solved. Kalam’s book implies that India can remove its poverty by 2010 and can become a developed nation by 2020 despite its rapid population growth and the massive demographic load. Now it is for anybody to guess the impact of these two books on our population control programmes. Gowariker’s and Kalam’s optimism is not only unreal but is also counter-productive.
The writer is a professor at the IIT, Delhi.Top


Will India change its defence perspective?
By Pritam Bhullar

BUT while the structures may be reframed and updated, the major task before the political leadership at the highest level is to bring about an attitudinal change”, said Mr K. Subrahmanyam, Chairman of the Kargil Review Committee, while delivering the Field Marshal K.M. Carriappa Memorial Lecture, “Challenges to Indian Security”, in New Delhi the other day.

Having fought five wars after Independence and having been surprised in all, how come the Indian political hierarchy and bureaucracy have not changed their attitude towards defence preparedness so far? To find an answer to this question, we have to delve into our history.

At the time of partition, the Indian politicians and bureaucrats had fairly good experience of governance and administration. This was because the politicians had fought elections and formed governments in various provinces during the Raj days and the Indian Civil Service (ICS) officers had acquired enough experience to handle administrative problems due to their service having been Indianised much earlier than the Indian Army.

To keep a firm hold on the army, the British resisted its Indianisation. Thus, barring a minuscule minority of Indian officers, the army continued to have British officers. Given the fact that in World War II, the highest command given to an Indian officer was that of a brigade and that too as a special case, one can imagine how inexperienced the Indian officers, who were suddenly catapulted to senior ranks, were when the country became independent.

Due to their inexperience, especially in the field of civil-military relations, it was easy for the politicians and bureaucrats to sideline these senior officers. Maj-Gen D.K. Palit in his book, “War in high Himalayas: the Indian Army in crisis”, says that repeated coups in neighbouring Pakistan spearheaded by the army (which still enjoys a special place in the ruling set-up) reinforced the “deep-rooted paranoia which plagued the Indian politicians. One illogical consequence being that the Army is still kept at a distance from policy-making councils of the government”.

Stephen P. Cohen, a perceptive observer of Indian and Pakistan armies in his book. “The Indian Army; its contribution to the development of a nation”, says: “The administrative and organisational changes introduced after Independence indicate a fairly effective alliance between the civil service and the politicians, an alliance created for the purpose of reducing the role of the military in the decision-making process”.

Professor Cohen also says that since the British kept the Indian Army under their firm control, the Indian politicians and bureaucrats had no clear idea of the role it was to play in the decision-making process in an independent India. He further says: “Things did not improve much even after the British left because most defence ministers appointed after Independence, did not have any experience of defence matters. This put military administration and defence matters out of the mainstream of politics. An informal policy was formulated, which in many ways was more restrictive than that of the British and continues to impair intelligent criticism of defence policy”.

While commenting on this aspect, General Palit also says: “The freedom struggle had not provided Indian political leaders with a comprehensive grasp of the role of military in governance. There was little consciousness of the need to dovetail the military into the governmental system, or of the full potential of militarism in statecraft and the need to develop military power as a lever of state”.

Not only has the Army been kept out of the decision-making process in governance of the country but the Indian politicians and bureaucrats have also become highly suspicious of a senior military officer who talks about military’s role in governance. We know what happened to a former Army Chief, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, when in an interview with a national English daily in 1992, he said that the Army should have a role in governance. Things became so difficult for General Rodrigues that some of the politicians went to the extent of demanding his resignation.

It was the then Defence Minister Sharad Pawar who saved the situation by making a statement in Parliament that “The Army officers were not as clever as the politicians in fielding questions from newspapers. Some remarks that could have gone in the Army language but need not have appeared in print were actually made by General Rodrigues and carried by the newspaper”.

The Indian politicians have always felt that a strong Army will not augur well for them. This idea took birth in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s mind and gradually grew into a phobia. An interesting example of this is that when Sir Robert Lockhart, the first Commander-in-Chief of Independent India, presented to him a paper on the proposed size and shape of the Army in the light of perceived threats, his caustic response was: “Rubbish, total rubbish. We don’t need a defence plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. Scrap the Army. The police are good enough to meet our security needs”.

This is what we have inherited from the days of Independence. No wonder then that India has not been able to formulate a security doctrine so far.

Now examine against this background what Mr Subramanyam says in his lecture: “Even 53 years after Independence, there is no clear understanding among our leaders, our political class, our bureaucracy, business establishment and intellectuals about the nature of the security problem India faces”.

Finally, let us get down to brasstacks: will any attitudinal change come about in our political leadership? Frankly speaking, the chances are remote, unless the political leadership undergoes a phenomenal change by shedding its bias towards the armed forces in the larger interest and integrity of the country.


By D. K. Mukerjee

“DOPEY” is a distinct character among the seven dwarfs in the old fairy tale about Snowwhite as shown in cartoon strips. He is not dwarfed by the other six in any way. In the past in real life too a dope addict stood out from the rest. An afeemchi or opium-eater was easily recognisable and provided real mirth. The “Mirasis” of the old days — now nearly extinct — had a vast repertoire of rib-tickling tales about these “dopeys”.

Those opium-eaters of yesteryear have almost vanished as a recognised tribe. The number of licenced opium takers in Punjab was reported in April this year to have fallen to 70. They were raising a hue and cry for not getting their fixed quota for over three months. The “licensed” and recognised drug addicts have given way to a vast multitude of unlicensed and unrecognised ones. Ever since Aldous Huxley experimented with mescaline and got a high, the younger generation seems to be making a mad rush towards this artificial heaven which slopes down straight to hell.

Drug addiction has risen to Olympian heights by catching the athletes and sports persons in its coils. Our nation of a billion people has failed to produce any outstanding person. Our exploits at home, which are unmatched outside our country, point suspicious fingers towards doping here at home which gets ruled out when they are abroad at the Olympics. Even the Olympics motto of faster, higher, stronger, is under siege by drug takers and may very well be turned upside down to slower, lower and weaker. That rib-tickling “afeemchi” of old has gone and has been replaced by a vast amorphous crowd of “lotus” eaters.

I recall an incident almost half a century ago when such colourful characters existed and made their mark. My younger brother, a bachelor then, had been selected in the Indian Police Service after clearing the all-India Competition while still working as a lecturer in Government College, Bhatinda. Right from his college days he had the portraits of Byron, the poet, and Karl Marx, the great political thinker, in his study room with some famous quotations from their books. I still remember “mad, bad and dangerous but that beautiful face is my fate” were the lines under Byron. It was unlike the study rooms of the present generation, which display blow-ups of Madhuri Dixit, leading Bollywood personalities and pin-up girls.

It was mandatory to verify the background and other antecedents of the selected candidate through the police administration before a firm offer was made by the Government of India. Our Communist friends follow the political thoughts of Karl Marx to a great extent. Leaning towards those political philosophies and thoughts by a new entrant to the IPS was not considered desirable during those days. The representative of the police department, who had been entrusted with the verification, could only see the portrait of the great Karl Marx and as a faithful government employee, mentioned in his report that the young educationist had leaning towards communism and was, therefore, not a very desirable entrant to the All India Police Service.

I got to know about this from my “close quarters” and lost no time to meet the Superintendent of Police who happened to be a family friend and was extremely well acquainted with the background. He enquired the name of the official who was entrusted with the assignment and had made the report. No sooner did the name was announced, he burst into laughter and remarked “Oh”! that “afeemchi”. Another officer was deputed who came out with the correct verification report.

The timely intervention had saved the career of a brilliant, determined and irrepressible young man from the hands of an opium-eater. Needless to say that he rose to the position of Director General of Police of Madhya Pradesh and got various gallantry awards, including the President’s Police Medal. May God save us from such “Dopeys”!


Soul-searching on Kashmir
By Gobind Thukral

LISTEN to retired Lieut-Gen Hamid Gul, once a hatchet man of military dictator Zia-ul-Haq. “An undivided India was a prosperous society. Together we could regain that glory. For instance, friendship between India and Pakistan could result in a short-cut route to Europe. But what comes in the way is Kashmir”, says the former spy master. He once headed Inter Services Intelligence and is said to be the man behind the successful jehad in Afghanistan against the Russians. Now he is using the same tactics in Kashmir against India. It is another matter that the Pakistani elite, enjoying unlimited political clout and economic prosperity, now shudders at the thought of Talibanisation of the Pakistani society.

It is not only the gun culture but also the narcotic mafia that rules the roost in that hapless country where more than 50 per cent of the people live below the poverty line. During January-September this year alone 586 women lost their lives in honour killings. The feudal value system is still hawked around.

Well, Hamid Gul is happy that Pakistani jehadis have “fully trapped the Indian Army” in Kashmir. He is apparently not bothered about the daily run of killings of Kashmiris and jehadis and the consequent ruin of the whole society. It is a mad power game to which he is still wedded.

But still as a hard-boiled armyman turned a cool politician, General Gul makes some realistic assessments. One, an independent Kashmir minus Jammu, parts of PoK and Laddakh suits the Western powers that still have the containment of China on their agenda. It could lead to further fragmentation of India, he calculates.

Two, as a frontline state of the USA, Pakistan successfully helped chase away the Russians from Afghanistan and this policy is keeping the Indian Army tied down in Kashmir. The policy of death by thousand cuts to the enemy suits him. (It is another matter as a consequence that Pakistan itself suffers bloodshed and remains a backward country.)

Three, Pakistan has experimented with the USA and has now given up. India is still experimenting. It would not be easy for India to play the American ball as Pakistan did for a long time. General Gul also admits that Pakistan did not gain much from its policy in Afghanistan as the Americans jumped too fast into that country. Now when the Americans are not there why should Pakistan not reap the fruits of advantage from the prevailing miserable situation?

But a noted Pakistani journalist, Mariana Baabar is closer to the truth when she states, “the ground is quickly slipping away from under the feet of the Pakistani government. And it knows this. No wonder there is some belated soul-searching at various echelons of power that control and determine the Kashmir policy, never mind the silence in the public or the routine retaliation of the old policies.”

Ms Baabar was referring to the Indian gesture of ceasefire during the holy month of Ramzan. Now India has offered more than that. Clear talks with all sides except with Pakistan, and with that country also once it stops sending jehadis into the valley.

Three things are up on the minds of most commentators in Pakistan on the current ceasefire. One, the Kashmiris today cry for peace and the Government of India has gained by this gesture of ceasefire. Two, it divides the militants between those who welcomed this move and those who opposed. Since there is an overwhelming support for the peace initiative, those militants who do not cease hostilities would lose sympathy of the Kashmiri people. Three, it is clear to Pakistan that the ceasefire has the blessings of America and it is just not part of Track Two diplomacy. But much more than that.

Here is what The Nation said, “The difference between the earlier ceasefire of India in Held Kashmir and Pakistan’s announcement of a ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) is that while India had silenced its guns directed against Pakistani troops stationed in Azad Kashmir (without any formal announcement) and without violating its ceasefire against the people in Held Kashmir, Pakistan’s ceasefire against the Indian troops in formal. Pakistan’s ceasefire announced by Foreign Secretary Inamul Haq may have been reflective of the rather limited nature of its fallout, that of saving the lives of the troops and villagers on both sides of the LoC, but its significance lies in the fact that it is the first concrete step taken by Pakistan, apart, of course, from repeated offers of talks to India, to reduce tensions and move towards confidence building measures. And yet if all this is going to end with the end of Ramzan, then this too would be seen as a wasted opportunity. On the other hand, if it is followed up with more steps of a positive nature from both sides then it may yet turn into a meaningful initiative.

“Pakistan has listed some of the measures that in its view would constitute positive follow-up steps. These include, an announcement by India to end its policy of repression, reduction in the number of its troops and release of all the political prisoners. While that would create a climate conducive for talks between Pakistan and India and not just between Indian and the Kashmiri leadership, what Mr Inamul Haq has suggested is that in order to find some common ground for talks, India should not only invite the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders for talks but also allow these leaders to come to Pakistan for bilateral consultation. It is a slightly modified version of the APHC Chairman’s formula who had proposed that half the APHC leaders be invited by India and the other half by Pakistan for talks in the first round, and in the second round those having talked to India should talk to Pakistan and those having talked to Pakistan should talk to India.”


Keeping Ayodhya issue alive suits political parties
By Tavleen Singh

LET me begin by saying that I think Ayodhya is a dead issue. I believe it died the day the Babri Masjid came down eight years ago, last week, on December 6. Since then we have seen innumerable calls from the more fanatical groupings of Hindutva to come and build the temple to Ram and the response has been too tepid to make news. Muslims, as the injured community, remembered it longer but even their wounds appear to have begun to heal. Fanatical Muslim organisations try over and over again to rally their troops in the name of the fallen mosque and the response has been lukewarm ever since those bomb blasts in Mumbai in March, 1993, that left many analysts believing that Muslim terrorism would grow and spread.

It exists, anyone who says it does not would be lying, but it appeals mainly to fanatics who would have been fanatics whether the mosque came down or not. Its appeal to ordinary Muslims is limited and they, like the Hindus in India, would like to forget what happened in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, and get on with their lives.

The only people who want to remember are the politicians. So, last week as yet another anniversary went by we saw the Congress Party create chaos in Parliament demanding the resignation of the three Central Government Ministers who have been implicated in the demolition of the mosque: Mr L.K. Advani, Mr Murli Manohar Joshi and Ms Uma Bharti.

You realise how hypocritical Congress anger is when you remember that it was a Congress Prime Minister who allowed the mosque to be pulled down in the first place. Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao, now in disgrace for bribery and corruption, has never been able to fully explain why Central Government troops, stationed only a few kilometres from Ayodhya that day, made no move to stop the mosque from being torn down. It was another Congress Prime Minister who in 1989 began his election campaign from Ayodhya after laying the foundation of a Ram temple and declaring that he wanted to bring us Ram Rajya. It happened that both Mr Narasimha Rao and Mr Rajiv Gandhi went on to lose the next election but my point is that the Congress Party’s tears are no different to those of that proverbial crocodile.

When you keep in mind also the pogroms in 1984 that killed thousands of innocent Sikhs you realise just how hypocritical the Congress stand on secularism is. If they are, nevertheless, seen as a party that is secular in comparison with the Bharatiya Janata Party then the BJP has only itself to blame. In recent months we have seen many attempts by the party’s new President, Mr Bangaru Laxman, to make Muslim-friendly gestures. They have not worked and will not work as long as leaders as important as Mr Advani continue to pronounce their undying loyalty to the RSS.

Every time he makes such statements, every time he trots off to Nagpur to make Fascist salutes at RSS gatherings he makes the BJP’s credibility with Muslims go down a little more. He has often expressed the view that he thinks of the RSS as a “patriotic” organisation but he appears not to notice that Muslims find it impossible to see it that way when they are berated constantly by RSS leaders about their alleged lack of nationalism. Mr K.S. Sudarshan, current supreme leader of the RSS, never misses a chance to attack Muslims and Christians in some way or the other. If Muslims are not being ordered to become more Indian then Christians are being ordered to create a new Indian church.

The Prime Minister, poor man, has tried his best to distance himself from this kind of fanatical nonsense but he has failed. Evidence of this comes from the fact that although there have been no major communal riots since his government came to power the country’s political atmosphere has been so charged with communal tension that neither Christians nor Muslims feel safe. If Mr Vajpayee would like to find out why he should perhaps spend a week in Gujarat, he should find out why his BJP Chief Minister seems so completely unable to stop organisations like the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad from attacking Muslims and Christians. It was from Gujarat, please remember, that the anti-Christian tirade began.

More recently it was Muslims who tasted Hindutva revenge after Hindu pilgrims were killed in Kashmir during the Amarnath Yatra. If the Prime Minister does not have time to visit Gujarat he could, perhaps, read a report prepared by various anti-communalism organisations called “Saffron on the Rampage: Gujarat’s Muslims pay for Lashkar’s deeds”. It was given to me by Javed Akhtar, the well-known scriptwriter, and I have to say it made chilling reading. Not just because of the detailed listing of Muslim shops and homes that were attacked by the storm troopers of Hindutva but because of the incidents of police complicity that it lists. Listen to this from the report on what happened in Ahmedabad. “All these incidents, the witnesses examined by the team said happened because of the open complicity and instigation of one Deva, a police constable who lives in the same quarters (as the incidents). He helps mobs identify Muslim homes, damages vehicles belonging to Muslims etc and threatens the Muslims living there with dire consequences if they continue to live there”. A Maulvi whose home was damaged contacted the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad and, according to the report, was told: “Why do you people continue to live here? It is best you move to safer places”.

Having covered more communal riots than I can count during Congress times may I say that police complicity with Hindu mobs was often the reason why the riots took place at all. But, the Congress has the advantage of not having senior leaders who openly support the RSS, mother organisation of the Bajrang Dal and the VHP. It is this that makes it possible for the Congress to take a high moral stand on the issue of communalism despite the party’s own ugly record.

It is time the Prime Minister recognised the importance of ensuring that the police and administration at least do their job when communal violence occurs. Let him only examine what happened — and will undoubtedly happen again — in BJP-ruled Gujarat. Meanwhile, it is time for both Muslims and Hindus to bury Ayodhya and start demanding from the state the basic security it is meant to provide to all its citizens. Only ordinary citizens can do this because it should be clear by now that the political parties will not because it suits them to keep Ayodhya alive as a symbol of communalism that can be used by all of them whenever they want.




Some embodied approach wombs for re-embodiment; some others go as stationary objects, according as one's deeds, according as one's learning.
—Katha Upanishad, II.2.7


And as a goldsmith, taking a piece of gold turns it into another newer and more beautiful shape, even so does this self, after having thrown away this body and dispelled its ignorance, make unto himself another, newer and more beautiful shape....
—Brihad-Arnayaka Upanishad, IV.4.4


He passes in his departure from this world to the physical self; he passes to the self of life; he passes to the self of mind; he passes to the self of knowledge; he passes to the self of bliss; he moves through these worlds at will.
—Taittiriya Upanishad, III.10.5


Equipped with qualities, a doer of works and creator of their consequences, he reaps the result of his actions; he is the ruler of the life and he moves in his journey according to his own acts; he has idea and ego and is to be known by the qualities of his intelligence and his quality of self. Smaller than the hundreth part of the tip of a hair, the soul of the living being is capable of infinity. Male is he not nor female nor neuter, but is joined to whatever body he takes as his own.
—Shvetashvatara Upanishad, V,7-10


Like the prancing seed that leaps forward, the jiva also traverses near and far. Like those who doff and don one garment and another the jiva too, moves from one body to another.
—Tirumantiram, 2131.


The future of the soul is not finally determined by what it has felt, thought and done in this one earthly life. The soul has chances of acquiring merit and advancing to life eternal. Until the union with the timeless Reality is attained there will be some form of life or other which will give scope to the individual soul to acquire enlightenment and attain life eternal.
—Dr S. Radhakrishnan,
The Principal Upanishads,Introduction 

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