Sunday, July 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


India’s glorious past and Pakistan
Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

EGUM Sehba Musharraf’s tart but sad reply when asked if she had any memories of her birthplace, Lucknow, was a reminder of the heightened sensibilities of those whom Salman Rushdie calls “the type of Mohajir who had arrived (in Pakistan) with God in every pocket.” Since her husband belongs to the same community, they may well have felt that by making Agra the site of the conference, India was deliberately rubbing salt in the wound of what many Pakistanis regard as their lost heritage.

They were feared, now they live in fear
David Devadas

ETWEEN Kangan and Woyil in the north-east of the Kashmir valley, flows the Sindh Nalla. The river bubbles fast and clear over the white rocks it has smoothed over the centuries from Ladakh to the Jhelum, through the coniferous foothills of the Karakoram range. This idyll could easily lull any visitor, but amid it lives intense fear — in the heart of Ghulam Mohammed Mir, for instance.




Harihar Swarup
Key figure in US military set-up
EVEN before the din and dust kicked up in the aftermath of the collapsed Indo-Pak summit at Agra had settled down, the arrival of a top US military man in New Delhi was considered a meaningful development. The brief one-day visit of Gen Henry H. Shelton, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in pursuance of Washington’s keen desire to establish military-to-military relationship with India and, coincidentally, it came within 24 hours of Gen Pervez Musharraf’s return to Islamabad.


Off-the-record public conference
UOTING an off-the-record conversation is considered a sin in journalistic circles. But officials accompanying Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf chose to televise his interaction with senior journalists and editors from India, disregarding the norm of keeping confidentiality when the interaction was “off-the-record.”

  • Firefighting
  • Applause
  • Police intrusion
  • No gas

Humra Quraishi
Different voices from varied quarters
HE day I returned ( remember I was in Srinagar) it was back to routine — talks centering around Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf and those farewell parties lined up for our writer bureaucrat Pavan Varma . In fact, we seem a obsessed lot — first it was those hysterical buildups to the Agra summit and now the post-mortem continues ...... even the government doctors do a quicker job than these ministers!

  • Page three photographs!




India’s glorious past and Pakistan
Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

BEGUM Sehba Musharraf’s tart but sad reply when asked if she had any memories of her birthplace, Lucknow, was a reminder of the heightened sensibilities of those whom Salman Rushdie calls “the type of Mohajir who had arrived (in Pakistan) with God in every pocket.” Since her husband belongs to the same community, they may well have felt that by making Agra the site of the conference, India was deliberately rubbing salt in the wound of what many Pakistanis regard as their lost heritage.

I would have no comment if, being aware of the sectarian possessiveness that surfaced when the Tricolour was being hoisted on the ramparts of the Red Fort at the time of Independence, those who arranged details of President Pervez Musharraf’s visit decided against making any concession to Pakistani sensibilities. But it is more likely that none of the External Affairs Ministry’s bright young sparks have heard of the protests of 54 years ago. Reading is not a popular pastime with our rulers for whom history is only the dead past.

They may not know that Sham Mohammed Siddique, a Delhi honorary magistrate, proposed in 1947 that “the national flag of Hindustan” should be unfurled in the Connaught Place bandstand. Ashfaq Alam Khan of Meerut warned “over-zealous Congressmen” to “refrain from playing with Muslim sentiments”. The Red Fort, he wrote in Dawn, stands “in sacred memory of centuries of Muslim rule in India and is held in high esteem by the Muslims all over the country.” If India’s flag was to be hoisted there, so should Pakistan’s. “Like other historic buildings” the Red Fort should be placed under joint India-Pakistan control.

Reflecting such complaints, Dawn reported that plans for a Red Fort ceremony had “caused considerable agitation among the Muslims,” and that it “would have been far more graceful of the Nehru government if they had respected deeply the sentiments and desisted from hoisting their flag on this historical monument in such haste.” Editorially, the paper cautioned Hindus against “petty-minded jubilation under the mistaken impression that by hoisting the flag of their state on the seat of power of ancient Muslim kings they have somehow stretched a spiteful hand back into the historic past and dimmed the imperishable glow of Muslim rule.”

Real or contrived, this sense of cultural proprietorship embraced all of Delhi. Chaudhuri Khaliquzzaman, later to become Prime Minister of Pakistan, lamented the state of “Delhi of the Mughal emperors in 1947”. Begum Shaista Ikramullah recorded that for millions of people like herself, Delhi was “synonymous with Muslim culture”. Not quite 10 at the time, I recall my grandmother’s Muslim bearer restating their sophisticated argument in his simple terms to say that since the British had taken India from the Musalman, it should be returned to him.

Ian Stephens, the writer and historian who edited the then British-owned Statesman at the time of Independence, called Pakistan “old country/new nation”. Less deferential since he is of the soil, Rushdie dismisses Pakistan as “Peccavistan”, punning on the famous pun — Peccavi, I have sinned (Sind) — that never was made. In his novel “Shame”, he also quotes the Czech writer, Milan Kundera, as saying, “A name means continuity with the past and people without a past are people without a name”. Those who have the name, and that name an acronym from which the all-important K letter is missing, must perforce reinvent an appropriate past. Hence an obsessive attachment to the symbols of disputed, if not imaginary, history.

The problem is of identity. The Taj Mahal does not arouse emotion because of the romantic association that so moved the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Nor because of the architectural skill of the Mughals who were said to build like Titans and decorate like jewellers. But as the most poignant relic of Mughal splendour, it compounds the already heavy burden of emotion and memory that any Pakistani must master in order to come to terms with the reality of an India that is the acknowledged successor state of the old British empire and thus rightful owner of everything that did not specifically go to Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s seceding state.

Many years ago at Dr Henry Kissinger’s annual Harvard International Seminar, my casual reference to Gandhara art as Graeco-Indian gave great offence to a smooth Pakistani barrister who was one of Ayub Khan’s legal advisers. Gandhara was nowhere near India, he shouted. It was in Afghanistan, close to Pakistan’s border. In frothing fury he told the room that the Gandhara school had nothing to do with Hindus, Hinduism or Hindu art; that, stretching a point, it might be called Graeco-Buddhist, but that the correct description was Graeco-Pakistani!

Taken aback by his vehemence, I murmured feebly that India’s ancient cultural entity was not synonymous with the modern republic which, in any case, was not exclusively Hindu. But the enraged Pakistani was not listening as he accused India of stealing a name and a past. “Was the Taj Mahal Pakistani or Indian?” he thundered, and, while I floundered, dealt his coup de grace. “If you agree that the Taj Mahal is Pakistani, I’ll concede that Gandhara art is Graeco-Indian!” Reinvent the past and toss around the bits and pieces to pay for the political bargain of the day.

Two lessons were borne upon me that morning. First, the desperate search for history by those who feel they have been robbed of it. And second, how misleading was the Pakistani barrister’s glib Westernisation — flawless accent, well-cut suit and easy social charm masked religious frenzy. It also occurred to me that just as it is not possible for a white American ever to get into the skin of a black man’s sensibility (adapting James Baldwin), no Indian can fully understand the extent of Pakistani passion. When CNBC asked Islamabad’s High Commissioner in Singapore why democracy had not flourished in his country, he replied that the army felt aggrieved because it had not been given its due share of divisible assets in 1947.

History records that Queen Victoria once placed the Koh-i-Noor in Duleep Singh’s hand, hoping to make him feel better about his lost patrimony. The prince stared at the gem for a long, tense moment, then bowing low to the queen, returned it saying, “It is to me, Ma’am, the greatest pleasure thus to have an opportunity, as a loyal subject, of myself tendering to my Sovereign, the Koh-i-Noor!”

False gallantry. Relations began to deteriorate thereafter as Duleep Singh tried to reclaim his Sikh kingdom. Privately, he ever afterwards referred to Victoria as Mrs Fagin, receiver of stolen goods. Politics apart, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee’s gesture with the Taj Mahal may similarly have misfired. Arguably, time might have healed Pakistan’s sense of deprivation if the Bangladesh war had not further mauled what was already (Rushdie again) the “moth-nibbled land of God.” Denying that his government helped Khalistani rebels, infiltrated jihadis into Kashmir or trafficked in Kalashnikovs, a Pakistani diplomat shot out, “And even if it were true, could you blame us after Bangladesh?” Defeat by the “country of the idolators” bred what Rushdie calls the “macabre fellowship of shame”.

His fictional President — General Raza Hyder, who took no part in the 1971 War — cured shame by challenging each of his officers to a wrestling bout and allowing each opponent to win while himself convincingly pretending to make every effort not to lose.

It is as well to remind ourselves that General Musharraf does not appear to have devised a similar exorcism for the shame of Kargil. Unlike Rushdie’s Hyder, he must feel it as acutely as the soldiers who were driven back from those icy windswept heights.

The writer is a former Editor of The Statesman.


They were feared, now they live in fear
David Devadas

BETWEEN Kangan and Woyil in the north-east of the Kashmir valley, flows the Sindh Nalla. The river bubbles fast and clear over the white rocks it has smoothed over the centuries from Ladakh to the Jhelum, through the coniferous foothills of the Karakoram range. This idyll could easily lull any visitor, but amid it lives intense fear — in the heart of Ghulam Mohammed Mir, for instance.

Five years ago, Mir was a power to reckon with, the local leader of the Ikhwan-ul Musilmoon, which used to work in tandem with the security forces to combat militants. He was prominent among those whom secessionists dubbed "renegades" and the forces called "friendlies." Now, of course, he is wanted by the militants.

"If they get hold of even one of his children," says Shiraz, who lives in a neighbouring village, "they won't just kill the child. They will cut him into small pieces, roast each and eat." Mir had once given away no less than 22 militants in one go. They had come to his home, demanding food. After feeding them, he sneaked off to the local Rashtriya Rifles camp at Wusan to have them rounded up. All 22, with their weapons and other equipment, were trapped in his home.

The commanding officer had then visited Mir, rewarded him and feted him with a ride in the flag vehicle. Even after the Ikhwan became defunct, helpless before the far more lethal Fidayeen militancy of the past couple of years, Mir was allowed to keep a half-dozen automatic weapons for his bodyguards, who accompanied him day and night.

They still do, but they are now unarmed.

About six weeks ago, the army withdrew their weapons. They sneak around these days in dread, never daring to sleep at home. The local army unit is angry because Fida Hussain Bhatt, another Ikhwan leader of the area, has lost an automatic rifle. A lesser Ikhwan leader than Mir, Bhatt was given arms for his three bodyguards. One of those turned out to be in the pay of a militant outfit and decamped in late May with a rifle.

Since then, the army officers in charge of this Rashtriya Rifles unit have been focused sharply on retrieving that weapon. They have told Fida to retrieve the weapon, or else. . Their reaction is hardly surprising. They cannot, after all, afford to allow their weapons to fall into militant hands. This lot must be made an example of.

The upshot of all this, however, is that all these former Ikhwan men (including the bodyguards) now live in extreme dread. There is much angry talk in their villages of governmental ingratitude and of never doing anything to help the fight against militancy.

It's a sad situation. Violence is, after all, a chakravyuha, a trap without an exit --- at least until all guns cease, and that doesn't seem likely to most Kashmiris for a long, long time. Over the last decade, so many Kashmiri families have lost lives that it is hardly surprising that most of them don't want to risk getting involved in any way.

Bhatt's two sons, just out of teenage, look forlorn and a little frightened as they watch their father's tension and increasing desperation. Early in the 1990s, one of them might quite easily have joined one of the bands that routinely headed across the line of control for training. That was the preferred response of young blood to any perception of injustice involving the immediate family. There is always a danger that that cycle of exfiltration and infiltration may begin again among the young.

Bhatt himself argues hotly with his relatives that he never wanted to get involved in anti-militancy operations. "What could I do," the broad, strapping, six-foot, five inch, bearded fellow --- not yet quite out of his thirties --- argues plaintively. His version of his involvement with the Ikhwan runs thus: He was picked up by an Ikhwan group one day, taken to a nearby town and told to contribute money to their cause. He says he paid Rs 50,000 but the demands continued. Finally, he decided it was cheaper to just join them. Now he has to get used to living with fear.

The result of such fear --- this reduction from fevered fervour to desperation for survival --- over the past few years is that Kashmiris today are chary of getting involved in helping in the fight against militancy, however disillusioned some of them might be with the guns that rule their lives. The Army can hardly be blamed for trying to keep a tight leash, for there are always double agents in such a war-like situation. It is just one of the many sad aspects of the web of violence and fear that has enmeshed this unfortunate valley. As Agra showed, there are no easy answers.

The writer is former Political Editor of Business Standard and is working on a book on Kashmir.



Private tuitions by government teachers: necessary or evil?

Apropos of the write-up on tuitions in The Tribune dated July 8, Mr Dahiya has presented a factual picture about tuitions. We cannot agree more with him. A good teacher is much sought after. Much effort goes into preparation of the topic. And if someone is putting in an extra effort to earn extra money, it is no sin. Certainly, it cannot be dubbed corruption. The only point of concern is when it is claimed that during exams, particularly practicals, teachers favour students who take tuitions from them. Personally, I don’t think any good teacher can be partial to students. However, the government must ensure that all teachers should regularly take lectures in colleges and that no lapse of responsibility should be there. To shell out money to get the work done from persons who are supposed to it otherwise too, is corruption.

Dr G S Battu, Patiala


The article on tuitions was both timely and appropriate. In a country of inveterate hypocrites, it is one maxim to profess in public and quite another to act upon in private life. Those who are screaming themselves hoarse from rooftops against this rampant evil are those whose wards or who themselves enjoyed the benefits of these tuitions. Now that their wards have settled down or have already made it big in life, they feel that this "corrupt practice" must be banned. Let's for once give up hypocritical harangues censuring teachers for tuitions because it is not the teachers who run after the students. In most of the cases it is the parents who hound a teacher into accepting their ward. I virtually had to find a sifarish or two to get my son into the group of a well-known teacher. It is a pure case of demand and supply. When you need the best for your ward and don't mind coughing up a few thousands for his or her welfare, you have no right to blame the teacher.

Gulshan Kataria, Patiala


The writer has rightly explained the root cause of the so-called tuition menace prevailing in our education society at large. Tuition is, as rightly said done mostly by the teachers who are the best in their lot. Parents and their wards go only to those teachers who are the best. If a teacher puts in extra work for some extra monetary benefit, it is all right in this highly materialistic world. However, at the school-level the situation is alarming. The writer talks about improving the conditions for the teachers but does not give the ways to prevent forced tuitions at school level.

Rajesh Malik, Jalandhar


I agree with the writer that the word ‘tuition’ and its practice by the teachers have been misunderstood by the persons at the helm of affairs and the general public. A biased view has been taken because teachers doing tuition work have been falsely labelled as traders running ‘teaching shops’ like an industry. The fact is that these days’ elite and affluent parents as well as their wards are over-ambitious and their expectations are high. That is why there is an increasing demand for competent teachers for quality coaching which is not possible in a crowded classroom. These teachers are pressurised and influenced to accommodate more student for private extra coaching. Better students going to better teachers for bettering their career is not a bad bargain. Rather, it is a gainful one and should be appreciated in true spirit. The Haryana government has banned private tuition by college teachers. This is totally unjustified and unwarranted. The conditions prevailing in institutions of higher learning are dismal. The government has shown its incapability in handling higher education properly as is clear hiring lectures at salaries ranging between from 3,000 to 5,000 leading to lowering of standard in colleges.

K.L. Batra, Yamunagar


Because of the different styles of question papers in the entrance tests and routine board and university examinations conducted by our boards, universities, engineering and other professional courses, students coming from rural background areas benefit the most as adequate facilities do not exist in schools and colleges there. To cope with urban students they need extra guidance to compete. As a result, the students gain an insight of the subject and are able to compete globally. Tuitions should not be banned though I feel that teachers must be honest in paying the income tax on such earnings.

K.L. Narula, Yamunanagar


Notwithstanding my high appreciation for the content and the spirit of the article, I must point out that it may be that “only the very best are in demand” for ‘extra-coaching’ or ‘private tuition’, but all those who are not engaged in it can certainly not be “called the deadwood of the system”. When the writer admits that only 20 per cent of the teachers are involved in this practice, he cannot mean to disparage the 80 per cent lot, a majority of whom do “read further” though not “teach extra”.

I.P. Anand, Yamunagar


It is the system that has created the need of extra coaching in the form of tuition. Ever since the introduction of entrance tests (particularly the objective-type based on multiple-choice questions (MCQs), tuition work has increased manifold. Classroom teaching requires a teacher to complete the syllabus in a given span of time and prepare the students for normal board or university examination, whereas the MCQ-based entrance tests require a different skill and technique in answering the questions. It is the students, or their parents, who force good teachers to do extra coaching rather than teachers forcing the students. If the authorities are serious to curb this ‘tuition menace.’ the authorities should evolve some substitute of entrance tests.

Y.P. Makker, Malout


At the outset, the writer calls tuition-teachers ‘better than others,’ yet he continues to refer to the tuition activity as ‘ignoble and immoral!’ One of the three reasons that the writer cited “for the failure of our educational institutions” is the following: “The suitable control of the educational institutions by the politico-bureaucratic authority and the paraphernalia of people associated, directly and indirectly, with that authority”. Perhaps none can weave a case in favour of the ongoing tuition malady with such kind of meaningless assertions, supported by out of context quotes from Huxley. For, Huxley never “complained” that “tragedy does not portray the whole truth”. In fact, Huxley had lauded the virtues of the “whole truth” that enhance the overall effect of a tragedy. In order to exemplify his assertion he narrated a tragic incidence from Homer’s epic poem Odyssey. It is absolutely wrong to aver that the rise of tuition malady, which needs to be curbed at the earliest, has been need oriented. In fact a scandalous tuition lobby has created, over the years, a highly-flavoured myth in its favour, for parents have been made to believe that tuition and extra coaching is the panacea for the success of their children’s career, which is the top priority of most of the parents today. And Mr Dahiya’s article is also an attempt in this distressing direction. The only way to deal with the tuition mania is the stern Haryana way. All other states should follow the suit sooner than later.

Balvinder, Chandigarh


Prof Dahiya is right in saying that in order to minimise the menace of tuition, adequate budgetary allocations be made for higher education, stop further proliferation of sub-standard institutions and appoint university managers who are ‘distinguished educationists’ in real sense of the term. But then his attempt to protect the institution of private tuition on flimsy grounds is wholly misplaced. Haryana government’s decision to ban private tuition, by the serving college and university teachers, that has played havoc with the education system, is a welcome step. College teachers and even professors from university departments found tuition a lucrative proposition.

In most of the cases, such teachers fleece the students by forcing them to join tuition group at home or in coaching academy, with unethical promises to help them in their practical and other house and annual examinations. How can the teachers who engage themselves in private tuition for hours together in a day do justice to their assigned teaching job in college or university? These tendencies now have been curbed. The writer’s plea that private tuition is inevitable in a free market economy also does not hold any water. We all know that when market forces show ugly aberrations and fail to meet the aspirations of the society, state regulatory role becomes a necessity to provide safety net to people. And, in simple words, this is what Haryana government has done in the given situation. Then there are a number of retired college and university teachers everywhere who can cater to the genuine requirement of students for tuition. Allow serving college teachers (not university teachers) to do private tuition during summer vacations. This, to a great extent, will meet the requirement of those students who compete for entrance examinations for various courses. Secondly, a separate class of group of students who want tuition should be arranged by the Principal of the college, either on Sundays or other holidays on extra payment basis.

L.N. Dahiya, Rohtak


There is something almost sinister about the recent official crackdown on the teachers having tuitions. To swoop down on the residence of someone in the wee hours with a battalion of officers equipped with video cameras might put even Scotland Yard to shame. These over enthusiastic bureaucrats in their role of ‘moral guardians’ overlook the fact that taking tuitions require additional efforts on the part of a teacher.

If teacher is honest, dedicated and efficient in his classroom, there can be no justification in denying him whatever extra income he can earn by using his free time. If someone is to blame, it is our society in which money and power have become standards to measure the worth of a person.

Karan Singh Yadav, Karnal

Private tuition prompted by love and lucre is a menace 

I have read in detail both the articles — one by Bhim S. Dahiya in favour of "private tuitions" and the other by Anuradha Gupta as "counterpoint" (The Sunday Tribune on July 8 and July 15). The arguments advanced by Anurhadha Gupta against private tuitions clearly and decisively outweigh the plea made out in favour of it by Mr Dahiya. Her reasoning sounds very convincing when she says: "As per UGC laid down code of conduct for teachers, it is mandatory for them to make themselves available to the students even beyond class hours and help and guide students without any remuneration or rewards. In view of this, the justification offered by Mr Dahiya in support of teachers giving private tuitions on the ground that this only entails extra earning by teacher's own hard work and additional effort does not hold good. Anuradha Gupta has also rightly highlighted: "Under the service rules, the teachers cannot undertake both public employment and private trade (tuition business). In the light of this, even if the best teachers, the best students and the best persons (parents?) are involved in this activity of private tuitions (as is maintained by Mr Dahiya), it cannot land legitimacy to this activity and render phenomenon of private teaching a morally and ethically right act. On the very face of it the contention of Mr Dahiya that "those who do tuition work are those very teachers who not only do teaching in their duty hours but also do it better than others" is far fetched and sounds a tall claim and has been rightly challenged by Anuradha Gupta. I am glad that Mr Dahiya admits the fact that those students not in a position to pay "extra" for the extra teaching remain deprived of the benefit. Now I ask Mr Dahiya, who is going to take care of these unlucky poor students? Anuradha Gupta has done well to remind the concerned community of teachers that teaching is a mission and not commerce — the business of private tuitions will hardly leave with them any energy for regular teaching and for helping weak students after class hours. Private tuitions prompted by love and lucre is a menace which must be stopped.

Onkar Chopra, Ludhiana



Key figure in US military set-up
Harihar Swarup

EVEN before the din and dust kicked up in the aftermath of the collapsed Indo-Pak summit at Agra had settled down, the arrival of a top US military man in New Delhi was considered a meaningful development.

The brief one-day visit of Gen Henry H. Shelton, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in pursuance of Washington’s keen desire to establish military-to-military relationship with India and, coincidentally, it came within 24 hours of Gen Pervez Musharraf’s return to Islamabad.

Significantly, General Shelton discussed with the Indian side the controversial subject of ballistic missile development (BMD) and India’s participation in an arrangement with the USA which can alert New Delhi about a missile launch from a neighbouring country. The USA, as General Shelton has himself put it, considers India as “ a major power with global influence”.

He is among the advocates for the development and deployment of a national missile defence system and has seen in his long and eventful career most troubled spots of the world; from Vietnam to the Gulf war and on to Haiti.

General Shelton is the key figure in the US military establishment and he serves as the principal military adviser to the President, the Secretary of Defence and the National Security Council. Having built up an enviable reputation among his colleagues and the military press corps for over 30 years, he is known for keeping a cool head and thrives under pressure. A master parachutist and Army Ranger, General Shelton commanded the 82nd airborne division following the Gulf war. He also served two terms in Vietnam as assistant division commander, air assault, and was later drafted to Saudi Arabia for Operations Shield and Desert Storm.

General Shelton was born in Tarboro, N.C, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant and awarded a bachelor of science degree from North California State University. His civilian education includes a master of international security programme at Harvard University.

Two of his three sons have been in the armed forces. The eldest, Jon, is a secret service agent, the second, Jeff, an army captain while the third, Mark, has completed his education from Florida State University.

His wife, Carolyn, is said to be the moving spirit behind his success. Years back when someone asked him the formula behind his success, General Shelton’s impromptu reply was : “Personal and professional achievements can only be attained when an individual acquires the proper tools for success”.

General Shelton has expressed concern from time to time over nuclear and ballistic threat in places like India and Pakistan and Korea too. The threat, he says, has been growing at a faster pace and in some cases, these countries are able to buy technology from other sources.

“I believe when we have the technology for the national missile defence (NMD), we ought to have the capability to be able to transition right into deployment if the threat warrants it”. He feels there are other serious threats in addition to the one posed by ballistic missiles. “We know, for example, there are many adversaries with chemical and biological weapons that can attack the USA. They could do it with a brief case, by infiltrating our country across our shores or through our airports”.

Several months back General Shelton had said in an interview that the USA would welcome a change of government in Iraq and described Saddam Hussein as a “tyrant” who had demonstrated his “true colours” by attacking his own people and the Iranians with chemicals. The USA too, which has forces in the region was subjected to that threat, and “ we cannot stand idly by and watch him press on with his desires to rebuild his arsenal”.

In a paper “Operationalising joint vision 2010”, General Shelton has forecast that fanned by the ancient flames of ethnic, religious, cultural, and economic rivalry, many groups would challenge the USA at home and abroad. However, unlike past eras, terrorist groups and other non-state actors would have access to state-of-the-art technology. They would have secure communications and access to global positioning satellites; highly advanced computer technology; and, perhaps, most frightening of all, weapons of mass destruction.

How good the USA will be in facing the challenges at the end of the current decade? General Shelton says: “In the joint force of 2010, we will be able to detect the launch of a ballistic missile; identify, target and, attack the launch platform; alert all units in the impact area; and attack and destroy the incoming missile all in a matter of a very few seconds. The ability to transfer information that fast across service and even national boundaries, in the fog and friction of war, using joint language that we all understand, will be nothing less than revolutionary”.

He says: “no military in history ever thought harder about its future than we are doing right now and, we will get there”.



Off-the-record public conference

QUOTING an off-the-record conversation is considered a sin in journalistic circles. But officials accompanying Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf chose to televise his interaction with senior journalists and editors from India, disregarding the norm of keeping confidentiality when the interaction was “off-the-record.”

Unlike Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, who went on record to say that the government was given to understand by Pakistan that President Musharraf would have an off-the-record interaction on the sidelines of the Agra summit, the Pakistan side has been tacitly quiet in its admission about the understanding.

Strangely, however, it is not the “breach of trust” by Pakistan that is being focused upon either by the Opposition parties or the media; it is the “public relations failure” of the government to counter the Pakistan propaganda at the Agra summit.

True, the government was not prompt in countering the various versions being put out by the Pakistan side, but, this, it says, was done deliberately as India was against rushing to the media prematurely. While the Pakistan President may have scored brownie points among his domestic constituents with his strong espousal of the Pakistan’s case on Kashmir in his televised press interaction, it apparently contributed to the summit’s failure.

No Indian Prime Minister would like to be seen signing a document with a leader who, while at the summit venue, compares the situation in Kashmir with a conflict-zone of the world and disguises cross-border terrorism with terms like “struggle for freedom.”


More on the poor media relations from the Indian side. Not only did the media managers in the Prime Minister’s Office bungle up publicity, they went out of the way to keep snooping journalists at an arms length.

Grapevine has it that a senior editor of a weekly magazine was enterprising to sneak into the highly guarded Japyee Palace Hotel in Agra, the venue of the summit. He would have gone about his job on the sly but for a senior officer from the Prime Minister’s media camp spotting him. The editor was promptly asked to leave the venue, which resulted in a heated argument. Abuses were freely exchanged and the incident further divided the two sides of the media camp.

Another development was the Star TV’s decision to provide uplinking facility to the now infamous breakfast meeting of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf at Agra. The government has taken a dim view of the entire episode. The channel’s editor and other senior scribes, it is understood, are busy firefighting and are trying to explain their viewpoint. Will the channel continue to get sound bytes from the government side in the future is a matter of speculation.


Not everything on the official media side was rubbished. A special programme put out by Doordarshan titled “Start of a new dialogue” on the eve of Gen Pervez Musharraf’s visit to India won applause for its imaginative description of the background to the problems between the two countries. The programme produced by Doordarshan’s Rajiv Kumar was a visual treat spanning decades of hostilities between the two countries. It had scintillating sound effects ranging from the applauding of the signing of the Simla Agreement to the Lahore Declaration. One wonders if the Pakistan President saw it?

Police intrusion

Mr M.B. Kaushal, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1963 batch, may have created history of sorts by becoming the first police officer to attain the coveted rank of Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs but at the same time his elevation has revived the traditional rivalry between the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers and the Indian Police Service officers.

Mr Kaushal, a former Police Commissioner of Delhi, who was till recently Special Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs will now look after internal security as a full fledged secretary creating a peculiar situation. The secretary in any ministry is the head of the bureaucracy there. There can be no dichotomy in this for obvious administrative reasons. How the new arrangement is going to work out, only time will tell.

But in the mean time, Mr Kaushal himself has been totally unassuming and refuses to get into a public debate over the issue apparently hoping that things will quieten down in a few days. The bureaucratic grapevine, however, has it that the IAS lobby is particularly incensed over the appointment and has expressed its unhappiness to all concerned in no uncertain terms. It is after all a question of intrusion into a religously guarded domain.

No gas

Struggling already with a pathetic public transport system, the scenario is likely to get worse in the Capital when the buses plying on diesel come to a halt in September and only those running on environment-friendly CNG are allowed to ply. With the extended deadline fast approaching, the woes of the Delhi Government have been compounded with the Petroleum Ministry informing it that it was not in a position to supply the required volumes of the green fuel.

Local administration officials are quite surprised by this sudden volte face of the Petroleum Ministry. Till the other day it was claiming that there was no dearth of CNG. It has come to light that a powerful private group, with large stakes in the petroleum sector, has been trying to stall the complete switchover to CNG fuel in the capital.

With refining capacity in the country exceeding demand, petroleum companies have been depending on exports to offload their stocks. It remains to be seen whether the private group, which has often had its way with the government is successful this time in its mission.

(Contributed by Satish Misra, T.V. Lakshminarayan, Ravi Bhatia and Prashant Sood).



Different voices from varied quarters
Humra Quraishi

THE day I returned ( remember I was in Srinagar) it was back to routine — talks centering around Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf and those farewell parties lined up for our writer bureaucrat Pavan Varma . In fact, we seem a obsessed lot — first it was those hysterical buildups to the Agra summit and now the post-mortem continues ...... even the government doctors do a quicker job than these ministers!

Anyway, I must add that it was the opposite in Srinagar, where even if you queried it brought about one line answers, bordering on cynicism or say hopelessness of a certain kind. Unfortunate that after so much of hype the deadlock continues and along with that different voices coming in from varied quarters.

In fact, from within the ruling party contradictory statements are erupting and its just about time they sit together and decide what to do or what next to talk.

Meanwhile, there’s coming up a distraction of sorts (from those giddy political talks) and a mushaira — Jasn-e-Bahar — is going to be held here, on July 27, at New Delhi’s Modern School. Urdu lover Kaamna Prasad’s efforts to keep the Urdu language going.

“Three years back I decided to hold a mushaira and make it into an annual feature, so that there’s focus on the beauty of the Urdu language... I think this language has been treated badly because of the communal politics of the day and I want to put it on a fashionable pedestal, inviting poets from the subcontinent!”

And for this year’s mushaira poets are coming from Bangladesh, Muscat, Pakistan and, of course, from home territory. Pakistani poets Ahmad Faraz, Kishwar Naheed and Hasan Abidi have been invited and some of our best poets would also be around — Nida Fazli, Javed Akhtar, Rahat Indori, Nawaz Deobandi.

And in all probability verses wouldn’t go along the summit (fiasco) lines, because the two chief guests are apolitical — veteran theatre personality Zohra Segal and bureaucrat writer Ashok Vajpeyi.

Before moving on I must add that there seems no much of aversion to politicians that more and more people have begun to bypass them and concentrate on the few apoliticals around. And this seems to be the scene not just in New Delhi but all over.

In fact the day I had landed in Srinagar and checked in a particular hotel, I saw former Foreign Secretary Salman Haider (one of those who is not connected with any political party or persons) addressing a huge gathering in the main hall of that hotel. Queries revealed that the ‘Kashmir Foundation for Peace and Development Studies’ had invited him to speak on the ongoing problems in the state. Not that the problems got sorted out by his little speech but what I am trying to put across is the fact that our trust in politicians lies transformed into distrust, so much so that even a retired bureaucrat’s cautious words are more welcome than those well coated, double edged words that the politician utters . And now let me take you along to all those parties that stand lined up for writer bureaucrat Pavan Varma — Ambassador-designate to Cyprus.

Ever wondered why some people manage to be in focus whilst others stand unnoticed. Even while writing these lines my mind has been wandering and has finally settled down to wondering how Pavan Varma remains high up on the popularity chart!

This time of the year at least 10 IFS officers are on the move — just to mention a couple of those who are getting posted out ICCR’s deputy DG Divyabh Manchanda is joining our mission in Toronto, Navrekha Sharma is going as our ambassador to the Philippines — yet not one fancy farewell party has been hosted in their honour and in contrast at least 10 or more stand lined up for Varma.

I think in one of my previous columns I had mentioned that Varma seems a management expert — knows how to successfully deal with foreign and home affairs, people and events.

Columnist Bhaichand Patel’s invite to the farewell party he hosted for Varma, began with these words “Page three editors are in mourning......” presumably because of Varma’s departure from Delhi and with that departure from Delhi’s social and literary circuit. Yes, in spite of handling MEA’s Africa Desk (Joint Secretary in the ministry’s Africa section) Varma did rather well on his writing desk — eight books to his credit, the latest being the translation of Kaifi Azmi’s poetic verse.

And this week at the party hosted by Khushwant Singh, Varma spoke so intensely about Ajanta Ellora caves and about the Brahmaputra river (I know no connection exists between the two, except that he had been travelling from one state to the other), that I have this vague suspicion his next book could be centred around the river or those caves or around these unending farewell parties!

Page three photographs!

You may love installation artist Naresh Kapuria or hate him but you just cannot ignore him . Kapuria is said to be in possession of brainwaves — in the sense he comes out with offbeats and this time he decided to hold an exhibition of photographs which appear on “page three” — that particular slot in the national dailies where the so called celebrities and the so called political figures are seen hugging each other, planting kisses, ogling (don’t ask me at what, maybe at all those stuffings out there).

Little wonder at the opening of this exhibition on July 20 the who’s who were present — Satish Gujral and spouse Kiran, Raja and wife number two Kaushalya, cartoonist Sudhir Tailang, Shovana and spouse Herbert Traxl, Uma and Aruna Vasudev, artists Bulbul Sharma, Shamshad Husain , Kundu.... Few politicians could be spotted on the opening day, although several photographs focused on their doings.

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