Wednesday, October 3, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

Killing spree unabated
T
HE suicidal car bomb attack on the Assembly complex in Srinagar on Monday should force the security agencies to not only revise their strategy but also to reassess their reading of the situation following the September 11 World Trade Center attack in the USA.

Keshubhai’s delayed exit
O
UT-going Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel should count himself lucky that he survived for so long in spite of being an incompetent administrator, crisis-manager and policy-maker. It can be said that nemesis took a long time catching up with him. But now there seems to be no escape for him.

Plunge in exports
E
XPORTS have been rising, sometimes briskly and sometimes sluggishly, since the liberalisation year of 1991-92. Not any more if official information is anything to go by. During the first five months of the financial year starting from April, exports have fallen by 2.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. This may sound unimportant but it is not.



EARLIER ARTICLES

Madhavrao Scindia
October 2
, 2001
UN bans terrorism
October 1
, 2001
Kairon: Punjabi dynamism, American accent, lasting legacy
September 30
, 2001
India on the sidelines
September 29
, 2001
Dominant thinking in USA
September 28
, 2001
Shedding staff flab
September 27
, 2001
Proof muddle
September 26
, 2001
Have pity on civilians
September 25
, 2001
Terrorism in Kashmir
September 24
, 2001
First war of 21st century to combat terrorism
September 23
, 2001
Out goes Jayalalithaa
September 22
, 2001
Musharraf’s confession
September 21
, 2001
 
OPINION

The Chief of Defence Staff idea
A half-baked attempt to resolve a complex dilemma
Harwant Singh
T
HE Group Of Ministers approved the setting up of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) some time ago. It appears the CDS will have under him the strategic nuclear command (missile group) and be the single point of advice to the Prime Minister on nuclear issues. It is a half-baked attempt to resolve the national security paradigm and is a parablepsis of the emerging security scene.

Cartoon redeems media honour
Surjit Hans
T
HE coverage of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York by our papers was apocalyptic. As if after the event the world will be a different place. More interest was shown in American deaths as such than those of Indians. To be more royal than the king speaks of a worrying psychology. 

Three Presidents and a terrorist
Amardeep S. Dahiya
I
T’S a strange world they say and a violent and unpredictable one as well. So was it proved in the last almost three weeks with the beginning of the WTC bombings. Just a week prior to the bombings three Presidents, firmly in saddle, were having a reasonably enjoyable, decent time, George W. Bush neatly settled in the White House having successfully passed the historical eight billion tax cut and having left far behind the scandalous and acrimonious election.


75 YEARS AGO

Ramlila in Bawal

TRENDS & POINTERS

Ambushed, Indian doctor feels violated
D
R Prathap Chandran, who has been working in the USA at St Mary’s Hospital for 17 years, feels “violated, raped”. This Kerala graduate is nowhere near the stereotypical image America has of a “terrorist”. At 60, Chandran is balding and has a moustache but no beard.

  • Dying for a story — and a picture

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS



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Killing spree unabated

THE suicidal car bomb attack on the Assembly complex in Srinagar on Monday should force the security agencies to not only revise their strategy but also to reassess their reading of the situation following the September 11 World Trade Center attack in the USA. The death toll in the attack is perhaps the highest in a single incident since 1999 when 35 pilgrims were killed during the Amarnath yatra. It is difficult to agree with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee when he says that the attack is a sign of desperation among the terrorists. On the contrary, it might be their way of signalling that they are very much alive and kicking. Indeed, they have tried to send several messages through this audacious attack. One, that whatever the world mood might be about terrorism, their depredations would continue in the valley. Two, they want to drive home the point - right or wrong — that now that Pakistan has joined hands with the USA, they expect Washington to “lay off” Kashmir and let them do whatever they have been doing all along - shedding the blood of innocent people. It is now for the world community to demonstrate that it is as much concerned about the plight of Kashmiri victims of terrorism as it is about those killed in New York and Washington. Only recently, security agencies had claimed that terrorists operating in Kashmir had been told by their mentors in Pakistan and Afghanistan to move to Kabul to shore up the Taliban forces there in the face of the impending US attack. Apparently, these reports have not proved right. That necessitates re-checking the veracity of the intercepts of wireless communications between various fanatic groups. It might be that they were deliberately trying to mislead the security forces into complacency.

Instead of a decline in terrorist attacks, quite the reverse might happen in the days to come. Foreign mercenaries might not move towards Afghanistan at all. Rather, the movement might be in the reverse direction to escape the heat generated by the increased US presence there. That will spell even more serious trouble for the valley. The western world must realise that it cannot defeat terrorism merely by eliminating the Osama bin Laden camps. The poison ivy has to be rooted out completely. In any case, militants active in Kashmir are hand in glove with those who brought down the World Trade Center on Laden command. Keeping them out of the global war against terrorism would be a grave mistake for which the whole world would have to pay a heavy price in not too distant a future. But India cannot keep waiting for the world to wake up to this reality. Keeping its territory free from the scourge of terrorism is its responsibility and it has to tie all loose ends itself. Incidentally, Jaish-e-Mohammed, which has claimed responsibility for the fidayeen attack, was launched by Masood Azhar, a Pakistani who was one of the three men freed from Indian jail in 1999 in exchange for the return of an Indian plane that had been hijacked to Afghanistan. And yet, General Musharraf has the cheek to say that there are no terrorists in Pakistan!

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Keshubhai’s delayed exit

OUT-going Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel should count himself lucky that he survived for so long in spite of being an incompetent administrator, crisis-manager and policy-maker. It can be said that nemesis took a long time catching up with him. But now there seems to be no escape for him. The search for a suitable successor is more serious this time than on earlier occasions. It was a case of bad political umpiring that saw him stay at the sticky wicket even after being "clean bowled" several times during his lacklustre term. The inept handling of the devastation that visited Gujarat in the form of an earthquake had given birth to the speculation that Mr Patel may at last be shown the door. But he survived. Nero, who played on the fiddle while Rome burned, could have taken a lesson or two from Mr Patel in sleeping through a catastrophe that very nearly shook the world. Mr Bill Clinton was moved by the tragedy, who visited Gujarat for mobilising funds for the victims, but not Mr Patel. The earthquake revealed the poor quality of material that was used by corrupt builders. The names that came tumbling out showed the links of the powerful builders' lobby with the Chief Minister and other senior politicians and bureaucrats. Perhaps, it was the TINA (there is no alternative) factor that saw Mr Patel survive crisis after crisis.

However, the reverses suffered by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the recently concluded assembly by-elections evidently proved to be the last straw on the camel's back. One of the seats that went to the Congress falls in the Lok Sabha constituency of Union Home Minister L.K. Advani. The Chief Minister may have yet again got away but for the pressure on the BJP high command from his ministerial colleagues as also senior party leaders from Gujarat. However, removing Mr Patel may not be enough. The entire political and bureaucratic structure in Gujarat has become ineffective and corrupt. The state needs a dynamic leader at this crucial juncture for helping the victims of the earthquake begin life anew. And special attention also need to be paid to improving the water management system for coping with the recurring problem of drought. The options before the BJP high command are limited. Mr Narendra Modi has emerged as the front-runner for replacing Mr Patel. However, it is doubtful whether he would be able to carry a faction-riven BJP with him for beating back the strong challenge from the seemingly rejuvenated Congress in Gujarat.

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Plunge in exports

EXPORTS have been rising, sometimes briskly and sometimes sluggishly, since the liberalisation year of 1991-92. Not any more if official information is anything to go by. During the first five months of the financial year starting from April, exports have fallen by 2.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. This may sound unimportant but it is not. A negative growth — or a decline instead of an increase - of 2.3 per cent should be seen in the light of the target of 12 per cent rise set by the Commerce Ministry. In simple terms, not only the target will not be met but also there will be a big fall in export earnings. This will have an impact on trade deficit (the difference between higher imports and lower exports) and balance of payment which is the difference between what the country earns in foreign exchange and what it has to pay out. There is no worry in terms of the country’s capacity to meet its obligations since the foreign currency kitty is very satisfactory but business psychology will take a beating. The rule of the thumb says that the global recession, especially that in the USA, has stalled Indian exports. But there are other factors. Iraq and Indonesia have banned import of wheat from this country and Egypt and Jordan meat. The USA, the biggest importer of Indian goods, is threatening to stop the arrival of cold rolled steel plates, saying it amounts to dumping.

There are two curious facts. One, the remittance from Indians working abroad has recorded a rise. Two, earnings from the global sale of agricultural products like basmati rice have gone up. Imports have surged but many feel that this may help in export promotion. Traditionally, imports are of raw materials or intermediate goods used in products which are exported. The import of these items has risen smartly by more than 9 per cent. Another glad tiding is that there has been no alarming increase in the import of those sensitive items which were removed from the banned under the restricted quantitative list in April this year. Actually there is a sharp fall of over 17 per cent. All in all, the situation is worrying but not alarming.

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The Chief of Defence Staff idea
A half-baked attempt to resolve a complex dilemma
Harwant Singh

THE Group Of Ministers approved the setting up of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) some time ago. It appears the CDS will have under him the strategic nuclear command (missile group) and be the single point of advice to the Prime Minister on nuclear issues. It is a half-baked attempt to resolve the national security paradigm and is a parablepsis of the emerging security scene. The more important and pressing issue is one of coordinating, synergising, and meshing together the logistic and combat potential of the three wings of the defence forces to serve the common national security purpose through joint planning and unity of command. In its present incarnation the CDS, even if he is one of the three Chiefs, in addition to being the head of own service, will be no more than the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee. This arrangement in no way will remove the earlier drawbacks that have bedeviled the operational setting of the Indian security scene.

Those who have opposed the proposal for a CDS contend that the existing system has worked well and stood the test of time. The fact is that the system has simply not worked. It worked only during the first Kashmir war of 1947-48 while we were still operating within the structures created by the British. But in 1962, the IAF stayed out of the combat as if it was someone else’s war. It had a distinct advantage over the then Chinese limited capability ex-Tibet and would have been most effective against columns of troops and mules and the Chinese Line of Control. If the government was scared of employing the Air Force, then was the IAF straining at the leash. What was the IAF’s advice to the government? This staying out of the battle created deep suspicions.

In 1965, the war clouds had gathered in the month of March, consequent to the Runn of Kutch incident. The Army was mobilised during May-June. When the hostilities finally broke out in September, the Navy’s only aircraft carrier was on dry docks. The IAF was late in coming at Chhamb. In a recent statement, the then Air Chief, Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh, disclosed that he did not know of the Army’s offensive in the Punjab sector till after it was launched. Can there be a more damning indictment of the existing system which the retired Air Force Chiefs want to perpetuate. The IAF had told the Army that during the first seven days or so of the war, it should not expect much support from the IAF as it would be fully committed to winning the air battle. The outcome of the air battle was never clear, but throughout the war our offensive in the Jammu sector was subjected to heavy air attacks by the Pakistan air force while there was little air activity in the sector by the IAF. General Harbaksh Singh in his book on the 1965 operations, “War Despatches”, records Air Vice Marshal Sondhi’s assessment of the IAF’s performance, (page 176): “The manner and circumstances in which the IAF went into action in 1965 — in the Chhamb sector — are illustrative not only of the political hesitation that delayed the decision on the employment of the Air Force until it was all but too late, but also exemplified the Air Force’s own half-hearted participation before the desperate reaction of the Pakistan air force which led to an air war .... But the IAF missed a rare opportunity to demonstrate more fully to the Army that it exists otherwise than a fighting service for its own good.”

During 1971, from December 1 onwards, the Army was placed at the highest state of alert and attack from Pakistan was expected “any time”, yet when the offensive came on the afternoon of December 3, and the enemy air force struck at our forward air bases, no IAF plane took off to intercept the enemy and the air defence elements at our airfields were caught napping. All enemy air craft got back safely, leaving behind many destroyed on the Indian airfields. Evidently, the Army and the IAF were at different states of alert. During the Kargil war it took the IAF nearly three weeks to get its act together. This revived the 1962 suspicions all over again.

Obviously, in all this disconnect, there was no “single” guiding hand and central control. It has been a case of each to himself and with separate agendas. Can we still contend that the system has so far worked well and should continue! The truth is that, on many occasions, we came close to disaster because of this “disconnect”.

The usefulness of employing the IAF at Kargil has been adversely commented upon by Mr Amarinder Singh in his book, “A Ridge Too Far”. The engagement of targets along the high ridges at Kargil by our aircraft had its own problems: lack of joint training in army-air operations in high mountains, absence of a suitable aircraft for ground support operations, and to that was added the threat from the shoulder-fired Stringer missiles, forcing the aircraft to fly at great heights. There has been little joint training, leave alone joint planning and formulation of a doctrine for air-land battle. To offset to some extent the overwhelming preponderance of armour with the attacking force during “Ex-Brass Tacks”, as the defending commander, I was allotted an armed helicopter squadron from the IAF. Since the squadron was parked at the helidrome, next to my underground headquarters, I accompanied the flight commander on one of the missions to be horrified to see him engage own rather than the opposing tanks. The flight commander could not tell a T-72 tank from a Vijayanta.

Germany’s spectacular victories and rapid advances in Europe and the USSR during World War II were the result of close integration of mechanised forces and the Luftwaffe. It is a well-established fact that the highest profitable mobility is attained when air power, land and sea power are integrated. The ability of the aeroplane to operate on its own is limited. Ashley J. Tellis in his book, “Stability in South Asia”, purported to be a RAND Report prepared for the US army, writes, “If Pakistan initiates conflict, it has the advantage but only in a short war. If India initiates conflict it can surmount numerical but not operational deficiencies.” It goes on to record, “IAF does not contribute operationally. The Indian Navy is irrelevant except as a risk fleet.” The future national security set-up must be alive to the immense advantages accruing from the integration of the three services and the relevant place of each in the range of security threats to the country.

Ninetyfive per cent of the tasks of transport aircraft and helicopters with the IAF, during peace time and operations are related to the employment of the Army. Like most modern countries, the bulk of these assets should be a component of the ground forces or, at least, fully integrated with the appropriate ground forces element (Theatre Command). We are equally of the view, and which we projected to the Arun Singh Committee, that the Strategic Missile Group (Agni missile) should be an adjunct to the Strategic Air Command and that, to start with, we should set up a Strategic Naval Command for the islands (since ordered), a Northern Theatre Command and a Strategic Air Command. For Air Chief Marshal Mehra (retd) to claim that the Strategic Missile Command should be part of the IAF, because such is the practice in most other countries and be silent on the need for the IAF to shed most of the helicopter and transport assets to the Army, which is also the practice in those countries, is merely a case of cherry picking.

The lessons of high-tech wars of Iraq etc do not override the lessons of Kargil and the marching boot. The same success could not have attended the American effort, against a technologically capable or more determined opponent as it learnt to its discomfiture, in Vietnam. Therefore, India’s security parameters have to be seen in the peculiar nature of threats to it, and the measures and structures suitable to meet these.

After the 1971 war, Indira Gandhi had issued orders for creating the post of CDS (Manekshaw was to be the first CDS.) The then Defence Secretary, Mr B.K. Lal, along with Air Chief P.C. Lal, employing the “Yes Prime Minister” technique, sabotaged the instructions. Since then the IAF has persistently opposed this proposal. Surely, the IAF cannot hold national security to ransom. The proposal was finally watered down, and what emerged in 1985 was the Defence Planning Staff (DPS) which prepared policy papers nobody was interested in reading and became a parking slot for the officer who could not be usefully employed within the parent Service.

While the integration of the defence headquarters with the MoD is one part, the other is the setting up of a full-fledged and completely integrated CDS. The CDS concept is predicated on the premise of having integrated commands directly responsible to it. This would relieve the Service Chiefs of operational responsibilities and leave them free to concentrate on staff functions. The MoD, in its restructured and integrated form, should be divested of the internal management of the Services and should be concerned with issues of policy, planning, budgeting, procurement of major equipment, etc. The induction of Service officers in the restructured MoD will bring in the necessary technical expertise, improve and speed up the decision-making process.

In case this appointment is to be made rotational, the tenability between the Army and the two other Services should be in the ratio of 2:1:1. This has to be obviously so due to the size of the Army, its range of responsibilities and commitments and the nature of threats to national security.

Calumny and a whispering campaign of the most base type against the Defence Minister and Mr Arun Singh has been launched. Mr Jaswant Singh is perhaps the only politician to conceptualise national security in broader terms, encompassing geo-political and geo-strategic realities of the region. He has a deep understanding of Indian military history, the fundamentals of military power, its symbiotic relationship with economic, cultural, technological and foreign policy imperatives. Mr Arun Singh was the most successful Defence Minister with a clear grasp of national security issues and higher defence organisations, their potential and the ability to extract the maximum value from defence outlays. Attempts are being made to stall progress in the restructuring of the national defence set-up and in the process these two are being targeted as they are perceived to be the prime movers of this recasting of the national security model.

The writer, a retired Lieut-General, was the Deputy Chief of the Army Staff.

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Cartoon redeems media honour
Surjit Hans

THE coverage of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York by our papers was apocalyptic. As if after the event the world will be a different place. More interest was shown in American deaths as such than those of Indians. To be more royal than the king speaks of a worrying psychology. The triumphalist brag about the end of terror swept our newspapers off their feet to believe that the pious hurricane would leave Kashmir clean of terrorists. There was a shade of political naivete of American heroics helping to win the coming elections.

In the tide only the cartoonist stood like a rock. There might be structural reasons like a lazy dependence on CNN and BBC. Normally, the Press gives both sides of the story. But the terrorists were not there to give their side. Hence, a prolonged beating about the Bush. There was an element of toadyism. If the European Union and NATO fall in line for this kind of a thing, why not us? This resulting in a near total loss of proportion.

The cartoonists kept their honour. Frenzy is one-dimensional. Rhetoric, symbols, imagery helps the language to warm up. Humour, like intelligence, is the capability to think at least on two levels. Unthinking aids bombast.

Laxman’s “You are saying it only now that you won’t tolerate terrorism. But we have been saying it in our country for the past thirty years” works on three levels. As if it were an echo of our much vaunted ancient civilisation, our representative in the conference is telling the Americans that we had it before. Refusing to tolerate terrorism does not mean its end. The First World War followed after a terrorist attack. The 20th century added terrorism to political armoury.

Unny finds strange bedfellows in condemning terrorism. Regrettably all the great powers, plus the hopefuls have problems in their political backyards which are breeding ground of terrorism. If crime is globalising, why not terror?

Laxman’s and Unny’s tell you to also worry about the Indians, Sikh and Hindu, killed in the USA. To be killed in a backlash or otherwise is no consolation.

A stinging comment is made in Tailang’s as if we could do much to counter terrorism worldwide. Our inputs by RAW and the CBI to the FBI, let us hope, were unusually effective. The venom lies in half of a dog. He undoes all the hype about our contribution to American effort. We were swept off our feet by our offers which were not accepted.

Laxman’s instead wants the Americans to help us to catch Veerappan.

Keshav’s has a fling at the National Democratic Alliance which can advise America how to build a world coalition against terrorism by having members leaving and returning as they like. Russia and China do the Trinamool Congress act.

Tailang’s sums up the 10 days of politics. The American dilemma has helped us forget our own domestic problems. What a godsend to the politicians! How hollow can you be?

Laxman’s is about our economy. It is already doing so ill that it cannot be worse because of the US crisis. To Unny the rebuilding of New York should be an excuse for our ministers to go on an American tour to learn the ways of development.

Our own Joshi is brutally honest. The whole coverage has been such a bore. His is more informative about the if-but balance whereas the papers have not only front-paged world support to America but also buried the “but” caveats on the inside pages.

Keshav’s asks the basic question, “How do we measure terrorism or vengeance in terms of anger?” Hype or enthusiasm is no substitute for thinking.

Unny’s parodies war ad for enlistment. The USA has been recently enlisting terrorists in the Kosovo Liberation Front and helping Savimbi terror in Angola for decades. Sometime ago his men attacked a train. The CIA helped to kill 50,000 radicals through its Operation Condor in Latin America. America “wanted” leaders one way, now it “wants” Laden in another way.

Keshav’s shows that the brag is also humbug, when politicians are more worried about the withdrawal of their “conspicuous” security personnel. In Unny’s the whole thing is back to normal. The gushing support for the American adventure has been dragged to the denominator of Indo-Pak conflict. None but the electorate can be fooled.

An ancient civilisation can afford to show some self-respect. What prevents it from being a world civilisation instead of being fixated on a poor neighbour? The land of forty muktas (who died fighting under the Guru Gobind Singh at Muktsar) could have spared a thought for the 39 who had got themselves killed for a cause. Loss of life anywhere for any reason is sad. That is why Rama, Krishna and Guru Gobind Singh felt compelled to redeem the lives of persons they killed in battle.

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Three Presidents and a terrorist
Amardeep S. Dahiya

IT’S a strange world they say and a violent and unpredictable one as well. So was it proved in the last almost three weeks with the beginning of the WTC bombings. Just a week prior to the bombings three Presidents, firmly in saddle, were having a reasonably enjoyable, decent time, George W. Bush neatly settled in the White House having successfully passed the historical eight billion tax cut and having left far behind the scandalous and acrimonious election. General Musharraf, the Pakistani President, also cruising comfortably having consolidated, legalised and secured his illegal usurp of power through a coup. While our third President Mullah Omar implementing what he likes best: tough and outdated Islamic tenets, besides preparing for celebrations of Taliban’s five-year rule.

However, in the difference of 18 minutes resulting in a carnage in which over 6,000 innocent people died, the three Presidents and their regimes had been checkmated and their survival put under the sword of Osama bin Laden, the head of Al-Quida (read in English as “The force”), the alleged perpetrator of these terrorist attacks.

The foursome in the eye of the storm: — George W. Bush, Mullah Omar, General Musharraf and of course Osama bin Laden — were going through their own torment and set of problems. With the exception of Osama, none of the other three would have wanted to be landed in the position each one is in. One terrorist attack, however, big and carnal, is threatening to eat away the three presidencies of countries which are completely disparate from one another in terms of economics, religion, constitution.

As each pondered his course of action the settings couldn’t have been more different, nor the players or their interests for that matter. George W. Bush at the luxurious perfectly manicured Camp David Presidential retreat surrounded by his power-packed defence team of Powells, Rumsfelds, Wolfowitss et al, secured by, amongst other things, a complete squadron of jet fighters, discussing with intense ferocity the game plan for revenge and for war against terror, terrorism and terrorist states.

More than 10,000 km away in a completely different part of the world, sitting in a cave lighted by Paraffin lanterns and dug into the treacherous mountains north of Kandahar sat the world’s infamous Osama bin Laden surrounded by gun-toting deputies and a plethora of communication equipment brainstorming their plans to escape and or disappear from the screens of US spy satellites and planes, stinger missiles, Apache helicopters and other deadly means of modern day warfare. And of course in true Bin Laden fashion discussing and masterminding present and future schemes and plots to hurt the so-called Kafirs and their allies by bringing down their symbols of power and patriotism.

A similar planning session was underway in Islamabad under the aegis of President Musharraf, who along with his odd kitchen cabinet of Generals and civilians alike, was discussing his strategy. A strategy which could successfully encompass the conflicting aims: Of that of actual unflinching intelligence, material, military and rhetorical support to the USA in its so-called war on terrorism, against its own protege Taliban, and aide and accomplice Osama bin Laden.

On corresponding lines sat contemplating the Taliban chief, Mullah Omar, in a meeting with his advisers mainly radical and/or militant clerics as to how to retain the regime in view of the impending military onslaught of the USA as well as keep up the patronage to their friend and “guest” Osama while continuing to denounce the US regime and rhetoric for a jehad against them.

All the four meetings were centred on the WTC bombings and the resultant chain of events: happened, happening and those to happen. Besides all real and public oratory and action plans — military, diplomatic, monetary and other — the overreaching question in the minds of all the four leaders remained: what would be the long-term effects on their respective territories in the aftermath of this incident which has just yet begun?

Well whatever might happen, the three Presidents are bound to be haunted, awake as well as in sleep for a very long time to come by the ominous head of Al Quida the irrepressible self-styled jehadi the alleged terrorist No.1 Osama bin Laden.

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Ramlila in Bawal

The Secretary, Rajasthan Sewa Sangha wires from Ajmer under date September 21: Report from Bawal in Nabha state says that a public meeting, held in Gopinath temple to consider preparations for the ensuing festival of Ramlila, has abandoned them in the forced absence of Pandit Moolchand from Bawal owing to the action of the local police. The Pandit is the moving spirit of the town where great discontent prevails on account of Ramlila prospects.

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TRENDS & POINTERS

Ambushed, Indian doctor feels violated

DR Prathap Chandran, who has been working in the USA at St Mary’s Hospital for 17 years, feels “violated, raped”.

This Kerala graduate is nowhere near the stereotypical image America has of a “terrorist”. At 60, Chandran is balding and has a moustache but no beard.

Chandran went to Washington on September 10 to attend a meeting. When he found out about the terrorist strikes, his immediate reaction was to contact his son in New York. His wife and daughter were not an immediate worry, both being on holiday in India.

With airports shut down across the country, Chandran boarded a bus to his home in Charleston. A man standing on the sidewalk, in conversation with another passenger, glanced at Chandran and said the WTC attack was caused “by people like you”.

“I understood he was making an accusation,” Chandran recalled. “I said, ‘Sir, you are mistaken. I am a person of Indian origin, a Hindu, and a physician, and my job is to take care of people, not to destroy them’.”

The bus driver was standing nearby during the incident. When the bus reached Charleston, the bus driver left abruptly. When he returned, Chandran enquired the way to the nearest cabstand. Finding it closed, he returned to the bus.

“But when I returned there were two or three policemen, guns at the ready, yelling at me to ‘freeze’. It felt like an ambush,” Chandran said.

The surgeon put his hands up. He was told to lie down. His hands were pulled back and handcuffs clicked into place.

“I was pulled to my feet, and frisked...I tried to impress on them that I was a physician, that I was just returning from a conference. No one listened,” he said.

His baggage was examined by police dogs. “I tried telling them I had no problem with being frisked or whatever, but I thought this was not the way to do it. They told me, ‘this is how we deal with suspected terrorists’.”

At 3.40 a.m., two hours after the arrest, they let him go. The police took him to the airport where he collected his car and he was then escorted to the highway. He reached the safety of his home at 4.30 a.m.

“Charleston police defend rough treatment of Hindu cardiologist,” read the headline in the local newspaper, Herald Dispatch, the next day.

Dying for a story — and a picture

They died neither on battlefront nor in any insurgency-prone region. The four — Ranjan Jha and Gopal Bisht of TV Today (Aaj Tak), Sanjiv Sinha of Indian Express and Anju Sharma of The Hindustan Times — were travelling in a private plane that crashed into a paddy field in Uttar Pradesh.

“It is very unfortunate there is no risk insurance cover for journalists”, said Javed Faridi, general secretary of the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ). In August last year, Hindustan Times photographer Pradeep Bhatia died in a separatist car bomb attack in Srinagar. Nine Indian journalists were injured in the blast.

One of the early incidents of this kind was the death of K.S. Ramaswamy, Special Correspondent of The Times of India, when a Delhi-bound Indian Airlines plane crashed in May 1973. One of his media colleagues, V.K. Madhavan Kutty, survived to recount the horror.

The chief photographer of Malayala Manorama, Victor George, died while covering the landslips at Udumbannoor in Kerala this year. Five members of a production crew of Eenadu Television, a private channel, were killed in 1997 when they were caught in a car bomb explosion. An Indian reporter of Reuters, Najmul Hassan, died in 1983 when he stepped on a landmine while covering the Iran-Iraq war.

The journalists’ wage board had recommended a special allowance for “hazardous assignments.” Said Faridi: “What do they call hazardous? Would covering a political rally be considered hazardous in normal circumstances? The risk is present in every assignment and that should be recognised.” IANS

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No mystic comes with a new teaching, every mystic gives us the same teaching and their fundamental teaching is, the necessity to go back to the Father. They also explain to us that the Father is not to be found outside, but He is within the body of every one of us, as Christ said: “Behold the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). “Repent: for the kingdom of God is at hand (Matt. 4:17).

***

In our body, the seat or headquarters of the soul and the mind — knotted together — is here at the eye centre. From here our mind is pulled down by the senses. Because the mind is fond of pleasure, it runs to the senses for the sake of pleasure. Unless the mind gets a better pleasure then the sensual pleasures it refuses to leave the worldly pleasures.

***

In order to be in touch with the Divine Melody within we have to withdraw our consciousness, our attention from the body, back up to eye centre. And with the help of that sound and light we have to travel within, stage by stage - always under the guidance and protection of the Master who accepted us in his fold.

***

When the mind comes back up to its own source, which is the second stage on the spiritual journey, the soul automatically gets released from the mind. Then... sins which have association only with the mind cannot pull the soul back to the level of creation. And when the soul gets released from the mind, it shines free from all impurities, and automatically merges back into the creator, the Father.

— Maharaj Charan Singh, Thus Saith the Master, “Questions and Answers”.

***

Just as rivers flowing to the ocean

merge in it, losing their name and form,

so the wise man, freed from name and form

attains the supreme, divine Person.

— Mundaka Upanishad, III, 2, 8

***

Those who find the highest Reality here and now follow a path which never comes back to this world.

— The Tirukural, 356

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