Friday, October 12, 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

Complete isolation of Taliban
T
HE beleaguered Taliban regime of Afghanistan has failed to evoke any sympathy even from the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), representing 1.2 billion Muslims, when it is being punished for its follies by the US-led anti-terrorism international coalition. The OIC support for the fight against terrorism, expressed at its emergency session at Doha (Qatar) on Wednesday, is a significant boost to the American drive against the Taliban for shielding terrorists and their mastermind, Osama bin Laden, suspected to have been involved in the September 11 carnage in New York and Washington.

Chandrika on backfoot
S
RI Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga appears to be fighting for political survival. She has staved off the immediate threat to her government by dissolving Parliament. The extreme step was taken to avoid the embarrassment of seeing her government being defeated through a motion of no-confidence that was to come up for debate hours before she decided to play it safe.



EARLIER ARTICLES

War impact on economy
October 11
, 2001
Testing time for Musharraf
October 10
, 2001
Air raid on Afghanistan
October 9
, 2001
Blair’s blank words
October 8
, 2001
Concerted global effort needed to combat terrorism
October 7
, 2001
Hijack drama
October 6
, 2001
Saving the Taj
October 5
, 2001
After Taliban what?
October 4
, 2001
Killing spree unabated
October 3
, 2001
Madhavrao Scindia
October 2
, 2001
UN bans terrorism
October 1
, 2001
 
FRANKLY SPEAKING

Hari Jaisingh
New politico-strategic equations
Afghan events will decide Indo-Pak-US ties
W
HAT will be the fallout of Afghan developments in the light of the changing politico-strategic setting in India's neighbourhood? What will be the nature of new alignments in the region? The future of India and the subcontinent, nay, of South Asia and Asia as a whole, will depend on the outcome of the USA's counter-offensive against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.


MIDDLE

Walkers-in-law
V. K. Kapoor
P
EOPLE have an inherent need to feel connected and they will do it in whatever ways are easiest for them. Need to connect with others is a deep emotional need. People seek relationships that enrich life. Relationships are the web of life. They influence how we think, feel and behave. Humans are more emotional than rational. Little things console us because little things afflict us. We are alike under the skin. What touches human heart in one country touches all.

TRENDS & POINTERS

Indian link to Physics Nobel
C
ARL Wieman and Eric Cornell, this year’s Nobel Prize winners for Physics, have one person to thank for the honour bestowed upon them — Satyendranath Bose. The duo have succeeded in creating a new state of matter which was theorised about by Bose and endorsed by Albert Einstein.

  • Hitler was gay German historian
  • Short-changing children
COMMENTARY

Afghanistan: looking beyond the Taliban
M. S. N. Menon
A
T last, America has struck back. It is the first phase to take on Bin Laden and the Taliban. They come first in priority. One can understand. After all, it is the Americans who are paying for this war. And shedding blood, too. We believe President Bush was earnest when he said that this is going to be a comprehensive war against terrorism. If so, it must be fought under the UN, and the UN must pay for it. It should be a war of world community. It must establish that violence is not the way to achieve anything. Not in the nuclear age.

ANALYSIS

Deadly war dust and environment
M. Rajivlochan
C
ONSIDER the effect of America’s unrelenting bombing on the environment of Afghanistan. Over 50 missiles and many hundred bombs are being showered on that country each day. Quite apart from the heat and dust raised as also the direct killing of all life form which comes in the way of the projectile and its sharpnel, these bombs will cause very long term harm as well.

75 YEARS AGO


Punjab Congress Organisation

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS



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Complete isolation of Taliban

THE beleaguered Taliban regime of Afghanistan has failed to evoke any sympathy even from the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), representing 1.2 billion Muslims, when it is being punished for its follies by the US-led anti-terrorism international coalition. The OIC support for the fight against terrorism, expressed at its emergency session at Doha (Qatar) on Wednesday, is a significant boost to the American drive against the Taliban for shielding terrorists and their mastermind, Osama bin Laden, suspected to have been involved in the September 11 carnage in New York and Washington. Now the USA can claim that it has with it almost all the governments of the world in its war against the most dreaded enemy of humankind. What the OIC Foreign Ministers have said is more or less on expected lines. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan, controlling more than 90 per cent of the country, emerged on the world stage in September, 1996, but it could get recognition only from three of the OIC members with one of them (Pakistan) holding its umbilical cord. The OIC always suspected its bona fides and hence its refusal to allow membership to the Afghanistan government under Mullah Mohammad Omar. The Muslim-majority countries also never attempted to present the Taliban case for entry into the United Nations. Thus even if most of the OIC members are known for their pro-US leanings, the incontrovertible fact is that the Taliban regime could never win their confidence. There was, therefore, no question of their shedding tears when the most hated regime is facing the wrath of the international community.

The OIC, however, differs from the USA in the scope of military action against terrorists and their harbourers when it says that no other country should be targeted like Afghanistan. It will be interesting to watch American behaviour now as it has been hinting that the war may escalate to other areas where Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda has its destructive infrastructure. Certain OIC members like Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE are host to American crack forces whereas countries like Sudan, Libya, Syria and, of course, Iraq fear limited military strikes from the US-led coalition. The OIC reaction has brought American strategic and economic interests face to face with the superpower's latest commitment on terrorism. This indeed is a difficult dilemma for US war strategists.
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Chandrika on backfoot

SRI Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga appears to be fighting for political survival. She has staved off the immediate threat to her government by dissolving Parliament. The extreme step was taken to avoid the embarrassment of seeing her government being defeated through a motion of no-confidence that was to come up for debate hours before she decided to play it safe. She has given herself time until December 5, when elections for a new Parliament would be held. President Kumaratunga has only herself to blame for the unhappy turn of events that saw her government being reduced to a minority. She had entered into what was described as a survival pact last month with the Marxist Janata Vimukti Peramuna (JVP) whose 10 members were to support her government at least for one year. But that did not stop the rumblings of disconnect over her style of functioning within her own People's Alliance (PA) government. The main opposition headed by the United National Party (UNP) evidently worked on the feelings of the unhappy members of the ruling alliance before bringing a motion of no-confidence against her government. The motion was to be taken up for debate on Thursday. The UNP members, who number 88 in the 225-member Parliament, were expected to get the backing of nine lawmakers representing the Tamil parties, who have a fairly long list of grievances against Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga and her government. By Wednesday the UNP had reportedly managed to secure the backing of the usually ambivalent Muslim Party of the island nation. The opposition also sweet-talked three former ministers into backing its motion against President Kumaratunga's government.

Mrs Kumaratunga may not have lost much sleep over the motion of no-confidence, but overnight developments forced her to press the panic button. The three disgruntled former ministers not only promised support to the opposition, but also decided to wean away at least a dozen other unhappy lawmakers from the President's camp. The one-year pact with the JVP was clearly the turning point in the fast unfolding political drama in Sri Lanka. Instead of providing the much-needed stability to the government, the pact made her own camp angry with her. The main reason for the widespread feeling of resentment was her decision to right size the strength of her cabinet. Under the terms of support from the JVP the size of the cabinet was drastically reduced to 20 from 43. Similarly the number of junior ministers was reduced to 20 from 34. In effect the President had at least 23 senior and 14 junior ministers who were sulking openly over the sudden loss of the trappings of power. The JVP had also prevailed upon Mrs Kumaratunga to waive farm loans as an essential condition for support. She was also made to give an undertaking to introduce constitutional reforms for freeing democratic institutions from political interference. When eight dissident MPs decided to cross over to the opposition in the run-up to the voting on the crucial motion of no-confidence against her, the President decided to dissolve Parliament. Of course the vote would not have had any impact on her continuing in office, because the President in Sri Lanka is directly elected by the people. But a defeat on the floor of the House may have made her look like a lame duck President.
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FRANKLY SPEAKING

New politico-strategic equations
Afghan events will decide Indo-Pak-US ties
Hari Jaisingh

WHAT will be the fallout of Afghan developments in the light of the changing politico-strategic setting in India's neighbourhood? What will be the nature of new alignments in the region? The future of India and the subcontinent, nay, of South Asia and Asia as a whole, will depend on the outcome of the USA's counter-offensive against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

Equally crucial will be how Americans conduct their policies and what postures they strike. What is relevant from India's point of view is the evolution of its ties with the USA vis-a-vis Pakistan. Now, certain hard facts.

First, the strategic circle has turned full in the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan belt. The USA's newly-revived Pakistan military cooperation for "operation Osama bin Laden and the Taliban" is bound to upset old ties and throw up new equations which will have far-reaching implications for the sort of world we shall live in in the years to come.

Second, Pakistan itself will be badly caught in the Taliban web of its own making. The person to watch is General Pervez Musharraf who has made his survival the art of the possible. He is adept at political U-turns which can be the envy of most Indian leaders.

Three, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan will surely tumble. A new composite government is likely to be installed there sooner rather than later. This means a swift realignment of various political and ethnic groups which, in turn, may create new complexities in the region.

Four, though the battle against terrorism is focussed, it is likely to get more complex. I am not talking about bio-terrorism which is a different challenge. What is relevant at present is the sharp divisions in Pakistan itself. Indeed, the ghost of terrorism will haunt the streets of Pakistani towns more menacingly than ever before. This is a new disturbing signal for India as well. For, the fallout on this country is but natural.

Five, politics in the subcontinent will change radically. For the Talibanised version of Islam cannot be countered by a mere show of force. It will require new strategies on political and socio-educational fronts.

It is doubtful if the military regime in Islamabad, which is already showing signs of nervousness, will be able to end the politics of jehad it has nurtured over the years aimed at this country, especially Kashmir.

Six, India no longer has an upper hand with America's policy-makers — the position it had acquired during the last phase of the Bill Clinton presidency. The former US President had broadly veered round to the Indian viewpoint on Jammu and Kashmir. He had also come to appreciate the danger Pakistan-sponsored terrorism poses to peace and stability in the subcontinent. He showed his displeasure to General Musharraf during his visit to the subcontinent and did some plain-speaking.

President George W. Bush, too, had picked up the threads from his predecessor. But everything is in a melting pot after the September 11 terrorist strikes in New York and Washington.

Ironically, yesterday's terrorist state of Pakistan has become America's main ally in its fight against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. The USA has its own calculations, right or wrong. But what is disquieting from New Delhi's point of view is America's new policy postures towards Islamabad, totally ignoring its role in the promotion of terrorism for over two decades.

In the circumstances, India can do nothing except to show its displeasure as the Indian leaders did when British Prime Minister Tony Blair was in New Delhi last week as an envoy of the US President.

True, the USA pursues its enlightened self-interest. It will not entertain Indian apprehensions, however justifiable, if these do not fit in in its thinking. The USA's goal is Osama bin Laden and his close associates and therefore it prefers to overlook the fact that the Saudi-exiled millionaire and his followers were the creation of Pakistan's ISI with the backup of America's CIA.

Historical facts cannot be erased. Nor can self-centred calculations cover the ground realities. Pakistan was once a close military ally of the USA. It was armed and assisted financially in a big way to the disadvantage of this country. Much of the problems in the subcontinent have actually emanated from past American follies and Pakistan's misadventures against India.

Islamabad has used the material and weaponry supplied by Washington to wage a couple of wars against India and disturb the secular fabric in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan's terrorist pursuit in the name of jehad has killed thousands of innocent Kashmiris. We do not find even crocodile tears being shed for these people. What a shame!

Those who swear by human rights may have their own explanations. But such functional aberrations are part of duplicity and double standards being followed by Pakistan and the USA.

Notwithstanding the present gloomy and complex situation, there may still be some hope for India on Kashmir in the light of General Musharraf's own predicament. For once, he is having the taste of his own terrorism medicine.

Pakistan's armed forces are virtually divided between pro-and-anti-Taliban factions. The fact that the ISI chief along with a few other Generals had to be packed off shows how delicate and desperate is his battle on the home front. The pro-Taliban riots in several parts of Pakistan underline their own sordid tales of gravity of the situation. These anti-American protests will radically change Pakistan's political spectrum. The outcome ought to be of considerable interest to India's policy-makers.

The latest developments in the region may ease things in Jammu Kashmir provided Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his close aides play their cards intelligently. But will they?

Since the world has declared an indefinite war on terrorism, South Block needs to avail itself of the opportunity to come down heavily on militants in Kashmir. They may not get active support from Islamabad because of the changed situation there.

Looking beyond, it needs to be appreciated that terrorism is first born in the minds of men. At first, in few persons. They think what they believe in is right and all others are wrong. And if the world says no, they take to violence. Such is the case with Islamic fundamentalism. They preach violence while Islam is a religion of peace.

The issue is: can civilised societies allow these people to hold the rest to ransom? The answer is no. No society can allow a minority to dictate terms to the majority.

Kashmir is certainly India's principal problem. Why? Because we chose to live in a make-believe world. We made a mess of accession. We allowed personal factors to determine national issues. We thought we have to purchase the loyalty of Kashmiri Muslims by giving them concessions!

We accepted the "separateness" of the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir even after we rejected the two-nation theory and gave it a special status under Article 370 of the Constitution. We have the examples of Yugoslavia today on what it means to pursue the path of separateness. It ends in a disaster for all.

Whether the militants in J&K are mercenaries of Pakistan's ISI or soldiers of Islam, they cannot be allowed to dictate solutions. We know by now that there are no ideal solutions in politics and economics. Pakistan was the creation of a few militants and misguided politicians. See what a mess it is in!

We have seen what such attempts at creating utopias have resulted in. That is why the cult of violence cannot be allowed to win, for it sets a bad precedent. It is a throwback to the jungle raj, to a primitive way of life, when might was right.

We have moved away from it. Today the world accepts democracy as the best form of government, although it is not without blemishes. Yet it is a government by consent of the people, not run by a dictator.

I hope Americans will learn to see the fight against terrorism in a larger perspective and appreciate India's position on Kashmir and related matters more rationally and logically. Terrorism knows no geographical barriers. India knows this harsh fact more than any other country. That is why Indian leaders have been insisting that the Afghan face of Osama bin Laden is as dangerous as the Pakistani face of Talibanised terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

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Walkers-in-law
V. K. Kapoor

PEOPLE have an inherent need to feel connected and they will do it in whatever ways are easiest for them. Need to connect with others is a deep emotional need. People seek relationships that enrich life. Relationships are the web of life. They influence how we think, feel and behave. Humans are more emotional than rational. Little things console us because little things afflict us. We are alike under the skin. What touches human heart in one country touches all.

Walking is the most innocuous and effective way of connectivity. Regular walkers develop an affinity and bond among themselves. I call them walkers-in-law. Walkers-in-law become a source of comfort and joy to each other. They greet and smile at each other. Smile means, “I am relating to you”. The relation is more important than the quality of relationship. Sometimes relationships grow. Signals become reality. Mask is followed by the substance. As we see different lives, we understand our own better.

I am a walking addict. Since I walk a lot, I have walkers-in-law at various places, especially in Delhi and Chandigarh. One likes to see familiar faces. Familiarity is comfortable. Being taken for granted can be a compliment. It means that you have become a comfortable trusted element in another person’s life. Ultimately, we become prisoners of familiarity. Most of the people are harmless jokes and just float on the surface of life. As time rolls on, people become melancholy exiles whose lives become light on possessions but heavy with memories. Some of them become like little boys in a man’s body. In our unmoored times, situations mirror a trend in society at large. The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened. Indian ethos promotes denial, passivity and living defensively. We dread loneliness. Loneliness clings closer than a blanket. Lonely people perceive their world as less reinforcing and more threatening. There is a physiological toll of psychological isolation. The absence of stable social relationships affects our mind and biology.

In Lodhi Garden, I see a couple along with their dog. The wife has a racehorse quality, with body tone at its optimum. The man looks timid, beaten and used. The man and the dog have obsequios looks. I find a remarkable similarity between the two. Due to vagrant whims of nature, some souls are thrown together. Love is a chemical affinity that loses its strength after a certain period of temporary intimacy. As time passes, women get brighter, bolder and stronger. Men become drabber, more predictable, less interesting. Every marriage has a private hell. Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. “The final tragedy of love is indifference”, says Maugham.

A large number of aged and aging people are regular walkers. Some of these oldies are still carnal in appetites and bacchanalian in spirits. Some have a rude vitality. In Nehru Park I saw a Yoga class in progress. The teacher was instructing mostly middle-aged women to rotate their torsos clockwise and then anti-clockwise. The two oldies who were shuffling along looked at each other meaningfully and stood glued watching the women gyrating. They looked like aging degenerates with avid hungry eyes. Temptation for an object is only a reaction to it. Respectable looks frequently hide devious hearts and pleasant smiles are the smooth door behind which vilainy waits. Desire remains central, dark and obsessive in a man’s life.

The other day, I was accosted by an old gentleman at the Sukhna Lake. He appreciated one of my articles where Chinese Sage Tao had advised men, “He must know how to feel his woman’s nine erotic zones”. He conspiratorially asked me if I could explicitly detail all the nine erotic zones. I thought of his old wife still threatened to be explored. Some people are made that way. A shawl once woven cannot be woven in another fashion. Oscar Wilde said that ‘The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but one is young’.

Life is all about building and maintaining relationships, internally and externally. If you can build pleasant relationships, life is easier. If you can discover new relationships, life is richer. If you know you have a choice of relationships (including romantic ones), life is richer and more interesting. J. Krishnamurthy said: “Relationship is life and this relationship is a constant movement, a constant change”.

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TRENDS & POINTERS

Indian link to Physics Nobel

CARL Wieman and Eric Cornell, this year’s Nobel Prize winners for Physics, have one person to thank for the honour bestowed upon them — Satyendranath Bose.

The duo have succeeded in creating a new state of matter which was theorised about by Bose and endorsed by Albert Einstein.

Bose was born on January one, 1894 in Calcutta. He studied in the University of Calcutta, and later joined the Physics Department. It was here he did pioneering work in quantum theory, in particular on physicist Max Plank’s black body radiation law. He presented an alternative derivation to Plank’s law and sent his work to Einstein for his perusal.

Einstein realised that Bose had removed a major objection against light quanta in Planks’ work. He translated the paper into German and developed the theory further, realising its potential.

Einstein predicted that when a given number of the particles referred to by Bose came very close to each other and moved sufficiently slowly, they would convert to the lowest energy state. This phenomenon is called ‘Bose-Einstein condensation’.

Since the publication of this work scientists have been trying to achieve this new state of matter called Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC), which has various possibilities.

Cornell and Wieman were finally able to convert theory to reality in 1995 when they created the coldest place in the universe by building an “atom trap’’ with magnetic fields to skim off hot atoms.

In their experiment, atoms of an element, rubidium, were cooled to less than 170 billionths of a degree above absolute zero, causing them to condense into a “superatom’’ which behaves like a single entity. This was effectively a new form of matter. UNI

Hitler was gay German historian

Adolf Hitler was a closet homosexual and used his homoerotic charisma to gain power, a leading German historian has said.

Lothar Machtan’s book “Hitler’s Secret: The Double Life of a Dictator’’ argues that an awareness of the Nazi leader’s sexual orientation may help us understand his life. Its launch has caused a sensation at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.

“There are things in Hitler’s life which are puzzling. The knowledge of his homosexuality can help us to understand him better,’’ Machtan, Professor of Modern History at Bremen University, told Reuters in an interview at the fair.

“The key point is not that I can reveal the universal truth about Hitler. But his homosexuality could be a missing link to help us understand unclear elements in his life.’’

Hitler learned to manipulate his “homoerotic potential’’ and used this “erotic charisma’’ to gain power.

“If we look at the important circle of people around Hitler, an awareness of his homosexuality makes it easier to comprehend how a man like him without contacts or influence could become so powerful,’’ Machtan said.

Hitler used this charisma to win the backing of groups such as the Freikorps (Free Corps) militia and the nazi “brown shirts’’ who provided the muscle that aided his accession to power in the chaotic democracy of the Weimar Republic. Reuters

Short-changing children

A study shows that the actual expenditure on government programmes for children has been much less than budgetary estimates in almost all the years of the last decade. And what is of greater concern in programmes for children is the growing dependence on external aid, which has increased from 0.5 per cent in 1990-91 to almost 26 per cent in 1999-2000.

In some examples of under-spending, the study finds under-utilisation in 12 of the 17 schemes for elementary education in 1993-94. WFS
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Afghanistan: looking beyond the Taliban
M. S. N. Menon

AT last, America has struck back. It is the first phase to take on Bin Laden and the Taliban. They come first in priority. One can understand. After all, it is the Americans who are paying for this war. And shedding blood, too.

We believe President Bush was earnest when he said that this is going to be a comprehensive war against terrorism. If so, it must be fought under the UN, and the UN must pay for it. It should be a war of world community. It must establish that violence is not the way to achieve anything. Not in the nuclear age.

In the meantime, what are we to do with Afghanistan? This is a paramount question. But the answers will not be easy to come by. We must find answers for a lasting solution to the Afghan problem.

Should the world preserve Afghanistan as it is? Or should it be broken up on the basis of ethnicity? Multi-ethnic states are common today. Perhaps it is in keeping with world trends. But if it cannot bring about peace in Afghanistan, then it must be broken up. There should be no qualms about it.

Pakistan wants to preserve the Taliban regime in Kabul. There are no takers for it. The Taliban must go. Its very name is an abomination. The Northern Alliance is equally unacceptable, but for other reasons. What is needed is a new broad-based alliance, which will represent all the people of the country.

But on what basis? On Pakistan’s dominance? Pakistan wants it so. In support, it says that 60 per cent of the people of Afghanistan are Pashtuns. An innocent suggestion? No. The motive is clear. It is to establish a Pashtun-dominated government permanently. Proportional representation will ensure monopoly of power to the Pashtuns. This will be totally unacceptable to the Northern Alliance, Moscow, to Central Asians, Iran and to India.

Putting Pashtuns in power at Kabul is very important for Pakistan. It will again freeze the old dispute over the Durand Line. And Pakistan will have a pliant neighbour. This will be rewarding Pakistan for its nefarious role to create the present crisis.

The only solution to this problem is to have a rotating system under which each ethnic group will hold the job of Prime Minister in turn. And each ethnic community must have veto power over any legislation to amend the constitution.

These are matters for constitutional experts. A new constitution has, therefore, to be drawn up. In the meantime, there should be an interim government under the UN, the main purpose of which must be to bring about normalcy in the country. And prepare the country for an election.

India is for a broad-based coalition government. Moscow supports it. The two must, therefore, work together. They must prevent the institution of a government that is either under America or Pakistan. Yes, it should not be hostile to Pakistan, although there must be little goodwill for Pakistan today among Afghan people.

To bring back the old king Zahir Shah may be a good idea — that is, if he is still able to unite the people. But under no circumstances will the world want tribal politics back in Afghanistan. Nor do we want that the government should be saddled with the king’s courtiers, who were basking in Italy while the country was burning.

The first task before the UN is to create a viable administration under a cabinet of experts, which can prepare for an election. Perhaps it may take a year or two. In the meantime, all efforts should be made to rehabilitate the economy, the refugees in Pakistan and Iran and to bring about normalcy in the life of the people.

India has age-old relations with Afghanistan. And it was very close to India during the Marxist period of that country. What is India’s interest in Afghanistan? India wants to make sure that Pakistan is no more able to repeat its mischief.

Today, Afghanistan is the centre of the world narcotic trade. It flourished under the Taliban. Many thousands — the men who mattered in the Taliban, Pak generals and tribal chiefs — prospered. They will hazard any risk to get back into business. The UN interim regime must, therefore, make sure that the poppy fields are destroyed scientifically and it must also establish a watchdog machinery to see that no clandestine cultivation takes place.

The Taliban had a major hand in Kashmir militancy for some years. This must be brought to an end by recalling the Afghans from Kashmir.

The USA has not given up the pipeline project of UNOCAL through Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its success depends on India, for India is the only major buyer for gas in this region. This is India’s strength. We must be ready to use it effectively.

For the past over two decades, the Afghans have suffered the worst from terrorism. They will hold Pakistan responsible for their agony. They will no more look to Pakistan for any help. This is an opportunity to wean them away to a new way of life.

 

 

Deadly war dust and environment
M. Rajivlochan

CONSIDER the effect of America’s unrelenting bombing on the environment of Afghanistan. Over 50 missiles and many hundred bombs are being showered on that country each day. Quite apart from the heat and dust raised as also the direct killing of all life form which comes in the way of the projectile and its sharpnel, these bombs will cause very long term harm as well.

The missile war-heads routinely contain depleted uranium, U-238, which is actually a radioactive substance with a half life of 4.5 billion years. That is, it will take this many years for it to lose half of its radioactive power. This is a copious byproduct of the manufacture of the far deadlier and radioactive Uranium-235 that is used in atom bombs and nuclear power plants.

“Depleted” here is a misleading word, coined by the American military to convince its own soldiers that their weapons did not pose radiation danger to them, the user, as well. Silvery in colour, very hard (and therefore capable of piercing thick armour plating), burning on impact into small aerosol size, inhaleable, particles of glass, depleted uranium is currently a standard part, in the US military, of most war heads used to penetrate tanks, bunkers and other armour. As it strikes the target, a tank, a building or just the ground, it penetrates deep inside, then explodes into very small pieces of glass like substance much in the manner of a cliff face made of clay collapsing and releasing vast quantities of very fine dust. Call it war dust if you like, some of this substance then settles on the ground contaminating everything that it falls on. Some of it is too light to settle down and gets carried long distances by wind currents to settle down in neighbouring regions. In the case of Afghanistan winds carry this war dust into Tajkistan, Iran, Pakistan as also India.

Why do militaries use such a deadly substance in their weapons? The war heads are thus made since, apart from their hardness, depleted uranium is also available to military manufacturers at far cheaper rates than other material. Also it provides, what war-mongers consider an added advantage, a way of getting rid of a country’s rising, and threatening reserves of this deadly by-product of the nuclear power sector. Moreover, scientists are not unanimous about the radiation damage that depleted uranium can cause to life. So there is a possibility of the government saying that it is actually a safe substance unless proven otherwise. Some scientists say that it is quite safe since the intensity of radiation that is emitted is far less than that of radioactive substances like the uranium and plutonium used in atomic weapons. Other scientists, equally respectable and well known, trace many of the genetic problems cropping up in Iraq, Bosnia and the Balkans after the recent wars in those regions to the use of depleted uranium weapons. When the US soldiers deployed in these wars complained of unexplained sickness, their government tried to dismiss the complaints as of psychological origin. Only recently have US official agencies begun to even acknowledge that the illness might have some as yet inexplicable links with the use, in large quantities, of low grade radioactive substances like depleted uranium.

A study commissioned by the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) over the use of depleted uranium in former Yugoslavia concluded that in itself depleted uranium was not fatal, but in combination with other substances released in the environment during a war it became immediately fatal for life forms. An increase in the incidence of leukaemia, more popularly known as blood cancer was reported.

In Iraq the number of babies born with only one eye or without any eyes at all has increased manifold after the Americans bombed their country. In normal times this is a rare occurrence. Medical figures suggest, only one birth in 50 million suffers such a condition. In Iraq doctors found, in the last decade, many cases of children born without eyes. Other anomalies too were reported, especially of children born only with one eye and that too in the middle of the forehead. One estimate made by a Flemish doctor, who decided to visit Iraq himself, gives the figure of such anomalies to be as high as 1 in 200.

Depleted uranium had been used extensively by Americans in their war against Iraq. The children with anomalies were invariably born to men who had been involved in the war. Depleted uranium was also used by Americans in their various peace keeping missions in Africa. Subsequently, it was used on a large scale in Bosnia in 1995 and the Balkans in 1999.

From all places, since those days, UN studies have reported an increase in radiation-related illnesses among adults and genetic problems in unborn children. After a public hue and cry some years ago NATO countries began to decrease their military and civilian staff from the irradiated lands. The charge of administering those areas was handed over to people on deputation from India and other parts of Asia and Africa. Interestingly, as far as so-called scientific truth concerned there was still no direct and incontrovertible evidence relating illness to the use of depleted uranium. But why risk the lives of American or EU personnel when cheaper manpower was available for the job?

One thing thus is certain, the war that America is waging in Afghanistan is going to result in a comprehensive destruction of the environment and may also have a fallout on India.

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Punjab Congress Organisation

We regret to learn that the resignation of Lala Lajpat Rai from the presidentship of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee and of Mr K. Santanam, Dr Gopi Chand Bhargave and others from the membership of the Working Committee have been found possible to compose the differences that have rent as under the Congress organisation in the Province. We publish elsewhere in this issue a communication from several prominent Congress workers in the province announcing the formation of a new association, entitled the "Congress Sudhar Committee". All this clearly indicates that differences amongst Congress workers are becoming more acute in the Province, and an earnest attempt should be immediately made to compose those differences. The Congress movement in this Province was already weaker than in some other provinces, and these differences are likely to further decrease its prestige and effectiveness. 
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All power comes from the preservation of and sublimation of the vitality that is responsible for the creation of life. This vitality is continuously and even unconsciously dissipated by evil or even rambling, disorderly, unwanted thoughts. And since thought is the root of all speech and action, the quality of the latter corresponds to that of the former. Hence perfectly controlled thought is itself power of the highest potency and becomes self-acting.... Such power is impossible in one who dissipates his energy in any way whatsoever.

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It is not woman whose touch defiles man, but he is often himself too impure to touch her.

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My meaning of Brahmacharya is this: one who never has any lustful intention, who by constant attendance upon God, has become... capable of lying naked with naked women, however beautiful they may be, without being in any manner whatsoever sexually excited. Such a person should be incapable of lying, incapable of intending doing harm to a single man or woman in the whole world, free from anger and malice and detached in the sense of the Bhagavadgita. Such a person is a full Brahmachari. Brahmachari literally means a person who is making daily and steady progress towards God and whose every act is done in pursuance of that end and no other.

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The essence of chastity is not the suppression of lust, but the total orientation of one's life towards a goal.

—Dietrich Bon Hoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison.

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A natural diet affords us a guarantee that we can remain healthy provided we do not altogether neglect the other conditions of health.

— Louis Kuhne, Neo-Naturopathy, The New Science of Healing, Part One.
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