Thursday, October 18, 2001, Chandigarh, India




E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

TADA in new garb
P
ARENTS of most pre-school children have had this experience. Whenever they tell the young ones that they are short of money, the innocent reply is: "Why don't we print more notes?" Tiny tots are expected to have such naivete, but when governments display similar attitude, it can only be termed inanity. In India, when the government fails to prevent crime, its stock panacea is to enact more stringent laws. The introduction of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) is the latest instance of such foolhardiness.

Sinha is pessimistic
I
T does not come easy to Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha to admit problems in his Ministry’s working. That would undercut his feel good factor and hence overblow the economic difficulties. That is why he waved off all apprehensions of adverse effects in the wake of the global slowdown and particularly after the September 11 terrorist outrage.


EARLIER ARTICLES

A “viable” card
October 17
, 2001
George wins his own war
October 16
, 2001
A tainted Pak trust
October 15
, 2001
Combating proxy war: India can do it
October 14
, 2001
A scuttled initiative
October 13
, 2001
Complete isolation of Taliban
October 12
, 2001
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
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
 
The kidney trade
W
HEN a woman working with a private construction company in the northern region lost both her kidneys, her considerate employer put up an advertisement in newspapers appealing to voluntary kidney donors. The response was tremendous. Donors demanded a consideration ranging from Rs 40,000 to Rs 10 lakh. Agents called up to fix the deal on a commission of 20 to 25 per cent. There were, of course, some noble souls from Tarn Taran and Ludhiana offering kidneys free of cost.

OPINION

Pervez Musharraf’s next year
His many dilemmas and difficulties

Inder Malhotra
O
N October 12, when the ongoing U.S.-led bombing of the Taliban in Afghanistan was in its fifth day, Pakistan’s military ruler and self-appointed President, General Pervez Musharraf, celebrated the second anniversary of his coup. Five days earlier he had shaken up higher command of the Pakistani army — the established arbiter of that country’s destiny and his only power base — to his own satisfaction and, more important, to that of the USA whose “frontline ally” he and his country have become.

IN THE NEWS

Of Powell Doctrine
"W
HAT'S the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" Ms Madeleine Albright screamed at Mr Colin Powell. Her stinging rebuke could not have been better designed to scrape a raw American nerve, challenging the nation's machismo and role as leader of the free world. Mr Powell reacted furiously. "I thought I would have an aneurysm," he recalled. "American GIs are not toy soldiers to be moved around on some global game board."

  • A king in demand
TRENDS & POINTERS

Drink and keep diabetes at bay
M
EN who unwind after work with a mug of beer or a glass of wine may be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than their teetotalling peers, results of a new study suggest. Researchers found that men who consumed 15 to 29 grams of alcohol daily had a 36 per cent lower risk of diabetes over 12 years, compared with men who did not drink and with men who were lighter drinkers.

  • P.G. Wodehouse in times of terror
OF LIFE SUBLIME

We live under masks
V. K. Kapoor
I
N life we deal with momentum perceptions, skill levels, with logic, hope and emotion. People tend to cling to old habits, old views, old lifestyles. They remain handcuffed to past. Past decomposes in mind and stinks. It poisons the present and kills the future. Those who live in past become prisoners within its walls. One should be conscious of the past as it offers material for wisdom, never as an object of brooding regret. “For lost and dead and past, the wise have no laments”, says Panchtantra. Past acts like a road block in the mind, a psychic obstacle that limits or paralyses the problem-solving ability.

 

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS



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TADA in new garb

PARENTS of most pre-school children have had this experience. Whenever they tell the young ones that they are short of money, the innocent reply is: "Why don't we print more notes?" Tiny tots are expected to have such naivete, but when governments display similar attitude, it can only be termed inanity. In India, when the government fails to prevent crime, its stock panacea is to enact more stringent laws. The introduction of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) is the latest instance of such foolhardiness. It is nothing but the much-reviled TADA in a different garb. For record's sake, the new ordinance provides a number of safeguards to the arrested persons, but actually it has more canine teeth than even the infamous law. For instance, while TADA provided for the attachment of the property of an absconding accused, POTO makes even an arrested person subject to the drastic action. Another draconian provision stipulates that everyone has to furnish information about terrorism offences to investigating officials. This applies to media persons as well, confidentiality of sources be damned. Supposing a journalist manages to interview a terrorist in his secret lair, the government can very well haul him over the coals. The measure would effectively block all channels of communication with persons beyond the pale of law.

As far as the safeguards are concerned, the arrested person can now approach the nearest High Court instead of the Supreme Court as stipulated earlier. Investigation of an offence under the ordinance has to be done by an officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The Director-General of Police has to confirm the First Information Report (FIR) within 10 days and the Review Committee within a month. This pre-supposes that officers of the rank of DSP and above would be more upright than a constable or an SHO. However, it is not a matter of seniority, but that of the police mindset. A person can be put in police remand for 30 days for investigation purposes. Under TADA the period was as long as 60 days. That is only a small consolation. Those who know how things are done in a police lockup would agree that the investigation has to precede an arrest and not vice-versa. Apparently, the September 11 terrorist attack in the USA has come in handy to the government to bring about a revised TADA through the backdoor. The frills attached to it do not camouflage the mouldy core. In the past, all tough laws have been misused rather than used. Unless the government invents a mechanism by which the harassment of innocent citizens can be eliminated (which is asking for the moon), it has no justification for bringing forward ordinances which revolt against the very fabric of democracy. Enough laws are already available to take care of every eventuality. Rather, we have an excess of such regulations. 
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Sinha is pessimistic

IT does not come easy to Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha to admit problems in his Ministry’s working. That would undercut his feel good factor and hence overblow the economic difficulties. That is why he waved off all apprehensions of adverse effects in the wake of the global slowdown and particularly after the September 11 terrorist outrage. More than a month on, he is a chastened man. He listed several grey areas in the economy, especially in the dipping revenue collection. He had to be realistic since he was addressing economic editors of newspapers across the country, who make it their pastime to criticise the government for both doing something and not doing something. Mr Sinha readily agreed that tax revenue was falling, according to official sources, by as much as 6.2 per cent, mostly due to reduced mobilisation in indirect taxes — excise and custom duties. This clearly indicates that industrial activities are on a retreat, maybe by as much as 2.4 per cent. This is most likely to continue for some more months and hence the problems of the government will only intensify and not disappear. Mr Sinha has targeted a fiscal deficit of 4.7 per cent of the GDP (gross domestic product, or the value of goods and services produced in the country). Given the present situation, this is likely to go up; the economy will absorb a marginal rise but a steep hike will spell trouble.

Among other things, he revealed two facts. One, the government expects the terrorist attack on New York to hurt tourism, exports (particularly of textiles), civil aviation and foreign direct investment (FDI). Yet he feels that India will come out of the present crisis unscathed. The USA is the biggest trading partner and any compression of exports will have a multiplying effect. His proposal to foreclose loans from nationalised banks should have come a long time ago. The so-called non-performing assets work out to Rs 54,000 crore and with interest and penal interest added it will be more than Rs 1,00,000 crore. Mr Sinha says these loans were sanctioned and forgotten on political considerations and he has to hold the baby. True, but why he did not take action earlier? The eight-member advisory team to chart financial sector reforms is purely a public relations exercise. All of them have full-time and onerous jobs and have personal interest in the institutions involved. It would have been better if he had nominated, say, three full-time advisers and acted on their advice. 
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The kidney trade

WHEN a woman working with a private construction company in the northern region lost both her kidneys, her considerate employer put up an advertisement in newspapers appealing to voluntary kidney donors. The response was tremendous. Donors demanded a consideration ranging from Rs 40,000 to Rs 10 lakh. Agents called up to fix the deal on a commission of 20 to 25 per cent. There were, of course, some noble souls from Tarn Taran and Ludhiana offering kidneys free of cost. But it all shows the extent of illegal kidney business thriving in Punjab for quite some time now. Although reports of the racket have been coming off and on from various places, Ludhiana has particularly taken the lead in this business. Hard- pressed migrant labourers, particularly those from Nepal, have been lured by offers of large sums of money, or threatened into dubious deals, or deprived of their vital organs without their knowledge and consent on the pretext of a medical examination. The gang active in Ludhiana, according to newspaper reports, used to bring on an average 25 persons from Delhi every month for kidney transplantation and the victims included minors too. Most of the operations have taken place in Ludhiana’s Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMC). What is shocking is the suspected involvement of doctors, although the DMC authorities have ruled out any connivance of their faculty. In Bathinda the police recently booked four doctors, including a couple, of a private hospital for extracting a woman patient’s kidney without her knowledge, when she came for the treatment of a tumour in the spleen. Reports of doctors’ involvement need to be thoroughly investigated by the medical fraternity itself and the black sheep should be brought to justice. The Medical Council of India representatives themselves should take up such cases, whenever reported, to salvage the prestige of the profession. Police inaction, involvement or delay is nothing surprising, but the scandal is too serious to be left to the policemen only.

As for the legal framework is concerned, the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, appears to have enough safeguards to check any trade in organs. It states that a donor should be a close relative of the patient and not below 18, disallows any sale of an organ and provides no room for any agent. Hospitals too have their own screening process. If illegal operations still continue, it is because of doctor-agent-police connivance which needs to be identified and smashed. Organ trade is not confined to Punjab. India , along with China, has emerged as a booming market for human organs. Media reports speak of Canadian patients shopping for kidneys from the two markets for $ 50,000 to $145,000 per piece. Chinese doctors are reportedly removing kidneys from executed prisoners before they are clinically dead. Poverty, greed and criminal intent keep the trade thriving. 
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Pervez Musharraf’s next year
His many dilemmas and difficulties
Inder Malhotra

ON October 12, when the ongoing U.S.-led bombing of the Taliban in Afghanistan was in its fifth day, Pakistan’s military ruler and self-appointed President, General Pervez Musharraf, celebrated the second anniversary of his coup. Five days earlier he had shaken up higher command of the Pakistani army — the established arbiter of that country’s destiny and his only power base — to his own satisfaction and, more important, to that of the USA whose “frontline ally” he and his country have become.

However, just when it seemed that he had firmly entrenched himself in power and, after the “short, sharp and swift” military action in Afghanistan, could look forward to a long stretch in the saddle, dark clouds have begun to hover on the horizon. The events at Jacobabad, one of the two air bases placed at the disposal of the USA, are nothing short of a portent. Significantly, this town, better known to be the hottest spot in the subcontinent climatically, is in Sindh, not in Baluchistan or the NWFP, the two provinces bordering Afghanistan, to which the pro-Taliban sentiment was supposed to be confined.

Even so, no one should exaggerate the gravity of the undoubtedly worrying situation. This cautionary counsel is particularly necessary in this country because here wish often becomes the father of the thought, especially on the subject of Pakistan. There has doubtless been a lot of disorder and mayhem, and not at Jacobabad alone. A general strike called by the jehadis, who vociferously oppose the General’s support to America, to coincide with the arrival in Islamabad of the US Secretary of State, Mr Colin Powell, was a success though it remained generally peaceful. But, as of now, there is nothing to show that General Musharraf has either lost control or is likely to do so in the near future.

And that is precisely where another but, with a capital B, butts into the extremely difficult situation. General Musharraf’s assurance to his countrymen that the war in Afghanistan would be ended quickly is not only unrealistic but also President George Bush has refuted it personally and rather curtly. The longer the war in Afghanistan lasts and the number of civilians killed mounts, the greater will be the anger among the Pakistanis in general, not just among the jehadis. The latter, puffed up as much by their bigotry as by their wealth and contacts with high army officers, are bound to exploit this situation to the hilt.

America’s blandishments —promises of more economic assistance, resumption of military supplies and even to keep the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan at bay —could be drowned in the high-pitched opposition to General Musharraf’s continuing support to the US military machine.

That should explain the Musharraf regime’s strategy and tactics to make Kashmir the main item on the agenda of its discussion with the visiting US Secretary of State. It was not at all fortuitous that only a few hours before Mr Powell’s arrival in Islamabad, the Pakistanis indulged in their favourite pastime of infiltrating into Jammu and Kashmir heavily armed and indoctrinated terrorists. The only thing that went wrong with the Pakistani plan was that the Indian security forces were ready with a riposte this time round. They felled a dozen infiltrators and flattened an equal number of Pakistani bunkers and fortifications across the Line of Control (Loc) in the Mendhar and Akhnoor sectors.

No wonder, there were shrieks of protest from Islamabad. General Musharraf’s spokesperson, Maj- Gen Rashid Qureshi, was offered the hospitality of Indian TV channels to rant that “as usual the Indian Government and the Indian Army are telling lies”. Their unprovoked attack on Pakistani positions was, he said glibly, an expression of their “frustration over the freedom struggle in Kashmir”.

This, however, is side-show. The real objective of Islamabad is to pin down Mr Powell and thus the USA to “taking a more active part” in promoting a “purposeful” dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue. His statement on arrival in Pakistan indicates that the USA considers such a dialogue desirable and indeed necessary. Since a mere resumption of dialogue would not satisfy the jehadis, General Musharraf is advocating that America should “mediate” between India and Pakistan. Otherwise, he says, this dialogue would remain as sterile as in the past.

The key question, therefore, is how will the USA coddle its new-found frontline ally in the Afghan war without causing offence to India, so far a non-playing member of the global coalition against terrorism, as it was bound to be, given the geographic and geo-strategic imperatives of the situation. For the first time, the USA has used the word terrorism in relation to the horrific suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on October 1. But it has not yet linked this ghastly incident with Pakistan. It has belatedly blacklisted Jaish-e-Mohammed that first accepted the responsibility for the outrage and later denied it. But it in totally silent on Jaish’s links with the ISI that may not have been snapped despite the change in the notorious intelligence agency’s stewardship.

In any case, while America’s anxiety to placate Pakistan’s military ruler and strengthen his hold on power to the extent possible is understandable, it cannot possibly remain insensitive to India’s principal concern about Kashmir —cross-border terrorism — and hope to get away with it.

This message must have been hammered home when Mr Powell arrived in New Delhi after his parleys in Pakistan. The entire scare about a renewed conflict in the subcontinent that might divert attention from the US-led coalition’s all-important campaign in Afghanistan began with Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee’s blunt letter to President Bush to the effect that Indian patience with Pakistani cross-border terrorism was wearing thin.

In other words, if the USA needs and wants “restraint” in the subcontinent, the most essential prerequisite for is a suspension for the duration (to expect its termination would be unrealistic at this stage). Only then can measures to lessen tensions be taken and the dialogue resumed.

Altogether, in his dealings with the America and India over Kashmir, in the hope of getting some mileage over this emotive issue, General Musharraf is indulging in a gamble the outcome of which can at best be unpredictable and at worst catastrophic. The temptation to prejudge the course of events should, however, be avoided.

The one area about which some reasonably accurate conclusions can be drawn focuses on the shake-up at the top of the hierarchy of the Pakistan Army. As all those familiar with the subject have noted, everybody who was General Musharraf’s key partner in the October 12 coup two years ago has been either eased out or sidelined. Most of them were also at his side during the Kargil misadventure. General Usmani, until his ouster, was Deputy Chief of Army Staff and slated to be the Vice-Chief. His greater claim to fame was that as Corps Commander in Karachi on the day Mr Nawaz Sharif “dismissed” General Musharraf, General Usmani had enabled his boss to land at the airport that the Sharif government had closed down.

Lieut-General Mahmood Ahmed was the Corps Commander in Rawalpindi or the officer who always carries out the coup at the orders of the Chief of the Army Staff. He was then entrusted with the responsibility of heading the ISI. Now he is out. The mastermind behind the coup, while General Musharraf was up in the air, was Lieut-Gen Mohammed Aziz Khan, then Chief of General Staff (CGS) and later sent to Lahore as Corps Commander. He has been “kicked upstairs” by being made a full General and given the decorative post of Chairman, Chiefs of Staff.

The other Lieutenant-General to be given the fourth star is the former CGS, General Mohammed Yousuf, who is now Vice-Chief of Army Staff, as Generals K.M. Arif and Aslam Beg were under Zia-ul-Haq. The new Vice-Chief is extremely popular with the Americans who —like his close Pakistani friends —call him “Joe”.

The most curious and least noticed is the case of Lieut-Gen Jamshed Gulzar who has been shifted from the command of the Rawalpindi Corps to the harmless post of Adjutant-General. On October 12, 1999, it was the division commanded by him that had taken over Pakistan TV, radio and other installations before arresting Mr Nawaz Sharif. 
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Of Powell Doctrine

"WHAT'S the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" Ms Madeleine Albright screamed at Mr Colin Powell. Her stinging rebuke could not have been better designed to scrape a raw American nerve, challenging the nation's machismo and role as leader of the free world. Mr Powell reacted furiously. "I thought I would have an aneurysm," he recalled. "American GIs are not toy soldiers to be moved around on some global game board."

That was 1992. Mr Powell's resistance to US moves to stop the carnage in Bosnia delayed intervention for three and a half bloody years. Mr Powell, then Chairman of the Military Joint Chiefs of Staff, could not intervene: it was against his credo of ultra-caution — the “Powell Doctrine".

Now the world witnesses Powell's war, a war that knows no limits and the Powell Doctrine plays no part. The war which defines the Bush administration is led by someone the Bush faction most despises.

Mr Powell was born in Harlem in 1937, the son of Jamaicans who had immigrated in search of work. The family moved to the Bronx, where Colin was raised in a secure, religious family. He worked in a toyshop and was an undistinguished pupil and student, but shone at the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Posted in Fort Benning, Georgia, he was often refused service in diners and bars.

He served twice in Vietnam, winning two Purple Hearts. Back from war, Mr Powell began to entwine military life with politics.

In 1987 he became National Security Adviser. During these years, the administration dived deep into the bloody "Dirty Wars" in E1 Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

In 1989 President Bush Senior made him Chairman of the Joint Chiefs — the youngest man, and the first black man, to ever hold the post which, thanks to a law of 1986 redefining its role, enjoyed greater influence than at any time since World War II.

When Mr Powell left the Pentagon in 1993, the pressure to stand for office became acute, but his best friend, Mr Richard Armitage, now his deputy, advised: "It's not worth it. Don't do it. The process is every bad thing you can imagine." Then came the call from Mr Bush and now, with the soldier-turned-diplomat, Mr Powell's cause is America itself.

A king in demand

Contrary to the tide of history that has made monarchs an almost extinct species, the exiled 87-year-old king of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah, has suddenly found himself being called in from the cold. As planning began for the United States-led military action against Afghanistan's Taliban regime, part of the worldwide diplomatic activity has centred on Rome, where Zahir Shah has lived since 1973.

The king was convalescing after treatment for lower back pains on the Italian island of Iscia when his cousin staged a coup and established a Republican government with himself as president.

Since the coup, Zahir Shah has lived in Rome's exclusive residential suburb of Olgiata, hilly and as green as a forest, and full of guarded villas of the rich — actors, footballers, old aristocrats, wealthy foreigners and the old bourgeoisie. His village has a pale pink facade with elements of Central Asian architecture.

"It is necessary to restore the loya jirga, the assembly of political and religious notables," he told journalists as diplomatic moves around him intensified. "This assembly would decide on the most appropriate kind of State for Afghanistan — a western-style republic or an Islamic one, which is moderate."

The sheer length of Zahir Shah's rule — 40 years — is testimony to the fact that the ex-king was able to manage the consensus of the different ethnic groups that make up the Afghan population, the majority Pashtun from the south, as well as the Tajik and Uzbek in the north, and the Hazara.

Zahir Shah, who became king at age 19 after his father was assassinated in 1933, opened up isolated Afghanistan to the world while maintaining neutrality towards the USA and the Soviet Union.

In 1964, he promulgated a new constitution that excluded members of the royal family from certain government positions, established a bicameral parliament, led to free elections, encouraged the formation of political parties, and a free press.

Zahir Shah calls that time the "golden age" of Afghanistan.

"It would be beautiful if it were possible to revive the atmosphere of those years when I left Kabul”, he said.

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Drink and keep diabetes at bay

MEN who unwind after work with a mug of beer or a glass of wine may be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than their teetotalling peers, results of a new study suggest.

Researchers found that men who consumed 15 to 29 grams of alcohol daily had a 36 per cent lower risk of diabetes over 12 years, compared with men who did not drink and with men who were lighter drinkers.

Findings were similar when it came to beer, white wine or liquor. Heavy drinkers, or those who consumed more than 50g of alcohol daily, were 39 per cent less likely to develop diabetes, although there were few men in the study who consumed this much alcohol, the researchers note.

For this reason, the findings may not apply to all heavy drinkers, according to investigators led by Katherine M.Conigrave from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. Fifty grams of alcohol is roughly equivalent to three or four 12-ounce cans of beer, three or four 5-ounce glasses of wine or three or four shots of hard liquor.

The report also indicates that drinking on at least 5 days of the week provided the best insurance against developing diabetes, even when the amount of alcohol consumed was minimal. Men who drank no more than twice during the week did not have a lower risk of diabetes.

Their findings are based on information from nearly 47,000 middle-aged and elderly male health professionals who answered questions about their drinking habits.

The results support those of earlier studies showing an association between moderate alcohol consumption and a lower risk for some chronic disorders, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

“Our findings suggested that frequent alcohol consumption conveys the greatest protection against type 2 diabetes,” Conigrave and colleagues conclude. Reuters

P.G. Wodehouse in times of terror

Name tags were vital accessories at the international P.G. Wodehouse convention, although most used fictional names. For an escapist weekend, passionate readers became the scary aunts, flamboyant playboys and fluffy women who inhabit the writer’s light-hearted British novels.

It was a brief retreat from increasingly scarcy real life into a timeless, idyllic place. However, one major character was missing. Jeeves, the all-knowing manservant who looks after dimwitted Bertie Wooster in Wodehouse’s most famous books, was nowhere in sight.

“Personally I think the name Jeeves is sacrosanct and no one should pick it,” said Susan Cohen, President of the society’s Philadelphia chapter. About 150 fans from around the world attended the 11th Wodehouse convention, which was held in Philadelphia. And in true Wodehouse style they had a ripping good time. They played cricket, badly, and gave out prizes to the best-dressed players.

They dressed up as their characters for an elegant banquent. They also attended a series of lectures, from fans and academics, on various aspects of Wodehouse’s life and work. “They share our love, our interest which the rest of the cold cruel world doesn’t understand,” Cohen said of her fellow Wodehousians.

Born in England in 1881, Wodehouse worked as a journalist and storywriter in London before moving to the United States in 1909. He then worked in musical theatre, writing lyrics for composers Jerome Kern and George Gershwin, and published over 90 books before his death in 1975.

With his playful, inventive style, he is widely regarded as one of the great comic writers of the 20th century. Wodehouse created a farcical land of lavish parties and country manors where the greatest evils were rough handgovers and demonic aunts.

In the Jeeves and Wooster books, Jeeves spends all his time rescuing Bertie from mind-boggling mix-ups with friends, women and family. AP
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We live under masks
V. K. Kapoor

IN life we deal with momentum perceptions, skill levels, with logic, hope and emotion. People tend to cling to old habits, old views, old lifestyles. They remain handcuffed to past. Past decomposes in mind and stinks. It poisons the present and kills the future. Those who live in past become prisoners within its walls. One should be conscious of the past as it offers material for wisdom, never as an object of brooding regret. “For lost and dead and past, the wise have no laments”, says Panchtantra. Past acts like a road block in the mind, a psychic obstacle that limits or paralyses the problem-solving ability. Osho Rajneesh says “If you go on carrying pictures of the past, you will not be able to see the new. The past becomes a barrier, encloses you, and traps you into something that is no more. You become encapsulated in the dead. You exist alienated, you exist uprooted”. It is essential to parole yourself from your past. John Osborne talks of people “who spend their time mostly looking forward to the past”.

We remain manacled by ancient primitive concepts, fettered by past events and fossilised thought patterns. Past hurts, petty jealousies, missed chances and other grudges keep on troubling us. We waste the substance of our souls in unavailing fury. Mark Rutherford says Blessed are they who heal us of self-despising. Of all service which can be done to man, I know of none more precious. Peace can only come to a life lived close to Him”. Man does not die, a doctor has remarked, he kills himself.

Resentment, hate and ill-will have a prominent place in the ill-health picture. A physician said a certain man who had nursed a long time hate for another actually ‘died of grudgitis’. The doctor said that ‘the man died of a virulent long held hate’. A diseased emotional and spiritual condition undermines the body tone, leaving it open to the encroachments of disease. Doctors and psychologists are rapidly finding that practically all disease, with its consequent suffering has its origin in perverted mental and emotional state and condition. The mental attitudes we take towards anything determines to a greater or lesser extent its effect on us.

Unresolved resentment is damaging to the person who harbours it. Carrying a load of anger around wastes your energy. It blocks communication. Christ told us that it was useless to pray with resentment in our hearts — ‘First be reconciled to thy brother’. Another of his commandments it to “Pray for them, which despitefully use you, is specifically designed to neutralise resentment”. The only permanent answer to resentment is forgiveness. When the disciples asked the Lord if they should forgive upto seven times, he answered “Seventy times seven”. He knew that it might take 490 separate efforts before grudge could be eliminated. “Blessed is he” says the Bible “whose transgression is forgiven”. It is a message that should be pondered by every person who keeps trying to forge ahead with the dead had of guilt holding him back.

Learn to like people. Carrying a grudge or dislike can have disastrous bodily effects. You have to meet people, You have got to live with them, so learn to like them. Learn to be satisfied when the situation is such that you cannot easily change. Learn to say cheerful humorous thing. Never say the mean thing, even if you feel like doing so. Saying the pleasant thing will make you feel better. There can be no future without forgiveness. Forgiving is a choice, not an emotion. If you don’t forgive, you will never forget. Chinese say “He who pursues revenge should dig two graves”. Forgiveness is actually self-kindness. It releases us from our past. Grumbling, moping do not help.

We live under masks. The courage to be one’s own natural self is quite a rare thing says Lin Yu Tang. We have to be mature to live happily. Maturity is the art of living in peace with oneself — with what we cannot change and courage to change that should be changed and wisdom to know the difference. We have no destinies other than those we forge ourselves.

Life can be a sustained banquet, but most of the fools starve. They remain in a state of sustained crisis because of bad habits. Habit is the mental state by which you automatically repeat action or situation very easily. Our character is basically a composite of habits. If we are not in harmony with ourselves, how can we be possibly be in harmony with the world we inhabit. We are at odds with the world, because we are at odds with ourselves.

Health depends to a large extent on mental attitude and even upon the spiritual condition of the personality. Mental criticism is worse than criticism with words. It is futile and self-harming to be inwardly critical of others. One should cleanse the mind of inwardly disturbing adverse thoughts of others. With positive thoughts you set into operation forces that will sooner or later bring even the physical body into a state of abounding health and strength. When you have faith in God, you open yourself to a divine flow of strength. You become more synchronised, more symmetrical and more harmonious.

Steadfastly apply your will power, your creative ability and your patience to get out of your past habits, sorrows and useless thoughts. Start life anew. Caste aside wrong habits of thinking and doing. Invest yourself in your present. Don’t look outside for help. Cleanse your mind of all past negations by responding positively to your present. Discipline yourself. Self-discipline is self caring. Self-discipline is self enlarging.

Self-regulation, managing one’s emotions, handling feelings in an appropriate manner and to be free from despair is real happiness. There is a direct co-relation between feelings and behaviour. Our feelings and emotions alter the chemical balance of the brain. The chemical regulation of the brain, of mood and of glands is closely interconnected. Every time there is an event in mind, there is an event in body. We suffer more from our opinion than we do from the events themselves.

It takes organisation and concentration to carve out your own self. It takes self-knowledge to know what you want out of life. A healthly mental tool kit and emotional re-tooling are very important for improvement. Avoid association with emotional people or with those who are always complaining about life. Associate with people who are calm, happy and self-controlled. Psychologist William James said “One of the greatest discoveries of my generation was that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind”. Thoughts define our mental health.

Forget the past and trust more in God. If you are not happy with the way the life is turning out, change the pattern. What we regularly encourage and consistently cultivate in our own mind determines our character and ultimately our destiny. Forget the sorrows of the past and make up our mind not to dwell on them. With determination and unflinching will renew your life, your good habits and your successes. Overcome don’t escape. Problems should be solved, not shelved. There is no distance greater than between yesterday and today. Make your tomorrows bigger and brighter than your yesterday.

Maut ke qaid main hai zindagi, magar chand ghadian yehi hain jo azad hain, in ko kho kar meri jane-jan, umr bhar na tarsate raho.
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He who is stricken with love is restless, he is oblivious of his body and self, and his soul drinks the ambrosia of bliss — he is tied to his Master by love. I am oblivious of everything; I am aware only of love which clings to me. Whom am I to welcome, to whom to say, "go"? My heart is dyed in my Master's love.

— From Kabir Sakhi Sangraha, p.35:16

***

When shall I follow this way of life?

When through the compassion of Rama, the compassionate,

I shall imbibe the traits of the holy ones.

Always contented with what I get, I shall not expect anything from anyone.

I shall fulfil this vow with mind, word and deed.

Hearing harsh and unbearable words,

I shall not burn in their fire.

Without arrogance and with a cool and detached mind, I shall not speak of the virtue of others as faults.

Giving up anxiety for physical well being, I shall accept pleasure and pain with an equal mind.

Tulasi says, 'O Lord, thus walking on this path, I shall gain steadiness in devotion to Thee.

— Goswami Tulasi Das, Vinaya Patrika, song 172

***

In thy heart's garden plant,

Like seeds, the Word of the Guru

And water thy garden with love;

And all thy orchards shall bear the precious fruitage

Of the holy Name of God?

But Oh, poor, helpless man:

What can he ever achieve without God's grace.

— Guru Nanak Dev, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Rag Asa, page 354.

***

Everyone dons the garb of a recluse but he is rare whose mind is turned a recluse.

If the mind is turned a recluse, soon thou wilt attain enlightenment.

— Sant Kabir, Dohas
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