Tuesday, November 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

PM’s sangat darshan
P
rime Minister Vajpayee turned the concluding function of the bicentenary celebration of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s coronation into a launching pad of the coming election campaign.

National Games in Punjab
T
he first National Games of the millennium opened in Ludhiana on Monday. For the next 10 days athletes from across the country will rekindle the spirit of competition and sportsmanship through healthy and fair competition. It is in the fitness of things that the honour of hosting the millennium’s first National Games should have gone to Punjab. 

Fresh opportunity in valley
W
ith the ejection of the extremist Taliban regime from Kabul and the disclosure of how it was being controlled by foreign elements to the detriment of the Afghans, a realisation seems to have dawned on a good section of the people in Jammu and Kashmir that the path of terrorism to achieve their objectives will lead to their ruin.


 

EARLIER ARTICLES
Politics of POTO
November 19
, 2001
Maharaja Ranjit Singh: Punjab’s benevolent ruler
November 18
, 2001
The Afghan endgame
November 17
, 2001
Doha resurrects WTO
November 16
, 2001
Quieter Divali
November 14
, 2001
Bin Laden’s bluster
November 13
, 2001
India’s major gains
November 12
, 2001
POTO is a must to tackle terrorism 
November 11
, 2001
Severe blow to farmers
November 10
, 2001
Anandgarh & Sainik Farms
November 9
, 2001
Back to Moscow ties
November 8
, 2001
Limited options for USA
November 7
, 2001
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
 
OPINION

Democracy in dire straits
Need to empower the President
Bhim S. Dahiya
W
henever the thought of our democracy occurs to me, and it occurs quite often, a scene from an old Hindi movie named “Railway Platform” appears on my mind’s screen. The scene shows how a merchant exploits the situation of a stranded train in a drought-hit area by selling water from a well which he hires on the spot. The situation of our democracy today is very much similar to that of the stranded passenger train. 

MIDDLE

Divali minus crackers
Iqbal Singh Ahuja
“H
i Doc! How are you?, enquired my friend Satish. “What a paradox? “I thought. A non-medico enquiring about a doctor’s health. Before I could come out of his kind gesture — he blurted: “Doctor, tum bimaar nahi hote.”

REALPOLITIK

Young India takes the reins
P. Raman
A
decade ago it was fashionable to deride the CPM for its gerentocratic leadership. In those days, the party politburo’s average age was as high as 75 plus. Now the same party has such smart and youthful faces as Sitaram Yachuri and Prakash Karat.

Parents win right to shorter hours
P
arents of young children are to get the right to ask for shorter hours at work under legal guidelines designed to improve family life. In a significant boost for fathers, the guidelines will allow them legal protection for the first time in trying to cut hours.

A CENTURY OF NOBELS

1919, Peace: WOODROW WILSON

TRENDS & POINTERS

Court rejects return of cash given to ex-lover
A
man who took his ex-lover to court to get back the cash he had showered upon her received no sympathy from a Singapore judge who ruled the money was a gift of love, it was reported on Monday.

  • Man drives self to funeral home to die

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS

Top






 

PM’s sangat darshan

Prime Minister Vajpayee turned the concluding function of the bicentenary celebration of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s coronation into a launching pad of the coming election campaign. All the sops he announced – in money terms it works out to Rs 1,500 crore if the Shahpur Kandi canal’s much promised but elusive grant is included – were clearly designed to influence voters and win election. In the case of Punjab, the coming Assembly polls in February next year. There is a distinct pattern. Known central plans are projected as though the Punjab segment is special and meant only for this state. The four-laning of a part of the Sher Shah Suri Marg and improving the water supply and sewage system in select cities belong to this category. The second announcement was first made by the Prime Minister on Independence Day under an unwieldy name of Valmiki Ambedkar Malin Basti Awas Yojana. This is being repackaged as a unique gift. The grant to decongest Amritsar is welcome; the Guru ki Nagri is very special and some work has been done around Harmandir Sahib and the lost momentum should be regained. Amritsar should not become as unlivable as Varanasi or the Jama Masjid area in Delhi.

The Sunday celebration highlights several weaknesses inherent in Indian politics. Political excesses creep into solemn occasions. In 1969 the Congress tried to convert the Gandhi birth centenary into a party function as though it had a monopoly hold on the great man. Now the SAD-BJP alliance has made, by the way the week-long celebration was organised, the great Maharaja its private hero. The effort should have been to recognise him as a very great son of this region and indeed one of the great rulers of this country. Instead some junior functioners of the alliance appealed to the people from the dais of the concluding function to vote for the SAD-BJP combination. It is almost like deploying Ranjit Singh to fetch votes for it. It was a sad sight. An occasion like this should recharge the batteries of heritage consciousness and make every Indian a little more proud and a little more tolerant. A big part of the political mileage the alliance wanted to gain was lost when Mr Parkash Singh Badal fractured his thigh bone and was absent from the meeting. He is the chief, if not the only, vote getter for the party. He will be out of action for some time, and it is run-up to the Assembly election.
Top

 

National Games in Punjab

The first National Games of the millennium opened in Ludhiana on Monday. For the next 10 days athletes from across the country will rekindle the spirit of competition and sportsmanship through healthy and fair competition. It is in the fitness of things that the honour of hosting the millennium’s first National Games should have gone to Punjab. The very spirit of Punjabiat is based on the principles that are enshrined in the Olympic Charter. The region has a long and glorious history of having produced some of the greatest sportpersons to represent the country. For years the Punjab Police team used to virtually double up as the national hockey team. It must not be forgotten that Dhyan Chand is to hockey what Sir Don Bradman is to cricket. And Dhyan Chand was just one of the several top class players that the region produced. To a question whether the hosting of the National Games was not a waste of money, chief organiser I. S. Bindra gave an appropriate reply. He said the hosting of the games would help Punjab to build up the necessary infrastructure for the promotion of sports in the state. However, the reply is only half correct. The fact of the matter is that India is way behind international standards in most disciplines. The hosting of the National Games by itself cannot help the country unearth the talent that can bring India honour at the international level. For that the all-important sport culture has to be cultivated among children at the school level. Catch them young is a motto that is seldom followed by sports organisations in the country.

The lack of fitness of most Indian players is exposed when they are sent out to compete with the best talent at the international level. The Indian cricket team is currently touring South Africa. There is not much to write home about that would bring some cheer to the countless cricket crazy Indians. The primary reason for the team’s poor performance is lack of fitness. The South African coach gave only 60 points on a scale of 100 to most Indian players and pointed out that no one with a score below 80 on the fitness scale would ever get selected to represent his country. He pointed out that the same rigorous yardstick is applied even at the junior level and in all disciplines. The hosting of national and international sports meet should be treated as a contributory factor not so much for the creation as upgradation of the existing infrastructure. As the games go along newspapers would be flooded with reports of poor supervision of some events and overall unsatisfactory infrastructure for hosting a national-level sports meet.
Top

 

Fresh opportunity in valley

With the ejection of the extremist Taliban regime from Kabul and the disclosure of how it was being controlled by foreign elements to the detriment of the Afghans, a realisation seems to have dawned on a good section of the people in Jammu and Kashmir that the path of terrorism to achieve their objectives will lead to their ruin. Perhaps, it is also believed that the people sitting on the other side of the border have developed a vested interest in the disturbed conditions in the valley despite their pretensions of being well-wishers of the Kashmiris. This inference can be drawn from the All Parties Hurriyat Conference’s three-point formula for resolving the Kashmir crisis and its opposition by a Pakistan-based militant grouping, leading to the sharpening of differences within the 23-member separatist conglomerate. The formula, announced by Hurriyat chief Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat last week, has it that all parties involved, including militant groups and security forces, should declare a “comprehensive” ceasefire, and this should be followed by a trilateral talks by setting a timeframe for untying the Kashmir knot. Professor Bhat feels that there could be no better opportunity than the one available today. But the occupied-Kashmir-based Jehad Council, comprising 13 militant groups, believes that the Hurriyat ceasefire call is an “untimely, unnecessary and unwise step”. Obviously, those raising the banner of false jehad are not interested in the well-being of the Kashmiris. These militant elements have their own destructive agenda. It is heartening to note that a large section of the Hurriyat leadership is giving the impression of having read through the game plan of the people sitting on the other side of the border.

There are very few within the Hurriyat who are opposing its three-point meaningful formula. The opponents are headed by Jammu and Kashmir Jamaat -i-Islami chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani, known for his extreme pro-Pakistani views. He has the habit of criticising any move for peace on some pretext. This time he has brought in the Hurriyat constitution, pointlessly arguing that it calls for “tripartite talks under UN supervision”. Statements of leaders like Mr Geelani encourage the few remaining militants to indulge in killings, as it happened on Sunday at Ramban, though they are on the run because of increased pressure from the security forces. It is time the Hurriyat got rid of Mr Geelani and his camp followers to become an effective force for facilitating peace in the strife-torn valley. The Government of India should give a serious thought to the formula announced by Professor Bhat. 
Top

 

Democracy in dire straits
Need to empower the President
Bhim S. Dahiya

Whenever the thought of our democracy occurs to me, and it occurs quite often, a scene from an old Hindi movie named “Railway Platform” appears on my mind’s screen. The scene shows how a merchant exploits the situation of a stranded train in a drought-hit area by selling water from a well which he hires on the spot. The situation of our democracy today is very much similar to that of the stranded passenger train. While our people are in a situation no better than that of the stranded passengers who have to buy water as captive clients, our rulers comprising the politico-bureaucratic band are no better than the merciless merchant quick to cash in on the misery of helpless people.

Governments come and go, political parties change benches, but corruption continues unabated, injustice unending, poverty pulsated. The weak and the poor suffer in silence, the honest and the hardworking remain at the receiving end, while the strong and the rich pilfer and plunder, the dishonest and parasites rule the roost. Are there alternatives to the present form of government, which in over half a century has advantaged a few but disadvantaged the majority?

In a situation like ours Abraham Lincoln’s description of democracy as “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” sounds entirely out of place. No doubt, no other alternative to democracy seems in sight at the moment. Those that had come up in recent history, namely socialism and communism, have already been discarded by a majority of the modern nations. What remains are the two forms of democracy itself — the parliamentary and the presidential. But these forms, although reasonably successful in the developed countries of Europe, America and Australia, have not met with similar success in the underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa. The religious and ethnic complexities of Asiatic and African societies have distorted these forms to the disadvantage of the common man. Further, grim poverty and large population have helped the unscrupulous upper crust in these societies to exploit the democratic form to their advantage, reducing it to the earlier format of the princely state with business barons and landlords constituting the ruling classes.

We have always demonstrated a genius for preaching one thing and practising another. Our mythology and history exhibit this rare talent in all their fabulous illustrations and fantastic manifestations. All the shows of our mythology and history do, however, disappear into shadow when compared to the present-day practices of our “democratic” governments and the constituent political parties. We have governments of the people in the sense that the ruling outfit emerges from the people themselves, from the electorate that is. And yet there has emerged a distinct class division between those who are to rule and those who have to be ruled. In other words, a certain professionalism has emerged among the practising politicians who stand apart (in every sense of the word) from those who have to elect them as their rulers. Some of the salient traits of this worthy lot are ill-gotten money, aggressive manners, readiness to rough it all, and preparedness for plundering the people and the state.

We have evolved a system of democracy where form is maintained right upto the grassroots level, and yet it is entirely empty of the spirit of democracy. Elections are held at all levels of the political pyramid; representatives are elected by the “will” of the people’ and the chief or prime among the ministers is also elected by the “will” of the elected representatives. And yet those elected are never the ones people in their private wish would have chosen for determining their destinies. We know how people are motivated and manipulated, how favours are doled out and disbursed, how money and muscle have their way from the start to the end. Finally, we find that in most cases it is the most moneyed one who heads the “government of the people,” and in most cases, the most crafty, too.

As for “the government for the people,” the less said the better. It is a matter of common knowledge that a large portion of the public money goes into the pockets of those “governing” the people. Besides, people have to pay through the nose for every job they want to get done by the government. From individual transfer or posting, registration or allotment, to the collective welfare activity of health or housing, nothing gets done without appropriate propitiation of the powers that be. The common man knows it better than the uncommon, for the latter being a partner in the ruling outfit does not have to undergo the hardships of the circumlocution offices of the government. Those who facilitate the pilferage and plundering of the state exchequer by the politico-business combine are none other than the members of our elite bureaucracy. It is they who, being the custodians of law, know how to bend the law and make it serviceable to the individual in power. Once called the “steal frame” of the government has turned today almost a stealing force. The majority of this elite cadre either joyfully joins as instruments of the powerful or succumbs to the pressures of the unscrupulous authority. Those not given to the culture of “yes-ministership” are tamed by the taming tolls of transferring and posting. There have been instances of honest IAS officers posted as Commissioner, Rules, in a set-up entirely averse to rules, of IPS officer posted as I.G. (Finger Prints). As for transfers, they are used as bombs to “soften” the sites for future operations.

In such a scenario where people join politics to become rich and powerful, where young men and women join administrative services to enjoy power and status as officers of the princely bosses, where the police protects the powerful and the rich (mostly those possessing ill-gotten wealth), where does one look for redressal? Those in the states look to the Centre, hoping for the change of guard, dismissal of the undesirable outfit. But that hope has always met with disappointment, for those ruling at the Centre are drawn from the same stock that rules the states. In recent times, it is in fact the state bosses who dictate the central leadership. The Centre today is politically (rather than morally) motivated and remains as partisan as the state apparatus. Here, a Laloo and a Jayalalitha are followed by the law because they stand on the wrong side of the Centre, but a hundred Georges and a thousand Jaya Jaitlies flourish because they remain on the right side of the ruling outfit at the Centre.

Despaired by the Centre, one looks upto the judiciary. Here one does get some redressal. But what one gets is rather little and much too late. The unbearable overload and the cumbersome procedure come in the way of quick and comprehensive justice. Besides, the judiciary cannot substitute the government at the Centre or in the states. The governments always view the courts as impediments in their way — whatever way they have . Their implied hostility to the court orders always comes out in their manner of implementing those orders. A glaring example is the apex court’s order in the case of starvation deaths.

Wheat and rice rotting in government godowns on the one hand the starvation deaths of peasants and labourers on the other present a clear antagonism between the rulers and the ruled. The governments of the day, with their usual bureaucratic ingenuity, have found a way to defeat the Supreme Court direction. In their typical style, an order has been passed to collect information about those facing starvation. Also, as unusual, a reasonable time limit has been given to the government machinery to do the job. One can easily forree that the time limit would be extended because the task is gigantic. Indeed, it is! And, finally statistics may show that there is none facing starvation. What would the court do?

When governments practice plundering rather than service to the state, when law becomes an instrument of power rather than justice, when morality becomes a butt of ridicule, when even the judiciary is jettisoned in favour of jugglery, what possible remedy is left to safeguard whatever freedom remains guaranteed in the paled pages of the Constitution? One possible remedy can be the empowerment of the President. He must be granted the powers to order the inspection of any government or its department and to impose penalty, including the dismissal of the individual or the government responsible for the irregularities discovered in its functioning. He can even be given the power to appoint regular committees to annually examine the functioning of a government or its department.

In that case, the President shall have to be directly elected by the people, and not by the majority of the electorate’s representatives consisting of MPs and MLAs. Also, the President should not owe his position to a political party. Nor should he be a member of any political party or religious organisation. Only then can he work independently. He should not be “advised” by the Council of Ministers in matters of appointment such as those of judges, members of the Union Public Service Commission, etc. On the same analogy, Governors should be freed from the advise of the State Council of Ministers. Let the Council of Ministers work independently, but let the President also work independently. In the matter of the appointment of Governors also, he should not be advised by the government. Nor should the Governors belong to any political party or religious organisation.

Here is decidedly no plea for the presidential form of government as they have in America, where the President picks up his own team of ministers (secretaries) and there is no elected government. What is being pleaded here is an ‘independent President in an otherwise parliamentary form of government. The need has arisen because of the total derailment of democracy by our present-day politicians, made possible by grim poverty and vast illiteracy. We have reached a stage where chaos may take over our society if no such drastic measure is taken.

The million dollar question, however, remains: Who will empower the President? Will the politicians exploiting the system agree to grant these powers by an amendment of the Constitution? For, after all, no amendment of the Constitution is possible without the large majority of these worthy representatives agreeing to the proposal. If no such thing is made possible to happen, then it is quite likely that some violent upsurge would someday, if not soon, engulf this deeply divided and defrauded nation of ours.

The writer is a former Vice-Chancellor of Kurukshetra University.
Top

 

Divali minus crackers
Iqbal Singh Ahuja

“Hi Doc! How are you?, enquired my friend Satish. “What a paradox? “I thought. A non-medico enquiring about a doctor’s health. Before I could come out of his kind gesture — he blurted: “Doctor, tum bimaar nahi hote.”

I took a deep breath and said “Doctor ko bimaar to kiya ja sakta hai.” My friend looked non-plussed. “Is it overeating of sweets, badam and kaju because of Divali” my friend asked. I laughed & said: “Your diagnosis is wrong although you may be partialy right. I am sick because of Divali not from eating but breathing Ludhiana’s air”. It seemed to go over his head. So I explained that, I got sick because of Divali pollution.

It was a shock for my friend to know that a person like me can fall sick because of Divali. He again blurted: “Kya aapne bahut patake chalaye thaih?”. No I said very humbly. It was Principal Helima’s order to my daughter and then from her to me, “Don’t touch crackers.” Hence I humbly obeyed.

He was trying to reach the conclusion regarding the cause of my sickness. I could not bear his puzzled look any more. So I explained that this was because of the air which was polluted and I had an allergic attack. “Very bad” he said: “Because of other people’s misdeed you have to suffer”. “I am not the only one. There will be thousands of people who have suffered more. Value wise in terms of manhours and money, it may be loss of crores of rupees,” I emphasised.

As my friend left me, I started pondering over the way we celebrate Divali. Who devised the way of celebrating Divali with crackers? Who thought, “Crackers are a sign of joy?” We want peace in the world and at the same time we like crackers”. One of my friend told me that in Ludhiana city alone sale of crackers was worth crores of rupees. My God! if we could have donated this amount to DC or Commissioner for our city welfare, Ludhiana would have become a paradise in a few years.

The pollution created in one day on Divali seems to equal the pollution created in six months. There is a barrier — a sheet of black smoke between the earth and the sky. We leave our doors open to let Lakshmi enter our houses. I wonder whether she (Lakshmi) would be able to cross the barrier of pollution. May be that is why our economy is going down!

I am sure many people will raise eyebrows but time has come for us to review how we celebrate our festivals. Lightening of candles or small lights is a sign of joy but wasteful expenditure on crackers has to be stopped. Crackers are not expression of happiness.

May I suggest that let us each plant a tree on Divali day. Many persons may be unaware of the values of services rendered by a tree. A tree has got a role in production of oxygen, control of air pollution, control of soil erosion and fertility etc. According to Dr Das (1981) a tree of 50 tons gives us a service value of Rs 16 lakh in 50 years. Out of this production of oxygen is worth Rs 2.5 lakh and control of air pollution is worth Rs 5 lakh (approx).

Hence there is a need of strong feelings for the change in the method of Divali celebration. The world today does not need crackers bursting but it requires poverty bursting. Let us pledge every Divali for care of our children and education, better health for our parents and better health for ourselves. I think Ma Lakshmi will enter our houses and stay permanently instead of temporary visit on every Divali.Top

 

Young India takes the reins
P. Raman

A decade ago it was fashionable to deride the CPM for its gerentocratic leadership. In those days, the party politburo’s average age was as high as 75 plus. Now the same party has such smart and youthful faces as Sitaram Yachuri and Prakash Karat. Budhadev Bhattacharya’s ascent as the Chief Minister of West Bengal has been part of their conscientious move for a balanced age mix.

This welcome phenomenon has not been confined to the Marxists alone. Last few years have witnessed a generational revolution in all states across the country. Even the organisationally hierarchical parties like the CPM have found it necessary to choose a younger person in preference to otherwise senior veterans. In this prevailing transitional era with all its complexities, dynamism of a person, rather than sheer political experience, standing and character of a leader, has become more crucial.

Leadership of the states has already gone over to those in the fifties and early sixties septuagenarians and octogenarians have grudgingly given way to their youthful juniors under the force of time and tide. You cannot find even one grand old Sampurnanand among them. The last ones to bow out were Keshubhai Patel, Nityanand Swamy, Ram Prakash Gupta and the veteran of many battles Karunanidhi. The latter could have still continued without any challenge from the party hierarchy but the party itself was routed at the husting. Others were all ousted by the party bosses in Delhi. The process that had begun around the mid-nineties now remains complete.

Mulayam Singh Yadav and Laloo Prasad Yadav struggled within the Janata establishment to set up their own dynasty. Products of the JP movement, disgusting splits and reunifications helped these young mass mobilisers to outsmart the old leadership. Nitish Kumar too kept part of the booty. Mayawati, another young blood, has been part of a post-emergency movement and had established a natural succession within her BSP. This general thrust seems to have influenced the mainstream political parties to take note of the trend.

Thus the Congress found it tactically beneficial to launch its own youths — “youth” by political standards — in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh and Kerala. Barring the last two, the change has been relatively smooth. V.C. Shukla did put up stiff resistance. He had even sounded the BJP for help to thwart his young rival’s chances. While Shukla seems to have reluctantly submitted to the political realities, Karunakaran is still freting and fuming. For the Congress, his may be the last pocket of gerentocratic resistance.

The BJP under its aging high command has been a late player in the game of youth power. After a series of bitter experiences, it has realised that an old veteran is not automatically acceptable to the people at large. The new generation voters have their own idea of an efficient Chief Minister. When Vajpayee picked up men of his own generation, first for UP and then for Uttaranchal, the party ranks at that time could not resist the decision. But soon the high command realised the folly and dropped the two who were not in tune with the times. Keshubhai Patel, the old warhorse who could not yield so easily, has been the last of a generation in the BJP to reconcile to the ultimate fate.

Now the traditional dhoti-Gandhi cap-clad politicians bear the brunt of all failures of the past. The home grown globalisers and reform enthusiasts repeatedly blame the “40 years” of the Nehruvian era for all economic ills. Now, rightly or wrongly, the younger politicians are being associated with fresh air, new ideas, a break with the past and progress. This gives the young leadership a new kind of respectability.

Second, both Naidu and Budhadev Bhattacharya have become models for other Chief Ministers. Naidu’s virtues as a “CEO” have given him a special status even abroad. His liberal policies like power reforms have earned him laurels in the pink press. Congress Chief Ministers like Digvijay Singh, S.M. Krishna and Gehlot have at times drawn inspiration from him. Even Bhattacharya has used this changed public perception to the hilt during the assembly elections. The youthful bhadralok with presumably fresh ideas was counterposed with the aged — yet still respected — Jyoti Basu. This claimed to have had an impact on the Bengali middle class.

Third, the entire new generation of Chief Ministers are free from old baggage at the time of their appointment possibly because they were all middle-level leaders in their own states. For the same reason most of them were non-controversial. Barring Narendra Modi or a Rajnath Singh, they had not created too many enemies in their states. The high command chose the faction-free leaders for the covetous post than those with established groups. This practice has helped the aspirants discard organised factionism. Another common feature of the young generation Chief Ministers has been that they were all in the good books of the bosses in Delhi.

Fourth, a rather disturbing new trend has been that the Delhi bosses of all parties have assumed absolute powers. So much so the state legislators have lost whatever nominal rights they had enjoyed to choose their leaders. In all recent cases, the high commands (of both the BJP and the Congress) sitting in Delhi chose Chief Ministers and imposed them on their MLAs who meekly endorsed it. Until recently, the high commands, after deciding the nominee, went through the drill of sending observers to “assess” the views of the elected legislators before making the formal announcement. Now they have thrown off even such pretentions.

As for the Congress, all this looks like a welcome anachronism. So far we have been led to believe that the loss of power at the Centre has rendered Sonia Gandhi’s leadership extremely weak. Political theory has it that factionalism gets intensified under a fragile central authority. But Sonia Gandhi’s crisis management has proved otherwise. For, as compared to the earlier period there is a clear let-up in groupism and internal sabotage even in states where the party has been in power. Under the powerful Indira Gandhi, it was routine for the faction leaders in states to rush to Delhi in special flights to lobby for their respective nominees. It was then called “jumbo” flights. The emergence of a new generation has made it a thing of the past.
Top

 

 

Parents win right to shorter hours

Parents of young children are to get the right to ask for shorter hours at work under legal guidelines designed to improve family life.

In a significant boost for fathers, the guidelines will allow them legal protection for the first time in trying to cut hours. The rights of working mothers would also be strengthened under a statutory code of practice which campaigners hope will enable parents to juggle work and family without children missing out.

The UK Government’s Work and Parents taskforce will formally report to the Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, this week.

Employers would still be able to refuse parents’ requests, however, if they could show sound commercial reasons why it would be damaging to the business. But workers would have the right to go to a tribunal if they believed the code had been breached. Firms would also be monitored. But the `right to ask’ is likely to be limited to parents of pre-school children, disappointing women’s groups. Only around half of mothers of under-fives work. The move falls short of what many family campaigners wanted -a failsafe legal right to go part-time after having a baby whether employers liked it or not. The taskforce is expected to back the right for fathers to go to tribunal as a last resort. Currently, mothers who are refused shorter hours can sue for sex discrimination, but men have little chance of taking a case unless they can show that women in similar jobs within their firm were allowed to go part-time when they were not. In many cases there are too few women in senior managerial positions to find a comparison. The Observer
Top

 
A CENTURY OF NOBELS

 
Top


 
TRENDS & POINTERS

Court rejects return of cash given to ex-lover

A man who took his ex-lover to court to get back the cash he had showered upon her received no sympathy from a Singapore judge who ruled the money was a gift of love, it was reported on Monday.

Ng Hai Hock sought 240,000 Singapore dollars (133,000 US dollars) for the downpayment on an apartment, household appliances, a diamond ring and other items he had bestowed on Lily Wang, The Straits Times said.

The 38-year-old Ng, married with two children, sued Wang, a 38-year-old divorcee, insisting the money was a loan.

District Judge Audrey Lim threw out the case after finding Ng had given the money as a gift of love.

Citing love letters Ng had written to Wang and their affectionate referral to each other as “husband and wife,’’ Lim said Ng failed to produce any document to show the money was a loan.

Ng argued his relationship with Wang was purely “a commercial one” and he had written the letters “just to make her happy.” he alleged she was a call-girl.

Noting Ng was “streetwise” and an experienced businessman, the judge said the issue was whether the money was a loan or gift and opted for Wang’s evidence of love. Ng is appealing to the high court. DPA

Man drives self to funeral home to die

An 80-year-old man who told his family he would drive himself to the funeral home to die did just that, his wife said.

Funeral home workers found Harold Saber, a pharmacist and war veteran from Verona, New Jersey, dead on Saturday slumped over in his car in the parking lot of the Bernheim-Apter-Goldsticker Suburban Funeral Chapel in Maplewood, New Jersey, a few miles from his home.

“He said many times he would do that,” Saber’s wife Sylvia Robinson told Reuters. “He never wanted to bother anybody.

He felt evidently it was his time and he drove himself there.... It was a heroic act of love,” she said.

The cause of death was not yet known, but Robinson said her husband had been seriously ill for years with diabetes and a heart problem. Reuters
Top

 

Desire is like the shadow caused by the morning sun; it gets longer when you run to catch; it makes you a fool.

* * *

Desire is the worst enemy; it ruins many a human life. Desire when fulfilled breeds further desire.

* * *

Desire leads to ultimate ruin; It can never be destroyed by fulfilment; Dispel desire; Develop true love.

— From the discourses of Sathya Sai Baba.

* * *

Always are the efforts directed

to satisfaction of mind's desires

As one progresses with satisfaction of senses the ambitions grow.

* * *

When one contemplates on the True Element with intense devotion

Then alone is the mind freed from the basic malady. and experiences real satisfaction.

* * *

Victory over the mind is like victory over the world

It is like becoming king of kings

That is when one rises above

(bondage) of action, conflict and confusion.

—Mahatma Mangat Ram Samata Prakash

* * *

Control the mind by the strength of the Master.

— Soami ji Maharaj, Saar Bachan

* * *

Control your mind so that the thought of injuring others does not enter it.

— Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, series III, chapter VII

* * *

Scholarship is less than sense;

Therefore seek intelligence;

Senseless scholars in their pride

Made a lion; then they died.

— The Panchatantra, Book V

* * *

The more one studies and writes, the more one is in anguish.

— Guru Nanak Dev, Var Asa. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, page 467
Top

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
|
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
|
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |