Wednesday, November 21, 2001, Chandigarh, India




E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

Call back the cricketers
M
R Mike Denness, the international match referee for the Indian cricket team's tour of South Africa, may have bitten more than he can chew by virtually accusing the entire visiting team of indulging in acts of cheating and violating the spirit of the game. The action that he has taken against seven players is not only unprecedented but also smacks of vindictiveness. On the fourth day of the second Test at Port Elizabeth India was on the brink of defeat.

Pakistan’s yes, no, if, but …
H
AD it not been the inevitable consequence of riding two horses pulling in opposite directions, the condition of Pakistan could have been described as pathetic. It just does not know what to do and in the process is making a spectacle of itself. The latest in this slapstick drama is the statement of Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar, which equals - if it does not better - the all-time record of using ifs and buts in one statement.


EARLIER ARTICLES

PM’s sangat darshan
November 20
, 2001
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

National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

DEBATE


The raging controversy over POTO

Can critics offer an alternative?
Amar Chandel
I
T will be difficult to find an Indian who is not alarmed by the menace of terrorism. Everyone admits that it has already become all pervasive, mostly thanks to the pusillanimity of the government, and something drastic must be done to crush it at once. But when it comes to the brass tacks, most members of the tut-tut brigade start developing cold feet.
Nation doesn’t need draconian laws
V. Eshwar Anand
T
ERRORISM may have acquired a new dimension after the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon in Washington on September 11. However, as far as India is concerned, there is no need for a separate piece of legislation like POTO (Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance) as it has some darker facets and there are apprehensions of its being misused like the repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, popularly known as TADA.

ANALYSIS

A soldier: why should I fight terrorism?
P. N. Khera
I
NDIAN soldiers posted on the international border and the Line of Control have to fight an unseen enemy who has been infiltrated into the country to strike at strategic targets and innocent civilians or set up booby traps to blow up military convoys.

LIFELINE

Do you feel winter in bones?
Jane Clarke
W
HAT a spirit-dampener the rain is! Not only that, but wet weather makes many people’s bones and joints ache. If, however, you suffer from osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition that becomes more prevalent with age, the wet winter months can be pure torture — which is why autumn is a good time to put some pain-relieving strategies into place.

TRENDS AND POINTERS

Amid hills & greenery, Barnala turns painter
WITH a lot of politics expected after Uttaranchal state’s first-ever elections to be held next year, the Governor of the state, Surjit Singh Barnala, cools his heels taking time out to indulge in some paintings. Surrounded by green forests spread over an area of 67 square feet, full of beauty and spiritual bliss that nature has endowed, this hill station serves as a feast to the eyes of a nature lover.

  • 200 turn up to see world’s biggest liar
  • Woman kills unfaithful spouse with frying pan

A CENTURY OF NOBELS

1921 Physics: ALBERT EINSTEIN

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS



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Call back the cricketers

MR Mike Denness, the international match referee for the Indian cricket team's tour of South Africa, may have bitten more than he can chew by virtually accusing the entire visiting team of indulging in acts of cheating and violating the spirit of the game. The action that he has taken against seven players is not only unprecedented but also smacks of vindictiveness. On the fourth day of the second Test at Port Elizabeth India was on the brink of defeat. And if rain does not intervene, Mr Denness can claim to have played a major role in sending India to defeat by spreading panic and demoralisation in the entire team by handing out the undeserved punishment to more than half the team members that played in the Second Test. There is a clear pattern in the entire sequence of events that led to Sachin Tendulkar's name being included in the list of cheats, so far dominated mostly by white players. No umpire reported Tendulkar for ball-tampering. Remember this is the first time India is visiting South Africa after the famous Delhi Police tapes ended the career of Hansie Cronje. How to get even for having been caught cheating when the South African team was playing in India? A television cameraman played the role of the Delhi Police and handed over parts of the clip showing Tendulkar removing dirt from the ball. Mr Denness needs to be told in no uncertain terms that if Tendulkar is a cheat, the fault lies with the way the game is now being played. The unsolicited video footage provided him the excuse to make an example of Tendulkar. Those who have watched the entire series in South Africa on television have no doubt whatsoever that the South African players again got away without even a mild rebuke for destroying the spirit of the game.

The game of cricket needs to be got rid of crooks and cheats and those who indulge in ungentlemanly conduct on the field. The white players, particularly those from Australia, may find sledging a normal practice. But Indian children are brought up differently. In the age of live television coverage any vulgar gesture by an Indian player would surely earn him sharp rebuke from his family. Mr Denness could have justified the harsh action he took against Virendra Sehwag had he taken similar action against South African Captain Shaun Pollock. The South African skipper got at least two decisions in his favour through excessive appealing, and Sehwag got punished for the same offence. There is another reason why Mr Denness has taken virtually the entire Indian team to task. The England team is currently in India. And Mr Denness himself has led England and was Tony Greig's deputy during a series in India. He knows that it is virtually difficult to beat India in India. By screaming at the Indian team in South Africa Mr Denness has inadvertently promoted the interest of the England team under Nasser Hussain. Indian cricket board President Jagmohan Dalmiya would earn the gratitude of the entire nation if he were to call back the Indian team from South Africa and request the English players to pack their bags and leave. A lot of sorting out needs to be done for the game of cricket to regain its glory. And India should start the process by some daring action and plain-speaking.

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Pakistan’s yes, no, if, but …

HAD it not been the inevitable consequence of riding two horses pulling in opposite directions, the condition of Pakistan could have been described as pathetic. It just does not know what to do and in the process is making a spectacle of itself. The latest in this slapstick drama is the statement of Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar, which equals - if it does not better - the all-time record of using ifs and buts in one statement. The veteran diplomat and civil servant says that his country no longer recognises the Taliban regime on the ground that its government has collapsed. However, there is no formal announcement of de-recognition of the Taliban. Islamabad is no longer doing business with the militia. But Pakistan has no intention of asking the Taliban to wind up their embassy or tell its Ambassador, Mullah Abdul Saleem Zaeef to leave the country. Many more such "however" clauses follow. Mr Sattar is hardly to be blamed for this state of affairs. It flows from the shifting s(t)and of the General. As some wags have underlined, General Musharraf has altered his policy oftener than one changes one's clothes. He began with "Don't bomb the Taliban. I will negotiate with them." That gave way to "OK, bomb them, but don't kill them." The next day's appeal was "OK, kill them, but make it quick." It immediately changed to "OK, follow your own time-table, but give me my moolah or my mullahs will chew me out." Next? "OK, don't kill all of them. Leave the moderate Taliban." Then came "OK, kill all the Taliban, but give me 28 F-16s or my people will chew me out." Even that was not the end of it. The tune changed to "OK, don't give me F-16s but give me a billion dollars." Another day and it was "OK, don't bomb during Ramzan," "OK, now don't let the Northern Alliance take over Kabul," "OK, let them take over Kabul, but let us have a broad-based government" and finally "OK, let them form their own government, but don't ask me to let my citizens do the same!" Now which professional Foreign Minister can keep pace with that!

But make no mistake about it. This switch-on, switch-off policy has a method in its madness. There is survival instinct at play. The Taliban cause has been abandoned for public consumption, but the utility of the ruthless and rootless fighters has not been lost sight of. As the Indian Army has rightly pointed out, Pakistan will make every attempt to shore up the lost cause through the backdoor. There is every possibility that the Taliban militia would be diverted to Kashmir. It is an open secret that most of these armed men have sneaked into Pakistan. The commando instinct that General Musharraf has told him loud and clear that he cannot afford to keep them there if he has to remain in power. So, he will use every stratagem at his command to pump them into Kashmir. It is now for the Indian Government to ensure that this does not happen. And the world community, instead of exulting over the Afghanistan successes, has to be wary of the terrorism dragon digging its way into a burrow, minus its tail, of course.
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The raging controversy over POTO
Can critics offer an alternative?
Amar Chandel

IT will be difficult to find an Indian who is not alarmed by the menace of terrorism. Everyone admits that it has already become all pervasive, mostly thanks to the pusillanimity of the government, and something drastic must be done to crush it at once. But when it comes to the brass tacks, most members of the tut-tut brigade start developing cold feet. They all want decisive combat against the enemies of the nation. But bring about a tough law like the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) and they would shout that such legislation is not the answer. Ask them to offer an alternative and they have none.

Let us get real and take a dispassionate look at the situation. There is a war being fought by terrorists in which no quarter is given or asked for. If you don’t defeat them, they will defeat you. We have a surfeit of laws, but these have failed to deter the determined band of misguided zealots. The legal system is such that even ordinary criminals find a million loopholes in it to go scot-free. When it comes to terrorists aided and abetted by a foreign power, the scope for circumventing the system is all the more pronounced. Every loophole, every lacuna in the laws, is a god-send to them. In such circumstances, a country has to try to plug the holes as much as possible. If this attempt is seen as a ploy to curb the civil rights of ordinary citizens, we are only condemning ourselves to a life tormented by terrorists and others of their ilk.

But the existing laws are sufficient to tackle all such threats, some of us say and some of us even believe. Are they? Really? Please have another look at the situation and you may have to revise your assessment. Take Jammu and Kashmir for instance, which is a hotbed of foreign-promoted terrorism. One would expect the Indian system to be strong enough to bring hardcore terrorists to justice quickly. Yet, a man like Masood Azhar remained under trial for nearly five years till his supporters hijacked an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar and negotiated his release. Everybody knows what havoc the Jaish-e-Mohammad floated by him later wreaked in the valley. Each such incident encourages 10 others to launch an attack against India.

Remember the transistor bomb cases in the Capital and in some other cities that rocked the nation some years ago? Have any of the culprits been sentenced for the heinous crime? And we still say that our system is strong enough to take care of every eventuality?

Deny it if you will, but POTO has become a political football between parties standing on two sides of a dividing line. Just because it has been brought forward by the BJP-led coalition government, it has to be rubbished, despite the fact that the Congress is using similar legislation in Maharashtra and the Left Front in West Bengal. “But these laws are for ordinary criminals,” says a sheepish Congress. Fantastic. We can have special laws for ordinary criminals and not for terrorists!!!

However, that is quite true to form. When the Congress used to pass such laws, the BJP would cry foul in an equally loud voice. So, the honours are even now. But, unfortunately, this division and lack of consensus is facilitating the terrorists to the hilt. Similarly, an attempt has been made to give a religious spin to the ordinance. Even though POTO clearly defines “terrorist act” to prevent misuse, its critics are still identifying the law as anti-this religion or that.

One argument against tough legislation is that it can be misused by the police and security agencies. The reasoning demolishes itself because of the equally strong counter-argument that it generates: a toothless piece of legislation is prone to be exploited by terrorists. We have to make a choice which is a greater danger: misuse by the security agencies or misuse by foreign agencies.

Most of the criticism against POTO is because of the past perversities of the police force. As such, the focus has to be on ensuring that the police does not misuse the law, and not on blaming the law itself. If one were to draw a parallel, dumping this measure would be akin to not giving to a better gun to our soldiers just because there have been incidents in which some of them while back home on leave used their guns to settle personal scores. The risk is very much there, but pales into insignificance when seen in the backdrop of the bigger danger. The ire against POTO has to be channelled into demanding that no innocent man or woman suffers because of the additional powers given to the security agencies. Perhaps the POTO critics can suggest such foolproof safeguards.

There is no denying the fact that we should not provide an opportunity to the security agencies to take law into their own hands. The difficulty is that the more a nation puts its own security agencies into a straitjacket, the more the criminals get a free hand and wreak havoc. Just put yourself in the shoes of a soldier or a policeman who arrests a terrorist at considerable risk to himself and his family and later finds that the man has gone scot-free, thanks to lax laws. Will he take the risk again with the same zeal? There is a strong undercurrent of anger in the disciplined forces which should not be lost sight of. If suspected terrorists have human rights, so do the security agencies.

It is one thing to sympathise with the suspects while sitting in the comfort of one’s drawing room. It is quite another to be engaged in a bloody duel with the beastly men who respect no canons of civilised society. Even when the security agencies have extraordinary powers, they are still operating within certain parameters of accountability and responsibility. The goal is not only to wage a war against terrorism but also to win it. The nation has to stand by its own men instead of disarming them. Above all, the force has to have faith in them. It is ironical that we tend to believe every allegation made against the security agencies as if the suspected terrorists are paragons of virtue and as truthful as Harishchandra.

There are some odious provisions of POTO which need to be revised. But just because a few apples are rotten, it does not mean that the whole basket has to be thrown away, especially at this time when even the United Nations has called upon countries to frame anti-terrorist laws. In fact, many countries have enacted laws far tougher than POTO after September 11.

For too long, we have suffered because we have been a soft state. For too long, we have refused to bite the bullet. Even if we are a peace-loving nation, we cannot run away from a war that has been thrust on us. And a war, as we all know, needs nerves of steel — and weapons to match. In today’s circumstances, a law is as much a weapon as guns and gun powder and the bravery of the soldiers. It is up to us now to decide whether we send the security forces into the battle well equipped or with their hands tied behind their back. 
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Nation doesn’t need draconian laws
V. Eshwar Anand

TERRORISM may have acquired a new dimension after the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon in Washington on September 11. However, as far as India is concerned, there is no need for a separate piece of legislation like POTO (Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance) as it has some darker facets and there are apprehensions of its being misused like the repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, popularly known as TADA. A section of legal experts believe that new legislation is unnecessary and the existing laws are quite adequate to tackle terrorism in all its forms. According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), POTO is violative of Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees “life with dignity”.

Despite the strong defence put up by Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley, Disivestment Minister Arun Shourie and Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj in favour of POTO, it reminds one of the misuse witnessed under TADA, the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), the National Security Act (NSA) and the Defence of India Rules (DIR). It is also a grim reminder of the Emergency days of 1975-77 when democracy was throttled, the Press was gagged, fundamental rights were clipped and the judiciary was emasculated. Ironically, the architects of POTO are the very same people who were themselves the victims of the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi.

There is no denying that POTO is an improvement over TADA. POTO has certain safeguards. First, it does not cover “disruptive activities” which were left ill-defined in TADA and subsequently grossly misused by law-enforcing agencies. Second, POTO allows appeal against the rejection of bail to the High Court concerned (earlier, this was restricted to the Supreme Court only under TADA). Third, POTO reduces the period of detention of the accused. Under TADA the accused could be kept in police custody for 60 days, and in judicial custody up to a year. Under POTO the limits have been cut down to 30 days and 180 days respectively. Fourth, POTO makes it mandatory on the part of the officials to keep the family members of the accused informed soon after the arrest. And fifth, before the accused is interrogated, he has to be informed in writing that he is not bound to make a confession.

However, the cause for worry is the expanded scope of POTO which is believed to be far more draconian than TADA. Unlike TADA, POTO’s scope now extends to “terrorist activities” under which law-enforcing agencies will have powers to book anyone supposed to be having information about “terrorist activities” but fails to disclose it (Chapter III), tap communications and confiscate the suspected “proceeds of terrorism” (Chapter V). The Press is particularly worried about Section 3(8) of POTO. There are apprehensions that it will affect the operational freedom of journalists on mere suspicion. It can be used as an instrument of harassment to fix an inconvenient journalist. There are widespread protests by media organisations against these provisions that would force them to reveal any information they may have in the course of discharging their professional duties and in the process destroying their news sources. If they refuse to do so, they can be arrested under POTO.

Union Home Minister L. K. Advani once said that during the Emergency when the Press was asked to bend, it crawled. Does he now expect journalists to crawl to his police with information they are not competent to find? The Press is the watchdog of democracy. It is the sentinel of civil liberties without which it is difficult to think of a functioning democracy. The Centre is not expected to muzzle the Press through obnoxious provisions such as this. Why can the Centre not explore the possibility of extending to journalists the immunity given to advocates under Section 3 (8) of POTO? Without this immunity, it will affect the operational freedom of journalists.

Experience suggests that the government — at the Centre and in the States — has always misused draconian laws more than it has used. The Centre was forced to repeal TADA following strong protests. The overwhelming opinion in Parliament was that TADA had been grossly misused by those in power to deal with political opponents. The police, which has a dubious reputation, has been accused of extortion and torture of innocent people. During the 1993 Mumbai riots, members of a minority community were harassed on mere suspicion. Even the Centre’s attempt to retain TADA in a slightly modified form was not acceptable to the nation. TADA rendered countless citizens vulnerable to avoidable harassment. Many TADA cases remain unsettled in several states and its victims continue to languish in jails.

It is feared that POTO will in no way be different from TADA, certain safeguards notwithstanding. It is believed that the new legislation will encourage harassment and torture of innocent people by the police, indiscriminate arrests and never-ending trials. In fact, it may complicate the problem of communalism. Safeguards, in-built or otherwise, do not guarantee just and fair implementation of POTO due to the unhealthy track record of our police force.

The need of the hour is to overhaul the existing laws to tackle terrorism effectively instead of going ahead with a draconian law like POTO. Combating terrorism on a war-footing deserves utmost attention, but this does not mean that the government should arm itself with obnoxious powers. Admittedly, some of the existing laws relating to the sovereignty and integrity of India (Section 153B IPC), collecting arms and ammunition (Sec 122), sedition (Sec 124A), promoting enmity among various groups (Secs 153A and 295A), offences under the Arms Act (1959), the Explosives and Explosive Substances Act (dealing with weaponry) and the Armed Forces Special Powers (Disturbed Areas) Act (1958) can be tightened to serve the purpose. In this context, the suggestion for creating a new offence called “terrorism” by inserting 124-B to the IPC is welcome. The emphasis here is on the use of “ordinary procedures” of the IPC or the Cr.PC rather than take resort to POTO.

In all fairness, Prime Minister Vajpayee’s call for a national debate on POTO needs to be appreciated. But the people have every right to know why the Centre decided to rush through POTO on October 24 and present it as a fait accompli before the nation. There is no consensus on POTO. There is a divergence of opinion even among the ruling National Democratic Alliance partners as revealed in its meeting held at the Prime Minister’s residence on Monday. It is difficult to understand why a national consensus was not obtained before going in for such a controversial law.

Democracy is a game of numbers and the cooperation of the Congress is necessary for the passage of POTO in Parliament (Rajya Sabha). But the Congress has its own game plan in opposing POTO. At the same time, the objections raised by the Congress and other parties and individuals deserve consideration.
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A soldier: why should I fight terrorism?
P. N. Khera

INDIAN soldiers posted on the international border and the Line of Control have to fight an unseen enemy who has been infiltrated into the country to strike at strategic targets and innocent civilians or set up booby traps to blow up military convoys.

The morale of this soldier suffers a blow when he hears leaders of political parties and their spokespersons vehemently opposing the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO). It is tragic that where a soldier has to lay down his life to combat foreign-inspired terrorism, leaders of political parties should deem it fit to oppose POTO.

Terrorist organisations Al-Qaeda, Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Lashkar-e-Toiba have declared that India and Israel are their avowed enemies and that they will use all means — atomic weapons, and chemical and biological agents — to destroy institutions and selected personalities in these countries.

Because of this, and in the light of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon in Washington, the war against terrorism has been joined on a global basis. Having suffered the consequences of foreign-inspired terrorism India has to be on the forefront of this war against terrorism and do everything possible to combat it.

The government cannot fight this kind of war on its own. Every Indian citizen must become actively involved in combating this evil. Then only will the demon of terrorism be slain. The war against this modern type of terrorism will have to be fought at three levels. First, the terrorist will have to be identified. Every citizen will have to keep a sharp lookout within his locality to find out if any foreigner has taken up residence there. If suspicion falls on any object or person, the police must be immediately informed. Terrorists are akin to fish in a pond. If the water is drained out the fish die. The identification and isolation of the terrorist is the first requirement of counter-terrorism.

After the identification of the terrorist, the security forces will have to take steps to render infructuous all efforts of the terrorists to cause terror and disruption. It is, therefore, necessary for the security forces to conduct search operations in different places and catch and interrogate suspicious persons.

If, in spite of these operations by the security forces, the terrorists are able to strike then in the third phase the area around that target is surrounded and a search for the terrorists is conducted in what is known as “search and destroy” operations. For this, the security forces need special legal powers to conduct searches and arrest persons for terrorist acts.

The opposition to POTO is that it will be misused for political purposes; that minorities will be harassed and human rights will be violated. Many political parties and analysts have questioned the desirability of such an Ordinance.

As far as the question of misuse of the Ordinance is concerned, it may be pointed out that every provision of the Indian Constitution and every law can be misused. Strict action needs to be taken against those who subvert the laws of the land but the fear of misuse cannot be allowed to be the basis for the opposition to this Ordinance.

In a secular nation like India exploitation of religion for terrorist purposes cannot be tolerated. But we will have to be able to differentiate quite clearly between the terrorist and minorities. It is true that every Indian Muslim is not a terrorist but it is also an unfortunate fact that in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country the majority of those involved in violence and terrorist acts are Muslims and they are receiving aid and assistance from particular terrorist organisations. It is these persons who, under the influence of the ISI, participate in anti-India activities.

Under such circumstances, if any anti-terrorism steps are taken it is natural that compared to other minority communities a larger number of those caught for terrorist acts will be Muslims. But will it be right to describe this situation as being anti-minority?

It is the responsibility of those political leaders who claim to represent the Muslim that they advise the Muslim community to refrain from indulging in anti-India activities.

In a democratic nation like India, human rights of citizens need to be protected but this cannot be allowed to be misused to promote terrorism or anti-national activities.

When the UN adopted the Declaration of Human Rights there was no such phenomenon as terrorism. But today, terrorism has become a threat to the whole human race. There is a fatal flaw in laws governing human rights that on the one hand specific dos and don'ts have been enunciated for governments and their security forces, but on the other hand no opprobrium has been attached to the activities of terrorists and those who indulge in violence. Should persons involved in terrorist activities be allowed to enjoy immunity from violation of human rights of others?

The government allowed the controversial Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act to lapse on the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission. Now it is the responsibility of the National Human Rights Commission to clarify the human rights of those who violate the human rights of peaceful citizens. Do they have any right to espouse the cause of human rights?

Any nation which hesitates to promulgate anti-terrorism laws merely for political considerations, it has no business to expect its soldiers to lay down their lives to fight terrorism. If some day an Indian soldier decides to ask: “why should I fight terrorism” then as a nation we will not be able to give a valid answer. ADNI

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Do you feel winter in bones?
Jane Clarke

WHAT a spirit-dampener the rain is! Not only that, but wet weather makes many people’s bones and joints ache. If, however, you suffer from osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition that becomes more prevalent with age, the wet winter months can be pure torture — which is why autumn is a good time to put some pain-relieving strategies into place.

First, it may help to understand the causes and effects of osteoarthritis, which differs from rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritic conditions, including gout. Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage around the joints, especially weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips, wears away and new bone tissue grows beneath it, preventing the joints from moving as smoothly as they should, and causing painful inflammation to take hold. Over time, the joints may become distorted, causing further agony as muscles become strained and nerves become trapped.

A major problem that results from osteoarthritis is that, because the pain discourages movement, weight can pile on, causing the joints — particularly the knees — to be placed under even greater strain, thus increasing the inflammation and pain. It’s a vicious circle, and, if you recognise this scenario, the first thing to do is to tackle the weight problem.

Your aim should be to lose weight sensibly and healthily. I sometimes receive requests from doctors to help overweight osteoarthritic patients to lose unachievable amounts of weight (over a stone in a month, for example). Although I agree that operating on a diseased joint is risky if the patient is obese, I think that setting an unrealistic goal only depresses the individual.

Losing weight by going on a crash diet will, furthermore, leave you feeling drained and too weak to do any exercise to keep your joints moving and burn off the calories. Instead, it’s far better to aim to lose a kilo (just over 2lb) a week by eating sensibly and following a healthy lifestyle.

A good diet should include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but some people who suffer from osteoarthritis report that oranges, tomatoes and other acidic foods exacerbate their symptoms. (If you suspect that a particular food triggers yours, keep a food diary to track the relationship between what you eat and drink and how you feel.)

We don’t understand exactly why, but one dietary method of alleviating osteoarthritic pain appears to be increasing your intake of oily fish, such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, pilchards and tuna — probably because the omega-3 fatty acids that they contain stimulate the body to produce inflammation-reducing, painkilling prostaglandins. If worries about exposing your body to toxic levels of pollutants have put you off eating oily fish, you may be reassured to hear that, according to the agencies I’ve spoken to, you can safely eat oily fish a couple of times a week (and I continue to eat it on a regular basis).

Other people, especially those who aren’t keen on fish, may prefer to glean anti-inflammatory, prostaglandin-producing agents from such supplements as omega-3 oil, or oil of evening primrose (which contains omega-6 fatty acids). The optimum daily doses are 600mg of omega-3 oil or 2,000-4,000mg of evening primrose oil.

Finally, wearing a copper wristband may help to fend off arthritic aches and pains, although again we don’t fully understand why, apart from surmising that the absorption of a small amount of copper through the skin reduces the inflammatory reaction.

It all depends on your cholesterol level: if it’s worryingly high, or a genetic predisposition poses a potential risk to your health, many doctors would advocate avoiding all cholesterol-containing foods.

Although eggs, seafood and offal are all rich in cholesterol, the body usually breaks it down before it can have an adverse effect on the level of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, the ‘bad’ fat) in the blood.

Eat oily fish and wholegrains (along with lots of water to encourage the fibre to swell in your stomach), too. The Observer
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Amid hills & greenery, Barnala turns painter

WITH a lot of politics expected after Uttaranchal state’s first-ever elections to be held next year, the Governor of the state, Surjit Singh Barnala, cools his heels taking time out to indulge in some paintings.

Surrounded by green forests spread over an area of 67 square feet, full of beauty and spiritual bliss that nature has endowed, this hill station serves as a feast to the eyes of a nature lover. Such is the power of mother nature that it has awakened the sleeping painter residing inside the Governor, Surjit Singh Barnala, who is as wonderful and comfortable with this brush as he is with the shaking politics of the state.

One will be amused to learn that this wonderful politician who has served many states as Governor feels that a politician should do something creative and soothing like this. Barnala spends lot of his time which he saves from his busy schedule in spraying life into his canvas, bringing out various scenes from the mountains and granary of the state. When asked about his passion for painting, Barnala said: I am painting from my childhood, but when I entered my college it took a turn and became a kind of passion for me. I have painted a lot. In 1940, in the first year of my college, I have painted Pt Nehru and my father and then it carried on...” Praising the beauty of the state, he said that “after coming here, it just came back to me and now again I have started painting in my free time.”

His wonderful collections have Pt Nehru’s portrait and there is a painting of General Chanda Singh (Mrs Barnala’s grandfather) and his father’s portrait, a treasure and a lifetime achievement which he can never dream of parting with.

With his hands smoothly moving on canvas bringing out amazing scenery the impression one gets is that of a painter trying to experiment with his painting brush and not of a governor or a politician. ANI

200 turn up to see world’s biggest liar

A multitude of lies told by George Kemp has won him the title of the world’s biggest liar. Contestants flocked to a Cumbrian pub to take up the challenge to scoop this year’s title.

Kemp, related to Kemp brothers of Spandau Ballet fame, told a plethora of fibs about his tenuous links with stardom and his working class upbringing. There were 11 entrants and nearly 200 people packed the Bridge Inn at Wasdale Head in London to listen. It’s inspired by 19th-century publican Will Ritson, who claimed the turnips in Wasdale were so big locals scooped them out and used them as sheds for their sheep.

Ian Congdon, from Whitehaven Civic Hall, said: Basically he just told a series of whoppers. The ones I can remember include one about when he was a kid and his dad had a whippet. During a race it stopped and had puppies, but went on to win the race with one of the puppies coming second. His dad was also an ornithologist who cross-bred a cuckoo with a woodpecker to create a peckaroo, but unfortunately it went into a tree and drilled holes that were too small for it to get in to lay its eggs”. Reuters

Woman kills unfaithful spouse with frying pan

A Japanese woman has been sentenced to 4½ years in prison for beating her husband to death with a frying pan after he confessed to having an affair, domestic media reported on Tuesday.

Last November, the 32-year-old housewife stabbed her husband, also 32, with a knife after beating him dozens of times with the steel pan, saying: “You said you would die if you had an affair, so I want you to die as you had promised.”

In handing down the sentence, Yokohama District Court Judge Hiroshi Yamura said: “The victim, though at fault, did not deserve to die,” according to the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper.

Yamura added: “The act was one of brutality, far exceeding that of a husband-wife fight.” Reuters
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A CENTURY OF NOBELS


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Wisdom and learning are not identical. They are not always on speaking terms. Learning looks backward to the past. Wisdom looks forward to the future.

Wisdom has been defined as knowing what one ought to do next. Virtue is doing it.

Wisdom without virtue is a weariness of the flesh. But as volition passes over into action, science into art, and knowledge into power so does wisdom into virtue, and where thought does not go over into action, there results mental dyspepsia or moral constipation. Men of mere ideas and no legs are not more than intellectual centipedes. .... Let the little self be flung into Infinity. May you wake up to your oneness with Life, Light and Love (Sat-Chit-Anand) and immediately, the Central Bliss will commence springing forth from you in the shape of happy, heroic work and both wisdom and virtue.

— Swami Ramatirtha, In woods of God Realisation, Vol. V, Lecture 2.

* * *

While water is given

By fate out of heaven

If men dig a well,

It bubbles from hell.

Man's effort (sufficiently great)

can equal the wonders of fate.

Success complete

in any feat

Is sure to bless

True manliness.

Man's effort (sufficiently great)

Is just what a dullard calls fate.

There is no toy called

Easy Joy.

But man must strain

To body's pain

Even Vishnu embraces his bride

With arms that the churn-stick has tried.

— The Panchatantra, Book V

* * *

Visualise actions with unclouded clarity,

then forcefully undertake them without delay or indecision.

To world has no use for those who have no use for resolute action,

whatever other strengths they may possess.

— The Tirukural, 668, 670

* * *

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

— The Holy Bible, Psalms 126:5

* * *

Elbow - grease is the best polish.

— An English proverb
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