Tuesday, November 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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


EDITORIALS

List of don’ts for MPs, MLAs
I
T reads like instructions on good behaviour for children in a preparatory school along with the nature of punishment for violation. Only that this list applies to MPs, MLAs and MLCs. It is actually a handbook of normal – not exemplary -- behaviour, which every teacher routinely dins into the ears of his young wards in the hope that they grow up as decent individuals. But in the case of law-makers, at least some of the noisy and excitable ones, these high school hopes have not materialised.

Communalising crafts
T
HE NDA government, accused of Talibanising education, has exposed itself to another serious charge. It relates to the handicrafts sector involving skilled workers from almost all the communities. There can be no other explanation for taking the patently communally dangerous decision to create a wedge between the artisan community by slapping the labels of "majority handicrafts" and a "minority handicrafts" on their products. Of course, there is only "minority handicrafts" section at the on-going India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan in Delhi.

Importance of being Bhutto
M
S Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former Prime Minister in self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), knows how to remain in focus despite her dwindling popularity at home. She travels a lot, and wherever she goes she speaks what suits her audience. The idea is to get a good Press so that people outside Pakistan, if not those in her own country, appreciate what she says. And she has a lot to say, having been at the helm of affairs for two terms, one immediately after military ruler General Zia-ul-Haque was killed in a plane crash in 1988.


EARLIER ARTICLES

Quickfix history
November 26
, 2001
War against terror: The public opinion conundrum
November 25
, 2001
What has Dalmiya done?
November 24
, 2001
BJP’s new stance
November 23
, 2001
Denness stumps cricket
November 22
, 2001
Call back the cricketers
November 21
, 2001
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
 
OPINION

Behind “wonderful fiction”
Govt must come clean on military pact report
Sumer Kaul
I
T may be an indication of the loss of perspective in national politics but I find it remarkable, and disturbing, that the recent report about a concrete American suggestion for establishing an Indo-US military alliance has received so little notice, let alone set off a heated nationwide debate. Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh was asked about it during his recent visit to the USA and he described the report as “wonderful fiction”. And there the matter appears to have rested.

How to overcome the unending recession
R. N. Malik
D
ESPITE the media concentration on the war in Afghanistan, the unending recession in India continues to hog the headlines. A recent World Bank report said the last thing on this issue: “The attacks, at a time when the region was already suffering from the sudden end of the technology boom, will slow investment decisions, dampen consumer confidence in export markets, and reduce tourism to East Asia. The recovery is at least six months further off, perhaps nine months. This delay will mean fewer jobs and less household income.

REALPOLITIK

P. Raman
Economy: cost of inaction
I
NDIAN economy is now in its worst crisis since Independence. Except inflation, every other economic indicator signals the impending disaster. Nothing is moving. No one in the industry is sure of what will happen in the coming years. All of finance minister’s pious hopes have gone awry. Yet no one in this government really bothers about spotting the fault lines and remedying the situation. Yashwant Sinha has even ceased to do the routine soothsaying.

LIFELINE

Guard against breast cancer by losing weight
Jane Clarke
I
F you are a woman, examining your breasts should come as naturally as brushing your teeth, although you don't need to do it twice a day. By doing a quick check every time you have a shower or bath, you'll get to know your breasts so well that you'll be able to detect any changes in them as soon as they occur.

TRENDS AND POINTERS

Diplomats find it hard to settle in London
T
RAFFIC jams are a way of life, opening a bank account is a nightmare, and the food and weather can be atrocious. Life in London can indeed be tough, according to foreign diplomats posted to Britain who were surveyed by the London-based Diplomat magazine. Still, most said they were happy with their stay, although nearly 90 per cent of the 327 diplomats surveyed were shocked by high prices, and more than 60 per cent found it hard to make friends with locals.

  • Drop Nobel name from economics prize

A CENTURY OF NOBELS

1928 Physiology or Medicine: CHARLES NICOLLE

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS



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List of don’ts for MPs, MLAs

IT reads like instructions on good behaviour for children in a preparatory school along with the nature of punishment for violation. Only that this list applies to MPs, MLAs and MLCs. It is actually a handbook of normal – not exemplary -- behaviour, which every teacher routinely dins into the ears of his young wards in the hope that they grow up as decent individuals. But in the case of law-makers, at least some of the noisy and excitable ones, these high school hopes have not materialised. The worst behavior in this regard is witnessed in the Lok Sabha and the man whose patience is tested to the utmost is Speaker Balayogi. It is only fitting that he should convene a meeting to get the nod of all parties to a draft to ensure better conduct on the floor of the House. The elected members are told not to intervene when another member is speaking, not to rush to the well of the House, not to shout slogans and, finally, not to defy the presiding officer. The punishment for non-observance ranges from a simple admonition to suspension. It is good that an effort has been made at long last to remedy a growing tendency of a set of legislators to use their lung power and mobility to express their views rather than their articulation; by the same token it is shocking that the largest working democracy requires a remedy to a problem which, in the first place, should not have arisen at all. One welcome aspect is not directed at unruly members but at the ruling parties. It lays down the minimum number of days Parliament or the state Assembly should meet so that there is more time for debate and less urgency to disrupt the proceedings to raise a point. In many states, the Assembly meets for a few days — last year 22 days in Punjab and 13 days in Haryana — to observe a constitutional demand.

But this solution merely scratches the problem. The real cure is in reconstructing the party system and sharpening the policy plank. It hurts but the fact is that every party chooses its candidates on his winning chances and not on his interest in and commitment to any issue. With communal and caste divisions to the fore, some elected representatives are adept at only rabble-rousing and very poor in advocating a cause. And they mistake Parliament for a public meeting. Political parties do not have internal think tanks to brief the members on the various issues and this reflects in the low standard of debate. In fact, many parties, especially the large number of regional outfits, do not have a well-defined ideology and hence vent their emotional support to partisan issues. This is the root of the malaise and those with long memory can only wistfully hark back to the days when parliamentary debates were marked by incisive analysis, scorching repartee and good humour. The largest democracy is no more the healthiest democracy when viewed from the gallery.
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Communalising crafts

THE NDA government, accused of Talibanising education, has exposed itself to another serious charge. It relates to the handicrafts sector involving skilled workers from almost all the communities. There can be no other explanation for taking the patently communally dangerous decision to create a wedge between the artisan community by slapping the labels of "majority handicrafts" and a "minority handicrafts" on their products. Of course, there is only "minority handicrafts" section at the on-going India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan in Delhi. But the fact that for the first time someone in the Ministry of Trade and Commerce has come up with the hare-brained and communally loaded idea of creating a separate section for "minority handicrafts" at the fair can only be interpreted as an attempt to segregate craftsmen belonging to the minority communities from the mainstream of the rich and varied handicrafts sector of the country. For the first time 15 Muslim craftsmen and a lone Sikh have been herded together in a separate section away from the glare of the visitors. Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Satyanarayan Jatiya, who belongs to the BJP, has justified the decision by stating that "we have separate groups for the disabled and those needing special attention". So the decision to put 15 Muslim and one Sikh craftsmen in a separate enclosure is meant to make public their "disability" or their need for "special attention"?

If Mr Jatiya were to be allowed to have his way he would find merit in the obnoxious British practice of having separate pitchers labelled "Hindu pani" and Muslim pani" for the benefit of the members of the two communities. And why stop at just creating a separate cell for "minority handicrafts"? The logic should be taken further and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Ustad Vilayat Khan should be placed in the category of "minority musicians" and Pandit Ravi Shankar and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia in the category of "majority musicians". Mr Jatiya should also let the world know that M. F. Husain is a "minority painter" and Satish Gujral a "majority painter". He will of course also have to explain the strong reaction to the decision of the Taliban government to make non-Muslims wear identity tags in Afghanistan. Adolf Hitler forced the Jews to wear identification tags. Of course, the Muslim craftsmen from Kashmir have been asked to take their place in the "minority handicrafts" section. But where would Mr Jatiya have placed Kashmiri Pandits, had they too been craftsmen? They enjoy the status of a minority community in Jammu and Kashmir. Under the communal logic that Mr Jatiya has propounded to justify the segregation of the craftsmen both the Kashmiri Muslims and the Kashmiri Pandits would have had to be placed in the same minority enclosure! That such a patently communal categorisation of the country's artisans and craftsmen flies in the face of common sense and the secular principles enshrined in the Constitution evidently cannot make the powers that be lose sleep over the decision. Had they realised the consequences the suggestion would have been shot down as soon as it was made.

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Importance of being Bhutto

MS Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former Prime Minister in self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), knows how to remain in focus despite her dwindling popularity at home. She travels a lot, and wherever she goes she speaks what suits her audience. The idea is to get a good Press so that people outside Pakistan, if not those in her own country, appreciate what she says. And she has a lot to say, having been at the helm of affairs for two terms, one immediately after military ruler General Zia-ul-Haque was killed in a plane crash in 1988. So, during her four-day visit to India that began on Sunday she has expressed her views on expected lines and these are bound to be well received. She appreciates in a TV interview the Vajpayee government's past initiatives on Jammu and Kashmir and wants the ruling General to respond in a positive manner in the interest of peace in the subcontinent. She has also pleaded for broadbased Indo-Pak relationship and floated the idea of "safe and open borders" between the two neighbours so that people can travel from one part of the state to the other without any hindrance. In June this year she talked of a plebiscite in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir if India agreed to a similar measure in Kashmir on this side. Now the question is: could she entertain these ideas if she were in power today? Not at all. Then how does she expect General Musharraf to take her viewpoints seriously? She is a hypocrite of the first order. She did practically little to improve her country's relations with India when she presided over the destiny of Pakistan. There is no point in shedding crocodile tears now when she cannot even enter her country unless she is prepared to get arrested on corruption charges.

The difficulty in Pakistan is that it is just not possible for a civilian Head of Government to take a policy decision without taking into confidence the military establishment. In fact, the entire system is run by the military in consultation with the civilian bureaucracy. The two together are popularly called the "Establishment", and anything that goes against their interests is just unthinkable. Take the case of Kashmir. If the issue is resolved, it may lead to friendly relations between India and Pakistan, putting a big question mark on the huge military expenditure by a poor country like Pakistan. Any reduction in this expenditure will directly hit the interests of the armed forces. Hence their concerted efforts to develop among the people an anti-India psyche so that no move for ending the atmosphere of animosity between India and Pakistan is successful. In any case, Ms Bhutto's ideas carry little meaning when her support base has shrunk considerably after her conviction in a corruption case. She has been accused of amassing huge wealth when she was Prime Minister. Her husband, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, serving a prison term on corruption charges, was nicknamed Mr Ten Per Cent for demanding commission on most deals involving the government of Ms Bhutto and industrialists. If she is still liked by a section of the population that is because of being the daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the hanged Prime Minister of Pakistan. But this does not mean that her views, even if being positive, deserve to be ignored. What she has said can serve the purpose of initiating a debate. This in itself will be a gain for her as also for India and Pakistan.

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Behind “wonderful fiction”
Govt must come clean on military pact report
Sumer Kaul

IT may be an indication of the loss of perspective in national politics but I find it remarkable, and disturbing, that the recent report about a concrete American suggestion for establishing an Indo-US military alliance has received so little notice, let alone set off a heated nationwide debate. Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh was asked about it during his recent visit to the USA and he described the report as “wonderful fiction”. And there the matter appears to have rested.

This is the surprising, to say the least. For one thing, journalists the world over know from experience that the more forceful (flowery, in Mr Singh’s case) the official denial, the more chances there are of the allegation being true. Moreover, since (to my knowledge) the only one in government asked about the report was Mr Singh, and that too just once, his denial particularly cannot be treated as doubtfree. Readers will recall how a few weeks ago he contemptuously dismissed as “an absurd canard” the question whether he was going to have to give up the Defence portfolio — only to be actually divested of it within days of the denial!

But more than that, doubts about the denial stem from the absolute confidence underlying the India Today report. It was not a filler in any rumour column but a full-fledged expose. The details given of the alleged proposal are difficulties to drum up (unless you are a Fredrick Forsythe!) and rather a dangerous thing to do for any self-respecting newsmagazine. In fact, the weekly claims to have “gained access to the non-paper” detailing the proposal and based its report on “documents” in its possession.

Reinforcing the veracity of the report are various attendant events and pronouncements. US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s brief stopover in India may not after all have been a mere balancing act after his visit to Pakistan. Two days after the visitation, according to India Today, US Ambassador Robert Blackwill “sounded” Mr Jaswant Singh about the alliance blueprint. Then came US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s visit and he publicly spoke of his aim of “strengthening the military-to-military and defence ties between the two countries”. Earlier, Indian Ambassador in Washington Lalit Mansingh had talked about “a convergence of strategic interests between the two countries. And next month there is going to be a meeting of the Indo-US Defence Policy Group.

Does all this add up to “wonderful fiction”? If so, then it is truly extraordinary that the fiction, according to the magazine report, should be taken up by the Cabinet Committee on Security, not once but twice in a matter of days! The CCS is said to have turned down the proposal (which includes “establishment of large US military bases on Indian soil” and “escort by Indian Navy for American supply ships”) but not fully and, worse, not terminally. The use of Delhi airport by US war planes (for picking up American embassy personnel?) and the anchorage the other day of an American warship in Chennai are unmistakable straws in the wind — a wind the direction of which, given the foreign policy predilections of Messrs Vajpayee and Jaswant Singh, should not be difficult to discern.

In the event, the virtually total silence in the country on this explosive report is shocking. Why is it that our political parties, ever-excitable on all manner of events and non-events and their ever-voluble leaders, as well as our media pundits and television “experts” are not concerned about a matter of the utmost national significance with all its dire implications? Why are these practitioners and sentinels of our democracy not asking the relevant questions, or at least demanding a categorical response from the government on the veracity or otherwise of the India Today report?

Writing on the eve of the winter session of Parliament, I may yet be surprised by some of our hon’ble representatives raising the matter in the House. I am, however, prepared to stick my neck out by predicting a “non-discussion” of the by-the-way kind, nothing more — certainly not the kind of debate that the issue calls for. In fact, the entire gamut of our foreign policy requires a serious national debate. While an action here and a reaction there and the (seemingly unending) flip-flops have periodically evoked some comment and fleeting controversies, the predominant thrust of the Vajpayee government’s foreign policy remains largely unnoticed and woefully unquestioned.

This has many reasons of which three stand out. As with all government policies and deeds, discussion and approval or otherwise of the foreign policy is the responsibility principally of the political class. This was indeed so construed by it in the first three decades or so after Independence. The decline in the concern for an independent foreign policy began in the late eighties and became roundly palpable in the nineties with the advent of the West-prescribed globalisation and its ready embrace by the Narasimha Rao government, unmindful or uncaring of its deleterious consequences for the sovereignty of the nation’s foreign (as well as economic) policy decisions.

The NDA government has turned this radical turn into a pirouette — to the accompaniment of music from Washington, discarding all those swatantra and swahbiman slogans of the pre-election BJP. But what about the other parties, particularly the main Opposition whose parents and grandparents had, even in those difficult times, steered the country on the road to freedom of action in foreign policy? The answer clearly lies in the degradation of national concerns and demise of ideology in Indian politics, the emergence of a milieu where national interests have taken a back seat to party and personal interests.

Along with this (permit me the coinage) myopiasation of the political class is the fact of the overall trivilisation of public discourse. Most of our political observers and analysts have, either by design or by default, ceased to see beneath the surface. Superficiality of view leads to superficiality of perception. One sees assorted commentaries on particular actions — for instance, the Foreign Minister’s instant support to the American missile defence plan or, again, the equally instant albeit unsolicited offer of military logistics for American attack on Afghanistan — but it is rare to see any informed attempt to put various pieces together and find out if there is a pattern and what it may portend. In other words, a sad spectacle of missing the wood for the trees.

The third main reason is the new “Go Western” psyche that has seized the Indian middle class, a sort of carpet-bagger culture where only I-and-Me matter, and devil take the hindmost. It is one thing to get worked up and patriotic once in a while (over Kargil, for instance), and vastly different to be aware of and sensitive to the undercurrents in the country’s affairs, to be imbued with a sense of national self-respect and national interests, to have a vision for the future of India and Indian civilisation. Unfortunately, such sentiments and concerns are deserting the middle class, the most energetic and articulate chunk of the population.

Thus we have this spectre looming over India, the spectre of becoming a subaltern nation and, in the light of the India Today report, of further reducing ourselves to the status of a batman to the global generalissimo yonder in Washington. What an irony that we should have resolved to stand tall as a non-aligned nation which does its own thinking and takes its own decisions when we broke the colonial shackles and were altogether poor and weak—and now when we claim to be a major power economically and militarily, we should decide to seek and stick to the apron stringes of the self-proclaimed sole tutelary of the new world order! 
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How to overcome the unending recession
R. N. Malik

DESPITE the media concentration on the war in Afghanistan, the unending recession in India continues to hog the headlines. A recent World Bank report said the last thing on this issue: “The attacks, at a time when the region was already suffering from the sudden end of the technology boom, will slow investment decisions, dampen consumer confidence in export markets, and reduce tourism to East Asia. The recovery is at least six months further off, perhaps nine months. This delay will mean fewer jobs and less household income. The outcome will certainly be bad news for the region’s poor. The past year was already shaping up to be a difficult one for the region with cyclical downturn in the IT sector, hurting a number of countries across the region, pushing some to recession and others below the levels of growth which would maintain employment.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Vajpayee discussed the issue of recession and subdued economic growth (2.7% in July and 1.8% in August, 2001) at five different fora starting with his speech on Independence Day and finally holding discussions with his Economic Advisory Council on September 10. The Prime Minister was at his painful worst when he said, “Today we need independent advice more than ever before because of the economic slowdown that India is going through. These strong indicators of macroeconomic health (low inflation, high forex reserves, rising food stocks), however, cannot hide the deeper systemic maladies in the Indian economy).”

The brainstorming discussions on the issue were finished in just three and a half hours without suggesting anything new. The economists present told the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms that the idea was sound but unsustainable because it would mean higher borrowing and increased deficit financing. The Advisory Council further warned against fund pumping and suggested, “the public spending should only supplement private investment. The public investment must be stepped up to boost demand, but that must be within the government’s means and the fiscal deficit of the Centre and states should not be allowed to expand at any cost.”

RBI Governor Bimal Jalan blunted another important recommendation of reducing the interest rates and said, “the rates are already down and the environment stays positive.” The council remained silent on other issues. The Finance Minister simply said, “Implementation holds the key. The government should lose no time. Reforms such as privatisation and downsizing of the government must be implemented on schedule.”

With this backlash exercise, the 14-point programme of the Prime Minister seems to be dumped and the recession stays and stares at the national economy with dangerous portends. Now I do not think the exercise will be taken up de novo. The Finance Minister and the Commerce Minister are now engaged in confidence-building exercises (CBE). While the Finance Minister put the entire blame on the world-wide downturn and the war in the neighbourhood, the Commerce Minister sounded optimistic notes. At the Economic Editors’ conference on October 17 Mr Murasoli Maran stated, “FDI flows into the country had risen by 33% during the January-August period this year to $ 3.19 billion. Now there are no backward states but only badly managed once.” But such notes are only poor consolation, and recession is ravaging the economy at a runaway speed.

Why are we not constructing more dams to generate free hydro-power? We can generate one lakh MW more in just five years by adopting Dr K.L. Rao’s formula. Admitted that it will require an investment of Rs. 3 lakh crore for a period of five years, still it is worth trying. The government with a political consensus, can definitely raise Rs. 60,000 crore annually through compulsory saving schemes and borrowings from banks. The returns (free power, irrigation water and control of floods) from these projects will be so large that the effect of deficit financing will be wiped out in just three years after the projects are on stream. Likewise why does the government not extend technology-related cooperation to African countries where even tubewell irrigation is unknown?

The problem of industrial recession is going to be aweful during the next two years. There can be eight ways to ward off this problem. 1. Build 300 dams of intermediate height to generate 1 lakh MW of hydro-power during the next five years. 2. Distribute excess foodgrains free among the impoverished people of Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and the Northeast with the condition that each eligible couple will undergo a family planning operation in exchange for a few quintals of foodgrains. 3. Invest and provide technological leadership in African countries, who are still living in the dark ages. 4. Invest in seven northeastern states on dairy development and horticulture projects. 5. Strengthen the banking system rendering it non-vulnerable to scams. 6. Reduce imports of petroleum products by atleast 20 per cent adopting austerity measures. Substitute gas with oil as a source of energy. Gas reserves are in plenty in Bangladesh. Private companies are ready to transport gas from Bangladesh to India, requiring little government investment. 7. Value addition projects to improve the exports of agro-products. 8. Massive use of solar energy for heating purposes.

These measures can help not only successfully fight recession but also make the nation economically stronger.

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Economy: cost of inaction
P. Raman

INDIAN economy is now in its worst crisis since Independence. Except inflation, every other economic indicator signals the impending disaster. Nothing is moving. No one in the industry is sure of what will happen in the coming years. All of finance minister’s pious hopes have gone awry. Yet no one in this government really bothers about spotting the fault lines and remedying the situation. Yashwant Sinha has even ceased to do the routine soothsaying.

More than anything, this reflects the NDA government’s approach to the affairs of the nation. There have been too many portfolio changes. But the Prime Minister does not find it necessary to assign the management of economy to one of top three in the party hierarchy. Instead, the crucial job was given to a relatively new BJP convert with little clout within the party.

Apparently, this reflects the Prime Minister’s low priority to economic management. The parivar assigns crucial role for home and human resources. Both could be used to serve its larger long-term interests. True, Yashwant Sinha has been a compromise choice when the Swadeshi Jagran group objected to giving the job to Jaswant Singh. Now at a time when all routine remedies have had little effect, the first step Vajpayee could take is to hand over the economic management to a more authentic leader. This alone can possibly prevent the steady deterioration of the nation’s economic health.

Each country or economic zone has been evolving its own survival strategy designed to live up to the imperatives of forced competition. Along with this, several pet theories, considered by the home-grown reformers as infallible and thus inviolable, have gone phut. Free imports were considered inevitable and were expected to improve the quality leading to increased production and more investment. Now every one in the industry — even the most ardent advocates of the opening up — talk of a deadly ‘overdose’ of imports and demand rigorous restrictions to protect the domestic producers.

Even the USA has become crabby about the adverse impact on its industries like steel, and has begun resorting to ‘anti-dumping’ measures. When Pranab Mukherjee went to sign the WTO, he did it with flamboyance, and we all had hailed it as a magna carta of free trade. Now Murasoli Maran had to fight aggressively for India’s specific rights. A Finance Minister who enjoys a special status and authority within the ruling party alone can live up to the challenging task of managing the highly complex situation.

The PMO had a parallel setup for economic supervision. But it was scrapped earlier this year as part of a patch-up with the RSS chief. The PM’s economic advisory panel has proved to be more ornamental. Few bother about the enforcement of its recommendations. The most compelling case for having a ‘Sardar Patel’ at the helm of financial management is the need to punish corrupt bureaucrats who run the various revenue arms and discipline the financial institutions which are suppose to undertake the orderly growth of free enterprise.

Top officials of various revenue departments have been caught for their direct involvement in institutionalised frauds. While the case against the customs chief has been dragging on , a senior excise department official has now been caught. The detection was incidental, and not done by the vigilance. These exposed the existence of regular organised swindling of crores of rupees by the senior officials who have nexus with businessmen and politicians through high profile touts. A no-nonsense minister could have sent shock waves among such corrupt elements after the detection of the first case.

What we really need is a POTO-type legislation to punish such swindlers of public funds. No system can work without good governance. Unfortunately, after the NDA came to power, people have been losing trust in every public institution. None of the government actions have restored the confidence of the genuine, small investors in the scam-ridden stock markets and financial institutions like the UTI. As a result primary markets in stocks have almost eclipsed. In the first six months of the current fiscal, only two initial public offerings (IPOs) were made to raise Rs 6 crore capital as against 83 IPOs for Rs 1,807 crore the previous year. In spite of all efforts to make small savings attractive, the small investors remain scared of stocks because they have little faith in the government’s ability to check scams.

Infrastructure in modern times does not mean providing better roads, railways, ports and power alone although slippages in these sectors have been notorious to be recounted. Vajpayee has set very high growth rates. The Finance Minister has made so many promises like tax cuts to the corporates and reduction of bank rates. But in the absence of good governance and bold action, all this has failed to provide the much needed self-confidence. According to an NCAER study, business confidence has reached a new low after the NDA government came to power. Over 80 per cent of the small units have either been shut or are in acute sickness.

Despite so many concessions and attractive packages, foreign investment has been on the decline in the past three years. It is now as low as $ 2.4 billion as against China’s $ 44 billion. Figures just released show that there has been further slippages in the infrastructure growth in October. It is just 1.7 per cent in the first seven months of this fiscal as against 7.4 per cent during the same period last year. Every other indicator shows the story of dismal failures.

It is high time India heeds to the warning signals — the rich’s selfish moves at the WTO meet at Doha to subvert their own globalisation rules, the need to replace the economic orthodoxy by a more practical and nationalistic paradigm and the urgency of disciplining the economic institutions. All this could be done by a man with a mandate and greater authority.
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Guard against breast cancer by losing weight
Jane Clarke

IF you are a woman, examining your breasts should come as naturally as brushing your teeth, although you don't need to do it twice a day. By doing a quick check every time you have a shower or bath, you'll get to know your breasts so well that you'll be able to detect any changes in them as soon as they occur.

Expanding on the cancer charities advice, try to keep your weight within the ideal limits by maintaining a body-mass index (which you can work out by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared) of between 20 and 25. This is especially advisable if you're post-menopausal because obesity increases the amount of andostendione that is converted into oestrogen within the fatty tissues.

Taking regular cardiovascular exercise (such as walking briskly, swimming, running and cycling), ideally for 20 minutes three times a week, will not only keep you trim, but will protect your heart, too. (Far more women die of heart disease than breast cancer.)

And because exercise — however, gentle — is a good stress-reliever, exercising regularly will exert a positive influence over your life, even if research to date hasn't confirmed many people's belief that stress causes cancer.

Although alcohol admittedly does contain beneficial antioxidants, such as resveratrol and anthocyanin, you can build up a sufficiently protective level of them in your body by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables rather than uncorking a bottle of wine.

The word 'antioxidant' is never far away when breast cancer is discussed, and all of the experts, the cancer charities included, advocate ensuring that your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables (particularly green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage). Research papers support my conviction that we should all have at least five portions of fresh or frozen fruits or vegetables every day to enable our bodies to build up a plentiful stock of such antioxidant nutrients as vitamin C, beta carotene and selenium, along with fibre. If you eat a wide selection of the freshest possible produce and keep soaking and cooking times to a minimum, you will maximise your vitamin and mineral intakes and hit all of the recommended antioxidant targets without having to resort to buying expensive supplements.

You may have a vague idea that eating too much fatty meat can cause cancer, but be assured that any connection with breast cancer is unproven, although it has been implicated in causing heart disease. Remember, however, that it's generally healthier to substitute more chicken and fish for red meat and its by-products, such as sausages, patties and meat pies, and replace dairy products like butter and cream, which are packed with saturated fats, with olive and vegetable fats.

If you lean towards a vegetarian-style diet, you'll probably be consuming soya-based products, such as vegetarian sausages, yogurts and milks.

Although some scientists would prefer us not to increase our soya intake lest its hormonal effects cause adverse reactions, the results of research to date have been inconclusive, so it seems perfectly safe to enjoy soya products in moderation.

All in all, being aware of, but not overly obsessive about, both how your body feels and the food that you nourish it with should be the motto for all women — and, indeed, men, who can sometimes fall victim to breast cancer, too. The Observer

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TRENDS AND POINTERS

Diplomats find it hard to settle in London

TRAFFIC jams are a way of life, opening a bank account is a nightmare, and the food and weather can be atrocious.

Life in London can indeed be tough, according to foreign diplomats posted to Britain who were surveyed by the London-based Diplomat magazine.

Still, most said they were happy with their stay, although nearly 90 per cent of the 327 diplomats surveyed were shocked by high prices, and more than 60 per cent found it hard to make friends with locals.

“Making British friends is nearly impossible,” said one. “It is a one-way system where you invite them to visit, they come and then they don’t invite you back.”

One diplomat called Britain a class-ridden society closed to social changes and plagued by snobbery, pedantry and privilege, but another told the magazine: “I will miss the feeling of a genuine free society and the rule of law.”

Although the diplomats enjoy London’s cultural offerings and shopping, more than one in 10 of those surveyed said it was “not easy” or “difficult” to carry out their duties.

More than 4,000 foreign diplomats work in London.

Elizabeth Stewart, the magazine’s editor, said envoys from smaller developing nations had a harder time because they might not be seen as important by the diplomatic community.

Former communist countries such as Belarus or Latvia have had less time to set up diplomatic relations.

“They’re new to the city,” she said. “They’ve only had 10 years of independence, 10 years to set up an embassy and develop a network. “There are pockets of racism, but Londoners are generally very accepting.”

A majority of envoys’ spouses kept busy by taking courses, and 87 per cent were happy in London, Diplomat said.

The survey indicated 85 per cent of diplomats would miss Britain when their posting ended. But almost 80 per cent said they would not regret leaving behind British food. Reuters

Drop Nobel name from economics prize

As preparations to mark the 100th anniversary of the first Nobel prizes head into the final stretch, four members of the Nobel family have called for the name to be dropped from the economics prize.

The four, writing in one of Sweden’s largest circulation newspapers, Svenska Dagbladet, claim the prize is not worthy of the Nobel name. While the awards for peace, literature, medicine, physics and chemistry were all created by the Swedish scholar and inventor Alfred Nobel in his 1895 will and first awarded in 1901, the economics prize was created by the Swedish central bank, the Riksbank, in 1968 in honour of its ter-centenary.

According to the four Nobel family members, the economics prize does not reflect the spirit of Alfred Nobel. “Had Alfred Nobel really wanted such a prize, he would have named it himself in his will. He did not, and, therefore, the Riksbank’s prize should not be considered a Nobel prize”, wrote the four, who are great-grandchildren of Alfred’s brother Ludvig.

Alfred, who never married, has no direct descendants. The prize is officially called “the bank of Sweden prize in economic sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel”, but is commonly referred to by the media and the public as the Nobel economics prize. The four suggested that the prize be re-named the “Riksbank prize”. PTI

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A CENTURY OF NOBELS



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Meditate on the word Aum.

In it lies

the secret of three worlds.

— Dakhni Omkar

* * *

First time spread out,

And from the Word the Universe

flowed out.

Aum, proceeding out of the mouth of God

made unmanifest manifest

and linked it on a single thread.

Then the three gunas distinctly

flowed out. And the attribute less

appeared with attributes.

Having attributes He created all things.

Birth, death and the illusions of the mind.

He remains apart from it all,

infinite and fathomless.

— Bawan Akhree

* * *

Aum is only a formula just like H2O. It simply represents the whole Reality.

Aum is the greatest formula invented by man. It is not written in Sanskrit in the ordinary Sanskrit alphabet; it is a code word.

Man is also exactly as AUM — a miniature universe. If we can decipher man we will be able to decipher the whole of existence. If we can know a single dew drop in its totality we will have known all the oceans.... We will come to know the formula H2O, and that is the secret.

— Osho, Philosophia Ultima

* * *

He himself is the witness of the play

He himself starts

He withdraws His play and then He

the only One remains.

The One without a second,

The One God pervades the universe.

He himself is outside

He himself is inside.

He, the Lord dwells in everything.

The nine treasures of immortality are in God’s Name

He is the soul of everything.

— Sukhmani Sahib

* * *

He knows truth who knows

This God as One

Neither second nor third

Nor fourth is He called;

Neither fifth nor sixth

Nor seventh is He called;

Neither eighth nor ninth

Nor tenth is He called.

He surveys all that breathes

And that breathes not.

He possesses the power supreme.

He is the One,

The One alone.

In Him all Divine powers

Become the One alone.

— Atharva Veda, 13.5.14-21
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