Sunday, March 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Journeying outside the fold for greater understanding
Shelley Walia
o develop a technique of general critical analysis by which we can arrive at our own evolution and judgment of the correlation between various disciplines is to develop insights and aesthetic experience through active participation in the cultural patterns of our society.

Should India be afraid of China?
Satish Kumar Dhanda
n 1971, China contributed US $ 2.78 billion to world trade (exports), which was 0.82 per cent of world trade. Since then, its contribution to world trade has been consistently increasing: US $ 183.59 billion (3.37 per cent) in 1998; and US $ 250 billion (over 4 per cent) in 2001.

War on terror is a gigantic task
Sansar Chandra
an is the loftiest creation of the Almighty. Since he is considered the first among the rest of the living beings, he was endowed with Buddhi — the power of judgement. If he is deprived of this virtue, he will be looked down as a 'Satan'.


Freedom for farmers?
March 2, 2002
Tight squeeze
March 1, 2002
Highlighting growth capacity
February 28, 2002
Mixed fare
February 27, 2002
UP is the loser
February 26, 2002
Crackdown on labour
February 25, 2002
Time to legalise kidney sale to help poor donors
February 24, 2002
Another barbaric act
February 23, 2002
Exaggerated opinion
February 22, 2002
India’s answer to proxy war
February 21, 2002
Omar Sheikh’s bombshell
February 20, 2002
Health system on test
February 19, 2002


Srinagar's construction boom
David Devadas
am often amazed at the impressions that people outside Kashmir have about the economic situation in the state. They cluck their tongues with great emotion and talk of how terribly impoverished the poor, ordinary Kashmiri has become owing to the violent turbulence of the past many years.

Government should foot the bill for IAS officers' parties
S. S. Dhanoa
he circumstances leading to Jharkhand Governor Prabhat Kumar's exit from office need to be examined in greater detail to have a correct perspective on the role of the IAS officers. While occupying the post of the Cabinet Secretary, Mr Kumar has allegedly committed misconduct in a grey area.


Harihar Swarup
She rose above class prejudice
ho has emerged as the tallest leader in the just concluded election to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly? Make a guess! All the top leaders—Atal Behari Vajpayee, L. K. Advani, Sonia Gandhi —have come out smaller in size in the battle at hustings in the most populous state of the Union.


Ayodhya leaders beyond control of the BJP
t is a movement that appears to have boomeranged on the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Ayodhya issue was fine till it brought them to power but the compulsions of coalition government has made the issue an embarrassment. But it is too late. 

  • Exact polls

  • English and bhasha


Humra Quraishi
While Ahmedabad burned, New Delhi was calm
n Thursday night as veteran Paris-based artist Raza was being felicitated here in five star ambience by the French Ambassador to India and by bureaucrat-poet Ashok Vajpeyi, who especially penned verses revolving around Indianness, there in Ahmedabad, people were being pulled apart, killed and hounded.

  • Citizen's bodiesTop


Journeying outside the fold for greater understanding
Shelley Walia

To develop a technique of general critical analysis by which we can arrive at our own evolution and judgment of the correlation between various disciplines is to develop insights and aesthetic experience through active participation in the cultural patterns of our society. The fields of literature, history, science and arts concern themselves with the problem of value, of the life-giving beliefs and ideas made visible and audible through diverse mediums used by men who gave new energy to civilization and expanded our understanding of the world and ourselves. In any event, the artist had a certain, well-defined function in mind which was always determined by his age, patronage and his own personality.

Humanities, let it be clear, is not at the periphery of university education or the scientific world. At the end of the day the computer nerd or the yuppie does unwind in the West End or Broadway enjoying drama, or spends an evening in the company of a book or music. And who says that science is not pertinent to social sciences? The scientific finding that chaotic systems embody deep structures of order is one of such widespread implications that it has attracted interest across a spectrum of disciplines, including the humanities.

For instance, Cézanne saw an inherent movement in all that we see; things are never fixed and change their appearance with change in light. The inconsistency of perception and discernment became unmistakable to him through the familiarity with geometric solids that finally showed the way for the movement of Cubism.

Percussion and piano blending into a tonal texture in which they are remarkably complementary is part of Bartok's music where complicated rhythmic patterns, dissonances, clang of tonal quality reflect the freshness and spontaneity as well as the subtleties of contradictory feelings typical of the 20th century. But this 'uncertainty principle' was formulated not by these artists but by the physicist Werner Heisenberg as a consequence of quantum mechanics, a theory that states that there is always uncertainty in simultaneous measurements of the position of particles. The notion of uncertainty gradually is high jacked by deconstruction and postmodernism that sees all language and representation as floating and unstable, thereby protecting all ideas pertaining to freedom and rejecting any totalitarianism of interpretation or the conservative values of the bourgeoisie.

Hence, the interface between philosophy, history, music, art, science and literature is as old as civilization. The Greeks produced an expressive and eternal art because of a high degree of imagination, of realism and of humanism. The education of the Greek citizen was to facilitate him to see culture as part of living and not superfluous to the demands and anxiety of life. It is a fact that all free men in Athens could play a musical instrument and, when called upon, sing in the chorus of the drama.

Lowering of standards of values in a democratic society poses a danger to its very existence. At no time in history have the humanities been challenged with a greater opportunity to uphold all values which scaffold our world and yet retain dynamism and change so essential to a living culture. Renaissance of the humanities in the liberal arts programme comes invariably through attention to the study of arts for broadening of cultural understanding of the heritage of the past and our awareness of the exigencies of the present. For such developments, this interdisciplinary approach at a level which takes into consideration the non-professional's limited technical knowledge and experience will go a long way to make sure that we are never oblivious of the social forces reflected in the works of art.

In view of this close connection between art and life, it is observable that art engages several aspects of experience relevant to the artist's religious affiliations and the religion of the public, his economic status and that of his audience, his social status and the social status of the public. Add to this personal and social history the geographical location and the prevailing politics of the time, and you have a new training in understanding, hearing and seeing all those vital forces that have a direct bearing on the production of any art form.

The broken sword, the dying horse, and the dead child in Picasso's Guernica all suggest a feeling of alarm that was part of the artist historian's communication and a war-torn world. Instrumental music, on the other hand, rejects such objectivity associated with specific symbols, but nevertheless, even in abstract music rhythmic or melodic patterns are often representations of the emotive state so integral to the time of its making. Valiant, churning strokes and profoundly contrasting colours in Van Gogh's The Starry Night indicate the essential vigour of the artist himself. The rhythmic motives in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony suggest the notion of the knocking of fate at your door. Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People is a self-assured diagonal movement united with the atmosphere of sombre colours against the smoke- filled background intensifying our own feelings about self-determination and struggle.

My purpose here is therefore, to show that as we move through the pages of history, we clearly notice the function of art as the consequence of cultural patterns and trends in religion, economics and other important areas of human activity. It is unquestionably problematical to make a distinction between thought and feeling, and I am certain that an amalgamation of words and music, colour and movement can broaden human experience in a way that words alone and unaided cannot do.

Ruskin rightly said: "Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their arts. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last." For understanding Auden's poetry, the familiarity with Jazz and its rhythms made not only reading aloud an exhilarating experience, but also threw light on the history of the African's alienation with his inexperienced surroundings in America expressed so well through 'barrel music' with its jarring tones emanating from rusted and badly tuned pianos. If I had to say which was telling the truth about the early 20th century racism and feeling of homelessness, a speech by a political Black leader or Black music, I should believe in the latter. A thorough knowledge of their music or art offers pointers to their intellectual and social life.

And though much is in common with their contemporaries, all such artists have left a stamp of their personality on their art as well as their age. This obvious interaction between cause and effect is so visible in Leonardo da Vinci, who transformed Renaissance into an enormous artistic age, and in turn humanism was what made him illustrious; Richard Wagner too exemplifies German nationalism through the opera, but at the same time he was carried forward on the escalating passion of nationalism.

These are some ways of critical appreciation of art or music, a schooling that allows us to project our minds into experiencing art and the period of its creation. Such agile flexibility permits us to explicate what we see and hear in terms of the larger forces and monuments of any civilization. Only when we get to this intimacy with art, can we become a part of the artist's experience. And such aesthetic experience can be cultivated by study and training, by coming out of strict compartmentalization of disciplines and moving to intertextual experiences. Our education is incomplete without such an implementation.


Should India be afraid of China?
Satish Kumar Dhanda

In 1971, China contributed US $ 2.78 billion to world trade (exports), which was 0.82 per cent of world trade. Since then, its contribution to world trade has been consistently increasing: US $ 183.59 billion (3.37 per cent) in 1998; and US $ 250 billion (over 4 per cent) in 2001. India's contribution in 1971 was US $ 2.04 billion (0.60 per cent of world trade) and US $ 33.44 billion in 1998. In 2001, we achieved exports of US $ 44.5 billion (0.70 of world trade). The export figures between India and China show a big difference in 2001 though it was marginal in 1971.

The key factors influencing world trade are: External trade and foreign investment; relocation of global manufacturing basis; and rapid technological developments.

External trade & foreign investment: Capital flows in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI's) and foreign invested enterprises (FIE's). Cross border acquisitions and mergers constituted a major percentage of FDI flows. FDI flow to developing countries increased by six fold from 1990 to 1998. During 1995-98, FDI flow increased to US $ 1886 billion. Of this, China alone attracted US $ 164 billion while India's share was only US $ 11 billion. The impact of FDI to a host country's economy is widely recognised. The foreign-funded firms contributed to nearly 45 per cent of China's export during 1999. (Source: World Bank Debtor Reporting System and World Development Indicators).

Relocation of global manufacturing basis: Large-scale shift in global manufacturing basis to Asian countries has occurred through the 1990's, with factor costs, especially wages increased in developed countries. The other factor which determined the choice of shifting was the labour laws and work related rules and regulations. China which was associated with rigid labour laws and other economy related rules and regulations came out with a concept of special export zones which are a foreign enclave in the country where no labour laws and other economy related rules are made applicable. In fact, China soon realised that it may not be possible to change labour laws and other economy related rules in the country so soon. However, having realised their importance for attracting FDI and to the growth of their economy, it accepted the idea of creating these foreign enclaves such as Shenzen and attracted foreign capital and technology. That is the reason why approximately 45 per cent of China's exports come from such zones.

Rapid technological developments: Rapid technological developments have led to a steep decline in transportation and telecommunication costs. These in turn have vastly reduced the impact of physical distance for global commerce. Though China had a distinct disadvantage of the lack of knowledge of English, it has come out with Chinese as computer compatible language. It has declared that Chinese will be the world's No.1 computer language in 2007. The flow of FDI capital has also brought with it the technology from the West including the USA. The cultural ties with Taiwan have helped China to a great extent in achieving access to technology and export.

China has achieved the number one position in world trade in regard to toys and stuffed toys. China has captured in 1999 business to the tune of US $ 52 billion out of global US $ 300 billion in textile and clothing. China has achieved more than US $ 20 billion in world trade of US $ 850 billion in electronics and computers in 1999-2000 (this does not include export via Hong Kong as no reliable statistics are available). China's next target is gem and jewellery which is low cost capital but highly labour oriented industry of approximately US $ 40 billion. China is equally exploring organic and inorganic chemicals which has a world trade of US $ 574 billion last year.

Destination wise analysis will show that in the USA's import of top 100 items, China figures among top exporters in respect of 61 items while India appears in only 15 items. Similar is the position in regard to the European Union. In the top 100 items of import by Japan, China appears at 76 items.

China has foreign reserves of more than US $ 250 billion but the share of FDI's in it is a question mark.

Should India be afraid of China or should prepare for competing with China in international trade. This writer is of the opinion that where we cannot compete we should co-operate with China and bring some success to our industry by importing semi finished products both for domestic and international trade. India should learn lesson from the next door neighbour and modify its economic policies, including the Exim policy with the sole motive of converting human factor from liability to an asset.

The writer is Member, Board of Trade, Union Ministry of Commerce


War on terror is a gigantic task
Sansar Chandra

Man is the loftiest creation of the Almighty. Since he is considered the first among the rest of the living beings, he was endowed with Buddhi — the power of judgement. If he is deprived of this virtue, he will be looked down as a 'Satan'.

Unfortunately, there is no dearth of such satans these days. Their cult is spreading like wildfire. The religious zealots who generally pull the wires from behind pick up raw youth, brainwash them with false hopes of a heavenly life after death and tempt them to indulge in terrorist activities only to serve their vested interests.

The terrorist groups are so well organised that they don't believe in soft options anymore. The attacks on the USA's World Trade Centre on September 11, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on October 1, the Indian Parliament on December 13 and Kolkata's American Center recently prove the terrorists' meticulous planning and wide network. These attacks also prove that no corner in this universe is impregnable, risk free and beyond the reach of terrorists. Terrorism has not sprung up suddenly. It has been spreading its tentacles for the last many decades.

India is one such example that has bore the brunt of terrorism over the last two decades. It has been at the receiving end and bleeding profusely. For the first time, however, there is a sea change in the US policy on terrorism. It augurs well that the superpower has mobilised all the peace-loving nations on a common platform against terrorism to save the humanity. The Taliban regime that preached, practised and spread terrorism has been wiped out and a full-fledged coalition of peace-loving nations is up in the arms to crush terrorism.

Waging a successful war against terrorism is a gigantic task. If the USA and its allies continue to combat it with sincerity and earnestness, peace will not be a mirage. The most serious menace that lies at its root are religious schools called madrassas. So long they exist, terrorism cannot be rooted out. The madrassas should be replaced by secular schools aimed at making our youngsters good citizens. How can one accept the philosophy of madrassas that non-Muslims are infidels when caste or creed has nothing to do with infidelity?

The madrassas are producing jehadis. A jehadi is said to be an ascetic, tapaswi or perhezgar. He should be totally non-violent and follow the path of Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi. But ironically the present-day jehadi has turned into a militant. Fidayeens are another class that come out of these madrassas. A fidayeen is just a pawn in the hands of bigots. Being indoctrinated, he has no will of his own. He is just like a rubber stamp in the hands of his masters who play with his life and use him as a sacrificial goat at will. There is an urgent need to open secular schools who could teach these misguided people that suicide is a serious crime. It is anti-God and anti-religion.

Despite General Musharraf's loud proclamations to the contrary, cross-border terrorism is likely to continue in the coming weeks. It is time the USA and its coalition talked to him with force. General Musharraf should understand that charity begins at home. His home should be clean. He should also be told to shed off his Kashmir phobia. Let the issue be decided on merit.


Srinagar's construction boom
David Devadas

I am often amazed at the impressions that people outside Kashmir have about the economic situation in the state. They cluck their tongues with great emotion and talk of how terribly impoverished the poor, ordinary Kashmiri has become owing to the violent turbulence of the past many years. It is true; of course, that Kashmiris have gone through hell but it is not true that, by and large, they have suffered economically. Indeed, many sympathisers might be pleasantly surprised to know that there has been a construction boom in Srinagar through the past few years. Ironically, it began just about the time violence began to erupt — and has only burgeoned over the past four or five years, when property and constructions businesses in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities slumped abysmally.

Gowhar Ahmed Wafai, an architect in Srinagar, dates the beginning of the construction boom to 1988. He attributes it to a wave of people moving out of congested downtown — the word locals use to describe Srinagar's older portions. Many of its buildings are dilapidated but are packed so close that it is difficult to redevelop them. Many of the buildings in these areas that have been rebuilt have, unfortunately, become concrete blocks in place of the marvellous stone and wood edifices with intricately carved windows and balconies.

In any case, the only reason to reconstruct in downtown areas is to remain close to relatives and old neighbours. Most people prefer the gardens, parking spaces and shopping malls that Srinagar's newer colonies have access to.

The city has grown in almost every direction, far beyond the bypass highway that skirts the city. In the direction of the airport to the south-west are some of the poshest new areas like Hyderpora and Rawalpora. Among those who have built plush houses there are some Hurriyat Conference leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani — although Mr Geelani's house is part of the office of the Jamaat, which he heads.

East of those colonies, there are some palatial mansions right beside the highway — such as the house of former Union Home Minister Mufti Sayeed. To the north too, the city has grown in the Zakura and Baspora areas, perhaps 10 kilometres beyond what used to be the city's limits not very long ago. Some of the more affluent, like advocate-politician Muzaffar Beigh, are even building large mansions to the east of the Dal, on the slopes between the Nishat gardens and Chashma-Shahi, the spring of kings.

It isn't just in size that the city has grown. People are focussed as much on what goes into their houses as on where they are located. Wafai says that, over the past couple of years, many have taken to installing piped central heating, jacuzzis and khatam-bandi, Kashmir's traditional wooden ceilings with geometric designs. There are many takers for readymade kitchens too, in the latest western styles — imported wood on cupboards and Italian tiles on counters. A retired chief engineer has set up a thriving business installing turnkey kitchens for anything from Rs 40,000 to several lakhs.

For exteriors, people more often demand the perfect uniformity of mechanised bricks, though these cost four times as much as ordinary bricks and take as much longer to set. Of course, some prefer Kota stone or marble. Parquet flooring is also in fashion, in at least some portions of a new mansion. Then, on their roofs, many Kashmiris are asking for Mangalorean or Allahabadi tiles instead of local ones.

Kashmir has built up a tendency over the past few decades of rapid growth for showmanship, a desire to stay ahead of the Joneses. So, even though several recent constructions have come up one room at a time, depending on the availability of funds, their builders have tried not to compromise on the latest fashions. Of course, those with a hand in the export of carpets, fruit, dry fruit and other goods, and many politicians, have been able to spend on all these fancy facilities in one go.

Compared with Jaffna, Ramallah and other such cities, for Srinagar, these many years of insurgency and violence have been somewhat different. Its people may have suffered grave violations and great bloodshed, but the city has mushroomed. While large portions of those other cities lie ravaged, often razed to the ground but for some rubble, Srinagar is not only growing but is doing so with panache.Top


Government should foot the bill for IAS officers' parties
S. S. Dhanoa

Illustration by  Sandeep JoshiThe circumstances leading to Jharkhand Governor Prabhat Kumar's exit from office need to be examined in greater detail to have a correct perspective on the role of the IAS officers. While occupying the post of the Cabinet Secretary, Mr Kumar has allegedly committed misconduct in a grey area.

Extension of hospitality in certain positions is a part of the job content of IAS officers. The positions which demand an officer's ability to make friends and influence other important persons require social interaction on certain occasions or parties hosted by the officials concerned. It is well known in the field of diplomacy that many a point for the country get scored when scotch and bourbons slake the thirst of the targeted diplomats or others. This is regarded as an accepted truth in the civil services.

I had a peculiar experience when I was SDM, Deogarh (undivided Bihar and now Jharkhand). In a wireless message, the Deputy Commissioner asked me to arrange lunch (European style) for Chief Minister S.K. Sinha and his party (20 persons). Arrangements were no problem because of Deogarh's importance as a tourist and pilgrimage centre. The only problem was who would foot the bill for the lunch. With a salary of Rs 450, I could not afford to meet the cost. I sought the DC's advice. Though stunned initially at my query on the bill, he sent his Nazir to Deogarh to come to my rescue. The lunch was a success and the Chief Minister and his party returned happily.

I did not face similar predicament during my field placements for about nine years as the visiting officers either carried their food or were provided food by the rest house caretakers at reasonable rates. Many senior officers of other departments and ministers got looked after by their local subordinate officers. Despite knowing the Nazir's importance in such matters, it was considered infra-dig for a direct recruit Bihar IAS officer to permit him to be anywhere near the household or to host personal parties of the Deputy Commissioner. This handicap made our show in reciprocal hospitality vis-a-vis UP officers as a meal from the poor cousins.

I took over as Shahabad Collector in 1959. It was a border district. Our north western boundary with UP was the midstream of the river Ganga. The Ganga splits into a number of streams after turning to east from Buxor. In 1959-60, the river cut into a sizeable chunk of UP. We had a few meetings at the Commissioner level alternately in Bihar and UP. The UP hospitality always turned out to be far more lavish as it was customary here to ask a local zamindar to host lunch or dinner on behalf of the Commissioner or the Collector. Often it was the Babu Sahebs of Narhi. Such a practice was frowned upon in Bihar. In Bihar, till seventies, no drinks were served in the official parties. Even in private parties of officials, serving of alcohol, more often only beer, was an exception.

When I moved to Punjab as Chief Secretary in 1984, I found that the standards of official's hospitality were more or less like UP but instead of the zamindars, the Punjab officers had a milch cow in the shape of Red Cross funds officially collected for charitable purposes. A small percentage of it was spent on official parties, which was considered to be permissible. Still I knew that many tehsildars, SHOs and others had to foot the bill for the officers' hospitality in Punjab, which was substantial, costwise. They continue to do so.

One expected the government to lay down some guidelines in the Civil Services Conduct Rules in this regard. The conduct rules lay down a general percept that every officer shall at all times maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty and shall do nothing which is unbecoming an officer and he/she shall take all steps to ensure the integrity of, and devotion to duty by all his/her subordinate officers.

The conduct rules lay down some guidelines about accepting hospitality from those who stand to benefit from the decision taken by an officer in his official capacity. In case of foreign missions and diplomats, the rules require prior clearance from the government or at least the hospitality could be accepted with prior intimation to the government. The conduct rules have tried to regulate various contingencies where an officer may take advantage of his official position and influence. However, a large grey area is left uncovered in the matter of hospitality by officers who, by virtue of their official position, have to extend hospitality to other officials or public men visiting them. Many state governments have identified positions where officers are obliged to play host in their official capacity. They have sanctioned some fixed monthly entertainment allowance for such officials. It is now common practice all over the country to declare the visiting Central Government officers of the rank of Additional Secretary and above as state guests. This enables the state government officials concerned to claim reimbursement for the hospitality extended to them. Special authorisation is often given for extending hospitality to various teams of officers. However, the decisions and orders in this regard are ad hoc and the subject has not received the attention it deserves.

I was in Mussoorie in 1970 teaching ethics in civil services to probationers. We got an innovative ICS officers as our director. One anomaly he noted in the institution was that one director and only two or three directing staff from the civil services, were doing the performance appraisal of some 300 to 400 officers. As this was highly unsatisfactory and ridiculous, he introduced the counsellor system in which about 20 academic staff were involved in the exercise in addition to the directing staff. For the appraisal of young officers, social interaction was necessary. He got a suitable entertainment reimbursement scheme sanctioned to enable the counsellors to offer light refreshment to the probationers during such interaction.

One director encouraged IAS probationers to do exercises like cross country hiking, rock climbing etc. The first long hike of 2-3 days was to end at a campfire in a forest bungalow. The Director joined the groups of hikers. He ordered the mess to serve liquor in the campfire dinner. A mean-minded puritanical colleague got a compliant sent against the Director to Indira Gandhi who thought that the director's action was repugnant to the morals of the impressionable probationers. The Secretary (Personnel) Government of India, who came for enquiry, was understanding and helpful, but all the same Indira Gandhi did not appoint the director as a Union Secretary when he completed his tenure at Mussoorie.

I returned from Mussoorie to Delhi as general manager of Super Bazaar. The Super Bazaar had been incurring losses right from 1966. In 1971, the cumulative losses came to about a crore of rupees. With public goodwill and a bit of luck, we were able to turn it around, within the first year. The ministry concerned in the Central Government desired that the success should be in the media. I decided to convene a press conference in a three-star hotel followed by lunch in which liquor was served. Later, on the strength of a post-dated order passed by Morarji Desai, it was held that in serving liquor I had violated a government order and the bill for the press conference was recovered from my salary after I was repatriated to Bihar, my parent state.

The nexus between extending hospitality at the cost of others and corruption is obvious but generally the subject has been pushed under the carpet. It will be appropriate for the government to identify positions where official duties required extension of hospitality. In all such positions, there should be a provision for reimbursement of the expenditure incurred or for an entertainment allowance. It was Mr Jagmohan, who, as the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, set an example by carrying his own meals on tours. He firmly discouraged any show of hospitality for him by local officers. This example needs to be emulated by all senior officials and public men.

The writer is a former Chief Secretary, Punjab.Top


She rose above class prejudice
Harihar Swarup

Who has emerged as the tallest leader in the just concluded election to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly? Make a guess! All the top leaders—Atal Behari Vajpayee, L. K. Advani, Sonia Gandhi —have come out smaller in size in the battle at hustings in the most populous state of the Union. It is the remarkable performance of Mayawati that has put her on the top. She has successfully garnered upper caste votes without loosing her hold on Dalits and, at the same time, returning 15 Muslim candidates on her party's symbol. Of 98 seats, she captured 32 belonging to upper caste as compared to 23 successful Dalits nominees. The tally of backward caste MLAs is just one more-24.

Why was it possible for Mayawati to effectively reach out to upper caste votes while leaders of mainstream parties projected themselves as above caste appeal? In sharp contrast to "Tilak, Taraju, Talwar, en ko maro jutte char", she coined this catchy slogan: "Haati (her party's symbol) nahi, Ganesh hai, Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh hai". Secondly, while leaders of other parties were relying on Bollywood stars for drawing crowds, she steadfastly toured village after village, month after month in the sprawling state enabling her to sustain her Dalit vote bank and make inroads in upper caste electorate. Though upper caste MLAs were in forefront of the BSP split it 1997, she rose above her class prejudice and reposed her trust in Brahmins and Thakurs by nominating them as her party's poll candidates. The change in the strategy paid her handsomely; she succeeded in widening her base and erasing, although marginally, the stigma of a diehard Dalit leader.

When Mayawati became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in June 1995, the then Prime Minister, Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao, described the event as a "miracle of democracy". This was for the first time that a Dalit and a woman had become the chief executive of the most populous and politically sensitive state of the Union. But Delhi-centric opinion makers ridiculed Mr Rao's remarks as cynical. Her hostility towards upper caste, little respect for ideologies, conventions, niceties or decency and uncouth manners drew scorn. Her hostility towards upper caste was attributed to hard knocks of life in young age when she was a student. The scorn of higher caste students during her college days might have turned her into a rebel and a fighter. Having graduated from the Delhi University, she qualified for a Law degree and later did B. Ed from the Meerut University.

Mayawati's debut in Parliament was not without disappointment. She had lost two bye elections to the Lok Sabha from Bijnor (1985) and Hardwar (1987) and any one else in her place would have given up. But she was tenacious enough to contest for the third time from Bijnor and entered the Lok Sabha in 1988. She was new to Parliament and was not conversant with rules and regulations. What impressed her was the practice of some Opposition members to rush to the well of the House when the issues raised by them were disallowed by the Speaker and often "gherao" the Speaker's podium. Even at the slightest provocation she would rush to the Speaker's podium and would not listen to any reasoning. Nevertheless she was quite inquisitive about parliamentary practices and keen to learn. Instead of giving her an opportunity to know the rules, she became an object of ridicule. Certain women members belonging to princely houses did not like a sweating Mayawati and requested a senior M.P. to advice the BSP member to use perfume.

Her meeting with Kanshi Ram changed the course of her life. It was in 1984—the year of Indira Gandhi's assassination that Mayawati met, for the first time, her future mentor. She was teaching in one of Delhi administration-run primary school. Perhaps, her aggressiveness impressed the little known Kanshi Ram then and both developed an instantaneous rapport. Gradually Kanshi Ram came close to her family. Mayawati's house in the J.J. Colony — a lower middle class complex—in Inderpuri area of Delhi was for years decorated with two huge framed pictures of Kanshi Ram.

Apparently, Mayawati's 67-year old father, Prabhu Dayal, did not believe in family planning. He produced three daughter and six sons and Mayawati is the second child. All her brothers and sisters are happily married and settled. Like her mentor, she also decided to remain unmarried. Times have vastly changed since then. Mayawati has emerged as a powerful new generation leader with her own support base. 


Ayodhya leaders beyond control of the BJP

It is a movement that appears to have boomeranged on the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Ayodhya issue was fine till it brought them to power but the compulsions of coalition government has made the issue an embarrassment. But it is too late. The second rung of leadership involved in the Ram temple movement are frustrated by the status quo position adopted by the ruling party and are now raring for some action. The Budget session of Parliament was an eye-opener on the state of affairs in the Sangh Parivar.

Former Bajrang Dal chief and now Lok Sabha’s BJP MP from Faizabad Vinay Katiyar for once showed in the Lok Sabha on the Budget day that nothing could discipline him as he squatted in the well of the House defying his party and his leaders including Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani and Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi. When Advani and Joshi, who once led the Ram temple movement from the front, went to Katiyar with folded hands and urged him to resume his seat so that Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha could start his Budget speech, he shortchanged them by saying that you had come to power in the name of Lord Ram but now you are giving your electors “Ravan Raj”. One person, who did not even bother to approach Katiyar was none other than Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Uma Bharti popularly known as Saffron Sanyasin.

Following the clash over the deployment of the Army, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is a harried man. Late on that night he cancelled his Australia trip, obviously anticipating opposition parties’ political googlies aimed at his government. Precisely this is what happened. The next evening, a Congress delegation led by Sonia Gandhi called on Vajpayee. Among other things, Sonia demanded immediate deployment of the Army in Gujarat. Vajpayee’s counter to this was that most of the troops were deployed on the borders but nonetheless he intended to deploy the Army. The Prime Minister explained to Sonia that since no troops were available in Gujarat, the troops would be called from Jodhpur (Rajasthan) which would take time. Vajpayee suggested to Sonia that since this was a sensitive issue, it should not be discussed in public. But Sonia and company ignored the suggestion and went ahead with their campaign of pinning down the government on the issue of delay in army deployment in Gujarat. Obviously, Vajpayee is hurt and angry.

Incidentally, Sonia herself was angry though for a different reason. Talking to reporters outside Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 1 after she and other opposition leaders met President K.R. Narayananan, Sonia and her opposition colleagues had to face a volley of uncomfortable questions. Reporters asked Sonia why she did not make a demand for deployment of army in Gujarat on February 27 itself and why the Congress and other opposition parties went on an overdrive over Godhra only after the backlash started and members of the minority community were being attacked. To this an angry Sonia remarked in Hindi: “Jhooth, bilkul jhooth hai” (False, absolutely false). It was one of those rare occasions when members of the fourth estate took a strident stand against politicians and pointed out the chinks in their armour.

Exact polls

The state-controlled Doordarshan makes news for all the wrong reasons. But this time even the Opposition parties were quoting it. The exit polls of Doordarshan on the just concluded Assembly polls was the closest to the final tally. On the other hand most private television channels were off the mark. Doordarshan’s accuracy cost BJP its position of eminence in Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. As if rubbing salt on the wound, a scribe recently congratulated senior BJP leader and Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj by saying “the DD’s exit poll on Uttar Pradesh polls was the closest one, while all other channels went totally wrong.”

The Minister took some time to react to this obviously left handed compliment but regained her composure soon. “I am happy that Doordarshan did a good job, but I am upset because BJP’s performance was not upto our expectations,” she explained candidly.

English and bhasha

If the International Festival of Indian Literature provided an unusual opportunity of literary exchange between writers of the diaspora, it seemed to make little headway on the question of English writers versus Bhasha authors. Almost provoking the ‘bhasha’ writers on the panel, Khushwant Singh in his ususal witty way declared that the English writers would continue to be widely read and earn more loyalities. “We (English writers) are a pampered lot... While they have generally read us, we have not read them.” he said. U.R.Ananthamurthy was quick to point out that while he owed a great deal to English, it was not superior to any of the Indian languages.

Writers in Indian languages, he said, were not necessarily looking for international readership. “To have international readership is not necessary,” said the Kannada writer who has been chief of the Sahitya Akademi. His objection to lecturing, Ananthamurhty pointed out, was mainly directed against writers in the West. “You are one of us. We can even quarrel with you,” he told Khushwant Singh to cheers from the audience.

Contributed by Satish Misra, Rajeev Sharma,S. Satyanarayanan, Prashant Sood and Gaurav Choudhury.


While Ahmedabad burned, New Delhi was calm
Humra Quraishi

On Thursday night as veteran Paris-based artist Raza was being felicitated here in five star ambience by the French Ambassador to India and by bureaucrat-poet Ashok Vajpeyi, who especially penned verses revolving around Indianness, there in Ahmedabad, people were being pulled apart, killed and hounded.

Thankfully, that trend didn’t pick up here, although the whole of Friday there had been rumours of small incidents having erupted in sensitive areas. But the fact is that New Delhi remained rather calm. Why? Because the administration wanted it that way. However, that wasn’t the case in Gujarat, so the whole city with its pockets housing minorities were allowed to get burnt and looted. Even before the facts could be gathered about those responsible for actually charring to death the kar sevaks (I mean those culprits who committed that heinous crime of putting entire bogies on fire could have been mercenaries, notorious characters or anti-social elements), an entire Muslim group was allowed to be killed, under the watchful, half-closed eyes of the Centre. Human right activists who tried to get in touch with some of the Central Ministers of this government were disappointed as none was available. As one of these activists commented: “What faith can one have even in Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, what with each verse of one of his poems ending with this particular line ‘garv se kaho hum Hindu hain.’ (say with pride that I am a Hindu). Couldn’t he have substituted the word Hindu with Hindustani, for no other reason but as Prime Minister of a secular democratic Republic, he should focus on India and Indianness. But none of these politicians seem to bother about Indianness. In fact, if the Centre was so bothered about curbing communalism as its ministers so often proclaim, then along with banning SIMI it ought to have banned Bajrang Dal and VHP. But it chose not to. In fact even when fingers pointed at one particular Bajrang Dal activist for having charred to death Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, Home minister L K Advani seemed to have hurriedly given a clean chit to Bajrang Dal — this even before a the report on that incident could be filed. When you have biased leadership then what can be expected? And to worsen the scenario the civil servants have become their servants. If the leadership and the administration desire, then riots can be controlled. Take the case of the adjoining town of Aligarh, where yesterday the local administration blocked the screening of all news channels, for the simple reason that since Aligarh is a Muslim dominated town and visuals of Muslims being charred to death in Ahmedabad could have hyped emotions. I think the administration did an excellent job of foreseeing disaster and putting a stop to it. Why couldn’t similar measures be taken in other sensitive cities? In fact , here in New Delhi many are comparing this present carnage to the ’84 carnage where Sikhs were targeted since the administration wanted them to be so brutally hounded . Yes, it was one of the most tormenting moments one has ever witnessed.

Only when the administration sheds its bias can the situation be retrieved. But if they do so they should be ready to pay a price . Ask NC Saksena, the UP cadre bureaucrat who in his reports had more than clearly mentioned the communal role of the police in trying to control rioting , and for that honest reportage this government refused to make him Cabinet Secretary. But Saksena had just about wryly smiled and said : “It doesn’t bother me was expected ...” A pity civil servants of that grit are nowhere to be seen.

Citizen's bodies

The only hope of this country -seculars-are working out on a protest march to show their disgust at the happenings in Ahmedabad and till the time of my filing this column this march will be held at Gujarat Bhavan on Saturday noon. But from previous visits to this Bhavan (when other calamites like the earthquake and previous incidents of rioting had taken place in this state ) I can only comment that it is manned by the most insensitive staff (I suppose let’s not blame them, for the staff reflects the leadership flourishing in the state) but there seems little choice but to once again interact with them. In fact as sociologist Imtiaz Ahmad and activist Rajan Prasad commented that it is time that seculars of this country get together and protest about the ghastly happenings all around ....

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