Friday, March 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Crores down defence drain
t seems that defence corruption is the stink of the season. And it rises all the way to the high heavens. Had the allegations been made by some investigative reporters, the powers that be would have certainly called these character assassination, irresponsible journalism and trial by the media. 

Congress wins hands up!
t is just as well that the national media did not take too much interest in the Municipal Corporation elections in Delhi. So there were no pre-poll surveys. The beat reporters for a change did most of the coverage. 


What ails Indian universities?
Wanted: a premium on integrity & commitment
hither Indian universities? This question has been raised repeatedly by prominent academicians and scholars. Experts have often dwelt at length on the sickening state of affairs at the institutions of higher learning.





Good people, difficult people and wimps
V. K. Kapoor
n life one comes across three types of people — good people, difficult people and wimps. Each of them has an aura, a vibration an atmosphere which is characteristic and unmistakable. All three categories flower in activity. They range from truly malignant to heedless and goofy.


Cut the cord that ties India to Commonwealth
M.S.N. Menon
can only laugh at the idea of a multi-racial (British) Commonwealth when both the Scots and the Welsh are desperately trying to cut the cord that ties them to the English people.


POTO debate and Mr Vajpayee’s ‘moment of reckoning’
Tavleen Singh
here is nothing like a debate in Parliament to assess a government's standing so despite many moments of tedium and many moments of irritation I watched the POTO debate virtually from start to finish. Starting with the Home Minister being heckled as he stood up to set this "historic session" in motion. 




Crores down defence drain

It seems that defence corruption is the stink of the season. And it rises all the way to the high heavens. Had the allegations been made by some investigative reporters, the powers that be would have certainly called these character assassination, irresponsible journalism and trial by the media. But since the author is none other than the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, this stratagem can hardly work. All hell had broken loose following the publication of an earlier report in December which made "coffingate" a household word, much to the discomfiture of Defence Minister George Fernandes. It is another matter that hardly any head rolled. Now comes another report which points out equally grave irregularities and wasteful expenditure in defence purchases during the 1999 Kargil conflict. It shows that "unnecessary procurement" was rampant due to which crores of rupees were wasted. The report says that the Navy imported 104 anti-aircraft missiles at the cost of Rs 24.77 crore ($5.72 million) from Russia, projecting that these were required for the Kargil operations. This was despite the fact that the Navy already had more than 300 anti-aircraft missiles in its stock. Not only that, the order was placed on a single tender basis, even though alternative sources existed. Similarly, the Indian Air Force imported 34,000 explosive cartridges despite the availability of sufficient stock and significantly low trend of consumption. The report reveals that the imported items were costlier than those manufactured by domestic ordnance factories by Rs 50.82 lakh. Many other such grave lapses have also been pointed out.

Ironically, all this happened while the Indian troops were not even properly clothed to fight the elements and the enemy during the freezing cold of Kargil. Those responsible for the wasteful expenditure committed a crime not only against the country but also against every jawan who had put his life on line for the sake of the country. It is common knowledge that the uniformed forces are not in the best of trim for want of resources. It would not be far-fetched to suspect that someone somewhere is making a private pile at the cost of the nation. Defence purchases have been kept behind the veils for too long citing security reasons. But this secrecy has spawned a nasty underground. This network is manned by certain devils masquerading as sacred cows. Since these are dangerous bulls in reality, it is necessary to take them by the horns. 


Congress wins hands up!

It is just as well that the national media did not take too much interest in the Municipal Corporation elections in Delhi. So there were no pre-poll surveys. The beat reporters for a change did most of the coverage. Now that the results are out, and the Congress has virtually trounced the Bharatiya Janata Party, the beat reporters role in reading the outcome fairly accurately deserves to be acknowledged. The verdict, of course, is already being interpreted differently by the BJP and the Congress. The BJP had said that the MCD poll would be a referendum on the functioning of the Congress government in Delhi. They are now saying that the victory was due to massive rigging. It is this myopic approach in the matter of accepting defeat that saw the Congress virtually walk into political oblivion. Unless the BJP leadership does a spot of honest introspection, instead of finding untenable excuses, it may not be able to regain the ground it has already lost wherever elections were held in recent months. Of course, there are those who would not like to compare the MCD poll with the assembly elections in Punjab, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur. The fact remains that the MCD is not like another civic body in the country. Look at the size. It is much bigger than some of the assemblies of the smaller states. Besides, it serves and services a territory that is the seat of two governments.

So, if the BJP's original theory of the MCD poll being a referendum is accepted as correct, several conclusions can be drawn from it. One, that Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit has reinvented the Congress into a well-oiled unit. The same cannot be said about the BJP. The "trimurti" represented by Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra, a former Chief Executive Councillor, Mr Madan Lal Khurana and Mr Sahib Singh Verma, both former Chief Ministers, is primarily responsible for the poor showing of the BJP in the civic body elections. There is no love lost between the three and that has had a negative impact on the ordinary BJP workers. However, there are those who see in the thumping Congress victory the rejection of the communal politics of the BJP. The elections have been held at a time when the fire of communal hatred is still raging in pockets of Gujarat. A polarised vote would have helped the BJP sweep the poll. Instead, the party got routed. Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha's harsh, anti-salaried and middle class Budget too is being blamed for the BJP's debacle. However, the basic reason why the BJP has virtually been kicked out, not shown the door, has something to do with the deterioration in the quality of civic services. Of course, the civic management of Delhi is not an easy task. The metropolis needs not two, counting the NDMC, but several civic bodies for addressing the civic needs of their respective territories. 


What ails Indian universities?
Wanted: a premium on integrity & commitment 

Whither Indian universities? This question has been raised repeatedly by prominent academicians and scholars. Experts have often dwelt at length on the sickening state of affairs at the institutions of higher learning. The University Grants Commission (UGC) and a number of commissions and committees have gone into the working of universities. They have identified the ills these institutions suffer from and have suggested changes to tone up the system. However, in tune with our national character, most crucial recommendations remain on paper.

One sad feature of the educational system is that it has not shown the requisite dynamism and adaptivity to the changing needs and priorities in society. That is the reason why students feel — and rightly so — that they lack opportunities to advance individually. Mounting unemployment is a nightmare for a majority of the educated youth. More and more students opt for academic courses because the vocational courses are not well organised.

Most vocational courses are seen as inferior and expensive. Then, unemployment prevails even among those who have completed such courses. Therefore, there is an urgent need for making these courses more purposeful, result-oriented and rewarding.

However, the point which must not be lost sight of is that the demand for skills arises only when the economy is steady and on the upswing. This is hardly the case today. So, what is the wayout? The system requires a hard integrated look with the sole objective of raising the academic standards and making our universities globally competitive.

The real challenge lies in making education socially relevant. Looking at the ground realities on the campus, nothing short of radical reforms at all levels of functioning, including the composition of the Senate and the Syndicate, can work. The recent disturbing developments at Punjabi University, Patiala, are a clear indicator of how deep-rooted is the malaise. We have been reporting extensively on the conduct of the present Vice-Chancellor, Mr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia. He is faced with serious charges of moral turpitude which put our heads in shame.

Of course, the law will take its course. I do not wish to comment on his conduct as Vice-Chancellor. It is for the judiciary to look into the charges speedily. All the same, we cannot close our eyes to the vitiated atmosphere and serious functional distortions on the campus.

The crux of the problem in the case of Punjabi University, as in most other universities, is too much of politics and politicking. This is but natural if the Vice-Chancellor's selection is politicised. We all know how Mr Ahluwalia got this coveted position. Nothing can be more shameful than to see a Vice-Chancellor as an instrument of power politics.

We cannot ensure a clean and healthy academic environment if decisions for top university slots are made not on merit but on political and other petty considerations.

Looking at the nature of the charges levelled against Mr Ahluwalia, he should have gracefully bowed out. Unfortunately, he knows that he cannot be removed under the Act relating to the governance of Punjabi University. Why this provision exists is difficult to say. Apparently, the provision too must have been prompted by considerations other than academic autonomy. The answer to this serious distortion is simple: depoliticise institutions of higher learning.

Most centers of higher learning today have become arenas for intrigues, groupism and undesirable activities. What is regrettable is that educated persons seem to have lost their sense of pride in the jobs entrusted to them. The sycophancy culture has spoiled the academic atmosphere. How can teachers motivate students and help sharpen their powers of observation and original thinking if they become part of the country's sickening political culture?

It needs to be emphasised that growth is possible only in a climate of freedom — freedom to be and freedom to become. This is essential in the academic field as well. Those associated with the academic world must feel free to raise inconvenient questions without fear.

It is a pity that teachers have ceased to be an inspiring force. Most of them are more interested in making money through private tuitions than in training the youth on right lines.

It needs to be remembered that a teacher soon becomes good for nothing if he does not constantly upgrade his knowledge and skills in his field of specialisation. As Prof V.V. John once put it, "Nothing could be more unwholesome than having to learn from those who have stopped learning."

The challenge before us is formidable. For, it is rightly said, to quote Phillip H. Coombs: "Educating a nation, and keeping that nation's educational system in step with the times, seem to be many times harder than putting a man on the moon". So, how do we make a beginning? Perhaps, we can learn from the glorious traditions of our world famous IITs and IIMs. It will be worthwhile to go into the basics which made a difference in their evolution.

When the IITs were started in the 1960s, their academic and administrative systems were built on the lines of American universities. The main thrust then was placed on the recruitment of the head of an institution. It was believed that an institution was made or unmade largely on the person who headed it. As such, besides the academic qualifications, two qualities were considered essential for the post of director of an IIT— integrity and commitment.

It was rightly felt that a credible institution could not be built by those who lacked these two qualifications. Our very own Prof R.N. Dogra, who died about a year ago in Chandigarh, was the first director of the IIT, Delhi. The foundation that he laid for the institute is still strong despite numerous attempts by politicians and others to subvert its system.

It is essential to have persons with high qualities—those who may at times be inflexible and tiresome but who are not swayed to betray the cause and the mission that they have given to themselves. Till date, the IITs have managed to find persons who not only possess the essential qualifications but also have the ability to grow from strength to strength.

The other important aspect was the selection of pupils. The IITs were designed to benefit academically a special class of students — students who could combine hard work with innovative ideas.

So, two things went side by side — an environment was created and entry into that environment was restricted. Excellence could not have been possible otherwise.

It is a pity that we have an increasing number of pseudo-intellectuals who are grounded in the culture of sycophancy. This has spoiled the academic atmosphere. Our limitations are graded and our thinking tends to become narrow and selective. This narrow attitude of looking at life, nature and challenges reminds me of a folk song which applies to the country's inquisitive mind — a typical setting today:

Sumai enters the forest and collects leaves

He does not know how big the forest is

For a leaf is not even a tree and

definitely not a forest.

Time is running out. We have to think and act together and introduce the much-needed reforms in critical areas of higher education. Without reforms, we cannot raise the standard of our universities and provide them the necessary competitive edge.

The educational system cannot and must not remain static. We can certainly improve things provided we reorient the system to meet the changing needs of society and the expectations of the youth. Negative trade unionism and petty politics should have no place in temples of learning. In this context, it will be worthwhile to keep the UNESCO advice in mind: "Link education to life, associate it with concrete goals, establish a close relationship between society and economy, invent or rediscover an education system that fits its surroundings... surely this is where the solution must be sought."

Is this a tall order? The young generation deserves a better deal. We cannot afford to create a vast army of frustrated educated youth. 


Good people, difficult people and wimps
V. K. Kapoor

In life one comes across three types of people — good people, difficult people and wimps. Each of them has an aura, a vibration an atmosphere which is characteristic and unmistakable. All three categories flower in activity. They range from truly malignant to heedless and goofy. The individual is nature’s most creative creation. Each individual is unique, and each individual life has beauty in its uniqueness. There is nothing higher than an individual. In life small want to become great, the strong want to dominate the weak, and the old want to live on.

Good people have hard time saying no or sticking up for their rights. Good people live in state of perpetual anxiety and stress. Very common is their hesitating attitude. They have feelings, which are easily hurt. They are self-conscious, anxious, moody, irritable and given to day-dreaming. Realities of life scare them. Good people have neither bark nor bite. Sometimes most beautiful things in life are totally useless, like a peacock or a lily. They have no practical utility. Good people fall in the category of peacocks and lilies. But good people keep a person’s faith in humanity alive.

Difficult people will not do what you tell them. Difficult people are always eager to argue and confront. They are a negative lot and their whole attitude on life is obstructionist. A basic behavioural dilemma exists between them and the social and personal group in which they find themselves. They combine foul expression with foul language. They remain miserable and make others unhappy. Not very many people attend their “Bhog” when they depart from this world. Their near and dear ones also reconcile to the loss with a sense of relief. This is mostly true about difficult mothers-in-law. I have seen a harassed daughter-in-law crying at her mother-in-law’s funeral. I was wondering whether they were tears of grief or relief.

Wimps are the people who sound like nice people but manage to camouflage their persona. For them hypocrisy is at a premium sycophancy and deviousness the norm. My friend “Gurujee” is a quintessential wimp. With voluble self-assurance of a politician, he has the art of saying nothing which leaves nothing unsaid. Style of a flashy mover, substance of a steady deliverer, and soft skills of a cunning politician, he has a satin smooth quality about him. He has a tremendous compliment bank. His flattery is always situation specific and person specific. His ability to wield words is lethal. He can use the right word, for the right person on the right occasion.

One day he rang me to inform that an important job was going to a particular person and wanted me to accompany him to congratulate the person. I followed him to the room of important man-to-be. The gentleman has also received information, though formal orders had not yet been passed. Gurujee congratulated him in most effusive terms saying that a “New Era” has dawned and everybody, including the drivers and peons, were in a celebratory mood. Gurujee informed the gentleman that he had never seen such a “collective jubilation” and when he informed his wife, she went to the Hanuman temple to offer “prasad”. The man smiled expansively and there was mischief in his lizard eyes. Of all the five senses eye is the most vulnerable to sin. In the meantime some other people entered and we came out Gurujee remarked, “Agar ek saal bhi reh gaya to das karod rupiya bana lega. Magarmachh Hai’. (Even if he survives for a year, he will make 10 crore. He is a crocodile”.

Then he took me to the room of the officer who was also in the race, but had missed the job in spite of many pulls and pressures. He had a deserted expression on his face and was sitting in pale dignity and wounded silence of a wronged wife. On seeing us he gave the smile of an unfavourite son. The lost job was like a dice rattling before a gambler. Hope deceives more than cunning can.

Gurujee made a deprecatory gesture towards the room from where we had come and send plaintively: “Aaj ye bhi din dekna tha. Merit ki aisi bekadri! Maine aur meri wife ne to khana bhi nahin khaya” (we had to see this day. Merit has been ignored. I and my wife did not take food today) then added “Magar chalega nahin. Aap ko lana pade gaa” (But he won’t be able to run the show, you will have to be brought). The ignored man agreed with Gurujee saying: “Pichhle saal course pe Londen gaya tha, sara time Soho main guzara” (Last year he had gone for a course to London, and spent most of the time in Soho (Red light area)”. Gurujee expressed shock and said how could a civil servant visit the red light area. It should attract the penal provisions of conduct rules. Gurujee looked at me for some comment. I said meekly that one could get “Aids in such places. The injured man wailed: “Abey is ko kutch nahin hoga. Ye sala saand hai”. (Nothing will happen to him. He is a bull) in the meantime the telephone rang. He did not want to take the call in our presence, and looked at us helplessly. We walked out. After coming out Gurujee chuckled maliciously, rubbed his hands gleefully and said: “Sale ki baji padi hai”. (The follow is disconcerted).

After that he turned to me mischievously and asked me if I had visited Soho: I replied in the affirmative saying that I found red light areas of Paris and Amsterdam more interesting. He said: ‘Tum bhi sale lampat ho’ (you are also a rogue) and entered the lift to go to his room.


Cut the cord that ties India to Commonwealth
M.S.N. Menon

I can only laugh at the idea of a multi-racial (British) Commonwealth when both the Scots and the Welsh are desperately trying to cut the cord that ties them to the English people. One out of three Scots voted for independence of Scotland in the recent election!

No doubt, the English people have virtues. But they are the worst racists possible, haughty and arrogant. They have carried their racism everywhere they have gone — to America, to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada. They are unwilling to acknowledge the harm they have done to the peoples and countries they have ruled over. South Asia and Palestine — these two examples will suffice to demonstrate the harm.

There had been little change since then. On the present state of Britain, this is what The Guardian has warned: Britain is “a nation parting off into distinct, increasingly separate political cultures.” On the youth of Britain, it said: “among us are those with minds so warped and vision so extreme ... they will plan and carry out cold blooded murder because of the colour of your skin.”

That such a people could promote a multi-racial Commonwealth is an absurd idea. It was absurd in 1947. But, then, India’s leaders — more so Jawaharlal Nehru — were men obsessed with European civilisation. They wanted the British connection to continue. Most of them hardly knew anything of their own history and civilisation. Nehru’s “Discovery” and “Glimpses” are superficial.

Prof Nandy asks: why is it that no one has wanted to go into why India remained in slavery for nearly a thousand years! To this I add: how is it that no one in this country — Hindu, Muslim or Christian — has ever asked: how is a multi-racial, multi-cultural polity to determine the destiny of the nation?

Colour is still an important factor in the world. So is ethnicity. And nationalism is by no means dead as our secularists pretend. Assimilation did not work in the UK. And the “melting pot” failed in America. Today they are trying multi-culturalism. It too has little chance of success. These are the realities. Men are not yet ready to live in mixed societies. True, it is unfortunate. But it is a fact.

But the Indian leaders were innocent of these realities. They saw in socialism a panacea. They denounced nationalism and thought that the time had come for internationalism. It was a grave error. Marxism failed to bring about internationalism. Yet we carried this doctrine of internationalism for a century or more, causing incalculable harm to the spirit of nationalism. We are ready to accept globalisation today because of our continuing commitment to some kind of internationalism.

In trying to copy the British model of society and state structure, based on British experience, did Nehru want India to be part of British history? If so, he was indeed naive. Didn’t it occur to him that the Indian state could not be founded on the British experience?

And yet he was opposed to a Euro-centric world. He said he would not play-second fiddle to any other power, that he would have an independent policy. But all that he produced was non-alignment. It was neither a policy nor was it “independent”. Even after he discovered that Britain and the USA were working against India’s interests, Nehru did not think it proper to cut India’s connection with the Commonwealth. It is obvious he had no plan to take India along a different route.

Today we know more on the role of the British to cause the greatest damage to the Hindus. The “divide and rule” policy paved the way for the creation of a monstrous state called Pakistan. Could we have joined the Commonwealth if we had known all these in time? Perhaps not. But then one can never tell. India has never been sure whether it belongs to the West or the East.

Is the British ruling class sorry for what it had done to India? Is it sorry for creating the primitive theocracy of Pakistan? Perhaps not. In fact, they think that their work is “unfinished” — that Kashmir remains “unsolved”, that it must be given to Pakistan somehow or the other.

The Labour party is still of the view that the Labour government of Clement Atlee did not handle partition properly, that Labour still has a responsibility to solve the problem in favour of Pakistan.

Even as late as 1995, the Labour Party passed a resolution in which it spoke of Kashmir as separate from India and supported a UN plebiscite. Gujral was so enraged that he called Britain “a third rate power.”

Neither Britain nor the USA wanted the creation of a large state like India. Nor were they in favour of a strong and powerful India. Look at the reaction of the white members of the Commonwealth to Pokhran II! And let us not forget that both the USA and the UK supported the independent movement of the Nagas and Sikh separatism.

As inheritors of a great civilisation, which had played a crucial role in the development of Asia, India had every right to stay out of Western inspired blocs to pioneer its own goal. But by opting for a socialistic form of society, we became part of the Western civilisational process, part of western history. Only one man had the vision of an independent destiny for India. And that was Mahatma Gandhi. Nehru scoffed at Gandhi’s ideas.

Once Britain began to play second fiddle to America, any hope of Britain leading the Commonwealth to a separate destiny became fallacious. More so, when it joined the Common Market.

But the Commonwealth could still have played a significant role in the economic field. It accounts for 25 per cent of world trade. The setting up of the Commonwealth Business Council was an important step. But Britain lacked the will. It had no desire to depart from the European destiny. It did not even set aside one per cent of the national income to commonwealth assistance.

In 1995 British investment in China was 50 times that in India. This showed that the British investors had no commitment to the Commonwealth.

Is the Commonwealth, then, relevant? It is not. But it can be. For that, it has to be cast in a different form. Perhaps it is too late in the day for that.




POTO debate and Mr Vajpayee’s ‘moment of reckoning’
Tavleen Singh

There is nothing like a debate in Parliament to assess a government's standing so despite many moments of tedium and many moments of irritation I watched the POTO debate virtually from start to finish. Starting with the Home Minister being heckled as he stood up to set this "historic session" in motion. I watched him plead with Mulayam Singh Yadav to be allowed to speak in English and not Hindi because this was such an important issue and ended my marathon watching session paying close attention to the Prime Minister respond angrily to the charges Sonia Gandhi brought against him. And, what did I gauge from all those of hours of watching? That the government of Mr A.B. Vajpayee is now a government on the run. Nobody seems to want to topple it just now. So it might survive a full term but it would be a miracle if it managed to do anything at all for the country in the next two years.

Why do I say this? Well, for one because I have never seen Sonia Gandhi make a more confident intervention in any debate or even a more confident speech from a public podium. So confident that she dared warn the Prime Minister to behave himself as if he were a junior functionary of the Congress party. It was his "moment of reckoning", she warned because he was faced with the choice of doing his duty by the Sangh Parivar or doing his duty to the country. She also charged him with "manipulating parliamentary procedures for a narrow ideology". Phew!

No wonder we saw Mr Vajpayee respond in more animated fashion than he has done to almost anything else in recent times. Who was the leader of the Opposition, he said, to tell him how he should be doing his job? Who was she to make charges of this kind? But, though he spoke angrily he looked tired and ill and by the time he shuffled back to his seat beside Jaswant Singh, it seemed clear that his moment — of reckoning or whatever — has come and gone. POTO may have been pushed through because arithmetic was in its favour but the government's speakers, including the usually scintillating Arun Jaitley, failed to make a convincing enough argument in its favour.

Speakers opposing the law were not only more persuasive but also seemed to be on the correct side of the debate and the government has only itself to blame. Its timing could not have been worse. Much as I remain a firm opponent of an Italian Prime Minister for India, I have to concede that Sonia Gandhi had a point when she said that this "draconian law" was being brought in against a troubling backdrop. There is the temple battle in Ayodhya, the terrible violence in Gujarat and although she mentioned the attack on the Orissa Assembly as an important component of the backdrop, my own view is that the recent RSS warning to the Muslims is more worrying. As an old hand at covering the antics and activities of the RSS, I can tell you that its senior leaders are usually discreet about their dislike for Islam and those of the Islamic faith. You only find out what they really think by talking to the rank and file so it shows a disturbing change if a public resolution can warn the Muslims that their safety depends on Hindu goodwill.

It depends, or should depend, on the rule of law but we saw in Gujarat the contempt that an RSS Chief Minister exhibited for the rule of law. The disturbing thing is that he has not only shown no remorse over the streets of cities like Ahmedabad and Baroda being turned into killing fields, but seems almost proud of what he has achieved. First, he defended the murderous mobs by describing their actions as a "natural reaction" and then if this were not already offensive enough, he proceeded to blame the continuing violence in the state on the Parliament session. The violence will stop, he announced cryptically last week, as soon as the session ends.

If Narendra Modi was the only one defending the criminal incompetence of his government, we could still be reassured that the RSS and its even more fanatical sister organisations had not taken over the Vajpayee government.

What is more frightening even than Modi's statements is that the Home Minister of India felt the need to speak in his defence. What was wrong with the handling of the violence, he said, the situation was controlled in 72 hours? Well, Mr Advani if you even need to ask that question there really is very little point in discussing anything further with you but the government's "khaki knickers" are now showing so clearly that it will be hard for its NDA allies to stay in it too long unless the RSS is reminded clearly and publicly that it did not win the last general election.

In Delhi these days you hear a lot of rubbish about how the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal are no longer controllable. The RSS wanted to control them during the Ayodhya crisis, Hindutva apologists tell you, but there was nothing they could do. Frankly, this strains credibility. One of the characteristics of the RSS is its complete contempt for democracy. It has no time for such Western concepts as elections and dissent. There is a Sarvasanghchalak (El Supremo) and when he considers that its time to hand on the baton he chooses someone he considers worthy of the job and hands it on. He then chooses his underlings. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal are creations of the RSS, its baby reptiles, so how is it possible to believe that they are not controllable when the RSS makes it clear that it can even control the Prime Minister when it wants to?

Have we not seen how the most strenuous objections to his attempts to liberalise the economy have come from the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, which is the economic think tank (if you can call it that) of the RSS? It has lately been less audible because there is not much economic reform or economic anything going on right now. Politics has totally hijacked the agenda and unfortunately it is Hindutva politics that we see dominate all else.

Since this is very damaging to the government's image there are many who ask why the Prime Minister is allowing this to happen. Even in Delhi's corridors of power where everybody appears always to know everything this is not a question to which there are ready answers available. But, there is much speculation and that the theory that currently has the most credibility is that the BJP's inability to win a single state in the recent assembly elections convinced hardline Hindutva types that the only way forward was to go back to the party's special identity.

We need to remember that when Vajpayee was in charge the party won two seats in the 1984 elections and it was only when Advani introduced the Hindutva agenda that the party became a force to reckon with. Will Hindutva work again? Unlikely. But, at the moment it seems to be the only straw to clutch on to.


Not only most people accept violence if it is perpetuated by legitimate authority, they also regard violence against certain kinds of people as inherently legitimate no matter who commits it.

— Edgar Z. Friedenberg, New York Review of Books,


In violence we forget who we are.

— Mary McCarthy, On the Contrary


Be there no heart wholly devoid of love

Be that love human or be it divine;

For human love too mirrors love divine;

The flame of this lights up the path to that.

— A Sufi song


God is love in essence. Love is God in solution. In so much as we love we are in God and God is in us, and in so far as we do not love we are without God, in this world or any other. The ideal Church of all religions and philosophies is the same. It is the union of all who love in the service of all who suffer.

— Anon. Cited in Bhagwan Das, The Essential Unity of All Religions


One who is in love is ever awake; he feels the pangs of separation. He whose heart is pierced with the shafts of love, no physician can cure him.

— Sri Guru Granth Sahib


Do not imagine!

Do not think!

Do not analyse!

Do not reflect!

Do not meditate!

Keep your spirit in its natural state.

— Tilopa


O divine Master, grant that I may not so much

Seek to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and

It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

— St. Francis of Assissi

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