Saturday, July 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Unrealistic Pak desire
resident Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan seems desperate for talks with India. He uses every available opportunity to plead to the world that it should facilitate a dialogue with India quickly to end the pressure on Pakistan built up following the deployment of troops on both sides of the border. 

Social security pension
he Himachal Pradesh Government has done well to increase the social security pension for widows and old and disabled persons from Rs 150 to Rs 200 from August 1.  The purchasing power of the earlier pensionary amount, which had been in application for the past four years, had diminished greatly over these years.

The disgrace at DMC
udhiana’s Dayanand Medical College and Hospital has got its reputation sullied by the mishandling at various levels of a strike by a section of its employees, resulting in a clash with the police in which 30 persons, including 16 policemen, were injured.





Business-politics partnership flourishes
Requiem for command economy model
Bharat Wariavwalla
ower was openly embracing wealth when L.K. Advani, Sonia Gandhi, Chandrababu Naidu, S.M Krishna and a host of other politicians called on Dhirubhai Ambani a few days before his death. Breach Candy hospital where this titan of the corporate world lay was the site of partnership between business and politics.


Autonomy: An unattainable goal
Hari Om
hile talking to the PTI on July 7, the newly-appointed President of the 64-year-old National Conference and the country’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Omar Abdullah, made a very significant statement on the issue of autonomy. 


Consensus to guide BJP restructuring
S. Satyanarayanan
he revamp of the BJP and the installation of Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu in place of Mr Jana Krishnamurthy led to wider perception that the generational change in the party organisation has resulted in Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani achieving full control of the party.


Abdul Kalam gets haircut advice
resident-elect A.P.J. Abdul Kalam may have expected to easily win the one-sided contest against freedom veteran Lakshmi Sahgal. What he probably did not expect was advice on his hair coming out of the ballot box.

  • Quickly identifying heart failure




Unrealistic Pak desire

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan seems desperate for talks with India. He uses every available opportunity to plead to the world that it should facilitate a dialogue with India quickly to end the pressure on Pakistan built up following the deployment of troops on both sides of the border. This is not to deny the considerable de-escalation of the border tension after the world community made it known to the two nuclear-armed neighbours, particularly India, that an armed conflict must be avoided to prevent any setback to the ongoing war against global terrorism. The very fact of massing of troops at the border is telling upon the fragile Pakistani economic edifice. The military regime is finding it quite difficult to bear the extra burden on its exchequer. It does not want to wait till October when the scheduled Jammu and Kashmir election will be held and after that India is expected to begin its troop withdrawal. Islamabad believes that talks with New Delhi may lead to an early movement of the two countries’ forces back to their peace-time bases. Besides the economic aspect, troops withdrawal will enable the Musharraf regime to fully concentrate on the home front to take on the General’s political enemies. The General-turned-President wants a free hand to ensure that after the coming general election in Pakistan he is successful in getting a puppet government at the federal level as well as in the provinces. He is making every law that he feels is essential for the realisation of his dream of ruling Pakistan for as long as he can with powers to function as an undeclared king. Hence his latest appeal through his trusted officials to the American and European dignitaries on the way to the subcontinent again to persuade India to accept the idea of parleys to resolve the disputes between the two neighbours. The General is not a fool. He must be knowing it well that nothing concrete will come out of talks at this stage even if it is finally held. But an early withdrawal of the armed forces is not in the realm of impossibility.

President Musharraf is, however, not realistic in his approach. He is yet to fulfil to the satisfaction of the world community, India included, his promise of ending terrorist infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir, besides destroying the infrastructure in Pakistan that sustains the monster. Then he has reactivated the notorious ISI to sabotage India’s move to hold a free and fair election in Jammu and Kashmir. The ISI has been foolishly told to use the terrorist networks it has been patronising to force a section of Kashmir leaders, including those in the Hurriyat Conference, to keep off the election process. People in general are also being terrorised through fresh terrorist killings to stay away from polling booths. Is this an atmosphere for holding talks? India has never been against dialogue for ending disputes, but that is possible only when there is a congenial environment. General Musharraf is doing little in this regard.


Social security pension

The Himachal Pradesh Government has done well to increase the social security pension for widows and old and disabled persons from Rs 150 to Rs 200 from August 1. The purchasing power of the earlier pensionary amount, which had been in application for the past four years, had diminished greatly over these years. The enhanced pension will, hopefully, help them lead a less painful life. A well-heeled person may not be able to have a complete appreciation of the effect that this token amount can have on the existence of a person who has had to bid goodbye to his best years or has been done in by physical disabilities. There are lakhs of such destitute persons in every state. Ironically, it is not always financial exigency that puts them on the street. At times, it is the avarice of the family members, their own children in some cases, which forces them to lead the life of beggars. A sum of Rs 200 may not get them even two square meals, but is at least a reassurance that they have not been entirely abandoned by a heartless society. This government gesture should be supplemented by voluntary organisations and also the family members of the persons concerned so that they can lead a life of dignity. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the facility is not misused by unscrupulous persons. Cases have come to light where attempts have been made to draw pension on the basis of bogus affidavits. That is the tragedy of the system. Every well-meaning facility is sought to be misutilised.

Besides the pension enhancement approval, the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet meeting on Wednesday took several other important decisions. The green signal was given to several hydroelectric projects which will generate about 1,200 million units of power annually. As has been pointed out repeatedly, hydel power holds the key to the transformation of Himachal Pradesh and it is unfortunate that this natural wealth has not been exploited to the extent possible. Himachal Pradesh has also decided to grant immunity from prosecution to the staff of the Forest Department for anything done or omitted or ordered to be done in good faith so as to check illicit felling, smuggling of timber and poaching of wild animals. They will also be provided arms to carry out forest protection activities. But the most significant of them all was, in fact, a non-decision. One of the items on the agenda was the carving out of new districts, which had generated a lot of heat. There were differences in the ruling BJP itself, with a section of leaders, especially from Kangra, opposing it tooth and nail. Perhaps that is the reason why it was dropped from the agenda at the last minute. Government sources insist that it will definitely come up at the next meeting, but given the vehement resistance, that appears unlikely. 


The disgrace at DMC

Ludhiana’s Dayanand Medical College and Hospital has got its reputation sullied by the mishandling at various levels of a strike by a section of its employees, resulting in a clash with the police in which 30 persons, including 16 policemen, were injured. It is amazing how the situation has been allowed to take an ugly turn, especially after a similar development last year. The issue at stake is too internal and trivial to turn so explosive. A cool look-back is essential to see how the crisis erupted and developed into such a controversy that patients in general and the employees in particular had to undergo so much sufferings. First, the employees went on strike for almost a month to press their demand for making the Hero DMC Heart Institute a part of the DMC. Employees of a hospital are not like any other trade union workers. They are in the noble profession of serving the sick humanity and are expected to be compassionate and sensitive to the hardships of the bed-ridden. By stubbornly remaining on strike for as long as one month, no matter how important their demand, they have displayed an attitude unworthy of their profession. Secondly, the DMC management has messed up a simple issue which could have been settled across the table by adopting a sympathetic attitude towards the agitated employees. By seeking police intervention to get the striking employees vacate the hospital premises, which led to the clash, the management not only brought to the street what was essentially a family dispute, but also put on display its lack of professional handling of an ordinary crisis situation.

But it is the district administration, especially the police, which displayed utter insensitivity and incompetence in dealing with the situation. The atrocities committed on some of the agitating employees, particularly women, as detailed in newspaper reports, cannot be justified on any ground. The provocation, no doubt, was grave : a DSP was injured as the employees indulged in stone-throwing on July 13. But these are professional hazards. The police retaliatory action was far too excessive as is evident from the victims’ tales of horror narrated to the Punjab Assembly Speaker, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, who went to enquire after the jailed employees on Thursday. Worse, the administration tried to pass the blame on to the hospital management, whom it charged with suppressing material facts about the situation. That reflects on its style of functioning. The fact that the police can be used, or allows itself to be used, so ruthlessly in suppressing an agitation by a management brings no credit to the leadership at various layers of the administration as also the hospital. Even senior doctors and faculty members have not been shown the respect that their position and record of service entitle them to. All this happening in a progressive city like Ludhiana and in a state like Punjab, that too to the medical fraternity, is a matter of collective shame.


Business-politics partnership flourishes
Requiem for command economy model
Bharat Wariavwalla

Power was openly embracing wealth when L.K. Advani, Sonia Gandhi, Chandrababu Naidu, S.M Krishna and a host of other politicians called on Dhirubhai Ambani a few days before his death. Breach Candy hospital where this titan of the corporate world lay was the site of partnership between business and politics.

This is a new development. For over 40 years since independence business and politics co-existed but rarely in cooperation with each other. The command economy model which put the state at the commanding heights of the economy accorded little place to the private capital. Jawaharlal Nehru who ushered in the command economy was never friendly to business. JRD Tata, a personal friend of Nehru, records Nehru’s reaction to the suggestion he made that profit be made a measure of the efficiency of the public sector: “Jehangir, don’t use that dirty word (profit) before me”.

A Brahmin by birth and a Fabian socialist by conviction Nehru was disdainful of business. He resented the remark President Harry Truman made at a dinner for him in 1948 that the Prime Minister was dining with billions of dollar.

Indira Gandhi was chiefly responsible for making the relationship between business and government dirty. Of course, she and her son collected money from businessmen in return for favours. Under them the licence-permit raj greatly expanded and became highly arbitrary. Tax raids, intimidation and arrests under MISA, were the instruments with which Indira Gandhi and her son, Sanjay, dealt with businessmen who did not give them money or were critical of their economic policy.

The relationship between business and politics under Indira and her sons, which lasted for about a quarter of century was tense and sad to note, unproductive. Economic growth lumbered at the “Hindu growth rate” of 3.5 per cent.

This relationship changed for the better with the coming of the Narasimha Rao government in 1991. Then we had a foreign exchange reserve for a week’s import, and taking advantage of the perilous state of our economy the World Bank and the IMF asked us to accept the liberalisation package they put together.

We must thank them for doing what we really needed to do but were afraid to do: free the economy from the state control and leave it to the benign workings of the market. The liberalisation continues, at times haltingly, at times rapidly, but it has not come to an end since it began in 1991. The surprising fact is that no party or major interest groups, not even the CPM or the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (a parivar outfit), want to return to the licence-permit raj.

Dhirubhai Ambani straddled the two economy systems, the licence-permit raj system and the liberalised one. He prospered in both and this tell us significantly about the man and the times he lived in.

Everyone knows he rose from rags to riches. When he returned to Bombay in 1958 from Aden, where he was a service attendant at a Shell owned petrol pump, he had little money. But what he possessed was priceless: tremendously enterprising spirit and a vast vision. As Rahul Bajaj says his hunger for success was insatiable.

He shocked Mumbai’s conservative corporate world by issuing 2.8 million equity shares of the Reliance Textile Industries in 1979. Till then no industrialist had enticed ordinary people with equity shares; thus Dhirubhai revolutionised the thinking and the practices of the staid Mumbai corporate world. He did what Henry Ford did in the 1920: make cars that the man in the street could afford to buy.

Reliance Industries prospered in the licence-permit raj era. He had the netas and the babus of the Indira and Rajiv governments work for him. He had them bend and bypass rules and regulations for him but he never became a tool in their hands. Like all industrialists, he subverted the licence-permit raj, but unlike them he did not depend on the raj to prosper. As he said sometimes in the mid-eighties, “entitlements and licences were available for everyone to take advantage of. If they were not quick enough off the mark, is it my fault? He exploited the licence-permit raj but never became dependent on it, as so many industrialists did.

It is in the neta-babu raj that Dhirubhai rose to the top and this is because he had a vision to be at the top. It is this same drive and vision that enabled him to establish the largest corporation in the country in the nineties when the neta-babu raj came to an ignominious end. In the decade of the nineties Reliance Petroleum was built, the world’s largest oil refinery.

The study of the life of this Indian industrialist tells us much about our politics. There were the pioneering industrialists like Jamnalal Bajaj, GD Birla, Ambalal Sarabhai and others. They were fully involved in the independence movement and well embodied the virtues that an ideal Vaishya is supposed to possess: thrift, industry and austerity. In fact, Jamnalal Bajaj and Ambalal Sarabhai were Gandhi’s ideal industrialists.

Then with independence came a long period of some 40 years when the relationship between politics and business was greatly strained. The command economy model sought to limit the business and make it subservient to the state. The business retaliated by subverting the State and its main arm, the babudom.

Whatever the economic rationale of the command economy may have been, it bore a distinct imprint of Brahminism. Nehru was disdainful of business because he was a Brahmin and as a Brahmin he thought the state ought to plan and direct the economy for the good of all. Only a Brahmin understood what was good for society. Nehru-Mahalanobis model of the command economy had an implicit Brahmanical bias.

Market is now the determinant of our economy. The Rao government, no doubt under external compulsions, put an end, though not decisively, to the licence permit raj. It is in this liberalised era that a new kind of businessman is born. Knowledge of technology, world markets and innovation characterises this new businessman Narayan Murthy of Infosys, Azim Premji of Wipro, Sanjay Lalbhai of the Arvind Group to name some are the representatives of this class of businessman. They could never have arisen in the licence-permit raj era. 


Autonomy: An unattainable goal
Hari Om

While talking to the PTI on July 7, the newly-appointed President of the 64-year-old National Conference (NC) and the country’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Omar Abdullah, made a very significant statement on the issue of autonomy. He said that his party was “not rigid” on its stand on “pre-1953 (constitutional) status” for J&K and that it would “prefer a healthy discussion on the issue (of autonomy) with the Centre that could eventually lead to a solution”. All this shows that the NC has finally realised that its goal of a dispensation that limits New Delhi’s jurisdiction over the state to just defence, foreign affairs and communications and leaves the rest to the care of Kashmiris is unattainable. This is indeed a rather positive development.

However, to say all this is not to suggest that the NC has altogether abandoned the idea of a discussion on the April, 1999, 180-page State Autonomy Committee Report (SACR). In fact, both Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, and his son, Omar Abdullah, have reiterated their stand that a healthy discussion on the otherwise repudiated report cannot and must not be avoided for an any indefinite period. Their refrain is that the SACR, if discussed with an open mind, would leave the Central Government with no option but to grant more powers to the state or empower it once again to enjoy maximum “internal autonomy”.

If what Omar Abdullah consistently and very confidently says after his June 24 meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at 7 Race Course is to be believed, then a discussion on the much-talked-about report appears imminent. And, what he says is that Vajpayee has accepted the NC’s suggestion regarding “devolution of more powers to the state” and that the J&K Housing and Urban Development Minister and Chairman of the State Autonomy Committee, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Shah, would soon meet the Prime Minister’s “nominee” in order to discuss the SACR point by point and page by page and clinch the whole issue of autonomy.

Can the two Abdullahs and their point-man, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Shah, obtain any political concession on the basis of the SACR which, they claim, is a very comprehensive and foolproof document? Even a casual examination of the document would suggest that they will not. On the contrary, it would suggest that the report is a very long stick with which the Centre can beat the NC itself and make it to fall flat. For, the SACR is as unconvincing as it is poorly drafted. It is nothing but a blend of contradictions. Not just this, the draftsmen of the report have recommended the implementation of an “agreement” which does not exist at all, suppressed some very vital facts and levelled highly vague charges against the Central Government.

It is neither possible nor desirable to catalogue in this small critique all the contradictions, distortions, suppressions, untenable suggestions and wild insinuations. Hence, a reflection only on one suggestion, one concealment and one accusation.

The report says that the best way to win over the alienated Kashmiris and forge a lasting peace in the state is to implement the “1952 Delhi Agreement” between the then Prime Minister, Nehru, and the J&K Wazir-e-Aazm, Sheikh Abdullah. No Central Government would ever concede this demand. The reasons for this are not far to seek. The most important one is that there exists no such thing as the Delhi Agreement. What really exists is a long statement made by Nehru on the floor of the Lok Sabha on July 24, 1952. The statement was to the effect that he and the Sheikh had held discussions on the Centre-state relations and that the discussions were still inconclusive (pp. 5, 34-42). None can interpret this statement as an agreement. At the same time, credit must be given to the NC idelogue and J&K Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, who was fair enough to acknowledge two years ago before a galaxy of top-ranking NC leaders, including Dr Abdullah and his cabinet colleagues and party legislators and leading media personalities, in response to this writer’s query that “there existed no written agreement” and that it was the July 24 Nehru statement which was being interpreted as an agreement between the Centre and J&K. This brief description should, I think, be more than enough on the subject of untenable suggestions.

Again, look at the SACR and turn all of its pages. You would be surprised to note that the framers of the report have nowhere referred to the 1975 Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah Accord. It was this very accord which dislodged the constitutionally-elected Congress government under Syed Mir Qasim in 1975 itself and brought the Sheikh back to power after a long gap of 22 years. And, this, despite the fact that the Congress commanded an absolute majority both in the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council and that the Sheikh’s party did not have even a single legislator either in the Assembly or in the Council.

Similarly, the architects of the SACR have nowhere mentioned that the 1975 Accord had authorised the Sheikh to seek withdrawal of those Central laws which he considered harmful to the state’s legitimate and special politico-economic and socio-cultural interests and needs (pp. 69-70). It is important to note that the Sheikh had constituted a three-member cabinet sub-committee in 1977, with the then Dy Chief Minister of the State, D.D. Thakur, as its Chairman and Gul Shah and Ghulam Nabi Kochak as members. Its job was to go into the whole issue of Centre-state relations and suggest withdrawal of those Central laws which had jeopardised, or which had the potential of jeopardising the state’s genuine interests.

This committee produced two highly contradictory reports. One was from its Chairman, which opined that the Central laws had greatly benefited the people of the state and recommended their retention. The other was from Gul Shah and Kochak, which recommended withdrawal of all the Central laws which were extended to J&K after August 9, 1953, when Sheikh Abdullah was removed from the office of Chief Minister and arrested on the charge of “anti-India activities”. The upshot of their whole argument was that these Central laws had only eroded the internal autonomy the state used to enjoy before August, 1953, under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. What was the Sheikh’s response? He accepted the Thakur report in toto and even went a step further by allowing New Delhi to extend to the state more Central laws.

As for the allegation that the Centre used dubious means in order to bring J&K under the constitutional organisation of India, less said, the better. A small quotation from the SACR would be enough to lay bare the disparities between falsehood and actual position and clear all the cobwebs of confusion. It reads like this: “Successive State Governments had in the past accorded their concurrence for various reason and under various political compulsions” (p. 63). It needs to be underlined that Article 370 debars the Union Government from extending any Central law to J&K without the “concurrence of the government of the state” and that there appears nothing in the report which could in any way suggest that the Centre has at any point of time deviated from the path charted by Article 370 (p. 20).

The Abdullahs would do well to review their stand on the SACR and come out with something concrete, something beneficial for the people of the troubled state and the nation. The best course would be to bring to the notice of the Centre certain specific anti-people and anti-state statutes, coupled with a detailed note on their negative impact on the state’s polity, economy and society. The Prime Minister and his deputy, Mr L.K. Advani, have also suggested some such course. Failure on their part to do so would be to cut a sorry figure during the negotiations and suffer humiliations. The ball is now in the NC’s court.

The writer is Professor of History in Jammu University and Member, ICHR, New Delhi



Consensus to guide BJP restructuring
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

Mr M. Venkaiah NaiduThe revamp of the BJP and the installation of Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu in place of Mr Jana Krishnamurthy led to wider perception that the generational change in the party organisation has resulted in Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani achieving full control of the party.

The revamp is being characterised as a “mid-course correction” by the BJP leadership. What will be the priorities of the new BJP President, especially as the assembly elections in nine states are due in the next 16 months?

Excerpts of an interview:

Q: You have revamped the central office-bearers with a blend of youth and dynamism. Will the same generational change be your strategy for the revamp of state units?

Mostly yes. But, at the same time, I will not be guided by this alone. We have to care about the local political situation and their (state units) requirements also. The idea is to have ability and mobility. Social background also becomes relevant in the context of change in state units.

Q: Do you plan to revamp the state units in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab too?

As for Himachal, I have no plans to restructure the organisation. It is running smoothly and we are planning to go ahead with the present team there. In Punjab keeping in mind the overall scheme of things the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have discussed the entire issue of revamping and have said it should be done at the state as well as at the Central levels. I don’t want change for the sake of change. I will have consultations with the state units. But my priorities are the states where assembly elections are due. Other states will be taken up. After consultations, I will be guided by broad consesus on restructuring.

Q: Ms Uma Bharti and Ms Vasundara Raje Scindia are reportedly reluctant to give up ministership to take up party work in MP and Rajasthan respectively. Your comments.

It is not correct. One section of the media says that they are reluctant to leave the government and another section says that the state units are resisting their names. Yes, I have consulted with Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan units and other states like Jammu and Kashmir. We are now assessing what is the ground situation in various states, what is the assessment of state party leadership and then what is our assessment. We will come to a conclusion if there is a broad agreement for a change. And when we decide about the change, somebody from the state or somebody from the Centre, who is in the government will be drawn into the party. All these issues will be discussed subsequently. The Prime Minister has told me that whoever is needed for the sake of the party I can ask him. I don’t think anybody will say no to me when I require the service of a particular person. But I have not decided anything on these two states as the elections are well 16 months away.

Q: It is widely perceived that Mr Advani has taken total control of the party and it will be a back seat drive for you.

It is not true. Afer all Mr Vajpayee is the leader of the NDA, BJP, including Mr Advani, which is undisputable. Secondly, Mr Advani has got vast experience. He has been President of the party and during his tenure he ensured the party made inroads into new areas. He is also Deputy Prime Minister of the country. The party leadership had decided to go for a generational change and got a comparatively younger team. But we need guidance and there is a feeling that there is a communication gap between the government and the party which is very much vital for our functioning. I requested Mr Advani to spare some time for interaction with the party. He agreed that he will come to the party once every week. The rationale behind this is he (Mr Advani) will act as a link between the party and the government and there is no question of his (Mr Advani) overshadowing me. Moreover, who asked for it? I, as a President of the party and when I don’t have any problem, why should anybody else have any problem? I am taking guidance from him.

Q: What was the hurry for this revamp when party elections are due soon?

It is a wrong conception. It is July and elections are due next year end and then you have nine state elections coming before that. Moreover, the change is not for the sake of change. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister came to the conclusion that the two and a half years tenure of the government is over and another two anda half years are left and we have to do a mid-course appraisal and take corrective steps. Overall it is the right time. We have been attacked by the Opposition and by a section of the media. There was a thinking in the party for a change and the leadership thought of going ahead with it.

Q: On day one as BJP President you declared that you will carry the NDA agenda on the one hand and the BJP jhanda on the other. Isn’t there a conflict in respect of the BJP’s core agenda — Ayodhya, uniform civil code and Article 370?

There is a two-pronged attack on us. On the one side, ourcritics say the BJP has forgotten its agenda for the sake of power. On the other hand they want to tell our allies that although the BJP is talking about NDA agenda, they have not left their saffron agenda. So, in order to disarm my critics I said we need not be apolegetic about our ideology. We stand by it. But, the mandate is not for the BJP the mandate is for the NDA’s agenda, which was approved by the BJP also. So, we have to carry forward dutifully and faithfully the same agenda. That is why I said propogate the government’s achievements. If the government performs better the party will benefit as it is leading the coalition. At the same time we have not compromised on our agenda or ideology. In coalition governments like the Left Front government in Kerala, did the Congress gave up its ideology or did the CPI (M) give up its ideology? There are certain issues in the SAD manifesto, which are not acceptable to the BJP and there are certain issues in our manifesto which are not acceptable to them. So, there are many common grounds on which the NDA agenda is based.

Q: There is talk of early assembly poll in Gujarat. The Opposition is accusing the BJP of trying to capitalise on the communal polarisation in the wake of the communal violence there.

Rather there were reports that the Congress is demanding elections and even Mr K.P.S. Gill, Security Adviser to the Gujarat Chief Minister advised early poll. But leave it entirely to the State Government, they are the elected representatives. We are ready for elections any time.

Q: One of your prominent leaders, Arun Jaitley, has been appointed by the government to negotiate on the autonomy issue in Jammu and Kashmir. Will it not send wrong signals to the people especially before the assembly poll, as the party has been strongly opposing greater autonomy and special status for J&K?

Mr Arun Jaitley, in his capacity as a member of Parliament has been assigned the responsibility of talking to the government there about the devolution of power. The word autonomy is nowhere in the government thinking. I also had discussion with the Home Minister who told me categorically that they are not going to talk about autonomy. The National Conference might say but the Government of India is specifically dicussing devolution of powers. As far as devolution of power is concerned we are in favour of it, not only to Jammu and Kashmir but also to all other states. It is just a part-time activity and he (Mr Jaitley) will be functioning as the party General Secretary also. There is no question of our accepting autonomy. When one discusses about giving more powers the regional aspirations must be kept in the mind.

Q: Are you in favour of trifurcation of the Jammu and Kashmir as demanded by the RSS?

We do believe that regional aspirations of Jammu, Ladakh and Leh habe to be addressed but we do not consider trifurcation as a solution. It is better to have greater devolution of powers and earmarking of adequate funds and some constituional safeguards.

Q: Is imposition of Governor’s rule a pre-requisite for free and fair elections in J and K?

We are getting prepared. There is a peculiar situation in the state. Even though we have been supported by the National Conference at the Centre we have to fight against them in the state. This kind of situation is prevalent in some other states also like the Congress and the Samajwadi Party contesting against each other UP and joining hands at the Centre. The BJP has a support base in Jammu and Kashmir and I am confident that we will be able to expand it further. As far as elections under President’s Rule are concerned, the BJP has not taken any stand on it. But we want free and fair elections. Let the Government make up its mind on the issue.

Q: Won’t veteran BJP leader Bhairon Singh Shekawat’ selevation cause a blow to the BJP’s chances of wresting power in Rajasthan next year?

No. Not at all. There is no dearth of leaders in Rajasthan. There are lot of talented people and I don’t see there is any problem in Rajasthan.


Abdul Kalam gets haircut advice

President-elect A.P.J. Abdul Kalam may have expected to easily win the one-sided contest against freedom veteran Lakshmi Sahgal. What he probably did not expect was advice on his hair coming out of the ballot box.

Of the total of 4,785 votes, 174 were declared invalid. A few of them had little notes scribbled on them. One voter had scrawled that Abdul Kalam should trim his long silver locks or else urge Atal Behari Vajpayee to grow his hair. Rajya Sabha officials said this voter was an MP, since the ballot paper came out of the Parliament box.

Abdul Kalam’s unconventional hairstyle had been the talk of the country since he shot into the limelight as a presidential nominee.

A lover of children, the scientist had recently agreed to trim his straggly hair when a little girl wrote to him pointing out that Abraham Lincoln had also cut his hair short at the advice of a child.

On another ballot paper, a voter wrote that Sahgal, the country’s first woman contender for the post of president, should have contested when she was 20 years younger.

Sahgal, the fiery former Indian National Army veteran, is admired for her beauty and spirit that surpasses her 87 years.

A Rajya Sabha official said invalid ballot papers with messages written were not uncommon during elections. “But when MPs do it, it is a little surprising,” he said. IANS

Quickly identifying heart failure

A test that requires two drops of blood can quickly tell doctors if a person with breathing problems is suffering from heart failure, according to a study published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

The test, which costs about $25, can rule out heart failure in 98 per cent of the cases where it does not exist and help doctors trying to treat the condition, Dr. Alan Maisel, chief author of the study, told Reuters.

When heart failure occurs, the heart cannot pump enough blood, causing fluid to accumulate in the lungs, liver, hands and feet. About half the people who develop the condition are dead within five years.

Diagnosing heart failure through chest X-rays, CT scans and other means is expensive and takes time. The Maisel team used the 15-minute blood test on 1,586 volunteers in the USA, France and Norway, discovering that it correctly diagnosed heart failure in 83 per cent of the cases — an accuracy rate higher than any single test.

“Cardiologists and internists may now have a tool with which to determine whether a patient has congestive heart failure and to measure its severity,” Baughman wrote. Reuters


Evil in the future life is the fruit of bodily misconduct.

Evil is the fruit of misconduct by word, by thought, in the future life. If I commit misconduct in deed, in word, in thought, should not I, when body breaks up, after death, be reborn in hell, in the state of woe, the downfall, in the purgatory.



Karmas do not perish even after the elapse of a million years. They fructify without fail when time and environment are suitable.

—The Buddha. Chandrakirti, Prasannapada


Karmas follow their doer everywhere like a good servant who moves after a Master if he goes and is in front if he stands. The fetters of karma support and destroy the beings.

Any act performed even clandestinely must bear fruit.

—Kshemendra, The Bodhisattvavadanakalpalata


Just as when a ball of spring is cast forth, it will spread out just as far, and no further than it can unwound, just so both fools and wise alike, wandering in transmigration exactly for the allotted term shall then, and only then, make an end of pain.

—Dighanikaya, II.20 (Samannaphala-sutta)


Karma literally means action but as every action is triple in its nature belonging partly to the past, partly to the present, partly to the future, it has come to mean the sequence of events, the law of causes and effects, the succession in which each effect follows its own cause.... What is called the consequence of an action is really not a separate thing but is a part of the action, and cannot be divided from it. The consequence is that part of the action which belongs to the future, and is as much a part of it as the part done in the present. Thus suffering is not the consequence of a wrong act, but an actual part of it, although it may be only experienced later.

—An Advanced Text Book of Hindu Religion and Ethics

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