Saturday, December 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Disinvestment back on track
LTHOUGH the Union Government is yet to officially announce its decision on the deadlock on the PSU disinvestment issue, it is clear from newspaper reports that a political consensus has emerged and a green signal given for the privatisation of HPCL and BPCL.

Blackwill’s J & K visit
S Ambassador Robert Blackwill visiting the sensitive border state of Jammu and Kashmir is not an unusual development. There has, perhaps, never been any restriction on foreign envoys visiting any part of this country. After all, ours is an open and democratic society.

Lanka: on the road to peace
HURSDAY’S agreement between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to develop a government that would give the rebels regional autonomy is certainly a significant development in the Norway-brokered peace negotiations.




The changing nature of war
Joint doctrine and networking essential
V.P. Malik
ACH civilisation gives rise to its own way of waging war. The Prussian military thinker Clausewitz noted: “Each age has had its own peculiar forms of war.... Each therefore, would also keep its own theory of war”. The industrial revolution ushered in a new dimension of mass-produced weaponry.


USA can play a role in Kashmir: Mirwaiz
Humra Quraishi
HE security bandobast at the Nagin-situated Mirwaiz Manzil — where the 29-year-old Mirwaiz Omar Farooq lives — is not over powering, though it is in the same house that his father, Maulvi Farooq, was gunned down in 1990.


Debunking the famous
Amita Malik
am returning without apologies to the new programmes at last proving that political and social satire can be done without malice, wrong motives or crudity. And all the more welcome in a week when we mourn the death of our colleague Abu Abraham.


Tour bus adds spice to life in Berlin
tour bus filled with beer-drinking passengers and a handful of bare-breasted strippers is plying the night-time streets of Berlin, giving the German capital a hot new tourist attraction.

  • Spinal injuries: facilities inadequate
  • Smoking costs 20-25 years of one’s life



Disinvestment back on track

ALTHOUGH the Union Government is yet to officially announce its decision on the deadlock on the PSU disinvestment issue, it is clear from newspaper reports that a political consensus has emerged and a green signal given for the privatisation of HPCL and BPCL. A further indication of the disinvestment programme being back on the rails comes from the country’s stock markets where the share prices of various PSUs rose sharply on Friday. The disinvestment programme was put on hold for three months by the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment on September 7 after Defence Minister George Fernandes and Petroleum Minister Ram Naik raised objections as to whether it was in the national interest to sell off the profit-making PSUs, particularly those in the oil sector. Other ministers, not wanting to dilute their control over PSUs under their charge, also joined the anti-disinvestment bandwagon. Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie had to face a tough time following opposition to his crusade from various quarters. A Shiv Sena MP, Mr Sanjay Nirupam, went to the extent of accusing Mr Shourie of personally indulging in corruption in the sale of Centaur Hotel in Mumbai. It was ultimately Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee who came to the rescue of his Disinvestment Minister. The contentious issue was discussed at a meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence on Thursday evening. Under a formula that broke the logjam finally, the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) will be put up for bidding by both domestic and foreign companies, while the government equity in the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) will be sold through a public issue. To safeguard the interests of the employees of both PSUs, a disinvestment fund will be created through the sale of shares. The workers will also be offered some 10 to 12 per cent of the PSU shares.

In a democracy it is not possible for any government to push through decisions on crucial issues disregarding public opinion. Differences, if any, are aired, discussed and resolved amicably. That leaves no fear of a rollback of a decision with the change of government. National assets, built with public money over the years, cannot be disposed of in a hurry without there being a broad consensus. The strategic importance of oil cannot be overstated. Any decision on privatising the oil firms in the public sector has to keep in mind the national interests, particularly during a crisis. An MNC or a group of companies cannot be allowed to form a cartel or create a monopoly in such a vital area. Secondly, the public sector cannot be dismantled for meeting the financial targets of a government in power. This realisation seems to have lately dawned on the NDA government, which admits in its mid-year review report that “Disinvestment should not be viewed purely from the revenue perspective. It is being undertaken essentially to unlock the productive potential inherent in the public sector undertakings”. And thirdly, to send a right message to the global investors, the NDA partners would do well to fight their policy battles behind the closed doors. A public fight leaves no one a winner. The country loses precious private investment and a lot of international goodwill if ministers take contradictory stands over important issues.


Blackwill’s J & K visit

US Ambassador Robert Blackwill visiting the sensitive border state of Jammu and Kashmir is not an unusual development. There has, perhaps, never been any restriction on foreign envoys visiting any part of this country. After all, ours is an open and democratic society. Even during the recent Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir many countries had sent their representatives to Srinagar to observe the battle of the ballot and form their own opinion about the democratic process. Mr Blackwill’s three-day visit was, however, different in one respect. He not only had detailed discussions with the GOC, 16 Corps, Lieut-Gen T. P. S. Brar, on the security situation in the state but also made an aerial survey of the LoC and the international border. General Brar, who was with Mr Blackwill throughout his aerial sojourn, reportedly explained him about how Pakistan-sponsored terrorists had been infiltrating into India to carry on the proxy war in the border state. The US envoy also interacted with many other senior Army officers.

This is a healthy development from two angles. One, the Indian gesture may help the Americans to fully appreciate New Delhi’s perspective on terrorism, which is a little different from that of Washington. Mr Blackwill, being an acknowledged expert on terrorism, should be able to explain to President George W. Bush and others associated with policy formulation in the USA that Indian viewpoint is as significant as that of America. The monster of terrorism cannot be immobilised effectively unless its Pakistani leg is destroyed. The US-led international campaign against the menace in Afghanistan will be meaningless if the terrorist bases in Pakistan set up for fomenting trouble in India’s Jammu and Kashmir remain intact. The scourge can regain the lost strength anytime after the Americans lose interest in it. That will mean a fresh threat to world peace as well as the super power’s interests. The second significant aspect of the Blackwill visit is that it can help dent the Pakistani propaganda against Indian security forces so far as their handling of the local population is concerned. The US Ambassador might have seen with his own eyes if there was even an iota of truth in what General Musharraf’s propaganda machine churns out. Kashmiris are India’s own people. Our security forces have this realisation. If any local person who falls into the enemy’s trap and picks up the gun for Pakistan’s cause he cannot and should not expect sympathy from the forces assigned the job of eliminating militancy. Mr Blackwill deserves appreciation for ignoring the All-Party Hurriyat Conference leadership. This is enough to drive the point home that anyone who stands for the path of terrorism deserves no respect from the global community today.


Lanka: on the road to peace

THURSDAY’S agreement between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to develop a government that would give the rebels regional autonomy is certainly a significant development in the Norway-brokered peace negotiations. The enthusiasm among the people of the island nation following the agreement is spontaneous as it is expected to usher in new vistas of peace and cooperation, bringing to an end the 19-year-old ethnic conflict which claimed the lives of over 60,000 people. It is encouraging to note that both sides have resolved to continue the process of dialogue in the coming weeks to explore a political solution founded on internal self-determination and based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Constitutional Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris has said that both the Canadian and Indian federal models will be studied with special reference to the devolution of financial powers. The LTTE does not speak about Eelam or a separate homeland for Tamils anymore. The fact that the Tigers are willing to share power within a united Sri Lanka indicates that they are keen on peace, putting their demand for a separate state on the backburner for the time being. There is no denying the fact that the agreement is being viewed as a statement of intent, not as a breakthrough among certain sections. This is because the LTTE has not made any specific concession. All it has said is that it stands for a peaceful and negotiated resolution of the ethnic problem.

Moreover, while the modalities of the proposal — federal structure within a unitary state — need to be worked out, it is not going to be an easy exercise for various reasons. First, the Sri Lankan Constitution is unitary in nature. To make it federal, a constitutional amendment is necessary which will have to be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. This seems to be a tall order for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who does not enjoy a two-thirds majority in Parliament as of now. Second, the continued showdown between President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mr Wickremesinghe is yet another cause for concern. Will the President endorse the peace formula in the larger interest of the country and extend a helping hand to Mr Wickremesinghe? And third, the concept of internal self-determination is being interpreted as a vague concept. What would happen if the concept is rejected in a referendum? Will it be back to square one? In any case, three more monthly rounds have been scheduled till March, 2003. Clearly, it would be too premature to say how things would take shape in the coming weeks. This is particularly true in the case of harmonising and integrating the two systems of government. The negotiations in the coming weeks should hopefully try to evolve a constitutional model that would address all the issues in depth, to the satisfaction of both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government.


The changing nature of war
Joint doctrine and networking essential
V.P. Malik

EACH civilisation gives rise to its own way of waging war. The Prussian military thinker Clausewitz noted: “Each age has had its own peculiar forms of war.... Each therefore, would also keep its own theory of war”.

The industrial revolution ushered in a new dimension of mass-produced weaponry. The strike capability of combat forces focused on reach, mobility, and destruction power. The length of the sword, the range of the aircraft or missile, the number of combat forces, how fast they can be committed, how deep they can be sustained, what total damage can they achieve on the adversary: all these became key combat capabilities affecting the outcome in a conflict.

Such capabilities reached their near total extreme in the past half-century. This also brought about the likelihood of the mad level of mutual assured destruction, if any nuclear military powers ever decide to go for an all-out war.

Due to a revolution in military affairs, the industrial character of armed conflict capabilities is now shifting to a new form; based on knowledge and information. It enables precise surgical strikes on command and control nodes, strategic facilities, combat reserves, and combat support facilities in depth. It also enables getting at the adversary’s nerve centres; with precision attacks as happened in the Gulf War and in Afghanistan, or through electronic warfare and cyber attacks. In fact, military experts have now begun talking about “no contact” wars, or causing crucial and massive damages without coming into physical contact.

New developments in weapons, equipment and other capabilities give rise to new tactics and strategies. Due to faster technological progress, military doctrinal revisions are now needed more frequently; every 4-5 years, instead of 25-30 years as was the case earlier. There is much greater emphasis on the versatility of the combat forces. Due to vast difference in the technology competence amongst nations, Sun Tzu, who held that “the most successful General was one who achieved his ends without a battle” (No Contact War) and Clausewitz, who stated that “a war is an act of violence pushed to its utmost bounds”, continue to be relevant along with Liddle Hart, Andre Beaufre and Che Guevara. In such a scenario, war planners and preventers, both face unprecedented complexity.

Trends and statistics of last 50 years show that the armed conflicts have been moving down the paradigm scale of intensity as well as inclusivity. Potential nuclear war has given way to restrained nuclear deterrence. Total war, even a conventional war, has yielded to “limited war”, “unrestricted war”, and several types of “low intensity conflicts”. There are several reasons for such a trend: international and human organisational pressures, high collateral damage, the high cost of maintaining standing armed forces, and costly new weapon systems and equipment. At present, the international opinion is strongly against re-drawing of national boundaries through forcible means. Destruction of enemy’s military potential and occupation of large foreign territories: these are not easily attainable military objectives even when an armed conflict is between unequal enemies.

In future, therefore, the probability of an all-out high intensity regular war will remain low, particularly among nuclear (China, India, Pakistan inclusive) nations. Even when a conventional war does break out, the war is likely to be limited in time, scope and space. Such a conflict will have to be conducted within the framework of carefully calibrated political goals and military moves that permit adequate control over escalation and disengagement.

There are other emerging trends in the nature and conducts of warfare that I feel are of particular significance. They influence defence planning, structure of the armed forces, their deployment pattern, conduct of war, and most important, the decision-making apparatus.

One, the separation between tactical, operational and strategic levels of warfare is blurring. While there was always some degree of overlap between these levels, due to the increasingly pervasive influence of Information Technology (IT) on warfare this overlap is increasing. A small military action along the Line of Control, or a terrorists’ act in the hinterland of the types that we have seen in the recent past, tend to become issues for consideration and decision making at the strategic level. It is a situation wherein a junior military officer is expected to understand political considerations, and the political leader to know the tactical and operational considerations.

Two, on account of this blurring distinction between the levels of warfare, the Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act (OODA) cycle has to be traversed much faster. In effect, we have to break the enemy’s OODA cycle, and ensure quicker action while the enemy is still/kept disoriented. This again is seriously impacted by IT. We need more effective, integrated Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence (C3I) systems and faster decision making at tactical, operational as well as strategic levels of command. The cycle of collection, collation, synthesis and dissemination of information has to be speeded up and made real time.

Three, there is the aspect of integration, jointness and interoperability, as explained below:

× We have to think in terms of integrated capabilities and synergy among the forces for optimum utilisation of military power. Synergy can be ensured only when our war fighting aims, goals, resources & techniques are harmonised by a single doctrine.

× Defence policy and planning has to be based on collective defence forces’ influence and potential and not of any individual Service.

× External and internal security is meshed more than ever before. Greater liaison, coordination and interoperability for operations is needed with agencies responsible for internal security than hitherto. It also requires compatibility of equipment, as much as possible, particularly the communication equipment.

× There is an increasing trend towards interoperability of defence forces. The backbone of such interoperability is sets of common interoperable standards and operating procedures. This trend is becoming increasingly significant, especially in the context of UN operations.

The fundamental point in a limited war is that it is a political process conducted for bargaining. The aim is not to win but rather not to lose and to fight in such a way that the enemy is forced to settle for peace and concede politico-strategic advantage. A limited war implies limited political and military objectives, not to hurt the adversary excessively at any one time, limited in duration, in geography, and in the actual use of forces level. Its implications on the ground are integrated capabilities, continuous surveillance, rapid concentration, multiple choices/thrusts and shallow objectives, maximum use of Special Forces and force multiplier, and sharp intense actions.

There is a linkage between deterrence and escalation. Capability to wage a successful conventional and nuclear war is a necessary deterrent. A war may well remain limited because of a credible deterrence. Politico-diplomatic factors will play an important role. Careful and calibrated orchestration of military operations, diplomacy and domestic environment is essential for its successful outcome. Continuous control of the “escalatory ladder” requires much closer politico- civil- military interaction. It is, therefore, essential to keep the military leadership within the security and strategic decision-making loop and having a direct politico-military interface. During a conflict situation, all participants must remain in constant touch with political leadership as was done during the Kargil war.

Are we adequately equipped and trained for the more likely form of warfare or the less likely form? Are we prepared for yesterday or tomorrow’s war? How relevant are our large, heavy and cumbersome combat organisations like the strike corps? Have we taken into account the nuclear thresholds with two of our more likely national security challengers; however grey those lines maybe? Is there a need to review some of our combat organisations and operational concepts that go along with them? These are important questions and while working on the 10th Plan, the Armed Forces must review these aspects. I believe that some of our combat organisations can be reduced in size; made speedier, more versatile and more flexible. It is time that we started thinking about greater combat effectiveness of our special forces, combat groups, commands and battle groups and other equivalent formations. Having several large, unwieldy and expensive strike corps for conventional deterrence that tend to sit out of the war when it actually happens is not a cost-effective military strategy. We could consider splitting one of them into battle groups initially.

We need better integration of surveillance and operational resources (satellite imagery, air reconnaissance, radars, armed helicopters and so on) to reduce mobilisation and force generation time. “Anticipation” of a war, or in the battlefield, can be substantially improved when we deploy force multipliers effectively.

Currently, our operational planning caters more for “reactive” all-out conventional war settings and much less for “pro-active” limited war scenario. Our mobilisation, particularly of the Army, is time consuming and prone to losing strategic and tactical surprise. Also, the Army cannot be expected to sit through the “air dominance” period required by the Air Force. There is a need for the Armed Forces to prepare different level joint plans, which can be implemented at short notice/ during the course of mobilisation. Such contingency plans and their full implications would need prior politico military discussions and “in principle” approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security.

In the nuclear field, unless we have “known” nuclear forces and an effective, integrated command and control system, we risk the credibility of our deterrence as well as the capability to respond. This aspect requires urgent political and military attention.

A conflict in future could well be decided on the basis of better exploitation of the electro-magnetic (EM) spectrum. Its impact is all-pervasive: to aid anti-terrorist operations, prevent attacks against civilian or military targets. The e-bombs would have the advantage of no collateral damage and lesser likelihood of loss of life. Concerted R&D into the varied uses of the EM spectrum is an urgent requirement. We also require systems and trained manpower for information warfare.

With the conflict becoming multi-dimensional, we should re-organise the system for networking of the Armed Forces and other agencies that have a part to play in future wars. The armed forces, intelligence organisations, the DRDO, Atomic Energy Commission and the ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Home, Finance, Communications, Surface, Sea and Air Transportation and so on; all have to work with speed, in a true spirit of cooperation, understanding and mutual confidence.

The writer, a retired General, was the Chief of Army Staff during the Kargil war.


USA can play a role in Kashmir: Mirwaiz
Humra Quraishi

THE security bandobast at the Nagin-situated Mirwaiz Manzil — where the 29-year-old Mirwaiz Omar Farooq lives — is not over powering, though it is in the same house that his father, Maulvi Farooq, was gunned down in 1990.

Mirwaiz Omar Farooq
Mirwaiz Omar Farooq

Besides being the religious head of the Muslims of the valley, he is also doing Ph.D in “Political thought of Islam with reference to Central Asia and Kashmir” from the University of Kashmir. He is accessible, as most of the telephonic calls to his residence are either answered by him, his sister or his spouse — 25 year-old Sheeba Masoodi. A Kashmiri brought up in the USA, she came down to Srinagar to work for an NGO last year and became so involved with the place that this summer she married Mirwaiz and settled down in Srinagar.

Excerpts from an exclusive interview with the Mirwaiz of the valley.

Q: What are your comments on the present day political situation in the valley?

We have maintained that elections are really no solution to the Kashmir problem. That’s why though eight elections have been held and yet there has been no solution and the crisis continues. As far as the Hurriyat is concerned, elections are just not going to provide any solution whether Mufti or Farooq is heading the government.

Q: You mean to say that there is no difference between Farooq and Mufti?

There is of course, a difference ...Farooq’s regime was very ruthless — custodial deaths ...sabotaging all peace process.

Q: Will you like to comment on the Congress playing such a mature role in installing a democratically elected government?

After this hype they had to go in for some arrangement. Anyway the Congress was never a strong party in the valley. In fact the Congress has been responsible for the origin of the turmoil here — Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi. Another thing is that New Delhi will have the upper hand in all the functioning. So there’s little scope of this government making much difference.

Q: Do you think that now Hurriyat will be sidelined?

No we haven’t compromised on our stand. Even today we insist that the solution lies in a dialogue between the three concerned parties — Kashmir, India and Pakistan. But for some reason the Government of India is bent on maligning the Hurriyat.

Q: You address the Friday gathering of the devout at the Jama Masjid. What are the issues that you talk about? Do you think intelligence agencies keep a track on what you say in your address.

I talk of social and political issues. Yes, social issues also because I am the religious head. I know my phone is tapped but it doesn’t bother me. Maybe there are RAW and IB men at the Masjid, but it doesn’t bother me.

Q: What will be the future of the Muslims in the rest of the country if Kashmir does get independence.

It is sad that though the Kashmir issue is not related to Hindus and Muslims, it is made out to be a religious issue by vested communal interests. It is a political problem in which Muslims in India are not really involved. In 1947 they were given the option and they opted to stay back. And now we cannot be kept as hostages because of the Indian Muslims.

Q: Why do you think Delhi and even the Hurriyat give so much importance to the USA?

It is a single super power and they have always maintained a position that Kashmir is a disputed territory. They do want to see political stability here and the other aspect is the nuclear factor.

Q: But US interference in any country has brought about destruction and disaster (Palestine, Afghanistan). Comment.

I still maintain that the USA can play a role — after all a third party has to be involved to sort out this problem.

Q: Your comments on the detention of Mr Geelani and his son-in-law Iftikhar Geelani.

Political arrests, of course. The Central Government is set to malign Hurriyat.

Q: There is talk that there’s pressure from the US Government for their release.

I really don’t know but one thing is sure that when you indulge in a struggle for freedom that this is the price one has to pay ...thousands of Kashmiris are detained and killed and the struggle has to go on.

Q: Though Islam stands for non-violence, lately it has been associated with just the opposite. Comment. Also there’s been a general decay in Muslims around this entire subcontinent. Comment.

So far as we, the Kashmiris, are concerned, violence has been thrust upon us for the last 45 years. We have been wanting to indulge in a dialogue, tried to get our rights in a peaceful way but see what happens. The GOI, with all the might under its control, has not been able to crush the sentiments of the people and our struggle is on. And even if you consider all that propaganda unleashed by the West, it is time that the West should see the causes behind all that is called terrorism. What is behind it is of course the double standards being followed by the governments.

Regarding the problems being faced by Muslims in this part of the subcontinent and in other countries, it is directly related to the fact that they have not been able to get justice. Also, Muslims are by and large very emotional people and they cannot be suppressed by any government.

Q: How many militants do you think would still be around in the valley?

Today there’d be about 3,000 to 4,000 militants around and not more.

Q: Hypothetically speaking, if you were not the Mirwaiz would you have at some stage of your life been tempted to join a militant movement.

Maybe earlier, but then I realised that I can contribute much more through political and international forums.

Q: Do you think what’s going on in Kashmir is a slow revolution of sorts.

If you see it from the historical perspective the struggle has been on since 1947. Yes it is overall a revolution. We are fighting a system, wanting freedom from a system which has no accountability, where one is not sure who is working for whom.

Q: Your father was gunned down right here in this compound. And till now the case is on and his killers have not been arrested. Comment.

That time I was 16 years old and it took me about two-three years to really grasp the reality. Investigations are on. He believed in self determination and he was the only leader here who was not provided security ...what else to say.

Q: Your comments on the Right Wing allegations that madrasas are grooming terrorists.

On the pretext of terrorism these Right Wing people are attacking madrasas... it is part of the Hindutva brigade’s agenda to spread all this disinformation.

Q: Are you worked for being arrested for your bold views or does the religious head title protects you.

Because of my religious background it is difficult for the GOI to arrest me, but, then on the other hand, who can stop them. Though my arrest will not help them and the people are sure to react.

Q: You don’t look the typical maulvi sahib and yet you are religious head of this largest Muslim populated state of the country.

It is time that Muslim institutions need to open up, Imams could be professionals so that they keep in touch with the changing times. I also feel that every madarasa has to have compulsory subjects and also technical education.. Also, I strongly feel that the Imam should not be supported by government or by the subsidiaries doled out by the government, but they — the Imams should be supported by the members of the community. It is time that Muslims strike a balance between the principles of Islam and modernisation and form a society which is morally correct.


Debunking the famous
Amita Malik

I am returning without apologies to the new programmes at last proving that political and social satire can be done without malice, wrong motives or crudity. And all the more welcome in a week when we mourn the death of our colleague Abu Abraham. Abu was a cartoonist who not only worked on two international papers ,The Observer and The Guardian, after his apprenticeship in India’s first, and one hopes, not last humorous magazine, Shankar’s Weekly, the brainchild of that doyen of Indian cartoonists. Viceroys and Prime Ministers used to ask Shankar for autographed originals of his cartoons. It is an index of the far more tolerant times in India’s political life, that even during the Emergency Abu could lampoon the government and get away with it. But times have changed and the rapid deterioration in the calibre of our politicians has made the making of TV progammes poking fun at our poliricians a legal hazard. That this kind of satire is likely to increase promises better times in the future. So while ‘Ramkhilwan’, the first political spoof of Sab TV continues to hang fire in the Patna High Court, in neighbouring Kolkata, the viewing public is hugely enjoying the Bengali programme on a ‘Left’ channel, which is clearly spoofing Didi (Mamata Banerjee), who does not find it remotely funny, even if the public does. I have only seen excerpts of the programme on the screen and enjoyed it as much at the last two episodes of ‘Public Hai Sab Janti Hai’ which I found excrutiatingly funny. It is a happy blend of scripting, dialogue and acting, backed up by intelligent production and topicality of subject. And canned laughter in control.

Take the last two types satirised. First there is a political leader who gets a convenient stomachache in the middle of an election campaign. He is rushed to hospital where, although he does not at all look ill, he has hordes of VIP visitors, including his arch political rival. As the doctors fuss over him, a highly pregnant woman is left unattended in the corrirdors with doctors giving her only cursory attention in spite of her screaming her head off with the last stages of labour pains. At last a doctor attends to her and asks her husband’s name.‘‘ He died in the earthquake,” she wails.‘‘Aren’t you ashamed?” asks the doctor.‘‘The earthquake was two years ago. Now tell us the real father’s name,” he demands sternly.‘‘Danga”, (riot) she wails. The rest is left to the imagination. And not difficult to guess who, is it?

Then comes episode two, and this time it is a certain underworld don who is running the film industry. His moll is given a minor role and treated roughly until she contacts the mafia don somewhere in the Arab world. While the producer etc quake as they get endless bullying calls on the cellphone from the don and the moll gets the top starring role, their cell phones are tapped, their contacts in Mumbai (or wherever) jailed, pleading their innocence. The police (also nicely lampooned) catch up with the don who is last heard of fleeing to Portugal with his moll. Well, guess who? After a long time I watch a programme for personal pleasure as well as professional and that is very rare.‘ Public Hai Sab Janti Hai’ can be seen on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8.30 pm on Sab TV and I cannot recommend it too highly.

To switch to something completely different but a role model for professionalism. Although my knowledge of Italian does not extend much beyond the word Bambino, I often linger admiringly over the RAI channel which I easily rate as the most visually beautiful channel out of all the ones we can see in India. Artistically and visually perfect it made me linger more than usual, for over 90 minutes, as in a huge hall, a brilliant orchestra gave one of the best renderings I have ever heard of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sc Herazade Suite. It had a lesson for producers of large orchestras, whether Indian or foreign, and especially classical music performances, where the cognicenti will want to see in close-up individual players or groups playing a particular instrument while, of course, the music flows on. In India, producers have a tendency to shoot from the front row angle, everything is en masse and jumped together and all the finer nuances are missed. The same often applies to even small groups of Indian classical musicians, the mike too near the table and drowning the gentle sitar or flute.

The only time I have seen Doordarshan handle a Western classical music concert with finesse and knowledge of music was when Sita Nanda produced a symphony concert conducted in Mumbai by Zubin Mehta. Zubin Mehta thanked and congratulated Sita Nanda afterwards and more so because she had stayed on like a true professional even after she got the tragic news just before the concert that her mother had suddenly died. That is what I call true professionalism and it came from Doordarshan’s own staff.


Tour bus adds spice to life in Berlin

A tour bus filled with beer-drinking passengers and a handful of bare-breasted strippers is plying the night-time streets of Berlin, giving the German capital a hot new tourist attraction.

The double-decker bus cruises past the city’s main tourist spots, including the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag parliament building, the chancellery, the state opera house, Tiergarten Park and the Victory Column on a three-hour tour.

But the crowd on board seems less interested in Berlin’s cultural offerings than they are in the tour guide, who slowly disrobes during her commentary, and her two “assistants” who keep spirits high with a series of strip shows. Reuters

Spinal injuries: facilities inadequate

There are a total of 30 nodal centres to deal with spinal injury cases in the UK, 17 in the USA and just one in India, when 5-6 out of every 10 accident cases here either result in a head or back injury. “While hectic lifestyle, computerisation, office load and growing accident cases have all resulted in a steep rise in the number of spinal injury cases, hardly any specialised centres exist across the country to deal with such cases,” says Dr A.K. Mukherjee, a former Director General of Health Services.

Of every 100 injury cases coming to a hospital, 65 are due to a fall from the height which directly affects the head or the back; the rest 35 are accident cases in which again more than half the time the casualty is either the head or the spine, Dr Mukherjee says.

But what we have is just one specialised spinal injuries centre in the Capital. However, there are plans to open more such centres in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, Dr Mukherjee says, noting, the need is to have one in each city across the country so that minimum time is lost between an injury and availability of right medical care. PTI

Smoking costs 20-25 years of one’s life

Smoking can cost 20 to 25 years of one’s life, according to Dr Rory Collins of Oxford University.

Speaking on the “Role of tobacco and diabetes in causing cardiovascular diseases” at the 54th conference of the Cardiological Society of India (CSI) in Kochi recently, Dr Collins said: “Non-smokers have got greater life expectancy than those who smoke. But, after smoking at early stages of life, if one quits smoking in the middle age, it will do a lot of good. It has been found that those who quit smoking during middle age will survive as if they never smoked.” UNI


There is no end to man’s self deception.

Because, whatever he is going to do, he can rationalise it.

One day one man boasted in the bar that he is a man of iron will and now he will show it by not touching wine again in his life.

But not even that day could pass.

And in the evening he came to bar and said loudly for all to hear: “I am stronger than my will power. And, I fought the whole day and finally conquered my damn will power. A double scotch please.”

—From The Silent Music, 26.


Struggle for life is a misreading of the struggle for light.

The language of love is understood everywhere.

God has no purpose that would mean imperfection.

God, you and I are one.

—Swami Ramatirtha, In Woods of God Realisation, Vol. II


Shiva can create only when He is united with Shakti.

Without Shakti, He cannot stir.

For this reason, how can an ordinary person bow down to You to praise you.

O Mother, who is worshipped by the deities of creation, preservation and destruction.

—Adi Shankaracharya, Ananda Lahiri I


She does not create this universe the way a human being builds a house, using different kinds of materials and remaining different from those materials. She creates the universe out of her own being and it is she herself who becomes this universe.... She is that Supreme Energy which moves and animates all creatures, from the elephant to the tiniest ant.

—Swami Muktananda, Kundalini, The Secret of Life.


The midday shadow is written,

May its end be good.

— Shayast-na-shayast, 21, 3

Compiled by Satish K. Kapoor


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