Wednesday, June 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India






National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

Nothing earth-shaking
T
he report submitted to the Prime Minister by Mr Sharad Pawar on management of natural calamities is not a comprehensive document on the subject. Mr Pawar as head of a working group, appointed shortly after the devastating Gujarat earthquake two years ago, could not have done better, because disaster management is a subject that requires inputs from various international and domestic organisations.

Rain check
T
he farm-dependent economy of India continues to be at the mercy of the rains. The progress of the monsoon is not only the staple topic of discussion across the country during May-June, it even has a bearing on the movement of the stock market.

Hillary's history
G
IVEN the kind of publicity blitz that preceded the release of Hillary Clinton’s memoir Living History, it will be a surprise if the publishers do not rake in huge profits. But for the authoress, profit might not have been the primary motive for penning the book. In that case, what could have been her motive? 


EARLIER ARTICLES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
 
OPINION

Governing a plural society
It's Advantage Vajpayee in the BJP
S. Nihal Singh
B
eyond the controversy over the relative merits of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr L.K. Advani, with the Bharatiya Janata Party president Venkaiah Naidu serving as the joker in the pack, lies a deeper problem: how to reconcile the contradiction between the core beliefs of the party with the compulsions of governing a plural society. 

MIDDLE

Tale of an armchair cricketer
Vikramdeep Johal
I
n my school-days, I had three cricket idols — Kapil Dev, Ian Botham and Malkiat mamaji. The third one never played the game, but he had a passion for it that bordered on obsession. When in full flow, he was no less exciting to watch than the other two. 

Cheap imports marginalise Kashmiri apples
The playing field for growers is far from level
Mannika Chopra
A
ll over Sopore in North Kashmir’s Baramula district orchard owners were pruning, grafting or applying fertilisers to spindly apple trees. By September-October these trees will be heavy with apples carrying evocative names like Hazratbali, Kesri, Razakwari, Maharaji or the white spotted red.

Love blooms over interrogation table
Hannah Cleaver
R
omantics in Germany are sighing over the story of an East German dissident and the Stasi officer who fell in love across an interrogation table, were separated for more than a decade but who are now together despite the odds.

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS

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Nothing earth-shaking

The report submitted to the Prime Minister by Mr Sharad Pawar on management of natural calamities is not a comprehensive document on the subject. Mr Pawar as head of a working group, appointed shortly after the devastating Gujarat earthquake two years ago, could not have done better, because disaster management is a subject that requires inputs from various international and domestic organisations. The services of experts were made available to the group. Yet, it has produced a report in which the emphasis is on creating a fund. Unfortunately, disaster management is not really about having a bulging corpus for the speedy flow of money to the disaster-stricken regions. The creation of a Rs 500-crore corpus, as suggested by the group, may, in any case, prove inadequate for coping with unforeseen emergencies that natural disasters usually create. But money is needed for post-calamity management of problems like rehabilitation of the uprooted people, and meeting their basic need for food, medicine and shelter. The working group was not told that when a cyclone or a quake or a flash flood visits a region the immediate concern is to minimise the scale of devastation. Latur, Uttarkashi and Gujarat are just some examples of a poor disaster response mechanism adding to the misery of the victims. A more purposeful exercise was undertaken shortly after the Gujarat disaster. The 6th Working Group Meeting of the Asian Urban Disaster Mitigation Programme was held in Ahmedabad in March 2001. Among other things, the participants discussed the need for creating a mechanism for establishing partnerships and an efficient system of networking.

Being part of the global village should ideally ensure prompt response to any request for help from anywhere. Gujarat had shown that teams from other countries were better prepared for dealing with the earthquake-related problems than the creaky local machinery. Trained sniffer dogs helped save many lives as did the special gear that some international agencies had for detecting signs of life in the debris and rubble. A regular well-trained and equipped task force for dealing exclusively with natural calamities would serve a better purpose than mere creation of a fund for providing relief to the survivors. Nature usually strikes without warning. Yet, there are certain situations in which satellite weather forecasting has helped the authorities concerned to shift endangered people to safer areas. Now with the monsoon having made its delayed appearance, the next phase of predictable devastation will be caused by floods. The proposed Rs 500-crore corpus is not going to save human lives. But an efficient network of personnel may prove more useful in shifting the people to safety.
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Rain check

The farm-dependent economy of India continues to be at the mercy of the rains. The progress of the monsoon is not only the staple topic of discussion across the country during May-June, it even has a bearing on the movement of the stock market. This year, it has been causing panic galore because of a week’s delay in the onset of the crucial rains. The monsoon normally hits Kerala on June 1, but this time did so only on June 8. The rains were good, but the worrying part is that it struck with a wind speed of only 15-20 knots against the ideal 25-30. The downpour uplifted the market sentiments. Yet, apprehensions remain. India is such a vast country that the monsoon has to not only start propitiously but also to hold course all the way to the North. Expert opinion on that count is divided. One unusual development this year is that the monsoon system entered the Northeast on June 5, full three days ahead of the southern coast. It is not clear what effect this will have on the overall rain situation. The future of India’s agricultural output and economic growth is inexorably tied with the June-September monsoon. There have been just six instances of the rains being delayed in the past 40 years. Of these six, five were followed by a fall in agricultural production. One hopes that history will not repeat itself this year. India is in no position to risk a drought. The government on its part is maintaining a brave front. Projections on the output and exports of agricultural commodities remain unchanged despite the one-week delay.

The irony is that an unequal distribution of rainfall can be as debilitating as the shortage. With the monsoon hitting the Northeast early, there is an apprehension that while some parts may get above average precipitation, the opposite may be true in the others. The projection for the North is that the monsoon may be below the long period average. That spells trouble because water levels in major reservoirs are only 65 per cent of the 10-year average and 7 per cent lower than the level at the end of May 2002. Dams in Himachal Pradesh have adequate water because of the melting of snow due to the excessive heat, but that hardly spells good news in the long term. This is also the time for the state governments to check and cross-check whether flood control measures are completed. The experience so far is that all tall claims in this regard come to a nought once the rains begin in right earnest.
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Hillary's history

GIVEN the kind of publicity blitz that preceded the release of Hillary Clinton’s memoir Living History, it will be a surprise if the publishers do not rake in huge profits. But for the authoress, profit might not have been the primary motive for penning the book. In that case, what could have been her motive? Though she is the wife of a former President, who has completed two terms in office, she is young, bright and career-conscious. Speculations are already rife that she will be the Democratic candidate for the 2008 elections. There is no denying that if at all a woman makes it to the White House in the near future, it will be the first-time Senator from New York. So it is difficult to divorce the book from her potential candidacy. That she is not the run-of-the-mill politician is apparent from the fact that she preferred to be in the Armed Services Committee rather than stick to “women’s issues” like health and welfare. Stereotyping is what she loathes the most. The way she campaigned and won in New York shows how brilliant a strategist she is. It seems the same calculative mind was at work as she put pen to paper to produce Living History. One aspect of her life, which the former First Lady has not been able to explain is how she reacted to her husband’s extraordinary relations with a young intern when it became a subject of intense debate the world over.

If she believed Bill Clinton’s protestations of innocence as she seems to imply, she is outright stupid. But that is hardly an adjective that can be used against her. One can believe her when she says, “I could not believe he would do anything to endanger our marriage and our family. I was dumbfounded, heartbroken and outraged that I’d believed him at all” only if one stretches one’s credulity too far. For dramatic effect, she writes about her first impulse, which was to “wring” his neck. But at the end of it all, she has no harsh words against her hubby who betrayed her and brought infame to the Presidency. There is no trace of the feminist in her when she discovers that he was a philanderer. Instead, she allows her long hours alone to admit to herself that she loved Bill. If Hillary’s History ends up as “an open love poem for Bill” as an imaginative India sub-editor puts it, her purpose has been served. The shrewd politician that she is, she knew that making an issue of his untrustworthiness would have ruined her life and career. Those who look for a wronged wife, a woman more sinned against than sinning and a passionate defender of women’s lib in the pages of Living History will, instead, find a calculating politician with a clear goal to achieve. She is in many respects like Bill Clinton.
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Governing a plural society
It's Advantage Vajpayee in the BJP
S. Nihal Singh

Beyond the controversy over the relative merits of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr L.K. Advani, with the Bharatiya Janata Party president Venkaiah Naidu serving as the joker in the pack, lies a deeper problem: how to reconcile the contradiction between the core beliefs of the party with the compulsions of governing a plural society. The five-year reign of the BJP-led government at the Centre signifies a successful ad hoc arrangement, but it has been punctuated by many pulls and pressures in the Sangh Parivar and an impatience among significant sections with the compromises made.

Whether Mr Vajpayee is described as a benign and secular mukhota (mask) or as a moderate, if not liberal, leader, his role has been essential to the longevity of the experiment. And he has displayed the capacity to veer towards a hardline view only to draw back to the centre later. Twice he sought to spell out his vision through his holiday "musings", but they singularly failed to convince those who think of Hindutva in deep shades of saffron.

Mr Advani has been an essential member of the ruling team, often amounting to two, but he essentially implements decisions although his brief has been expanded in recent times to give him decision-making powers in demarcated areas. He is par excellence the party man and his worth was recognized by making him the official No 2, with not a whimper from the constituents of the National Democratic Alliance.

One of the lessons absorbed by the BJP leadership is that the NDA members are attracted by the spoils of office and most of them have nowhere to go, either because of their animosity to the Congress party or their limited regional appeal. There will be leaders such as Mr Ajit Singh who will leave because they want to place better bets, with elections approaching, but many more return to the fold, a begging bowl in hand. Electoral arithmetic is cruel and few want to fall flat on their faces.

The BJP's problem is that with every victory achieved in the manner of Gujarat, the party and the country have to pay a heavy price. The Gujarat magic will not succeed everywhere, as the Himachal election showed, but the sharpening BJP tactic in Madhya Pradesh, with Bhojshala being made an issue to unseat the Congress, demonstrates its willingness to play the communal card wherever it can. Mr Digvijay Singh's attempt to seek to blunt it with upping the ante has not proved successful so far.

Mr Digvijay Singh's problem is a larger Congress problem because old cries of traditional secularism do not have the same resonance for urban middle classes in particular. On the other hand, the cumulative impact of the BJP's Hindutva makes the task of governance that much more difficult. If the BJP assumes it will return to power at the Centre, it would make its own task harder, apart from inviting the opprobrium of much of the world. However the BJP chooses to explain Hindutva, the party's anti-minority slant is obvious, and given the character and complexion of the country, any suggestion of chauvinism by the majority community is potentially dangerous, as the horror of Yugoslavia's bloody disintegration has tellingly demonstrated.

The BJP is still seeking answers but is unable to find them. To an extent, the party has succeeded in indoctrinating substantial sections of the northern Hindu lower middle class on the virtues of Hindutva, a concept very different from Hinduism. Besides, indoctrinated Sangh Parivar men and women have found places in government structures of power. But these advantages are offset by caste divisions and the pulling power of the leaders of the dispossessed who often remain leaders even after their flocks have crossed the hurdle of poverty.

The wiser among the BJP leadership can hardly remain satisfied with a balkanised electorate and country until such time as a great number of its Hindu following becomes devotees of the Parivar brand of Hindutva. In its search for votes in order to remain the ruling party at the Centre, the BJP has already made painful sacrifices, most notably in Uttar Pradesh, choosing to suffer in silence the slings and arrows of the feisty Mayawati. In Andhra Pradesh again, it has hitched its wagon to the Telugu Desam although the bargain in this case is support to a BJP-led government in New Delhi, rather than farming out regional party support to BJP men in the Lok Sabha election. Tamil Nadu, of course, is shared between one Dravidian party and the other.

The BJP has proved as opportunistic as any other party in preparing for elections. Rather, the party's problem is that there remain in the Parivar purists in doctrinaire terms who would judge party rule by the yardstick of their beliefs. Ayodhya has become a potent symbol of the Hindutva cause although its efficacy as an electoral gambit is of limited usefulness. New symbols have therefore to be promoted in fertile soil, as in the Bhojshala case.

Mr Vajpayee's usefulness for the BJP cause lies in his ability to voice a vision greater than the arithmetical calculations involved in winning elections. That cause cannot be a narrow doctrinal one because it would not enthuse the majority. A nation is more than a mere conglomerate of men and women and must be bound by a nationalism greater than a party platform. Mr Advani the party man does not articulate such a vision beyond the scope of routine governance. One does not have to be a poet to have a vision, but being one helps. For instance, it is difficult to imagine Mr Advani switch so seamlessly from a hard no-dialogue policy towards Pakistan to extending a hand of friendship to a problematic neighbour because one can choose friends, but not neighbours.

The BJP remains far from reconciling its contradictions and must perforce rely on Mr Vajpayee's histrionics and vision to try to return the party to power. The hurdles in the state elections will be a prelude to the general election in 2004. Mr Vajpayee cannot control the BJP's temper and methods in these elections, even assuming that he would want to, but the sharper the Hindutva rhetoric, the bigger will be his task of governance, should the party return to power.
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Tale of an armchair cricketer
Vikramdeep Johal

In my school-days, I had three cricket idols — Kapil Dev, Ian Botham and Malkiat mamaji. The third one never played the game, but he had a passion for it that bordered on obsession. When in full flow, he was no less exciting to watch than the other two. Like a connoisseur, he never tired of extolling the beauty of cricket; like a statistician, he could reel off records at the drop of a hat.

I first saw him at a marriage in Ludhiana, during the 1983 World Cup. My mother introduced me to this portly cousin of hers, who was busy talking cricket and sipping whisky. Seeing a little cricket buff, he fired questions at me to test my knowledge. As I was able to answer most of them, he gave me a pat on the back and a 10-rupee note. He bade goodbye with the words “pher milaange”, but not before predicting that India would reach the semis.

Soon after the World Cup, he visited us in Jalandhar. Ecstatic about India’s victory, he exclaimed: “Main tainu kiha see na byee India jittuga?” That wasn’t true, but I managed to stop myself from correcting him and just played along. My discretion was rewarded when he opened a treasure trove: a ledger-like register of cricket records he had compiled over the years. Showing his largesse, he gave me several magazines to make a scrapbook of my favourite cricketers.

As I busied myself with this activity, my grades went down, much to the consternation of my parents. To placate them, Malkiat mamaji “scolded” me for ignoring my studies. When we were alone, he slipped another tenner into my pocket.

There were occasions when he urged me not to let my pastime become a consuming passion. Cricket was just a game, he said, only to contradict himself by talking about his lifelong dream: to watch a match at Lord’s.

The dream was fulfilled when his daughter invited him to England. On his return, he described his out-of-this-world experience as if he was a pilgrim back from Mecca. He also proudly claimed to have seen English cricket greats like Geoff Boycott at close quarters. Despite his reputation for concocting tales, I believed every word of his story.

Little did we know that this meeting was to be our last. Once when I went to Ludhiana for some work, he was not in town. His wife, concerned about his failing eyesight, lamented that he was still making minuscule entries in his registers. His obsession was the bane of her life, she said. His grandchildren, on the other hand, said they enjoyed watching him take a “roll-call” of the world’s best cricketers everyday.

The day he came unannounced to Jalandhar for a minor eye operation, I was at college. After waiting for a couple of hours, he left regretting that we hadn’t been able to meet again. Some months later, high blood pressure claimed his life.

My interest in cricket has waned in the past few years, but I fondly remember Malkiat mamaji. At times I also feel envious of his grandchildren, for they have received a legacy that’s truly priceless.
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Cheap imports marginalise Kashmiri apples
The playing field for growers is far from level
Mannika Chopra

All over Sopore in North Kashmir’s Baramula district orchard owners were pruning, grafting or applying fertilisers to spindly apple trees. By September-October these trees will be heavy with apples carrying evocative names like Hazratbali, Kesri, Razakwari, Maharaji or the white spotted red.

Apple orchards cover 72 per cent of the beautiful Kashmir valley. But only Sopore is called the apple town of Kashmir. Almost all families here are connected with the cultivation of the fruit that grows easily in its environment. Said grower Yusuf Ahmed Dar, “It used to be that you carelessly spat out an apple seed and within two seasons a fine looking tree would be standing at the place; its fruit ready to be picked and packed off to the nearest fruit ‘mandi’.”

But the area’s fortunes have changed. Kashmiri apples known for their natural sweetness, nutrition and colour used to take the pride of place in Indian homes. Now they are being marginalised. Well-heeled consumers would rather be biting into a Granny Smith from New Zealand, or a Pacific Rose from South Africa, or a Washington from America, or a Fuji from Japan.

“Yeh sab make-up ka zamana hai. (This is the era of putting on make-up),” explains Manzoor Ahmed Bhatt, Vice-President, Baramula Fruit Growers’ Association, despondently. “Anything that is foreign and looks good sells.”

He has a point. Glowing from wax polish, packed in bright cartons, carefully cocooned from injury by nylon nets, these spiffy looking apples from the US or New Zealand may actually be nearly a year old. They retail for anything between Rs 100 and Rs 200 per kilo. In comparison, Kashmiri apples are no older than two or three months and retail for Rs 50-70 per kilo. Yet they might be slightly bruised and battered after being carted around in crude, fragile wooden crates — needless to say without adequate packaging, fancy stickers or brand names, lowering their market value.

The playing field is far from level. The base price of imported apples runs from Rs 20 to Rs 40 per kilo, thanks to high production volumes, and huge subsidies on fertiliser and power. Washington, for instance, costs Rs 48 for two-and-a-half kilos.

Then thanks to the “make-up”, the retail price is between Rs 100 and Rs 200. So the profit margin for the friendly neighbourhood fruit seller is huge. It’s in his interest to push foreign apples at the cost of Kashmir’s products.

Apple growers say that the effect of the entry of foreign apples on their business has not been calamitous — as yet. The price differential means that the foreign fruit appeals only to the wealthier sections. But it is a matter of time. The writing is certainly on the wall.

By 2004, the excise duty on imported fruits will be slashed by 35-42 per cent. Quantitative restrictions, too, will be removed. That will open the floodgates. Apprehensions have already increased with the recent entry of China into the WTO. China’s secret weapon is the light yellow Fuji that it is already exporting to 17 countries at rock bottom prices. The prospects for exports are also looking increasingly dismal. India agreed to sign the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT), and became part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Under its terms, the Centre slashed export quotas, simultaneously partially removing restrictions on the import of apples from countries like the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Thereafter, exports of the Kashmiri apple fell drastically.

“In a short span of three years exports slumped from 13.21 metric tonnes in 1996-97 to 12.47 metric tonnes in 1999-2000,” lamented Mir Mohammad Amin, Secretary, Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers-cum-Dealers Union, Srinagar. “Nepal and Bangladesh, countries which predominantly bought Kashmiri apples, are now opting for a mix.” India is the world’s 11th largest producer of apples. Of the 15 lakh metric tonnes it produces, Jammu and Kashmir account for 11.30 lakh metric tonnes. The valley provides 95 per cent of J&K’s output.

Together with tourism it is the fruit industry that sustained the economy of the valley. With militancy killing tourism, over the past 14 years it is the apple industry that has been the mainstay of the Kashmiri economy. Just the toll tax levied on apple boxes travelling outside the state, generates Rs 32 crore for the state exchequer annually. There used to be a common Kashmiri saying that if a father wanted to ensure that his daughter lived well after marriage, he should marry her to the owner of an apple orchard. Today that is no longer true.

Profits for the apple grower have dipped in the past few years. A crate of A grade apples that used to be sold for Rs 300 is now being sold for Rs 200-250. Some fruit growers have shifted to mixed cropping; also growing high paying dry fruits such as walnuts and almonds. But walnut production and its sale, too, have decreased substantially due to the WTO regime.

“Despite the slump I will not sell my orchard and move to another business,” says Mohammad Mir in Pulwama. “For one, the government doesn’t allow a distress sale and, for another, in the valley today there are simply very few business opportunities. This land belonged to my great grandfather and it will stay in my family. But now I tell my son it is better than he studies and gets a job.”

The WTO’s impact is clearly evident at the lower end of the apple business as well — in picking, grading, manufacturing of wooden crates, and marketing.

Once the snow melts in the summer months in the Pirpanjal range, Gujjar tribals traditionally wend their way to the valley in time for the apple-picking season. But with profits slumping, the earnings of these daily wage earners have declined by 35 per cent. Orchard owners now prefer, at times, to let lower C and D grade apples rot rather than spend money on picking.

Then traditionally Kashmiri apples are packed in wooden crates made by a community known as “bardanas” from locally available willow and poplar wood. These crates cost anything between Rs 20 and Rs 25 per unit. The state’s Horticulture Department is trying to encourage modern packaging techniques, promoting cardboard cartons. But the transition doesn’t make much economic sense. Cardboard comes from outside the state.

Cardboard boxes cost Rs 51 each, and will potentially wipe out the livelihood of the “bardanas”. Forwarding agents (zoonth bapur), who provide the link to outstation commissioning agents, are also seeing declining sale commissions. The industry’s woes are not only due to the WTO. Locally financing is hard to come by. Jammu and Kashmir Cooperative Bank gives loans to farmers at a crippling 17.5 per cent interest. Compared to that, the National Agricultural Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) gives loans at 8 per cent. Add inconsistent fertiliser quality, five consecutive years of drought, lack of refrigeration facilities, and transportation totally dependent on a trouble-prone National Highway, and a rough picture of the sector’s troubles emerge.

There is a growing realisation in the valley that Kashmiri apples will have to compete with imports on price and quality. That will be difficult without adequate government support and infrastructure. The growers dread the future. “It will be a replay of the whole saga of the Ambri, once Kashmir’s truly indigeneous apple,” predicted Mir wistfully. “Large, red and juicy but with a short shelf life, the big apple had to make way for the globally known Golden Delicious and Red Delicious.”

Now the Ambri is virtually extinct, only recalled from poorly printed photographs in dusty botanical encyclopaedias. Grassroots Feature Network
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Love blooms over interrogation table
Hannah Cleaver

Romantics in Germany are sighing over the story of an East German dissident and the Stasi officer who fell in love across an interrogation table, were separated for more than a decade but who are now together despite the odds.

The Cold War lovers' tale appeared last week in a book that has captivated Germans. Regina Kaiser was arrested in 1981 for writing reports on East German life for a West German organisation, the kind of activity that usually led to long jail sentences.

Uwe Karlstedt was the ambitious young Stasi officer charged with interrogating her and compiling the report that would send her to prison.

Regina, then 31, feared the worst when, on 6 April 1981, she was arrested at her flat in the Kopenick area of Berlin and taken to the notorious Hohenschoenhausen Stasi headquarters for questioning.

But the 26-year-old, tall, blond, junior officer distractedly asking the questions was not the terrifying torturer she had expected.

‘Astoundingly enough and despite everything, he was not despicable and not unattractive,' she thought later while waiting for the next interrogation.

‘I always thought the Stasi had to be cunning. But the situation did not live up to my fears of psychological terror. The isolation and the humiliation of imprisonment was oppressive. But the interrogation - I looked forward to it.'

He describes his first impression thus: `Fragile, charming and with open, smart eyes, a slim, boyish figure with long, almost black hair and absolutely my type.'

Their roles meant both had to hide their feelings while facing each other during two months of interrogation, but she kept scribbling the numbers 11 and 12 on a scrap of paper.

Eventually, in the hope that they might be a coded message, he asked her what the numbers meant. The 11 was the number of letters in ‘Du bist schon' (you are beautiful), while 12 meant `ich liebe dich' (I love you).

But while the two shared furtive kisses, he would not betray his principles or risk his career to save her and she was jailed for three years. At the end of her sentence, Regina was sent across the border to West Germany and was later reunited with her husband, also a dissident jailed in East Germany.

Uwe continued his career in the Stasi through the 1980s and rose to the rank of major before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, when he started working as an accountant, married and had two children. Regina worked as a tour guide at the Stasi building where she had been interrogated by Uwe and decided to find him to see whether what they had both once felt had been real.

She phoned first, but he said he did not know what she was talking about, kicking himself as soon as he hung up, terrified she would not call again.

But she wrote and asked to meet, which, on 13 November 1997, they did, meeting outside the interrogation headquarters. ‘I was excited like a schoolboy,' said Uwe. `My heart was in my mouth.'

They could not speak at first and drove in silence to a cafe. `In the middle of the cafe, he suddenly took me in his arms and kissed me,' said Regina.

Within months, Regina separated from her then partner, Uwe left his wife and family and they moved into a flat together.

He says now he regrets putting party and career above his feelings. ‘Today I would say that comrade Karlstedt failed in humanity.

Last week the couple published their story in a book called 12 Means I Love You, telling their tale of star-crossed lovers who seem to have created a happy ending. The Guardian

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A cow gives milk to all alike,

Likewise, saints pour their grace freely to all.

— Shri Namadeva Gatha, poem 861.

Truth, Eternal Order, that is great and stern,

Consecration, austerity, prayer and ritual,

uphold the earth.

May she, queen of what has been and will be,

provide vast space for us.

— Atharva Veda 12.1.1.
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