Governor is right
LTTE towards a
in Ropar district-II
‘When we feel good,
we work good’
Murders most foul
On Monday a Delhi court found Sushil Sharma guilty of having murdered his wife Naina Sahani in cold blood. Keshav Kumar, the owner of the eating joint where an alert beat constable recovered the charred remains of Naina from a tandoor on July 25, 1995, was found guilty of helping Sushil in trying to destroy the evidence of the ghastly crime. A day later a Ghaziabad court convicted nine persons for killing Safdar Hashmi, a CPM leader and theatre activist, on January 1, 1989. The quantum of punishment in both cases will be decided by the respective courts today. Justice delayed is not always justice denied. Not at least in the two cases that had elements of pure crime and political skulduggery. Unhappily for the Congress, that is caught in the exercise of protecting its electoral turf in five states, the timing of the verdict may give the Opposition, primarily the Bharatiya Janata Party, not one but two issues to exploit. The Congress may have to rework the political strategy for neutralising the negative fallout of the verdicts on the ballot.
The conviction of Sushil Sharma in the tandoor murder case and Mukesh Sharma and eight others for killing Safdar Hashmi is likely to revive the debate about the role of politicians in patronising criminals. At the same time there is no need for non-Congress outfits to celebrate the discomfiture of the Congress. There is not a single major political party that can claim to have clean hands. They are as much into the business of giving political respectability and even tickets to criminals as the Congress.
All political parties seek the help of criminals for winning elections. Sushil Sharma was the president of the Delhi unit of the Youth Congress when he killed Naina. Mukesh was contesting a municipal election from Ghaziabad when Safdar landed with his street theatre group to "halla bol" on political corruption. The conviction of Sushil, Mukesh and others in the two cases is an appropriate occasion for the people to tell the political parties to shun criminals or face public wrath as well as the law.
The Governor is right
Contrary to the expectations, RBI Governor Y V. Reddy, who took over from Mr Bimal Jalan over two months back, has avoided effecting any change in the benchmark bank interest rate and the repo rate or the cash reserve ratio — the bank rate being the interest rate at which banks borrow from the Reserve Bank of India while the repo rate is charged by the former for parking their funds with the RBI. Any change in the two rates influences the activity in the capital market. That is why the Bombay Stock Exchange reflected an unusual jump on Monday with its Sensex crossing the 5000 mark. But this was before Mr Reddy announced his maiden mid-term monetary and credit policy review.
Mr Reddy has underlined the country’s economic achievements with the expectation of a GDP growth rate between 6.5 per cent and 7 per cent, much higher than last year’s 4.4 per cent. In April his predecessor had made a 6 per cent growth projection for 2003-2004. The upward revision by Mr Reddy seems to be justified with a good monsoon, a satisfactory performance on the export front, an increasing domestic credit offtake, bulging foreign exchange reserves, financial market stability, etc. That is why he has, perhaps, thought to continue with Mr Jalan’s policy prescriptions with a little alteration here and there. He is right. Why change for the heck of it?
The new RBI policy, however, seeks an improvement in the credit delivery mechanism so that the deprived segments of the economy like the small-scale sector also benefit from the low interest on bank loans. There must be some reason why the banks still deploy much of their funds in government securities. The housing
sector is, perhaps, the only major new borrower from the banks, flush with funds. Mr Reddy has tried to highlight that industrial and business activity cannot be spurred by low interest rates alone. In the process, he has earned the goodwill of a neglected class— the small depositors, including the pensioners. The new interest rate regime ensures that there will be no further reduction on the earnings on fixed deposits.
Stories about serious differences among officers in the top echelons of Punjab had been doing the rounds for long but the controversy has burst into the open in a most unbecoming manner. The way Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has snubbed Director-General of Police A.A. Siddiqui over the postings and transfers of DSPs at a news conference is unprecedented. By doing so, the Chief Minister has not only poured scorn over the police chief but has also given the impression that he wants others to decide what the DGP should. The ugly situation could have been easily averted if only he had spoken to the DGP in private. But it seems that the stern message was not only for the police chief. Mr Amarinder Singh wanted to warn the entire bureaucracy, which according to his ministerial and MLA colleagues had been defying them. However, in this process he has opened a can of worms.
Politicians interfere in postings and transfers not merely to provide good governance. The actual aim is generally to place their own men in key positions. Things do not stop even there. It is common knowledge that a cottage industry thrives on this periodic reshuffle. It is no doubt true that a police chief has to obey the orders given by the ministers, but postings and transfers are an administrative matter very much in the domain of the DGP. Politicians have no business to interfere in the process, that too on such a large scale. What kind of respect can a DGP command from his subordinates if he cannot get even a DSP posted and transferred?
Even if one has to fight with one’s tools, this should be done behind closed doors. The repercussions of a public display of anger are going to be unfortunate. The office of the Punjab DGP has quickly tried to scotch “the impression that there is a defiance of the government and the Chief Minister’s authority” but the fact remains that there is a lot of factionalism as well as resentment among the officers. The Chief Minister should know that this can only have an adverse impact on the image and effectiveness of the police force in the state. The losers will be the people.
The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself.
LTTE towards a virtual state
Contrary to the assessment of many within and outside Sri Lanka, the LTTE has kept its commitment to come forward with substantive proposals for setting up an Interim Administration in Sri Lanka’s Northeast region. Instead of rejecting the Sri Lankan government’s proposals as inadequate, the LTTE has spelled out its wish list. Thus, it has escaped being criticised as a negative player and indicated its resolve to remain engaged in the peace process; trying to secure through negotiations what it has been fighting for. This has been done to earn international legitimacy for its cause and Tamil support for its status as their sole authentic representative in Sri Lanka.
The LTTE’s proposals aim at setting up an Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) for the whole of Sri Lanka’s Northeast region, comprising all eight districts, including the Sinhalese and Muslim-dominated areas. This Authority will have all the powers that are being exercised by the Sri Lankan government for the region at present, including rehabilitation, resettlement, reconstruction and development, raising of revenue, law and order, land, water and other natural resources. It has also proposed to set up a separate judicial system with the “sole and exclusive jurisdiction to resolve all disputes” except in the area of human rights and interpretation of these provisions. There is no area where the jurisdiction of the Sri Lankan government is recognised in the exercise of these powers, nor is there even indirect reference to the principle of federalism. All these powers will be exercised by the ISGA composed of the nominees of the LTTE, (to enjoy absolute majority), the Sri Lankan government and the Muslim community.
Thus, the ISGA, though having representation of other communities, will function under the absolute control of the LTTE. There may be no room in it for the non-LTTE other Tamil parties unless the Sri Lankan government nominated them to the ISGA. The ISGA will also have the powers to conduct the Northeast region’s external financial and trade relations (with other countries, foreign institutions and funding sources). It has not been said in so many words, but by implication the ISGA will also take care of the security of the Northeast region. The whole structure proposed has the trappings of a democratic framework, but, effectively, it will work under the firm and absolute control of the LTTE. The ISGA will be the only authority to manage, mobilise and disburse all the developmental funds promised by foreign donors for the Northeast.
These proposals go far beyond the powers conceded in the Sri Lankan government’s proposals. There is also a clear indication in the LTTE proposals that what they are seeking is an absolute autonomy in the Northeast and an equal status, for all practical purposes, with the Sri Lankan government. If there is any dispute in the interpretation or implementation of the agreement between the two “parties”, the mechanism of reconciliation by the Norwegian government is invoked. In a situation of even that not working, the International Court of Justice is dragged in to appoint the Chairperson of the “arbitration tribunal”. For the distribution of river waters, upper and lower riparian principles and international norms have been underlined. Nowhere is the disarming of the LTTE mentioned and even the ultimate goal of establishing an “independent sovereign, secular state for the Tamil people”, as adopted in the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976 has been recalled in the preamble to these provisions. The removal of the “special security zones” by pushing the Sri Lankan security forces out of the Northeast has been incorporated in the provisions and free access of the LTTE to sea has been claimed.
The LTTE hopes that these provisions will lead to a “permanent negotiated settlement” within a period of four years, failing which both parties will negotiate in “good faith” for “adding, clarifying and strengthening” these provisions, but not diluting or reducing them. The goal of separation has also not been given up even notionally.
The prospects of the Sri Lankan government accepting these proposals look very dim as that would amount to conceding a de facto separate state to the LTTE. The conflict within the government, between Prime Minister Wickramasinghe and President Kumaratunga further constraints the former’s approach towards these proposals. There is also not much room for the LTTE to dilute its demands in the process of negotiations on these provisions. But these proposals will certainly reopen the dialogue between the two sides which stands frozen at present. To that extent, the possibility of an immediate conflict, as feared in the Sri Lankan media and some political circles, has been averted. These proposals place the LTTE in a better bargaining position. They win if the proposals are accepted and they get the legitimacy to striking again if the Sri Lankan government rejects them. The preamble to these proposals already recounts the Sri Lankan government’s past record of “broken promises, persecution, discrimination and state-orchestrated violence against the Tamils”.
The LTTE’s new proposals have been termed in general as a positive move by the European Union. It is possible that detailed and specific response from the EU and the US may be forthcoming in days to come. India’s stated position is that the final solution should be within the framework of Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity, consistent with “democracy, pluralism and respect for individual rights” and being in the interest of all sections of the Sri Lankan people. There is nothing apparently offensive to this criteria in the LTTE’s proposals until the Sri Lankan response is delivered on them. The LTTE has tactically accepted the Indian position, though it has not been happy with the proposal of a defence cooperation pact between India and Sri Lanka.
The LTTE has also accepted the existing arrangements for the natural resources (including oil exploration and fisheries) related to the Northeast region, though it wants to have control over the revenue generated from these arrangements. But India may not be happy with the prospects of the LTTE’s full control over Trincomalee where it is engaged in developing a oil tank farm for refuelling purposes. Nor would the Indian Navy like to face the Tiger navy in the Northeastern parts of Sri Lanka’s international maritime boundary.
The LTTE’s proposals pose a negotiating and security challenge to the Sri Lankan government. India and other interested sections of the international community would be carefully monitoring the way in which Colombo handles this challenge. n
A lump rises in your throat as you watch the children who, with tears in their eyes, are arranging flowers on the little mound that has risen where the mali had dug a pit and sprinkled its depth with lime.
You resolve, silently, never to keep a pet again. But a few weeks later you scan the kennel and livestock column of your newspaper. A friend mentions that his pedigreed bitch is about to produce a litter and you prick your ears. A mongrel strays into your garden and you go into the kitchen for a bone. You are impressed by his head and the way he carries his tail suggests that he isn’t so “jungli”, as he looks in his underfed and unwashed state. Perhaps there was a noble ancestor in the past - an Alsatian, a Labrador?
And so the little mounds in the garden multiply over the years. Some have only blades of grass sprouting from them. Others are covered with slabs of cemented bricks bearing names and dates. Simple or adorned, they recall a happy past crammed with romps in the garden, cross-country walks, chastisements for disobedience, rewards for learning new tricks.
Judy was a black-and-tan miniature Dachshund with a small, pointed head and long, velvety ears. Her grandfather having officiated as her father she was a trifle inbred which made her unfriendly with strangers. She knew no parlour tricks. Her long, sausage-like body would have looked absurd in a begging posture, but she had certain traits that she had picked up untaught. The most endearing of these was to carry her own belongings whenever we changed houses or when went on a car trip. On reaching our destination she would pick up with her teeth the bundle containing her plate, her biscuits and her brush, jump out, wait till our luggage was cleared and then deposit her bundle in the corner that had been assigned to her.
In her eight years with us Judy bore only one litter and that, accidentally, with the help of a Cocker Spaniel who was the great love of her life. Two of the pups were still-born. One died later in the day and the remaining one she guarded pathetically for a few hours. At night we heard her whimper outside our bedroom window. She led us to the bottom of the garden where, in a grove of lime trees, she had left her last-born. It was no human hand that had covered the tiny, lifeless body with dew-soaked leaves. She returned to the house with us and sat in a corner of the bedroom, looking up to us for sympathy.
I shall not forget the night she died. She had been ailing for sometime and the vet had told us that he could do no more for her. I was reading in bed when I saw her walk in from the verandah with great difficulty. For a moment she stood near my wife’s bed and wagged her tail as if to thank her for past favours. Then she went back to her cot. By morning she had left us for Valhalla, or wherever it is that little dogs make their heaven.
Industrial pollution in Ropar district-II
The people of Nangal are facing the same problem as those in Ropar. For instance, a cursory glance at the Sutlej river from the Sutlej Sadan side (Guest House of the Bhakra Beas Management Board) and the National Fertiliser Limited side would reveal the difference of water in colour, odour and quality. Water may be pollution-free in official parlance, but the salt content of the Sutlej water (from the Nangal Dam side) is getting reduced from the normal level.
College teachers, students and villagers of Nangal complain that the discharge from the NFL adds pollutants to the Sutlej water. They say while in the samples collected during day time, the effluents contained the normal level of pollutants, at night, untreated effluents are discharged by the authorities into the Sutlej. They, of course, admit that no sample study of the effluents has been done so far by NGOs and others in the night time.
Similarly, the discharge from the Punjab Alkalis and Chemicals Limited (PACEL) contained high levels of chlorine, ammonia and other chemicals. These effluents were affecting the ground water in about 12-15 villages, making the water unsuitable for drinking and irrigation purposes.
Fly ash has become a major source of pollution. Huge quantities are dumped into the river bed with little concern for the people living in the vicinity. People of Nangal and Naya Nangal say in the summer, dry fly ash in the air hinders visibility and enters the respiratory tract of human beings, causing breathing problems. Teachers and students of Shivalik College and Shivalik College of Pharmacy complain that fly ash dumps have become a major health hazard for them as these dumps are quite close to their institutions.
Professor R.C. Roy, Professor of Pharmacy, Shivalik College of Pharmacy, who has been in the forefront of the anti-pollution movement in Nangal, says that there is no peace for the people of Nangal and Naya Nangal because of the pollution menace from the NFL. He quotes several scientific studies to prove how the fly ash, containing arsenic mercury and chromium, could lead to respiratory tract cancer.
Citing the example of fish kill not long ago, and the earlier incident of cattle death, he says that as fly ash contains heavy metals, it gets leached into the ground water. This, he says, might make the ground water unsuitable for drinking purposes, engendering the safety of human beings and the flora and fauna.
The NFL authorities, however, maintain that people’s fears over pollution from the effluents released by their plant are baseless and unfounded. For instance, Mr A.J.S. Kohli, Deputy General Manager, NFL, says that they have been following a comprehensive and foolproof system to enforce maximum safety standards. Round-the-clock and point-to-point maintenance are some of the hallmarks of the safety system, he says. The entire exercise is aimed at conforming to the minimum national standards (MINAS) prescribed for liquid effluents, according to Mr Kohli.
Quoting MINAS, Mr Kohli says that one could consider any parameter for the fertiliser industry’s liquid effluents — pH, suspended solids, ammonical or free ammonical nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, cyanide, vanadium, arsenic, chromate or oil and grease. As far as NFL is concerned, the liquid effluents strictly conform to MINAS, he avers.
Mr Kohli also allays apprehensions on the quality of dykes maintained by the NFL as compared to those in Ropar. During a visit to these dykes, this writer was appraised by Mr Kohli and other senior engineers of the NFL about the various measures being taken by them to make the dykes seepage-proof and breach-proof, unlike the ones maintained by the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant at Ropar. The NFL uses clay and stones and not ash in the retaining walls of the dykes — a reason said to be responsible for preventing any breach since its inception as far back as 1960.
The NFL authorities may have reasons to dispel public misgivings on the effluents. But the issue raises a volley of questions. Why engender the people by locating the dykes or dumping fly ash near human settlements? Why should the dykes be constructed right on the banks of the Sutlej river? Why not have them at places far away from the river or residential areas?
Clearly, the Punjab Pollution Control Board needs to do its job more effectively. Mere issuance of guidelines to industries won’t do. For, the PPCB is not just an agency to issue guidelines and instructions. What is the use of these directives if they cannot be enforced? Ropar district has the dubious distinction of being the most polluted district in Punjab. And what has the PPCB done in concrete terms over the years to correct this impression? It seems to have failed in its duty to make industries implement its guidelines in letter and spirit. If the PPCB does not have the teeth, it should be provided the same. The fact that only three out of 119 municipal councils in Punjab — Nangal, Anandpur Sahib and Phillaur — have installed water treatment plants speaks volumes for the PPCB’s effectiveness.
As Mr K.P.S. Rana, the PPCB Chairman, also represents Nangal in the Punjab Legislative Assembly, he is in a better position to make industries implement the anti-pollution norms in toto. Mr Rana says, he is making sincere efforts to impress upon all the other 116 municipal councils to install water treatment plants. He says, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh too is committed to this. But doubts are bound to be raised because most of these councils are bogged down by fund crunch, staff shortage and lack of infrastructure. The problem of industrial pollution is as serious in Ropar district as in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Phagwara districts.
Studies conducted by the National Environmental Awareness Campaign, the Regional Resource Agency, the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, Chandigarh, reveal the extent of water pollution in Nangal. Unfortunately, though the District Environmental Committee was holding monthly meetings at Ropar under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner during 1993-99, these meetings are not held any more for reasons best known to the authorities. There is a pressing need to revive these meetings to take stock of the problem of industrial pollution and spread awareness among the people. The Deputy Commissioner should necessarily play a pivotal role in this regard.
Under the ambitious Sutlej Action Plan, the Union Ministry of Environment has decided to cleanse the Sutlej, but fears persist that like so many other projects, this will also remain only on paper. Pollution has become a major problem in Punjab. As its finances are in bad shape, the government cannot afford to keep industrialists at bay. Thus, the need for striking a healthy balance between industrial development and pollution control may have become greater today. But it is far more important for the government to prevail upon various industries to maintain their units properly and enforce the anti-pollution norms strictly so that there is no danger to the people and the flora and fauna of the region.
‘When we feel good,
we work good’
LONDON: ELEVEN-year-old Helen Wickham says the best thing about school is Circle Time, a weekly half-hour session when she and her classmates talk about their feelings. She thinks it’s important because it allows her to express her emotions and find out what others are feeling, too. “At the end of Circle Time everybody feels good about themselves.”
Helen’s head mistress, Penny Bentley, agrees. That’s why Columbia Primary School, in East London, is committed to teaching its children to be as emotionally intelligent as they are intellectually capable. Alongside the basic curriculum, children learn how to recognise and manage their feelings, empathise with their classmates, and motivate themselves.
The school’s results are encouraging. Attendance and standards are up. Many other schools across the UK have followed suit. And now the government has finally taken notice. Since author Daniel Goleman popularised the concept in 1996 in his bestselling book, “Emotional Intelligence”, it has gathered a cult following. Psychotherapists swear by it, corporations beg for it and now the government is developing ways to foster it in our children.
But what exactly is it? In its broadest sense, it is the ability to understand and talk about your feelings. John Mayer and Peter Salovey, the first to identify emotional intelligence (EI) in 1995, define it as the ability to perceive, access, generate and reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth. Goleman went on to observe that just because someone was deemed intellectually intelligent, it didn't necessarily follow that they would be emotionally intelligent, too.
Among his fans was Peter Sharp, the UK pioneer of the emotional literacy initiative in British schools and chief educational psychologist in Southampton, south-west England. In 1998 he launched the first educational initiative to promote emotional literacy (EL) in school through a range of activities. This included anger-management groups, anti-bullying training and seminars in emotional intelligence for everyone from the governor to the playground attendant. Today, every primary school in Southampton has incorporated EL into its curriculum.
The DES strategy, like the Southampton one, is based on teaching children five emotional skills: self-awareness, managing emotions, empathy, motivation and communication. These skills are taught through a cross-curricular approach. Children can learn about empathy through history, explore feelings as part of a literature class, work on self-esteem issues in Circle Time and discuss the school environment during assembly.
At Cavendish First School in Bradford, northern England, a custom-designed “quiet room” is being built where pupils can shake off anger, recharge their batteries or just take a few minutes for themselves. At Lister Community School in Plaistow, east London, a group of 11- to 16-year-olds explore how they experience school through a series of drama workshops. At Columbia Primary, children spend five minutes each day after playtime discussing how that playtime went. They also address teachers by first name, undergo conflict-resolution training and run special friendship programmes for those finding it difficult to settle in.
Abdul Kahar is in the same class as Helena. He used to get into fights in the school playground, but since he joined the Friendship Squad he no longer loses his temper in the playground. He likes the way teachers at Columbia take an interest in what he does. He thinks if children are made to feel good they want to live up to the teachers' expectations of them.
Racial conflict was rife and exam results poor at Westborough High School in northern England, but after the school made emotional literacy its priority, the percentage of children achieving good grades rose from eight per cent to 39 per cent. As Peter Sharp plainly puts it: “When we feel good, we work good.”
— The Guardian
We have decked the lower heaven with constellations. They guard it against rebellious devils, so that they may not hear the words of those on high. Meteors are hurled at them from every side; then, driven away, they are consigned to an eternal scourge. Eavesdroppers are pursued by fiery comets. — The Koran My breath, flesh and soul all are Yours, To me you are extremely dear. O You, the true Provider of all! — Guru Nanak You are what your deep, driving desire is. — Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Love the whole world as a mother loves her only child. — The Buddha Before man is life and death, good and evil, that which he shall choose shall be given to him. — Ecclesiasticus
— The Koran
My breath, flesh and soul all are Yours, To me you are extremely dear. O You, the true Provider of all!
— Guru Nanak
You are what your deep, driving desire is.
— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Love the whole world as a mother loves her only child.
— The Buddha
Before man is life and death, good and evil,
that which he shall choose shall be given to him.