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EDITORIALS

IIMs for all
Industry must share the responsibility
I
T required a change of government but at last the fee controversy in the IIMs is out of the way. The idea of former Union Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi had not only precipitated an avoidable standoff, but had also affected work in the prestigious temples of learning.

Helping rural India
Will the states rise to the occasion?
T
HE Chinese model of rural business hubs that Dr Manmohan Singh recommended for adoption to the Chief Ministers on Tuesday can be followed in states like Punjab and Haryana provided an environment for the growth of agriculture-industry linkages is created.


EARLIER ARTICLES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Instant talaq
Muslim law board backtracks again
E
NLIGHTENED Muslim scholars have never accepted the validity of the system of triple talaq for the annulment of a marriage. It is based on a flawed interpretation of the Quran and the hadith.
ARTICLE

Russia’s fight against terrorism
The games Saudis and Pakistanis play
by G. Parthasarathy
“T
he strength and vibrancy of our partnership with Russia has withstood the flux of the Cold War world. We will accelerate the diversification of our relationship, particularly in defence, high technology, space and nuclear energy, while intensifying economic cooperation".

MIDDLE

Sisters-in-law in action
by K. Rajbir Deswal
A
doctor friend of mine in a small town in Haryana is a keen watcher of the goings-on in a nearby nomads’ camp. These gypsies from Rajasthan, called Dehas, normally wander from place to place but have come to stay in the neighbourhood of Dr Dahiya for the last about five years.

OPED

Indians win eight seats in Canada
The Grewals first ethnic couple to get elected
by Prabhjot Singh
T
HE Indo-Canadian community has displayed an impressive performance in the just-concluded federal elections by capturing a record eight seats. It has made history by sending an ethnic couple — Mr Gurmant Grewal and his wife, Nina — to the House of Commons. The June 28 elections witnessed an intense neck and neck fight between the ruling Liberals and the Conservatives, which had the 1.5 million-strong Indian community divided vertically.

From Pakistan
Bar against Aziz as PM

LAHORE:
The Lahore High Court Bar Association on Tuesday resolved not to accept Mr Shaukat Aziz as Prime Minister because of his interest in advancing the US economic agenda which was fatal to Pakistan.

  • Poor sanitation facilities

  • No end to water shortage

  • Budget boycott

 REFLECTIONS

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IIMs for all
Industry must share the responsibility

IT required a change of government but at last the fee controversy in the IIMs is out of the way. The idea of former Union Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi had not only precipitated an avoidable standoff, but had also affected work in the prestigious temples of learning. All neutral observers were crying hoarse that the decision to cut the fee to Rs 30,000 not only compromised the autonomy of the business schools but was also likely to affect the exacting teaching standards. However, Mr Joshi had made it a prestige issue. The immediate withdrawal of the February 5 order by Mr Arjun Singh will, hopefully, give a quick burial to the disagreement and stop the flow of bad blood. The new provision will ensure that no poor student is denied education for want of resources. While the previous order was to cut the fee to Rs 30,000 per year for everyone, those issued now offer fee reduction only for the needy ones the annual income of whose families does not exceed Rs 2 lakh. Such deserving students can look forward to 100 per cent waiver on tuition fees and even waiving of sundry charges.

This concession will not only help the needy to fulfil their dream of joining IIMs but will also enrich the country's talent bank. After all, with the net thus cast wider, the catchment area of budding brains will be much bigger. The tag of elitism will also get removed.

While this is a step in the right direction, it has to be followed by many more. There should be a system of providing loans based on future earnings. Big industry is the major beneficiary of the IIMs. It grabs almost all graduates of the business schools. To that extent, IIMs are functioning like training centres for new recruits to industrial houses. It is high time they paid for this facility by opening and operating business schools of their own. That will ease the burden on the schools run with the help of the government. Total autonomy would require private investment also.

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Helping rural India
Will the states rise to the occasion?

THE Chinese model of rural business hubs that Dr Manmohan Singh recommended for adoption to the Chief Ministers on Tuesday can be followed in states like Punjab and Haryana provided an environment for the growth of agriculture-industry linkages is created. Agriculture productivity is declining in the absence of industrial support for value addition. A huge quantity of fruits and vegetables go waste for want of processing and export facilities. Lack of assured irrigation, power supply, roads and a marketing network also contribute to the declining returns from agriculture. If the state governments, backed with Central funds, facilitate cooperation among farmers, traders and corporates, while assuring them dependable infrastructure and removing red-tape, rural business hubs can flourish. But that is a big IF.

Dr Manmohan Singh also focussed on under-utilisation, and even misutilisation, of the annual plan allocations. These amount to a staggering Rs 17,000 crore. He asked the Chief Ministers to honestly ask themselves if they were making the best use of the funds. There is no “core vision” of rural development. That part of the funds are siphoned off in transit is a known fact. Besides, there is a multiplicity of Central and state development schemes, which overlap. Even some of the well-meaning schemes do not produce the desired results. Many states, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh among them, have failed to benefit fully from the Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana and the Rural Employment Generation Programme despite sufficient funds available to them.

Moreover, rural development has to be state specific. What works for Assam may not do so for Kerala, Bihar or UP. The Prime Minister also recognises this reality. He has promised more Central funds to the states for passing these on to the panchayati raj institutions in line with Mahatma Gandhi’s goal of “Purna Swaraj” through “Gram Swaraj”. How the Gandhian model reconciles with the Chinese model remains to be seen. Many of the states are heading for financial bankruptcy by following populist policies and may not be able to implement the Prime Minister’s economic agenda. They must.

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Instant talaq
Muslim law board backtracks again

ENLIGHTENED Muslim scholars have never accepted the validity of the system of triple talaq for the annulment of a marriage. It is based on a flawed interpretation of the Quran and the hadith. The pro-reform section of the community was looking forward to the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board's reported decision to outlaw the system of instant talaq during its meeting on July 4. Unfortunately, the board has lived up to its reputation of backtracking under pressure from the hardliners. The explanation that it does not have the power to change the retrograde law is unconvincing. If a body that was set up to examine the personal laws of the Muslim community in India and suggest appropriate changes cannot introduce reforms, who can?

Instead of getting involved in the contentious Babri Masjid issue, the AIMPLB should stick to its prescribed brief of updating the personal laws. The community's personal laws do not enjoy any kind of divine sanction. Otherwise, there would have been uncompromising uniformity about them across the Islamic world. Turkey was the first Muslim country to introduce progressive civil laws. However, an unthinking and ill-informed clergy shudders at the very mention of the need to reform the antiquated personal laws. Introduction of progressive Islamic laws would jeopardise their hold over a hugely unlettered community.

Two recent cases should suffice to expose their irrational approach in dealing with marital disputes. A Gujarati and an Oriya Muslim "divorced" their wives by uttering "talaq, talaq, talaq" in a fit of drunken rage. Islam prohibits the consumption of intoxicants. Their conduct was unIslamic. Instead, the community leaders upheld the validity of the drunken men's illegal action. Both men wanted to go back to their "divorced" spouses. By again backtracking on its commitment to introduce reforms the Muslim law board has done a great disservice to Muslim women and the image of what in spirit is a progressive faith. All right-thinking Muslims detest the notion created by the hardliners that Islam gives men the right to have four wives and pronounce instant divorce while denying women any civil or social right. 

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Thought for the day

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

— Samuel Johnson



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Russia’s fight against terrorism
The games Saudis and Pakistanis play
by G. Parthasarathy

“The strength and vibrancy of our partnership with Russia has withstood the flux of the Cold War world. We will accelerate the diversification of our relationship, particularly in defence, high technology, space and nuclear energy, while intensifying economic cooperation". This was the welcome reference that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made to our steadfast and time-tested but often forgotten partnership with Russia in his address to the nation on June 24. The statement, however, made no reference to the crucial importance of cooperation between India and Russia in confronting the menace of global terrorism. The Russians had dealt with a serious terrorist attack just on the eve of Dr Manmohan Singh's address — an attack that India strongly condemned.

On the night of June 21/ 22 several well-armed groups of Chechen terrorists simultaneously attacked Russian Federal Government buildings in the country's Ingushetia region and took control of the region's former capital Nazran for several hours. This was the fourth Chechen attack on Ingushetia in the last decade. The latest attack was carried out by men and women clad in black, shouting "Allah-o -Akbar". The attacks took place a day after Chechen separatist leader Aslan Mashkadov proclaimed that the Chechens would now resort to "offensive operations." Apart from killing around 50 security personnel in the attack, the terrorists also gunned down the region's Interior Minister and his Deputy. It is evident that the Chechens enjoyed the backing of elements within Ingushetia, as the attackers disappeared with little trace the moment the Russian security forces mounted a counter-offensive.

Russia, like India, has been a victim of terrorism with global links for well over a decade now. But unlike India, that deals with terrorists either by offering them Kashmiri biryani when they seize mosques, or provides them with a ministerial escort when an aircraft is hijacked, the Russians deal with terrorism in a more robust manner. This was evident when Russian Special Forces stormed a theatre taken over by terrorists in the heart of Moscow, or when Russian security agencies relentlessly pursued terrorist leader Shamil Basaev across the world. The Russians are also more brutally frank when they name the sponsors of terrorism. While welcoming President Bush in St. Petersburg in November 2002, President Putin told his guest that the Americans had chosen wrong allies in their war against terrorism. He referred to Saudi Arabia's role in financing terrorist groups in Russia and alluded to Pakistan's role in promoting terrorism in his country.

Saudi Arabia's role promoting terrorism in Russia has been well- documented by American analysts. A former CIA official Robert Baer has highlighted the role played by members of the Saudi royal family in promoting terrorism in Russia. He refers to how Chechen terrorists were brought to a military camp near Riyadh in 1998 and trained in hand-to-hand combat and explosives and indoctrinated into Wahabi Islam. The camp was run by King Fahd's brother Prince Salman, who is the Governor of Riyadh.

Mr Baer also reveals that King Fahd's son Prince Azouzi has played an active role in funding Chechen terrorists. Saudi involvement in funding violence in the name of promoting Wahabi Islam has also been criticised by leaders of virtually all the Central Asian republics, including Uzbek President Islam Karimov. While the funding of organisations labelled as "terrorist" by the Americans by so-called Saudi "charities" may have ended, there is little evidence to suggest that Saudi Arabia has effectively banned all funding of organisations promoting separatism and militant Wahabi Islam that undermine stability in pluralistic societies, across the globe. One has only to observe the enthusiasm with which extremist elements in the Hurriyat Conference undertake visits to Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan has maintained long-standing links with Chechen terrorists. Shamil Basaev visited Pakistan in 1994 and the Naib Amir of the Jamat-e-Islami, Prof Ghafoor Ahmed, gave a call for jihad in Chechnya in 1999 when the so-called "President" of Chechnya, Zelmikhan Andarbaev, was warmly received and collected funds in Pakistan. Even today, Chechen fighters associated with Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front are known to have taken refuge and continue to receive support along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. And there is continuing evidence of the involvement of Pakistani jihadis from outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba in terrorist activities in Russia. These Pakistani groups are not only actively involved in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir but also in promoting separatist sentiments, inciting violence and creating a communal divide across India. Cadres of the Lashkar have been found to be operating all across the country, with the organisation actively facilitating their links with its activists in Saudi Arabia. While the other Arab Gulf States generally take tough action against such activities, the same cannot be said about the Saudi authorities.

Lashkar chief Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed recently proclaimed: "Protection of Osama bin Laden is the duty of every Pakistani Muslim. No one can stop jihad in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. It will continue". The Lashkar openly proclaims that "Hindus, Jews and Christians" are enemies of Islam. In these circumstances, it was surprising that our government claimed that the targeting of our citizens in the recent terrorist attack in Khobar in Saudi Arabia was purely coincidental. This not only ignored eyewitness accounts that the terrorists specifically sought out and targeted only non-Muslims but was also contradicted by a subsequent assertion in an Al-Qaeda-affiliated website that the Indians had been killed in retribution for the killing of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir.

This is not to suggest that the Saudi authorities were negligent or remiss in carrying out their tasks, but to point out that Pakistani terrorist groups have a vested interest in spreading animosity towards India across the Islamic world. These issues need to be discussed in depth and not papered over in any dialogue that we have with the Saudi Arabian authorities. Sadly, ministerial visits from India to Saudi Arabia have been confined to either a photo-opportunity with the monarch or receiving gifts of Arabian horses from the Saudi royalty!

The two Principal Advisers of the Prime Minister on National Security, Mr M.K Narayanan and Mr J.N. Dixit, are persons who can be clinically objective in analysing terrorist threats. It is imperative that our political leadership is given a comprehensive account of the threats posed to pluralistic societies by global terrorism and the counter-measures that we need to take to deal with this menace.

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Sisters-in-law in action
by K. Rajbir Deswal

A doctor friend of mine in a small town in Haryana is a keen watcher of the goings-on in a nearby nomads’ camp. These gypsies from Rajasthan, called Dehas, normally wander from place to place but have come to stay in the neighbourhood of Dr Dahiya for the last about five years.

In leisurely hours my friend observes their lifestyle from atop his clinic almost on a daily basis not for any kind of research in sociology but for the sheer fun of it. Whenever we visit him he has fascinating stories to tell about the nomads.

The Deha camp sleeps early and rises even before the first call of the cock. But sometimes in the evening, when dullness is just about to set in, there is a huge commotion. It relates largely to beating up of the women or children; or if there is an intruder in the camp.

Everybody literally ‘rises to the occasion’ carrying with them whatever they can hit with, including batons, halberds, spades, lathis etc. An upside down, empty vessel, is raised on a long staff and a near-battle-cry of “hurrrrrr—hurrrrrr—hurrrrrr”, is shouted more to caution and inform, than to invade and attack. It happens quite frequently.

The last such uprising Dr Dahiya witnessed took place very recently when he saw from his ‘observation tower’ a wife-beater, carrying the ‘staff-n-vessel’ and running as if almost a marathon. He was being chased by many in the camp. He tried to outrun everybody for safety but the camp-dogs did not let him escape so easily.

A huge crowd gathered when the overtaken man was being beaten black and blue. Having seen an important man of the nomads’ camp being so bashed up aroused more curiosity in my friend and he came downstairs into the street, to know what had really happened.

Since Dr Dahiya was a familiar figure around, the nomads allowed him near. The fallen man asked for Dr Dahiya’s intervention with folded hands when my friend wanted to know the crime he had committed.

Suddenly he realised that the man had been surrounded and beaten up by women only. My friend had to convince and calm down about half a dozen females in full fury before he could intervene and seek a promise from the rapped up man to behave in future.

They were seven sisters, one of whom had been married to the wife-beater. When nothing seemed to work they converged on the camp at the call of their aggrieved sister to teach their brother-in-law — a lesson for all times to come. For obvious reasons, no male of the camp dared to come to the help of the bashed-up husband.

“The scene the next morning had completely changed,” Dr Dahiya told us,” for that is perhaps the nomads’ lifestyle”. He saw the man being fed by at least three or four of his sisters-in-law and his wife had been nursing his bruises and wounds inflicted the previous evening. The dogs in the camp, who had to be on their paws, overtime, the preceding evening of storm and thunder, were basking in the rainwashed cool shade of a tree.

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Indians win eight seats in Canada
The Grewals first ethnic couple to get elected
by Prabhjot Singh

Ujjal Dosanjh
Ujjal Dosanjh, who has been elected in Canada’s federal elections

THE Indo-Canadian community has displayed an impressive performance in the just-concluded federal elections by capturing a record eight seats. It has made history by sending an ethnic couple
— Mr Gurmant Grewal and his wife, Nina — to the House of Commons. The June 28 elections witnessed an intense neck and neck fight between the ruling Liberals and the Conservatives, which had the 1.5 million-strong Indian community divided vertically.

In the British Columbia province, the Indians had a remarkable success. They not only helped Mr Gurmant Grewal win, though narrowly, from Newton-North Delta, and his wife, Nina, from the adjoining Fleetwood-Port Wells riding, to win on the Conservative ticket, but also voted enthusiastically to elect their former premier, Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, on the Liberals’ ticket.

Mr Gurmant Grewal, a product of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, and son of a school teacher, also held the distinction of becoming the first ethnic MP to enter the House of Commons in less than five years of acquiring Canadian citizenship. This is his third election to Parliament while his wife will go to Ottawa as a representative of her people for the first time.

The ruling Liberals, who have been reduced to a minority this time, had put up nine candidates of Indian origin, including the first-ever Indian-Canadian Premier of British Columbia, Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, and the first-turbaned Sikh MP of Canada, Mr Gurbax Singh Malhi, the Conservatives had 13 Indian-Canadians on their list.

The election of Mr Ujjal Dosanjh is equally significant as he is considered very close to the present Liberal Parliamentary Party leader, Mr Paul Martin. It was Mr Martin, who persuaded Mr Dosanjh to come out of his private practice as a lawyer and re-enter the political scene, but this time at the federal level.

While the Indian-Canadian community in Ontario once again stood by its Liberal candidates, it supported the Conservatives, both in British Columbia and Alberta. All four of the five sitting MPs of Indian origin — Mr Gurbax Malhi (Liberals), Mr Gurmant Grewal, Mr Deepak Obhrai and Mr Rahim Jaffer (all Conservatives) — were able to retain their seats.

The Liberals have made a dent in British Columbia where they have succeeded in bringing out of retirement, Mr Ujjal Dosanjh. Mr Ujjal Dosanjh headed a NDP government in British Columbia in 2000-2001.

But the Indian-Canadian community had some disappointment as the first federal Sikh minister, Mr Herb Dhaliwal, who after change of leadership in the ruling Liberals in December last year , decided to retire. Mr Dhaliwal was Minister for Oceans and Fisheries and also Revenue under Jean Chrétien, but never enjoyed any stable relationship with Mr Paul Martin.

Though both Liberals and Conservatives have been trying to expand their vote-banks in the Indian-Canadian community, both in Ontario and British Columbia, the community supported both parties selectively depending upon the candidates in the fray.

Incidentally, in many ridings, the fight was mainly between candidates from the Indian-Canadian community. For example, on three seats in Ontario, and five in British Columbia, the main contestants representing both Liberals and Conservatives were the Indian immigrants.

Mr Malhi faced Mr Raminder Gill, who was a minister in the previous Ontario province government. For Malhi, the win, his fourth, was his biggest ever. In Brampton-Springdale, Ms Ruby Dhalla (Liberals) defeated Mr Sam Hundal, whose previous attempts to get into the House of Commons as well as the Ontario assembly had been unsuccessful.

In Mississauga-Brampton South, Mr Navdeep Singh Bains faced another young business executive, Parvinder Sandhu. Mr Parvinder Sandhu has strong Chandigarh connections as he is the brain behind Mohali-based Canadian Institute and also a Director in the Worldwide Immigration Consultancy Services (WWICS). Both are newcomers to federal politics. Mr Sandhu got nearly 90 per cent of the votes in his run for nomination from the riding. Of the two women Indian-Canadian candidates elected this time, one is from the Conservatives — Ms Nina Grewal — and other a Liberal - Dr Ruby Dhalla.

Mr Navdeep Singh Bains, a chartered management accountant, from Mississauga Brampton South, will be the second turbaned Sikh to enter the House of Commons. No other Indian-Canadian candidate, representing any other party, sports a turban.

The Liberals, after the retirement of Mr Herb Dhaliwal, had besides Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, Dr Gulzar Cheema, who until recently was a minister in the provincial Liberal Government in British Columbia. Dr Cheema contested from Fleetwood -Port Kellis riding where he lost to Ms Nina Grewal of the Conservatives.

The Liberals have also chosen Mr Sukh Dhaliwal, an engineer, to oppose two times the erstwhile Reforms and now Conservative MP, Mr Gurmant Grewal, in Newton-North Delta riding. Mr Grewal had a narrow win this time.

Besides Ms Ruby Dhalla and Ms Neena Grewal, there were two other women of Indian origin who were in the fray. They were Ms Nina Tangri, from Mississauga-Streetsville and Ms Saroj Bains, a nominee of the Communist Marxist Party of Canada.

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From Pakistan
Bar against Aziz as PM

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court Bar Association on Tuesday resolved not to accept Mr Shaukat Aziz as Prime Minister because of his interest in advancing the US economic agenda which was fatal to Pakistan.

The resolution, adopted unanimously by the LHCBA at a general house meeting, also decried the way elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali was forced to resign by the Presidency to inflict a severe blow to the sovereignty of elected and representative institutions.

The resolution, moved by the Bar's human rights committee chairperson Ghulam Sarwar Nihang, feared the unwarranted and undemocratic change on the political scene had exposed the designs of the military regime which was pursuing political and economic policies which would gradually reduce Pakistan to an American colony.

Referring to a State Department reaction to the change in Pakistan, the resolution said the statement manifested that America was behind the undemocratic change in the highest political office of the country. — The Dawn

Poor sanitation facilities

ISLAMABAD: Despite receiving billions of dollars in the form of foreign aid, the government has failed to improve sanitation in the country as 60 per cent population is still lacking these facilities.

This was the crux of the two-day workshop on “Meeting the Sanitation Challenges Through Enabling Policies and Scaling up Sustainable Practices,” organised by the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the World Bank on Tuesday.

The World Bank’s project “Water and Sanitation Programme — South Asia (WSP-SA)” is aimed at improving policies, practices and capacities in the water and sanitation sector to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals that require to provide water and sanitation facilities across the globe by 2015. In this regard the workshop was held to raise the profile of sanitation, health and hygiene. — The Nation

No end to water shortage

LAHORE: Pakistan continues to face 20 per cent water shortage with rivers receding once again against official projections. The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) had forecast that water flows would improve substantially soon and shortages would absolutely end by the month-end.

The combined river flow dropped on Tuesday to 227,300 cusecs, less than half of last year's 525,000 cusecs the same day. During the last two days, the Tarbela level dropped by five feet as the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) is forced to release additional water from the lake to meet the irrigation needs of cotton, rice and sugarcane crops. — The Dawn

Budget boycott

QUETTA: After a walkout by opposition legislators from the Balochistan Assembly on Tuesday, the House passed Rs 42.38 billion budget for 2004-05 by allowing all the 45 demands for grants.

The opposition legislators exchanged hot words with the Treasury benches for ignoring them in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The opposition opposed the budget terming it anti-people. They said the government had focused its attention on only three districts and neglected the remaining 24. The News

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Man comes and goes by God’s will which dominates everywhere and everything, heretofore and hereafter.

— Guru Nanak

A pure heart sees beyond the intellect. It gets inspired; it knows things that reason can never know; and wherever there is conflict between the pure heart and intellect, always side with the pure heart.

— Swami Vivekananda

When attachment for wealth and sex is wiped out from the mind, what else is left in the soul? Only the bliss of Brahman.

— Sri Ramakrishna

Rely on Sri Ramakrishna and He will save you from your misery and bestow on you peace of mind.

— Sarada Devi

Malice drinks one half of its own poison.

— Seneca

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