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EDITORIALS

Why this fuss?
The governors should have quit on their own
T
HE dismissal of the four governors could have been averted if the persons concerned had seen the writing on the wall.

The trial of Saddam
World will watch how fair it is
T
HERE are no two views on former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's oppressive regime. Equally, all right-thinking people are one in the view that he should get his just desserts. 

Punjabi MPs in Canada
Indians make their mark
A
record number of candidates of Indian origin, most of them Punjabis, have been elected to the Federal Parliament of Canada in the recent elections.



 

EARLIER ARTICLES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
ARTICLE

An agenda for action
Only faster growth can tackle poverty
by Amit Mitra
E
CONOMIC growth and development during the last few years have generated a sense of well-being. There is a feeling of confidence and hope about the future. The fruits of development have reached the lives of a large section of our population. The task now is to extend these to a far larger number — those currently under the poverty line. This can come about only through faster growth.

MIDDLE

Requiem for the plastic glass
by Ramesh Luthra

Out of sorts, of course, you are
Lying crushed on the ground (Bitten by the green monster)
With tearful eyes you remember
The good old days
You reigned supreme.

OPED

Kargil: clamour for air support
Was it not a knee-jerk reaction?
by Brig (retd) AC Prem
I
N matters military it is not always fiscal depravity but a worse form viz. professional depravity which has pervaded the system since the soldierly days of Thimmaya and Sam Manekshaw, an exception of late being Padhmanabhan. This takes the form of a supine and compromising attitude.

DEFENCE NOTES
Top appointments held up for review
by Girja Shankar Kaura
C
ERTAIN quarters in the IAF seem to be trying to rake up a controversy over the delay in the appointment of the new Commander of the Strategic Forces Command (SFC). The posts of AOC-in-C, Training Command, and AOC-in-C, South-Western Air Command, have also been lying vacant for some time now. It is felt that the appointments are not being made purposely.

  • Maritime doctrine

  • NCC team scales peak

 REFLECTIONS

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Why this fuss?
The governors should have quit on their own

THE dismissal of the four governors could have been averted if the persons concerned had seen the writing on the wall. They had been given hints that the Central government did not want them to continue in their posts. The logical course for them would have been to put in their papers. That would have been a far more honourable way to go than receiving the dismissal order from the President. They, perhaps, made the mistake of listening to the advice tendered by the BJP which wanted to kick up a controversy over the issue. They obviously overlooked the provision in the Constitution that the Governor shall hold office "during the pleasure of the President". This means the President can sack the Governors, notwithstanding the fact that they are appointed for a fixed term of five years.

This is not the first time the President has exercised his powers to sack the governors. Few people would, therefore, raise their eyebrows over the sacking of Mr Kedar Nath Sahni, Mr Kailashpati Mishra, Mr Bhai Parmanand and Mr Vishnu Kant Shastri. All of them come from a particular political background which is why they were chosen for the gubernatorial posts by the previous government. They should have known that their continuance would not be palatable to the new government. They should have on their own offered to quit. In democratic countries, political appointees routinely resign when there is a change of government. The BJP is not on a strong wicket when it says that because it had not touched those appointed by the previous government, it expected the new government to follow the convention. This is because its own record is not all that clean.

As we have argued in these columns, a distinction has to be made between those appointed from among politicians and those who are known for their integrity and administrative acumen. While politicians cannot take shelter under the five-year clause, the others should be allowed to complete their full term. The problem would not have arisen if the governor's post was not seen as a sinecure for superannuated politicians. Neither the BJP nor the Congress wants to follow the recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission that governors should be people who have a proven record of service and ability.

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The trial of Saddam
World will watch how fair it is

THERE are no two views on former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's oppressive regime. Equally, all right-thinking people are one in the view that he should get his just desserts. Yet, when the former dictator made his appearance in court, for the first time after he was captured seven months ago, the issues that arise relate to the way he is sought to be brought to justice. There are seven broad charges against Mr Hussein, including war crimes, genocide and invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The trial would go on for several months given the evidentiary requirements of the case even if the basis for his trial is indisputably accepted as conforming to judicial tenets and norms. But, the very foundation of the legal and judicial arrangements of his trial make it suspect in juridical terms, given its implications for questions of sovereignty, free and fair trial and the rights of the accused caught by victors in a war.

Despite the irony inherent in speaking of the rights of the accused when it comes to a ruler like Mr Hussein, the point - justifiably raised by a galaxy of international lawyers who are defending the accused - cannot be ignored. It deserves to be addressed if only to establish the trial as being free and fair in the eyes of a world that wants to see Mr Hussein punished for his awesome transgressions. If the administration of justice is flawed, then surely the ends of justice cannot be met.

At the deeper level of principle, the trial signifies the emergence of "judicial imperialism", where a country under military occupation led by a regime that is unarguably dictated to and directed by Washington pretends at "sovereignty". When the regime's very legitimacy is under challenge, it is doubtful if the spectacle of quick-fix attempts at justice would find acceptance. On the contrary, the show trial may only serve to worsen an already volatile situation and stir further resistance to the puppet regime being run by remote control.

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Punjabi MPs in Canada
Indians make their mark

A record number of candidates of Indian origin, most of them Punjabis, have been elected to the Federal Parliament of Canada in the recent elections. Eight Indo-Canadians now sit among 308 MPs. It became a family affair for Mr Gurmant Grewal and his wife, Nina. They became the first couple to make it to the Federal Parliament. Mr Gurbux Singh Malhi, the first turbaned Canadian Sikh MP, retained his seat and was joined by newcomer Navdeep Singh Bains, who wears both a turban and a kirpan. Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, a former premier of British Columbia who had joined the Liberal Party just prior to the polls, has been elected and is likely to be made a minister. Mr Gurmant Grewal was voted to Parliament for the third time. There are 1.5 million Canadians of Indian origin and they have a major impact on Canadian politics and policies. The Indo-Canadians, as they are called, are concentrated in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, and it comes as no surprise that often in these areas, the top competing candidates are both of Indian origin. Two women newcomers, Nina Grewal and Ruby Dhalla, have set a precedent, since, till now, South Asian women took a backseat where politics was concerned.

While there is no doubt that Canada's newly-elected lawmakers are Canadians first, their origin is something they do not forget. In fact, a significant amount of canvassing for the Canadian candidates was done in Punjab. Canada and India have good relations with each other, and the people-to-people ties are bound to be further strengthened by the results of this election. Indo-Canadian parliamentarians have often intervened on behalf of their brethren in Punjab. They played a significant role in the opening of a consulate in Chandigarh. Indians would feel proud of their success stories.

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Thought for the day

Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes — Ben Franklin

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An agenda for action
Only faster growth can tackle poverty
by Amit Mitra

ECONOMIC growth and development during the last few years have generated a sense of well-being. There is a feeling of confidence and hope about the future. The fruits of development have reached the lives of a large section of our population. The task now is to extend these to a far larger number — those currently under the poverty line. This can come about only through faster growth.

The strong foundations laid in the agriculture sector, the buoyant industrial economy and the services sector (which is now internationally competitive) make it possible for the economy to grow at a much faster pace. To achieve this objective, FICCI has identified a set of 13 national priorities through a process of intense deliberations with a wide cross-section of industry. These national priorities are

The targets: Poverty reduction through growth at the rate of 10 per cent; employment generation;

Social sectors: Education; health;

The real economy: World competitiveness for Indian industry; agriculture and agro-processing; global leadership in services;

Infrastructure: Housing and urban development; infrastructure; environment;

(Government reforms and public finance: Governance and government reforms; fiscal agenda; disinvestment.)

What do we need to do to achieve these objectives and convert the priorities into ground reality? I will attempt to list out the concrete steps which are needed in the next few paragraphs.

The present poverty ratio of 26 per cent clearly points out what the foremost priority of the nation should be. The hapless state of millions of our fellow Indians languishing below the poverty line is a reality that we cannot ignore. The only way to improve the situation of this deprived lot is by quickening the pace of growth. For long the Indian economy has been growing at a rate of about 5.5 per cent to 6 per cent and it is time we gave a sustained push to these numbers. GDP growth at the rate of 10 per cent would more than double growth rate of per capita incomes to 8.4 per cent in the next five years and bring down the poverty level to around 10 per cent by 2008.

An issue closely related to poverty is that of unemployment. Figures for the year 1999-00 show that the total number of unemployed in the country stood at 27 million. An additional 20 million would be added to the labour force in the next few years. Providing gainful employment to those entering the labour force and also clearing the backlog as it exists today calls for radical change in the country’s economic policy. Higher GDP growth coupled with labour reforms will help add 60 million more jobs in the next five years and reduce unemployment levels from 9.2 per cent in 2002 to 2.9 per cent in 2007. The archaic labour laws in the country are proving to be an impediment to greater hiring and reforms on this front would definitely improve employment elasticity.

The positive externalities flowing from an educated population are not factored in by the market. Although no quantitative measure can fully capture the additional benefits to society, contribution of high literacy levels can easily be documented. Literacy level in India at 65 per cent is much lower as compared to levels attained in countries at the same stage of economic development as ours. We must, therefore, focus all our energies on having a fully literate population. As a start, in the next five years we must aim to take up the overall literacy rate to 75 per cent and successfully implement guaranteed 100 per cent primary education.

The present disconnect between skills imparted and skills demanded, on the vocational educational front, needs to be bridged. Phased reduction of subsidies with concomitant increase in the fee charged would improve the financial situation of institutions of higher learning. For catering to the needs of the poor and meritorious students the government must evolve a framework that would enable all students to have the capacity to borrow on a long-term basis on soft terms.

Another priority, which deserves equal emphasis and importance, is the health sector. The country’s present healthcare system is found wanting in terms of its coverage, affordability and quality. A National Action Plan for the healthcare system focusing on areas like prevention, diagnostic and treatment must be prepared. The public healthcare system needs to be overhauled to ensure that the poor get access to essential medical services.

A question may be asked why should an industry lay so much emphasis on the social sectors. A long forgotten classic in economic literature - Asian Drama by Gunnar Myrdal — which earned its author the Nobel Prize, had shown how exactly these sectors precisely leave their imprint on the growth process. Industry cannot survive, let alone flourish, as an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty. At its present stage, Indian industry will flourish only if the market expands through growth and expansion.

Indeed, the record of Indian industry in the 10 years since liberalisation is creditable. Corporate India has in the last few years been witness to a number of developments all of which are an acknowledgement of its growing competitiveness. India is already a recognised force in the IT and BPO sectors. What is even more heartening is that a large number of manufacturing companies are aligning themselves as equal partners with their foreign collaborators. India thus has the potential of becoming the outsourcing hub of the world. This process can be aided by changes in the policy matrix and procedural requirements. With industry actively gearing itself for the next big round of investments, the role to be played by the development financial institutions is going to be critical. The DFIs should be strengthened by the government. Rationalisation of indirect taxes, introduction of a uniform national VAT, easy entry and exit of firms, power sector reforms and provision of quality infrastructure are the need of the hour.

Rural India has been described as a sleeping giant. Its potential can help us take immense strides in food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation and employment generations, provided Indian agriculture and agro-based industries are further nurtured. To meet the growing domestic demand and also to take advantage of the expanding external market opportunities, Indian agriculture must grow by at least 4 per cent per annum in the next five years. To double our food production by 2010 we need a second green revolution by extending coverage to other crops and other areas of the country. For developing the food-processing sector enabling infrastructure should be developed, the existing wholesale markets and supply chain management must be restructured, information availability should be improved and agriexport zones should be promoted.

Already India has emerged as one of the leading providers of IT and IT enabled services. The success of IT and ITES can now be repeated in other areas as well like tourism and financial services, including banking, capital markets and insurance.

Infrastructure is the critical determinant of the pace at which the economy can grow. Hence the need for attaching highest importance to providing world-class infrastructure by way of roads and highways, ports, airports, electricity and telecom services. Special emphasis needs to be placed on electricity generation. In fact, it is essential to take up electrification of households in rural areas and villages for implementing Provision of Urban facilities to Rural Areas (PURA).

The writer is Secretary-General, FICCI

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Requiem for the plastic glass
by Ramesh Luthra

Out of sorts, of course, you are

Lying crushed on the ground

(Bitten by the green monster)

With tearful eyes you remember

The good old days

You reigned supreme.

But the stars favoured me

The day my saviour! he be blessed

Became Minister of Railways

Was a virtual reincarnation of poor me

Isn’t it?

Harbinger of revolution!

Unheard of in the realms of history.

Concerned with the poorest of the poor

Brought a new lease of life to me.

Cursed be the times when

Lying discarded in the dingy corners

Kicked by the pencil heeled

Woe-begone I cried over my fate

Shedding tears profusely

Ah me! they preferred plastic glass to me

Relished tea or coffee therein.

Gone are the days

Now I hop & jump, jump & hop gleefully

Adorn tea stalls on platforms

A’the buzzing compartments

Like a peacock strutting the lush green garden

It tickles me when the chaiwalla shouts

“Garam Kulhad chai, babuji”

With one stroke of pen

The hands that scorned me

Caress me with nimble fingers

Relishing the aura of “swedshi mitti”

Taking in bacteria, of course

Doesn’t matter

To a nation immune to bacteria.

Who says Indian industry has failed

When millions set to work at me?

Soon the artists will take fancy to me

A’ label me “designer”

Get your ear closer

I tell you a secret

“Indians love designer things all”.

How come the affluent Shatabdi wallas

Dare spurn me?

Phew! Phew! their wrinkled noses

Like them not at all.

You need not raise your head again

You P’glass

Remember I shall settle all old scores with you

Let the whole world know my arrival

With the bugle blown by me “messiah”

I the tiny (you may think me so) “kulhad”

Will rule the railways like a monarch

Absolute in power, supreme in governance

I call the shots — “kulhad” the great.

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Kargil: clamour for air support
Was it not a knee-jerk reaction?
by Brig (retd) AC Prem

Kargil: the battle continues.
Kargil: the “battle” continues.
— Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

IN matters military it is not always fiscal depravity but a worse form viz. professional depravity which has pervaded the system since the soldierly days of Thimmaya and Sam Manekshaw, an exception of late being Padhmanabhan. This takes the form of a supine and compromising attitude.

Gone are the days when the Commander-in-Chief was the number two in the hierarchy, and the likes of Thimmaya threatened to resign or Sam Manekshaw told Mrs. Indira Gandhi to postpone the 1971 war as the Army was not ready. They, including Carriapa and Rajinder Singhji, were soldiers to the core and driven by a zeal for a better professional army, Welfare of troops under their command was always uppermost in their mind. To them, the Defence Secretary was a staff officer to the Defence Minister, nothing more, nothing less.

Over the years a subtle change has came about. The unfettered expansion of the bureaucracy and the powers vested in them has resulted in a stifling of the Services with military judgement being sentenced to virtual solitary confinement, with the bureaucracy having the last say. The outgoing National Security Adviser is a classic example.

In the Army, politics and women are two subjects which are taboo in the officers’ mess. Recently we witnessed a new phenomena — from “Wah! Wah! Bhajpa”, overnight it changed to "Sonia Gandhi is acceptable to the Army as PM”. “Wah! Wah”! to such political acumen and unheard euphemism and that too from a public platform.

To cap it all, we have the release of an in-house Army study group report. How come it became public knowledge? Don’t blame the previous RM (Raksha Mantri) alone.

A cursory reading of the “in-house” study report and the sequence of events raises some interesting points. These are:

(a) It blames the political leadership for failing to take decisive action at a crucial point in the war, enabling Pakistan to wrest the initial advantage, giving it sufficient time for completing its build-up and consolidating its defences.

On 3rd May,'99, the first spotting was 3-4 men in Yaldor, Batalik Sector. And after the first small skirmish on 7th May, significant energy presence was sighted in Batalik sector. The next day Northern Command bid for helicopter gun-ships and assessed the intrusion as 300.

First, isn't this the knee-jerk reaction of a local commander, who at the very outset clamours for air support? And the same being passed quickly up the chain of command without proper assessment or appreciating the overall consequences of such a request, borders on insanity. Secondly, on 9th May, the Army assessed the intrusion as being serious and yet the Army Chief, Gen V.P. Malik, left for a week’s visit to Poland!

(b) The study group report attributes the increased casualties to delay in government decision making. In this case, it was laudable on the part of the present Raksha Mantri, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee to have risen above party politics and not fallen hook, line and sinker to the prey, i.e. give rise to a spat between the two main political parties because of one mans aspirations. The RM very rightly endorsed the NDA government’s handling of the situation. Of the 474 casualties, only 35 preceded the air strikes.

(c) The study report blames the pilots for the Air Force's loss of two fighter aircraft and a chopper. (Prior to the CCS decision on 25th May to apply air power within the LOC, two choppers had also been damaged due to enemy fire on 12th May and 15th May.)

At such high altitudes, manoeuvarability of choppers is seriously hampered and these are sitting ducks for any SAMs or for that matter small arms fire. Despite this they went in, kudos to these bravehearts for venturing in support of the Army despite operating in the most adverse conditions.

Further, no where in the study group report as published in the Press on 6th June'04, is it mentioned that Tipnis requested for political clearance on 13th May '99.

The question arises that if the situation was assessed as serious, then between 9th and 12th May, when the first chopper was damaged, why were some twin 20mm AD guns not dismantled and moved to a firing position in case transportation was difficult? These could have rendered invaluable support in the direct firing mode. Or was it forgotten that attack helicopters are normally meant to be used from a flank, with the enemy's head kept down by covering fire?

Space does not permit seeking more clarifications, but as per the study group report, voice communications were unreliable and air space management shoddy (rather a harsh word). The question arises that if the Army controller in the joint air defence centre was not in communication with the command posts of the army's air defence guns, missiles and the trigger-happy infantry — what could the airforce do?

All it indicates is that little knowledge can be dangerous. It is about time for the betterment of the Services and the country at large, that such contentious issues are sorted out mutually. When the U.S.A. and the U.K. have till date not been able to fully resolve these air space management problems, why blame each other! However, a simple solution does exist. It requires a big brother attitude on the following lines:

All air defence assets of the Army i.e. guns, missiles and personnel should be placed under command the Air Force. During war and for exercises, those elements which are required to function with the Army in the tactical area should be placed under the Army's control for that specific duration. Further, young brother to transfer all attack helicopters to the Army.

In conclusion, I rue the attitudinal change which has come about in the army, which over the years has had a trickle-down effect. Till now we have had to bear with quite a few mediocre men at the top and now the middle rung too is badly affected. It is about time that “yesmen” and sycophants make way for true soldiers, who till date are generally retired early.

A complete overhaul of the reporting system by an outside agency is required as also steps taken to protect the interests of worthy soldiers, which is a subject by itself.

As regards the various categories under discussion, the requirement is an in depth study and psychoanalysis of this species, the start point for researchers being the alcoves of the IHC where this breed, both civil and Army, thrives after retirement! Further for starters, there should be a ban for five years on government appointments for all retirees.

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DEFENCE NOTES
Top appointments held up for review
by Girja Shankar Kaura

CERTAIN quarters in the IAF seem to be trying to rake up a controversy over the delay in the appointment of the new Commander of the Strategic Forces Command (SFC). The posts of AOC-in-C, Training Command, and AOC-in-C, South-Western Air Command, have also been lying vacant for some time now. It is felt that the appointments are not being made purposely.

The Commander of the SFC, Air Marshal T.M. Asthana, retired on June 30. Air Marshal S.K. Jain, who is the Senior Air Staff Officer, Training Command, was expected to take over from Air Marshal Asthana.

However, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to hold up this and some other appointments. Apparently, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has called for the files related to the latest round of appointments in the armed forces.

The Strategic Forces Command was set up to operate the country’s nuclear command and control system. The officer in line was apparently cleared for the posting by the previous NDA government and now with a review under way there is all the noise.

A senior MoD official asks, “Since all the appointments were cleared by the NDA government `in haste’ just before the new government took over, is it not the prerogative of the new Defence Minister to have a look at what the previous Defence Minister had done?”

Maritime doctrine

The recently published “Indian Maritime Doctrine” is in recognition of the fact that the Indian Navy has entered the new millennium as a professional force.

A senior naval officer said that in an increasingly complex world it is essential for the Indian Navy to establish a recognisable set of navigational aids that will guide and cart its development and its conduct through turbulent waters that lie ahead.

These navigational marks, as also the discernible dangers, are charted through the issue of backbone publications, the foremost of which is a clearly articulated doctrine. The purpose of a maritime doctrine is to provide the country with a common language and a uniform understanding of maritime concepts.

Through the doctrine, it is intended to evoke the same degree of comprehension in the mind of every person who reads it, irrespective of his profession, experience or association with sea, he said.

NCC team scales peak

An NCC boys mountaineering expedition team, which scaled the Bhagirathi II peak on June 14 last, was flagged in earlier this week by Lt Gen BK Bopanna, Director General, NCC. The team was led by Lt Col T Siva Kumar, who successfully scaled the peak. The team was flagged off by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy, on May 28.

The Bhagirathi Peak II is located in the Garhwal region at a height of 6,512 metres. This was the second time that the NCC boy cadets had attempted

Bhagirathi Peak II, which was scaled successfully despite all odds and adverse weather conditions.

Addressing the cadets and officials, General Bopanna praised the team for its determination and dedication in scaling the peak and congratulated the members of the expedition on their great success.

He said mountaineering is the most challenging and toughest of all sports. He advised the cadets to have an aim in the life and try their best to achieve it.

This expedition was the 53rd expedition. A girls’ expedition will be flagged off in September this year.

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The sage awakes to light in the night of all creatures. That which the world calls day is the night of ignorance to the wise.

— Sri Krishna

Of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Indra; and all the seers, sages, ascetics and mendicants, whoever obey the command of God are honoured in His court. But they who ever disobey Him, are surely destroyed by Him.

— Guru Nanak

Prophets preach, but the Incarnations like Jesus, Buddha, Sri Ramakrishna can give religion: one glance, one touch is enough.

— Swami Vivekananda

We call him a Brahmin who remains unaffected by objects of sensual pleasures even while surrounded by them like a lotus which remains unaffected by water though living in it.

— Lord Mahavir

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God.

— I. John

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