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EDITORIALS

Eyeball to eyeball
UPA-Left standoff on FDI
F
inance Minister P. Chidambaram did bend a little under pressure from stock traders on Wednesday, but he stood out against the Leftists. While adopting differential rates for securities, leaving the treasury poorer by Rs 1,000 crore annually, he did manage to cheer up the capital market and the Sensex reacted positively to the new arrangement.

Andhra goes ahead
Talking turkey with Naxalites
T
HE Congress government in Andhra Pradesh has taken a bold step in going ahead with the necessary steps for holding talks with the Marxist-Leninist People's War Group. The Rajasekhara Reddy government has sought to demonstrate its commitment to sue for peace by letting the ban on PWG lapse.



EARLIER ARTICLES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Pappu’s health
Jail foods will keep him fit and trim
S
eldom has any court of law taken a special interest in the whereabouts and welfare of a single accused. However, Pappu Yadav is not an ordinary person. The stocky individual who answers to this name is a politician from Bihar. Netas from this region know the importance of remaining in the news.

ARTICLE

Logic and law of water-sharing
The aggrieved should approach the courts of justice
by S.S. Johl
H
aryana was Punjab and so were some parts of present-day Himachal Pradesh. These areas had the riparian rights in waters of the erstwhile Punjab state. Rajasthan had no riparian right. Surplus water was earlier sold to that state on a nominal price.

MIDDLE

A shortened story
by Girish Bhandari
I
NDIA and Pakistan are to develop further continental ballistic missiles, when the peace wagon has finally started rolling! “No, not ballistic missiles, you dunderhead. In today’s language CBM stands for confidence building measures.

OPED

Patiala gharana fading away
No institution to carry on the legacy
by Parbina Rashid
I
S Patiala gharana dying? The question seems rhetorical at a time when most of the musical gharanas are gradually coming out of their traditional mores to get assimilated into something larger. But what is important is that this particular gharana that gifted legendary artistes like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Ustad Munawar Ali Khan has been dying a slow death in this region — the very place of its origin.

Delhi Durbar
Cracks appear in NDA unity
O
F late the BJP has been desperately trying to put up a united face of the NDA on all major issues it has been raising inside and outside Parliament, whether it is tainted ministers’ issue or the separate probe ordered by Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav pertaining to the carnage in Godhra.

  • Anupam Kher in a difficult role

  • Jaipal Reddy on media

  • Bihar: BJP’s headache

 REFLECTIONS

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Eyeball to eyeball
UPA-Left standoff on FDI

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram did bend a little under pressure from stock traders on Wednesday, but he stood out against the Leftists. While adopting differential rates for securities, leaving the treasury poorer by Rs 1,000 crore annually, he did manage to cheer up the capital market and the Sensex reacted positively to the new arrangement. But he almost point blank refused to roll back the controversial increase in the sectoral cap in telecommunications, insurance and civil aviation. Responding to the debate on the Budget in the Lok Sabha, Mr Chidambaram offered only sweet talk to the Left: "I will talk to them sweetly. I will listen to them. I will convince them". He did not yield any territory.

The ball is back in the Leftist court now. The Left leaders present in the House on Wednesday did not protest when the Finance Minister uttered homilies. This does not mean any change in the Left's stand on the FDI issue. They kept silent because the FDI proposals were not a part of the Finance Bill that was under discussion. Only a few days ago a top Left leader had expressed his colleagues' growing impatience by saying rather bluntly that they did not just "bark", they could "bite" also, if need be.

Although the Left leaders had earlier clarified that they would not withdraw support to the United Progressive Alliance government on this issue, their belligerence has been increasing. There is also a deadlock between the government and the Left on the issue of interest rate for the Employees Provident Fund. The marriage of convenience forged by the UPA partners is under strain and no one would like a divorce so soon. The comrades have been left out of the national mainstream. The tunes they sing have gone out of fashion. While their government in West Bengal woos foreign investment, they want the government at the Centre to shut the doors to FDI. Earlier, they used to look up to China for guidance. They should keep doing so.
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Andhra goes ahead
Talking turkey with Naxalites

THE Congress government in Andhra Pradesh has taken a bold step in going ahead with the necessary steps for holding talks with the Marxist-Leninist People's War Group. The Rajasekhara Reddy government has sought to demonstrate its commitment to sue for peace by letting the ban on PWG lapse. For its part, the Naxalite group has reciprocated by declaring that it will not attack former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu or any other person on its hit-list as long as the ceasefire prevails. These are welcome developments especially the proscription of the PWG since 1992, which far from mitigating the situation, only escalated the conflict between the state administration and the Naxalites. During this period, the Naxalites continued with their policy of "annihilating class enemies" and "collaborators" and went so far as to attempt the assassination of Mr Naidu when he was Chief Minister. The state government for its part continued with "repressive measures" regardless of the party in office, though the Telugu Desam's founder and first chief minister N.T. Rama Rao entered the political arena with a "Lal Salaam" to the "patriots", as he called the Naxalites.

In the unrelenting cycle of violence between the police and the PWG, over 2000 people have been killed during the nine-year rule of Mr Naidu alone and Andhra Pradesh has maintained its notorious record of "encounter killings" — a practice that became routine during the Emergency when Jalagam Vengala Rao was the Chief Minister. It is a positive turn that the phenomenon of encounters would be ended even as both sides prepare for the agreed peace talks.

The constitution of a committee of credible mediators has also given rise to confidence that both sides are serious about ending the armed conflict. The effort needs to be coordinated with other states where the PWG is still on the warpath as well as the Union Government since the latter has been very much involved in arming Andhra Pradesh to combat the "Naxalite menace". The need for a democratic solution to the conflict cannot be overemphasised.
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Pappu’s health
Jail foods will keep him fit and trim

Seldom has any court of law taken a special interest in the whereabouts and welfare of a single accused. However, Pappu Yadav is not an ordinary person. The stocky individual who answers to this name is a politician from Bihar. Netas from this region know the importance of remaining in the news. The proceedings of Parliament are held up because of them. Once in a while a Judge gets sacked for doing their bidding, as has happened in the case of the Siwan Judge who had cleared Mohammad Shahabuddin's application for bail. In less than a fortnight, the highest court of the land took time off from examining intricate legal and constitutional issues to deal with Pappu and his problems.

First, the Supreme Court asked the CBI to probe what Pappu Yadav was doing in Madhepura between March 16 and May 3. He was supposed to be in jail for the alleged murder of CPM leader Ajit Sarkar. How did he manage to get out during the crucial Lok Sabha election to play the bad guy to voters unwilling to do his bidding? Officially Pappuji was admitted to the Patna Medical College for the treatment of a variety of ailments. There is no known law that says that an ailing neta, particularly from Bihar, cannot take part in electioneering.

After going through his medical history and examining his ample girth, a three-Judge Bench diagnosed him to be suffering from ailments that afflict jailbirds when they inhale non-prison air. Their Lordships, therefore, wisely directed, evidently with tongues firmly in cheek, that "he should be lodged in jail. The jail food will reduce his obesity and hypertension". Since what the apex court says becomes the law, the ruling may start a nationwide trend of rotund jailbirds out on medical leave being sent back to their cells for rest and recuperation.
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Thought for the day

Wit is the epitaph of an emotion.

— Friedrich Nietzsche
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Logic and law of water-sharing
The aggrieved should approach the courts of justice
by S.S. Johl

Haryana was Punjab and so were some parts of present-day Himachal Pradesh. These areas had the riparian rights in waters of the erstwhile Punjab state. Rajasthan had no riparian right. Surplus water was earlier sold to that state on a nominal price. However, through time the price tag was changed to free supply because of the subjectively perceived national interests, not at the cost of the nation, but of Punjab. Prolonged use is now being perceived as natural right!

Surprisingly, the water being used out of Punjab rivers by Rajasthan is disproportionately higher than the Punjab and Haryana shares. The supply of water by suffrage does not confer any right to that water on that state. Their hue and cry holds no logic, specially when Punjab is not denying the present level of water supply to that state. This has been made amply clear by the Punjab Chief Minister.

Himachal, though rightfully having a share in Punjab river waters by virtue of parts of its area coming from erstwhile Punjab, is topographically and geographically handicapped in utilising this water. The right of this state does not emerge from the fact that water into the Punjab rivers flows from Himachal. Nobody stops the state from harvesting its waters upstream. Excess water that flows down to the rivers brings floods also, which too are not shared by the hill state.

Haryana has the right to 40 per cent of the erstwhile Punjab waters. But that includes the Ganga-Yamuna link waters also. The present Punjab has as much right (60 per cent) on the Ganga-Yamuna link waters as Haryana has (40 per cent) right on other rivers of erstwhile Punjab. Under the 60-40 ratio, Haryana is already drawing water from Punjab rivers more than its due. Where is then the need for an additional canal to take water to Haryana from Punjab rivers? Also, no one is listening to the Punjab plea that waters flowing in the Punjab rivers have declined from 17.17 MAF assessed in 1981 to only 14.37 MAF now.

Water flow into the rivers is a dynamic phenomenon, not a static one. Punjab cannot and should not be considered a residual claimant, suffering floods due to excessive flow sometimes and shortages on other occasions. Logic and law demand that considering erstwhile Punjab as a riparian state to the waters of all Punjab rivers, including the Ganga-Yamuna link, the present states of Punjab and Haryana should share these waters in a 60-40 ratio in a dynamic context. Punjab should not be forced to forego its rightful share under duress as was done in the past.

Some so-called knowledgeable people from outside Punjab claim that the state is suffering from water-logging that in their view indicates that there is excess water, which is not judiciously used. They do not understand that water-logging is in the south-western districts where subsoil water is highly saline. It is only the conjunctive use of this water mixed with canal water which is keeping water-logging under control. Withdrawal of the canal water from these areas will render these very productive parts absolutely barren. As a nation, we have to remember that these people from whom water will be snatched to serve the interests of other areas in the country are also Indians.

It needs to be understood that today more than 60 per cent of the irrigation water used in Punjab is the underground water lifted through tubewells. Less than 40 per cent is canal irrigation. With this, the water-table is receding at the rate of 36 to 42 inches per year in most parts of the central districts. Centrifugal pumps in these areas have gone dysfunctional. Submersible pumps have been installed costing about Rs 1 lakh each. This has put the farmers under heavy debt. If this trend continues, Punjab will be a barren state in less than a decade.

If canal water supply is reduced by 10 per cent, the water-table will recede by more than 50 inches per year. If this state goes barren, its farmers and rural population will become paupers and India will become a case of food basket. One must not forget that for public distribution, more than 90 per cent inter-state movement of foodgrains originates from Punjab. India should sustain the food production in Punjab in its own interest.

Press reports indicate that the Prime Minister has pulled up the Chief Minister of Punjab on the issue of the Assembly passing the Punjab Termination of Agreements Bill, which annuls all water sharing accords. Dr Manmohan Singh is a cultivated personality, who does not take leave of the logic and national interests. It is unbelievable that he would have acted in such a manner. If he has done so, it is unfortunate. The Punjab Assembly has not gone beyond its jurisdiction. It had to resort to this extreme yet logical step to seek justice, expressing full faith in the Supreme Court. Through this legislation, the only thing Punjab is saying is, “please listen to our logic and understand the ground realities”. Nothing more! Why should anybody be angry or upset over this?

Punjab legislators are not less patriotic or less nationalists than any other Indian. National interests and democratic values are as strong with them as these can be with anyone else. They are struggling to get justice, which is their constitutional right. Why should anyone feel sour about it? It is unfortunate that the national media has created an unwarranted hype and is labelling the Chief Minister and the Punjab legislators as villains of the piece. At fault, in fact, are those who are burning Punjab buses and are resorting to hooliganism. Why hold demonstrations and organise hold-ups? Punjab has acted as per law. The aggrieved, if any, should knock at the doors of the court of justice.

What are these slogans, “No water, no roads”, “Coal for thermal plants passes through Haryana”? Are such threats tenable in the context of a nation-state? Do these people not have faith in the Supreme Court of the nation? Punjab has already passed through an unprecedented turmoil in the past due to the partisan treatment meted out to the state. Let us not create an environment of India versus Punjab to push the state back into the same turmoil again that has left permanent scars on the economy, the social fabric and the body politic of the state. Treat the issue as a point of law and logic, and let us have faith in our highest court of justice.

India is already grappling with the issues of serious concern that are polarising society. Let us not stoke the fire further that will put us in reverse gear. Statesmen of the country, please wake up! Otherwise, self-serving politicians will take over with disastrous consequences for the nation-state.
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A shortened story
by Girish Bhandari

INDIA and Pakistan are to develop further continental ballistic missiles, when the peace wagon has finally started rolling! “No, not ballistic missiles, you dunderhead. In today’s language CBM stands for confidence building measures. NGOs are non governmental organisations and not no-go-governments”, informed my friend, who is a kind of A on E — Authority on Everything, including the latest gossip of the babuland. I have painfully come to realise that we live in an age of shortened understanding, a shrivelled up age, if one may say.

The ICE age has got us chilled. No, I am not speaking of the age of woolly mammoths. Ice now stands for Information Communication Entertainment. In common man’s language an amalgam of computers, cell phones, audio and video and what have you. The only accepted acronyms one had come across in one’s student days were LASER and RADAR. The first has made an ubiquitous impact on our lives, from guided bombs to eye surgery to depilation. The latter certainly won the British the Second World War, when the Luftwaffe was destroyed in the air thanks to Radio Angle Direction and Ranging.

One of the most embarrassing one was SITA — Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act. Imagine the righteous indignation the acronym aroused. Tada and Pota remind members of the bunch of the felons plying their trade till Lord Bentinck dealt with them with true British proficiency. Hundreds of them were hanged from the nearest tree and “Thuggie”, the scourge of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century was eliminated.

FERA ferried everyone to the terror land, till, of course, the government decided one fine morning to say goodbye to the license-permit raj. Today, with over a Billion Dollar FER — Foreign Exchange Reserve — that it does not know what to do with this embarrassment de riches. The VIP, whose full form need not bother us should better be named VOP — Very Obnoxious Person. In other countries one can find dignitaries just walking by. Here the VOP, preceded or followed by a posse of variously coloured uniforms is a pain in the fundament. Some of the coloured brigade carry medieval looking weapons good enough to shoot one in the foot, while the VOP is shooting from the mouth! One learns Anzac is not a writer, Balzac was a great one. SETI is not my next-door neighbour. Its Search For Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.

Perhaps the computer and the cell phone have given us a new language based on acronyms. RAM is neither the male of ewe nor the pole of battering variety, but Random Access Memory — the real playground of data processing. CPM is both party and the Critical Path Method, which that brave engineer Satyendra Dube was trying to implement in his projects. CPU is the central processing unit like the headquarters of political parties, from where all processing is done! HC is more High Command now than High Court. Of course Sensex and Niftie are the twin gods of today. Unravelling them would invite the wrath of SEBI.

The greatest of them all? IMFL — Indian Made Foreign Liquor. Is it the admission of the ideation of an instrument dealing with the population bomb. Gentle reader, decide for yourself if I have a prurient mind!
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Patiala gharana fading away
No institution to carry on the legacy
by Parbina Rashid

Pramila Puri, a Patiala gharana artiste
Pramila Puri, a Patiala gharana artiste

IS Patiala gharana dying? The question seems rhetorical at a time when most of the musical gharanas are gradually coming out of their traditional mores to get assimilated into something larger.

But what is important is that this particular gharana that gifted legendary artistes like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Ustad Munawar Ali Khan has been dying a slow death in this region — the very place of its origin.

So Pramila Puri, the only performing artiste of Patiala gharana in the city and the first disciple of Ustad Munawar Ali Khan, turns introspective: "Who is going to carry forward the torch after me? When I came to Chandigarh, I had dreams of starting an akademi and installing a chair in the university to popularise this gharana among its own people. But after fighting for 15 long years, my dreams are over. Now I content myself with a few performances here and there. But the worry that plagues me is who would teach the younger generation, the nuances of our rich legacy once I am gone".

Puri has admitted defeat, blaming it on the "Punjab psyche which has still not geared up to classical music". But for Ustad Mazhar Ali Khan and Ustad Javaad Ali Khan, there is no easy escape.

"As grand-children of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, we shoulder the heavy responsibility of carrying forward this tradition," say the brothers who have shifted their base to New Delhi. They are the fourth generation vocalists of this gharana.

"The government should have given patronage for revival of this gharana, particularly in this region. But since it did not, we are trying our best to popularise our heritage in our own way" says the duo.

"And if there is none in Punjab to teach or learn the Patiala gharana, again the government's indifferent attitude is to be blamed for forcing its talent to seek greener pastures outside the state," they add.

Institutions are also keeping themselves distant from this gayaki. "Where are you going to find enough ‘shishyas’ who would give years of their lives to learn something without taking long-term financial gains into consideration, says M.L. Koser, Founder Registrar of Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh.

"More than preserving the sanctity of traditional music, artistes are more interested in experimenting with fusion music — a short-cut to fame and money," he adds.

If that is not all, there is an epidemic called "Gharana bimari" which is on the air. "Gone are the days when a shishya will carry forward his guru's tradition with devotion. These days if someone has carved a niche for himself or herself in the field of classical art, then they must have a gharana in their own name," says OP Gupta, a classical singer from Indore Gharana.

However, the picture is not all that gloomy. Ajoy Chakrabarty, the doyen of this gharana has a huge fan following in Kolkata. "I do not agree with the view that the popularity of the Patiala gharana has been on the decline," says Chakrabarty in a telephonic interview. "Gayaki, something as pure as Patiala gharana, can never fade out. It is just a matter of time that people wake up to its melody once again," he adds.

The roots of Patiala gharana can be traced back to Kasur, a small town near Lahore which was famous for the "melody in its air and soul." Not without reason. A large number of Sufi saints had spread their message of love from this place. The great poet Baba Bulle Shah, who gave the world a string of his priceless Sufiana Kalam, came from this very region.

It was from this ambience that Ustad Ali Baksh Khan and Ustad Kale Khan, with their abundant talent, brought to Patiala, the fragrance, beauty and elegance of their Kasur gharana which later assumed the name — the Kasur Patiala gharana.

Ali Baksh Khan and Kale Khan became the acknowledged singers of their time — a pair to reckon with. They were invited to become the court singers of the Jammu and Kashmir Darbar and were conferred the titles of Sangeet Ratna and Taan Samrat respectively.

At the turn of the 20th century, Ali Baksh Khan was blessed with a son who later became famous as Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Other sons followed — Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan and Ustad Aman Ali Khan. All these brothers, inspired by the beauty of their inherited style, contributed to Patiala Kasur gayaki, taking it to the international scene.

Padma Bhushan Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1901-1968) was the giant of the Patiala gharana who gave new heights to it during his lifetime. It was his years of riyaz blended with phenomenal creativity and a chiselled voice that gave a different dimension to this gayaki. He refined the aakar gayaki, shuddah-mudra vani, bahlawa, bol taan and sargam. In his highly cultivated and melodious voice, he rendered intricate layakari with ease and dignified finesse that could cast magic.

It was not just the unique signature that Bade Ghulam Ali Khan left on this gayaki. His other contributions included a large number of bandishes which he composed under the pseudonym "Sabrang". Also, he created the magnificent surmandal — an instrument which has today become popular with the most leading vocalists of the country.
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Delhi Durbar
Cracks appear in NDA unity

OF late the BJP has been desperately trying to put up a united face of the NDA on all major issues it has been raising inside and outside Parliament, whether it is tainted ministers’ issue or the separate probe ordered by Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav pertaining to the carnage in Godhra.

Despite its best efforts, the BJP has been forced to face embarrassment on issues like SYL and election of Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha. While on the SYL issue the SAD had totally backed the Bill passed by the Punjab Assembly scrapping all water treaties, on the election of the Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, its oldest ally, Shiv Sena, filed the nomination of its member disregarding the BJP’s stand.

Anupam Kher in a difficult role

Actor and Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Anupam Kher knows how to spread smiles — on and off screen. At a national consultation on the portrayal of women in the media in Vigyan Bhavan recently, Kher said that when he was catching a nap aboard a Delhi-bound flight the other day, he heard a passenger remark ``Dekhiye, Yeh Censor Board ke chief hain. Naa Jaane kaisi kaisi filmein pass kar dete hain aur yahan ghode bech kar so rahen hain”

Kher observed that holding the office of Chairperson of the CBFC is not the best position to be in. Acknowledging that it is a controversial post, he said it took him two weeks to accept the offer to head the CBFC.

Jaipal Reddy on media

Information and Broadcasting Minister Jaipal Reddy says he is against the commercial exploitation of women in the media. In his address at the national consultation on women, media and the laws organised by the Central Board of Film Certification and the National Commission for Women, Reddy said that freedom of the public ought to be respected. He raised the pertinent question whether people who didn’t bargain for obscenity should be exposed to it through television channels and films.

The minister noted the media has come to be dictated entirely by business interests and, therefore, portrays what sells. At the same time people tend to forget that women are the cradle of civilisation and a symbol of motherhood. Everything would fall in place if people were to be keep this in mind, the minister suggested.

Bihar: BJP’s headache

While the BJP high command has deputed seasoned election expert Arun Jaitley to prepare the ground in Bihar for the victory of the party in the coming assembly elections against the combined might of the RJD and the Congress, multiple claims of different leaders from the state for the Chief Minister’s chair are making life miserable for the former Law and Justice Minister.

Jaitley, who met over 250 state leaders during his stay in Patna last week, was taken aback when a majority of them told him point blank that over-dependence of the central leaders on the backward state’s Kayastha leaders was the root cause of the BJP’s dismal performance in the Lok Sabha poll. There were as many as four ministers in the Vajpayee Cabinet. So if you project Shatrughan Sinha as the Chief Ministerial candidate, then the party would have to win on his dialogues than on votes, they told Jaitley in no uncertain terms.

Contributed by S. Satyanarayanan, Tripti Nath and Satish Misra
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Practice the truth that thy brother is the same as thou. Walk in the noble path of righeousness and thou will understand that while there is death in self, there is immortality in truth.

— The Buddha

I do not believe in the exclusive divinity of the Vedas. I believe the Bible, the Quran, and the Zendavesta to be as much divinely inspired as the Vedas.

— Mahatma Gandhi

Dwell only on God’s Name, as all other deeds are fruitless.

— Guru Nanak

A great artist, poet, philosopher sacrifices his ego to his art, poetry and philosophy. The moment he renounces the arrogating ego, he becomes the personification of joy, happiness and bliss.

— Swami A. Parthasarathy
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