SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI
O P I N I O N S

Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped | Reflections

EDITORIALS

Punjab without power
Follow up austerity with reforms

T
HE immediate sufferers of Punjab's save-power drive are the owners of shops and commercial establishments, which have to be closed by 6 pm.

Pay for bandh
No fundamental right to obstruct civic life

T
he Bombay High Court has fined the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party Rs 20 lakh each for having organised a bandh in Mumbai on July 30 last year in protest against the Ghatkopar bomb blasts.

Big bucks, big crimes
Economic offences need prompt delivery of justice
A
N American icon has been sentenced to prison for five months. Martha Stewart had been convicted last March on charges of obstructing justice, conspiracy and making false statements during an insider-trading investigation into her controversial sale of $ 2,28,000 worth of stock in December 2001.








EARLIER ARTICLES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
ARTICLE

Re-assess water needs
Better management can end SYL crisis
by Ramaswamy R. Iyer
T
HERE are three different but inter-connected ways of looking at the recent water-related developments in Punjab: as political developments, as legal questions, and as issues of water management.

MIDDLE

The business of business management
by P. Lal
T
he controversy over the fee-structure in the IIMs, and inviting the owners of a chain of dabbawalas of Mumbai to IIM, Lucknow, to address the gathering at “Manfest 2004” on micro-management remind me of what a professor on management from a prestigious IIM had told us way back in 1978 at the National Police Academy, Hyderabad, where we, officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police, were undergoing a training programme.

OPED

Report on 9/11 attacks finds fault with all, holds no one responsible
by K. Subrahmanyam
T
he much awaited report of the National Commission to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been released. The Commission consisted of five members from the Republican Party and five from the Democratic Party and was headed by Thomas Kean, retired Republican Governor of New Jersey.

People
The forgotten Diggy Raja
F
or 10 long years as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh was counted among the movers and shakers of the country. But after his ouster, he is hardly heard of.

  • Farhan Akhtar to act
  • In fray for House or Senate

 REFLECTIONS

Top


 

 

 


 
EDITORIALS

Punjab without power
Follow up austerity with reforms

THE immediate sufferers of Punjab's save-power drive are the owners of shops and commercial establishments, which have to be closed by 6 pm. Leave alone the inconvenience to the public, none bothers about the production and business losses the state will incur on account of the shutdowns. Employees must be happy as the offices will close three hours earlier. But who will enforce the ban on the air-conditioners in the offices of ministers and bureaucrats? The people in general and farmers in particular have been paying heavily for the recurring power crisis in the state.

Why this crisis? Because the Punjab State Electricity Board failed to contract additional power in time. Since demand outstrips supply, the problem has become chronic. No one can accuse the state government of having any foresight or courage to meet the challenge head on. It reportedly buys power worth Rs 13.26 crore daily. That is a huge amount, particularly when the state is almost bankrupt. There are other reasons too. Power is priced much below its cost of production. Households pay 60 per cent of the cost and farmers only10 per cent. The industrial sector bears most of the burden. Many industries survive by stealing power. The theft and transmission losses are as high as 40-50 per cent. And to cap it all, the power board is overstaffed. According to a World Bank study, it has the highest number of employees per 1,000 consumers.

The previous Akali Dal government gave free power to the farmers ruining the power board and deepening the underground water crisis. The government did not pay for the subsidised power. Disconnection is seldom resorted to even when the consumer fails to pay. The board used to buy power by making part payments. Now the NTPC insists on spot payment. The state can no more buy now and pay later. The Punjab Government has retreated on unbundling the power board. It does not want any trade union problem in the Chief Minister's constituency, which, incidentally, gets more power than others. Reforms in the power sector, which are all well known, alone can pull the state out of the present crisis.
Top

 

Pay for bandh
No fundamental right to obstruct civic life

The Bombay High Court has fined the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party Rs 20 lakh each for having organised a bandh in Mumbai on July 30 last year in protest against the Ghatkopar bomb blasts. The ruling is in conformity with the Supreme Court's interpretation of the meaning and concept of one's right to sponsor or observe bandh on any issue. In 1997, the apex court had banned all kinds of bandhs. The High Court was not impressed by the argument of the political parties that they had the fundamental right to record their protest by organising bandhs on any issue. While the parties had argued that the bandh in question was called to protest against the killing of innocent people in the serial bomb blasts and was "largely peaceful and spontaneous", the petitioners held that the bandh was forced on the people and was illegal. The ruling, in a way, recognises the hardship that a bandh causes to everyone.

The petitioners in this case were men of high stature and public standing. They included former Cabinet Secretary B.G. Deshmukh and former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro. They forcefully argued in the court how the organisers, with little concern for public safety, went ahead with the bandh and caused a loss of Rs 50 crore to the metropolis.

A significant feature of the High Court ruling is the admission of the petitioners' plea that accountability will have to be fixed on the political parties for paralysing normal life in the city and bringing all activities to a grinding halt. Bandhs have become too common these days in almost every state. There is a need to check the propensity of political parties to organise bandhs at the drop of a hat and make people suffer. The High Court ruling is timely and would have served the purpose if it acts as a deterrent. The Left parties, which have always considered the right to call a bandh a democratic right, have flayed the judgement. There are many others who welcome the court's views on bandh but find the fine an impractical proposition.
Top

 

Big bucks, big crimes
Economic offences need prompt delivery of justice

AN American icon has been sentenced to prison for five months. Martha Stewart had been convicted last March on charges of obstructing justice, conspiracy and making false statements during an insider-trading investigation into her controversial sale of $ 2,28,000 worth of stock in December 2001. The process took two and a half years, almost the time taken to indict former Enron Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay. Both Stewart and Lay are appealing, and the legal process is far from over, but what has to be recognised is that two of America’s top business icons have been held responsible for their wrongs, and are firmly in the grasp of the long hand of the law.

Compare this with the situation in India, where justice takes a long time. Sometimes justice is pronounced after the death of the principals involved in the case. To take a few examples of high-profile cases, in the Lakhubhai Pathak case, it took the CBI nine years to file a chargesheet against Chandraswami and his confidant Kailash Nath. Pathak had alleged that the two had cheated him in December 1983. The complainant died while the case was still in court and eventually Chandraswami and former Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao were both acquitted. The Judge declared that Pathak was an unreliable witness.

In another case, stockbroker Harshad Mehta, linked to the Rs 8,000 crore securities scam, also died during the pendency of his appeal to the Supreme Court. The apex court had upheld his conviction, but the accused was not there to face the consequences of his misdeeds. Similarly, in the Jain Hawala case, all the accused were freed. It took five years for 29 of the nation’s top political figures and 16 bureaucrats to clear their names, though on technical grounds. Justice delayed is certainly justice denied. The nation should make special efforts to clear the cases related to economic crimes, which have an impact on the lives of thousands of ordinary persons.
Top

 

Thought for the day

Keep violence in the mind. Where it belongs. — Brian Aldiss
Top

 

Re-assess water needs
Better management can end SYL crisis
by Ramaswamy R. Iyer

THERE are three different but inter-connected ways of looking at the recent water-related developments in Punjab: as political developments, as legal questions, and as issues of water management.

Taking politics first (and forgetting water for the moment), it is not clear why the Governor was so prompt in giving his assent to the Punjab Bill terminating all the past water-sharing agreements and accords with other states. It is also not clear why the Central government, when it got wind of what was going on in the Punjab Assembly, did not advise the Governor informally to be not too hasty in according his assent, and to reserve it for the President.

We can only speculate about the answers to these questions. From the point of view of federalism, the unilateral termination by one state of agreements involving other states (and indirectly the Centre too) is a disturbing development. As for party politics, there seems to be a clear division among even “national” parties such as the BJP and the Congress along state lines in so far as crucial issues like water are concerned. (One had seen this in the case of the Cauvery dispute.) In Punjab, there has been a closing of ranks, with even bitter political opponents supporting the Chief Minister on this issue; for the time being, the Chief Minister seems unassailable. In Haryana and Rajasthan also the different parties seem at one on the water issue.

At the Centre, the Congress was in a difficult situation: it evidently did not wish to antagonise its own party people either in Punjab or in Haryana. That was why the Central government refrained from public pronouncements, and seemed inclined to leave the matter to the judiciary. That impression is now confirmed by the Presidential reference to the Supreme Court.

Turning to legal issues, we find that there are several clusters of them. One cluster relates to the legality of the termination: whether there is any question of “sovereignty” at the state level, as has been claimed; whether even an independent sovereign government can unilaterally terminate an agreement involving other sovereign governments; whether an agreement entered into by the executive government can be terminated by an Act of the legislature; and whether a state legislature can annul a Central notification allocating waters under the Punjab Reorganisation Act.

There is a second cluster relating to “riparian” issues. Punjab argues that neither Rajasthan nor Haryana has any riparian rights over Ravi-Beas waters. The brief answer to that, in so far as Haryana is concerned, seems to be that prior to reorganisation it was a part of undivided Punjab and shared in its riparian character; that after reorganisation the share of the erstwhile Punjab in Ravi-Beas waters was divided between the new states of Punjab and Haryana by a Central notification under the Punjab Reorganisation Act; and that Haryana’s rights arise from that allocation.

As for Rajasthan, its claim derives from the negotiations leading to the Indus Treaty of 1960. Without the exclusive allocation of the three eastern rivers to India, India’s (and, therefore, Punjab’s) upper-riparian rights over the waters of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej would have been constrained by Pakistan’s lower riparian rights; in obtaining that exclusive allocation the water needs of Rajasthan played a crucial role. Can Punjab now erase that history and deny Rajasthan’s claim?

A third cluster relates to the legality of the 1981 agreement, the 1985 Accord and the tribunal. Having been a party to all these, can Punjab now disown them as imposed on it, or as illegal and unfair? Punjab acquiesced in the establishment of the tribunal and presented its case before it; and the tribunal has given its award, though that award has not been notified so far. Sooner or later, that award, along with the supplementary report to be received, will have to be notified, and will be final and binding. It is difficult to see how all that can be nullified.

Those legal issues will doubtless get resolved by the Supreme Court’s pronouncements on the Presidential reference. We now come to the most important aspect: the quarrel over water. There is a strong sense of grievance in Punjab. There is a tendency to regard the Ravi-Beas waters as Punjab’s own waters which others are taking away. So far as one knows, there is no ownership or proprietary rights over flowing waters. Leaving that aside, the question of water needs must be considered.

Punjab has been contending that the availability of water has to be re-assessed; it says that it is less than the 17.17 MAF estimated earlier. This has to be gone into. Punjab also says that it needs more water, without which certain areas will fail to receive irrigation.

Haryana has a sense of grievance at the non-completion of the SYL canal and the consequent non-availability of the quantum of waters allocated to it. Rajasthan is worried about its allocation of 8 MAF not fully materialising. Delhi is apprehensive not only about losing its small allocation of 0.2 MAF from the Ravi-Beas, but even more about the possibility of Haryana responding to Punjab's unilateral action on the Ravi-Beas by backing out of the agreement with Delhi on the Yamuna. These are matters to be resolved by agreement, conciliation, mediation or adjudication, and not by unilateral action. The crucial question here is whether the three States really need the quantities of water that they are asking for.

Already, irrigation in Punjab and Haryana has over the years resulted in a significant incidence of water-logging and salinity. Should they ask for more water or learn to manage water better? One is not necessarily suggesting, as some have done, that these states should shift from wheat and rice to other crops. One can, however, suggest that they should try and grow whatever they want to grow with less water and get the maximum productivity per unit of water. As for Rajasthan, economic development in arid zones and desert areas should surely take forms that are not water-intensive.

We must, therefore, re-examine whether Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan require the quantities of water earlier allocated to them, or need more water, or can manage with less. It is suggested that with better water management, all of them can meet all their needs with much less water than they project. With proper water management, the dispute may disappear or become more manageable. That is the real answer to this vexed problem. This cannot be left entirely to the governments. A civil society initiative in this regard seems desirable.

The writer is a former Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources
Top

 
MIDDLE

The business of business management
by P. Lal

The controversy over the fee-structure in the IIMs, and inviting the owners of a chain of dabbawalas of Mumbai to IIM, Lucknow, to address the gathering at “Manfest 2004” on micro-management remind me of what a professor on management from a prestigious IIM had told us way back in 1978 at the National Police Academy, Hyderabad, where we, officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police, were undergoing a training programme. The Professor, having flown to Hyderabad that very morning to address us, had raved eloquent on managerial concepts for full two hours, without a break. He had dwelt on the CPM (critical path method), the PERT (project evaluation and review techniques), the cost-benefit-ratio, and a myriad other theories and their practical applications. We were truly impressed with his knowledge and profundity.

After putting us through the question-answer-session, he wiped the beads of sweat off his forehead, put down the spectacles on the table and announced: “Gentlemen, I must now let my hair down. I have told you all that I learnt on management through books authored by the western world. The jargon is all their product. Now, I shall tell you something which I have learnt from experience.

We all looked at him, expectedly.

To tell you the truth,” he continued, “the unbeatable expert on business management is a Marwari. He has got an innate business sense. Even if unlettered, he knows how to make a hundred grow to a thousand and then to a million and so on.”

He paused for a while for effect and added: “These authors have taken the rest of the world for a ride by loading the management science with high sounding jargon, many a time unintelligible, drab and obscure.”

We were impressed by his plain speaking.

Then he winked and continued: “Gentlemen, don’t worry. We too have extracted our pound of flesh from them and have paid them back in the same coin. We have bowled them clean in the field of religion and spiritualism. Look at the number of swamis, yogis, babas and even mendicants who have made a fortune in the western world, especially in America. The jargon that they employ — kundalini, anulom vilom, vipasana and many more — to impress the people of those lands is no less potent than that employed by their management experts. We are rather one-up on them in business of business management!”
Top

 
OPED

Report on 9/11 attacks finds fault with all, holds no one responsible
by K. Subrahmanyam

The World Trade Centre: will such attacks be avoidable in future?
The World Trade Centre: will such attacks be avoidable in future?

The much awaited report of the National Commission to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been released. The Commission consisted of five members from the Republican Party and five from the Democratic Party and was headed by Thomas Kean, retired Republican Governor of New Jersey. The Vice-Chairman was a veteran democratic Congressman, Lee Hamilton. The report is unanimous. It finds fault with all government agencies, the two presidencies of Clinton and Bush, the Congress, the media and the public, yet does not hold any particular entity responsible or accountable.

While it lists out a number of lapses in detecting and stopping terrorists, it is of the view that the attack itself was not preventable. The report comes out with a series of recommendations to reorganise the intelligence setup to deal with the threat of terrorism and the members of the Commission have pledged to campaign among the public for the implementation of the recommendations of the report.

This Commission had a unique advantage. It had the depositions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and some other leading members of Al-Qaeda who had been captured by the US agencies. Consequently, it has been able to reconstruct the events of 9/11 accurately and also give details of the planning which went into the attack. Therefore, it found no difficulty in listing out the series of terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda starting with the first attack on the World Trade Centre by Ramzi Yusuf, a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in February 1993 and ending with 9/11.

On the basis of this narration the Commission concludes that the most important failure was one of imagination. The Commission records “we do not believe leaders understood the gravity… Al Qaeda’s new brand of terrorism presented challenge to US government institutions that they were not well designed to meet. Though top officials all told us that they understood the danger, we believe there was uncertainty among them as to whether this was just a new and especially venomous version of the ordinary terrorist threat the US had lived with for decades or it was indeed radically new, posing a threat beyond any yet experienced”.

While the Commission is right in focusing on lack of imagination it could have gone into it further. Earlier in the report, the Commission just blandly records about young Muslims from around the world going to Afghanistan in the 1980s to join as volunteers in the Jehad against the Soviet Union. Thereafter the Commission switches to Bin Laden perverting Islam to generate hatred against the US and the West.

If the Commission had devoted some of its attention to the efforts of the CIA and resources it spent during the ‘80s to nurture various extremist Islamic groups in Afghanistan and to support the spread of Wahabism with Saudi money, then it would have had a lot more to say on the lack of imagination of the CIA, the State Department and the National Security Council. They nurtured the beast in the 80s and yet in the ‘90s could not recognise the nature of the beast.

Here one feels the commission obviously did not want to own up the strategic blunders of the Reagan era which contributed to the nurturing of Islamist extremism and permissiveness in respect of the Pakistani nuclear programme, which gave Pakistan sufficient autonomy to create and protect the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

While the commission has been candid in its criticism of the lapses of the US agencies and government, it has been discreet in dealing with the problem states as brought out above. While it has focused on the Defence Department not involving itself on counter terrorist activity before 9/11, it has kept silent why the involvement of defence in Afghanistan after 9/11 had not produced any result in the capture of Osama bin Laden and his senior associates and why diplomatic and other pressures on Pakistan after it became an ally in September 2001 had not led to commensurate results in the anti-Al-Qaeda campaign in the last three years.

The most important recommendation of the commission is the creation of the office of National Intelligence Director, directly reporting to the President. He would coordinate all intelligence agencies and command a number of national intelligence centres. The commission has now proposed for intelligence what the Goldwater-Nichols law did in respect of armed forces to integrate their functioning. The axiom for intelligence will be in future the “need to share” instead of the present “need to know”.

The commission’s recommendation will make the Director CIA a deputy to the Director of National Intelligence and thereby reduce his status. There will be a new specialised and integrated national security workforce as part of the FBI, which will concentrate on homeland security and counter terrorism. There are also recommendations for making a Congressional oversight of intelligence more effective.

President Bush has promised to give a careful consideration to the recommendations of the report. There will be resistance to the commission’s recommendation from the CIA, the FBI, the DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency), the NSA (National Security Agency, monitoring electronic intelligence world wide) and other similar agencies which would feel that their autonomy is being curbed.

The report should be of interest to the Indian Intelligence community. The major problems of turf battles, not sharing intelligence and not contributing to integrated assessments which have been recognised as problems in the US are also faced in India in dealing with terrorism, perhaps in a greater measure than in the US. The Prime Minister has appointed a whole-time special adviser on intelligence. It may be useful for him to study the recommendations of this 9/11 commission report to examine what recommendations could be adopted in this country.
Top

 

People
The forgotten Diggy Raja

For 10 long years as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh was counted among the movers and shakers of the country. But after his ouster, he is hardly heard of.

During that glorious decade (1993-2003) Diggy Raja lived in a palatial building surrounded by acres of land at 6, Shyamla Hills in state capital Bhopal — the official residence of the Chief Minister.

Today, hardly seven months later, this is how “Diggy Raja”, as the former chief minister is referred to by his supporters, describes his official address: “Kholi number 5, 24 Akbar Road, New Delhi.” ‘Kholi’ in Hindi means a small room, while 24, Akbar Road, is the headquarters of the Congress, the country’s governing political party, in New Delhi.

“I occupy the room along with the Congress leader from Jharkhand, Chandan Bagchi,” said Singh. The room, which he was allotted for formally being a member of the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision making body, is probably one of the clearest testimonies to Singh’s actual status.

Farhan Akhtar to act

As the director of iconic “Dil Chahta Hai” and “Lakshya”, Farhan Akhtar has earned quite some following. His popularity is set to soar, now that he has decided to don greasepaint.

“I knew it was coming. But I didn’t know it’d be so soon,” chuckles the Lakshya director.

“It was something that I can’t say no to. It’s my assistant Reema Kagti’s debut film. She assisted me in ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and ‘Lakshya’. When she wrote this film to direct she said I had to do a role. My first impulse was to say no. I’m petrified of facing the camera. But she insisted it was a character only I could do. Now after saying yes, I need to sit with Reema and work out the details,” he says.

There were rumours earlier that Farhan was offered the role of Shah Rukh Khan’s kid brother in “Main Hoon Na”.

“Reema is making an ensemble film. When I said no she re-wrote it again and said she couldn’t think of anyone else for the role. I don’t think I can pull it off. But I must say the script, tentatively titled ‘Honeymoon’, is close to my heart. It’s a fun film. And yeah I play a fun part.” Farhan hasn’t come to terms with his impending new avatar as an actor.

In fray for House or Senate

After facing a rout during the Republican primaries for the US Senate seat from Illinois, Indian American businessman Chirinjeev Kathuria may be back in the race because of a quirky set of circumstances.

For Kathuria, if it doesn’t rain, it pours. The physician turned serial entrepreneur, who barely received 1 percent of the Republican vote back in May primaries, has been offered the choice of running for the US House of Representatives from the 9th Congressional District by the Cook County Republican Chair Gary Skoien.

At the same time, Jack Ryan who won the Republican primaries stepped down because of divorce issues that came out in public, and the Illinois central committee of the Republican party is now considering three candidates, including Kathuria, who ran in the primaries, to replace Ryan for the November polls.
Top

 

Let us not be justices of the peace, but angels of peace.

— Saint Therese of Lisieux

Let us say “All Hail” to Him who gives us all that we eat.

— Guru Nanak

One who allows himself to be deceived, or deceives others can never be good, nay, even a good man will not do such actions.

— Swami Dayanand Saraswati

He who is not tempted, what does he know? And he who is not tried, what are the things he knows?

— Ecclesiasticus

God has treasuries beneath the throne, the keys whereof are the tongues of poets.

— Prophet Muhammad
Top

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |