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EDITORIALS

Bank burst
People’s trust in private initiative is shaken
G
LOBAL Trust Bank became history on Monday when public sector Oriental Bank of Commerce decided to take it over. This was considered the best way to end the crisis caused after the Reserve Bank of India imposed a moratorium on GTB when it found the private sector bank’s net worth having been wiped out. 

Power politics
Haryana pays for suspending reforms
I
NSTEAD of contracting for additional power well in time and ensuring a just and fair distribution of the available electricity among all consumers, the Haryana government has chosen to play politics. 

Strange bark
Upper castes dog Dalits
D
OGS bark at dogs as much as they do at strangers. However, in the season of mating, they make love without discrimination. 



EARLIER ARTICLES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
ARTICLE

US policy in South Asia
India-Pakistan arms race gets a boost
M.B. Naqvi writes from Karachi
I
ndia and Pakistan looked at the recent tour of US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage in bilateral terms. This is natural. But the overall impact of the US foreign policy on South Asia as a whole demands special attention.

MIDDLE

Fat cats of the world
by Komal Vijay Singh
T
HE North Indian liking for all things fat and fattening is well-known. It is presumed that anyone fat must be from a prosperous family. Perhaps that explains their fondness for anything that can be roasted or fried and consumed. 

OPED

How to solve SYL dispute
Form expert group for integrated development
by Gurcharan Singh
T
he competing demands of Punjab and Haryana over the waters of the Beas and the Ravi have escalated into tension after the Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed the Bill terminating the water accords with the neighbouring states. The annulment of the December 31, 1981 agreement has been done after 23 years.

Delhi Durbar
Shibu Soren’s resignation
W
ithin hours of Parliament taking a recess on Friday (July 23), word spread that Dr Manmohan Singh might seek the resignation of Shibu Soren. The unprecedented situation of a Union minister having gone underground and the BJP attempt to gain political mileage was causing avoidable embarassment to the UPA government.

  • Jaya Bachchan ignores scribes

  • All for a label?

  • A case for Governor

 REFLECTIONS

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Bank burst
People’s trust in private initiative is shaken

GLOBAL Trust Bank (GTB) became history on Monday when public sector Oriental Bank of Commerce decided to take it over. This was considered the best way to end the crisis caused after the Reserve Bank of India imposed a moratorium on GTB when it found the private sector bank’s net worth having been wiped out. The RBI’s decision was the result of the monitoring of the beleaguered bank’s functioning for a few years. It immediately assured the depositors that their interests would be protected, but only to a limited extent. They could not withdraw more than Rs 1 lakh under any circumstances. This problem may end after the takeover formalities are over.

Despite all this, the unfortunate development may shatter people’s confidence in private banks. A few years ago, two other private banks, Nedungadi Bank and Banaras Bank, had also collapsed. They had to be merged with public sector banks to protect the depositors’ interests. However, those who had invested in the shares of the failed banks suffered a heavy loss. The fate of the GTB shareholders may not be different. This is not to say that public sector banks cannot meet such a fate. There are instances of government banks also inviting such moratorium proceedings.

The RBI’s action against GTB must be appreciated because it has consistently maintained transparency in all its proceedings. But some foolproof mechanism will have to be evolved so that the people’s faith in the private sector banks remains intact. After all, whatever improvement there is in the functioning of the government banks is mainly because of the tough competition provided by the private sector. There is need for stricter regulations to prevent bankers like GTB promoter Ramesh Gelli from indulging in activities which led to the failure of the once fast growing bank. The downfall of GTB began after proof was found to establish a nexus between Gelli and disgraced sharebroker Ketan Parekh. The onus is now on the RBI to strengthen its regulatory mechanism to prevent situations like the one the depositors of GTB face today.
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Power politics
Haryana pays for suspending reforms

INSTEAD of contracting for additional power well in time and ensuring a just and fair distribution of the available electricity among all consumers, the Haryana government has chosen to play politics. It has targeted industry and favoured the farm sector. The discrimination is apparently due to the fact that the state goes to the polls in February next and farmers constitute a major vote-bank of the ruling party. However, two hours of additional power supply to the farm sector may not save the paddy crop. Reports in the Press indicate that all sections of society in the state get much less power than what officials claim. Power disruptions beyond the scheduled cuts are all too common. For the inefficiency of the government in general and the power utilities in particular, the people have to suffer.

The delay in the arrival of the monsoon might have aggravated the present crisis, but the root cause lies elsewhere. It is the Om Prakash Chautala government which must squarely be blamed for the problem. Haryana was the second state after Orissa to adopt the power reforms scripted and funded by the World Bank. The Bansi Lal government unbundled the Haryana State Electricity Board and set up a regulatory commission. Power tariff was raised to reasonable levels. Private bidders, including five foreigners, came forward to produce and sell power. The state elections, however, disrupted the privatisation process.

The failure of power reforms in Orissa provided the Chautala government an excuse to abandon the reforms. It conveniently ignored the success of the reforms in states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The mid-way suspension of the reforms and the absence of any fresh initiatives are primarily responsible for the present critical power scenario. The situation will only worsen in future as the gap between demand and supply has been widening every year. At present, the power utilities buy power worth Rs 16 crore a day and, yet, they have to resort to drastic cuts. Consider the future: if Haryana has no power for industrial units, these will move out to other states. 
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Strange bark
Upper castes dog Dalits

DOGS bark at dogs as much as they do at strangers. However, in the season of mating, they make love without discrimination. They bark at, and even bite, those who try to change their nature. The upper caste residents of a Thoothukudi village in Tamil Nadu beware. The canine season to mate is round the corner. The Dalits too should be warned. The mating habits of dogs may start a caste war. Two Latin American countries actually went to war over the outcome of a football match. However, there is no known instance of pets having started a caste war between the residents of the same village. It can only happen in India.

The upper castes have cleverly pre-empted the chances of their dogs barking at them for denying the canines their natural seasonal rights to mate without fear or favour. What the upper castes cannot do to their own pets has, instead, been done to the Dalits of the village. Any other society would have dismissed the commandment prohibiting the Dalits of the village from keeping male dogs as stupid. The latest instance illustrates graphically why visitors often view India as an endless theatre of the absurd.

No, the Dalits are not being denied the right to keep pets. Most communities treat the female of the human species with disdain. However, the upper castes have graciously allowed the Dalit villagers to keep female dogs. The Dalit members should comply with the order and allow the upper caste dogs to mate with their female dogs. When the pups arrive, they should take the males, with due ceremony, to their upper caste masters as dutiful in-laws through the canine alliance. Every dog has his day. What better way to get even with the upper castes than to let them have the male “grand kids” born in Dalit homes? This would be their day of reckoning. 
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Thought for the day

Old age is the most unexpected of all things that happen to a man.

— Leon Trotsky
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US policy in South Asia
India-Pakistan arms race gets a boost
M.B. Naqvi writes from Karachi

India and Pakistan looked at the recent tour of US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage in bilateral terms. This is natural. But the overall impact of the US foreign policy on South Asia as a whole demands special attention.

While the US is all too anxious that India and Pakistan should continue to talk, it does not allow India to raise questions about US-Pakistan relations nor does it let Pakistan object to any aspect of Indo-American ties. It keeps the two sets of bilateral relationship strictly separate.

The Americans are justified in terms of international practice. But that is no reason not to note (a) the overall impact of US South Asia policies; and (b) the implications of these policies and purposes for the over 1.5 billion people who inhabit this region, though one’s scope is confined to only the Indians and Pakistanis.

Armitage was, not unexpectedly, all sweetness in New Delhi. The US is still in the wooing stage of the largest emerging power that overshadows the whole of South Asia. His obvious purpose could be not only to expand Indo-American ties but also to extend and deepen them. No doubt, there is this matter of Iraq. Now that the Indo-American cooperation in the military field is expanding, India may revise its policy towards not sending troops to Iraq on the request made by the new “sovereign” Iraq Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the UN Secretary-General. Mr Armitage must have probed the question without pressing it.

But he played a clever card. He not only endorsed the Indian view that Pakistan has not dismantled all its training camps for militants for their eventual use in Jammu and Kashmir (India) but also repeated it for media’s benefit. To reinforce its pleasant impact on New Delhi, he repeated it again in Islamabad to the latter’s chagrin. The US is also ready to sell dual use technology.

In Islamabad, Mr Armitage was a stern headmaster: punishing for mistakes made or for sloppy work; giving additional home work to do; promising good marks — and perhaps a medal also — if the boy did as desired. He was basically demanding: do more to “catch or kill” high-value Islamic militants, now supposedly hiding in Pakistan’s tribal areas, especially in South and North Waziristan. He promised to “give” more: not only will the US deliver the agreed military goodies — spares, components, training and some hardware — but also soon it will consider Pakistani requests for “advanced” military hardware. He showed sympathy for the requirements of Pakistan’s security.

This US concern for Pakistan’s security, as seen by its Generals, and America’s readiness to consider selling “advanced” military hardware will ring alarm bells in South Block. Similarly, American anxiety to do even more to please the Indian security establishment rang such bells loudly in Islamabad. The inescapable consequence has begun to unfold: the arms race in South Asia, still going strong, is sure to intensify. Arms race, especially in the nuclear field, engenders and increases mistrust. This feeds on itself: If India has acquired Phalcon from Israel, Pakistan is now buying something to counter or equalise it from Sweden. Once a new-generation weapon system is bought by one, the other will pawn family silver to equalise the former’s perceived advantage. And it goes on inexorably.

Indian and Pakistani perspectives vastly differ. In India, the goal is to enable the country to become militarily invincible so that it emerges as a near super power. For that it should be able to project power quite forcefully. That is seen as India’s destiny. But Pakistan sees all accretions to India’s power as a threat to be countered; it tries to keep up with the Indian Joneses rather controversially. Many Pakistani commentators have explicitly noted that the Soviets went bust as a result of unsustainable military expenditures. They have warned that Pakistan can similarly implode. But those in power play power politics and are somehow unable to see where their actions can lead to. Such is the power game in South Asia.

The main impact of American policies has been noted: the Indo-Pak arms race is sure to be intensified. The Americans seem to be stoking the fires of this Third World arms race, which incidentally is older than the East-West Cold War. After all, the latter began in 1946 over Iran while the old Congress-League rivalry goes back to the late 1930s; it quickly metamorphosed into Indo-Pak hot and cold wars in 1947. Today, the Americans are aiding or abetting both South Asian powers in their respective purposes.

The US is not an enemy of, or completely sold on, either Pakistan or India. It has larger overarching purposes in Asia. South Asia happens to be so big, so populous and having so great a potential; but it has two constantly quarrelling nuclear powers. Now, America does not want to get involved in Indo-Pak quarrels, more so because India consistently refuses any third-party intervention. But it wants the region to remain engaged in regional affairs; its ride beyond the region may be upsetting. The US will be happy if it integrates and makes economic progress. Insofar as the bulging military muscles of India, and to a smaller extent of Pakistan, are concerned, it wants to co-opt both into its own power juggernaut as quasi-allies. Asia is the only continent where the Americans have much to do.

Which is why it is said that the main focus of international political and military struggles will be Asia. The US is routinely accused of imperial designs — and not without reason. But it has to be realised that it will be an imperialism of a new kind. It will not colonise or even occupy or administer any colony. All it will involve is US’ strategic sway over all or most of Asia as a result of which it should be able to have friendly governments wherever key raw materials are produced.

The US should be able to commandeer policies that might deny access to key raw materials to those it thinks are “evil” powers. Meanwhile, such friendly governments will sell these raw materials on favourable terms to US corporations, prefer the latter in awarding contracts, buying military equipment to modernise their militaries with the top-of-the-line American equipment and permit profitable investment of as much American capital as possible. The Americans think that their domination will constitute a benign empire, if it is to be called an empire.

The question is whether the Indians really want to be a factor in establishing such an order in Asia by becoming a part of the American power system. The Pakistanis do not actually face this dilemma. Their decisions are made for them. They do not have to worry about the ultimate purpose of the decisions that their unelected and unaccountable rulers anyhow take.

It is hard to choose between the pre-9/11 policies of favouring religious extremism produce the Taliban, on the one hand, and the Jihadis who went to India’s Jammu and Kashmir, on the other. General Musharraf suddenly changed the earlier policy orientation on a single telephone call from Washington. Common Pakistanis are not responsible for any policy.
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Fat cats of the world
by Komal Vijay Singh

THE North Indian liking for all things fat and fattening is well-known. It is presumed that anyone fat must be from a prosperous family.

Perhaps that explains their fondness for anything that can be roasted or fried and consumed. Perhaps that also explains why more than anywhere else it is in fat-rich North America that they feel completely at home away from their homeland. For it is there that they find gorey log galore with their ever expanding girths.

But here comes a bit of distressing news. In all probability influenced by the European fetish for all things thin, a group of New York teenagers has sued an American fast food chain. The chain, which has a weighty presence in our country too, is facing a lawsuit for ostensibly being responsible for giving the teen brigade fat tummies and ruining their health.

Easily scared souls like yours truly can only sincerely hope that our trademark propensity for being copycats does not give certain ideas to our mota taaza healthy teens. As it is, we have been cheerily facing a cultural onslaught by the North Americans.

At this rate, a lot many of well-intentioned mothers in our midst, including yours truly, may find themselves dragged to the courts by their brood. In efforts to make their kiddo sport a well-looked-after and well-fed look it seems they are just waiting for the baby to turn four months old.

That is the age when the fruit of their labour needs all healthy ingredients for ripening into a well-endowed individual. The market-savvy food supplement companies advocate yehi hai right age for introducing your baby to semi-solid food.

Rubbing their hands in glee at their bundle of joy reaching the four-month milestone, moms plow the baby with everything edible. They go through the whole rigmarole of steaming and blending merrily. Stews, soups, kheers and mashed fruits occupy their minds full-time.

If best means fattest , so be it. After all, fat people are so impressive. They radiate power. And power is all that matters. Look how the fat cats of America rule the world by breaking every rule in the book. 
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How to solve SYL dispute
Form expert group for integrated development
by Gurcharan Singh

The SYL canal: waiting for water 
The SYL canal: waiting for water 

The competing demands of Punjab and Haryana over the waters of the Beas and the Ravi have escalated into tension after the Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed the Bill terminating the water accords with the neighbouring states. The annulment of the December 31, 1981 agreement has been done after 23 years.

According to Punjab, the non-riparian and non-basin states of Haryana and Rajasthan are not only not entitled to any Ravi-Beas waters, even their current allocation and utilisation is totally disproportionate to the areas alleged to be falling in the Indus basin.

As per an unsubstantiated report of the Irrigation Commission, only 9,939 sq km. of area of Haryana falls in the Indus basin against 50,305 sq km area of Punjab. According to Punjab, the availability of Ravi-Beas surplus water 17.17 MAF as on December 31, 1981, has been reduced to 14.37 MAF as per the flow series of 1981-2002. There has been serious lacuna in the water sharing agreements among Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The water sharing has also not been in tune with the international riparian laws.

There is a need to look into the latest guiding principles of international laws relating to the sharing of international river waters. In 1966, the International Law Association adopted Helsinki Rules on uses of waters of international rivers. These were adopted in the U.N. convention 30 years later and were soon accepted by the international community as customary international law. Article 1 of the Rules states that these are applicable to the use of waters of an international drainage basin which is defined as “a geographical area extending over two or more states determined by watershed limits of the system of waters, including surface and underground water flowing into a common terminus”. Helsinki Rules have clearly established the principles of “reasonable and equitable utilisation” of waters of the international drainage basin among the riparian states. Helsinki Rules incorporated the notion of “prior appropriation” while determining equitable utilisation in the context of past utilisation of waters of the basin.

In 1986 the Seoul conference of the International Law Association, complimentary rules were framed. It was decided that in an international drainage basin, the underground water that is connected to surface water may also be taken into account. It does not include confined ground waters. Seoul Rules also dealt with the protection of ground water and urged the riparian states to consider integrated management by a conjunctive use of surface water and ground water.

In the present dispute about sharing of surplus waters of the Ravi and the Beas, the contention of Punjab is correct that Haryana and Rajasthan are not riparian states. The two riparian states are Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Even in the context of the boundaries of the Indus drainage basin, the reported area under this basin of Haryana is too small as compared to that of Punjab. Applying the area proportionality factor in the drainage basin, Haryana stands to lose its water share of 3.50 MAF allotted out of the 17.17 MAF surplus waters of the Ravi and the Beas.

The depleting ground water areas of Punjab in the present wheat-paddy rotation scenario calls for additional canal water supplies to meet the water requirements of crops and help in checking the declining trend of the watertable by recharging ground water. Keeping in view the fact that Punjab is a riparian state and as well as its entire area in covered under the Indus drainage basin, it should have a major share to meet all its water requirement of crops out of the surplus Ravi-Beas waters. However, Punjab should be cautious that the application of additional canal water irrigation should not cause a water-logging problem in south-west Punjab due to a rising watertable.

Though Himachal Pradesh is an upper riparian state, unfortunately it has a small cultivable area to be irrigated by these rivers. There is need to delimit the boundary of the Indus drainage basin on its south-eastern side to determine the area of the Basin falling in Haryana and Rajasthan.

Helsinki/Seoul Rules may be adopted by using the principles of reasonable and equitable utilisation of waters for optimal and integrated development of the basin. The entire river basin should be taken as one economic unit and the rights over the waters of the entire area may be divided among them by the principle of proportionality or by on agreement if necessary. It should be done in the spirit of nationalism and with political will.

It is suggested that a working group of technical experts of the central government, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh should delimit the south-eastern boundary of the Indus drainage basin for working out the areas of the partner states in the basin. It should also study the flow series data of the Ravi and the Beas from. 1.04.70 to 31.03.2000 for working out surplus river water available. On 31.03.1970, the transition period of the Indus Water Treaty expired. This working group should deal with the problem with a holistic approach for an integrated development of the basin without taking into account past negotiations and political considerations. On the basis of the report of this group, the Government of India may decide the revised sharing of surplus water among the states in consultation with the state governments.

The writer is a water expert and former Director of Agriculture, Punjab
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Delhi Durbar
Shibu Soren’s resignation

Within hours of Parliament taking a recess on Friday (July 23), word spread that Dr Manmohan Singh might seek the resignation of Shibu Soren. The unprecedented situation of a Union minister having gone underground and the BJP attempt to gain political mileage was causing avoidable embarrassment to the UPA government.

Congress ministers, while agreeing that the Soren issue had become a highly political matter, insisted it is becoming increasingly untenable for the JMM leader to continue in the government. However, what they failed to understand was why Soren did not hand himself over to the law authorities which would have worked in his favour in Jharkhand.

Clearly, all the major political players, including the Congress and the BJP, have their eyes set on the assembly elections in Jharkhand scheduled along with that of Bihar early next year. It is apparent the Congress was waiting for Parliament to go into a recess before seeking Soren’s resignation in the hope of restricting the damage to the party’s image.

Jaya Bachchan ignores scribes

Cine-star-turned Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan has chosen to maintain an enigmatic silence inside and outside the House of Elders. She waits patiently for her chauffeur-driven car to pull up in front of the main entrance to the House and entertains no questions from journalists. When a woman journalist approached her for an interview two days before the recess, she politely declined. On being persuaded to grant an interview and appreciate the request in the light of her journalistic background, Jaya smiled and said that this gives her all the more reason not to give an interview. “I don’t give interviews,’’ she said and added “I will not give you my mobile number.’’

All for a label?

Was it once again an issue of playing favourites by the party supremo in reorganising the AICC? Some Congressmen would think it is so as only those having the eyes and ears of Sonia Gandhi or their supporters appear to have got the nod. All those who had lost out in either finding a place in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government or the Rajya Sabha were keeping their fingers crossed at being made an office-bearer.

But that has not happened as it is no secret in Congress circles that everybody wants a label and to be close to the leader. Soft-spoken Satyavrat Chatturvedi, however, has made the grade despite losing the Lok Sabha election, this time from Madhya Pradesh. Some in the Congress view it as bringing Chatturvedi on a par with Digvijay Singh. Chatturvedi has also written a poem “Kyu kiya, Kyu kiya” on Sonia Gandhi renouncing the Prime Ministership.

A case for Governor

Faced with demands from party MLAs for ministerial berths, the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister has been reminding the Congress leadership about “experienced and capable” leaders in the state unit who could be appointed Governors. Since these leaders are ministers at present, vacancies would arise in the state if some of them are given assignments by the Centre. The Chief Minister also sought representation for Himachal Pradesh in the Union Ministry on the ground that the state had given good results to the party and had helped stem the tide following the Gujarat debacle.

Contributed by Satish Misra, Tripti Nath and Prashant Sood.
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He alone is great who cherishes Truth as fasting; contentment as pilgrimage; wisdom and contemplation as ablution; compassion as god and forgiveness as his prayer-beads.

— Guru Nanak

The real man is he who being powerful protects the weak. He who injures others through selfishness is a big brother of beasts.

— Swami Dayanand Saraswati

A wicked man who reproaches a virtuous one is like one who looks up and spits at heaven; the spittle soils not the heaven, but comes back and defiles his own person.

— The Buddha

The acquisition of knowledge is a duty incumbent on every Muslim, male and female.

— Prophet Muhammad

Let friendship creep gently to a height; if it rushes to it, it may soon run itself out of breath.

— Fuller
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