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EDITORIALS

Realistic Reddy
Now quota for backward Muslims in AP
T
HE Y.S. Rajsekhara Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh has at last realised the serious flaw in its decision to introduce 5 per cent reservation for the Muslims in government jobs and seats in educational institutions. This follows the High Court's order to stay the government decision. 

Joshi’s fetish
Centre removes a big hurdle in IIT donations
H
UMAN Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh’s decision to scrap the Bharat Shiksha Kosh is bound to give relief to most Indian Institutes of Technology which are in need of donations from their alumni for institutional growth and excellence. 


EARLIER ARTICLES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Baa boos
No power on earth can deny them comfort
N
o one can question the power of money that is currently in currency in globalised India. Ditto for the power of muscle that mixes well with both money and politics to produce the most potent form of corruption. Do not ignore the power of faith that is repackaged by charlatans for misguiding the already lost flock.

ARTICLE

9/11 probe indulges in escapism
No proof of funding hijackers’ stay in US
by G. Parthasarathy
W
henever governments in India face public outrage for alleged acts of omission and commission they choose the easy way out. They appoint a commission of inquiry either in the belief that they can suitably influence the direction the commission’s proceedings take, or out of the conviction that its work can be stalled and delayed till the public loses all interest in the matter and new scandals emerge.

MIDDLE

The game of the name
by Vikramdeep Johal
D
uring my first visit to Dehra Dun recently, I overheard some fellow bus passengers uttering my name. They were talking about “taking” me to reach their destination. I also noticed signposts telling me (and buses) to stop.

OPED

Electricity from water mills
An innovative experiment to generate power
by S.P. Sharma
T
he villages along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan that have become a hot bed of terrorism can now hope to have electricity of their own in case the innovative experiment of Dr Anil Prakash Joshi to generate power through the traditional water mills succeeds in the area.

From Pakistan
Vow to fight terrorism

QUETTA: The Balochistan Cabinet has decided to take action against elements creating law and order problems in the province. The meeting was presided over by Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousuf on Tuesday.

  • It’s Musharraf’s uniform again

  • Demand to buy Indian water

  • Radio tower blown up

 REFLECTIONS

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Realistic Reddy
Now quota for backward Muslims in AP

THE Y.S. Rajsekhara Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh has at last realised the serious flaw in its decision to introduce 5 per cent reservation for the Muslims in government jobs and seats in educational institutions. This follows the High Court's order to stay the government decision. The Constitution does not provide for reservation to a religious group. It is in recognition of this that the Chief Minister now plans an Ordinance to provide reservation only to the socially and educationally backward among the Muslims. This makes sense, though nearly 90 per cent of the community may be covered by the new provision.

The move in Andhra Pradesh is in accordance with the Congress party’s election manifesto. In any case, certain sections of Muslims already enjoy the benefits of reservation in states like Kerala and Karnataka. What needs to be done next in Andhra is to find out which of the groups within the Muslims are socially and educationally backward. It is to be seen whether the Andhra government fulfils its promise by adjusting the backward Muslims within the existing 27 per cent quota for such categories, or dares to violate the 50 per cent limit fixed by the Supreme Court. In the former case, the backward castes, who already enjoy reservation, may not like the entry of Muslims into their category. And in the latter case, the decision may not stand judicial scrutiny.

The idea of identifying the socially and educationally backward Muslims is aimed at not only tackling the legal problem but also at denying the Opposition a stick to beat the Congress with. The BJP has already accused the ruling party of appeasing the minorities. The southern experiment may be replicated in other states. But crutches like reservation help only to a limited extent. There is need for an awakening among the Muslims that they can change their socio-economic profile by concentrating on their educational uplift. The privileged sections should come forward with more scholarships and other facilities to help the needy. On its part, the government can spend a lot more on the educational needs of the poor than it does at present.
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Joshi’s fetish
Centre removes a big hurdle in IIT donations

HUMAN Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh’s decision to scrap the Bharat Shiksha Kosh (BSK) is bound to give relief to most Indian Institutes of Technology which are in need of donations from their alumni for institutional growth and excellence. This fund, floated by Mr Singh’s predecessor, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, proved to be a non-starter for various reasons. After the BSK was set up in the wake of the 50th anniversary of the IIT system last year, NRI alumni and others were prevented from giving donations to IITs directly. Instead, they were told to route them through the BSK. This kicked off a major controversy with the IITs and the IIMs interpreting Dr Joshi’s decision as an attempt to control private donations to educational institutions. The floating of the BSK was also seen as the HRD Ministry’s plan to encroach upon the autonomy of the IITs and the IIMs.

Even for those who were willing to follow the BSK route for donations, the roadblocks were many, including political and bureaucratic apathy and procedural delay. The manner in which the state-of-the-art hostel project funded by Infosys Chief Nandan Nilekani at the IIT, Powai, was dubbed as “elitist” by the earlier regime is well known. More important, the IIT, Chennai, lost out on a $10-million donation by an NRI technocrat because the HRD Ministry rejected his proposal for optical research.

One cannot deprive NRI alumni’s right to give donations. While they donate money because of their emotional bond with their alma mater, the IITs too need funds for research and development. As it is, 10 to 15 per cent of the expenditure of most IITs is covered by NRI donations. The problem with the BSK is that it enjoyed a very low credibility among the NRIs. Moreover, they were not comfortable with putting their money in a government-run fund, whose role was not clear. As this affected R&D in the IITs adversely, the decision to scrap the BSK is in order.
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Baa boos
No power on earth can deny them comfort

No one can question the power of money that is currently in currency in globalised India. Ditto for the power of muscle that mixes well with both money and politics to produce the most potent form of corruption. Do not ignore the power of faith that is repackaged by charlatans for misguiding the already lost flock. Only real spiritual power has become rusty through prolonged disuse. If a cosmic contraption were to destroy all the proliferating forms of power, India would awaken to the might of just one power. It is called the power of the ubiquitous babus.

They are the atoms that hold the system (to ransom). Break the atom and face the risk of an administrative holocaust that would make a nuclear explosion look like Diwali fireworks. The politicians in the government do not touch them because Jesus would tell them to throw stones at babus only if they themselves are not guilty of abusing power. The country is facing a serious power crisis. Punjab decided to rework the office hours to save energy. Orders were issued for switching off air-conditioners, to stop power guzzling. However, there is not a drop of sweat on the brows of the "powers" behind the sluggish performance of the Punjab State Electricity Board.

Neither Dr Manmohan Singh nor Capt Amarinder Singh has the formula for taming the babus. Set a thief to catch a thief. Dr Manmohan Singh, as a former insider, thought he could do the impossible. Among the many measures he introduced is the one that prohibits senior bureaucrats from taking short-term leave for dollar-earning assignments. Will it work? And will the Punjab government's order restricting the use of ACs work in the case of the bureaucracy? The best-case scenario sees the PM and the CM praying for the babus to obey orders and the countrymen saying a loud amen to that.
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Thought for the day

People ask you for criticism, but they only want praise.

— W. Somerset Maugham
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9/11 probe indulges in escapism
No proof of funding hijackers’ stay in US
by G. Parthasarathy

Whenever governments in India face public outrage for alleged acts of omission and commission they choose the easy way out. They appoint a commission of inquiry either in the belief that they can suitably influence the direction the commission’s proceedings take, or out of the conviction that its work can be stalled and delayed till the public loses all interest in the matter and new scandals emerge. A commission headed by a retired civil servant, Lord Butler, was appointed by the Tony Blair government to inquire into intelligence inputs that influenced the decision to send troops to Iraq. Butler predictably exonerated the Blair government of charges that it manipulated the intelligence agencies to secure their endorsement for plans to invade Iraq. He even glossed over the rather dubious role of senior figures in the intelligence establishment in this sordid episode.

The bipartisan 9/11 Commission set up in the US to inquire into the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington has spared the Bush Administration of any serious embarrassment, by also blaming the Clinton Administration for lack of vigilance and vision. While the commission has rejected allegations that Saddam Hussein was linked with Al-Qaeda, its conclusions on how to deal with developments in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia reflect an absence of introspection and realism. They are, at best, an exercise in escapism.

The commission presents extensive evidence about the involvement of Pakistan in providing support and sustenance to several Wahabi-oriented extremist Islamist groups, culminating in the involvement of the ISI with the Taliban and Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda. But it glosses over the fact that it was the CIA that used Wahabi Islam as a tool to rid Afghanistan of Soviet occupation. It was, after all, President Reagan who welcomed those the United States now labels as Islamic terrorists in the White House. Reagan then described them as being akin to the Founding Fathers of the American Constitution!

The commission concludes that the Clinton Administration lacked a coherent approach to deal with global terrorism following the attack on the World Trade Centre in 1993. This outrage was followed by attacks and attempts by Al-Qaeda to strike at American forces, diplomatic missions, civil airlines and assets in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, New York City, Kenya, Tanzania and Yemen.

The 9/11 report establishes that the Clinton Administration lacked the imagination and will to take decisive action against the Taliban and its backers in the ISI. There is, however, no logical reason given on why the Clinton Administration was so reluctant to assist the Northern Alliance, led by the legendary Ahmed Shah Masood, to oust the Taliban. Did American oil companies interested in exporting the gas resources of Central Asia through Afghanistan and Pakistan hold back the Administration from acting decisively? The commission also ignores the crucial role that influential Americans and US corporations played and continue to play in US government dealings with the elite in Saudi Arabia — an elite that still promotes militant Wahabi Islam and undermines unity and stability in pluralistic societies.

The commission claims that it has been unable to determine who funded the stay in the United States of the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals. It ignores the information that Mohammed Atta, the leader of the hijackers, received a bank transfer of $100,000 from Karachi through Dubai money whose origins could be traced to the then ISI chief Gen Mehmood Ahmed. It has also been reported that the Saudi Embassy in Washington generously funded the stay of some of the hijackers in San Diego.

The commission implicitly voices skepticism about General Musharraf’s pleas of innocence on Pakistan’s transfer of nuclear weapons capabilities to Libya, North Korea and Iran. But it concludes that General Musharraf stands for “enlightened moderation” and recommends extensive military and economic assistance to his dispensation as: “Musharraf’s government represents the best hope for stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan”. The commission does not ask why not a single senior Taliban leader has yet been killed or captured, even though the American forces have been actively involved in Afghanistan for nearly three years now.

The notion that General Musharraf stands for “enlightened moderation” is somewhat odd as the U S Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and President Karzai have repeatedly asserted that the Taliban continue to receive haven and support on Pakistan soil. Further, no inconvenient questions are asked about how groups that advocate violent jihad and are linked to Al-Qaeda, like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed continue to function actively in General Musharraf’s Pakistan.

As the 9/11 Commission enjoyed bipartisan support, its views appear to reflect an approach that will be sustained, irrespective of who wins the forthcoming US Presidential elections. Given the almost uniform aversion across Iraq to American military involvement there, it is evident that the next Administration in Washington will attach the highest priority to seeking an early and viable exit strategy from that country. One can only hope that in the process there will be no adverse fallout in neighbouring Gulf Arab countries where nearly four million Indians reside, or on global oil supplies.

But it now appears that there will be a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan. And given the evidence that the Taliban continues to receive support within Pakistan, General Musharraf will be involved in a delicate balancing act of attempting to please the Americans by military operations against Al-Qaeda on the one hand, while continuing to support the Taliban on the other. It is also evident that while the Americans will squeeze the Saudis to cut off funding to organisations that threaten their interests, they may not take the same interest in applying pressure on Saudi Arabia to crack down on supporters of groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba that even now have an active presence there.

Given their involvement in Afghanistan, the Americans would not like General Musharraf to provoke any serious tensions with India. They will continue urging him to clamp down on cross-border terrorism and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in his country. Given his known predilections, General Musharraf is unlikely to fully oblige his American mentors on this score. New Delhi would thus have to advise its friends that despite being praised for “enlightened moderation” by the 9/11 Commission following his vows to end support for terrorism on Pakistan soil, General Musharraf has thus far not ended support for this favourite pastime of the ISI in Afghanistan, in India and indeed across the world.
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The game of the name
by Vikramdeep Johal

During my first visit to Dehra Dun recently, I overheard some fellow bus passengers uttering my name. They were talking about “taking” me to reach their destination. I also noticed signposts telling me (and buses) to stop. Soon I came to know that the local tempo and me had the same name — Vikram. This amusing discovery reminded me of a childhood fancy of mine.

It was the time when Halley’s comet paid earthlings a visit. This wonderful event made such an impression on my impressionable mind that I thought of becoming an astronomer. I imagined that someday a comet or a planet would be named after me, and then my name would be on the lips of people the world over. However, the fancy soon vanished into space, with me hardly bothering about it. Now it had become a reality in a queer way, but what a letdown it was, dreaming of the celestial and getting the terrestrial.

Undeterred by this setback, my imagination wants to embark on an even wilder journey. If the terrestrial is my lot, I would love to go through the tunnel of time and change places with Amerigo Vespucci, the not-so-well-known explorer who beat Christopher Columbus in a historic name game. Here is a man after whom are named two continents, a big country, a superpower — America. It is hard to think of a word that is more popular (or unpopular) around the globe. And every time someone says America, he or she unconsciously brings up the name of Amerigo.

Legend has it that the Italian never dreamt that the New World would be named after him, that he learnt about it on his deathbed. Ironically, his illustrious peer Columbus, who was much more deserving of this great honour, has at the most a South American country and an American city to his name.

If my idea appeals to Amerigo, my name would be spoken or heard, loved or hated by billions worldwide, while America would merely be one of the many vehicles crowding the roads of Dehra Dun. But my reason doubts that he would relent. “What’s in a name?” I’d ask him. “Immortality”, he’d reply.
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Electricity from water mills
An innovative experiment to generate power
by S.P. Sharma

Dr Anil Prakash Joshi explains the functioning of a water mill to Army officers
Dr Anil Prakash Joshi explains the functioning of a water mill to Army officers 

The villages along the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan that have become a hot bed of terrorism can now hope to have electricity of their own in case the innovative experiment of Dr Anil Prakash Joshi to generate power through the traditional water mills succeeds in the area.

The Northern Command of the Army has adopted the mechanism to modify the water mills introduced by Dr Joshi and is all set to make electricity available to the remote villages where the reach of the power development department of the J&K government is nowhere in sight.

The technology to generate electricity from the existing water mills that grind wheat for the villagers is not expensive. It costs around Rs 37,000 and the engineers of the Army were trying to cut the cost. It requires only replacing the traditional wooden shaft with a steel fabricated one, some belts and pulleys and an alternator to generate 1 to 8 KWs of electricity that is sufficient to electrify with one bulb about 100 households and also run a lathe and a wool combing machine.

Under the technique, the traditional “gharats” in the villages will not only grind the corn, but also generate electricity.

There was enthusiasm among the villagers to adopt the scheme that was environment friendly. The water mills have so far electrified the two villages of Barsada and Kulali in the Hillkaka area of Poonch and five others in the Kashmir valley where the terrorists virtually ruled till the past few months. The Army has identified about 80,000 water mills that were capable of electrifying the remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir. The Army has provided electricity to some villages by installing diesel generator sets, but that was an expensive proposition because of the recurring cost. Diesel has to be carried to certain areas in helicopters. But the water mills require only a one-time investment.

The engineers of the Army are fabricating the turbines and shafts and all this is being done under the “Operation Sadhbhavana” that has been launched by the Northern Command for the uplift of the villagers who were the worst victims of terrorism. By launching the operation under which not only electricity was being provided free of cost by the Army, several development works have been undertaken and children of the remote villages have been adopted by the Army to educate them in high quality institutions.

The credit for the thrust in such social welfare activity by the Army goes to Lt. Gen. Hari Prasad, GOC-in-C of the Northern Command. He has been taking personal interest in such activity.

The idea of getting the water mills modified struck the Army commander when he came across an article on the works of Dr Joshi in a book entitled “Prophets of New India”. He immediately invited Dr Joshi here and discussed the modalities with him. Dr Joshi was providing knowhow free of cost to the Army.

Dr Joshi says that his dream was to create a mass movement at the grassroots level to modify the water mills to generate a substantial amount of electricity in the country. There were at least two lakh water mills in the sub-Himalayan region of the country that were capable of generating electricity for consumption on the local villages without depending on the large power projects.

He laments that although there was ample hidden raw material for progress, India has turned into a country of shortages and problems because we have not respected the traditions and are running after modern techniques. The villages were capable of being self-sufficient in every thing, but youth are shy of going to the places where their roots are. The mountains are rich in resources, but the people living there are the poorest in the country.

Dr Joshi says that he was in constant touch with the Planning Commission and pressuring the policy makers to invest in schemes that were rural friendly and not controlled from the urban areas.

He says steps should be taken to produce fruit products in the rural areas. About 50 per cent fruit gets destroyed in J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal every year. He has helped the local villagers establish groups for preserving fruit.

Dr Joshi, who was born in the Kotdwar village of Uttaranchal, quit his job as a Reader in the government college and took up works to use science and technology to solve the basic needs of the mountain people. He was declared “Man of the year” for 2002 by “The Week” magazine. He has been awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award by the Indian Science Congress in 1999 and also received Social Science Award for the year 2001 from Shri Ram Washeshran Devi Bhatia Memorial Charitable Trust.

He set about the task of checking the menace of landslides in 1979 through botanical methods controlling 30 major slides. The Border Roads Organisation took his technical advice to check landslides in Garhwal.

He has established the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO) at Dehra Dun to guide development of the mountainous region.
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From Pakistan
Vow to fight terrorism

QUETTA: The Balochistan Cabinet has decided to take action against elements creating law and order problems in the province. The meeting was presided over by Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousuf on Tuesday.

The meeting reviewed the overall law and order situation and decided that Balochistan would not become a safe haven for terrorists. IGP Chaudhry Mohammad Yaqoob informed the meeting about the steps taken to counter terrorist attacks.

The Baloch Students Organization has announced that it will observe 'Black Day' for three days from Wednesday to condemn a search operation launched in Turbat and other areas of the Makran coastal belt. — The Dawn

It’s Musharraf’s uniform again

KARACHI: All the major political parties of the country have given a deadline to President Pervez Musharraf to doff his uniform by December 31 for the sake of national integrity.

The timeframe was set at an all-parties conference (APC), convened by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal on the "scantiness of political and democratic freedom" on Tuesday at Idara-e-Noor-e-Haq, presided over by Naib Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Professor Ghafoor Ahmed.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Ahmed said coffin is the only dress which is never taken off once worn.

Endorsing the consensus at the APC on the much-trumpeted issue of Musharraf's uniform, he said though different civilian governments have made mistakes, institutions have never been devastated during their tenures. Whereas, he lamented, during martial law regimes all the democratic institutions were smashed and exploited. — The News

Demand to buy Indian water

ISLAMABAD: The Members of National Assembly from Southern Punjab on Tuesday asked the government to buy water from India for recharging the Sutlej and revoke the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 in the upcoming dialogue with New Delhi.

The Treasury legislators from the Seraiki belt, backed by Opposition members, demanded of the government to take up the 1960 water treaty with India to ensure the provision of water in the Sutlej as the ground water level has gone below 180 feet.

The Southern Punjab MNAs lashed out at the Ayub government for signing the 1960 water treaty, and charged that Pakistan was the only country throughout the world which sold out its water to the neighbouring country and unfairly utilised the resources availed under it. — The Nation

Radio tower blown up

WANA: The programmes of the newly established local radio station in Wana were suspended after its transmission tower was blown up by saboteurs late Monday night. Sources said that two time bombs were planted to destroy the antenna (tower) which exploded simultaneously. No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts but officials believe that local tribesmen having a soft corner for Al-Qaeda elements are involved in this terrorist act. The radio station used to suggest the tribesmen in its programmes not to allow foreigners among their ranks and remain peaceful. — The Nation
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Let a man think well of wealth and strive to win it along the path of Rita and by worship. And let him also take counsel with his spirit and grasp with his mind still greater ability.

— The Vedas

Pray God to make your heart as pure as the star. As a result of sincere and regular Japa and meditation, you will find that God will speak to you. All your desires will be fulfilled and you will experience pure bliss.

— Sarada Devi

Abandon greed, O blind-in-greed; as greed is the cause of immense grief.

— Guru Nanak

Verily God is more compassionate on His creatures than a woman on her own child.

— Prophet Muhammad

A life that will bear the inspection of men and of God, is the only certificate of true religion.

— Johnson
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