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EDITORIALS

Looking for alternative
What is the Left up to now?
Riding on their recent electoral successes, and notwithstanding their claims of having chosen “responsibility without power” in supporting the UPA government from the outside, the comrades are wielding their clout with glee.

Futile search
Where are the meritorious students?
T
he education system is producing students who do not know their subjects. This unfortunate fact is brought out starkly when we look at the HCS (Judicial) examination, conducted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. 


EARLIER STORIES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Left to die
Fellow climbers forgot basic humanism
D
avid Sharp of Britain was an experienced, popular and competent mountaineer. His luck ran out when he collapsed near the summit that dominates the dreams of every climber—Mount Everest.
ARTICLE

India yet to rise to potential
Grand vision missing from foreign policy
by B. G. Verghese
I
ndia is beginning to attract international notice but has seldom acted in keeping with its potential and power. It does not live up to its size and on occasion behaves as though it were a banana republic.

MIDDLE

Institutionalised greetings
by Harish Dhillon
M
Y school has a very old, very strong tradition — every child wishes every teacher, and every visitor he crosses, the time of day. There are exceptions — the odd child who sees in his refusal a rebellion against “autocratic authority” or regards wishing as a childish ritual for which he is too grown up.

OPED

India should do a China in Africa
by Nimmi Kurian
C
hina has lately been rediscovering the African continent with a voyager’s zeal. Chinese President Hu Jintao’s recent visit to Africa forms part of a charm offensive to determinedly court the continent. China’s African safari is first and foremost a hunt for resources, particularly oil and gas. For India too, slaking its growing thirst for energy is a priority policy concern.

Turning to the Centre
Dravidian regionalism undergoes changes
by J. Sri Raman
A
ll the mysteries about the recently concluded Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, according to most analysts, are about what happened in the three weeks before May 8, the polling day. The larger mystery for those with a longer memory is — or should be — about what has happened in the southern State over the past half a century.

Delhi Durbar
Congress debates quotas
C
ongressmen were strongly divided on the reservation issue in the recent Congress Working Committee meeting. Many in the top echelons of the party believe the new quotas would harm the party’s interests and further divide the country. There were heated exchanges around whether it should pursue the issue of 27 per cent quota for OBCs in higher institutions of learning or allow the matter to take a back seat.

  • The bottom line

  • Old rivalries

  • In the dog house

From the pages of


 REFLECTIONS

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Looking for alternative
What is the Left up to now?

Riding on their recent electoral successes, and notwithstanding their claims of having chosen “responsibility without power” in supporting the UPA government from the outside, the comrades are wielding their clout with glee. The two-day Politburo meeting at Kolkata was primarily intended for the CPM to take stock of two years of the UPA government. What they have come up with is an invitation for all “non-NDA” parties to join them in their struggle against the “UPA’s anti-people policies.” CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat said that negotiations had already begun with Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and Telegu Desam leader Chandrababu Naidu.

Mr Karat has not said anything about a third front. Sitaram Yechury, in fact, had ruled out a Left initiative on this count, stating that they did not believe in a “cut and paste front”. On the other hand, he said, the Left was looking for a “third alternative that will emerge out of movements against anti-people economic policies of the UPA and communalism”. The intended oil price hike is the immediate flashpoint. The Left front has been most vociferous against the UPA on oil price rise and the Centre’s “refusal” to review the taxation structure on petroleum products, in addition to airport privatisation and the wheat imports.

The Left may have no intention of toppling the government in the near future. But it is clearly nursing ideas of a larger platform. It is now planning a nationwide campaign to project the policies and political stance of the Left parties, with details to be worked out at a central committee meeting in Hyderabad on June 8. While many CPM policies do not find mainstream approval, its stand on the oil price hike, and recent statements on the reservation issue, where it has stressed the need for socioeconomic criteria and the eschewal of benefits for the creamy layer, apart from an increase in seats, may well form the basis of a more broad-based appeal. But feeble verbal jugglery and playing the enemy within is getting unsustainable.

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Futile search
Where are the meritorious students?

The education system is producing students who do not know their subjects. This unfortunate fact is brought out starkly when we look at the HCS (Judicial) examination, conducted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Out of 3,800 candidates, only 39 cleared the written test. This is perhaps the first time that only 39 candidates will be interviewed for 31 vacancies. It’s not as if the competition was too stiff. The pass percentage was only 50 per cent and yet all but 39 of the 2,450-odd candidates who appeared for the written test failed to make the grade. If this is the kind of catchment group from which selection has to be made, one can only pity the persons whose responsibility it is to fill the vacancies. The vagaries of reservations make their job all the more complicated. Of the 39 candidates who have cleared the written test, 35 belong to the general category, while four belong to the reserved categories. But only 15 of the 31 posts are meant for general category candidates. That means that there are only four candidates for the remaining 16 posts.

There is a pressing need to investigate whether suitable candidates who can secure 50 per cent marks are just not there or they are not being attracted to judicial service. Either way, it is a matter of alarm and it is necessary to apply correctives immediately because far too many judicial posts are lying vacant, putting the public to great hardship.

However, it is good that the High Court itself has undertaken the responsibility of holding the examination because selecting undeserving candidates would have been even worse than having vacant posts. In fact, many candidates have fared so poorly only because of the strict measures introduced by the high court committee holding the examination. Its firmness is a guarantee that standards of excellence will be maintained. That is bad news for those without merit who used to get a job somehow, but happy augury for the public at large. 

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Left to die
Fellow climbers forgot basic humanism

David Sharp of Britain was an experienced, popular and competent mountaineer. His luck ran out when he collapsed near the summit that dominates the dreams of every climber—Mount Everest. He was given some help by the Sherpas, but was eventually left to die. He was alone in the mountains, even as up to 40 climbers walked past him. Some, like Mark Inglis, who became the first double amputee to scale the peek, stopped, tried to help, but chose to carry on with their climb than spending time with Sharp. The others simply ignored the dying man and moved on. No wonder, Sir Edmund Hillary, the man who first climbed the Everest in 1952, has called their action “horrific”. Climbing the Everest is a self-defining achievement. However, the kind of self that has been exposed now is not one to be proud of—it reflects an uncaring, self-centred, callous being who determines that achieving a goal is more important than being of help to someone who is dying.

The very thought of leaving someone to die is revolting. It is now being said that the logic of mountains is such that when there is no hope of survival, the people have to be abandoned. Even so, how is it to be determined that there is no hope for the dying person? Does he not deserve solace and the warmth of human companionship in the last moments of his life?

Now, Lincoln Hall, another mountaineer, has been rescued a day after he was abandoned and his death had been announced by his team. No doubt, they rue the day they abandoned him, after they thought he was dead. However, the way fellow climbers helped Hall and the manner in which his team responded and got him down to the base camp are being saluted. Scaling Mt Everest has lost much of its sheen due to commercialisation and the dilution of moral values, as horribly evident in abandoning mountaineers in distress. Abandoning David Sharp was immoral and wrong. We have to recognise this and learn from it.

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Thought for the day

You can’t have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time.

— Charles F. Kettering

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India yet to rise to potential
Grand vision missing from foreign policy
by B. G. Verghese 

India is beginning to attract international notice but has seldom acted in keeping with its potential and power. It does not live up to its size and on occasion behaves as though it were a banana republic. This was the theme of a most perceptive Prem Bhatia Lecture entitled “India Engages with the World” recently delivered in Delhi by Mr Shankar Bajpai, an illustrious former diplomat.

India did measure up to its size during the tsunami disaster in 2005. It politely declined international relief and effectively took the lead in rendering immediate assistance to its stricken neighbours to the amazement of our own people and the rest of the world. However, this has not been the norm.

Despite Kautilya, we never developed a strategic doctrine, as noted by the late George Tanham, a keen American observer of the Indian scene. Mr Bajpai attributes this to the country’s inwardness. Indian thought and culture did indeed spread outwards through Afghanistan and Central Asia to China and Muscovy and by sea to Southeast Asia; but this was driven by sages and the curiosity of those who encountered Indian civilisation rather than by any national, let alone imperial, design.

Nehru and a few others like K.M. Panikar had something of a world view during the Independence struggle. Most others had little time or inclination for foreign affairs, over which the British kept a tight rein. The Asian Relations Conference was a flash in the pan but not followed up. Indian foreign policy for the first decade of Independence at least, or longer, was primarily Nehru’s preserve and was informed by three strands of thinking in relation to decolonisation/anti-imperialism, non-alignment (something increasingly appropriated by others for their own purposes), and “socialism” at home, which influenced the country’s foreign economic policy. “Self-reliance” was carried to excess and import substitution stifled trade and exchange.

Mr Bajpai cites an instance of naivete. When Britain withdrew from the Persian Gulf in the late 1950s, it relinquished control over Gwadar, which was for some reason administered from Muscat and Oman. When the bemused Sultan asked if India would like to buy Gwadar, the response was negative without any thought for its strategic value. Pakistan was not so coy and today has China as a partner there, straddling the vital sea-lanes to and from the Persian Gulf. The Himalaya was considered an impregnable barrier that scarcely needed to be defended. As the London Economist put it in a famous editorial in 1962, “When the fog cleared, the Chinese were there!”

Mr Bajpai is right in saying that if slogans like non-alignment, Third World solidarity and anti-imperialism “were substitutes for thought; now they stifle thought”. India conducted a nuclear test in 1974 and accepted all the pain of sanctions without going ahead and weaponising until much later. In the result, Pakistan weaponised first and thrice held out a nuclear threat to India in the early nineties as the Kargil Review Committee describes.

Mr Bajpai goes on to cite George Kennan’s admonition to the United States to “put away childish things”, an adaptation of St Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians : “When I was a child, I spoke as a child… but when I became a man, I put away childish things”. India too has matured and must put away childish things, not merely reacting to events but shaping them, asserting itself not to establish hegemony but to lead and seek to ensure stability and harmony.

Paul Kennedy in “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers” cites “imperial overstretch” as the reason for the decline of Spain from about 1600 and England after 1900. India like China was a great political and economic power until around 1700. They declined thereafter, notes Nicholas Kristoff, not because they stretched too far but because they did not stretch far enough”. They were accordingly overwhelmed by the powerful, emerging innovations and ideas of the West.

Today there is a born-again China and India. China knows where it wants to go. Not so India. There is hesitation in moving ahead, marked by stop-go tendencies that leave our own countrymen and observers abroad alike bewildered and uncertain. Our South Asian relations are strained and our near neighbourhood policy tentative. A grand vision is missing for lifting South Asia out of the morass in which it finds itself and redefining the region as a great cooperative commonwealth rather than a miscellany of neighbours who cancel out one another. Domestic opinion often prefers to cling to old moorings and is wary about taking the road less travelled. We have yet to put away childish things, old slogans and shibboleths.

India has a boundary policy and has at last clearly told Pakistan that there can be no redrawing of boundaries. But there is no coherent border policy. There is great hesitation in opening up the Northeast, which seeks restoration of traditional connectivity to lands and people beyond with whom it has much in common. There is an exaggerated fear of being politically and economically overwhelmed by militants and mafia both of which commonly exploit porous borders. Sikkim is, for instance, anxious to open up to Tibet/China across the Nathu La. China wants to do so in order to reach the mainland Indian market and gain access to the Indian Ocean. The Government of India, however, would prefer to move slowly, limiting exchange to border trade, unmindful of the advantages in penetrating Inner Asia and Western China.

In some cases the government is ahead of public opinion as for example in the matter of venturing to design a wholly new relationship with the US for which the civil-nuclear understanding offers an entry point. The negotiations will be hard, but the idea that India is meekly submitting to arm-twisting by the US unmindful of its near and long-term interests is uncharitable. If at the end of the day, the deal does not go through, as the price sought is more than the proverbial pound of flesh, then so be it.

But to arrive anywhere, one must first be prepared to travel.

In West Asia, where India has high stakes, we have been watchers when we might have played a more constructive role. Likewise, a long-range Africa policy has yet to emerge and an awakening Latin America needs to be more widely and deeply engaged. In a globalising milieu, foreign relations present great challenges as much as opportunities for building a new world order. We must engage the world, not shrink from it.

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Institutionalised greetings
by Harish Dhillon 

MY school has a very old, very strong tradition — every child wishes every teacher, and every visitor he crosses, the time of day. There are exceptions — the odd child who sees in his refusal a rebellion against “autocratic authority” or regards wishing as a childish ritual for which he is too grown up.

A teacher once complained that children did not wish him. A discreet enquiry, addressed to my prefects, revealed that the teacher never responded to the children’s greetings and so they had decided not to wish him. A little tactful advice and the situation was remedied.

But such cases are few and far between and, by and large, children are particular in practicing this form of politeness. Visitors to the school always go away charmed by the old-world courtesy and feel that it is a reflection of the children’s positive attitude towards life in general. It becomes specially noticeable because few schools, if any, practice it so diligently. In most schools that I have visited I have only been greeted by surly stares.

On Sunday mornings, even though I wake up at the usual time, I like to lie in bed and catch up on my reading and I hate any encroachment on this time. On this particular Sunday, there was a loud and persistent ringing of the doorbell and, cursing under my breath, I went to answer it. It was a young Sikh gentleman.

“I am sorry to bother you on a Sunday morning.” His manner was so disarming my anger and irritation melted away.

“I am in the merchant navy and am due to fly out to my ship this evening. My wife and I were here yesterday afternoon to meet her nephew. All through the drive to Delhi she kept nagging me to find out how our children could join your school, so I have driven through the night to meet you.”

“And what caused this urgency in your wife’s mind?”

“Every child we crossed yesterday, wished us. My wife decided that if a school could teach all its children such courtesy then it was the best school of all and our children must study here.”

Sometimes this tradition has amusing spin-offs. Two young boys, new admissions in the junior school, decided to run away. Though this is not a frequent occurrence, it happens often enough for it not to generate alarm. As part of the standard drill for such emergencies, two teachers go down to the Kalka railway station and scout the two trains that leave each evening, for signs of the runaways. The snag in this case was that the teachers were both from the senior school and would not be able to recognise the two junior schoolboys.

But ultimately no harm was done. As the teachers went down the corridors peering into the cubicles, two young boys, dressed in jeans and T-shirts jumped to their feet and in loud, cheery voices called out “Good evening, Sir.”

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India should do a China in Africa
by Nimmi Kurian

China has lately been rediscovering the African continent with a voyager’s zeal. Chinese President Hu Jintao’s recent visit to Africa forms part of a charm offensive to determinedly court the continent. China’s African safari is first and foremost a hunt for resources, particularly oil and gas. For India too, slaking its growing thirst for energy is a priority policy concern.

Africa has of late seen a great deal of hectic diplomatic activity from China. Every top Chinese leader in recent times has made Africa a priority destination in his travel diary. Interestingly, Hu’s first foreign visit after taking charge in 2004 was to Africa. In the last two years, China has played host to leaders from more than 20 African countries. In its first White Paper outlining its Africa policy brought out earlier this year, the Chinese government has set its sights on establishing “a new type of strategic partnership with Africa.”

An extensive array of interests is also beginning to define and dictate China’s diplomacy towards Africa. Africa’s vast reserves of oil and gas are emerging as a focal point of Chinese energy security considerations. Today, 30 per cent of China’s oil imports come from Africa’s major oil producers such as Nigeria, Sudan, Angola, Algeria, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. China is also investing billions of dollars in acquiring equity stakes across the region.

Africa has also emerged as an important market for low-end Chinese goods, especially consumer durables. China’s trade with Africa has been booming at $40 billion, growing at an average of 50 per cent annually since 2002. Chinese companies have invested in infrastructure development projects estimated at over $ 30 billion. Today, the Chinese presence is visible across the region in the numerous road, rail, airport projects as well as offices, housing complexes, hospitals and schools.

To win barrels of influence in Africa, India will need to creatively recast its diplomacy towards Africa. Even while energy concerns remain central to this drive, India will need to sustain a much more broad-based engagement policy towards the region. Essentially this will mean a three-fold strategy.

Firstly, India will need to begin a vigorous diplomatic engagement with the entire region. In recent years, India has been engaging the littoral states on Africa’s east coast as part of its larger Indian Ocean strategy with joint naval exercises and patrolling of the sea-lanes. What India needs to do is to twin this strategy with a more comprehensive engagement plan towards the continent as a whole.

Secondly, India needs to considerably enhance the scale of its operations and pursue a diversified basket of interests. Bilateral trade currently stands at a little over $9 billion and the region accounts for 7 per cent of India’s total exports. India’s economic and technical assistance programmes have been very modest to say the least and thus have failed to make the requisite impact.

Thirdly, it is absolutely imperative that India leverages its influence in a far more effective way. This will require innovative cross-linking such as the oil-for-aid strategy that China has used with such telling effect. This was clear when China outbid India in Angola to clinch a single deal with a $2 billion loan. In stark contrast, India offered an economic assistance programme of $200 million spread over two years.

India understands only too well the critical need to diversify sources of supply so as to enhance its energy security.

*****

The writer is with the Centre for Policy Research

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Turning to the Centre
Dravidian regionalism undergoes changes
by J. Sri Raman

All the mysteries about the recently concluded Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, according to most analysts, are about what happened in the three weeks before May 8, the polling day. The larger mystery for those with a longer memory is — or should be — about what has happened in the southern State over the past half a century.

Most pre-poll opinion surveys placed the AIADMK front and its leader J. Jayalalithaa, comfortably ahead of M. Karunanidhi and the DMK-led alliance. The then Chief Minister was found to be remarkably free of an anti-incumbency factor, and the DMK seemed to be struggling despite what appeared on paper a formidable Democratic Progressive Alliance.

Most of the media postmortems have found the clue to the three-week transformation in the DMK’s manifesto, adopted by the other parties in the DPA as the campaign proceeded. Mr. Karunanidhi, they say, made his campaign count by peddling the most extravagant of election promises ever made in this country. Particularly vote-catching were the pledges of rice at Rs 2 per kilo in ration shops and free colour television sets for those denied this fundamental necessity. If the finding is true, it illustrates the first of the several ironies related to the election results.

It was the same Mr. Karunanidhi who was once upheld as a practitioner of un-populist politics. He began his term as a successor to the founder of the DMK and its first chief minister C. N. Annadurai by abandoning the latter’s populist schemes — especially the one for cheaper rice (though “Anna” could never implement his election promise of three local measures of rice for just one rupee) — and a dry law that fetched popularity from women for the party.

It was the All-India Anna DMK under M.G. Ramachandran that reintroduced Dravidian populism. Besides reintroducing the dry law, ‘MGR’ gave away a whole range of free goodies to various sections like raincoats for rickshaw drivers and footwear for the rural poor. The DMK and other opponents have continued to deride the rule by doles and they have continued to pour scorn on continuation of the MGR tradition under Ms. Jayalalithaa.    

The DMK front, however, may not have won by its new-found populism alone. Ms. Jayalalithaa, after all, countered Mr. Karunanidhi’s campaign with her own promises and freebies. One of her prominent supporters, Mr. ‘Cho’ Ramaswamy, thought that she would win the contest in populism as the past record made her promises more credible than the DMK president’s. The truth, however, turned out to be quite the reverse.

That brings us to a bigger irony. What apparently made the difference was the fact that the DMK’s promises were underwritten by Central leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. Well, the Prime Minister may not have made the commitment in so many words, but he was very much present when Mr. Karunanidhi told a large public rally that he was making his election pledges only because of his “confidence” in Dr. Singh.

The DMK had, of course, started with the demand of Dravidanadu, a secessionist platform. It abandoned the plank, when it entered the arena of parliamentary struggle, and replaced it with a militantly anti-Centre regionalism. Much later, when a monolithic Centre was becoming a thing of the past, the party adopted the slogan of   “Maddhiyil koottatchi, maanilathil suyaatchi (Coalition at the Centre, autonomy in the State)”. 

Decades of Dravidian politics have led to the present situation where coalition at the Centre co-exists with a seriously compromised State autonomy. If dependence upon the Centre was the basis for the DMK’s promised doles, Mr. Karunanidhi is finding it hard today to avoid the political corollary. The DMK’s minority government in the State depends on the outside support of the Congress and it is anybody’s guess how long the Chief Minister can resist the allies’ demand for a due share in power.                  

Already commented upon is the irony of the DMK, which dislodged the Congress from power in 1967, bringing the latter back as a force to reckon with in State politics. Also noteworthy is the paradox of the coalition at the Centre threatening to lead the coalition in the State as well.                  

Long before the latest State Assembly elections, Dravidian politics lost all its once distinctive features. There is hardly a remnant of the ‘rationalism’, of which Dravidian ideologue E. V. Ramasamy Naicker was a symbol, in either of the parties. No anti-Hindi agitation can today help the political fortunes of either. The commitment of both to greater federalism is far from firm, even in their formal declarations and documents. All this, however, has not taken either nearer to a ‘nationalistic’ outlook.

Their coalition politics at the Centre, in fact, has only made them stand for a more competitive regionalism. In the run-up to the Assembly elections, a recurring Jayalalithaa refrain was that the 13 DPA ministers at the Centre had not done anything for Tamilnadu. And Mr. Karunanidhi’s repeated counter was that the ministers had done more for the State, or made the Centre do more for it than anyone in the past had.

If the DMK’s claim is valid, and if the Centre is going to play a big role in redeeming the party’s populist election pledges, it cannot but lead to similar demands from other States. In such a scenario, the Dravidian regionalism is bound to be increasingly turned, not against the Centre, but against other States. Carried further, this can spell the ultimate abandonment of the DMK’s once fervent commitment to the cause of federalism.

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Delhi Durbar
Congress debates quotas

Congressmen were strongly divided on the reservation issue in the recent Congress Working Committee meeting. Many in the top echelons of the party believe the new quotas would harm the party’s interests and further divide the country. There were heated exchanges around whether it should pursue the issue of 27 per cent quota for OBCs in higher institutions of learning or allow the matter to take a back seat.

Devendra Dwivedi is believed to have warned of serious legal problems in the manner in which reservation was being imposed. Margaret Alva appeared to concur with Dwivedi. M L Fotedar feared that by pursuing the quota issue the Congress was treading on slippery ground. The pro-reservationists refused to be cowed down by this attack. Pranab Mukherjee and Arjun Singh stood their ground.

With the discussions tending to become unruly, Janardhan Dwivedi and Ahmed Patel put an end to the debate on the ground that the time had run out. As for Sonia Gandhi, she was her stoic self right through the CWC meeting.

The bottom line

Dan Brown’s controversial novel The Da Vinci Code has raked in millions in India. The publishers, Random House, have paid a royalty of $ 200 million to Brown on this book alone, Random House (India) Managing Director Vivek Ahuja says.

The novel’s sales increased in the runup to the release of the film based on this novel, in Delhi cinema halls on May 26. Ahuja said Random House sold more than 15,000 copies of The Da Vinci Code in Delhi in just a fortnight before the film’s release. He asked the company’s Mumbai office to rush more copies of the book but there too the book was reported to be “out of stock”. Now Ahuja has asked for an urgent consignment from London.

Old rivalries

One question doing the rounds here is whether the chill of the 1970s between Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi and Union Tourism Minister Ambika Soni is still continuing. That was the time when Soni was appointed President of the Indian Youth Congress by Sanjay Gandhi shortly after Dasmunshi had fallen out of favour.

Soni felt that as a senior minister she would be automatically allotted a spacious office in the Parliament House complex. It is alleged that Dasmunshi picked up a cramped space on the third floor for Soni rather than something flashy on the ground floor. Soni was perturbed that she was not even consulted. She has not taken kindly to the shabby treatment and decided to forego the office in Parliament House.

In the dog house

The talk in political circles in the Capital is that Kerala’s leftist Chief Minister V S Achutanandan was bedazzled and made rather uncomfortable by the official residence called Cliff House in Thiruvananthapuram. Considering his spartan style and having lived in very modest surroundings in a small house, Achutanandan found the sprawling bungalow rather unnerving. However, his wife quite liked the ambience there.

More than the leg room, the CM’s residence also has a swimming pool and Achutanandan was not sure if he would ever do some lengths in it to soothe his nerves. A bird tells us that the last Marxist Chief Minister E K Nayanar found that his Alsatian loved the swimming pool!

****

Contributed by Prashant Sood, Rajeev Sharma, R Suryamurthy and S Satyanarayanan

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From the pages of

August 31, 1949

J.P.’s plea for third bloc

Speaking on India’s foreign policy at Bombay, the Socialist leader, Mr Jayaprakash Narayan, pleaded for the development of what he called a “third bloc” of peace-loving nations in the international sphere. This bloc, he said, should comprise “most of the Asian countries, suppressed peoples of Africa and possibly some democratic Socialist forces in Europe and America.” There is no denying the fact that peace-loving nations, which believe in democratic freedom and in the equality of man, must act together in all matters. Only then will their influence be felt to some extent in international affairs. The immediate objective of countries like India, which keep away from the two power blocs, should be to organise and consolidate all forces, whether in the East or the West, which believe unreservedly in peace and social justice and which are prepared to take a just and independent line in foreign matters, irrespective of the frowns of one block or the other.

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From affection come grief and fear. From lust come grief and fear. From desire come grief and fear. From craving come grief and fear. The man who is aware, tries to be free from the bonds of affection, lust, desire and craving.

— The Buddha

Accursed are the lives and deeds of men who do not cherish the name of God.

— Guru Nanak

Getting a ray of light from the goddess of learning, a man becomes so powerful that before him big scholars seem mere earthworms.

— Ramakrishna

Stop cursing your problems, don’t think of the ills of the world around you. Be happy that you have been born as human being. Only a human being is capable of realising the objective of life. No other being can do so.

— The Bhagvad Gita

Faith gains in strength only when people are willing to lay down their lives for it.

— Mahatma Gandhi

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