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EDITORIALS

King only in name
Gyanendra loses all but palace
T
wo very significant milestones mark Nepal’s resolute march on the republican route. The first was King Gyanendra being stripped of all parliamentary powers and the right to veto laws passed by the House of Representatives.

Pilgrims’ progress
Terrorists cannot dampen their spirits
T
errorists, who have no respect for anybody’s religious sentiments, tried to disrupt the annual Amarnath and Vaishnodevi yatra on Monday as they did earlier too.


EARLIER STORIES

Voting from abroad
June 13, 2006
Maha injustice
June 12, 2006
The quota divide
June 11, 2006
End of Zarqawi
June 10, 2006
Poor Mulayam
June 9, 2006
Complicating “Saral”
June 8, 2006
Costlier petrol
June 7, 2006
Make it uniform
June 6, 2006
Trust the doctor
June 5, 2006
Demilitarisation of Siachen
June 4, 2006
Boat ride to death
June 3, 2006
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS


Consumer not the king
CAG survey calls for educating people
T
he findings of a CAG-commissioned survey on the status of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) of 1986 underscore the imperative need for the government — at the Centre and in the states — to take effective steps to educate the consumers about their rights and make the best use of the consumer courts.
ARTICLE

US in Ocean region
It may help India’s ‘Look East’ policy
by Amit Kumar
E
ver since President George W. Bush’s March visit, both New Delhi and Washington have been looking forward to intensifying the bond of cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. Putting the proposed Indo-US Maritime Cooperation Framework (MCF) on the fast track, US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Gary Roughead discussed the final modalities with the Navy and South Block.

MIDDLE

A namesake affair
by Iqbal Singh Ahuja
O
ne fine evening I got a telephone call from my friend’s daughter-in-law. She was sobbing. I asked her to come over. Within half an hour she was in my clinic. I could see the stress on her face. Her eyes were swollen and red.

OPED

Chasing futile missions
Individuals like Zarqawi do not control the Iraqi inferno
by Robert Fisk
S
o, it’s another “mission accomplished”. The man immortalised by the Americans as the most dangerous terrorist since the last most dangerous terrorist, is killed — by the Americans. A Jordanian corner-boy who could not even lock and load a machine gun is blown up by the US Air Force — and Messrs Bush and Blair see fit to boast of his demise. To this have our leaders descended. And how short are our memories.

Go for non-partisan, holistic social engineering
by Santosh Kr Singh
Eminent sociologist the late Prof M.N. Srinivas had once remarked that the final exit of caste, if ever it happens, will be preceded by bloodshed and violence. The recent ‘Quota-controversy’ and subsequent protests prove him right. Caste-conflict once again threatens to divide a society which many thought had finally resolved its primordial contradictions to be recognised as truly modern.

Plight of bigamy victims
by Akshay Sood
T
he recent Udit Narain episode involving the Bihar Women’s Commission captured media headlines because of the celebrity status of the playback singer.

From the pages of


 REFLECTIONS


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King only in name
Gyanendra loses all but palace

Two very significant milestones mark Nepal’s resolute march on the republican route. The first was King Gyanendra being stripped of all parliamentary powers and the right to veto laws passed by the House of Representatives. This was a necessary and logical move forward. His usurpation of powers and authority far in excess of his assigned role and functions as a constitutional monarch required that no room should be left for such an undemocratic misadventure by any King, now and in the future. That this scrapping of royal powers and prerogatives was voted unanimously by the revived Nepalese Parliament, and not put off till the adoption of a new constitution, underscores the prevailing democratic temper. The parliamentary proclamation formally strips the King of all authority he once had in Parliament. No longer can he reject Bills passed by Parliament. In fact, the Bills would not even go to him; instead, the Speaker would certify the passage of any Bill in Parliament. All executive power will now be vested in the council of ministers and the democratic principle of separation of power has come to be accepted.

The second development is the Koirala Ministry’s decision to scrap all anti-terrorist laws, release jailed Maoists and withdraw the cases against the incarcerated rebels. This decision of the Cabinet was taken after a meeting between Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula and the Maoist supreme Prachanda to clear the decks for the peace talks to be held soon. As a result of this decision, more than 350 Maoist detenus who are charged under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Control and Punishment) Ordinance would be released. The first batch of 75 Maoists who were in detention have already been released.

The Maoists who were pressing for dissolution of the revived Parliament to hasten elections to the Constituent Assembly are less insistent on this point now. They are more focused on the roadmap to peace drawn up by the Koirala Ministry. The peace talks for drawing the Maoists into the mainstream of democratic politics is the next upcoming challenge. But King Gyanendra has nothing to do with this process.

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Pilgrims’ progress
Terrorists cannot dampen their spirits

Terrorists, who have no respect for anybody’s religious sentiments, tried to disrupt the annual Amarnath and Vaishnodevi yatra on Monday as they did earlier too. The attack on the pilgrims in Jammu led to the death of a bus conductor and injuries to many, but it failed to dampen the spirits of the yatris. As it ought to have been, they took it in their stride, considering the hurling of grenades at their buses as the acts of some desperate enemies of peace. The merciless killing of nine labourers in the Kulgam area in Anantnag district was another attempt obviously aimed at denting the resolve of the pilgrims to get their lifetime’s wish fulfilled. The pilgrims had shown the same determination to undertake their yatra in 2002 too when nine of them lost their lives in a terrorist attack at their base camp at Nunwan (Pahalgam).

However, the question that remains unanswered is related to what is described as “tight security arrangements”. What happened at the general bus stand at Jammu exposed all the claims of the security authorities. If the terrorists can strike at a place close to the starting point of the pilgrimage — Maulana Azad Stadium — they can cause any harm to the yatris anywhere on the long route. Keeping in view the increase in terrorist violence for some time, there should have been unprecedented security arrangement all along the yatra routes. Nothing should be left to chance, particularly on such occasions.

This is yet another occasion to remind Pakistan to act fast and root out terrorism from its soil. Its promise of not allowing the territories under its control to be used for militancy will remain hollow so long as it does not destroy the infrastructure of the so-called jihadi killers. Islamabad needs to send a strong message to these elements that their anti-peace activities will not be tolerated under any pretext. This is necessary to ensure that the terrorists do not succeed in destroying the new climate being generated by the ongoing India-Pakistan dialogue.

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Consumer not the king
CAG survey calls for educating people

The findings of a CAG-commissioned survey on the status of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) of 1986 underscore the imperative need for the government — at the Centre and in the states — to take effective steps to educate the consumers about their rights and make the best use of the consumer courts. The survey, conducted by ORG-MARG, has made a startling revelation that 82 per cent of the consumers are not aware of the CPA and 66 per cent of their rights. Clearly, this is a result of the government’s failure, particularly of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, to educate the consumers. There is no point in blaming the people for their ignorance about the CPA. The onus for this squarely lies on the government and the NGOs as they have not enlightened the people about how consumer courts can help ensure speedy and inexpensive redressal of their grievances. The media’s role in spreading consumer awareness too has not been very encouraging. How many newspapers and magazines have consumer columns to educate the readers?

In 2003, the Centre provided teeth to the consumer courts by amending the CPA. Its aim was primarily to protect and safeguard the consumers’ rights and interests. Some important features of the amendment are reducing delay in the admission of cases, three-month time limit to settle a case, no adjournments and award of costs to the complainant for inconvenience in case of adjournment, and recognition of the importance of the district consumer forums. Now, after the CAG survey, all these welcome changes look like a futile exercise as the government has done little to spread awareness among the consumers. What is the use of these courts if consumers are not educated about how to file complaints?

If consumers have to be the king, the Centre and the states should take steps to enlighten them about these courts. The government must demonstrate the political will to rejuvenate these courts which are burdened with problems like a backlog of cases, the absence of judges, non-utilisation of funds, lack of coordination and no monitoring. The NGOs need to step up the movement to protect the consumers from rapacious traders and businessmen who are concerned more about profits than providing satisfaction to consumers.

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Thought for the day

No voice; but oh! the silence sank/ Like music on my heart.

— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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US in Ocean region
It may help India’s ‘Look East’ policy
by Amit Kumar

Ever since President George W. Bush’s March visit, both New Delhi and Washington have been looking forward to intensifying the bond of cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. Putting the proposed Indo-US Maritime Cooperation Framework (MCF) on the fast track, US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Gary Roughead discussed the final modalities with the Navy and South Block. His visit to New Delhi reflects the determination in both capitals to enhance the pace of ongoing maritime cooperation to serve their mutual interests.

Interestingly, maritime cooperation was high on the agenda during Mr Bush’s visit, with both sides reaffirming their commitment to the existing multilateral efforts aimed at enhancing security in the maritime domain. The visit paved the way for faster progress towards the conclusion of the proposed MCF for enhancing security cooperation against maritime threats in the Indian Ocean. The MCF principally provides for joint Indo-US maritime operations, including the joint-patrolling of energy trade routes, anti-piracy and other transnational crimes at sea, search and rescue, anti-pollution, and rescue and relief operations during natural disasters. The proposed Indo-US MCF can be deemed as another step in boosting the bilateral engagement through the enhancement of domain and intensity of cooperation. It is a serious attempt to acquire stable and structured relationships in the Indian Ocean.

Convergence of common strategic interests continue to draw both powers closer to achieve common goals. They have shared interests in securing vital sea-lanes of the Indian Ocean in fighting terrorism and finally creating a stable Asia. Although Indo-US maritime cooperation intensified after the 9/11 attacks, the genesis of this cooperation could be traced back to the end of the Cold War. In the early 1990’s, the loss of the Soviet Union as an important ally, Russia’s voluntary withdrawal from the Indian Ocean and fresh naval competition arising out of a new unipolar power structure compelled India to redirect its military strategy towards great powers. Then on, New Delhi adopted the policy of “cooperation” supplanting its existing policy of “containment”.

India no longer sees the US as a threat, but as a partner in naval cooperation. For the US, too, India is a valuable choice as a regional power with the largest navy in the Indian Ocean region with the capacity to maintain strategic balance in the region. From the early 1990s, both these navies, as a part of their mutual strategic engagements in the Indian Ocean, began joint exercises and expanded their activities to other sub-regions in the Indian Ocean region.

Two major disasters of this decade, the 9/11 attacks on the US and the tsunami tragedy of December 2004 provided a significant opportunity for Washington to strengthen its ongoing marine cooperation with New Delhi. After 9/11, the new convergence of interests with Washington on the war against terror helped India to give up its traditional policy of resistance and go for military cooperation with the US. The visit of the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson at Mumbai port in December 2001, a surprise move by the US brought the first cue for the new dawn of Indo-US cooperation, and in the process washed away the bitter memories of the legendary belligerent USS Enterprise entry into the Bay of Bengal during the 1971 war. Post-9/11, Washington’s request to India for escorting its naval vessels in the Malacca Straits marked the beginning of a new chapter in Indo-US strategic engagement.

The joint operations off the Malacca Straits were also Washington’s endorsement of India’s strategic imprint stretching beyond South Asia to neighbouring South-East Asia. In this respect, the Indian Navy stands out as a stabilising force through its partnership with the US and other navies to secure this region. Washington’s decision to form a four-nation coalition group with India, Australia and Japan for relief operations in the tsunami-affected countries was another feather in Indo-US naval cooperation in the Indian Ocean. Such cooperation was unthinkable in the Cold War period when India was deemed as a Soviet ally and the US presence in the Indian Ocean considered by New Delhi as a direct threat to its security.

Chinese growing naval presence in the region is another factor that fuels Indo-US naval engagement. The Bush administration, always apprehensive about Chinese naval expansion and “string of pearls strategy”, perceives Chinese postures as a compounding threat to the balance of power structure in the Indian Ocean. New Delhi is also cautious about Chinese expansions and has been trying to win Washington’s support for strengthening its position in the region and sustaining the existing balance of power. In this backdrop, the Indo-US naval cooperation seems to be a part of broader common geopolitical strategy to create a strategically stable Asia.

At present, India treats US presence in the Indian Ocean as a dependable factor of stability, and also values the need to augment this cooperation so as to emerge as a major player in Asia. Besides, this naval cooperation complements and reinforces India’s “Look East” policy, making it easier to build more intensive security links with the US allies in the region. To accomplish their shared objectives, both Washington and New Delhi have realised the need for intense cooperation in the Indian Ocean, a reason why maritime cooperation was a significant issue during the Bush-Manmohan talks last month and also the rationale for the frequency of top US military officials’ visits to New Delhi to conclude the proposed MCF.

The writer is a research fellow at the Indian Pugwash Society, New Delhi.

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A namesake affair
by Iqbal Singh Ahuja

One fine evening I got a telephone call from my friend’s daughter-in-law. She was sobbing. I asked her to come over.

Within half an hour she was in my clinic. I could see the stress on her face. Her eyes were swollen and red.

“What’s the problem, I asked, “you have not even finished your honeymoon as yet. You two have hardly understood each other.”

“You are right, uncle. But how can we understand each other when my partner does not have any time for me and when he is attached to someone else?” she asked me.

“Are you sure? You must be having some misunderstanding,” I told her.

For a minute she was quiet. She belonged to that generation of my patients who consider me more than a father. For them I am not just a doctor. This generation of patients exudes affection. I am duty-bound to listen, help and sometimes advise/scold their parents.

“You know uncle, his girlfriend Sunaina had openly admitted her relationship with Gaurav, my husband”, she told me.

“Uncle, I distinctly remember when we got married Gaurav told me that Sunaina is an ideal woman. She is a perfect wife and a very good friend. I should try to emulate her. It is a pleasure to visit her and spend some time with her. Uncle, do you realise, how difficult it is for a newly married girl to digest such words. Anyway I just shrugged it off then,” she said.

“Only yesterday I met Sunaina.She told me that Gaurav is great. I wait for him and he wastes no time on the way. From the factory he comes straight to me and we chat over a cup of tea. Without him the world will be barren,” she reiterated.

I advised her not to take any hasty step.

One day she landed in my clinic along with Sunaina. I made them comfortable and offered them cold drinks. After sometime when they were at ease, I asked Sunaina about her family life.

Sunaina smiled and said: “I am a very lucky girl. I have found true love in Gaurav. Our husbands are friends since childhood. They can afford to miss their wives but not each other.”

“How do you find Gaurav,” I asked her.

“He is a loveable, sincere and a pleasing personality. He is too good to be described in words.

I could see my friend’s daughter-in-law’s face turning red.

After she had finished her sermon on Gaurav, I asked her: “Do you know somebody is very upset because of your close relationship with Gaurav?”

She looked stunned and said: “I cannot stop somebody feeling jealous. Let her or him burn in their own jealousy.”

“Doctor uncle, you tell me why somebody should feel jealous? I can sit, talk and love Gaurav, he is mine afterall. He is my husband and I have complete right on him,” she retorted.

My friend’s daughter-in-law was stunned. She said, “Sunaina, your husband’s name is also Gaurav.”

Sunaina smiled and said: “that is why they are great friends”.

I started laughing and said. “In this world it is very rare that a tragedy ends in smiles.”

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Chasing futile missions
Individuals like Zarqawi do not control the Iraqi inferno
by Robert Fisk

So, it’s another “mission accomplished”. The man immortalised by the Americans as the most dangerous terrorist since the last most dangerous terrorist, is killed — by the Americans. A Jordanian corner-boy who could not even lock and load a machine gun is blown up by the US Air Force — and Messrs Bush and Blair see fit to boast of his demise. To this have our leaders descended. And how short are our memories.

They seek him here, they seek him there.
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven? Is he in hell,
That damned elusive Pimpernel?’

Sir Percy Blakeney, of course, eluded the revolutionary French. But the Baroness Orczy — unlike Mr Bush — would scarcely have bothered with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian thug whose dubious allegiance to al-Qa’ida turned him in to another `Enemy Number One’ for those who believe they are fighting the eternal “war on terror”. For so short is our attention span — and Messrs Bush and Blair, of course, rely on this — we have already forgotten that our leaders’ only interest in Zarqawi before the illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq was to propagate the lie that Osama bin Laden was in cahoots with Saddam Hussein.

Because al-Zarqawi met bin Laden in 2002 and then took up residence in a squalid valley in Northern Iraq — inside Kurdistan but well outside the control of both the Kurds and Saddam — Messrs Bush and Blair concocted the fable that this “proved” the essential link between the Beast of Baghdad and the international crimes against humanity of September 11, 2001.

The date on which this fictitious alliance was proclaimed — since it is far more important, politically and historically, than the date of Zarqawi’s death — was February 5, 2003. The location of the lie was the United Nations Security Council and the man who uttered it was Secretary of State Colin Powell. What a sigh of relief there must have been in Washington that Zarqawi was dead and not captured. He might have told the truth.

Yesterday, with an inevitability borne of the utterly false promise that the bloodbath in Iraq is yielding dividends, we were supposed to believe that the death of Zarqawi was a famous victory. The American press dusted off their favourite phrase: “terrorist mastermind”. No-one, I suspect, will be able to claim the $ 25 million on his head — unless he was betrayed by his own hooded gunmen — but the American military, stained by the blood of Haditha, received a ritual pat on the back from the Commander-in-Chief.

They had got their man, the instigator of civil war, the flame of sectarian hatred, the head chopper who supposedly murdered Nicholas Berg. Maybe he was all these things. Or maybe not. But it will bring the war no nearer to its end not because of the inevitable Islamist rhetoric about the “thousand Zarqawis” who will take his place, but because individuals no longer control — if they ever did — the inferno of Iraq.

Bin Laden’s death would not damage al-Qa’ida now that he — like a nuclear scientist who has built an atom bomb — has created it. Zarqawi’s demise — and only al-Qa’ida’s killers would have listened to him, not the ex-Iraqi Army officers who run the real Iraqi insurgency — will not make an iota of difference to the slaughter in Mesopotamia.

Messrs Bush and Blair slyly admitted as much yesterday when they warned that the insurgency would continue. But this raised another question. Will the eventual departure of Bush and Blair provide an opportunity to end this hell-disaster? Or have the results of their folly also taken on a life of their own, unstoppable by any political change in Washington or London?

Already we forget the way in which the same American Army credited with Zarqawi’s death has proved only a few weeks ago that he was a bumbling incompetent. The Beast of Ramadi — or Fallujah or Baquba or wherever — had produced a video tape in which he fired a light machinegun while promising victory to Islam. Days later, the Americans found the rough-cuts of the same video — in which Zarqawi could be seen pleading for help from his comrades after a bullet jammed in the breach of the weapon.

In prison in Jordan, back in the days when he was a Mafiosi rather than a mahdi, Zarqawi would drape blankets around his bed, curtains that would conceal him from his fellow prisoners, a cave — a bin Laden cave — from which he would emerge to stroke or strike the men in his cell. Possessive of his wife, he left her with so little money that she had to go out to work in his native Zarqa. When his mother died, Zarqawi sent no condolences.

Like bin Laden — the man of whom he was both beholden and intensely jealous — he had already transmogrified, undergone that essential transubstantiation of all violent men, from the personnel to the immaterial, from the uncertainty of life to the certainty of death. Zarqawi’s video tape was an act of extreme vanity that may have led to his death and he may have made it, subconsciously, to be his last message.

That the intelligent services of King Abdullah of Jordan — descendant of the monarch whom Winston Churchill plopped off to the Hashemite throne — might have located Zarqawi’s “safe house’” in Baquba was a suitably ironic historical act. The man who believed in caliphates had struck at the kingdom — killing 60 innocents in three hotels — and the old colonial world had struck back. A King’s anger will embrace a duke or two. Even an ex-jail bird. Which, in the end, is probably all that Zarqawi was.

By arrangement with The Independent

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Go for non-partisan, holistic social engineering
by Santosh Kr Singh

Eminent sociologist the late Prof M.N. Srinivas had once remarked that the final exit of caste, if ever it happens, will be preceded by bloodshed and violence. The recent ‘Quota-controversy’ and subsequent protests prove him right. Caste-conflict once again threatens to divide a society which many thought had finally resolved its primordial contradictions to be recognised as truly modern.

While the ritualistic dimension of caste has been considerably vitiated over the years, it is its secular character that has shown tremendous resilience. The phenomenon of ‘politicisation of caste’ captures the latter trend. Caste here acts as ‘association’ and thus not just manages to survive but also kicks.

There are three broad sets of arguments in favour of extending the Other Backward Castes quota into institutions of higher learning. The first argument explains reservation as an instrument to correct historical wrongs committed against the backward in society in the past. Positive discrimination thus becomes a sort of compensation package for the beneficiaries. This provides justification for reservation benefits to the scion of even an industrialist if he happens to come from a socially backward community.

The second argument treats various caste groups as fixed, homogeneous, socio-economic categories. Here caste becomes a perpetual marker for identifying inequality. It erroneously negates the existence of a Brahmin rickshaw puller in Delhi and more importantly does not take into account the multi-layered reality of each caste group and its internal divisions. The last argument wants ‘public space’ to be truly representational in terms of the demographic configurations of the society and hence calls for reservation of seats.

In a troubled time such as this where the serious is bizarre and the bizarre is serious let’s get serious for a moment and take a bizarre example. Can we extend these arguments to propose reservation even in the Indian Cricket Team? After all, cricket happens to be one of India’s most passionate expressions of its collective psyche. If in the name of social justice we are ready to prefer mediocrity over merit, say in the medical profession which may mess up human lives then what is the harm in reserving seats for the members of backward castes in the cricket team as well, for it may only cost us a few matches or a world cup. Yet many would flaunt this as shining placards of our commitment to social equality.

We have, in any case, been bragging about a Kaif or a Pathan or a Zahir Khan to show our commitment to secularism and brazenly using them as report cards of our achievements as an open society despite a horrendous track record in all possible human development indices prevailing among the majority of the Muslim community in the country. Why should Indian cricket be a fiefdom of a Bengali bhadralok or a Marathi or a Kannadiga upper caste? Cricketing merit is not the monopoly of upper castes, the argument may go.

There can be two ways in which an answer can be sought. One would be to get into ‘history-correction’ mould and reserve the captaincy and the middle order positions in the team for the members of the backward community. The second possibility would argue for creating better sports infrastructure, providing free boarding and lodging facilities and scholarships for promising sportspersons by the government in remote areas and investment in training and skill up-gradation facility for the budding players at the grass root level. This would essentially mean creating a ‘level-playing-field’ for the players from the countryside where the real India lives with all its backwardness as a primary-stage intervention. Those who would reach the next stage through this grill would compete with others with their head high in a caste- neutral environment and would not suffer any ignominy as a result of their caste identity.

The problem with the second approach, however, is that it is a slow and arduous process, impregnable to political gimmicks and would require a non-partisan and holistic understanding of social engineering. The first approach which is a soft option and is akin to ‘air-dropping development’, in contrast, is more like providing spicy fast food to the hungry which may give instant relief but would not be advisable as a regular dose.

The much acclaimed ‘Knowledge Commission’, the brain-child of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and its verdict on this issue must be upheld as it takes the latter evolutionary view whose agenda is to create a truly egalitarian and a modern society based on universal principles, rather than a chaotic, confused and divided nation based on parochial caste considerations. This country of more than a billion needs both Eklavya and Arjun in the next Olympic or Commonwealth games to save us from the perpetual stigma of a society of non-performers. And finally, history is there to learn from our past mistakes and not to be revengeful. Only then a time will come to write the obituary of caste.

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Plight of bigamy victims
by Akshay Sood 

The recent Udit Narain episode involving the Bihar Women’s Commission captured media headlines because of the celebrity status of the playback singer.

The Bihar Women’s Commission, till last reports, is examining the complaint which alleges bigamy by Udit Narain, made by the woman claiming to be his first wife, who has armed herself with several papers and photos to prove her marriage to the celebrity.

While the results of the enquiry are still awaited, one’s experience in the State Women Commission tells us that the singer may still come out unscathed even if the charges are true, and he may get away with only a slightly besmirched reputation.

This Doosri aurat issue confronts almost all the Mahila Ayogs (women’s commissions). In the Commission, one comes across numerous cases of desertion of married women, second marriages and the “transfer” of affection by men to the Doosri aurat. When these men are questioned about their dubious dalliances with the other woman, the common response is that of a stoic denial.

Their defence is that the other woman is none other than the maid servant (naukarani as they say) even if she has begot children from their alliance! This is especially true of complaints against male government employees.

Exceptions apart, all the oral evidence, even if it is weighty and pointing to the illegal marital liaison, goes a-begging in the absence of proof of incontrovertible documentary evidence. Shades of the Jessica Lal case? Well, that is how the law is, which can be quite an ass when it comes to giving relief in such complaints of bigamy and desertion.

Of course, many such two-timing philanderers resort to religion conversion to escape the charge of bigamy, as they enter into sham marriages and desert the first wives. That is one way to escape possible legal action. In many cases, the wronged wives get only limited relief in legal fora.

As far as the various women’s commissions are concerned, many women genuinely believe that a reunion with their stray husbands is possible. Mostly, these expectations are belied. In certain other cases, it is their way of hitting back at the deviant husbands, to get a few pounds of revenge, a bit of publicity or a possible financial settlement.

What punishment can be inflicted by law or by the society in such cases of socially deviant behaviour? A finding by the Mahila Ayog in favour of the wronged wife will still have to travel all the way to the courts for the perpetrator to be tried, and in very rare cases, to be convicted. Mahila Ayog findings do, however, serve the purpose of boosting the morale of the hapless deserted woman. But that is all.

Can the society do something more for such deserted women? In the meantime, let’s await the Bihar Women’s Commission findings in the Udit Narain case.

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From the pages of

March 29, 1952

Jagat Narain’s attack on tribune

Lala Jagat Narain (General Secretary of Punjab State Congress]) …puts the telephone and conversation to peculiar uses as he does his pen, and infers there-from that others do the same.

Whatever may be the practices to which Lala Jagat Narain is accustomed, The Tribune’s endeavour is not to colour its news to suit its policy which is, as it has always been, that of an independent progressive paper. It is not a Congress organ but supports the overall policies of the Congress as best suited to the needs of the country and the State. Its columns are open to all points of view provided they are reasonably expressed, the proviso being relaxed, as it has been relaxed for Lala Jagat Narain, when the Editor is personally attacked, to avoid going to the other extreme of suppressing a point of view however crudely it may be expressed.

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God is the dispeller of sorrow. It is only his will that prevails.
— Guru Nanak

The soul rises on the horizon of my intellect.
—The Upanishads


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