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Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped | Reflections

EDITORIALS

War by other means
No slackening in preparedness

E
VEN in the mythical wars, supposedly conducted in accordance with certain codes of conduct, ways were found to get around them to ensure victory. In a modern war it is foolish even to think that there would be some parameters.

Truce is not peace
West Asian situation remains unchanged
W
ITH the UN-brokered ceasefire coming into force on Monday morning in Lebanon, the month-long fighting between Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas has come to an end. The guns have fallen silent despite Israel saying that it will withdraw from the areas it has captured only after international peacekeepers and Lebanon’s regular soldiers are deployed along its border with Lebanon, and the Hezbollah asserting its right to target the occupation forces — meaning Israeli troops — till they finally leave their country.



 

 

EARLIER STORIES

Threat from Al-Qaida
August 14, 2006
Human rights
August 13, 2006
Nightmare averted
August 12, 2006
The shame of Patran
August 11, 2006
Mr Speaker
August 10, 2006
Politics of paralysis
August 9, 2006
Diversionary tactic
August 8, 2006
Tit for tat
August 7, 2006
Pak must destroy terror infrastructure: Doval
August 6, 2006


Quota games
Need for political consensus
U
NFORTUNATELY, there is no political consensus as yet on the issue of providing 27 per cent reservation to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in educational institutions. There are divisions within the Congress, the United Progressive Alliance and the National Democratic Alliance over the issue. Even on the interim report submitted to the Prime Minister by Mr M. Veerappa Moily, Chairman of the Oversight Committee, there is no meeting of minds.

ARTICLE

Politicians’ memoirs
Natwar, Jaswant know how to sell their tales
by S. Nihal Singh
P
OLITICIANS, like the rest of us, are human beings, and to err, it has been said, is human. But the manner in which two high-profile politicians have erred in recent times holds lessons for us all.

MIDDLE

Credit card fiasco
by Chetana Vaishnavi
S
OMETIMES charity can put you in great trouble! A person requested my son to book a ticket online through his credit card. My computer savvy son guided him to book through travel agents. But the man boasted about his influential position and insisted for help. My son finally relented.

OPED

Rediscovery of India
We can be an example to the world
by Jagmohan

If one surveys the six decades of Indian Independence, the picture that emerges is highly enigmatic. One would not be sure whether to entertain hopes or fears about country’s future.

Over-hunting hits African forests
by Scott Calvert

MBONG, Cameroon:
Ask the villagers here, and they are unanimous: They hunt monkeys and other animals to feed their families, selling only the occasional catch to people passing through this part of west-central Africa.

DELHI DURBAR
Tight security in Delhi

The Capital was converted into a virtual fortress following the US embassy’s warning of a possible terrorist strike in Delhi and Mumbai. Security was beefed up at all vulnerable places — from airports and rail and metro stations to markets.

  • Tough time for Amarinder

  • Kalam’s poem for children

  • A boost to Tiwari


From the pages of

 
 REFLECTIONS

 

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War by other means
No slackening in preparedness

EVEN in the mythical wars, supposedly conducted in accordance with certain codes of conduct, ways were found to get around them to ensure victory. In a modern war it is foolish even to think that there would be some parameters. Seen against this backdrop, it is only proper that a parliamentary committee has asked the Defence Ministry to be prepared for unconventional war, which has been defined as nuclear, biological and chemical. With a near-hostile nuclear power as neighbour, whose leaders routinely flex their nuclear muscles at the slightest provocation, India cannot afford to remain complacent. The terrorist plan to bring down a number of US-bound trans-Atlantic flights using liquid explosives shows that gunpowder is no longer necessary to inflict damage.

If a country can cobble together nuclear weapons and missiles using smuggled technology and fissile material from sources as heterogeneous as North Korea and China, surely it can make weapons better than the ones Saddam Hussein used against the Kurds in his heyday and the US dropped on what was then North Vietnam in the early seventies. Biological and chemical weapons can immobilise the forces, however well stocked they may be with conventional weapons. The committee wants the forces to be trained and equipped to deal with such situations. For this purpose, the IAF has set up a training centre in Delhi. Ideally, every soldier should be trained to face both conventional and unconventional wars.

It was only a few years ago that the Indian Army was caught unawares by the Pakistani incursion in Kargil. For once, the Army commanders realised that the jawans, who had the onerous duty of liberating one hill after another in an area the size of Delhi, did not have even proper snow boots and night-vision equipment. Emergency procurement of such items from wherever they were available helped to control the situation. If anything, it exposed the chinks in the preparedness of the Army. Such a fate should not befall the forces if an unconventional war breaks out. Training and equipping the forces to fight such wars are essential prerequisites of defence preparedness.

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Truce is not peace
West Asian situation remains unchanged

WITH the UN-brokered ceasefire coming into force on Monday morning in Lebanon, the month-long fighting between Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas has come to an end. The guns have fallen silent despite Israel saying that it will withdraw from the areas it has captured only after international peacekeepers and Lebanon’s regular soldiers are deployed along its border with Lebanon, and the Hezbollah asserting its right to target the occupation forces — meaning Israeli troops — till they finally leave their country. Since the UN peacekeeping force is expected to be deployed within a week or so, one cannot rule out the possibility of skirmishes between the Hezbollah and the Israeli forces during this period. But the civilians in both Lebanon and Israel must be feeling relieved. Israeli warplanes rained death and destruction in over 50 Lebanese towns and villages whereas the Hezbollah inflicted heavy losses in northern Israel, firing as many 4000 rockets.

At the end of it all, the volatile West Asian region remains as tense as it has ever been. Israel should realise that it made a blunder in trying to militarily achieve its objective of weakening the Hezbollah militia, a state within a state, on the pretext of getting its two captured soldiers freed. A resort to diplomacy would have been the best option. The Israeli action leading to bloodshed has only enlarged the militia’s support base, earlier confined to the Shia population in Lebanon. The Hezbollah could not have survived the Israeli onslaught with all the arms and ammunition supplies it gets from Syria and Iran without its committed and well-trained guerrillas. Now it will have no dearth of recruits. The militia must get disbanded as sought by the latest Security Council resolution on Lebanon.

At the same time, the world must prevail upon Israel to prevent it from displaying its military might to achieve its objectives, right or wrong. Such an approach only further complicates the situation. This is necessary in view of the fact that the Israeli military drive in Lebanon was also aimed at indirectly telling the Palestinians that they too will meet the fate of the Lebanese if they refuse to mend their ways. This means that the Palestinians should accept the Israeli peace plan without raising any objections even if that leads to turning a future Palestine into a Bantustan. This is no way to establish peace.

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Quota games
Need for political consensus

UNFORTUNATELY, there is no political consensus as yet on the issue of providing 27 per cent reservation to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in educational institutions. There are divisions within the Congress, the United Progressive Alliance and the National Democratic Alliance over the issue. Even on the interim report submitted to the Prime Minister by Mr M. Veerappa Moily, Chairman of the Oversight Committee, there is no meeting of minds. Mr Moily, who plans to submit his final report to the government by the end of this month, has hinted at staggered implementation of the quota for the OBCs. This would be the right course for the UPA government to follow. Moreover, the Oversight Committee’s all five sub-groups are in favour of a staggered approach.

The government seems to be in favour of matching quotas with gradually increasing the number of general seats. However, the UPA allies like the DMK, the PMK and the Rashtriya Janata Dal want the quota for the OBCs in one go, ostensibly to keep their vote banks intact. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief M. Karunanidhi has written to the Prime Minister demanding “one-shot” reservations. PMK chief S. Ramadoss had been lobbying in Delhi for the same purpose. They are also strongly opposed to excluding the creamy layer from the ambit of reservations.

Mr Moily’s interim report mentions the constraints in implementing the quota in one go and the imperative need to phase it out over a period from three to five years. All political parties, especially the UPA allies, would do well to appreciate these problems and rise above partisan ends. They must understand the government’s inability to achieve the required 54 per cent expansion of seats in just one year. Funds are also a problem. Compared to the Group of Minister’s estimate of about Rs 10,000 crore, the Moily report has suggested over Rs 16,563 crore expenditure for increasing the number of seats in 204 institutions funded by the Centre. This not only makes a clear distinction between the aided and unaided institutions but also underlines the Centre’s paramount responsibility in promoting excellence in aided institutions while providing the quota for the OBCs.

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Thought for the day

Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen. — Lord Halifax

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Politicians’ memoirs
Natwar, Jaswant know how to sell their tales
by S. Nihal Singh

POLITICIANS, like the rest of us, are human beings, and to err, it has been said, is human. But the manner in which two high-profile politicians have erred in recent times holds lessons for us all.

Let us take Mr Jaswant Singh first, a man who had the unique distinction of holding the Foreign, Defence and Finance portfolios at different times in the Vajpayee government. He decided, perhaps against his better judgment, that he should write his political memoir, disregarding the wisdom of Henry Kissinger and Strobe Talbott — to mention two previously in the US establishment — who waited until they had left office and given up on political ambition to sit down to write their records.

A man still active in politics and in the Bharatiya Janata Party and presumably ambitious about his political future sought to present his version of facts in his chequered career as External Affairs Minister. He stirred a hornet’s nest not merely by alleging that there was a mole in the Narasimha Rao government — a mole who did the disappearing trick once he was challenged — but also made tepid criticism of the Gujarat pogrom presided over by the BJP government of Mr Narendra Modi and of the Babri mosque demolition by hordes associated with the Sangh Parivar. In the process, he satisfied neither his party nor the critics.

A low point in Mr Jaswant Singh’s stewardship of the External Affairs Ministry was his decision to take imprisoned Pakistani terrorists to Afghanistan in his plane in exchange for the hostages taken in an Indian Airlines aircraft that ultimately found its way to an Afghanistan then ruled by the Taliban. His explanation that he was so persuaded by officials in order to take on-the-spot decisions is a strange confession, if true.

The misfortunes of Mr Natwar Singh, who is penning his memoir, are in a different category, perhaps influenced by hubris and conceit. After the Volcker committee linked his name to the United Nations’ oil-for-food programme in Iraq, he went to town declaring his innocence, in the process publicly repudiating the country’s foreign policy. He made declaratory statements that later came to haunt him because they were untrue. After he had hogged the limelight on television screens and in print, he was forced to resign his portfolio.

After the Pathak committee, appointed to investigate the Volcker committee’s findings, indicted him for using his position as the then Congress party functionary to secure an oil deal for his son Jagat’s friend Andaleeb Sehgal, he went ballistic hurling insults at the Prime Minister and abusing all those who chose to disagree with him. He unsuccessfully introduced a breach of privilege motion in the Rajya Sabha against the Prime Minister on the premature leak of the report. He added, for good measure, that American influence was to blame for his losing the External Affairs portfolio, presumably to curry favour with the influential Left parties.

Mr Jaswant Singh has only himself to blame for the controversies surrounding the interesting book he has written in fluent, if sometimes ponderous, prose revealing unsuspected aspects of his personality and wider interests. His feudal background and service in the Army were defining moments in his life. He showed determination and grit to master English, then an alien tongue to him, and he resigned his Army commission to enter politics, a decision that underlines his confidence at a relatively young age. His attraction for the BJP or the Jan Sangh stemmed from his rejection of the mainstream account of the evolution of independent India and the independence movement before it.

Mr Natwar Singh was an ambitious Foreign Service officer who graduated to politics via Indira Gandhi’s Prime Minister’s Office. Having hitched his wagon to the Nehru-Gandhi family, he ultimately occupied the perch of the head of the Congress party’s Foreign Affairs Cell, and he was happy to provide such assistance as he could to Mrs Sonia Gandhi when world leaders came calling on her during the six years of the party’s life in the Opposition. With the Congress unexpectedly returning to power in the last general election, he realised his life’s ambition by securing the External Affairs portfolio, initially putting his foot in his mouth by his grand declarations on foreign policy.

Mr Natwar Singh found his fall from grace after the Volcker report hard to take. As his public indiscretions mounted, he grew more enraged, and the dam of his anger burst after the Pathak committee’s verdict. Judging by the level to which he took his criticism of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, one wonders whether the External Affairs Ministry was in sage hands during his stewardship, so abruptly terminated. One is reminded of M.O. Mathai, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s Jeeves, in the viciousness of his criticism on being forced out. Mr Natwar Singh’s forthcoming memoir might possess nuggets of hitherto unrevealed information, apart from the invectives it will doubtless voice.

Mr Jaswant Singh has probably more political mileage left than Mr Natwar Singh, but the predicament of both of them is a reminder of the pitfalls of conceit. The former did not wish to tarry in giving his version of his years in high office and the latter seemed consumed by his own importance in his inability to respond sensibly to losing a position he had aspired all his life to achieve. Mr Jaswant Singh’s background has been more varied than Mr Natwar Singh’s who followed the traditional route to office through the civil service examination.

Writing memoirs by holders of high office is to be welcomed because they provide an insight into the process of governance and how and why specific decisions are made. To an extent, such endeavours are self-serving, as Kissinger’s memoirs have dramatically illustrated, but they are nevertheless revealing of how leaders make their decisions and the irrational elements that sometimes influence decision-making.

Of one thing Mr Natwar Singh can be assured. His memoir will sell like hot cakes. Mr Jaswant Singh has discovered that controversies surrounding his tale have led to healthy sales. The memoir of a former Prime Minister, Mr V.P. Singh, thus far available only in Hindi, has also raised dust. One must thank our leaders for inducing the reading habit in an age of television viewing although one wonders how many politicians have read the two memoirs cover to cover.

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Credit card fiasco
by Chetana Vaishnavi

SOMETIMES charity can put you in great trouble! A person requested my son to book a ticket online through his credit card. My computer savvy son guided him to book through travel agents. But the man boasted about his influential position and insisted for help. My son finally relented.

When the man returned from his travel, he was astonished to receive the credit card statement. It had two extra entries for some tickets booked. He rushed to my son seething with rage: “You have booked tickets for your family through my card!” Shell-shocked, my son replied that he had only helped when the latter requested. The man kept on threatening him of dire consequences, “I work for Doordarshan and I am close to the Prime Minister. I can make life hell for you if you do not pay up Rs 4000 immediately.”

When his threats became a nuisance, my son contacted Papa dear. My husband is as cool as a cucumber in the face of adversity. He invited the complainant home to talk it over a cup of tea. “If my son is at fault you’ll get your money, but if you’re lying what punishment do I give you?” he asked.

“Oh, everybody knows me in Chandigarh. I am a well-respected person,” he claimed. However, after an hour of arguments involving allegations and counter-allegations things did not quell, while the statement went from one hand to another.

I thought it was time to put in. “Let us sort out this issue amicably. I know my son won’t cheat.” I said a bit warily. “Madam,” he warned, “Don’t take guarantee for your son. Nowadays no son is reliable.” I was about to ask him whether his own mother also thought so about him, but abandoned the idea.

This VIP (very immature person) kept on threatening my visibly traumatised son. I took the statement to see for myself what transactions took place. To my horror the Rs 2000 debit was clearly there! And below it there was a credit given for the same amount! I burst into an uproarious laughter as I picked up the bone of contention, which made the four men to err. The money, which the railways had taken but were not able to issue the ticket, was duly credited back. Seeing two transactions for Rs 2000 each, which was his own unsuccessful attempt at booking prior to meeting my son, the man thought he had been defrauded.

The warring atmosphere turned into a hilarious moment for all of us. Sheepishly the VIP acquired a gentlemanly tone and said: “I am extremely sorry. I don’t know about credit cards.”

“Now how do I punish you? Will you pay for the mental agony you gave to us?” my husband asked while seeing them off.

“All is well that ends in the well,” I said mischievously as we collectively forgave him.

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Rediscovery of India
We can be an example to the world
by Jagmohan

If one surveys the six decades of Indian Independence, the picture that emerges is highly enigmatic. One would not be sure whether to entertain hopes or fears about country’s future.

In many respects, we are better placed than we were at the dawn of Independence. The average life expectancy of the people has increased substantially. The country has been largely free from famines, the recurrence of which was its fate earlier. We have witnessed a ‘green’ as well as a ‘white’ revolution. Sardar Patel’s integration of 561 princely states, which added 86 million people and 800,000 square kilometres of territory to the Indian Union, and which was brought about by a bloodless revolution, far outshines the much applauded feat of Bismarck in consolidating Germany through his policy of ‘blood and iron’.

Likewise, the remarkable contribution made by stalwarts like Jawaharlal, Govind Ballabh Pant, Dr Rajendra Prasad and the like, particularly in the field of planning, advancement of science, and construction of new temples of development, remain some of the most pleasing green vistas that have been created in the course of our 59 years’ journey as an independent nation. The recent achievements in the arena of nuclear, space, telecommunication and information technologies have their own sagas. There has also been a significant diversification of production.

Of late, the average rate of growth of economy has been impressive — about 7 per cent. Market capitalisation of about one hundred companies have crossed the billion-dollar mark. The outsourcing business of software establishments has increased from a few hundred dollars annually to about $ 20 billion, and India is fast emerging as the “world’s back office.

“The country has now the third largest pool of scientists and technologists in the world. It has, at present, about 3.3 million science students on the rolls of its 260 universities. A large section of its youth is showing initiative, enterprise and dynamism that has never been seen before. India seems to be on a threshold of a great leap forward.

If, however, the picture is viewed from a different angle, it turns grim and gloomy. Even today, India has the largest number of poor, the largest number of illiterate and the largest number of malnourished people in the world. On account of low purchasing power, over 250 million men, women and children go to bed hungry every day. One out of three Indian women is underweight. About 40 per cent of total low birth weight babies under the age of five years in the world are Indians.

57 million children of this age are undernourished; its percentage (48 per cent) in this regard is even worse than that of Ethiopia (47 per cent). Out of 150 million children in the world who do not attend school, 130 million are Indians. Six out of seven Indian women are illiterate. About 640 million Indians do not have access to sanitation, about 170 million to safe water and about 293 million to health services.

The diseases of poverty and deprivation continue to take a heavy toll. With about 40 million cases, India is home to the largest number of active TB patient in the world. The danger of the AIDS epidemic looms large already; one Indian is getting infected every minute. On account of rural economic distress, about 1 lakh farmers were driven to commit suicide.

In the cities, the slums and squatters’ settlements have been proliferating, growing 250 per cent faster than overall population. Mumbai, with about 12 million living in such settlements, has become the global capital of slum dwellings. Apart from it, Indian cities have earned the dubious distinction of being the most indisciplined. They have the highest rate of road accidents per 1000 vehicles in the world. The infrastructural shortages are showing no sign of abatement. About 40 per cent of the country’s foods and vegetables are wasted during its journey from the field to the consumer.

India’s ranking on UNDP’s Human Development Index continues to be poor. According to its latest report, even Bangladesh has done better than India in the arena of infant and maternal mortality and school enrolment. Out of its population of about one billion, only 12 million are taxpayers. India is still reckoned as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Terrorism, subversion and Naxal violence have brutalised the atmosphere and bloodied a substantial part of the Indian landscape. The problems of internal security are increasing. And the basic problems of governance remain untackled.

What is more disconcerting is the growing loss of whatever little is left of India’s ancient wisdom, its basic nobility, its sense of balance and harmony and its understanding of the essential oneness of all elements of universe. I have little doubt that if the present trends persist and India’s cultural values continue to deteriorate, a situation would soon arise when, to borrow Swami Vivekananda’s expression, “spirituality will be extinct, all moral perfection will be extinct, all identity will be extinct, all ideality will be extinct”.

As India stands today, three courses for the future are open to her. She could put herself in a deeper trap of divisive forces and expose herself to a more serious risk of getting disintegrated. Or she may continue to live, like other Third World countries, with her contrasts and contradictions and with illusions of progress that shallow materialism often causes. The third course — the only right one — open to her is to regenerate the ‘ancient nobility of her temper’, jettison the rotten stuff from her social and cultural baggage and impart a new motivation to her political and administrative organisations. If she does so, she could create one of the most humane, enlightened and elevating systems of governance in the world, reflecting best the power of her mind, the purity of her soul and potency of her new institutions.

The writer is a former Union Minister.

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Over-hunting hits African forests
by Scott Calvert

MBONG, Cameroon: Ask the villagers here, and they are unanimous: They hunt monkeys and other animals to feed their families, selling only the occasional catch to people passing through this part of west-central Africa.

Villagers blame the declining numbers of monkeys, antelope-like duikers and other creatures squarely on commercial poachers who supply bushmeat to consumers in the cities and, to a surprising extent, around the world.

“I’m worried,”’ said Olivier Minko, who has noticed a decline in the number of animals in the past decade. “We’re trying to conserve what’s in the forest. My great-grandparents did not finish the bushmeat. That’s why we’re trying to preserve the meat, so our children and their children”’ can hunt as well.

But hunters like Minko are part of the problem, say wildlife advocates and experts. Subsistence does not mean sustainability, and over-hunting in this region has led in many places to a phenomenon known as “empty forest”’ syndrome.

“You’re talking about human population levels that far exceed anything this planet has ever seen,”’ said Heather E. Eves, Director of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force in Washington. “While their ancestors may have carried on with a certain behavior pattern, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be able to continue in this day and age.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates that a million metric tons of bushmeat are taken from African forests every year.

Another study puts bushmeat consumption at 10 ounces a day per person. Jane Goodall, the well-known primate expert, warned last month that gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans “are being eaten into extinction.”

Logging roads have opened up areas previously inaccessible to hunters, and growing urbanisation provides a ready market. There is also worldwide demand from African expatriates. University of California conservation ecologist Justin Brashares found that 13,000 pounds of bushmeat a month move through underground markets in New York, London, Paris, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago and Brussels, Belgium.

The Wildlife Conversation Society is involved in projects in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo to allow hunting in some areas while putting others off-limit. But even bushmeat hunting opponents acknowledge the powerful motivation behind such hunting.

“If you have to eat today because there are no other alternatives, either for money or for actual protein, those are the decisions people are going to make,” Eves said. In the case of Mbong and neighboring villages, the lack of alternative food sources explains why the Cameroonian authorities permit bushmeat hunting within limits, said Alain Etom, a government “eco-guard”’ who monitors hunting in the area.

Animal husbandry requires land and feed that most villagers lack. And tsetse flies can infect cattle with trypanosomiasis, a fatal disease.

Etom is supposed to educate villagers about what they can hunt. Some species — chimpanzee, gorilla, elephant, giant pangolin, mandrill — are banned to hunters.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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DELHI DURBAR
Tight security in Delhi

The Capital was converted into a virtual fortress following the US embassy’s warning of a possible terrorist strike in Delhi and Mumbai. Security was beefed up at all vulnerable places — from airports and rail and metro stations to markets.

The city’s religious places were particularly under the scanner. Devotees visiting the Sai Baba temple on Lodhi Road found themselves being subjected to stringent checks. They were not allowed to carry flower baskets or handbags inside the temple; garlands and other offerings were also being scanned while shopkeepers outside were instructed to hand over garlands only in transparent plastic bags.

The security personnel apparently did not want to take any chances because militants in the past had targeted temples in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir.

Tough time for Amarinder

Faced with a tough Assembly elections early next year, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has reasons to worry. Besides battling anti-incumbency, the Centre’s decision to extend tax concessions to neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal till 2010 has further added to his woes.

The Centre’s recent announcement hiking the MSP of paddy and cotton has also failed to provide the necessary relief. Describing the hike as “meagre”, the Akali Dal-BJP combine is using this issue to put the ruling Congress in the dock and, from all reports, is succeeding in this mission. The Agriculture Ministry’s clarification that the Punjab government failed to provide the necessary data on farmer suicides in the state has further weakened the state government’s case. The chief minister has also suffered a blow on the personal front, having lost one of his main benefactors in New Delhi after his relative, former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, incurred the wrath of the party leadership.

Kalam’s poem for children

President A.P.J Abdul Kalam’s affection for children is well known. Having opened his heart and home to them recently, he had a special gift for all those children who lined up to tie rakhi to him. He composed a poem titled The Beautiful Day for the occasion, which reads as follows:

“Sisterly love is like a full moon glow

Brotherly love is shining like morning sun

Brightens the lives and our homes

With nobility in thoughts may you live long”.

In return, President Kalam asked his visitors to take a pledge that they will help out at least five persons in distress.

A boost to Tiwari

The decision of the Congress bosses to hold its next chief ministers’ conclave in Nainital is a victory for Uttaranchal Chief Minister N.D. Tiwari and a setback for his bete noire, PCC chief Harish Rawat. Tiwari, who is perennially locked in a factional fight with Rawat, was apparently keen that the meeting be held in Nainital since it happens to be his colleague Indra Herdyesh’s area of influence.

Contributed by Prashant Sood, Vibha Sharma, Tripti Nath and Anita Katyal

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From the pages of

August 15, 1947

India wakes to freedom

New Delhi, Aug. 14. Great enthusiasm and scenes which could hardly be forgotten were witnessed tonight when the Constituent Assembly held its midnight session for the assumption of power.

Members attended in full strength. The hall was brilliantly flood-lit and the empty panels of the portraits on the walls were covered with bright national flags. Few of the members wore European costume and all were in Dhoti and Kurta or Achkans.

There were traffic jams in Parliament Street and other main roads leading to the Council Hall long before the House met at 11 P.M.

At 11 the Presdient, Dr Rajendra Prasad, dressed in white khadi, took the chair. There was hushed silence and members took their seats.

Above in the galleries visitors were crowded, while on either side of the President sat the members of the Diplomatic Corps with their wives and members of the Government, who will be sworn in tomorrow morning.

The lobbies of the House were crammed with distinguished visitors and while a battery of cameramen moved about, flashlights played. The House was filmed.

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Three Characteristics of Existence: Transiency (anicca); Sorrow (dukkha); Selflessness (anatta)
—The Buddha

(And the truthful men and the truthful women....) Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.
—The Koran

He is born in vain, who having attained the human birth, so difficult to get, does not attempt to realise God in this very life.
—Ramakrishna

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