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EDITORIALS

Powerless again
Punjab’s summer woes continue
T
HE Punjab and Haryana electricity boards have, once again, let down their consumers. The hot, humid weather, aggravated by insufficient rain, has raised tempers, but protests or media reports fail to move the authorities to find a permanent solution to the recurring problem.

Trying series
Cricket in the time of terrorism
T
HE truncated Unitech Cup cricket tri-series in Sri Lanka is a grim reminder that no sphere of activity is safe from terrorism. The escalating military conflict between the Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been triggered by the latter’s revival of terrorist strikes; and, in turn, the hostilities are provoking more attacks.



EARLIER STORIES

Upswing in economy
August 17, 2006
Vision and concern
August 16, 2006
War by other means
August 15, 2006
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

The Sant and society
An inspiring leader can make a difference
H
E is no environmentalist of the conventional type. He does not have the backing of an NGO flush with funds. Fortysix-year-old Sant Balbir Singh of Seechewal village, near Sultanpur Lodhi, is a “karam yogi”, who has proved that determined and honest efforts always lead to encouraging results.

ARTICLE

Towards sustainable growth
Involve the masses in planning
by Mohan Dharia
T
HE Planning Commission has prepared an Approach Paper to the 11th Five Year Plan. The document titled “Approach Document Towards Faster and More Inclusive Growth” has been circulated for discussion. The commission has been organising regional meetings of chief ministers, economists, voluntary organisations and experts all over the country.

MIDDLE

Pune to Panipat with love
by K. Rajbir Deswal
M
Y friend living in the U.K. asked me for a “small favour”. This entailed a hassle putting to trouble a horde of men and machines. The job involved arranging to have his daughter’s car brought from Pune, where she worked, to Panipat, where she was married.

OPED

Women in Army
Yes, but not in combat role
by Lt. Gen (retd) Harwant Singh
I
ntense competition amongst the press and TV channels makes them pick up the most innocuous incidents and stories and sensationalise these to no end. Headlines appear and chat shows and surveys are organised, opinions obtained and instant reactions demanded, leaving little scope for sober, deliberate and rational examination of issues.

Cold desert and pouring rain
by S.P. Sharma
T
HE new phenomenon of incessant rains in the cold desert stretching between Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir and Lahaul-Spiti of the neighboring Himachal Pradesh is worrying residents of these areas.

Delhi Durbar
History calling
T
HE Parliament Museum, inaugurated by President APJ Abdul Kalam earlier this week, is a treasure for all those interested in the history and growth of Parliamentary democracy in the country.

  • Invisible Telengana

  • Captain’s advice


From the pages of

 
 REFLECTIONS

 

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Powerless again
Punjab’s summer woes continue

THE Punjab and Haryana electricity boards have, once again, let down their consumers. The hot, humid weather, aggravated by insufficient rain, has raised tempers, but protests or media reports fail to move the authorities to find a permanent solution to the recurring problem. Comparatively, the situation is better in Chandigarh as the administration, anticipating the rising demand, arranges adequate power supply well in advance. The worst of the lot is Punjab where people suffer eight to 12-hour power cuts daily. Against a demand for 1,650 units daily, the Punjab State Electricity Board is able to provide only 1,250 units.

It is convenient to blame the poor monsoon for the high demand or the temporary snag in the Ropar thermal plant for the failure on the power front. Who is supposed to enhance the power generation capacity to match the growing demand or keep the existing power plants in 24-hour working condition to avoid a shutdown? It is a sheer case of mismanagement on the part of the power board and lack of foresight on the part of the state government. A recent report by Crisil and ICRA pats the Andhra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala and Delhi power utilities for cutting their losses and improving performance. Haryana and Punjab, as usual, have lagged behind.

How can the PSEB finances improve when power is given free to farmers and pilferage and transmission losses are so rampant? Punjab buys some 25 lakh units at the rate of Rs 6 per unit, but supplies these free to farmers. The state government does provide Rs 1,600 crore subsidy to the board in lieu of free power, but it also indirectly helps in the wastage of power and over-exploitation of underground water. The Punjab Chief Minister claims that the government spends 24 per cent of the budget on power generation, but the ground reality is that the supply is much less than demand, reforms have been shelved for political convenience and the state is still groping in the dark.

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Trying series
Cricket in the time of terrorism

THE truncated Unitech Cup cricket tri-series in Sri Lanka is a grim reminder that no sphere of activity is safe from terrorism. The escalating military conflict between the Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been triggered by the latter’s revival of terrorist strikes; and, in turn, the hostilities are provoking more attacks. The military fighting may be confined to the northeast of Sri Lanka, but the whole island, particularly Colombo, is vulnerable to LTTE attacks. The August 14 bomb blast targeting the Pakistani High Commissioner, in which seven were killed, was a warning of sorts to the cricket teams of India, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Wrecking the tri-series serves the objective of hurting the economy, business and tourism, besides undermining political confidence in the government.

The South African team was the first to bale out, despite the persuasions of the authorities. For the Indian team it was a more agonising dilemma, which has been resolved with the two neighbours agreeing to play three, instead of five, one-day matches. Even as terror, and the fear of an attack, stalks the team, the boys in blue have decided to brave it out, because terrorism does not admit of easy escape routes.

The dilemma and the compromise arrived at reveal the complexity of the situation. Terror is not new to South Asia but life has to go on, is the stoic attitude of most people in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. These countries are aware that if terrorism is allowed to dictate match schedules, then teams from outside South Asia may cite terrorist incidents – which are legion here –as an excuse to pull out of matches even when unwarranted by the immediate situation. Therefore, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have to evolve a joint approach, which reckons with the dangers of terrorism but frees cricket from becoming a hostage to security threats. With his political acuity, BCCI boss Sharad Pawar may well be the man to take the initiative and carry our neighbours along in evolving a stand on the issue.

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The Sant and society
An inspiring leader can make a difference

HE is no environmentalist of the conventional type. He does not have the backing of an NGO flush with funds. Fortysix-year-old Sant Balbir Singh of Seechewal village, near Sultanpur Lodhi, is a “karam yogi”, who has proved that determined and honest efforts always lead to encouraging results. The latest proof is that as a result of his endeavour the Kali Bein, a rivulet with historical and religious significance, is no longer polluted and impure. It has no sewage flowing into it from towns and villages. The once stinking rivulet, which had become virtually invisible with thick hyacinth growth, now has clean water throughout its course. This is an example of how a humanitarian task can be accomplished with people’s cooperation provided there is the honesty of purpose. President APJ Abdul Kalam’s visit to Seechewal to laud the achievements of the Sant is bound to inspire people to take greater interest in the welfare of society.

When Sant Seechewal undertook the task of restoring the Bein to its pristine purity, he could not have believed that his efforts would earn him the recognition he has got. But he must have been sure of drawing as many volunteers as his project required. This is because of his experience during the various village link road projects which he completed with the support of the masses. People are always ready to render selfless service. They only need an inspiring lead that came from Sant Seechewal.

What he has done with the help of thousands of “kar-sevaks” must be guarded all along the rivulet’s 160-km-long course. This is not only the responsibility of Sant Seechewal’s devotees but also of the district authorities. Now that the Kali Bein has been cleaned up, people’s attention should be diverted to another victim of crass indifference —- Ludhiana’s Buddha Nala. The municipal and industrial waste flowing into it has been the cause of much human suffering for a long time. It has been the source of major health problems for those living in its vicinity. Where governments fail, people should step in.

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Thought for the day

The psychopath is the furnace that gives no heat.

— Derek Raymond

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Towards sustainable growth
Involve the masses in planning
by Mohan Dharia

THE Planning Commission has prepared an Approach Paper to the 11th Five Year Plan. The document titled “Approach Document Towards Faster and More Inclusive Growth” has been circulated for discussion. The commission has been organising regional meetings of chief ministers, economists, voluntary organisations and experts all over the country. Along with faster economic growth of 8 to 9 per cent the commission emphasises on the need for basic facilities like drinking water supply, removal of unemployment, poverty and illiteracy, providing health care, sanitation and shelter to render social justice with due care of the environment.

This is a right approach as growth, social justice and due care of the environment must be the direction for the future.

Huge investments have been provided to strengthen the basic infrastructure for rapid industrial and agricultural development . However, investments for agricultural and rural sectors are not adequate. There cannot be two views on the required investments on basic infrastructure. Simultaneously, the country cannot afford to neglect our inherent strength and must provide necessary investments for the development of this strength. Our real strength lies in our natural resources, which have remained underdeveloped or to some extent undeveloped so far. A holistic approach to effectively develop all lands and natural resources along with agro-industrial development is imperative to achieve our long-cherished objectives, including a second Green Revolution.

More than 30 per cent people in the country are illiterate. The Planning Commission should recommend a time-bound programme to educate all the illiterates within the next three years. It is possible to involve an army of nearly 20 million teachers, college students, voluntary organisations and social workers in this national programme. They may be asked to make literate at least five illiterates during one year. Necessary incentives and material should be provided to the participants.

Almost 80 per cent of the students are dropouts by the time they reach the eighth standard and 45-50 per cent necessarily fail in the SSC exam. Thus, nearly 85 per cent students could not avail themselves of the opportunity of higher education. As has been correctly stated in the draft document, far more emphasis should be given to need-based vocational training to develop the inherent skills like what is being done in China where one finds 4000 courses as against hardly 40 in India . There is no possibility for a country to prosper and achieve new economic heights by driving 85 per cent of the youth to the valley of frustration.

Higher education with latest science and technology is equally essential for the country. Along with vocational training programmes for the less educated , equal emphasis is required on higher education for the competent youth.

Nearly 50 per cent of the country consists of waste or degraded lands. With all the required investments, it may be possible to cover 45-50 per cent of the area under perennial irrigation. For the remaining rain-fed areas and also for catchment areas, a scientific watershed development approach deserves priority with a principle of “Gaon ka pani gaon me aur khet ka pani khet me “. It may be possible to permanently solve the serious problem of drinking water in most of the villages with seasonal cultivation, and bring nearly one-third area under green cover with forests, horticulture, sericulture, agro-forestry, pastures, tea and coffee plantations, etc.

To cultivate baron and wastelands and also lands with additional productivity, gram sabhas and village panchayats should be effectively involved. Amendment 73 to the Constitution has transferred such programmes to gram sabhas. Voluntary organisations and social workers should also be involved in these programmes. The existing approach of executing such programmes through the government machinery may never succeed.

Along with irrigation and conservation of water, roof-water harvesting, recycling of water and judicious use of water are equally important. Every drop of water provided by the government or the local authority should be charged in future for efficient and judicious use. The best crop for every drop should be the guideline.

The draft document envisages 4 per cent growth in agriculture. It may be possible to achieve a double-digit growth rate in agriculture as in China by providing the required inputs like improved seeds, fertilisers and credit, assured marketing and training facilities.

India has the largest number of cattle wealth in the world. Further growth of unproductive cattle will have to be restricted. With the existing cattle wealth, it is possible to attain new heights in the production of milk, mutton, eggs, wool, leather, skins, hides and their processed products. This could provide jobs to millions of our people, earn sizable foreign exchange and considerably help in achieving higher growth of agriculture. Of course, all the required inputs, including training and marketing, will have to be provided by the government.

The Planning Commission has provided huge investments to generate electricity in the country. Having regard to the future, hydro-electricity is an important natural wealth of our country. Particularly north-eastern parts of the country and many such areas could take adequate care of energy required for future and perhaps for export to nearby countries. Simultaneously, additional energy should be produced from biomass, bio-diesel, solar energy, wind energy and tidal waves. In a vast country like India, instead of centralised grids, it will be advisable to generate energy through various non-conventional methods in a decentralised manner. Transmiting energy to 6,35,000 villages through the central grid involves huge investments and losses in transmission. These losses may be avoided if energy is generated in the village itself through non-conventional methods which are pollution-free, environment-friendly and ever sustainable.

All agro-based programmes have the potential to generate employment opportunities for millions of our people in the rural areas. Particularly additional farm production and processed food articles can create adequate opportunities of gainful employment in the rural areas and people will not migrate to cities. Vanarai, an NGO, has succeeded in achieving reverse migration in some villages — Gavadewadi, Varandh, etc. — and a better quality of life in clean, green and self-reliant villages.

In view of the multi-party system, it may be most appropriate to include the leaders of the Opposition from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in the full Planning Commission. It is also imperative to involve millions of our masses in the process of planning. Voluntary organisations working at various levels in the country can play a dynamic role in involving the people and implementing the programmes with transparency and efficiency.

In this age of consumerism, it would be advisable to follow the path as preached by eminent philosophers and great saints of India. It may not be possible to have simple living and high thinking. However, it is possible to adopt moderate living and high thinking for sustainable development and save the world from the destruction of nature. This is the new direction that India should accept and provide to the whole world. The Planning Commission, being the highest think tank in the country, is expected to provide this direction with a wider vision and amend its approach document to fulfil the long- cherished dreams of our great martyrs, revolutionaries and freedom fighters.

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Pune to Panipat with love
by K. Rajbir Deswal

MY friend living in the U.K. asked me for a “small favour”. This entailed a hassle putting to trouble a horde of men and machines. The job involved arranging to have his daughter’s car brought from Pune, where she worked, to Panipat, where she was married.

“Don’t worry. I think I can manage,” I assured my friend. I called up another friend in Rajasthan whose transport company hits almost all important destinations in India. “Yaar Pilania, I have a job for you. Adarsh Kumar’s daughter’s car is to be brought from Pune to Panipat,” “No problem, Bhai-jaan,” he assured me and sought to know the address in Pune.

A fortnight passed when I started feeling whether I should enquire about the fate of the car, worrying whether it was rightly picked up from the proper place; whether some problem had occurred on the way while being in transit; whether it is timely for me to find out from Pilania who can never take things lightly but with desired seriousness, if tasked.

Quite hesitatingly, I called up Pilania’s office to know if they had any information on the car to be brought from Pune. The clerk took the call and, after having known as to what purpose the call was made for, he shared something with those who might be present around. The line still pulsating, with no one attending the call now, I overheard some murmurs and jeering laughter. I preferred to be offline then. I thought I was becoming a bit paranoid on the car issue. But was it the right stuff for a real mystery? I questioned myself.

A week later I received a call from Blackpool. Adarsh was there thanking me profusely for the job well done, but.! He kept something to himself and, despite my insistence, did not say anything. What had he kept unto himself kept me haunting. I then phoned Pilania. Probably having seen my number on his cell phone he answered the call at the same time trying to suppress his laughter: “What happened Why are you laughing so much-some jackpot hit or?” I asked when he implored, “Bhai Sahib, for God’s sake, please don’t ask me to bring kabar (junk) for you in future”. He then described in detail the Maruti his trailers offloaded in Delhi.

“The thing didn’t have a bonnet. Seats all eaten up. Tyres gone bald. Left headlight broken. Window glasses frozen. Free-falling doors. Springless brakes and clutch. Wireless throttle. Gear-lever ejected. Steering wheel jammed.and engine.!” Pilania continued laughing and counting on the features of the 1985 model car when he hit the bottomline: “You had better sold the junk for a couple of thousand bucks.”

I hung up only to receive another call from Shalini, Adarsh Kumar’s daughter: “Oh, thank you uncle for the car for which I have great sentimental value. But sorry uncle, the stereo is missing. Never mind, bye!” Now I had a real desire to at least have one good look at the carload of emotions before it rusted into more “features”.

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Women in Army
Yes, but not in combat role
by Lt. Gen (retd) Harwant Singh

Intense competition amongst the press and TV channels makes them pick up the most innocuous incidents and stories and sensationalise these to no end. Headlines appear and chat shows and surveys are organised, opinions obtained and instant reactions demanded, leaving little scope for sober, deliberate and rational examination of issues. The vice chief of the army was quoted out of context and the defence minister took the exceptionable step of making him tender a public apology. Sushma Swaraj lost no time in leaping on to the bandwagon. Gauging the public mood the defence minister went overboard and talked of inducting women into the combat arms of the army in the hope of drawing some political mileage out of the issue.

Speaking to a group of air force officers, Pranab Mukherjee forgot, or perhaps, did not know, the rank of the Chief of Air Staff or his name. Possibly, he does not know much about combat either; the extreme violence, brutality, privation, suffering; limbs being torn apart, scattering of pieces of flesh, burning alive and bayonets piercing bodies is all part of combat. It is into this hell that the Indian defence minister wants to push our women.

It was General Rodrigues who, as the Chief of Army Staff, opened the gate to women for entry into the officer cadre and to start with, only in certain wings of the army and in the WSES category. It was a wise decision and these women have done well and measured up to the expectations. In a recent order the government has done well in bringing their service conditions, pay and allowances at par with male short service commissioned officers.

There have been a few teething problems with lady officers, but nothing abnormal or alarming. One of them had preferred a false TA/DA claim and had to face the wrath of military law. The presiding officer of the General Court Marshal was a woman, of the rank of a brigadier. Yet the accused and the press tried to bring in extraneous issues, little realising that a false TA/DA claim in the defence services can send the accused to prison for a few years, while the lady in point was merely dismissed from service. There is no gender bias whatever. Quite the contrary, women are shown the highest respect and deference.

It is not to say that there have been no administrative problems in the management of lady doctors in the army. The DG Army Medical Corps once told me that he could not post lady doctors to remote areas where she would be the sole female or to units as medical officers. Thus the load of field postings and to remote areas was borne entirely by male doctors. Once married, they want to be posted along side their husbands, which, very often is not possible.

Women have done well in most fields and in some, even excelled men, such as in civil services, the corporate world and the police. However, the army is a different ball game altogether, more so the combat element of it. Then there are the stresses, strain and pressures peculiar to the defence services. In fact these start from the day one enters the academy. Some break down within days of joining.

Our company at the IMA was free of ragging of new entrants and the relations between seniors and juniors were friendly. So there was no pressure or stress, off parade hours. Yet some cadets could not take the pressure of the routine schedule of the initial few weeks and would throw up their hands and ask for release. As a senior, I tried to persuade one such cadet to hang on and to put up with the pressure for a few more days as the tempo by then would considerably ease, but his will-power had deserted him and he was totally finished. This run-away cadet from the IMA later became the defence secretary. The point is that military service is quite different from the civil services.

Not many are aware of the conditions under which those in the combat arms have to operate and live. During training and combat, physical stress apart, these women will have to share small tents, bivouacs or bunkers with the men. Sharing a blanket with a soldier may have to be accepted. Then there is the issue of isolation and loneliness for these women. Using common toilet facilities with no privacy what-so-ever is another feature during training and combat. Wounded are attended by companions and the unit medical officer. Wounds can be anywhere on the body. Remember women entrants into the IAF had refused to be subjected to medical tests by male doctors.

Then there is the other angle of working conditions, where constant body contact is unavoidable. The potential for allegation of sexual harassment is inbuilt into the situation. Take the case of a modern tank, particularly the type that the Indian army is equipped with. The space within the fighting compartment is extremely restricted. Thus in the ‘closed down’ mode, as it would be in combat and during training, the tank commander’s knees grip the arm pits of the gunner.

I do not know of a tank commander who can carry on with his onerous duties and the main job of locating the enemy and engaging him while there is a woman between his knees (as young officers these women will have to function as tank gunners too). Or a gunner who can shoot straight at the enemy tank while he sits straddled between the knees of his young lady tank commander. So this will not work, Mr Mukherjee. Combat apart, such working conditions alone make the entry of women in the armoured corps, one of the two combat arms of the army, inappropriate.

Admittedly there is a case for induction of women into the defence services in increased numbers. However, their entry into the combat arms, if at all, needs rational examination, attitudinal changes in Indian society and time.

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Cold desert and pouring rain
by S.P. Sharma

THE new phenomenon of incessant rains in the cold desert stretching between Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir and Lahaul-Spiti of the neighboring Himachal Pradesh is worrying residents of these areas.

Heavy rains and cloud-bursts have triggered floods in Ladakh and caused widespread damage to buildings and crops. Many lives have also been lost. Residents of the cold desert have never before seen so much rain. These areas had, so far, mostly remained dry and the people were dependant on the water sources fed by the glaciers.

An elderly Tsring Dorje, resident of the Nubra valley near Leh, said that rain was a rare sight in the area, “but now we have had enough of it.” He attributed the unprecedented phenomenon to the cold desert being converted into greenery. He blamed the desert development programme for the change in climatic conditions of the area.

Dorje said that the traditional clay houses in Ladakh will not withstand the rains and now the people will have to go in for cement structures. Floods have washed away several houses, roads and bridges in the Leh and Kargil districts of Ladakh.

The clay houses in Lahaul-Spiti area were also threatened due to rains. Monks in the Tabo Monastery, which is more than 1000 years old, were worried that the wall paintings were getting damaged due to seepage of rain water. The Archaeological Survey of India was taking special measures to protect these paintings from further damage.

Mr. P. Namgial, a former MP and a sitting MLC, said that never before had he seen continuous rain for about one week in Ladakh. Cloud-bursts, like those in Himachal Pradesh, were a new phenomenon here.

Much damage has also been caused due to climatic variations that have led to melting of the high altitude glaciers. The only two power projects Stakna and Marchelang in Leh, have been badly damaged due to flash-floods.

Mr. Namgial said that Ladakh used to register a below freezing temperature of -30 degrees c during winters till the past few years, but now the temperature during the peak winter hovers around -18 degrees c.

He said that the snow line of the Stok glacier just opposite the Leh town has receded upwards and many smaller glaciers have vanished. The situation has become alarming with the Gompa locality within the Leh town littered with boulders that were carried by a flash flood. All bridges and culverts in the nearby Phyang village have been washed away.

Mr.Pinto Nurboo, a MLA and hotelier, attributed the change in the climate of the cold desert to the global warming.

Pilots of the army and IAF point out that a number of artificial lakes have developed on the mountain tops in the far-flung areas due to melting of glaciers. The Shyok river that crosses through Ladakh and later joins the Indus, was overflowing this summer mainly because of melting of the Chong Kamdan, Gasherbrum and Nubra glaciers. Scientific data points out that almost all 335 glaciers in the Sutlej, Beas and Spiti basins were receding.

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Delhi Durbar
History calling

THE Parliament Museum, inaugurated by President APJ Abdul Kalam earlier this week, is a treasure for all those interested in the history and growth of Parliamentary democracy in the country. The hi-tech museum located in the new Parliament Library building, which is Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s brainchild, owes its imaginative construction to the Kolkata Museum. Visitors taking a walk through it can experience the thrill of sitting in a recreated central hall of Parliament alongside well-known luminaries of the freedom struggle. Also, at the touch of a button, they can find themselves taking part in the famous Dandi march.

Unfortunately, the museum is likely to remain out of bounds for the common man since the museum is located in a high security zone which is not open to the general public. And those who do have access to the Parliament House premises have evinced little interest in the museum.

The Lok Sabha secretariat was put to great embarrassment when no senior Cabinet minister turned up for the inaugural programme. Even Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi slipped away midway to attend a meeting with the broadcasters’ federation. Several junior ministers who were seated in the back seats were requested to move up to the vacant front rows. They did so most reluctantly while several of them were heard muttering that the seniors should be pulled up for this lapse.

Invisible Telengana

Labour minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao of the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS), whose demand for the creation of a separate state of Telengana has not been addressed sympathetically by the UPA government, has been sulking for several months now. He has not been attending office and has also been missing from Parliament. Little wonder that he has been dubbed as the “Invisible Man” as he has not been around even to reply to questions relating to his ministry.

His absence has not gone unnoticed as several members, both from the opposition and the ruling combine, have enquired about him during the ongoing session. In fact, on Thursday, a calling attention against his name in the Lok Sabha had to be deferred till the next week as the missing minister had written to say that he was not keeping well. With Chandrashekhar Rao having again threatened to walk out of the government, the general buzz in Parliament was that by time the debate is listed again, the minister would have put in his papers.

Captain’s advice

After giving innumerable interviews to newspapers and television channels for nearly ten days Natwar Singh has been uncharacteristically quiet for the past few days. Apparently, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who is also Mr. Natwar Singh’s relative, is learnt to have prevailed upon him to keep a low profile. The chief minister apparently contended that his public utterances against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress party would also end up hurting him since he is faced with a tough assembly election early next year.

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

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From the pages of

January 24, 1976

In heroic mould

THE hero in history has been described as the “eventful man” or the “event-making man”. The eventful man is any man whose actions influence developments along a quite different course from what they would have followed if these actions had not been taken. The event-making man, on the other hand, is also an eventful man, but whose actions are the consequences of outstanding capacities of intelligence, will and character rather than of accidents of positions.

Mrs Gandhi falls into the second category. She is great not merely by virtue of what she has done for the country but also by virtue of what she is. As she herself has said: “The days are gone when birth was the chief road to distinction. All over the world today, distinction comes from achievement.” If Mrs Gandhi today is regarded as “the most powerful woman in the world”, it is not because she is the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, but because of her own achievements.

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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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