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EDITORIALS

Wheat imports
Waiving of duty may not help much

T
HE UPA government’s decision to waive the 5 per cent import duty on wheat is unlikely to cool the prices. The step, described by traders as too late, is aimed to help biscuit and bread manufacturers import wheat. In the past six months the wheat prices have surged from Rs 800 a quintal to Rs 1,035. 

Anything for justice
J&K sex accused must be punished
R
IGHT from the start, the Jammu and Kashmir sex scandal was unfolding in such a way that there were grave doubts whether a free and fair trial would be possible. To begin with, the senior positions that the accused occupied in government and in social life made sure that they evaded thorough scrutiny.

One more Day
Honour your teacher to honour yourself
O
NE more Teacher’s Day has come and gone. There were the usual platitudes about the role teachers play in moulding the future of the country. But does it occur to anyone how much value the teacher holds in today’s society? 



 


EARLIER STORIES
Slow and steady
September 5, 2006
Coalition dharma
September 4, 2006
What ails India
September 3, 2006
Iranian rejection
September 2, 2006
Comrade’s fusillade 
September 1, 2006
The killer drain
August 31, 2006
Rot in the roti
August 30, 2006
Turmoil in Baluchistan
August 29, 2006
Exclude creamy layer
August 28, 2006
Mental illness should be treated early: Dr Wig
August 27, 2006


ARTICLE

No end to terrorism
Pak army and nationalism are to blame
by Anita Inder Singh
A
T first it may seem surprising that extremists inspired by Pakistan had a hand in the London bombings of 7/7 last year and the recent attempts to blow up aeroplanes leaving British airports for the United States. For Pakistan has since long been a Western ally. In the 1950s Pakistan started receiving military aid from the US; it became a member of SEATO and the British-sponsored CENTO. 

MIDDLE

Tolerance unlimited
by A.J. Philip
L
EGAL luminary Fali S. Nariman was the chief guest at a seminar on secularism on a sultry Sunday at St. Columba’s School in New Delhi where I, too, was called upon to speak.

OPED

Democracy denied
Allow student elections in Punjab
by Sarbjit Dhaliwal
S
TUDENTS in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh and other parts of the country will shortly elect their student bodies, in order to have a decisive say in the affairs of the academic institutions in which they are enrolled.

Start adapting to climate change
by Frances Cairncross

A
LMOST all the discussion of climate change up to now has been about prevention, which, though important, is not enough. Climate change is going to happen, and we need to think more about adapting to it.

A politician with old world charm
by Nandana Reddy
O
NLY a few people in one’s life leave an indelible mark, like a dye on fabric. M. S. Appa Rao, or MS to friends even 40 years younger, was one such.

From the pages of

 
 REFLECTIONS

 

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Wheat imports
Waiving of duty may not help much

THE UPA government’s decision to waive the 5 per cent import duty on wheat is unlikely to cool the prices. The step, described by traders as too late, is aimed to help biscuit and bread manufacturers import wheat. In the past six months the wheat prices have surged from Rs 800 a quintal to Rs 1,035. Since the global wheat prices are higher than those in the domestic market, wheat imports at zero import duty are unlikely to ease the situation. Apart from a steep hike in the oil prices, the common man has to pay heavily for pulses too. The imports of pulses—although limited in quantity— too have not brought down their prices significantly.

The government is to blame squarely for the present situation. First, it woke up late to the shortage of wheat. It was in February this year that it announced wheat imports. It was the first time in six years that the country had to import wheat and the announcement took everyone by surprise. The Centre overestimated the foodgrain stocks in private hands. Even when it was realised that the country had 92 lakh tonnes of wheat as against a requirement of 140 to 150 lakh tonnes, sufficient imports were not contracted in time before the global prices escalated.

Wheat production has been dipping after setting a record in 2000. This is partly due to the declining quality of soil in Punjab and Haryana resulting in lower productivity and partly due to a shift to other crops. The demand for wheat, on the other hand, has gone up, particularly in the South. The FCI failed to procure enough wheat as traders lifted stocks at higher rates. The Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act has been amended to allow private companies to buy wheat direct from farmers. Now it is proposed to limit the stocks with private companies. Only special incentives to farmers to produce more coupled with imports, when need be, and a sound public distribution system can keep the dal-roti within the reach of the poor. The rise in the prices of wheat and dals shows the Centre cannot afford to be complacent as it has been for some time.

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Anything for justice
J&K sex accused must be punished

RIGHT from the start, the Jammu and Kashmir sex scandal was unfolding in such a way that there were grave doubts whether a free and fair trial would be possible. To begin with, the senior positions that the accused occupied in government and in social life made sure that they evaded thorough scrutiny. Later, the violence that erupted against the crime shifted the pendulum to the other extreme, with the accused failing to get any lawyer and even facing threat to life. Under the circumstances, the Supreme Court no choice but to shift the case to Chandigarh. Such transfer of a trial outside a state is a rare occurrence but there are several instances of this. The most prominent one is the Best Bakery case which is now being heard in Maharashtra instead of Gujarat.

Highly obnoxious and reprehensible that the exploitation of women, and even minor girls, by persons in high places is, the role played by advocates in the case is unjustified. They first issued a boycott call, so that those accused of being involved in the case do not get legal help. They then made unfounded allegations against the CBI saying that it was deliberately not arresting the accused. To make matters worse, they gave a political colour to a social evil when the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association issued a press release saying that “it would show to the entire world the real face of India in Kashmir”. No wonder, it has been given a severe dressing-down by the apex court.

Indeed, it is only in a country like India that such assertions are made and heard. A bar association had no business to behave like an irresponsible trade union and inject divisive politics into the ugly affair. One just hopes that the remarks of the Supreme Court will have the desired effect on the lawyers and they would make allegations with a modicum of responsibility in the future. Now that the trial is to be held in Chandigarh, the eyes of the country will be on the case. That the guilty in the sex scandal should be given severe punishment goes without saying. The crime that has been committed is the most heinous. Just as allowing the accused to get away lightly because they happened to be among the who’s who would have been grossly wrong, intimidating them or depriving them of legal aid would also fall under the same category.

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One more Day
Honour your teacher to honour yourself

ONE more Teacher’s Day has come and gone. There were the usual platitudes about the role teachers play in moulding the future of the country. But does it occur to anyone how much value the teacher holds in today’s society? If salaries are anything to go by, how well-placed the teachers are vis-à-vis software writers, bureaucrats, marketing executives and other professionals? They would certainly be at the rock bottom. And they are the ones who have to impart knowledge and skills in the new generation so that they become citizens who will do the nation proud. Is it any wonder that few choose teaching as their calling? It is the rejects who could not or are unable to find a place in other professions who finally land in the teaching profession. What good can society expect from such people whose heart is not in teaching?

Forget the fact that the salaries of the teachers are low, they are the first whose salaries are stopped when a government faces a financial crunch. There are schools in the private sector which boast of even air-conditioned classrooms but when it comes to paying salaries to their teachers they are more niggardly than even the government. Worse, for every school that pays a decent salary, there are countless others where teachers sign on higher salary vouchers but get far less in hand. As for security of service, they are compelled to banish such thoughts. For most teachers, teaching is only one of the things they have to do. They are also supposed to do enumeration of voters, conduct surveys for government, supervise midday meals and line up school children when VIPs visit their area.

A society is known by the manner in which it treats its teachers. The case of Ekalavya apart, the puranas are replete with instances when teachers like Dronacharya commanded respect and their words were law. Instead of respect, teachers today evoke sympathy. All this will change for the better if teachers are given higher salaries so that the profession attracts the best talent. Decisions like increasing the retirement age of schoolteachers from 60 to 62 as in Delhi are a step in the right direction, provided states like Kerala, where they retire at the age of 55, follow suit.

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Thought for the day

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. — Abraham Lincoln

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No end to terrorism
Pak army and nationalism are to blame
by Anita Inder Singh

AT first it may seem surprising that extremists inspired by Pakistan had a hand in the London bombings of 7/7 last year and the recent attempts to blow up aeroplanes leaving British airports for the United States. For Pakistan has since long been a Western ally. In the 1950s Pakistan started receiving military aid from the US; it became a member of SEATO and the British-sponsored CENTO. And during the Cold War it was regarded by the West as an anti-communist ally, which, unlike nonaligned India, refrained from being a nuisance by not lecturing the West about the international insecurity fostered by military alliances. Pakistan has also been the third largest recipient of American military largesse, after Israel and Egypt.

However, almost five years after the US and Pakistan joined forces in hunting down Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in north-western Pakistan, extremist violence sponsored by Pakistan has increased in Afghanistan, suggesting that NATO forces there may have embarked on an steep climb. American and UN officials — and General Musharraf himself — have said that extremists have crossed over from Pakistan into Afghanistan.

The 9/11 Commission Report on terrorism highlighted Pakistan’s prominent role in promoting terrorism. Since 2001 Pakistan’s alliance with the US has not induced Islamabad to renounce extremism as an instrument of state policy, either in Afghanistan or in the Indian part of Kashmir.

Why does Pakistan train extremists? The explanation may lie in two main factors — Pakistan’s definition as an Islamic nation-state, and the political illegitimacy of its military rulers who have dominated its politics for much of its history.

Pakistan was carved out of British India in August 1947 as a nation-state in the literal sense of an alignment of the religious nation and territory, as a Muslim homeland in South Asia. Since then weak civilian politicians, like illegitimate military rulers, have played the religious card to mobilise political support. Even elected rulers have had to display credentials as “true” Muslims; indeed the Taliban, created by the late General Zia-ul-Haq, was sustained by the Government of Pakistan’s best-known politician, Ms Benazir Bhutto. The idea that the religious nation is — or should be — a monolithic whole creates a problem by preventing or restricting the intellectual and political choice innate in democracy. And, lacking legitimacy, Pakistan’s military rulers have forged an alliance with religious extremists to shore up their political and moral standing.

This alliance has had domestic and international fallout. Pakistan inherited, and continued with, an authoritarian tradition from the British. Pakistan’s weak politicians were unable to heal sectarian and regional divisions, which made it difficult for them to frame a constitution for a democratic Pakistan. In fact, Ayub Khan’s coup took place only two years after the promulgation of Pakistan’s first constitution in 1956. Since Pakistan’s birth no elected government has ever completed its term in office; and since 1958, all have held office at the pleasure of the army.

The military appeared as the only power capable of patching up the country’s divisions and introducing better governance, but the reality was more complex. The military acquired control over domestic and foreign policy, the budget, and powers of patronage in both state and private sectors.

Pakistan’s creation was rooted in opposition to India, which has been branded as a permanent enemy. Pakistan’s determination to get Kashmir separated from India meant that, on an average, 6 per cent of Pakistan’s GDP has been spent on defence. This, combined with the military’s wish to acquire legitimacy, has motivated it to foster extremist groups. To embarrass India, Pakistan backed insurgencies in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, and the image of India as the eternal foe led the military to conceive of extremist attacks to embarrass, weaken and, hopefully, to defeat India.

At another level, after the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan some mujahideen returned home to Pakistan and searched for new causes to wage jihad. Pakistan became a well-known base for several terrorist organisations. They included the Lashkar-e-Toiba, and the Jaish-e-Muhammad (which at one time was patronised by General Musharraf, before it turned against him after 2001). These organisations were described by the UN as “belonging to or associated with” the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

One domestic aspect of the alliance between the military and clergy is the promotion of militant Islam in madarsas. At least 10 to 15 per cent of the madarsas, often funded by Saudi Arabia, promoted militant forms of Islam. In June 2004 General Musharraf himself admitted that many madarsas were involved in militancy and extremism.

Not surprisingly there is considerable anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. Two-thirds of Pakistanis favour the fusion of religion and politics. About 45 per cent of them have confidence in Osama bin Laden’s ability “to do the right thing” in international affairs, and half of them think that the US is bent upon world domination. Meanwhile, having spent years persuading many Pakistanis of the righteousness of jihad against Pakistan’s enemies, Pakistan’s rulers cannot suddenly tell them that it is unnecessary to fight it, especially with much of Kashmir still in Indian hands and Western troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the meantime, General Musharraf’s inability to practice inclusive politics, and the absence of political forces opposed to Islamic militancy have emboldened and empowered Pakistan’s jihadis. General Musharraf has professed the politics of moderation but there are few signs that this is the norm in Pakistani politics. Perhaps this is because even the “moderation” — whatever that means — is constricted by the ideology of the religious nation-state and the need to appear to be putting it into practice.

Is General Musharraf committed to rooting out terrorism in Pakistan? Since he himself has been the target of militant attacks it is reasonable to assume that he is. On the other, hand, he seems unable or unwilling to eliminate Taliban supporters from the army and intelligence services, whose role in politics has become institutionalised. So, he is prone to justifying militant activities in India’s Jammu and Kashmir as those of “indigenous insurgents” rather than terrorists. Once again, he is bound by the religious definition of the Pakistani state.

Religion, anti-Indian, anti-Israel and anti-Western sentiments are integral components of Pakistani nationalism. And fragmented political parties have enhanced General Musharraf’s appeal. Democracy is probably not in great demand in Pakistan, or the extent of that demand is unknown. The General recognises the extremist threat but cannot bring himself to dispense with militants in politics. So, it is unlikely that Pakistan will stop exporting terrorism. The best defence for liberal, culturally diverse societies is to strengthen the channels and institutions for dialogue, mediation and reconciliation, even as they try to fight terrorism militarily.

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Tolerance unlimited
by A.J. Philip

LEGAL luminary Fali S. Nariman was the chief guest at a seminar on secularism on a sultry Sunday at St. Columba’s School in New Delhi where I, too, was called upon to speak.

Most of the people who filled the auditorium had come to hear the brilliant barrister, who had just been nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

He sat through the whole programme where representatives of major religions spoke on how they viewed secularism. When his turn came to speak, Nariman clutched at a sheaf of papers he had brought in a file as he took position behind the lectern.

When many others spoke extempore and effortlessly drifted away from the subject, he read out from the prepared text. I wondered why a lawyer of such eminence, whose voice often resonates in the Supreme Court, needed a text to deliver a speech.

He dwelt on the constitutional aspect of secularism and quoted article and schedule to argue his point that secularism was one of the basic tenets of the Constitution.

It was a surprise that he found time to prepare the speech when every minute he spends on a case translates into thousands of rupees. The speech brought home the point that he was methodical and he measured every word he uttered.

After he finished each page he would put it in the open drawer under the lectern. He was so engrossed in his talk that he did not realise that a pedestal fan on the dais was blowing away the loose sheets of speech from the drawer.

Of course, for his convenience, one of the ushers on duty had sprung up to the occasion to catch the papers and put them in order to be handed over to him at the end of his speech.

There were occasions when he turned extempore to narrate an anecdote or crack a joke to keep the goings as lively as possible. One such anecdote referred to a case the Supreme Court had decided on August 11, 1986.

V.J. Emmanuel had approached the apex court against an order of the Kerala High Court upholding the expulsion of his daughters Bina Mole and Bindu from the government school where they studied.

They belonged to a Christian sect called Jehovah’s Witness, whose adherents practise political neutrality, do not join military service, refuse to sing the national anthem or salute the national flag. They do not use any images or icons, not even the cross, do not allow blood transfusions and call God by his Hebrew name.

Every day when the national anthem was sung in the school, the two teenaged girls, too, would stand up like other students. Of course, they did not sing because their religion proscribed it but they did not show any disrespect to the anthem or the flag.

The school authorities felt that the girls should fall in line or face expulsion, a view shared by the High Court. However, the Supreme Court took a liberal approach and struck down the High Court order with these ringing words, “Our tradition teaches tolerance, our philosophy teaches tolerance, our Constitution practises tolerance, let us not dilute it”.

Everyone in the auditorium was so moved by the anecdote with which he concluded his erudite address that the whole gathering gave him a long, standing ovation.

Every time I hear demands that singing Vande Mataram be made compulsory, I remember Fali S. Nariman’s rendering of the celebrated case which would do the Supreme Court proud for all time to come.

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Democracy denied
Allow student elections in Punjab
by Sarbjit Dhaliwal

STUDENTS in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh and other parts of the country will shortly elect their student bodies, in order to have a decisive say in the affairs of the academic institutions in which they are enrolled.

But no such thing will happen in Punjab. Elections of student bodies in Punjab’s academic institutions were banned in 1983, in the backdrop of militancy. No one has bothered to restore the electoral process in these institutions over the past 23 years. They have thus stifled a flow of young leaders with no political families to back them, into the political mainstream. There are about 300 colleges providing technical and non-technical education, which are affiliated to one of the five Universities in the state.

Political activity in Chandigarh colleges also remained suspended until a few years ago. The electoral process on the Panjab University campus and in all its affiliated colleges in Chandigarh was restored in 1997. Students had to resort to agitations to get their right to elect their student bodies restored in their respective institutions in the City Beautiful.

Punjab was neck deep in turmoil from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. And it was the prime reason to suspend the electoral process in the educational institutions in the state. During these two decades, the All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) used to call the shots in almost all the educational institutions. All other students organizations were reduced to virtually nothing because the AISSF had the backing of most of the militant organizations operating in the region then. In fact, the AISSF was an over ground front organisation of most militant bodies.

The circumstances were such the Government had put on hold the elections even of other institutions such as panchayats, zila parishads, and at times also of the State Assembly. Punjab witnessed many bouts of President’s rule then.

But that is a thing of past. The violent era has been consigned to the pages of the history. Normalcy has been restored in the state. And elections of all institutions including Punjab Assembly, Zila Parishads, Village Panchayats, Municipal Committees, Municipal Corporations, and Co-operative institutions have been held in recent years without any trouble. And people take part in the electoral process without any fear. The AISSF, which fragmented into several factions since the 1990s, has itself become a part of the state’s democratic process and its leaders have either formed their own parties or become part of other Akali political outfits.

But, unfortunately, electoral process has not been restored in colleges and universities of the state. Interestingly, elections of various teacher bodies of all universities in Punjab are held regularly.

The silence of leading political parties with regard to the resumption of the democratic electoral process in educational institutions is intriguing. Political leaders, who otherwise never waste the opportunity to use youth power to their political advantage, have never raised this issue for the past several years.

The major factor, perhaps, is that most of the political leaders are busy in building up and brightening the political future of their own kith and kin. Such leaders do not want the restoration of political activity in educational institutions. Emergence of leaders among students through the electoral process can become a formidable challenge to kith and kin of big time politicians, who have been investing huge sums of money to make the political fortune of their sons. The quality of youth leaders emerging from the natural process of electoral politics will certainly be better than the “political sons” who are out to impose their leadership on people with the money power of their political fathers.

Before Punjab was caught in the vortex of violence in 80s, its student politics was a force to reckon with. In fact, the Punjab Students Union (PSU) was the most powerful student organization when Giani Zail Singh was Chief Minister of the state in the early 1970s. The Students Federation of India (SFI) and the All India Students Federation (AISF) were two other important student organizations operating in Punjab. These bodies had their units in almost all colleges and Universities till 1980 when the All India Sikh Students Federation eclipsed all such student organizations. These student bodies used to take part in elections in various institutions directly and indirectly.

“It is highly desirable to restore the electoral process in the Universities and colleges in Punjab”, says Mr Malwinder Singh Malli, who remained active on the student-front for several years. By and large the present generation of students is devoid of social and political concerns. The new generation of students is mesmerised by the market economy and its glamourised projection through beauty contests, fashion parades, star-studded cultural shows and food-melas and un-analysed growth rates. “Re-introduction of electoral politics will help sensitise students about social issues, problems, realities of vote politics, academic issues and internal functioning of educational institutions”, says Mr Malli.

There is no violent activity in Punjab’s educational institutions now. And the atmosphere is conducive to hold student elections. When other political activities have been restored why should students be denied the same, opines Dr Chaman Lal, a leading academician in Delhi. If elections of student bodies can be held in violence-ridden states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, why not Punjab, where peace prevails, adds Dr Chaman.

The student politics of this region has made many leaders. To name a few: Mr Pawan Bansal, Mr Venod Sharma, Mr Jagmeet Brar, Mr Jagmohan Kang, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, and Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra. The participation of students in the electoral process at the institution level will sharpen their minds and make them analyse various issues more rationally and critically. Students should not be denied their democratic right.

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Start adapting to climate change
by Frances Cairncross

ALMOST all the discussion of climate change up to now has been about prevention, which, though important, is not enough. Climate change is going to happen, and we need to think more about adapting to it.

Climate change will affect different countries in different ways. It will be harsh for India and sub-Saharan Africa. But a sunny Siberia might delight Russia. If swathes of Arctic ice melts, it will be easier to extract the oil and gas reserves - perhaps one-quarter of the world’s remaining buried stocks, much of them on Russian territory.

So striking a global deal will be difficult. It is not a question of persuading America to sign up to Kyoto - it won’t - or even of extending that largely ineffectual agreement. Even with the best will in the world, we do not yet have the technology to prevent global warming from occurring.

A recent study by the International Energy Agency reckoned that the speedy introduction of best practice in energy conservation and in substitutes for fossil fuels would not be enough to prevent some continuing rise in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.

The trouble is, our living standards are inextricably related to our use of energy, and especially to fossil fuel. Of course, we can increase energy from renewables such as wind and solar power. But these account for about only 2 per cent of world electricity generation today - whereas coal accounts for about 40 per cent. Coal will dominate, especially in China and India, for the foreseeable future. Carbon capture and storage is going to be essential here, but the technology has hardly begun to be used commercially.

Energy conservation could reduce the prospective rise in emissions more sharply than any other known technology. But the lags are long: many of the technologies we use today were invented a century ago.

So some climate change looks likely to occur, whatever we do. We should therefore think more about adapting to hotter weather. Adaptation sounds brutal: and indeed meaningless, if you live in Bangladesh. But we need to think now about policies that prepare for a warmer world.

What might they be? Flood defences and tough rules about building on flood plains are obvious; so is better insulation against heat as well as cold, and more covered and sheltered spaces in public areas, to protect against both the sun and the probability of more rain.

Developing countries will need crops and trees that will thrive in hotter temperatures and drier conditions - that should be a research priority for aid agencies. And species such as plants and trees will need protected corridors running north-south along which they can spread to move away from insupportably warm weather.

We should not abandon attempts to slow global warming. The danger of disruptive change will increase, the greater the atmospheric concentration of warming gases. But we should equally not pretend that we can prevent climate change. It’s going to happen, and we need to be ready for it.

The writer is president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and Rector of Exeter College, Oxford University

— By arrangement with The Independent

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A politician with old world charm
by Nandana Reddy

M. S. Appa Rao,
M. S. Appa Rao

ONLY a few people in one’s life leave an indelible mark, like a dye on fabric. M. S. Appa Rao, or MS to friends even 40 years younger, was one such.

He was a wonderful human being: compassionate, warm, brimming with generosity and hospitality, politically active, an avid art collector, a veteran tennis player, publisher, photographer, lawyer and much else. He took a big broad view of life and exulted in all its facets.

Born (April 11, 1923) a zamindar, MS remained that, in the best sense of the term, even as he evolved from a student activist during the Quit India Movement to a progressive socialist ever in touch with those on the ground as well as the high and mighty. A close associate of Lohia and core member of the Socialist Party, MS had his own vision of a New India in post-Independence politics. Champion of many causes, from education and social development to civil liberties, political freedoms and public sector accountability, he was no less passionate about the arts, photography, wild life and tennis.

His protests against the Emergency in 1975 saw him tagged with the Baroda Dynamite Case accused and jailed in Bangalore along with L.K Advani, Madhu Limaye, Madhu Dandavate, Ramakrishna Hegde and Snehalata Reddy. As a member of the Janata Party, for all practical purposes he was the Party and its address in Madras. He has served as Chairman of Hindustan Photo Films and on the board of Indian Airlines.

MS had the knack of bringing together people from diverse social and political streams and keeping alive animated debates on a range of issues. His was an open house, warm and inviting. His face would light up with joy at the sight of each visitor — adult or child, famous or unknown, rich or poor — and there were unexpected guests for every meal. You could sit for lunch with prominent industrialists and have dinner with a trade unionist. Advani could be sipping tea with dancer Yamini Krishnamurthy, while MS discussed the finer points of the US Open with tennis ace Ramanathan Krishnan.

He had the potential to become a professional, but as Krishnan said, “His qualities of generosity and gentlemanliness held him back”.

Some 30 years ago, MS had a ‘mobile’ phone — of black bakelite, with an endlessly long cord that trailed a him everywhere in the house or lawn. Every morning he would sit with his phone and start making his 300-odd calls connecting to politicians and ministers of all hues, journalists, wild life enthusiasts, artists, tennis players, lawyers, family members and friends. Like the phone, his appendage outdoors was his camera; no automatics, only the good old Leica, Nikon or Hasselblad. Over a span of 50 years, his photographs are a commentary on cultural, political and social happenings.

M. S. Appa Rao’s demise symbolises the passing of a generation that epitomised old world charm and grace, chivalry, deep-rooted democratic values and a humane lust for life.

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From the pages of

January 15, 1979

BANISHMENT, NO LESS

HAVING failed to pacify the country with force and a series of holding operations, including the establishment of a civil administration under a Prime Minister not known to be the monarch’s stooge, the Shah of Iran faces what has appeared inevitable for some time. By whatever name his departure from the country is described, it will not be a holiday trip but banishment under a respectable label. The Shah’s most powerful opponent, Ayatollah Khomeini, who has not changed his stance, is still asking for the end of the monarchy and the establishment of an Islamic republic. He and his very articulate followers will not cease to be troublesome for the Council of Regency. In these circumstances the future of Iran will remain unsure. In fact the earlier agitation against the Shah and his family could well take another and no less bloody form.

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Take good care of your slave. You do not know what great passions fiercely scorch his chest. Were you a slave yourself, vain would be your wrath and righteous passion, and the inability would create a raging fire in the mind.
— The Mahabharata

This wise King does not seek war. He seeks first to converse, to dialogue, to parley. For a war destroys more than the king. It also decimates the hapless population, the cattle and the fields full of grain.
— The Mahabharata

When we all see God in each other, we will love one another as 
He loves us all.
— Mother Teresa

Most people don’t aim too high and miss, they aim too low and hit.
— Bob Moawad

The meaning of my life is the love of God.
— Mother Teresa 

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