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EDITORIALS

Pact with Taliban
Pakistan exposes its own game plan
P
AKISTAN President Pervez Musharraf has exposed his real game plan vis-à-vis the Taliban by signing with it an agreement at Miranshah, North Waziristan. The pact reportedly has it that Taliban militants will spare Pakistani security forces and government assets, and in return all check-posts in the areas bordering Afghanistan will be removed. The arrested Taliban activists will be released with the promise not to put them behind bars again.

Octroi goes in Punjab
Make municipalities efficient
A
FTER dithering for too long, the Punjab Government abolished octroi from September 1. There was a strong case against octroi. Truckers were required to halt for paying octroi before entering every town. This always delayed the movement of goods and pushed up the cost of transportation. Trucks parked haphazardly caused accidents and traffic blockades. 



 

 

EARLIER STORIES

Gandhi to Osama
September 11, 2006
Commercialisation of water must stop: Pandey
September 10, 2006
Courting disaster
September 9, 2006
Tale of Telgi
September 8, 2006
PM’s anguish
September 7, 2006
Wheat imports
September 6, 2006
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


Double delight
Leander Paes does it again
E
NDING a long title drought, the redoubtable Leander Paes has done it again. Partnering with Czech Republic’s Martin Damm, the Goa born Kolkatan powered his way to his seventh Grand Slam title, and celebrated it in the ebullient and expressive style fans have come to enjoy, by jumping right into his partner’s arms.
ARTICLE

Inequities in new China
Rulers have yet to make peace with Mao
by S. Nihal Singh
A
S I stood in a queue outside Mao Zedong’s mausoleum in the Tiananmen Square, I was struck by the torn and frayed jacket of the man standing in front of me. He had obviously been untouched by the Chinese economic boom. On leaving the hall containing the mummified body of Mao, I noticed another phenomenon. Most of the Chinese who had gathered at the shop selling Mao memorabilia were less affluent than the Chinese I had met.

 
MIDDLE

Changing tracks 
by Rooma Mehra
L
AST month, my sister and I finally changed our evening walk track from the S-block to the R-block park.

 
OPED

Solar future
India should pay attention to alternative fuels
by Madanjeet Singh
V
ESTIGES of the Cold War in United States policy towards India are evident from the manner in which American lawmakers have been shifting the so-called goal posts of the July 18 2005 agreement with US President George Bush. The US government has no intention of admitting India into the exclusive club of the five nuclear weapon states or as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. On the other hand, agreements that allow US agencies and companies to sell India nuclear fuel and outdated technology perfectly suit their commercial interests.

Conspiracies: “ideology of the impotent”
by Johann Hari
W
E are living in a Golden Age of conspiracy theories. Some 36 per cent of American citizens — more than the number who voted for either Kerry or Bush — believe it is “likely” or “very likely” the US government staged the attack on the World Trade Centre themselves to justify eternal war. Fat majorities all over the developing world agree.

DELHI DURBAR
Nominated MPs’ grievance

Members of Parliament who have been nominated rather than elected to Parliament have a grievance. They feel they are being treated as second class members with regard to allocation of time for speaking. This was revealed by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani, a nominated Rajya Sabha MP, while arguing the case of MPs expelled in the cash-for-query scam in the
Supreme Court.

  • Real world challenge

  • Public Relations for gurus

From the pages of

 
 REFLECTIONS

 

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Pact with Taliban
Pakistan exposes its own game plan

PAKISTAN President Pervez Musharraf has exposed his real game plan vis-à-vis the Taliban by signing with it an agreement at Miranshah, North Waziristan. The pact reportedly has it that Taliban militants will spare Pakistani security forces and government assets, and in return all check-posts in the areas bordering Afghanistan will be removed. The arrested Taliban activists will be released with the promise not to put them behind bars again. This is a clear case of providing sanctuary to the forces wedded to violence. There could not be a greater blow to peace at a time when the world is not prepared to give any concession to terrorists and their sympathisers.

The alarming development came about soon after General Musharraf assured the Hamid Karzai government in Kabul that “we are with you (in the fight) against the Taliban and Al-Qaida”. This proves once again that what Pakistan under General Musharraf does has nothing to do with what it promises. For some time the Taliban remnants have intensified their attacks on NATO and Afghanistan security forces. Their areas of influence have been increasing despite all the efforts to eliminate them by the US-led international coalition against terrorism. Pakistan’s hidden support to the extremists is the main factor behind this ugly reality. Taliban cadres have been having unrestricted access to Pakistan’s border towns and villages, using them as sanctuaries. Pakistani troops look the other way when they notice the movement of Taliban fighters.

The Pakistan-Taliban pact will legalise the stay of the Taliban remnants in at least North Waziristan. Now they will have more space and facilities to regroup themselves. This is the best arrangement the Taliban could hope for. Funds are not a problem for the extremists, thanks to the ISI and a bumper opium crop in the areas where they have their bases in Afghanistan. The Pakistan government is refusing to snap its links with the Taliban, contrary to its promises to the world, with a view to using it to contain India’s influence in Afghanistan. But the world cannot afford to take it likely, as helping the Taliban means allowing an arm of Al-Qaida to sustain itself. Terrorists do not deserve this kind of treatment whatever the compulsions. They must be tackled in the interest of peace and stability. Their sympathisers too should be given exemplary punishment.

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Octroi goes in Punjab
Make municipalities efficient

AFTER dithering for too long, the Punjab Government abolished octroi from September 1. There was a strong case against octroi. Truckers were required to halt for paying octroi before entering every town. This always delayed the movement of goods and pushed up the cost of transportation. Trucks parked haphazardly caused accidents and traffic blockades. Often the police and the municipal staff harassed drivers and demanded bribes from the traders. With the abolition of octroi, a corruption-riddled system has now come to an end. Traders and truck drivers should feel relieved now. Besides, with the imposition of VAT, local taxes like octrio had lost any relevance.

The only opposition to the move to abolish octroi had come from the municipal staff. However, the government has made it clear that the staff engaged in octroi collection will not be retrenched. This should pacify them. The general public too stands to gain as with the axing of octroi the prices of goods like garments, bikes, electronic items and fruits should come down. This has not happened so far. It seems traders have not shared the benefits of octroi abolition with the general public. The government has clarified that octroi will be charged as before on petrol and diesel, electricity and liquor.

This leads to the crucial questions: will the municipalities starve of funds? Will lack of funds hit urban development? The government has decided to create a Punjab Municipal Fund and 10 per cent of the value added tax collected in the state will go to this fund. This comes to about Rs 550 crore. Removal of encroachments on public lands can yield substantial sums of money. The municipalities too need to cut their wasteful expenditure, axe surplus staff and prune overheads so that public money is used more efficiently on providing the citizens better facilities. 

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Double delight
Leander Paes does it again

ENDING a long title drought, the redoubtable Leander Paes has done it again. Partnering with Czech Republic’s Martin Damm, the Goa born Kolkatan powered his way to his seventh Grand Slam title, and celebrated it in the ebullient and expressive style fans have come to enjoy, by jumping right into his partner’s arms. His last Grand Slam men’s doubles was in 2001, with Mahesh Bhupathi. He and Mahesh had done it twice earlier, in a glory-filled 1999, when they made every Grand Slam doubles finals, finally winning both the Wimbledon and the French Open. Paes has also won the mixed doubles three times — twice with Martina Navratilova and once, in 1999, with Lisa Raymond.

The singles championships will always be considered the ultimate in professional tennis achievement, but the doubles games must be given their due. There are singles sports, there are team sports, and there are team sports where the players play for themselves. But there is something unique about the partnership that underlines a doubles game, where the individual simply cannot shine without complementing the partner’s strengths, off-setting his or her weaknesses, and playing in perfect sync. People had given up on Paes after his split with Bhupathi, but Sunday’s win will again put him in contention for a game he has made his own.

Paes is from a sporting family that knew all about winning partnerships. While mom Jennifer has captained the Indian basket ball team at the Asian Basketball Championships, dad Vece was a midfielder in the Indian hockey team that won a bronze in the 1971 Olympics at Munich. The image of Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi thumping chests in gladiatorial fashion, after every single point won on the court, is something that every Indian tennis fan cherishes. While time may be running out for him for the big singles win, Leander has shown that there can be as much joy in playing, and winning, as a happy twosome.

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Thought for the day

Those who believe that they are exclusively in the right are generally those who achieve something.
— Aldous Huxley

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Inequities in new China
Rulers have yet to make peace with Mao
by S. Nihal Singh

AS I stood in a queue outside Mao Zedong’s mausoleum in the Tiananmen Square, I was struck by the torn and frayed jacket of the man standing in front of me. He had obviously been untouched by the Chinese economic boom. On leaving the hall containing the mummified body of Mao, I noticed another phenomenon. Most of the Chinese who had gathered at the shop selling Mao memorabilia were less affluent than the Chinese I had met.

My Chinese guide — a Foreign Office official — gave me another glimpse into Chinese reality. When he went to school, he said, some of his schoolmates did not own a single pair of shoes. As China officially observed the 30th anniversary of Mao’s death in a low key last Saturday, I was reminded of my encounter with the other China, and how Mao — unfashionable as he has become — is now the icon of the poor and the less affluent.

I had returned to China after a gap of some 20 years. The days of the wall posters were long over, and Deng Xiaoping ruled with his famous dictum of “it is glorious to be rich”. The wall posters were a fading memory, Pudong, Shanghai’s twin, shone like a brash new beacon beckoning China to the brave new world. During a visit to the offices of the People’s Daily in Beijing I was presented with a beautiful silk scarf.

After Mao’s death, China had officially pronounced that he was 70 per cent right and 30 per cent wrong. China has moved on — spectacularly in many respects. Mao has been replaced by a president and prime minister who could grace the boardrooms of any large corporation. The Mao era is over. Yet he was too overwhelming a presence, and too recent to ignore and the new inequities of China’s breakneck economic development have served to highlight Mao’s relevance to those outside the ambit of new affluence.

We live in a non-ideological age in which ideology has been hijacked by the likes of American neoconservatives. For China, the Deng dictum is what counts, and by any criterion, its progress and development have been spectacular. Mao’s anniversary, however, is a reminder that in its efforts to get rich quickly, China has lost something of the old élan and the compassion of the past, despite the horrors of the Cultural Revolution and the built-in tyrannies of the communist system.

Is China in danger of losing its moral compass, having embraced capitalism with fervour? The official creed of communism is a mere shell and the loss of a comforting ideology, however cruel its actual practice, has given rise to such cults as the Falun Gong spiritual movement, officially detested, because getting rich by itself cannot provide an ideology, as the West has been discovering. Nationalism does service for ideology up to a point, but, as the Chinese have found out, useful as it is as in the new era, it poses dangers; excessive doses of it can hamper China’s diplomacy, particularly in relation to Japan.

The problem is that the new China has yet to make peace with Mao. The present Chinese leadership is shying away from the task because it is so arduous. Despite lone voices seeking to revisit the Tiananmen massacre, the official veil over the tragedy remains in place. There are simply too many taboos to demolish for official comfort and the nature of the new Chinese state is still wrapped up in the old clothes of communism — socialism with Chinese characteristics, to give it its official name - and former President Jiang Zemin’s efforts before departure have not been particularly helpful.

On the ideological plane, the problem is that the fantastic growth in Chinese economy and infrastructure has been undertaken within the ambit of the communist state. The American hope is that liberal economic policies and foreign direct investment, apart from the rising tourist graph, will lead to changes in the political system. Although the atmosphere in China is freer than it was in the days of Mao, the red lines are forcefully drawn and implemented. Perhaps the Chinese rulers’ model is Singapore, the nanny state, as it has been aptly described. Whether the vast land of China can replicate Singapore’s mix of economic liberalism with strict political controls is another matter. Singapore, of course, has the trappings of democracy.

Inconvenient as he might be for the present Chinese leaders, Mao encompasses an era that led to the formation of the People’s Republic and played a stellar role in stabilising the new communist state and carving out its distinct role out of the shadows of the Soviet Union. The ideological conflict between the two countries, which culminated in border skirmishes, was masterminded by Mao on the Chinese side.

In retrospect, the Chinese state was simply too large and different to remain a mirror image of the Soviet Union, convulsed for a time by Nitika Khrushchev’s denigration of Stalin. Chinese leaders waited till Mao’s death to begin a timid denigration of Mao, which has yielded place to a policy of benign neglect. Clearly, Mao does not fit into China’s present scheme of things.

The Cultural Revolution was certainly the most destructive of Mao’s policies, destroying the cream of the country’s intellectuals and depriving the young of many years of education, apart from causing numerous deaths. Other disruptive policies included the Anti-Rightist Campaign and the Great Leap Forward. In a sense, they were ego trips. Historically, those who exercise absolute power are often prey to visions of their own infallibility and a man bred in the cult of revolution was captivated by the concept of a permanent revolution.

But today’s Chinese leaders cannot forget that the source of their power — the Communist Party — is the same party that brought about the victory of the Chinese revolution. Although Mao might have succumbed to megalomania towards the end of his long rule, the problem for Chinese leaders in the 21st century is to enthuse people with a party that remains a shell of its former self. For the present, Deng’s philosophy propagating the glories of being rich holds sway. Mao might still provide an answer to President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiaobao if they are prepared honestly to discuss the Great Helsman’s legacy.

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Changing tracks 
by Rooma Mehra

LAST month, my sister and I finally changed our evening walk track from the S-block to the R-block park.

On our first day, we headed towards our new destination. I mentally bade adieu to our familiar green patch, so incongruous in the midst of the tightly parked disarray of multi-coloured cars on conquered or disputed parking spaces with their attached living spaces.

The green patch would issue an invitation, nonetheless, to our greenery-starved souls every evening in the years gone, stubbornly ignoring the reality of the walking track on the park periphery getting more and more crowded. In fact, the clamour for walking space was beginning to resemble the clamour for parking spaces outside of the green.

There were the senior citizens, mostly looking for some peace and quiet or those on the path of recovery after major health setbacks. They walked alone, as did the fitness freaks. Then, of course, the “housewives” invaded it in swarms, walking in linked gossiping groups. Serious walkers found it difficult, because such chained camaraderie was not to be broken, and “excuse-me’s” just bounced off their excited discussions.

Once when I was forced to trail on my sixth round behind the union of S-block housewives, looking in vain for a gap to pass through, I found one lady’s animated description of her special aaloo-bhajia still continuing from my first round. Before bursting in on the longish recipe, I wondered how she expected to lose weight if she cooked like that.

I also remembered that I had forgotten to eat lunch, and wondered if I was imagining whiffs of aaloo-bhajia aroma or whether a hurriedly eaten early breakfast and a forgotten lunch were making me hallucinate. The S-block housewives union was very distracting.

What made me suggest a switchover to a different park was the sudden entry of the cyclist brats. Most of my time and energy began to be spent in shoo-ing them off the track, in the interest of the senior citizens.

The complexion of walkers’ conversation changed so drastically with the changed park that I wondered at the wasted years in the little park. From Thomas Hardy’s classics to plans for collection of funds for Kargil martyrs, rhetoric against intruders and hijacking to problems in pension recovery, we discovered a whole new world. And this one had flowers, peacocks, parrots and even a stray monkey or two in it.

The decision for the switchover was sealed when on the fifth day of our shift; our soldiers’ march was accepted. Instead of the former slight frown and rise of eyebrows, we received a beam and a nod in acknowledgement, maybe because it was raining.

I filed the thought of visiting the old battlefield once a month — to clear it of cyclists — at the back of my mind, my energy levels having risen. Plus, a certain tremulous thanks of a limping senior walker kept appearing on the mind-screen out of nowhere, at the most inopportune moments of peaceful communion with a flower-bud or a new leaf.

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Solar future
India should pay attention to alternative fuels
by Madanjeet Singh

VESTIGES of the Cold War in United States policy towards India are evident from the manner in which American lawmakers have been shifting the so-called goal posts of the July 18 2005 agreement with US President George Bush. The US government has no intention of admitting India into the exclusive club of the five nuclear weapon states or as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. On the other hand, agreements that allow US agencies and companies to sell India nuclear fuel and outdated technology perfectly suit their commercial interests.

The United States has not built a nuclear power plant in more than three decades. All reactors ordered after 1973 were cancelled. Even at present, with all the incentives which the US administration is offering, the majority of senior utility executives in the United States do not want to take the risk of Chernobyl-type accidents. Nor do they want to build new nuclear plants unless the government guaranties full subsidy, with assurance that radioactive contamination will be prevented by opening several nuclear waste repositories, as reported in the International Herald Tribune dated 22 August 2006.

The French government with its large number of nuclear power reactors is already in a quandary, offering large sums of money for storage of its radioactive waste which no country is willing to accept. India hardly has the resources to spare that kind of money to subsidise new nuclear reactors and build the extremely expensive radioactive nuclear waste repositories.

I am firmly of the view that by the end of the century a solar energy economy will prevail, when fossil fuels would have been exhausted and nuclear power entrepreneurs would find it impossible to store mountains of radioactive waste.

I have visited several major solar energy projects in the remote and poorer regions of Africa, Australia, the Americas and Asia. An unforgettable experience was my visit to Inner Mongolia, where, driving mile after mile along the road in this vast, treeless landmass, I was amazed to see hundreds of small, hybrid, solar-energy systems – comprising a small wind turbine with a photovoltaic panel – installed on the roofs of houses and even on the top of yurts, which the nomads move seasonally with their animals. There I witnessed the ‘human face’ of solar energy, integrated with the environment, culture and traditions of the people.

In India, camels are often used to carry photovoltaic panels to remote and backward areas in the Rajasthan desert, such as Megh-wallon-ki-dhani, a village inhabited by marginalized people belonging to the schedule castes. The Sumitra Foundation has installed a number of photovoltaic solar systems to provide electricity for the 40 health and education centres in the remote tribal region of Bastar, now in Chhatisgarh.

The spin-off benefits of renewable energies are also of the greatest importance. Small and dispersed solar-energy projects in rural areas, including individual photovoltaic plants, biomass and small hydro facilities, have a cardinal role to play in halting the increasing rush to the cities by peasants living in the poorest regions.

Such projects, by virtue of their local and participatory nature, are also more ‘democratic’, tending to create new cooperative structures that resist the concentration of power in a few authoritarian hands as in the management of nuclear power plants. By promoting sustainable development based on partnership with nature, they protect the environment and favour the emergence of a culture of peace, which is inseparable from democracy and grassroots development.

Above all, the future of the solar energy economy depends on the development of fuel-cell technology, a remarkable demonstration of which I saw in Germany at the biogas-fuel-cell project of a waste-water plant on the banks of the river Rhine, at Cologne-Rodenkirchen. Here the city’s refuse is collected, converted into digester gas containing 62 per cent methane, from which hydrogen is produced to run a fuel-cell facility. This, Europe’s first regenerating fuel-cell plant, not only serves to electrify Rodenkirchen but also prevents helps control pollution of the River Rhine, in which the waste was previously dumped.

Earlier I had attended a meeting in Cambridge, UK, of motorcar manufacturers working on the development of fuel-cell technology. Dr. Stan Ovshinsky, Director, Energy Conversion Devices, USA, visualised that after fuel-cell engines have been sufficiently miniaturised for use in small vehicles, they could also be connected to generate electricity for residences, thus dispensing with grids for electricity. In fact, the scientists at this meeting from Japan, Germany and the United States, were all secretly working day and night, each probing to find out what others were doing without revealing the progress of their own research.

The first step on the road to a hydrogen-based economy was taken in 1998 at the Daimler-Benz plant in Germany where a prototype station wagon, ‘Necar II’, run on hydrogen energy, was launched. The commercial use of hydrogen-based engines by three red London buses plying between the Tower of London and Covent Garden is noteworthy. London is not alone. Hydrogen-powered bus projects are being prepared all over the world. From Cambridge to California, Norway to Nagoya, Perth to Porto, pilot schemes are being readied. This month Shell announced a partnership with the Dutch bus manufacturer MAN that will see 20 hydro-buses on the streets of Rotterdam by 2009.

It is high time that India, too, pays more attention to renewable solar energy, and catch up with the worldwide research in hydrogen-based fuel-cell technology by increasing government support, instead of going on a wild goose chase and beating about the ‘Bush’ for some outdated American nuclear equipment. Thanks to our very capable scientists, India can do without becoming subservient to any other country.

The writer has worked with UNESCO on solar energy and is the author of “The Timeless Energy of the Sun,”.

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Conspiracies: “ideology of the impotent”
by Johann Hari

WE are living in a Golden Age of conspiracy theories. Some 36 per cent of American citizens — more than the number who voted for either Kerry or Bush — believe it is “likely” or “very likely” the US government staged the attack on the World Trade Centre themselves to justify eternal war. Fat majorities all over the developing world agree.

Why this rise in shadow-politics? This could be a case for “X-files” detectives Mulder and Scully, but the first reason is slightly encouraging: a huge number of genuine conspiracies have been exposed over the past 30 years. Richard Nixon bugging and burgling his political opponents, while ordering secret coups to kill the elected Prime Minister of Chile and replace him with a fascist junta? It happened. A far-right plot by colonels and hacks at the heart of the British establishment to oust Prime Minister Harold Wilson? It happened. George Bush ordering an invasion of Iraq on the basis of fictitious Weapons of Mass Destruction? It happened.

Once real plots like this have been exposed, many people inevitably become radically sceptical - and some become so open-minded their brains fall out. They begin to believe that Donald Rumsfeld plotted to fly a plane into the building he was sitting in, or that Elizabeth Windsor has the power to order assassinations, and that nobody would ever leak it. David Shayler, the former MI5 spy who is the darling of the “9/11 Truth Movement” in Britain, says there were no planes flown into the World Trade Centre.

No, they “were missiles surrounded by holograms made to look like planes” - and cites Bush’s lies on Iraq as evidence that anything is possible.

Necessary scepticism towards power becomes credulousness towards any oppositional theory, however mad.

There are other, sadder explanations too. Conspiracy theories are the ideologies of the impotent. They are the political theory people turn to when they feel they have no control over events and no hope for change, but still pine for an over-arching and intellectually satisfying explanation for the state of the world. I can’t do anything - and it’s because These People control everything. That’s why conspiracy theories dominate the hushed political discussions that happen in tyrannies. And it’s why they have ballooned in popularity in the democratic world as trust in our political institutions has haemorrhaged over the past 50 years, and we increasingly feel subject to rulers we cannot influence.

But there is a deeper, almost-religious impulse behind conspiracy theories. They are a natural attempt to rebel against the cruel randomness of life. Patrick Leman, a psychology lecturer at Royal Holloway University, explains: “We tend to associate major events - a president or princess dying - with major causes. If we think big events like a president being assassinated can happen at the hands of a minor individual, that points to the unpredictability and randomness of life and unsettles us.”

So Diana’s death is a big event; it can’t have been caused by a drunk driver taking a wrong turn in a tunnel. So the massacres in Manhattan and Washington five years ago today were a huge event; they can’t have been the result of 17 Arabs working for a guy in a cave in Tora Bora. If we admit to ourselves that the very big can be wiped out by the unbearably small, then we have to admit the ground beneath our feet is very fragile.

By arrangement with The Independent

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DELHI DURBAR
Nominated MPs’ grievance

Members of Parliament who have been nominated rather than elected to Parliament have a grievance. They feel they are being treated as second class members with regard to allocation of time for speaking. This was revealed by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani, a nominated Rajya Sabha MP, while arguing the case of MPs expelled in the cash-for-query scam in the Supreme Court.

He said that nominated MPs are hardly given five minutes time to speak, most of which is spent on having one eye on the watch and the other on the presiding officer to see when he asks them to wrap up. Another legal luminary, Fali S Nariman, who till recently was a nominated Rajya Sabha MP, gave an approving nod. The House missed some good speeches of Nariman due to the miserly allocation of time to him, Jethmalani said.

Real world challenge

Member of Parliament Jaya Pradha was the cynosure of all eyes at a Parliamentarians meet to discuss the state of education. When a fellow panelist introduced her as a “former” cine star, she was quick to point out that while she remains committed to the cause of education, she continues to remain an actor. Sharing her experiences with her counterparts from Bangladesh and Pakistan, she said facing up to realities had been a challenge. Accustomed to the make-believe world of celluloid, she said, where it takes a minute to conjure up palatial houses, she was pained to see that in real life getting even a roof for a school was an ordeal.

Public Relations for gurus

It is not only the corporate sector but also religious gurus who are increasingly utilising the services of professional Public Relations companies to reach their disciples and enlarge their following. Perhaps the success of the media savvy Baba Ramdev and others on religious channels has inspired others to seek professional guidance to break into the print and electronic media.

Little known Acharya Shrimad Vijay Ratnasundersurishwarji Maharaj from Madhya Pradesh has hired a Public Relations firm and expressed his readiness to speak on any topic, be it politics, working women or culture. In attempting a makeover, the PR guys are spreading the word that Acharyaji has not “taken a bath for the past 40 years as he believes bathing could harm the bacteria present in the water! He washes his clothes once in 10-15 days for the same reason.” The PR folks are also quick to point out that Maharaj sahib does not use any electronic equipment such as a phone or TV and shuns modern comforts. So much for the gurus teaching moral hygiene.

Contributed by S S Negi, Smriti Kak Ramachandran and Manoj Kumar

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From the pages of

January 8, 1980

Indira Gandhi is back

TO say that Mrs Indira Gandhi’s triumph at the polls has exceeded her own and her party’s expectations is no exaggeration. Only the reckless optimists in her camp (and their number was limited) though that the Congress (I) would go beyond achieving the status of the largest single party. But Mrs Gandhi has done what appeared to be impossible even on the very eve of the poll.

There is no doubt whatsoever that it is Mrs Gandhi’s personal triumph more than her party’s performance which turned the election in favour of the Congress (I) could not possibly have fought with the purpose and resolve that marked its campaign. Call it “personality cult” or “hero worship”, Mrs Gandhi’s superiority as a national leader stands established in the public eye. Her campaign call that the country should choose a Government that will work was probably the most powerful appeal to the voter. The average citizen in this country leans heavily on the administration for solutions to a great many of his problems. This is no time for anyone to sulk or to be catty. If we believe in parliamentary democracy, the country’s verdict must be accepted with the thought that the better side won and that the rules of the game were by and large, obeyed.

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Madhyam (in the middle) are they who understand the speaker’s intent but do not act without explicit instructions.
— The Upanishads

Though a king may be bountiful, it does not behave a loyal subject to ask favours forever. When the needs are satisfied, one should desist and not keep increasing the needs and demands.
— The Mahabharata

Through His good will and love, we see His presence in all things and everywhere.
— Guru Nanak

Run to his (the Teacher) feet—he is standing close to your head right now. You have now. You have slept for millions and millions of years. Why not wake up this morning?
— Kabir

Adham (inferior) are they who in spite of receiving and understanding instructions, refuse to act.
— The Upanishad

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