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Perspective | Oped

Perspective

What ails the police?
Tackling the crux of the problem
by S. S. Dhanoa
T
here is an air of expectancy in the wake of what has been called as the pathbreaking judgement of the Supreme Court about the functioning of the police and the criminal justice system. Experts and professionals have hailed the judgement.

Where the politicians call the shots
by P.C. Dogra

T
oday, the police are accountable only to the political executive at the district or state level. There is absolutely no departmental accountability whatsoever. Had the police been accountable to the law, there would have been no terrorism in Punjab or secessionist movement in Jammu and Kashmir.



EARLIER STORIES

Code for babus
October 14, 2006
SC on pardon
October 13, 2006
Dangerous liaison
October 12, 2006
Regrouping of Taliban
October 11, 2006
It wasn’t a bluff
October 10, 2006
Tactical victory
October 9, 2006
Reform the cop
October 8, 2006
Poverty of Congress
October 7, 2006
South African safari
October 6, 2006
Respite in Lanka
October 5, 2006
Ban at the helm
October 4, 2006
President’s dilemma
October 3, 2006


On Record
Corrupt officers must be punished: Nanda
by V.Eshwar Anand
T
ACKLING corruption has been a big challenge for Mr Gopal Chandra Nanda, Director-General of Police (Vigilance), Orissa. He is indeed a crusader against corruption. Sincere and hard working, the 1974-batch IPS officer is regarded as a good role model. Wherever he worked, including a stint at Patna as DIG, CBI, he has created an indelible impression on his staff and the general public.

 

OPED

Helping the Punjabi farmer
by G.S. Sidhu
R
uchika M. Khanna’s series, “Life on the edges” (Sept 25-28) does not present a true picture of the generations-old socio-economic relationship between a Punjabi farmer and farm labourer. True, with mechanisation of agriculture, influx of cheap labour and changed socio-economic conditions, the relationship needs to be reformed. However, it is still the best bet.

Profile
Arduous task ahead for new UN chief
by Harihar Swarup
W
hat should be the qualifications for outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, once described as “the most impossible job of the world”? One who does not make enemies but friends, one who is inoffensive yet firm — an “iron fist in velvet glove” type of person — qualifies for the world’s toughest diplomatic job.

Diversities — Delhi Letter
Highest French award for Amitabh
by Humra Quraishi
T
he French government has conferred the highest French distinction, ‘Officer of the Order of the Legion of Honour’ on Amitabh Bachchan. It’s rather amazing to know how in 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte had instituted these special awards. The French are carrying on the tradition.

  • IIC’s focus on North-east

  • Festival of Arts

  • Pran Nevile on bygones

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Perspective

What ails the police?
Tackling the crux of the problem
by S. S. Dhanoa

There is an air of expectancy in the wake of what has been called as the pathbreaking judgement of the Supreme Court about the functioning of the police and the criminal justice system. Experts and professionals have hailed the judgement.

The judgement requires among others that the chief of the police in a state must be appointed for a fixed tenure which should apply to the police chiefs at the district and the divisional level. Secondly, the court has endorsed the recommendation of the National Police Commission for having a security commission in each state. Thirdly, the Police Act of 1861 must be replaced. All this is meant to ensure that there is no external interference in police work.

The shortcomings noticeable in the administration of criminal justice can be ascribed to our colonial legacy that we have not been able to shed. The British system that replaced the indigenous system was never owned up by the people as capable of delivering justice. It was adopted as a mechanism to gain personal ends by hook or by crook. Bearing false witness or suborning witnesses in the court cases in the colonial justice system were never considered as a moral lapse in our society.

Another lacuna deliberately left was the provision made in the police rules where powers vested in the Station House Officer were permitted to be exercisable by all the superior officers in the hierarchy. This was justified on the ground of the effectiveness of the supervising police officers. A motivated or biased supervising police officer could impose his subjective judgement in a case reducing all the hard work, brilliance and sense of justice of the lawyers and judges to a mockery confined to a mere post mortem. This is the provision through which vested interests achieve their ends.

In other areas of administration, the supervising officers overruled his subordinates leaving full evidence of his interference whereas in the police the view of the subordinate, if any, did not come on record, once his senior came in to the picture.

The balance in the situation that was sought to be provided by the Police Act 1861 was to make the district police chief accountable to the district magistrate in the matter of ensuring public peace in the district. The magistrates and the district magistrate could keep an eye on the quality of investigation of the criminal cases, their prosecution and subsequent punishment. It was not long ago that one saw the SHOs, on learning about the dates of trial of cases investigated by them, running around to ensure that all the important witnesses attended the court proceedings and they remained safe from the influence of the party of the accused.

This position got upset when in one stroke a decision was taken to separate the judiciary from the executive and in the police prosecution was made the responsibility of a separate cadre. Some states, having seen the adverse effect on the law and order, made some changes in the scheme by induction of executive magistrates in their system. However, the old order could not be restored.

I have served as a District Magistrate under the old order and also during the transition period. An effective District Magistrate had enough powers and influence to enable him to ensure that the police functioned with the maximum efficiency. The head of the district police called the Superintendent of Police functioned autonomously as the head of the police force but for overall policy he had to accept the guidance of the District Magistrate who had to be kept apprised of the law and order situation of the district.

The annual assessment of the Superintendent of Police was initiated by the District Magistrate. Generally, the SP and the DM functioned as a team due to the fact that they faced ticklish and difficult problems together. Their sinking or swimming in those situations depended on their close understanding and support.

I found that most police officers who had handled difficult districts, were appreciative of the role of their District Magistrates. It seems that consideration of the service loyalty is mainly responsible for the IPS officers lobbying for the scrapping of the Indian Police Act 1861. It is doubtful if the change in the system at this level will be beneficial.

Punjab is one state where the state police is almost free from the authority of the District Magistrate. I think it was during the time of Partap Singh Kairon as the Chief Minister that orders were passed that the District Magistrate would not initiate the annual report of the district police chief. Later Haryana reverted to the old system but the clout acquired by the Punjab Police due to the terrorist threat ensured that nothing was done in Punjab.

Some of the recent happenings in Punjab and the earlier excesses attributed to the Punjab Police should be enough to convince people that unless there is an institutional mechanism to keep a constant watch on the police handling of their powers, the citizen will never be safe nor will it improve the administration of justice. One may recall that only some time back a learned Supreme Court judge had described the Indian Police as the most lawless force in the country despite the existing checks that are being resented so much.

It goes to our credit that with all the divisive forces operating, we have been able to emerge as one of the powerful nations in the modern world and slowly the divisions in our society are getting covered up leading us towards a unified modern state. But so long as society remained fractured particularly in the rural areas, it would generate politics that would draw strength from the local police. It t would also come in the way of a fixed tenure for the police officers because when it became a question of survival for a politician, he would observe no Lakshman Rekha in exercising his discretion.

The solution perhaps lies in the decentralisation of administration in stages where the local police is made accountable to an elected local authority while training and recruitment up to a particular level remained entrusted to the professionals with overseeing powers vested in the state government. A model of the system that prevails in the Western democracies or the US or Canada. Otherwise, the colonial mindset of lording over the citizen can never get replaced by a citizen-friendly police force with whom the safety and rights of a citizen came first.

Similarly, trial of cases should be decentralised with a local jury system right up to the panchayat level to ensure that offenders got convicted or discharged within a fixed time frame and no suspect languished in jail for years. It appears that the treatment prescribed by the Supreme Court for the police reform was more symptomatic in nature while the root causes of the disease remained untouched. n

The writer is a former Chief Secretary of Punjab.
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Where the politicians call the shots
by P.C. Dogra

Today, the police are accountable only to the political executive at the district or state level. There is absolutely no departmental accountability whatsoever. Had the police been accountable to the law, there would have been no terrorism in Punjab or secessionist movement in Jammu and Kashmir.

Rule 16.38 (1) has made the SP’s position in exercising control over his force ridiculous. According to this rule, the SP will inform the District Magistrate (DM) of any complaint of criminal misconduct against a police officer in connection with his official relations with public. The DM will decide whether a police officer or a First Class Magistrate shall do the investigation. The DM (and not the SP) who can punish even a policeman found drinking in public. Magisterial enquiries are always delayed. No wonder, police officials are keen on such enquiries. For about 45 years, attempts were on for revision, but in vain.

The civil and police authorities openly await orders from their political bosses, i.e. the Chief Minister, before taking action. Corrupt officers cultivate senior officers and politicians. A particular officer may be corrupt but you cannot even withhold his promotion as he gets all the adverse remarks expunged even without the HoD’s knowledge.

Investigating officers do not write the case diaries; literate constables handle this job. Leave aside SHOs, even the Moharrar Head Constables are posted on the recommendation of the local politicians. Obviously, they remain loyal to their political masters and not to their departmental superiors. Not many SPs inspect the police stations and their reports are not properly scrutinised by the Range DIG or DGP. Annual inspection reports are submitted to the government a full one year late which are neither read nor discussed in the State Assembly.

In Punjab, the creation of Addl DGP (Internal Vigilance) didn’t help improve the situation because the complaints were being marked to the SSP. Subsequently, his report with a forwarding note of the Addl DGP was put up before the DGP. The District Complaint Authority, as suggested by the Supreme Court, will be the appropriate forum to address the people’s grievances.

For the police, the party in power is the final arbiter today. The accountability, internal or external, is to the political boss and he is the supreme law. Police officers are also helpless. The ground reality is that transfer is the biggest punishment. Shifting family and arranging admission of kids in a new school mid-season is an agonising experience.

State Security Commissions will be an appropriate statutory authority for the evaluation of police performance. It will also work as a forum of appeal against the illegal orders as also deal with the representations against arbitrary transfers and denial of promotions, etc. The security commission will not undermine the authority of the state government.

The writer is a former Director-General of Police of Punjab.
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On Record
Corrupt officers must be punished: Nanda
by V.Eshwar Anand

Gopal Chandra Nanda
Gopal Chandra Nanda

TACKLING corruption has been a big challenge for Mr Gopal Chandra Nanda, Director-General of Police (Vigilance), Orissa. He is indeed a crusader against corruption. Sincere and hard working, the 1974-batch IPS officer is regarded as a good role model. Wherever he worked, including a stint at Patna as DIG, CBI, he has created an indelible impression on his staff and the general public.

During his tenure in the Orissa State Vigilance, a record number of cases have been registered against several corrupt officers, political functionaries, industrialists and contractors. In almost all cases, the accused have been arrested. This has created a profound impact in the state.

Having appreciated the 58-year-old officer’s efforts, the International Development Committee of the British House of Commons has said that Mr Nanda’s work "should be replicated in other states, and indeed countries, where corruption is a significant issue affecting development". He speaks to The Sunday Tribune in an exclusive interview.

Excerpts:

Q: IAS officer Binod Kumar’s arrest is a feather in your cap. How many more officers are involved in the Orissa Rural Housing and Development Corporation scam?

A: We have succeeded in our mission mainly due to the state government’s support and commitment to root out corruption coupled with sincere efforts of my colleagues. As regards corruption in the ORHDC, we have registered 13 cases — eight against Mr Binod Kumar and 3-4 other officers. A case of disproportionate assets has also been registered against him. We have also registered cases against Mr Ch Amrit Lingam, former Executive Director (Finance) who was heading the ORHDC prior to Mr Binod Kumar.

Corruption came to light in due course after audit, non-recovery of loans, complaints received from different sources and intelligence collected by our officers. Apart from some officers and employees of the ORHDC, a number of private persons who availed themselves of loans by fraudulent means are also involved. These include some builders, so-called industrialists, traders etc. More cases are likely to be registered. All these cases except one are under investigation. One case has already been charge-sheeted against Mr Ch Amrit Lingam and others. In this case, a private party involved is yet to pay more than Rs 58 lakh to the ORHDC.

Q: How long will the trial go on?

A: It is difficult to say. The existing four courts are overburdened with over 2,000 cases pending trial. The government has approved eight more courts in phases. This year, two courts are being opened at Balasore and Cuttack. The State Assembly has passed the Special Court Bill to ensure expeditious trial of important persons involved in the disproportionate asset cases. This will help reduce the burden of the courts. The Orissa High Court has not approved the proposal of fast track court for trying vigilance cases.

Q: What about the sepoy scam? Former DGP N.C. Padhi, Addl. DGP P.C. Mishra, two Commandants and 57 sepoys are involved in the scam.

A: The government and the State Vigilance received many complaints from the aggrieved candidates regarding the recruitment of sepoys. The government referred the complaints to us. After a thorough preliminary inquiry, five cases were registered against the Selection Committee Chairman and others. Two such cases have already been charge-sheeted and in the remaining three, investigation has also been completed and final forms will be submitted soon.

Q: What are the other important cases being handled by you?

A: The State Vigilance has registered 93 cases against IAS, IPS and IFS officers and 316 cases against OAS, OPS and OFS officers. Six cases have been registered against Mr Santosh Kumar Mishra, IAS, five of which have been charge-sheeted and one is pending investigation. One case against Mr Ramesh Chandra Behera, IAS, is pending trial. Every year we are registering about 300 cases including 100 to 150 traps. During the last four years, we have registered cases against 396 Class-I officers and 106 disproportionate asset cases against 52 Class-I and 54 Class-II officers.

Q: What about the Supreme Court’s directives on police reforms?

A: We need a new Act to tackle new challenges. We need a congenial environment wherein the police can function strictly in accordance with law, deliver justice to the people and match their increasing expectations. The CBI can handle cases of national importance and inter-state crime. Besides, it should be authorised to take up cases against officers belonging to the All-India Services under the PC Act regardless of their state cadres.

Q: Will the Centre’s plan to entrust complete authority of law and order to the Superintendent of Police help improve the system?

A: This will make the District SP more accountable and effective. In the proposed Police Act, the SP will be held responsible for law and order, prevention and detection of crime. The Collector and District Magistrate will play the role of a coordinator during natural calamity or war-like situation.

Q: How can the image of the police be improved?

A: Our police force is much better than that of any European country, the US, Japan and South Korea. People should appreciate the constraints under which the police work. I strongly feel that there are many good people in the police force who can rise to the occasion if their day-to-day requirements for due discharge of their official duties are addressed.

Q: What is your message to the corrupt officers?

A: We are doing our best with limited resources to contain corruption. My message to the corrupt officers is that corruption will prove too costly for them and the risk is not worth taking.
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OPED

Helping the Punjabi farmer
by G.S. Sidhu

Ruchika M. Khanna’s series, “Life on the edges” (Sept 25-28) does not present a true picture of the generations-old socio-economic relationship between a Punjabi farmer and farm labourer. True, with mechanisation of agriculture, influx of cheap labour and changed socio-economic conditions, the relationship needs to be reformed. However, it is still the best bet. For, it is much more than an employer-employee relationship that ensures reasonable social and economic security for the unorganised agriculture labour.

The word ‘landlord’ creates an image of a person who owns hundreds of acres of land, generally absent form his fields, lives in a palatial haveli, engages an underpaid army of servants and farm labour and so on. The tribe of such landlords is almost extinct. Today, a typical Punjabi farmer does not fit into this feudalistic framework.

Of nearly 10 lakh families engaged in agriculture (2000-2001), about 80 per cent are small middle level farmers owning five acres; hardly 7 per cent are big farmers owning 25 acres and above of agricultural land. The small and middle level farmers are the backbone of Punjab’s agricultural sector.

A villain is made out of the farmer for advancing loan at hefty rates and reducing the worker to the status of a ‘bonded labourer’ forced to work year after year. The prevailing rate of interest is Rs 1.50 to Rs 100 per month or 18 per cent to 24 per cent per annum. Obviously, it is high. But when compared with the rate charged by arhtia from the farmer (18 to 24 per cent) and actual cost of money available in the urban market and the risk factors, it is not exorbitant.

In reality, the farmer, who is himself in a state of financial siege due to increasing input cost, unremunerative price for the produce and resultant indebtedness, is reluctant to advance loan to the worker. This reluctance is enforced by the fear of losing the hard-earned money due to unforeseen circumstances such as desertion and physical infirmity. There is little legal protection available to the farmer in such an eventuality.

In contrast, the farm worker insists on taking the entire salary in advance along with the agreed loan amount. Owing to the high cost of living and consumerist culture, the farm labourer insists on taking the easy loan from the farmer, but is in no mood to clear the debt.

Over the past six years, I have appreciated the essence of the time-tested relationship of the farmer and the farm labourer. While the banks, state-run and private financial institutions shy away from providing quick and easy financial security to the farm worker, the farmer stands by him. He advances him money at short notice without paperwork and security. The only guarantee is mutual trust and social tradition. The state has also failed to provide health and old age security. In government hospitals, a labourer has to pay money beyond his reach for medicines and procedures.

The winds of change are blowing. Because of financial squeeze and increasing labour problems, politically motivated agitations and confrontation, social tensions, compensation suits and influx of immigrant labour, the Punjab farmer is switching over to labour saving mechanised farming and contract labour. This change is advantageous, but is at the cost of regular employment, particularly of desi (local) workforce, and casual labour adding up to rural unemployment and social insecurity.

No doubt, the existing system of engaging agriculture labour has its shortcomings. Compared to a worker in organised industrial sector, the farm worker has no fixed working hours and weekly holidays. He has to toil in field from dawn to dusk in adverse weather conditions, often at night to water the fields. He is ill paid and has no social security. In largely followed wheat and paddy crop cycle, there are two lean periods of about two months each between sowing and harvesting seasons, when the farmer and the labour have little work to do.

There is no small scale or cottage industry in villages where they may invest their free time and earn. Many of these shortcomings are in-built in agriculture processes because of poor infrastructure and affect the farmer as well. These cannot be removed by applying industrial labour laws pari passu to agriculture sector or by the farmer alone. Constructive intervention is necessary to put in place suitable agriculture labour laws and social security systems and improve the infrastructure, especially power supply.

Engagement of a farmer and farm labourer is not limited to working in the field. It is a comprehensive socio-economic engagement of two families. They participate in each other’s religious and social functions, share joys and sorrows and stand by each other through thick and thin. They partake produce of land in the form of grains, vegetables, fodder, fuel etc. So much so they are often partners in crime, family feud, murder or illicit distilling. The winds of change blowing in the wake of economic reforms have greatly eroded the old harmonious village society and led to ethical vacuum and social fissures. The village society is in a state of redefining itself. Thus, it is wrong to equate the Punjabi farmer and his work-hand with a labour contractor and bonded labour, generally from Rajasthan or Bihar engaged in brick manufacturing, road construction or other building activities. To brand them as such for the purpose of waging a class war to serve political motives is another kind of exploitation.

For the farmer and the farm labourer, agriculture is a way of life, a profession they have inherited from their forefathers. They have also inherited the customs and traditions to nurture a harmonious village society. These need to be reformed and preserved at least till the state puts in place agriculture labour laws and social security systems. Confucius aptly said, “Harmony is something to be cherished”. China, after decades of socio-economic confrontation, is harking back to Confucianism to reconstruct a harmonious society. Why should we destroy what we have?

The proud and hard working Punjabi farmer deserves empathy and support to prosper and live in peaceful harmony, and not persecution.

The writer is a former Chairman, Income Tax Settlement Commission, Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Government of India

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Profile
Arduous task ahead for new UN chief
by Harihar Swarup

What should be the qualifications for outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, once described as “the most impossible job of the world”? One who does not make enemies but friends, one who is inoffensive yet firm — an “iron fist in velvet glove” type of person — qualifies for the world’s toughest diplomatic job. The new UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, is said to fulfill this criterion, but the questions being asked in the UN corridors are whether the new boss of the world body up to the job and whether he has the steel to play the leading role on the international stage?

Going by 62-year-old Ban’s 36-year-long record as a diplomat, feel those who backed him, he should be able to handle the complex problems confronting the UN. This is for the first in his long career that Ban heads an organisation. A fellow diplomat choose to put it, “this will be the first time he has ever been his own boss”. Ban’s first diplomatic posting, incidentally, was in New Delhi followed by Washington. He was also at the UN and in Vienna. His impressive performance pitch forked him to the coveted post of South Korea’s Foreign Minister two years back.

Four decades back, Ban’s position was number one among the diplomats waiting for their first assignment after an arduous training. He was first offered an assignment in the Korean Embassy in the US. However, he volunteered to work in India. He choose New Delhi as he had to financially support his family. Staying in the US, recalls his brother Ki-sang, would have been costly and saving money was an impossible task.

Working in India, Ban came close to Lho Shin-young, the then Consul General of the Korean Consulate in New Delhi. Later, Lho became Prime Minister of Korea. Posted to India to help establish bilateral ties, Lho had greatly influenced Ban’s diplomatic career. He noticed in young Ban, agility, diligence, good judgement and superb knowledge of English. Lho was later quoted as saying: “Ban was newly married when I met him. He would help me and do many things in India to improve bilateral relations”. When Lho became the Prime Minister, he appointed Ban as Senior Protocol Secretary to the PM. That was the start of what was Ban’s unstoppable rise through ranks.

When Ban was born, South Korea was under Japanese occupation. That was the year 1944, a year before the Second World War ended, and he spent his childhood under the shadow of the Korean war. Ban turned out to be a studious child, a first grader, always a topper in his class. When he was a middle class student, his English teacher told the students to write what they had learned on the day 10 times. Ban faithfully followed and that way memorised whole English sentences. He came second only in the National Diplomat’s examination and so depressed was he that he told his parents: “I have always been on the top. This is the first time in my life that I have stood second”.

He worked hard and regained number one position among the new diplomats waiting for their first posting and opted for India. There was time when Ban’s family fell in bad times; his father’s warehouse business collapsed and the firm declared bankrupt. Used to living in an affluent environment, Ban had to work his way through school. Later, he received his bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Seoul National University.

As he prepares to take up the UN’s top job, Ban confesses that he may appear too soft for the world’s toughest diplomatic post. However, he adds, “I may look soft from outside but I have inner strength when it is really necessary. I have, at times, been very decisive”. The challenge to Ban when he takes over as the UN Chief in January has been daunting indeed.

Politically, the UN, which was conceived as a link among nations, has become the arena of new confrontation between the so-called Third World countries and the industrialised world. Even Kofi Annan, who has done so much for the underdeveloped world, was not spared of his clash. A major African daily has described him as “the African who serves his white masters”.

It was a memorable day on Wednesday last week when Ban Ki Moon swept into the UN Headquarters. He was virtually gheraoed by media persons and what followed turned out to be an impromptu press conference. The Secretary General-designate listed three immediate priorities after takeover. First, he is determined to make the UN more efficient and relevant too to face the challenges of the 21st century.

Secondly, he proposes to inculcate trust and confidence among the member states and also major stakeholders. And thirdly, he would try to ensure consolidation and coordination among the UN bodies to enable them use the limited resources and manpower for helping the humankind. “Our organisation has been overstretched. We have limited resources, limited manpower. We need to provide more to keep our promises to the needy places of the world”. This was his promise to the world.
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Diversities — Delhi Letter
Highest French award for Amitabh
by Humra Quraishi

The French government has conferred the highest French distinction, ‘Officer of the Order of the Legion of Honour’ on Amitabh Bachchan. It’s rather amazing to know how in 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte had instituted these special awards. The French are carrying on the tradition.

Some famous personalities who have been awarded this honour earlier include Steven Spielberg and Gérard Depardieu. In India, renowned film director Satyajit Ray and sitar maestro Ravi Shankar got this award earlier.

In some cases, the French seem to be taking the lead. On July 14, the French government had bestowed the highest civilian honour, ‘Chevalier de la Legion d’ Honneur’ on the Gujarat-based Jesuit priest Father Cedric Prakash for his commitment to human rights.

And now comes the news that the National Commission for Minorities is bestowing the Minorities Rights Award 2006 to Father Prakash. The award will be conferred on him on Dec 18, Minority Rights Day, in New Delhi with this backgrounder, “Fr Prakash has been championing the cause of the minorities in Gujarat and in other parts of India. His very visible stand in defence of the victims of the Gujarat Carnage of 2002, brought world-wide attention to their plight. He also testified before the US Commission for International Religious Freedom in Washington. Fr Prakash has always been in the forefront whenever minorities have been attacked and has been a strong opponent of the controversial Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, which he describes, is violative of the fundamental human rights of a citizen…”

IIC’s focus on North-east

Last week, there was some focus on the continuing turmoil in Manipur when Irom Chanu Sharmila arrived in New Delhi to continue her six-year-old hunger strike demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the state.

Tragic is the ongoing state of affairs in Manipur. This summer, when I had last met the well known writer and Jnanpith award winner Indira Goswami, I asked her what made her take on this task of helping in the peace talks between the Centre and the ULFA. She told me that it’s important for apolitical people to help restore peace so that innocent young lives are saved.

Whilst going through a volume on the North-east, brought out by the IIC, The IIC Quarterly (Monsoon-Winter 2005), there is an interesting interview she had given to Sanjoy Hazarika and Geeti Sen. She talks about the militancy in the region and how it can be sorted out through saner means than through senseless killings. It’s very sensible interview as she has been very honest in her views and observations.

She says, brutal force and the boot does not bring about peace. There has to be a genuine dialogue process by apolitical people who can deal with the problems in a humane and sensitive way.

The IIC’s special volume takes you to the wonders of the North-east through the power of words you get connected to that sector of the country and it’s people and the problems they face…

Festival of Arts

At the just concluded Festival of Arts at the India International Centre, one was lucky to attend one of the finest exhibitions in recent years. It was on the Rampur Raza Library. Situated in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, it was founded by the first Nawab of the Rampur State, Faizullah Khan (1774-1794). However, since it acquired eminence under the late Nawab Raza Ali Khan, it’s named after him.

Today, it’s an institution of national importance under the Union Ministry of Culture. This unique institution houses 17,000 manuscripts, 5,000 miniature paintings, specimens of Islamic calligraphy and more.

Pran Nevile on bygones

If there would be an award for an individual to focus on bygones, it should be given to Pran Nevile. A former diplomat, he is passionate about writing on the bygone legends. I have been re-introduced to the musical genius of Saigal, Suraiyya and many others through the concerts he organised in the Capital.

One of the forthcoming ones, to be held on Oct 30, will focus on Begum Akhtar. He had known her and probably been so fascinated by her singing prowess that till date he remembers the minutest details of her ghazals. He is determined to bring them to life next fortnight.
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