C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


‘Linguistic division averted disintegration’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
“Reorganisation of the states on linguistic basis saved India from disintegration,” said Mr Yogendra Yadav, political scientist and India’s leading psephologist while delivering a lecture on the state of democracy in South Asia organized by Critique, Panjab University, here today.

Mr Yadav opined that regionalism was one of the biggest strengths of India and with regional parties participating in electoral politics, India had managed to use diversity for its integration. “Governments that see diversity as a threat create problems for themselves,” he said.

Stating that democracy had transformed South Asia, Mr Yadav pointed out that South Asian nations had also transformed democracy. Presenting data from a study conducted by his team over the past three years, Mr Yadav pointed out that while democracy as an idea was well accepted, actual support for it was shallow in these nations. “The idea of democracy has been radicalised in terms of positive liberty, community rights and dignity but there is inattentiveness to the rule of law, procedural norms and tyranny by the majority,” he said.

“In South Asian nations, there is more diversity in democracy. But while there is a greater willingness to accommodate regional diversities and to some extent even social diversities, there is a growing sense of ‘majoritarianism’ which presents itself at times as nationalism,” he said.

He further pointed out that while there was an elaborate system of institutions in these nations there was an erosion of their autonomy and very little trust for those institutions involved with the public.

“Interestingly, large parts of majority communities in some of these nations actually think that they are a minority. For example 38 per cent of Hindus in India think that they are a minority while 34 per cent of non-Hindus in India think they are the majority. This means that the minority- majority boundaries are fuzzy and this lack of clarity is good news for democracies here,” he said.

In response to placing themselves in the rich to poor spectrum, over 90 per cent of the people in these nations thought they were poor. “No wonder the shining India plank did not help Atal Bihari Vajpayee win elections,” he quipped adding that democracy was not seen as a solution to poverty either.

Stating that unlike the West, political apathy was not a problem in India, Mr Yadav said party politics was alive and kicking here. “Political parties have the ability to mobilise people and there was a high degree of citizen involvement in these nations. However, ironically while citizens were involved in politics they had a low opinion of it. It is a strange situation. While we identify with politics we have an abstract disaffection for it,” said Mr Yadav adding that religious congregations, however, interested South Asian population more than politics.

Answering questions from the audience regarding the Jammu and Kashmir conflict, Mr Yadav said the heads of both the nations do not have the courage to hold a referendum there. If Kashmiris do not like the Indian government it is wrong to believe that they like Pakistan either,” he said adding that India was fast becoming the “big dada” in the South Asian region and was too hawk-eyed with its neighbours. “A more relaxed India will mean a more relaxed South Asia,” he said.

Presiding over the lecture, Mr Shastri Ramachandran, Associate Editor, The Tribune, termed the study “revealing” adding that democracy in India was a product of political parties and not the other way round. “Democracy in India tends to become the tyranny of the majority which we extend not only on the minorities but also our neighbours whom we overawe. This betrays our expansionist if not imperialistic outlook,” he said adding that the more populous community should not get away with everything in a democracy.

He pointed out that South Asia was home to the largest population of poor people in the world and democracies in these nations had been ambivalent in their approach towards the question of food security.



‘Pre-poll sops don’t guarantee win’
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
India’s leading psephologist Yogendra Yadav today said pre-election sops and propaganda has never ensured victory for the ruling party in elections. “What political parties do six months prior to elections does not mean anything to the voter. What matters is performance. And performance not in terms of what leaders think but what the voter thinks has benefited him,” said Mr Yadav in an interview to The Tribune.

Pointing out that the electorate was not gullible anymore, the leading psephologist said it was too early to forecast the outcome of the forthcoming elections in the state. Mr Yadav said the emergence of the Bahujan Samajwadi Party in Punjab politics had brought the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress on an equal footing. “When the two main parties in a state are balanced in terms of support, the anti-incumbency factor has a large role to play,” he said.

“Traditionally, the electorate in Punjab was tilted in favour of the Congress. The Akalis have been supported by the Sikhs in the state, particularly the Jat Sikhs. The Bharatiya Janata Party gathers its votes from the urban Hindus in the state. The Dalit majority has been supporting the Congress. However, in the past 15 years, with the emergence of the BSP here, the determining slice of votes that helped the Congress win in the state has gone to the BSP,” he said.

Admitting that large sums of money was spent on winning elections, Mr Yadav said this did not guarantee victory. “If this were true, no ruling party would have ever lost an election. But ruling parties routinely lose elections. It is thought that not spending money will pave way for defeat necessitating building of a money base in each election. What is worse, this base has risen so high that a small and genuine politician cannot dream of entering politics or stand for elections,” he said.

Refusing to comment on the election outcome in Punjab, Mr Yadav said his team at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, in collaboration with the CNN-IBN was conducting a pre-poll survey whose results were not available. “Drawing-room gossip is not a useful source of information and I don not want to indulge in it,” he said.

When asked if pre-poll surveys led to influencing of the electorate, Mr Yadav said this was possible only when the two contending parties were placed neck and neck. “We have no evidence of either the ‘bandwagon’ or the ‘underdog’ effect in India but I agree that pre-poll surveys can affect the morale of the party workers,” he said.



Seminar on life sciences
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
A two-day national seminar on “New trends in life sciences” organised by the Department of Zoology, Panjab University, began on a vibrant note. It marked the 90th birthday anniversary of Prof G.P. Sharma, Professor Emeritus, Department of Zoology and stalwart in the field.

A compendium of 21 lectures by the faculty of zoology in the form of a volume was released. The seminar was inaugurated by zoologist L.R. Verma, Vice-Chancellor, Himachal Pradesh University.

Prof Muralidhar, cell biologist, Department of Zoology, Delhi University, delivered the keynote address entitled “Studies on pituitary lactogenic hormones of water buffaloes.

The scientific session started with a lecture on tumour suppressor genes with reference to breast cancer by Prof R.N.K. Bamezai of the National Centre of Applied Human Genetics, School of Life Sciences, JNU. This was followed by lectures by Prof Girish Sahni, Director, IMTECH, Prof S.K. Gupta from the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, and Dr Rashmi Bagga from the PGI.



JE exam schedule
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
The North Western Region of the Staff Selection Commission(SSC) will hold the Junior Engineer(Civil and Electrical) Examination-2007 on March 23 at Chandigarh, Shimla and Jammu and Srinagar.

According to a press note here today, the age limit for applicants should be between 18 and 27 years as on December 22.The last date for the receipt of applications is December 22.



PU ex-CMO dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Dr Harish Khanna, former Chief Medical Officer of Panjab University, died of a brief illness at his Panchkula residence late last night. He was 77.

Dr Khanna had been serving in Panjab University as a consultant on an honorary basis even after retirement. He had also set up a clinic at his Sector 6 residence in Panchkula for poor patients, where he would examine them and distribute medicines free of cost.

He is survived by a son and daughter.



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