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EDITORIALS

Zardari speak
Begin a new era in India-Pakistan relations
WHATEVER may have prompted Pakistan President Asif Zardari to tell some truths, they are indeed welcome. In an apparent turnaround of the Pakistani position, the civilian President has, for the first time, admitted that India has never been a threat to his country.

Ethnic cleansing
Centre and state must restore peace in Assam
V
IOLENCE in Assam in which over 30 people were
killed and 100 injured is one of the worst in recent
times. The cycle of violence shows that the state
government has not taken proper steps to address
the problem. Notwithstanding its stout denial, the
National Democratic Front of Bodoland’s (NDFB)
involvement in the clashes cannot be ruled out.


EARLIER STORIES

Blow to Bengal
October 6, 2008
Azamgarh: District in discomfort
October 5, 2008
Blot on civil society
October 4, 2008
Deal turns real
October 3, 2008
French connection
October 2, 2008
Stampedes and deaths
October 1, 2008
Uncalled for defiance
September 30, 2008
Yet another blast
September 29, 2008
Babus vs netas
September 28, 2008
Truth a casualty
September 27, 2008
Fight to finish
September 26, 2008
Judges under scanner
September 25, 2008
Murder most foul
September 24, 2008


People’s power
Sant Seechewal shows the way
KALI Bein is a rivulet that had been in the news for the wrong reasons. Associated once with Guru Nanak Dev, it had been reduced to a dirty drain. Nothing surprising as it was into this rivulet that the untreated effluents from over six towns and 40 villages were discharged.

ARTICLE

Misgovernance is the issue
Politics is doing more harm
by S. Nihal Singh
I
S there a pattern to the rash of very diverse disturbances and acts of violence that are plaguing the country from Orissa to Assam to Delhi and Hyderabad, even leaving aside the obvious case of Kashmir? Apart from the string of terrorist acts, which seem to run in a pattern, each crisis has a specific cause, accentuated by approaching elections.

MIDDLE

Cultural Blues!
Syed Zahoor H. Zaidi
L
AST week my seven year old son had his first encounter with his younger cousin. After introductions he asked excitedly, “Tu kitne saal ka hai?” My father, who was well within the hearing range, nearly fell off his chair. The child’s family felt deeply offended. Now you would wonder — what is the big deal?

OPED

Brown springs a surprise
Mandelson as minister for spin
by Bruce Anderson
N
O one ever thought of Gordon Brown as a master of surprises, but this is one for the record book. It was as if, early in Book One of Paradise Lost, shock, and the comedy, we should acknowledge that this is a good appointment. In a Cabinet full of mediocrities, some of them in great offices of state, Peter Mandelson will be a thoroughly competent, grown-up minister.

Will death penalty make world safer?
by Jeanne Woodford
A
S the warden of San Quentin, I presided over four executions. After each one, someone on the staff would ask, “Is the world safer because of what we did tonight?” We knew the answer: No.

Delhi Durbar
Amar Singh’s bid for a big alliance
T
HE irrepressible Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh is currently busy trying to team up his leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and new found ally Lalu Prasad Yadav with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. His game plan is to have a large alliance of regional parties within the UPA which would also include Ram Vilas Paswan and Sharad Pawar.

Party time for scribes
No place to smoke

 


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Zardari speak
Begin a new era in India-Pakistan relations

WHATEVER may have prompted Pakistan President Asif Zardari to tell some truths, they are indeed welcome. In an apparent turnaround of the Pakistani position, the civilian President has, for the first time, admitted that India has never been a threat to his country.

More interesting, he has described the Kashmiri militant groups operating from Pakistan as “terrorists”, instead of “freedom-fighters” as his predecessor General Pervez Musharraf had once described them.

He has also spoken strongly in favour of better trade relations with India and identified some items like cement and cotton, which can be exported to India. All this is music to the Indian ears used as they are to hearing threats of “thousand-year wars” and “jehads” from across the border.

To be fair to Mr Zardari, his statements ever since he emerged as a leader to reckon with, following his wife Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, have been friendly to India. He must have realised that Pakistan can no longer treat India as an equal with which it can compete politically, militarily or economically.

The rise of the middle class and the consistent 8-plus economic growth rate have enabled India to overtake Pakistan a long time ago. The proxy war it waged against India in the mistaken belief that it can bleed it to death seems to have become counter-productive as it has affected Pakistan’s well-being more than India’s.

The Pakistani rulers must have also realised that the terrorists using their territory against India could also turn their guns against the Pakistanis themselves. Zardari would never be able to forget that the bombs that destroyed Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel was actually targeted at him and his colleagues.

Having acknowledged the folly of treating India as an enemy, Mr Zardari has got an opportunity to bring the two countries closer. India’s growing infrastructure projects can consume every surplus cement bag that Pakistan produces.

All that India expects from Pakistan is good neighbourly relations which means it should stop all support to the militant groups operating there, hand over those wanted in India and ensure that there is better people-to-people contact. In doing so, Pakistan can become India’s partner in progress and peace.

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Ethnic cleansing
Centre and state must restore peace in Assam

VIOLENCE in Assam in which over 30 people were killed and 100 injured is one of the worst in recent times. The cycle of violence shows that the state government has not taken proper steps to address the problem. Notwithstanding its stout denial, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland’s (NDFB) involvement in the clashes cannot be ruled out.

In fact, the state government has fixed accountability on the NDFB. Health Minister Himanta Biswas Sarma says that the violence was not the result of the differences between the tribal Bodos and immigrant Muslims but “a planned ethnic cleansing” by the NDFB cadres to drive out all non-Bodos from the Bodo-dominated region.

What is of serious concern is that more than 600 houses have been burnt and over 60,000 people have left their villages since Friday, when clashes first broke out. These homes fall in an area controlled by the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC), a politico-administrative structure, formed after the state government signed a peace accord with the militant Bodoland Tiger Force (BTF) in 2003. The BTF is now a disbanded outfit with its members presently heading the BTC, an autonomous body.

The former BTF and the NDFB have been at war for territorial supremacy with bitter fratricidal clashes between them. The NDFB cadres have been using light machine guns and other sophisticated weapons in targeting the non-Bodos. They have scant respect for ceasefire and they continue to indulge in violence.

The Bodo community is in a majority in Assam’s three violence-prone districts of Darrang, Udalgiri and Baksa and hence they are driving all the non-Bodos out of these districts. Not surprisingly, miscreants from various communities are trying to take advantage of the situation by indulging in arson and looting.

This may not be a “communal clash”, but Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi should take strict action against the NDFB if reports of its involvement in the clashes are proved after a thorough investigation. The Centre should also do its bit to restore peace in the strife-torn districts.

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People’s power
Sant Seechewal shows the way

KALI Bein is a rivulet that had been in the news for the wrong reasons. Associated once with Guru Nanak Dev, it had been reduced to a dirty drain. Nothing surprising as it was into this rivulet that the untreated effluents from over six towns and 40 villages were discharged.

Chemical and industrial discharges from countless factories all along the rivulet added to the problem. Fortunately, there was one person who saw in Kali Bein a challenge to his creative and organisational ability.

Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal, chairman of Ek Onkar Charitable Trust, took to heart the message of Gurbani that says: “The wind is our guru, water our father and the earth our mother.” He took upon himself the task of cleaning up the rivulet by involving the local people through kar seva. The work was started in 2000.

It was indeed a stupendous task — the water hyacinth on the riverbed had
to be cleared and the silt removed. More important, the public had to be
conscientised about the damages the dirty water was causing to their
health and the environment.

Alternative ways to dispose off the sewerage were conceived and introduced. Some of the steps he planned were dependent on the government. By the end of six years of continuous effort, Kali Bein had undergone a transformation and the experiment had drawn former President Abdul Kalam to the site.

There is no doubt that the extraordinary leadership qualities of Sant
Seechewal, the clarity of his vision and his ability to inspire the masses
and steer his movement through the labyrinths of politics have all played a
major role in bringing his mission to completion.

However, the Sant himself is the first to comment that it is the sangat — the people — who have made the difference. They have transformed a dirty drain into a pristine river, and have shown the way in which all of us can, to quote him, “make a heaven out of hell”.

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Thought for the Day

Instead of saying that man is the creature of circumstance, it would be
nearer the mark to say that man is the architect of circumstance.
— Thomas Carlyle

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Misgovernance is the issue
Politics is doing more harm
by S. Nihal Singh

IS there a pattern to the rash of very diverse disturbances and acts of violence that are plaguing the country from Orissa to Assam to Delhi and Hyderabad, even leaving aside the obvious case of Kashmir? Apart from the string of terrorist acts, which seem to run in a pattern, each crisis has a specific cause, accentuated by approaching elections.

But to blame them on political motivation alone would be to understate the depth of the crisis the country is passing through. The truth is that India has reached dangerous levels of misgovernance or lack of governance.

The famed steel frame has been eroding over the decades, but there were competent and dedicated bureaucrats functioning under capable ministers, men who could smell trouble and ward off the worst by taking timely action. Such officials had the authority and the audacity to take unpopular decisions.

The rot set in with Indira Gandhi and her concept of the committed public servant, destroying the golden rule of the apolitical bureaucrat who traditionally helped to give the government a taut administration. After her, state level leaders began their tenures by mass transfer of bureaucrats who came to be known by their loyalty to leaders, rather than their administrative capacity, and the “Yes Minister” syndrome took over across parties, with two present chief ministers, Mr Narendra Modi and Ms Mayawati, distinguishing themselves in this field.

The compulsion to form jumbo coalition cabinets has not helped matters. The Prime Minister cannot even appoint cabinet ministers on his own, portfolios are often specified by coalition partners, and in Mr Manmohan Singh’s case, key ministries are decided, in large part, by the Congress president, Ms Sonia Gandhi. The conundrum the Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, finds himself in is precisely because of the Prime Minister’s compulsion in heeding the advice of his party chief.

Political compulsions have, of course, played an important role in exacerbating problems. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s eagerness to light, or provide oxygen for, the communal flame through the Sangh Parivar in Orissa and Karnataka, among other states, is directly related to its attempt to corner votes. It is, of course, a self-evident truism that the more the electorate is divided along religious lines, the greater the vote share of the party that flaunts the Hindutva creed.

Simply to blame the BJP for the problems plaguing the country would be neither accurate nor fair. The Manmohan Singh coalition has simply spent too much time on the Indo-US nuclear deal, to the seeming neglect of pressing domestic issues. Indeed, the government gives the impression of lacking focus, and even the worthy measures it has taken, such as the rural employment guarantee scheme, recede in public consciousness. The government has not been helped by the economic crisis that has overtaken the world.

In psychological terms, it is well to remember the costs of encouraging a consumer society inevitably arising out of following a high-speed growth of a fast moving economy. Disparities, and envy, grow as capitalism divides people into winners and losers and the state’s social security network is too fragile even in areas where it exists to cater to the needy. Malnutrition deaths and farmers’ suicides are nagging reminders of how far we have to travel on the road of equitable development.

To an extent, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a victim of the bunching up of panoply of problems, with their diverse causes. But he cannot escape his share of the blame simply because of the unique power-sharing arrangement with Ms Gandhi and the compulsions of coalition politics.

Coalitions are here to stay and consensus building within a Cabinet remains a major necessity. The break-up of the arrangement with the Left parties was a foregone conclusion, given that the Prime Minister had set his heart on the nuclear deal, and the Samajwadi Party was willing to come to his rescue.

The problem now is how the government of Mr Manmohan Singh can
grapple with the country’s growing problems of violence and intimidation
in the remaining months of its term. People are on a short fuse and must be
treated with firmness and respect.

First, there are still sufficient numbers of capable dedicated officers who can cope with problems, once they are given firm political leadership and powers in proportion to their responsibilities and the assurance that any unpopular measure they might have to undertake would receive the political leadership’s backing.

Second, The government must make examples of the perpetrators of despicable and horrible acts. Traditionally, the wheels of Indian justice grind excruciatingly slowly. There is the crying need, therefore, for instituting special courts to dispense speedy justice to the guilty. Nothing heartens the victim (or his near one) of a political crime more than to see the criminal promptly brought to book.

Third, the first job of a government is to govern. Whether it is Mr Manmohan Singh at the Centre of a Naveen Paknaik in Orissa or a B.S. Yeddyrappa in Karnataka, dilly-dallying and an inability to take prompt action when required, politically motivated or otherwise, is to drive a nail into the coffin of public confidence. Vigilante justice is one consequence as is the growing urge of the citizenry to take the law into his or her own hands.

Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that the Bharatiya Janata Party is leading in the shrillness stakes in public debate and name-calling. Even making allowances for Mr L.K. Advani’s impatience to grasp the Prime Minister’s chair before it goes out of his reach, his constant personal attacks on the Prime Minister must ranks as a new low in Indian politics.

Logically, it should be in the interest of the main opposition party to temper the tone of the political debate in the run-up to elections. Name-calling demeans a leader who can, in turn, become a victim of others’ vitriol.

Is there hope then of seeing a better trend emerge in Indian politics? The BJP is, of course, not the only party at fault in reducing politics to a game of muscle power at the grassroots level. The Marxist party has thrived on it in West Bengal and Kerala.

It was, indeed, the arrogance of the state ruling party, the CPI-M, in assuming that its goons would make short work of dissenting farmers in Singur that led Ms Mamata Banerjee fishing for political support in the Bengal countryside to give the CPI-M a taste of its own medicine. This has forced the Tata Nano project to pack up and leave West Bengal.

However, the levels to which the BJP has gone in its adventurism in advocating its brand of Hindutva in Orissa, Karnataka and elsewhere are dangerous portents. They strike at the heart of the idea of India. The government therefore has to act now, not tomorrow and certainly not the day after.

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Cultural Blues!
Syed Zahoor H. Zaidi

LAST week my seven year old son had his first encounter with his younger cousin. After introductions he asked excitedly, “Tu kitne saal ka hai?” My father, who was well within the hearing range, nearly fell off his chair. The child’s family felt deeply offended. Now you would wonder — what is the big deal?

I should have told you at the beginning. I am in Lucknow, still very fresh from Himachal Pradesh where I spent 12 wonderful years of my life. Both my children were born there. A place where people are simple and the language — well, very different from here.

Any place north of Delhi, little kids would normally talk the way my children do. But not here in Lucknow, where parents use Aap while talking to their children. Tum is seldom used while tu amounts to a little worse than abuse.

So my kids are having a terrible time unlearning the basics about their mother tongue or their father’s tongue, as my wife now likes to say. The other day, their school teacher summoned my wife. She wanted to know from where we were. The reason again was the seemingly rude language that our children used in school.

More than the language, we have problems adjusting to the gentle culture of pehle aap. My children were born and raised on a straighter pehle mein.

Well I wasn’t born in the hills. Neither was my wife. But a nice job in khaki uniform took us to that part of the country we still prefer to call home.

Before life in khaki, my parents had made sure that I was a product of refined and gentle Lucknavi tehzeeb. But 12 years of simple, straight talking, pahadi life can really change things. And my children have known nothing else.

So frankly let me confess – we are still struggling to get used to the life here. We still can’t say yahan wahan when it is so easy to say idhar udhar. We can say aap karoge very naturally but have to make one hell of an effort to say aap keejiyegaa. And above all we just can’t say ji haan and instead prefer haan ji.

My father is shattered. Generations of cultured upbringing has been frittered away. He can’t bear to see his grandchildren speak the way they do. He has started working hard to introduce some refinement into the future generations. He makes it a point to do aap janaab to them all the time.

The children seem to respond well to these sessions of haute couture. But they
still feel very comfortable and natural with their tu tadaak when far from their
grandpa specially while talking to each other. Only time will tell which culture
will finally prevail.

On our part, we still miss the hills. But I guess we will fare well in Lucknow. But when we are ready to leave from here, I wonder what we will be like?

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Brown springs a surprise
Mandelson as minister for spin
by Bruce Anderson

NO one ever thought of Gordon Brown as a master of surprises, but this is one for the record book. It was as if, early in Book One of Paradise Lost, shock, and the comedy, we should acknowledge that this is a good appointment. In a Cabinet full of mediocrities, some of them in great offices of state, Peter Mandelson will be a thoroughly competent, grown-up minister.

He has had a long apprenticeship. Not long after the 1997 election, a Labour minister in the Lords arrived at the Tory Whips’ office. Because his civil servants had fed him duff information, he had given a misleading answer in the House. What should he do? “Don’t worry,” came the reply: “It’s happened to us all. Just stand up tomorrow, apologise and correct the record. No one’ll give you a hard time.”

The minister left, relieved. An hour later, he was back, crestfallen. “What’s plan B?” “What do you mean?” “Apparently, Mandelson has decreed that we are never to apologise to the Tories ever, for anything.” Pride cometh before a fall. Mr Mandelson was lucky to recover from his first resignation, forced upon him because he made a misleading statement when applying for a mortgage.

If a Tory had done that, there would have been no second chance. As it happens, a mere peccadillo had been committed. That sub-prime mortgage did not turn toxic, and Peter Mandelson did turn into a good Northern Ireland Secretary.

Then came the Hindujas, and the allegation that Mr Mandelson had exercised improper influence on their behalf. As rapidly became clear, he had done nothing wrong. But there were two problems. His initial response to the queries was both high-handed and unconvincing. That is the trouble with Peter. Even when he is telling the truth, he can often sound as if he has something to conceal.

This helps to explain the second problem. He had forfeited No 10’s confidence. To his enduring dismay, Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell were not willing to defend him. So he found himself drafting a second resignation.

At that stage, everyone including Mr Mandelson thought that it was the end of
his ministerial career. Everyone was wrong, and there will be one immediate
benefit. The Mandelson appointment will be good for morale in the higher
reaches of commerce and business.

Company directors will be aware that there are voices in the Labour Party, urged on by that great economic sophisticate Polly Toynbee, who would like Gordon Brown to govern with his bile duct. Eighteen months of scorched-earth socialism would show the middle classes how a Labour government ought to behave.

Businessmen knew that Tony Blair would never listen to that sort of nonsense, but Gordon Brown? Harder to be sure until Peter Mandelson’s arrival. This was the man who said that New Labour was relaxed about people becoming filthy rich (there might have been the hint of a sub-text: “As long as they pay for their peerages”. So the rich can now relax, whatever their wealth’s state of hygiene.

That was not the sole reason for the recall. This is an intensely political Prime Minister. He does not want to govern against the constant background noise of Blairite plotting. By hiring the most prominent Blairite of them all, part minister, part hostage, Mr Brown hopes to restore calm. This may be harder than he realises.

A lot of Labour MPs are discontented, not because they are uber-Blairites
(whatever that means) but because they think that the Government is
sleepwalking to defeat. There are also those the “rich are filthy” tendency
who regard Mr Mandelson as the incarnation of everything which they most
detested about Blairism. It must also be recognised that a lot of voters do not
take Mr Mandelson as seriously as he takes himself.

Even so, Mandy’s presence at the Cabinet table makes it more likely that Gordon Brown will be able to hang on until 2010. Whatever his ministerial title, Peter Mandelson will also act as minister for spin. This will not be universally unpopular. That said, there will be a number of Labour supporters who hope that Mandy can work some of his old magic.

Magic, it was. Earlier and clearer than anyone else, Peter Mandelson saw what needed to happen if the Labour Party was ever to return to office. It helped that by 1985, when he went to work for Neil Kinnock, Mr Mandelson no longer had any encumbering baggage of belief or principle. As a student, he had flirted with the Young Communist League. Much later, he almost joined the SDP, but then had a better idea. Why not turn the Labour Party into the SDP?

In the early Eighties, Peter and I were colleagues at London Weekend
Television. When Mr Kinnock recruited him, I had a phone call from Norman
Tebbit, then the chairman of the Tory party. “We don’t have to worry about
this Mandelson fellow, do we?”

In a prediction which is not embarrassing to recall, I replied: “Oh yes we do.”
It took a few years, plus considerable help from the lunatic wing of the Tory
party, before those anxieties were justified. But Peter deserves great credit
for his fixity of purpose.

Whatever the vicissitudes, his eyes were firmly focused on power. “POWER”. It was instructive to hear him roll those two syllables around his mouth. No oenophile ever caressed his palette more lovingly with the finest vintages.

By arrangement with The Independent

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Will death penalty make world safer?
by Jeanne Woodford

AS the warden of San Quentin, I presided over four executions. After each one, someone on the staff would ask, “Is the world safer because of what we did tonight?” We knew the answer: No.

I worked in corrections for 30 years, starting as a correctional officer and working my way up to warden at San Quentin and then on to the top job in the state — director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. During those years, I came to believe that the death penalty should be replaced with life without the possibility of parole.

I didn’t reach that conclusion because I’m soft on crime. My No. 1 concern is
public safety. I want my children and grandchildren to have the safety and
freedom to pursue their dreams. I know from firsthand experience that some
people are dangerous and must be removed from society forever — people
such as Robert Lee Massie.

I presided over Massie’s execution in 2001. He was first sentenced to death for the 1965 murder of a mother of two. But when executions were temporarily banned in 1972, his sentence was changed to one that would allow parole, and he was released in 1978. Months later, he killed a 61-year-old liquor storeowner and was returned to death row.

For supporters of the death penalty, Massie is a poster child. Yet for me, he stands out among the executions I presided over as the strongest example of how empty and futile the act of execution is.

I remember that night clearly. It was March 27, 2001. I was the last person to talk to Massie before he died. After that, I brought the witnesses in. I looked at the clock to make sure it was after midnight.

I got a signal from two members of my staff who were on the phone with the state Supreme Court and the US attorney general’s office to make sure there were no last-minute legal impediments to the execution. There were none, so I gave the order to proceed. It took several minutes for the lethal injections to take effect.

I did my job, but I don’t believe it was the right thing to have done. We should have condemned Massie to permanent imprisonment — that would have made the world safer. But on the night we executed him, when the question was asked, “Did this make the world safer?” the answer remained no. Massie needed to be kept away from society, but we did not need to kill him.

Why should we pay to keep him locked up for life? I hear that question constantly. Few people know the answer: It’s cheaper — much, much cheaper than execution. I wish the public knew how much the death penalty affects their wallets.

California spends an additional $117 million each year pursuing the execution of
those on death row. Just housing inmates on death row costs an additional
$90,000 per prisoner per year above what it would cost to house them with
the general prison population.

A statewide, bipartisan commission recently concluded that we must spend $100 million more each year to fix the many problems with capital punishment in California. Total price tag: in excess of $200 million a year more than simply condemning people to life without the possibility of parole.

If we condemn the worst offenders, like Massie, to permanent imprisonment, resources now spent on the death penalty could be used to investigate unsolved homicides, modernise crime labs and expand effective violence prevention programs, especially in at-risk communities.

The money also could be used to intervene in the lives of children at risk and
to invest in their education — to stop future victimisation. As I presided over
Massie’s execution, I thought about the abuse and neglect he endured as a
child in the foster care system.

We failed to keep him safe, and our failure contributed to who he was as an
adult. Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to kill him, what if we
spent that money on other foster children so that we stop producing men such
as Massie in the first place?

As director of corrections, I visited Watts and met with some ex-offenders. I
learned that the prison system is paroling 300 people every week into the
neighborhood without a plan or resources for success.

How can we continue to spend more than $100 million a year seeking the
execution of a handful of offenders while we fail to meet the basic safety
needs of communities such as Watts?

It is not realistic to think that Los Angeles’ Watts and neighborhoods like it
will ever get well if we can’t — or won’t — support them in addressing the
problems they face.

To say that I have regrets about my involvement in the death penalty is to
let myself off the hook too easily. To take a life in order to prove how much
we value another life does not strengthen our society. It is a public policy that
devalues our very being and detracts crucial resources from programs that could
truly make our communities safe.

By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Delhi Durbar
Amar Singh’s bid for a big alliance

THE irrepressible Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh is currently busy trying to team up his leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and new found ally Lalu Prasad Yadav with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.

His game plan is to have a large alliance of regional parties within the UPA which would also include Ram Vilas Paswan and Sharad Pawar.

The grapevine has it that Amar Singh’s move is essentially a response to the cold-shoulder given to him by Congress leaders.

The Congress is a shade exasperated with the “socialist Thakur” and is reported
to have conveyed to Mulayam Singh that it has no problem dealing with any SP
leader, least of all Ram Gopal Yadav, currently negotiating with the Congress on
seat-sharing in UP.

However, they cannot say the same about Amar Singh. Having realised the
resistance he is facing in the Congress, Amar Singh is busy trying to rope
in others like Lalu Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan and Sharad Pawar just to
demonstrate his growing stature as a non-Congress UPA leader who enjoys
a clout far beyond his party.

Party time for scribes

After 10 hectic days, it was celebration time for journalists who accompanied Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his trip to the US and France on board Air India One.

However, the loud noise coming from the space occupied by the media personnel in the aircraft was far disturbing for the officials and the SPG contingent in the aircraft which was trying to get a few hours of sleep.

In fact, the Prime Minister’s wife, Gursharan Kaur, also complained that she was finding it difficult to sleep because of the noise.

This was quietly conveyed to the journos, who then decided to take a nap but
not before deciding to meet at a ‘gala dinner’ at the India International Centre
two days later.

No place to smoke

So afraid are the employees of Nirman Bhavan, housing the Union Health
Ministry offices, to pick up the stick that they are now searching for “safe”
corners to enjoy a smoke.

Only the other day, two class IV employees were almost aghast to be spotted smoking on the Nirman Bhavan compound, the first among government buildings in India, to go smoke-free.

They immediately stubbed the butt and ran for cover, attracting the attention of all those who had missed them in the first place.

Soon, such covers won’t be available as Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, a diehard tobacco critic, has been taking on one Chief Minister after another in his crusade against smoking.

News is that Nirman Bhavan may soon come under camera surveillance to ferret out smokers, wherever they maybe.

— Contributed by Faraz Ahmad, Ashok Tuteja and Aditi Tandon

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Corrections and clarifications

New Aligarh Varsity VC” was the headline of a Dehra Dun-datelined report
(October 1) which was about the appointment of Prof S.K. Singh as Vice-
Chancellor of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University.

It should have been “Amarinder’s ‘confidante”, not “confidant” in the headline “Amarinder’s confidant, others booked” (October 3).

The report, “Coop societies to sell DAP” (October 6), does not tell the reader what DAP is. It stands for Di-Ammonium Phosphate.

The headline “Discrimination with Jammu” (October 6) should have been “Discrimination against Jammu”.

Despite our earnest endeavour to keep The Tribune error-free, some errors do creep in at times. We are always eager to correct them. We request our readers to write or e-mail to us whenever they find any error. We will carry corrections and clarifications, wherever necessary, every Tuesday.

Readers in such cases can write to Mr Amar Chandel, Deputy Editor, The
Tribune, Chandigarh, with the word “Corrections” on the envelope. His e-mail
ID is [email protected]

H.K. Dua
Editor-in-Chief


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