SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
O P I N I O N S

Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped

EDITORIALS

Ekla Chalo
Congress is wary of national alliance
T
HE Congress decision not to have a national alliance with regional parties in the coming Lok Sabha elections has caused a stir among UPA partners and livened up the proceedings. On the one hand, it shows the exasperation of the Congress over the pulls and pressures mounted by its allies and, on the other, it is a sign of the growing confidence of the party that it will be better off alone.

Good enough price
Centre resists political pressure on MSP
THE Centre has approved a hike of Rs 80 in the minimum support price of wheat. This is bound to disappoint the political leadership in the wheat-growing states, including Punjab and Haryana, which had been pressing for a minimum increase of Rs 200 a quintal. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had demanded the wheat MSP at Rs 1,500 a quintal.





EARLIER STORIES

Kashmir is bilateral
January 30, 2009
Outrage in Mangalore
January 29, 2009
Have autonomy talks
January 28, 2009
Pin Pakistan down
January 26, 2009
Civil services: The blunted edge
January 25, 2009
Credibility, the best asset
January 24, 2009
Obama on Pakistan
January 23, 2009
Words to remember
January 22, 2009
Metro is not for Maytas
January 21, 2009
President Obama
January 20, 2009


Pranab prevails
Colombo acts to save civilians
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER Pranab Mukherjee’s mission to Sri Lanka has evidently yielded better-than-expected results. Mr Mukherjee’s prime concern was to ensure that the Tamil civilians — estimated between 150,000 and 250,000 — trapped in the crossfire between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were not killed in the battle raging now.

ARTICLE

Global recession, shrinking jobs
Not yet out of the dumps
by Jayshree Sengupta
A
good piece of news is that industrial growth as measured by Index of Industrial Production is now at 2.4 per cent for November 2008. It means that we have crossed over to slightly better times — from October at least when it was negative 1.5 per cent. But manufacturing (which has the highest weight in the index), growth is still quite low at 2.4 per cent as compared to 4.7 per cent in 2007.

MIDDLE

Green with envy
by Sai R. Vaidyanathan
O
ur geography professor had literally turned a new leaf. He rode on a brand new bicycle to the department and was, for the first time, clad in a jeans and t-shirt. To mark our attendance, he took out a new Parker fountain pen in class.

OPED

Coastal security
There is need for a holistic approach
by Premvir Das
T
here has been talk, after the terrorist raid on Mumbai on November 26 2008, of several measures being taken to tighten coastal security, including the setting up of a coastal command, acquisition of many types of vessels and aircraft for the Navy, the Coast Guard and the state marine police to augment their resources and the setting up of a coastal radar station.

Where are all the Mangaloreans?
by Smita Prakash
W
here are the famous Mangaloreans who brandish their origins at the drop of a hat? Why are they not speaking up for the protection of the secular and liberal culture of this beautiful port city?

Miliband blows hot and cold
by Anita Inder Singh
W
hat’s in a name? Or a label? Quite a lot, if what David Miliband wrote in The Guardian and told his Indian and Pakistani hosts recently is to be believed. Perhaps, with a view to impressing the Obama administration he opined that sticking the wrong label on a policy can result in the wrong means being used to carry it out.


Top








EDITORIALS

Ekla Chalo
Congress is wary of national alliance

THE Congress decision not to have a national alliance with regional parties in the coming Lok Sabha elections has caused a stir among UPA partners and livened up the proceedings. On the one hand, it shows the exasperation of the Congress over the pulls and pressures mounted by its allies and, on the other, it is a sign of the growing confidence of the party that it will be better off alone. The decision is in keeping with the stand of the “Ekla Chalo” lobby having strong members like Mr Pranab Mukherjee. Indeed, the regional parties have been making big demands on it, whether in terms of seat adjustments or bringing about policy changes. For instance, both the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party wanted the Congress to concede seats outside their states of influence, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The same was the strategy of the Ram Vilas Paswan outfit, the Lok Janshakti Party. The Congress was also cut up that the NCP hobnobbed with the Left floating the name of Mr Sharad Pawar as the prime ministerial candidate.

Things did not stop there. The Congress also ended up annoying some of its state units by tying up with a few parties with which it did not pull along well in the states. That is why it has decided that the decision on seat sharing will be taken on the recommendation of the state units and the party would seek votes on its own unless there was a local alliance. Implicit in this decision is the corollary that it will be striking a hard bargain with allies like the RJD of Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav in the states. Ironically, it is they who have been playing hard ball with the Congress.

The Congress is not averse to doing post-poll what it has ruled out before the elections. That means that in the likely event of it not getting an absolute majority, it can again sew up alliances with the parties that matter. To that extent, the UPA has not been dissolved. In a way, it has been put on suspended animation, to be revived in a new avatar after the elections. The allies may rave and rant, calling it a violation of the coalition dharma but even they know that they need the Congress as much as the Congress needs them.

Top

Good enough price
Centre resists political pressure on MSP

THE Centre has approved a hike of Rs 80 in the minimum support price of wheat. This is bound to disappoint the political leadership in the wheat-growing states, including Punjab and Haryana, which had been pressing for a minimum increase of Rs 200 a quintal. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had demanded the wheat MSP at Rs 1,500 a quintal. Since the Lok Sabha elections are round the corner, almost every political party wants to please farmers, who constitute a large vote bank. It is, however, commendable that the UPA government has not succumbed to political pressure. It has raised the MSP only marginally in keeping with the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.

Even this small hike has not gone down well with traders, who have threatened to import wheat instead of making purchases from the local markets. The wheat price in the global markets hovers between Rs 900 and Rs 980 a quintal. For the last season the wheat MSP was pushed up by a record Rs 250 a quintal when the global prices ruled above Rs 1,500 a quintal. As part of the global financial meltdown, commodity prices have plunged. Farmers have benefited from the reduction of input costs, especially diesel. In Punjab the petroleum prices have not declined to the desired extent as the state government has increased the tax level.

Large buyers and traders have to pay a hefty market fee and other taxes on their wheat purchases in Punjab. Though the cost of transportation has plummeted, the tax burden and middlemen’s profit jack up the retail price for the common consumer. Since the government has to take care of the poor too, it should effectively plug leakages in the public distribution system and minimise the grain losses during transit and storage apart from coming down heavily on official malpractices and corruption.

Top

Pranab prevails
Colombo acts to save civilians

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER Pranab Mukherjee’s mission to Sri Lanka has evidently yielded better-than-expected results. Mr Mukherjee’s prime concern was to ensure that the Tamil civilians — estimated between 150,000 and 250,000 — trapped in the crossfire between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were not killed in the battle raging now. The concern appears to have been driven home during his talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has announced safe passage for the Tamil civilians and asked the LTTE to release the people it is holding hostage as a human shield. President Rajapaksa’s 48-hour deadline to the LTTE for releasing civilians, squarely puts the responsibility for their safety and security on the Tamil Tigers. It now remains to be seen whether the fighting will abate adequately during these 48 hours for civilians to reach safe zones.

Fears persist that the LTTE —which is putting up a desperate last-ditch stand to save whatever little is left of the terrorist organisation — will thwart the Tamils from moving out unharmed. Freeing the Tamils would remove the last ‘barrier’ that stands between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE. Yet, it is hoped that the force of opinion outside of Sri Lanka, especially in India, would convince the LTTE that there are no quarters from where it can expect even verbal support when the lives of Tamils are in peril. This is borne out by responsible parties in Tamil Nadu not only expressing satisfaction but endorsing the outcome of Mr Mukherjee’s talks with President Rajapaksa.

Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK has taken a statesman-like stand and accepted the assurance conveyed by President Rajapaksa through Mr Mukherjee that every measure will be taken for “protecting the Tamils from undergoing brutalities”. In a state where feelings are running high, both the AIADMK and the DMK have, by implication, now distanced themselves from the LTTE if only to defend the lives of Tamils in the island republic’s north.

Top

 

Thought for the Day

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t. — Erica Jong

Top

ARTICLE

Global recession, shrinking jobs
Not yet out of the dumps
by Jayshree Sengupta

A good piece of news is that industrial growth as measured by Index of Industrial Production is now at 2.4 per cent for November 2008. It means that we have crossed over to slightly better times — from October at least when it was negative 1.5 per cent. But manufacturing (which has the highest weight in the index), growth is still quite low at 2.4 per cent as compared to 4.7 per cent in 2007. There is a growing fear of unemployment of around 10 million people engaged in manufacturing. This is because of the slack in demand faced by export industries which has led to many export enterprises shedding labour in recent months, and their factories remaining idle. In December there was a decline of 1.2 per cent in export growth but in October the decline was 12.4 per cent and in November it was 9.8 per cent.

The countries that buy from us are still in recession and who knows when they will be able to come out of it. There is a likelihood of a decline in GDP in industrial countries this year. Catering to the domestic market can be more reliable indeed but for exporters of diamond jewellery for example, it is not easy to sell the same merchandise in the domestic markets. It will take time for them to adapt to local demand and it may not be so easy to sell in bulk. Meanwhile, what are the 10 million workers laid off workers supposed to do? They have no social safety net to fall back on. They are probably going to apply for jobs in other units which produce similar products but they too must be facing a similar situation and downsizing.

Basically these hard times are showing us the limitations of export-led growth that had been heralded as a panacea for developing countries striving for faster industrialisation by the western countries for decades. It led to some improvement in the living standards of the people but it often also led to conditions of work that are pitiable and sometimes deplorable.

The women workers sewing sneakers in cramped work spaces in South East Asian countries is an image of exploitative corporate behaviour much touted by social activists all round the world. But then these same women were not earning anything before. At least their being able to earn some cash led to the better upkeep of their children and families in general. The catch, however, is that all such jobs depend on the incomes and spending habits of Americans and Europeans. The more a country is globalised the more serious are the periodical pitfalls.

Over the years many countries have jumped into the same bandwagon of export-led growth. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, all have been engaged in aggressive exporting and all making more or less the same products -garments and textiles for example. The country that overtook all others in the region in all categories of manufactures in recent times is China of course and it is busy trying to get over the global recession as fast as possible. It has allocated huge amounts of money through its stimulus package recently to benefit the ordinary workers and farmers. Almost all countries are doing the same —give export incentives and cut interest costs.

We too have done so in two stages — the first package was mainly of monetary measures and the second package also (surprisingly) with more monetary measures and some fiscal measures. They do not offer the kind of direct relief the ordinary worker is seeking. The package, however, aims at giving stimulus to infrastructure growth and the state governments can borrow for infrastructure projects to speed up infrastructural development. The projects can employ some of the laid off workers. But is it enough — the repeated bank rate reductions, long term infrastructure development and cheap credit for housing and cars?

No, because the problems are serious which involve the lives of workers laid off. Immediate relief is needed. They have to be relocated perhaps and given training. It is not just inadequate liquidity that is constraining business because there is plenty of liquidity now in the system but it is the reluctance of banks to lend. Tinkering with the interest rates cannot make much of a difference. If banks lent freely to people to start their own enterprises, things would have been different. Most small manufacturers still have to rely on private finance at high rates.

In a year or two, however, things will improve and industrial growth and export growth will pick up with the end of recession. What is perhaps needed at the present moment is a social safety net to tide over the problems of the workers who are temporarily laid off. They ought to be able to return to work when times are good and live in dignity and not become potato sellers as many have become in the handloom industry.

Slackness of domestic demand is something that also needs to be tackled and it is not just the middle classes that are responsible for the demand shrinking. With so many big spenders in the IT sector under the shadow of Satyam, there is likely to be a setback on domestic demand if more workers are laid off in addition to the ones at Satyam. You cannot force or cajole people to spend when they are feeling insecure about their jobs and their future.

What will happen to the workers’ families that have been laid off is not hard to guess. Many will become so poor that their children will suffer and they will cut on expenditure on health and education. Already India has the dubious distinction of having the biggest number of malnourished children in the world even as we boast about our becoming the second fastest growing country in the world.

The truth is that growing joblessness is something bothering President Barack Obama very much but it still is not much in the radar of our own policy-makers. Why are we not looking more closely at the rate at which the factories are being shut and people are being rendered jobless? Perhaps because those losing jobs are silent and so burdened and beleaguered by their problems, that they do not shout slogans in the streets. The sad truth is that the workers are powerless and quite often unaware of their rights and they sink into poverty without a whimper. Most go to live with their extended families and survive by earning small amounts from petty trading or becoming daily wage labourers.

Indian elite shoppers meanwhile continue their buying spree of imported goods in malls though even they are getting fewer footfalls in recent times. If all Indians bought only Indian made goods, it would be helpful for boosting demand and industrial growth. With higher industrial growth India can come out of the slowdown faster. But for all this, business confidence needs to be boosted with political stability and leadership at the top.

Top

MIDDLE

Green with envy
by Sai R. Vaidyanathan

Our geography professor had literally turned a new leaf. He rode on a brand new bicycle to the department and was, for the first time, clad in a jeans and t-shirt.

To mark our attendance, he took out a new Parker fountain pen in class.

A good-looking research student had picked the old man as her guide. And, the gossip was that the two were spending a lot of time together. The Parker might have been a gift from her.

No doubt, the professor was good with words. But the bicycle and the change in appearance looked as if he intended to demonstrate how fit or trendy he still was.

Not geography, but the professor was the topic of discussion after class and during the tea break. Opinions ranged from “It’s his life” to “It is against professional ethics”.

The guys were going green with envy. We felt threatened to have another competitor in the attraction game. We decided to hear it straight from the horse’s (professor’s) mouth.

We cornered him at lunch. “Sir, you didn’t invite us for your birthday party yesterday,” one of us said.

“It wasn’t my birthday yesterday,” he replied slightly puzzled.

“We thought the Parker might have been a gift from someone special on your birthday.”

“No, I bought it. It is for someone special,” he said with a spark in his eye.

‘Ah! The Parker was to impress her,’ we realised and pushed on. “Sir, your bike is very sexy and you are looking smart too,” another mate said.

“We have to take good care of our resources,” he replied. It was confirmed that we had competition.

Suddenly, he pushed back his unopened tiffin box and said, “Do you know an electric iron consumes 1,000 to 1,500 watts of power? By wearing jeans and t-shirts, which don’t require ironing, I am doing my bit for the world.”

The professor’s answer baffled us. We took a moment to gather our thoughts. The change from a car to a bicycle may have nothing to do with the new babe on the block. Maybe, it was the professor’s way to slow down global warming.

But what about the Parker? “Sir, you can’t give a used pen to ‘someone special’!” we persisted.

“We waste so much plastic on pen refills and in packaging them. With a fountain pen and an inkpot, I am not contributing further to the heap to plastic,” he declared. “Also, I have started having more of salads and fruits so that I save on the fuel used for cooking.”

As the babe appeared on the scene to join him for lunch, the professor asked us to excuse him. While leaving, we overheard the professor say, “My dear, I too have switched to a green way of life…”

Top

 
OPED

Coastal security
There is need for a holistic approach
by Premvir Das

There has been talk, after the terrorist raid on Mumbai on November 26 2008, of several measures being taken to tighten coastal security, including the setting up of a coastal command, acquisition of many types of vessels and aircraft for the Navy, the Coast Guard and the state marine police to augment their resources and the setting up of a coastal radar station.

All these are, of course, desirable but unless a holistic view is taken of the threats that we face and of the counters that are needed to cope with them, we might still not be able to put in place the structure that is needed to provide reasonable coastal security for the country. It is, therefore, necessary to view the fundamental issues in perspective.

Until 1978 India had just one maritime force, the Navy, which was one of the three armed forces. Need was felt for some years for a second sea-going para- military force which could safeguard security in coastal waters and also carry out tasks at sea which did not fall within the purview of the Navy such as pollution control, fisheries protection, prevention of smuggling and illegal immigration using the sea route and so on.

There was a strong lobby pressing for this force to be subordinated to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) but the Navy’s hierarchy was able to persuade the political leadership of the necessity of the new force being placed under the Ministry of Defence (MOD) with the stipulation that in times of war, it would be directly subordinated to the Navy.

It was also abundantly clear that, at least in the foreseeable future, the actual resources and other support would have to be provided by the Navy.

Thus, when this force, or the Coast Guard (CG) as it got to be known, actually came into being, it was a sort of a hybrid, at one level, it was a para-military force at another. Unlike others of that ilk, it functioned under the MOD.

In the beginning, its budgetary support also came from within defence allocations; after a few years, this was transferred to the MHA.

Over a period of time, its dependence on the Navy, both for ships and aircraft and for personnel and maintenance support, diminished but it continued to function under the MOD.

The Director General and other senior officers of the CG have been from the Navy, some permanently seconded, but its own cadre is getting consolidated and will be able to meet all needs very soon.

There is a mechanism for coordination between the Navy and the CG at the apex level; like all such bodies its efficacy has depended on the personalities of people in senior positions.

Interestingly, the fact that the head of the CG has been from the Navy has not prevented serious differences of opinion and clash of egos at one time or another.

In 2001, based on the recommendations of a group of ministers, constituted by the government to review various aspects of national security, budgetary support for the CG has been reverted to the MOD.

This system worked fairly satisfactorily in earlier years. The Navy thought of itself just as a war-fighting machine, called to duty only in times of military conflict, leaving peace-time functions, considered infra dig, to the fledgling service which, as it grew in strength and confidence, became increasingly resentful of the big brother.

It established a chain of bases and networks all around the coast and in the island territories, and, over a period of time, began to concentrate more on forces which strengthened its ocean going profile, always a more glamorous aspect of sea duty.

Meanwhile, the Border Security Force (BSF) acquired its own marine wing for work in the Sir Creek and other river areas. Some coastal states had some semblance of marine police but without any real capability.

This state of affairs continued till the mid-1980s when LTTE militancy gained momentum in Sri Lanka.

There was a CG station at Mandapam but it was considered necessary to set up a chain of stations on the south coast of Tamil Nadu to prevent free and easy movement of militants across the waters of Palk Bay separating the two countries; this ‘policing’ responsibility had, of necessity, to be taken up by the Navy, albeit with great reluctance.

Only people who could be spared easily from their permanent assignments, in other words, not the best, were sent to these detachments which patrolled these waters using hired fishing trawlers.

The command and control arrangements left a lot to be desired. The lone CG station answered to its superior in Chennai which functioned under the CG headquarters in New Delhi while the naval stations operated under orders of their own superior, also in Chennai, who acted on the orders of the Navy Command at Visakhapat-nam which answered to the Naval Headquarters in New Delhi.

The irrationality of this arrangement is obvious but such has been the cussedness of our bureaucracy and the military that years of frustration and fulmination could not get the system streamlined and made more responsive.

The inconsistencies of the existing arrangement have been stressed at different levels for long and the inability of decision-makers to take action has caused the nation serious harm and humiliation. It is time now to ruthlessly rectify the inefficiencies.

The first essential requirement is to integrate the two major maritime forces viz. the Navy and the CG. Total amalgamation of the CG with the larger sister service is neither necessary nor desirable; there are some functions which the CG alone is uniquely configured to discharge e.g. pollution control, as dedicated equipment and facilities are needed.

What is needed, however, is for the CG to be placed under the direct command of the Chief of Naval Staff.

Its present control, vested for some unknown reason in the Ministry of Defence directly, is both irrational and unproductive. All operation centres of these two Services at New Delhi and at major stations such as Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Chennai and at Port Blair must be brought together.

There are other aspects of coastal security which also merit attention. Safeguarding off shore assets viz. drilling ships, production and process platforms, and the numerous vessels which support oil exploration and exploitation in the EEZ is clearly of great importance.

Ingress of unidentified vessels in waters where they are located must be prohibited with violations being treated with ‘zero tolerance’.

All fishing trawlers and boats must be compulsorily registered, once again strictly and without exception.

Merchant ships coming into ports must identify themselves and produce X-ray certification of their cargoes as required by the Container Security Initiative, which we are yet to become party to.

Security measures in ports must include frequent patrolling by the marine police as is the norm elsewhere.

In short, our entire approach to issues of coastal security must undergo radical transformation; it has been lackadaisical, to say the least, and lacking in seriousness.

There is not much time to lose. The next attack may not be a repeat of 26/11 and take some other form but of one thing we can be certain — the sea cannot be taken out of the equation.

Top

Where are all the Mangaloreans?
by Smita Prakash

Where are the famous Mangaloreans who brandish their origins at the drop of a hat? Why are they not speaking up for the protection of the secular and liberal culture of this beautiful port city?

Aishwarya Rai (films), Vijay Mallya (industrialist), Suneil Shetty (films), Margaret Alva (politician), George Fernandes (politician), Veerappa Moily (politician), Oscar Fernandes (politician), Veerendra Hegde (Dharmadhikari of the Dharmasthala temple), Shilpa Shetty (actress), Maxwell Pereira (super cop) and Arvind Adiga (Booker prize) speak up for your city.

This is not the Mangalore that I grew up in…. the city where I spent my summers at the homes of aunts and grandparents, visited restaurants and temples, wearing whatever I pleased. Nobody stopped me. Not even the Shankaracharya of the Sri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri.

The Peetham is the first and foremost of the four Peethams established by the renowned 8th century philosopher saint Sri Adi Shankara. This was in 1980, and women were safe in Mangalore. At the Sringeri Math, women only wore saris when they sought the darshan of the Shankaracharya.

Since I didn’t own a blouse and sari, I decided to wear a salwar kameez. I didn’t think I was insulting anybody after all, the men were topless! The Swamiji looked at me and asked me very politely in Kannada if I was a North Indian. I replied in chaste Kannada that I was a Kannadiga, but lived in the North. He nodded, smiled and said, “that explains your choice of attire.”  There was no censure in his voice or his eyes.

I am so glad that in my teen years I only met with the erudite 35th Shankaracharya who embodied what the culture of coastal Karnataka is all about…inclusive, tolerant and respectful of all cultures.

Thankfully Pramod Muthalik hadn’t yet formed his Sri Ram Sene. This Marathi-speaking non-Mangalorean, non-Kannadiga from Belgaum was still not sure where his political fortunes lay. He was still trying out his luck with the Shiv Sena, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal, RSS, Rashtriya Hindustan Sena or this new and blasphemous Ram Sene. And during this time, he was also reportedly Nathuram Godse’s fan! What an endearing personality!

A part of Mangalore is called Kudla in Tulu (a language spoken in many parts of coastal Karnataka), which literally means junction. The city is situated at the meeting point of rivers Netravati and Phalguni. But figuratively, it is also the junction of various religions and cultures like Hinduism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity.

Mangalore finds mention in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It was also in the travel itinerary of Greek, Persian and Portuguese sailors even before the 14th century. Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas and Hoysalas ruled it. And then, there was Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Mangaloreans are proud of their inclusive and open culture.

The city has a male literacy rate of 90 percent and a female literacy rate of 80 percent. Mangalore is called the ‘Apron of India’…. this is because of the number of students you see walking around wearing lab coats (known as aprons in Mangalore). 
Do you know that in this small city, there are five medical colleges, four dental colleges, 20 nursing colleges, 10 institutes of physiotherapy and pharmacy, 14 engineering colleges, nine industrial training institutes, five hotel management institutes and 42 colleges offering bachelors, masters and doctorates in arts commerce and business management?

In the sixties and seventies, when the self-appointed custodians of Hindu culture hadn’t descended on this town masquerading as a city, my great aunts would drive us to Jyoti Talkies to see Kannada films and New Chitra to see Hollywood movies.

This is where the first ice cream sundae in India was born called ‘Gadbad’.  Teenage couples could share this gastronomic delight looking into each other’s eyes adoringly without any fear of a Muthalik or an Ashok Gehlot frowning on them or even slapping them! But that was in the seventies you see…. there was no Hindu Taliban then. 

I wore hand-me-downs from my aunts…they wore them in the sixties and early seventies and I wore them in the late seventies and eighties…  skirts, slacks, skivie tops, bell bottoms with bindis (horror). If we wore or didn’t wear certain outfits, it was because we didn’t want to, it was never because of fear of any organization or goondas. Sure there were ‘eve teasers’ called ‘polis’, but all you needed to do was turn towards them and glare and that was enough to send them scampering away.

That is what Mangalore was all about. Sure Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa wants to do away with pub culture, but he certainly will not stop a Mallya from making his beer. After all look at the revenue his government rakes in from taxing breweries. So, in effect, consumption is bad, production isn’t?

The BJP in Delhi might want to distance itself from the Sene and its brand of Hindutva, but the BJP in Bangalore has no such pretensions. Hopefully, Mangalore will give its reply at the ballot box.

Do Muthalik and his goondas seriously believe that the educated women of this city need his “protection”? No thank you. Keep your lathis inside your shakhas. Keep your narrow mindsets inside your darkened walls; the Mangalorean spirit will survive, despite you. — ANI

Top

Miliband blows hot and cold
by Anita Inder Singh

What’s in a name? Or a label? Quite a lot, if what David Miliband wrote in The Guardian and told his Indian and Pakistani hosts recently is to be believed. Perhaps, with a view to impressing the Obama administration he opined that sticking the wrong label on a policy can result in the wrong means being used to carry it out.

What alternative concept or label could be used to describe more appropriately the many-sided fight against terrorism in the foreseeable future he does not suggest. On the one hand Miliband thinks that violent extremism poses a ‘real’ global threat because technology enables terrorists to connect more easily with each other.

On the other he believes that terrorist groups in different countries are disparate and not unified. For example, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) , Hizbullah, and insurgent groups in Iraq are diverse, just as terrorists in Europe were in the 1970s.

But then he annoyed the Indians by saying that the LeT 'has roots in Pakistan and that its cause is Kashmir.' For, in the name of religion, the LeT wants to hive off the Indian part of Kashmir, challenging India's secular ideal, sovereignty and changing its international borders by force.

Not surprisingly, the Indians regard Miliband's explanation of the causes of the LeT's terrorism as intrusive and bristled at his apparent equation (if not condoning) of Kashmir with the LeT's violence.

Miliband then went on to ruffle Pakistani feathers by blaming Islamabad for its bad relations with India and urging it to take action against extremist groups launching attacks on India from their Pakistani bases.

Irritating both India and Pakistan is hardly the best way to persuade them to resolve their 61-year-old dispute over Kashmir and cooperate against extremism.

How does Miliband think terrorists should be dealt with? Echoing Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Miliband doubts that the West can kill its way to victory against extremists. Democracies, united by common values, should champion the rule of law; Britain should uphold its commitments to human rights and civil liberties at home and abroad.

Followers of terrorism, writes Miliband, should be channelled into democratic politics. He doesn't say by whom. In Afghanistan it is hard to imagine either the inept Karzai government or a divided and underfunded Nato putting extremists on democratic rails.

And in Pakistan, where the military and the Inter-Services-Intelligence have trained militants over several years with the intent of destabilising neighbouring Afghanistan and India, it remains uncertain whether the fragile elected government led by Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani would be able to bring the politically dominant military under civilian control, let alone transforming terrorists into democrats.

Miliband may be right in saying that it was wrong to talk of a war on terror. But what new label could correctly encapsulate the complexities of terrorism, whether of the global or individual-country variety, and inspire a sound counter-terrorist strategy?

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |