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EDITORIALS

Aid for Pakistan
Devise a mechanism to prevent its misuse
B
Y committing a whopping $5 billion in aid to Pakistan, the donors’ conference in Tokyo has accepted at face value President Asif Zardari’s contention that he would step up his fight against terror.

Another child dies
Implement ban on corporal punishment
Y
ET another student has succumbed to ill-treatment by a teacher. This time it is in Delhi, which is supposed to have implemented the Supreme Court ban on corporal punishment.

Need to extend ceasefire
Lankan Tamils must be made safe and secure
T
HE Sri Lankan government must heed the call of India and the US for immediate cessation of hostilities in its drive against Tamil militants.



EARLIER STORIES

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Not by violence
April
15, 2009
Heed the EC
April
14, 2009
Criminal cases on the rise
April
13, 2009
Filmstars and elections
April
12, 2009
Belated, but right
April
11, 2009
Fighting Taliban
April
10, 2009


ARTICLE

Misgovernance hits Punjab
Poverty spreading in rural areas
by Sucha Singh Gill
T
HE long-term performance of societies is determined by the institutions under which they function. The institutions set the rules of the game and shape the behaviour of economic, social and political actors.

MIDDLE

Thumbs up!
by Anurag
W
HY should I affix my thumb impression?”, she asked around after signing on each page of the stamp papers to seal a property deal in the tehsil office. “Madam, you have to not only thumbprint each page but also make impression of the other four fingers on the last page”, explained the seasoned official, adding that her all-five impressions, were least likely to be forged by fraudsters without being found out.

OPED

Wars come and go but enemy remains the same
by Robert Fisk
I
S the Ministry of Fear about to be reopened? I thought – when Lord Blair finally departed from us and George Bush left the White House – that the institution had been closed down, that we might have been allowed a few hours in the broad sunlit uplands.

Cuba embargo a proven failure
by Michael Kinsley
M
ANY "hard" scientists regard the term "social science" as an oxymoron. Science means hypotheses you can test, and prove or disprove. Social science is little more than observation putting on airs. Among the social sciences, economists are the snobs.

Chatterati
Grooming kids for politics
by Devi Cherian
I
F either mamma or papa is an established political figure, kids are most likely to parachute into politics and even make their way into Parliament. The Rajya Sabha is easier, but even a Lok Sabha seat is normally assured for political kids.





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Aid for Pakistan
Devise a mechanism to prevent its misuse

BY committing a whopping $5 billion in aid to Pakistan, the donors’ conference in Tokyo has accepted at face value President Asif Zardari’s contention that he would step up his fight against terror. The underlying message that the donors — the US, Japan, the European Union and Saudi Arabia — have sent out is that they are one with Pakistan in its efforts to maintain stability, which is essential for preventing the spread of terrorism. The idea is to ensure that Pakistan does not lack funds for launching development-related projects, particularly in its terrorist-infested tribal areas, as terrorist outfits like Al-Qaida and the Taliban have been exploiting poverty to expand their bases. The hope is that terrorist outfits may find it difficult to get fresh recruits to their destructive cause in an atmosphere of increased economic activity.

But the trouble is that there is no proper mechanism to ensure that the funds being made available to Pakistan by the international community in the name of fighting terror will be used only for the intended purposes. Pakistan has a history of diverting financial assistance to strengthen its military vis-à-vis India. This can happen again in the absence of a foolproof system for channeling these funds into infrastructure and other such development projects. There is also the fear of these funds being used to patronise anti-India terrorist outfits, as Pakistan is yet to abandon terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

A few days ago when US President Barack Obama announced his aid plan for Pakistan, he did it with the rider that the release of funds would be linked to Islamabad’s performance in fighting terror. Pakistan was told that the aid was aimed at “equipping, training and building infrastructure directly related to counter-insurgency operations” and “not to support any person or group that conducts violence, sabotage or other activities meant to instil fear or terror in India”. The reality, however, has been different. Pakistan is indeed on test. Its failure to respect the donors’ mandate must not go unpunished.

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Another child dies
Implement ban on corporal punishment

YET another student has succumbed to ill-treatment by a teacher. This time it is in Delhi, which is supposed to have implemented the Supreme Court ban on corporal punishment. The death of 11-year-old Shanno Khan has understandably outraged society. Like ragging in the recent past, corporal punishment too should be viewed as barbaric and banished from every educational institution, and not just on paper. If it is medically established that the child died due to the harrowing experience she had in school, the teacher must be booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

A strong message needs to be sent across the country that the abuse of a child’s rights and dignity cannot be tolerated, least of all in a school where he or she is expected to be in safe hands. What is particularly disturbing is that this is not an isolated incident. Last month a six-year-old girl in Tiruchi died after she was hit by a teacher, locked up in a steel cupboard and later thrown into a water tank. A teacher in a village near Lucknow tied five-year-old Alok Gupta with a rope and dragged him 50 metres for not attending school regularly. If such criminals are let off lightly only because they are teachers, parents would no longer think it safe to send their tiny tots to school.

Teachers have their own reasons for meting our corporal punishment. These include securing a student’s presence for private tuition. Some perverts actually think thrashing is for the good of a child, believing in the outdated saying: “Spare the rod and spoil the child”. There are black sheep in every profession and they need to be weeded out. Children already study under tremendous pressure, including high parental expectations. Poor eating habits and mental stress do not let them fully experience the joys of childhood. They need love and tender care, not indiscriminate use of the rod.

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Need to extend ceasefire
Lankan Tamils must be made safe and secure

THE Sri Lankan government must heed the call of India and the US for immediate cessation of hostilities in its drive against Tamil militants. With tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the “no-fire zone” and the militants using them as “human shields,” there are reports of substantial civilian casualties which can hardly be ignored. As it is, innocent Tamils who have got caught unwittingly in the crossfire between the LTTE cadres and the army are living in pathetic conditions. Further military action must await the evacuation of the civilians under UN supervision. The US call for the Sri Lankan government to allow international monitors to ensure safe exit of the civilians and enforce proper humanitarian standards in the camps for the internally displaced persons is eminently reasonable and needs to be accepted by the Rajapakse administration.

As External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee rightly emphasised in a statement, further violence will not end the conflict and, in fact, would “stain” any eventual peace. It was the bitterness among Tamils in Sri Lanka against their treatment by the majority Sinhalese that had led to the rise of the LTTE and it would be a grave mistake if innocent Tamils are preyed upon by the army even if it be in pursuit of the militants.

Ultimately, there is no escape from a negotiated political settlement of the Tamils issue. It would be suicidal if the Sri Lankan government goes back on its past promises of devolution of power to the Tamils and a measure of autonomy for them in the Tamil-dominated areas. There is a dire need for confidence-building measures between the government and the Tamil civilians and in such a climate of distrust as prevails today insensitivity to the plight of the hapless people in the “no-war zone” can only worsen the psychological divide. A healing touch is indeed the need of the hour. At the same time, it would be unreasonable to expect the Sri Lankan government to lower its guard against the LTTE and its wily leader Prabhakaran.

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Thought for the Day

Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand/ With a grip that kills it.

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Misgovernance hits Punjab
Poverty spreading in rural areas
by Sucha Singh Gill

THE long-term performance of societies is determined by the institutions under which they function. The institutions set the rules of the game and shape the behaviour of economic, social and political actors. D.C. North, a nobel laureate in economics, has declared that "Third world countries are poor because the institutional constraints define a set of payoffs to political/economic activity that does not encourage productive activity".

The rules of the game, especially economic performance, in considerable measure, depends on the tax structure, enforcement of regulations and laws and judicial decisions broadly covered under the broad head of governance. When the ruling elite becomes selective in the enforcement of regulations and laws, creates a tax structure favourable to its narrow/sectarian interests, allows miscarriage of justice, the crisis of governance becomes visible. Several decisions of the elite appear irrational to a large section of the population. Rent seeking acquires prominence over productive efficiency with serious harmful consequences for the performance of the economy.

The political turmoil of the 1980s changed the orientations of administration in Punjab from development to the maintenance of law and order. The long spell of Governor's/President's rule during 1982-1992 (except for a brief spell of the Barnala government) crippled the police and civil administration. The rules were deliberately allowed to be violated to avoid people's alienation from the administration. Not only no new taxes were imposed but compliance on the existing taxes was laxed. Public spending even for law and order was financed through borrowings.

This process has continued with more additions in spending financed through borrowings. In this list, one can include populist measures like the abolition of octroi, free electricity and canal waters for irrigation, free electricity to domestic consumers from weaker sections and the subsidised dal-atta scheme. The introductions of these measures are not accompanied by a drive towards greater mobilisation of resources from the well-off sections of society.

It was expected that with the restoration of elected governments after 1992 this trend would be reversed and public spending financed through the mobilisation of resources by improving tax-GSDP (gross state domestic product) ratio. Compared to the states like Kerala and Gujarat, where this ratio ranges between 12 and 16 per cent, it is around 8.5 per cent in Punjab. This has crippled the government capacity to intervene in the critical areas of economic and social life of the people to improve it. The well-known consequence has been that the state has lost its lead position in the per capita income among Indian states. Now it is ranked fifth and would lose further to the seventh or eighth position by 2012. The states like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka are having a growth rate higher than Punjab, and the income gap with Punjab is low.

In the post-militancy period, the bureaucracy and political leadership decided to continue with the policies of governance of the earlier decade. A suggestion was made by the bureaucracy that downsizing of government employees be made as a measure to meet the financial crunch. This was readily accepted by the ruling political leadership. The recruitment in various government departments remains practically suspended since 1995. Consequently, an acute shortage of teachers is being felt in the schools.

No one can justify such a situation as it leads to poor/inadequate performance of duty. In the name of abolition of inspector raj, in the most of the departments inspection and monitoring work has been abandoned. This approach has also ruined the job of extension work in the Agriculture Department. More than one-half of the positions of Agriculture Development Officers are kept vacant leading to a wide gap between agriculture research and farming in the fields. This is one factor in the stagnation of production and productivity in the agriculture of the state.

Compared to the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab has been left behind in several social indicators. Himachal has gone far ahead of Punjab not only in the literacy rate but also in terms of educational attainments. Recent studies by Punjabi University, Patiala, bring out that the rural students are around 4 per cent in the university campuses of Punjab, and this proportion is less than 4 per cent in the case of professional education.

Dispensaries in the rural areas of Himachal are better endowed with health personnel as well as in terms of the availability of staff and provision of medicines. The Punjab health infrastructure is thoroughly underutilised for want of availability of doctors and the paramedical staff and non-availability of medicines. Referral hospitals like Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, are becoming centres of tragedy where newly born babies are burnt in fire accident's for want of simple medical equipment. Even after the tragedy the administration has not been awakened of its apathy.

The Punjab administration's claims are quite hollow in terms of infrastructure. All the major roads except the NH-1 are not four-lanned and have been turned into killer roads not only for common travellers but also for important politicians. Giani Zail Singh, former President of India, got fatal injuries while travelling in Punjab. Latest in the series, the state has lost a sober, dynamic and thinking politician in Captain Kanwaljit Singh in a major road accident. VIP vehicles with beacon lights do not follow traffic rules, and their drivers are known for rash driving.

The shortage of funds and lack of vision with the government has stood in the way of four-laning of major roads and the establishment of a road safety council in the state. It is reported that the then Chief Minister in 2005 gave his consent to be the chairperson of the council, yet it has not come up in the state. The government is unable to earmark road safety funds and generate coordination between the PWD, the Punjab State Pollution Control Board, and Education, Health, Medical and Police Departments.

Farmers and agricultural labourers continue to suffer the apathy of the government. They feel alienated, which has led many of them to commit suicide. The ailments of people are increasing but health services remain beyond their reach. A daily train takes full load of cancer patients from Bathinda to Bikaner for treatment as they cannot afford treatment in Punjab private hospitals, and government hospitals lack curative treatment for such a disease.

A large section of population remains uneducated in the rural areas in spite of schools in every village. A large number of young people are leaving Punjab for want of jobs. Another large section of rural youth is falling prey to drug addition thanks to widespread drug trafficing in the rural areas.

The state is on the way to facing large-scale pauperisation in the rural areas. The Planning Commission of India recently brought out that nearly 20 per cent of the rural population in southern Punjab districts such as Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar and Faridkot has fallen below the poverty line. What explains the fall of the state from the number one position in income, social indicators and infrastructure is misgovernance. A solution to the crisis of governance holds the key of hope. Proper management of resources and creative intervention of the state can generate the process for the restoration of the position Punjab has lost.n

The writer is Professor of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala

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Thumbs up!
by Anurag

WHY should I affix my thumb impression?”, she asked around after signing on each page of the stamp papers to seal a property deal in the tehsil office. “Madam, you have to not only thumbprint each page but also make impression of the other four fingers on the last page”, explained the seasoned official, adding that her all-five impressions, were least likely to be forged by fraudsters without being found out. My wife was convinced and completed the formalities without more ado.

That set me thinking. I recalled I had given my index finger print in exchange of a coupon which entitled me to perform perambulation of the Tirupati temple all night long! Again to establish the identity of the culprit in, God forbid, the event of a mishap.

Index finger too is important but has always played second fiddle to the thumb. Sans a seasoned thumb, in days of yore, one could not dream to become an archer. In fact, bow and arrow would never have been invented if homo sapiens had not been gifted with a thumb in each hand.

Ram and Lakshman were superlative archers. Our epics are replete with stories of kings and soldiers who prevailed upon their adversaries by dint of their craftiness combined with archery skills. The critical importance of thumb got immortalised when guru Dronacharya asked his ace archer pupil Eklavya to offer his right thumb as guru – dakshina, knowing full well that this would gravely compromise Eklavya’s archery capabilities. Who does not know this abominable act of guru Dronacharya was aimed at neutralising a potential threat to Arjuna’s archery?

It is an established fact that the thumb contributed enormously in early man’s domination over other species. Thumb ruled the roast.

The role of thumb was crucial not only in making various tools and weapons of stone and metal but also in making efficient use of them. Over time, man continued to evolve and make better and efficient tools and weapons with deft use of his thumb. And the evolution of human mind is still on.

My acupressure friend tells me that our thumb has all the reflex points which if pressed properly can activate the healing power of all that is contained in our brain.

The position of your thumb on any of your golf clubs is critical to your grip. A loose grip or too tight a grip could spoil your game.

We stopped dialling a telephone number using our index finger ever since those black boxes of brick-and-mortar economy became extinct. Sleek cordless phones need to be thumb punched. But they soon gave way to the mobile telepony which revolutionised communication the world over. Be it punching a number or texting a message on the mobile, it is your thumb that pops up.

So, never be all thumbs. Say thumbs up to your thumb.

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Wars come and go but enemy remains the same
by Robert Fisk

IS the Ministry of Fear about to be reopened? I thought – when Lord Blair finally departed from us and George Bush left the White House – that the institution had been closed down, that we might have been allowed a few hours in the broad sunlit uplands.

Change? Hope? Renewal? Inspiration? But no, the semantics of our masters are reverting to type. There are no uplands, just another new dark age of fear and terror.

A few months ago, the following Bush-speak would be wearily familiar. "Let me be clear: al-Qaida and its allies – the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks – are in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al-Qaida is actively planning attacks on the US homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan ... if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged – that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can." Only, of course, this wasn't Bush-speak. It was a Bush-clone, called Obama-speak.

And now a reversion to Blair-speak: "Contemporary terrorist organisations aspire to use chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear weapons. Changing technology and the theft and smuggling of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive materials make this aspiration more realistic than it may have been in the recent past..."

Yup, that's the Home Office for you. Dirty bombs. Biological weapons, according to the Home Office intelligence girls and boys – the same crew, presumably, who helped to give us weapons of mass destruction and five-minute warnings six years ago but who now work for Lady Jacqui.

I thought it was Churchill who warned us in 1940 of a new dark age "made more sinister and perhaps more protracted by the lights of perverted science".

That these two crimson-lit warnings should have come within three days of each other last month was surely not by chance. Note how the Taliban has now become conflated with al-Qaida, how the land mass of the Middle East has been pushed further east.

Once it was Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Now it's Afghanistan and Pakistan. And note how Tube train bombings in London have suddenly turned into dirty bombs, poison and radioactivity.

The border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan is now "the most dangerous place in the world", according to Obama.

Well, tell that to the Raj. Didn't Sir Mortimer Durand define the frontier – henceforth the Durand line – to separate India from Afghanistan? And hasn't it always been "the most dangerous place in the world" (save, I suppose, for "Palestine" which – for all the usual reasons – got left out of the Obama speech of 27 March).

Wasn't it just a few miles up the road, in the Kabul Gorge, that an entire British army was wiped out in 1842? And was it not in 1893 that Lord Roberts spoke of "the policy of endeavouring to extend our influence over, and establish law and order on, that part of the border where anarchy, murder and robbery up to the present time have reigned supreme ... Some 40 years ago the policy of non-interference with the tribes, so long as they did not trouble us, may have been wise and prudent, though selfish and not altogether worthy of a great civilising power".

Yup, it was that same "porous" border – and count how many times you read the word "porous" in the weeks to come – that Obama is now talking about. The problem is that the dratted Pathans think this place is called Pushtunistan and no more recognise the Durand line today than they did in the 19th century.

And when millions of people just don't recognise a border, then all the king's horses and all the king's men (or President Obama's) aren't going to be able to do anything about it.

"We will insist that action be taken – one way or another – when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets," Obama promises. If the Pakistani government doesn't take action, the US will.

Ho hum. In the days of empire, we crossed the Durand line from the Raj into Afghanistan. Now Obama's going to change the plot by invading in the opposite direction, from Afghanistan into the former Raj. And with just 20,000 extra troops.

My colleague John Griffiths has been researching Soviet files on Moscow's attempts to stamp out "terrorism" in Afghanistan with surges and cross-border raids. Here's an analysis from the Soviet Frunze Military Academy on the "terrorists" the Russians fought in Afghanistan for eight bloody years:

"Several combat principles lay at the heart of mujahedin tactics. First, they avoided direct contact with the superior might of regular forces which could have wiped them out. Second, the mujahedin practically never conducted positional warfare and, when threatened with encirclement, would abandon their positions. Third, in all forms of combat the mujahedin always strove to achieve surprise. Fourth, the mujahedin employed terror and ideological conditioning on a peaceful populace as well as on local government representatives."

The Frunze lads concluded that their "terrorist" enemies enjoyed night action, could move rapidly through the border mountains (in Obama's "most dangerous place in the world"), had a broad intelligence network and could pick up details of secret Soviet unit movements.

Now who does that remind you of? In his soon-to-be-published book, Griffiths recommends that the Frunze report should lie on every US president's desk, permanently open at this page.

Do we never learn? Muslim Pakistan is detonating in front of our eyes while Israel, when it's not grabbing more land from Muslim Palestinians in the West Bank, is claiming that Iran – not Pakistan – is the greatest threat to world peace. Its foreign minister doesn't even want a Palestinian state any more.

And what should we be doing? Trying to resolve the wound of Kashmir, of "Palestine", of Kurdistan, of Lebanon. But no, we're off on another adventure. Poison, dirty bombs, the lot. The most dangerous place in the world. Carry on up the Khyber.

— By arrangement with The Independent

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Cuba embargo a proven failure
by Michael Kinsley

MANY "hard" scientists regard the term "social science" as an oxymoron. Science means hypotheses you can test, and prove or disprove. Social science is little more than observation putting on airs. Among the social sciences, economists are the snobs. Economics, with its numbers and graphs and curves, at least has the coloration and paraphernalia of a hard science. It's not just putting on sandals and trekking out to take notes on some tribe.

Political science, meanwhile, announces its defensiveness in its name. If it really were a science, it wouldn't need to say so quite as adamantly, would it? The difficulty with social science is that it's about people, who tend to be fickle.

Political science is usually about people in large groups. Parties. Societies. Nations. If you want to test a proposition about, say, the relationship between democracy and free trade, you can't just set up a bunch of countries to experiment with. You have to take what you find, and there will always be some exception or complication to defeat your pretensions to science.

For the past four decades, however, we have been conducting something pretty close to a scientific experiment on one of the most important practical questions the world has ever faced. This question has dominated American politics, off and on, for almost a century.

We have conducted this experiment at no small cost and have ruthlessly ignored the results. The question is: What is the best way for free nations to defeat totalitarian regimes in general and communism in particular?

Communism was never a monolith. Even in its heyday it came in lots of flavors. There was Tito's Yugoslavia, which always kept a foot outside the Iron Curtain and turned out to be 150 or so countries united only in their loathing of one another.

There was China, the subject of Americans' most paranoid Cold War fantasies and now the subject of paranoia of exactly the opposite sort. There was Albania, a black hole from which no information could escape. There was the romantic Latin flavor that was more about the revolution itself than about nationalizing the means of production.

And from 1917, when Russia went communist, to 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, the United States tried almost every conceivable variety of policies toward these various styles of communist nations.

Sometimes we were hostile; sometimes we were friendly. We had summits, we had boycotts. We launched secret wars in Latin America, made secret visits to China, tore apart our own society through wars in Vietnam and Cambodia that can still break up a dinner party. (It's like arguing about the Civil War in 1905.)

To this day, there is one communist country toward which American policy has been unrelentingly hostile. One communist government with which we have never even attempted detente. One communist country that we invaded without even a fig leaf of an invitation from a legitimate government.

One communist country where we have never tried the seductive power of capitalism and instead have maintained a total trade embargo. And now, 20 years after communism collapsed almost everyplace else, in this same country a communist government survives unreformed and unapologetic.

If any conclusion can be drawn with scientific certainty about any question in the field of political science (or maybe it belongs to "international relations," an even fuzzier academic subdivision), it surely is that the United States' Cuba policy has not worked. Can anyone defend it? In recent years, the closest thing to a defense has been, "Wait, wait, just a bit longer! He's almost gone."

Well now he — Fidel — is gone, more or less. And nothing has changed, except that our embargo makes us look more ridiculous and powerless than ever. The small changes President Obama announced this week will help. But abandoning the embargo as a proven failure would help more.

Of course communism is doomed in Cuba, and probably soon. Already the days when Cuban troops were making trouble and Cuba was enjoying billions of rubles in subsidies from the Soviet Union are a distant memory.

But why wait? Our Cuba policy is held hostage by a zealous ethnic minority (actually a small minority of a minority) that makes the Israel lobby look as cuddly and unthreatening as the president's new puppy.

As many have pointed out, we won the Vietnam War in a way. Two ways, in fact. Vietnamese fleeing communism have been a great new ingredient in our ethnic stew, and meanwhile Vietnam is embracing capitalism as hard as it can.

We've already been enriched by the energies of Cubans who have arrived here since Castro's revolution. So why do we continue to deny the Cubans still stuck on Castro's Island the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of capitalism as well?

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Chatterati
Grooming kids for politics
by Devi Cherian

IF either mamma or papa is an established political figure, kids are most likely to parachute into politics and even make their way into Parliament. The Rajya Sabha is easier, but even a Lok Sabha seat is normally assured for political kids.

This has been happening across the political spectrum as doting parents groom their children for politics. Maneka has vacated her own seat for Varun. She switched from Pilibhit to neighbouring Aonla. Pilibhit is considered Ms Gandhi’s stronghold which she has represented for over a decade.

Sonia Gandhi too had shown a mother’s love by vacating the Amethi seat for son, Rahul Gandhi, in 2004. She shifted to Rae Bareily while Rahul contested from the Gandhi family stronghold and won by a handsome margin of over three lakh votes.

Congress MP Sachin Pilot won his first Lok Sabha polls in 2004 from Dausa in Rajasthan. Rama Pilot, his mother, give up her seat for him. Thus, at 26, Sachin became the youngest MP in the country. Prior to his mother’s stint, the seat had been held by Sachin’s father, the late Rajesh Pilot. Now Sachin faces a tough fight as he has lost his constituency due to delimitation and he is contesting from Ajmer.

Second-term CM Shiela Dikshit, as a mother, helped Sandeep Dikshit to make a swift switch from the world of non-governmental organisations to representing the East Delhi constituency. Of course Sandip won with a high margin too. Ms Dikshit had “nursed” the constituency for her son by lavishing care on it through various development projects.

Dushyant Singh also “inherited” the seat from his mother, Vasundhara Raje. Her Lok Sabha seat, Jhalawar, went to her son. He won in 2004 and is now recontesting from there.

Now daddy’s girls – DMK supremo M.K. Karunanidhi’s daughter, Kanimozhi, and NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s daughter, Supriya Sule. Sangma’s daughter is the youngest MP from Assam. Ms Sule is contesting the current elections but from a seat which is again a well looked-after pocket borough, Baramati.

Shoe-flinging

One can expect anything from a Bihari . In many villages locals try to perfect the skills of hurling shoes at politicians. They have put up dummies and are practising there. They are boycotting the elections for lack of development of their area.

Most of their time is now taken up by the practice of shoe-flinging without missing their target. They claim that the targets have been well-chosen politicians. Now politicians are, it seems, disliked and hated by members of all communities.

If politicians don’t get their act right, the day is not far when the audience will let out a shower of muddy shoes on the local neta when he comes up the next time promising “bijli, sadak and pani” and asking for votes.

Clearly, people are sick of idiotic political class messing with their lives. But did Gandhi ever throw a shoe at the British. There are other ways to protest – like hunger strikes, protest rallies etc. But throwing shoes to protest is not civilised.

Beware of ‘Gudiya’

“Budiya” to “Gudiya” reminds one of “Gungi Gudiya”. First, Modi targeted the Congress, saying it’s too old a party, then said it’s too young, hinting at Priyanka. Four decades ago Priyanka’s grandmother was called a “Gungi Gudiya” by the Opposition. And how wrong the Opposition was at that time.

The Opposition knows the charisma that Priyanka has. Once in politics full time, she will energise the Congress. The public is in awe of her and dots on her. This poised and confident “Gudiya” may prove very dangerous for the Opposition.

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