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EDITORIALS

Threat to Kashmir voters
They must be given enough protection

T
he
United Jihad Council, the Lashkar-e-Toiyaba and the Hizbul Mujahideen seem to have become overactive lately and have given a call for boycotting the Lok Sabha elections. It is not surprising that these terrorist outfits, having their umbilical cord in Pakistan, have been joined by the hawkish faction of the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Gilani. Both are rabidly anti-India forces irrespective of their differences on many issues.

Akali Dal manifesto
Conflict of outlook with the BJP

T
he
main thrust of the Shiromani Akali Dal manifesto remains on Parkash Singh Badal’s pet subject: more powers for states. While the party devotes considerable space promising “a truly federal structure”, the BJP, its ally on whose piggyback it hopes to ride to power, dismisses Centre-state relations in a few paragraphs in its manifesto. All that SAD’s ally promises is “we will place Centre-state relations on an even keel”. 



EARLIER STORIES

Aid for Pakistan
April
20, 2009
Voting for democracy
April
19, 2009
Democracy alive and well
April
18, 2009

Polls now, tie-ups later
April
17, 2009

A state within a state
April
16, 2009
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


Karunanidhi’s shocker
Defending Prabhakaran was uncalled for

T
amil Nadu
Chief Minister Karunanidhi’s statement that he does not see LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran as a terrorist and would be saddened if he is killed in the ongoing fighting in Sri Lanka is shocking, considering that Prabhakaran has been declared a proclaimed offender in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and is one of the world’s most wanted men. The LTTE is a banned organisation in India as in many other countries and is run by Prabhakaran with great ruthlessness.

ARTICLE

The Pakistan crisis
India must have strategy to insulate itself
by S. Nihal Singh

T
here
cannot be any real movement in Indo-Pakistani relations until after the installation of a new government in Delhi. But given the dimensions of the crisis Pakistan is facing, Indian strategists must immediately get to work on likely future developments in our troubled neighbourhood and how we can deal with the chips when they fall.


MIDDLE

Testing times
by Harish Dhillon

T
hank
God the admission season is over! There is the excitement, and expectancy which each new set of admissions brings. But the overall feeling is one of deep sadness for all the children we had to turn away.


OPED

India Votes
Politics of mud-slinging

Democratic values are on the decline
by S. S. Johl

E
lection
manifestos, whatever they are and howsoever illogical, are often forgotten after these are issued by politicians of the day. Politicians are not campaigning on any solid ideological plank or socio-economic development programme. They have come down to personal vituperation and hardly fall short of calling names to one another.

New Left has passion for old China
by Ariana Eunjung Cha

Z
uo Dapei
took the microphone and declared that China’s leaders were going in the wrong direction. The country had become too capitalist. Things would improve, he continued, only if the state reasserted its control over corporate assets. The crowd of about 220 people, who had come to hear Zuo and other authors and academics speak on the topic of “Unhappy China,” cheered.

Delhi Durbar
‘Congress ahead of BJP’

Even though exit polls have been banned by the Supreme Court in the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha, there are enough predictions being made by ad agencies for their clients. One such exit poll predicts that out of 543 seats, the Congress will get 139 and the BJP 136, making it a neck and neck race between the two national parties. It gave the BSP 35 seats out of 80 in UP and 21 to the Samajwadi Party.

  • Parties short of funds?

  • SC for supervision of media

Corrections and clarifications

 


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Threat to Kashmir voters
They must be given enough protection

The United Jihad Council, the Lashkar-e-Toiyaba and the Hizbul Mujahideen seem to have become overactive lately and have given a call for boycotting the Lok Sabha elections. It is not surprising that these terrorist outfits, having their umbilical cord in Pakistan, have been joined by the hawkish faction of the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Gilani. Both are rabidly anti-India forces irrespective of their differences on many issues. They have their own style of harming the interests of India. This can be noticed again as the Gilani-led Hurriyat is asking the people not to participate in the polls, whereas the militants have threatened to disrupt polling with suicide attacks. The security forces will have to maintain tight vigil and take steps to frustrate the designs of the militants and other anti-India elements. Apparently, nothing should be left to chance, either in Jammu or in Kashmir.

The Hurriyat faction headed by Mirwaiz Omar Farooq seems to have become somewhat wiser this time. It has decided not to go beyond describing the electoral exercise as “a non-issue”. In its view, holding the elections will “not affect the disputed nature of Kashmir”. The truth, however, is that it does not want to be humiliated again by the voters. Both Hurriyat groups tried to disrupt last year’s assembly elections by issuing a boycott call, but it was ignored by the voters. The people showed a lot of enthusiasm in participating in the assembly polls.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir want peace and progress by having a democratically elected government. They have been expressing their opposition to militancy as well as the separatists’ anti-India agenda by casting their vote overwhelmingly. Hopefully, they will do so again. But they must be provided enough security in view of the militants’ threat, which cannot be taken lightly. Under no circumstances should the people be deprived of an opportunity to exercise their franchise. After all, they have a constitutional right to elect a government at the Centre, like other citizens of the country. 

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Akali Dal manifesto
Conflict of outlook with the BJP

The main thrust of the Shiromani Akali Dal manifesto remains on Parkash Singh Badal’s pet subject: more powers for states. While the party devotes considerable space promising “a truly federal structure”, the BJP, its ally on whose piggyback it hopes to ride to power, dismisses Centre-state relations in a few paragraphs in its manifesto. All that SAD’s ally promises is “we will place Centre-state relations on an even keel”. The Akali Dal, however, promises to “liberate the development processes in states from the constricting clutches of fiscal and political centralism”.

Economic policies of the BJP and the Congress are similar in many respects, while the Akalis have hardly any specific agenda for development. The Akali manifesto picks a quarrel with Dr Manmohan Singh for describing regional parties as “a hurdle in the way of national development”, but it does not seem to mind the BJP brand of political and economic nationalism. The Akali Dal may demand higher revenue transfer from the Centre to the states, the BJP, if voted to power, will not oblige it either. It is known that funds tied to Central schemes have, over the years under different administrations, lapsed in Punjab due to poor governance or plain lethargy. Not only is its tax collection record poor, the Akali government is known for extravagance and liberally handing over freebies for votes.

There may be other conflicts of interest. For instance, higher minimum support prices for farm commodities may help farmers, who constitute the party’s vote bank, these may be opposed by traders, middlemen and urban consumers, the sections the BJP is known to represent. The Akalis want the diesel prices to be reduced by Rs 10 a litre. They promise more autonomy to the Election Commission and the CBI, a demand even the NDA, when in power, did not accept. Being a state party, SAD will have a limited say in national affairs except where it is in agreement with a major partner in case their coalition is voted to power at the Centre. At best, it can work as a pressure group at the Centre, depending on the number of seats it wins. 

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Karunanidhi’s shocker
Defending Prabhakaran was uncalled for

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi’s statement that he does not see LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran as a terrorist and would be saddened if he is killed in the ongoing fighting in Sri Lanka is shocking, considering that Prabhakaran has been declared a proclaimed offender in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and is one of the world’s most wanted men. The LTTE is a banned organisation in India as in many other countries and is run by Prabhakaran with great ruthlessness. For Karunanidhi to say that “those in Prabhakaran’s group have taken to terrorism but that is not his (Prabhakaran’s) fault” is indeed preposterous. Karunanidhi has gone a step further by suggesting that if he is captured, the Sri Lankan government must treat Prabhakaran like the legendary Alexander the Great had treated the vanquished Porus — as a king. Whatever the reasons, Karunanidhi is on the wrong track.

For the Congress, the DMK patriarch’s outrageous statement is an acute embarrassment because by his own admission Prabhakaran had ordered Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and now the Congress and the DMK are allies in the UPA. Over a decade ago, the Jain Commission had passed strictures against the DMK, accusing it of being soft on the LTTE while being in power in Tamil Nadu at the time of the assassination. Knowing how crucial the DMK is to the UPA in the Lok Sabha elections, Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal dismissed Karunanidhi’s statement as being his “personal view” while maintaining that Prabhakaran was indeed a terrorist who, if captured by the Sri Lankan government, should be handed over to India. Apparently under pressure, Karunanidhi too has sought to assuage Congress hurt by saying subsequently that “we cannot forgive the LTTE for killing Rajiv Gandhi.”

Clearly, Karunanidhi’s statement was apparently aimed at appeasing a section of voters in the elections. But it was uncalled for and against the country’s avowed foreign policy line. Being part of a ruling coalition does not give him the licence to support a terrorist who has snuffed out thousands of lives in the fratricidal war is Sri Lanka — not even for electoral purposes.

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Thought for the Day

The truth which makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear. — Herbert Agar

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The Pakistan crisis
India must have strategy to insulate itself
by S. Nihal Singh

There cannot be any real movement in Indo-Pakistani relations until after the installation of a new government in Delhi. But given the dimensions of the crisis Pakistan is facing, Indian strategists must immediately get to work on likely future developments in our troubled neighbourhood and how we can deal with the chips when they fall.

Pakistan faces an existential crisis even more severe than the one it confronted in 1971 in losing half the country, its Army having surrendered to an old adversary. Over the decades, the Pakistani establishment proved sufficiently resilient to re-establish the Army’s supremacy. But its alignment with the United States and Saudi Arabia in fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan proved a costly exercise.

True, Pakistan received much money and modern arms, neither employed entirely for intended purposes. But after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Americans left while the consequences of the war remained. They were mountains of arms, a drug culture, footloose militants of diverse nationalities, millions of Afghan refugees and the spy agency, the ISI, having been empowered as never before.

One cannot entirely blame the Pakistan Army and its ISI wing for believing that with Americans having left, forcing them to hold the baby, they were entitled to take Afghanistan under their wing. There followed a Pakistan-sponsored attempt at taking over the neighbouring state through the instrumentality of the Taliban. The exercise was, indeed, highly successful, but for the terrorist attacks on American soil in November 2001 and the US ultimatum to Islamabad to line up with Washington and be counted.

Gen Pervez Musharraf, then at the helm, had really no choice, but he sought to make the best of the bargain offered by being again at the receiving end of American bounty. But he was following several policies at the same time. He helped the US mop up the Taliban and Al-Qaeda up to a point, even handing over suspects to their fate --- despatching them for “rendition” or the hospitality of Guantanamo --- the ranking of the deportees dependent upon how much the Americans needed to be placated.

The Pakistan Army did not disturb the militants’ infrastructure in Pakistan and the part of Kashmir under its control nor were the various terrorist outfits curbed and rounded up. The policy of bleeding India through a thousand cuts remained in force, the ebb and flow of terrorist attacks and incursions varying with the political objectives in mind.

President Musharraf and the ruling establishment realised too late that they were losing control not only over elements of the ISI but also over the Frankenstein they had created. The moment of reckoning led to the storming of the Lal Masjid in the heart of Islamabad, perhaps the turning point in the militants’ relationship with their handlers in the Army and the civilian establishment.

Once the Bush administration had caught on to the Pakistani game, there was a perceptible hardening of Washington’s position. A more vigorous Army offensive in parts of the tribal areas was one consequence of increased American pressure as was the initiation and increasing frequency of US drone attacks to take out militant leaders in Pakistan’s frontier areas. Pakistani Army operations seem to have had only limited success.

A fragile civilian government, in the meantime, took office even as it wrestled with problems of governance and agitations to force the government to honour commitments. The Army seemed in no mood to take over power just yet, but the patchwork peace established between the two main parties remains unstable. The Army’s heart is not in fighting tribes and its surrender of the Swat valley to the Taliban permitting Sharia law to be enforced was an alarming demonstration of how far the state had crumbled.

Large parts of the Pakistan state adjoining the Swat valley and in the North-West Frontier Province, with Punjab next in Taliban sight, are either living in fear or under militants’ sway. And the Taliban are sending their bloody signatures nearly every day in ambushes and suicide attacks on security officials and civilians. In a sense, Pakistan is already at war with itself even as it comes to terms with the Obama administration’s policy of offering more carrots in exchange for performance and accountability.

Against this backdrop, what should India do? For one thing, the Indian establishment must safeguard the country’s northern and western borders, now that the Taliban is spreading its wings kilometres from the boundary. Second, infiltrations into Kashmir will be intensified independent of the wishes of the Army establishment. Third, New Delhi has no option but to put its forces on alert in Jammu and Kashmir and along the international border.

What political steps can India take? India’s refusal to talk to Pakistan until it receives satisfaction on the Mumbai horrors of 26/11 is a stance that will need to be revised after a new government takes office. New Delhi must continue to talk to Pakistan with its eyes open. Insofar as India can help stabilise Pakistan despite its limited options, it must do so in its own interest.

How Pakistan can begin to solve its horrendous problems can only be a matter of conjecture. But it would be well to remember that the interests of India and saner elements in Pakistan coincide. After all, the US and NATO will depart from Afghanistan at some point in the future. One hopes they will leave after bringing about a semblance of peace and hope to the Afghan nation, perhaps anchoring it among a wider swath of its neighbours. But India and Pakistan will remain neighbours and must evolve a new modus vivendi to live together.

Given the gravity of the situation in Pakistan, there are no easy answers to bringing peace and security to the country while it fights Al-Qaeda under American pressure. The state of Pakistan has set a dangerous precedent in suing for peace in Swat on Taliban terms. For many Pakistanis, the fight against the Taliban is an unwelcome undertaking --- many call it America’s war. How Pakistanis can walk back to peace, with the Taliban knocking on their doors in the heart of Punjab, remains to be seen. But India must do its strategic thinking to insulate itself from the spreading virus.

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Testing times
by Harish Dhillon

Thank God the admission season is over! There is the excitement, and expectancy which each new set of admissions brings. But the overall feeling is one of deep sadness for all the children we had to turn away.

Because schools cannot take all the children who register, they set up a screening process in the form of complicated admission procedures. Some schools complicate this even more by having a limited number of forms and a limited period of time in which to secure and submit them. This results in long queues of frantic parents, desperate to be among the fortunate few who beat both the deadlines of number and time.

The most common component of the admission procedure is the written test. It is farcical to think that a child’s intelligence and aptitude can be decided on the basis of a one-off test. We all know that the most intelligent of children can perform poorly in such tests for a variety of reasons.

In concession to this, an attempt has been made to broadbase this test by introducing interviews. But this has come to breed its own set of problems. Interviews of children end up being more a test of fluency in English than anything else.

Many schools include an interview of the parents as part of the admission process. Ostensibly this establishes the parents’ commitment to the child’s education. But I am not sure that a highly erudite, professionally competent parent will necessarily bring a greater degree of commitment to his child’s education than a comparatively uneducated housewife who sits up patiently, day after day, with her child providing him with the necessary refreshments while he studies.

One Principal said she interviewed parents to ensure that she got the “right” kind of people in her school! So, in reality, all kinds of pernicious considerations have crept into this practice, including that of social and economic background.

A Principal I know even establishes which car a prospective parent is driving! The argument that an admission test ensures a higher quality of academics is not really true. If it were true no school would have a failure at any level — after all each of these children is in the school because he did very well in the admission test.

The trouble with any admission procedure is that those who are turned away experience a strong sense of failure. Actually the failure is not the child’s or the parent’s; it is a failure of our educational system and all those who are part of this system. I cringe at the fact that for every child admitted at least four are turned away. This reveals the gross inadequacy of our system.

There should be so many good schools available that it is not the schools who select the children to be admitted but the children who select the school they want to attend. The admission test/interview, traumatic both for children and for the schools who conduct them, would thus be eliminated. 

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India Votes
Politics of mud-slinging
Democratic values are on the decline
by S. S. Johl

Election manifestos, whatever they are and howsoever illogical, are often forgotten after these are issued by politicians of the day. Politicians are not campaigning on any solid ideological plank or socio-economic development programme. They have come down to personal vituperation and hardly fall short of calling names to one another.

The use of disparaging epithets like “Budhia” and “Gudhia” stinks of filth inside politicians. How do claims and counter-claims like a weak prime minister, a strong prime minister, a decisive prime minister, raising the issues of Babari Masjad, release of terrorists at Kandahar, politicising the unbecoming act of shoe-throwing by a journalist, statements like cutting the hand that harms Hindus and putting the person making such statements under a steam roller help the common man decide whom to vote for?

The Congress president says they have to abandon Gandhigiri and would take revenge by counts after coming to power. What then remains of the heritage and moral plank and ideology of the 125-year-old Congress?

After 25 years of the 1984 carnage, the Akalis in Punjab and the BJP have woken up at the hustings to promise fast-track courts. Where were they during their two-term stint with power earlier?

No doubt, the perpetrators of the heinous crimes of slaughtering thousands of innocent Sikhs, simply because they were Sikhs, rather than getting punished were rewarded with prestigious offices of authority and officials who helped the perpetrators of this carnage got promotions and awards and even after 25 years of these sins against humanity, no leader of significance and officer of standing responsible for these crimes have been punished.

Those five black days of 1984 and also the Godhra killings are scars on the face of this nation, which will never be erased and the shadow of these crime-ridden days will keep haunting the conscience of the leaders who perpetrated, abetted and supported these inhuman crimes.

Yet, the question remains, why these issues are being raised and feelings of the people are being aroused at this stage for narrow, yet compulsive, urge of garnering votes and thereby creating divisive tendencies and animosities among the people and arouse their passions that would hit at the very vitals of the concept of a nation?

Why have the politicians of all hues gone insensitive to the dire need of the country to act as a nation to face the impending serious threats to its very existence from inside and outside forces that do not want to see this nation move on a smooth socio-economic growth path?

Our leaders of all the political hues have gone so personal that the two top leaders projected as future prime ministers of the country are not even on talking terms and the leader of the opposition and left parties did not participate in the farewell dinner to the outgoing Speaker of Parliament simply because, keeping the dignity of the chair, he did not resign and vote against the government on the motion of no-confidence.

Is this the picture of the ensuing parliament we are seeing in the prism today! It appears that it is not only one politician who needs to be scanned and treated at the National Institute of Mental Health.

All the politicians on election trail today have lost their moorings. They have forgotten their manifestos, whatever these are, and do not pay even lip service to the promises they have listed in their manifestoes. When they are not talking of the manifestos today, what do we expect of them after they come to power?

The country today needs quality education for children that is inclusive in nature. It is no choice or fault of a child, where and to whom he or she is born. School education is the birth right of every child.

There are umpteen survey reports that have brought out the non-performance of government schools, particularly in rural areas and the miniscule presence of rural students in universities and institutes of higher professional learning.

Yet, no politician is worried about it and no where in the election campaign there appears to be any sign of politicians promising or even talking about this vital issue. Health services have gone out of the reach of the large majority of the Indian population.

Unemployment is staring at the face of job-seekers, global financial meltdown is assuming menacing dimensions and the economy is on the slide.

Agricultural production is stagnating in the face of increasing demand for food and fiber by the fast increasing population over its existing base of some 1.1 billion in number. Food stocks are getting spoiled due to lack of adequate storage and proper handling.

Lack of adequate and quality road and transport infrastructure both in the urban as well as rural sectors has become prohibitive to the private investment. Populations in cities and towns as well as villages are coming in the grip of crime and terror.

Yet, these are virtually no issues for the campaigning politicians of today. Middle and lower-level sundry leaders of various political dispensations are playing ducks and drakes and are being shuffled as packs of playing cards. If politicians or their wards do not get the party ticket, they revolt with impunity and are welcome in opposite parties with fanfare.

They fail to realise that these shifters devoid of moral ethos and political ideologies do not go down well with the voters and such turncoats very soon get lost in the political quagmire, lose their identity very soon and fade away into political oblivion.

Another feature of the Lok Sabha elections this time is the candidature of film actors, actresses and singers. They are beautiful faces and attract large gatherings, yet Parliament is not a glamour house to be engaged in music concerts.

This august House is responsible for the serious business of law making, managing the economy and laying down the framework of good governance. The House needs mature lawyers, businessmen, industrialists, social activists, chiseled statesmen and policy makers, who steer the economy and nurture society on an optimal growth path.

Glamorous filmy persons, if elected on the strength of ignorance of the majority of voters, more often than not, prefer to sit mute for whatever period they sit in Parliament. Some of the losers out of them find their way to the Upper House, the House of Elders!

Another category in the election fray is that of criminals. A few of them are even seeking leave of courts to contest the elections. One cannot expect such candidates reading their party manifestos, not to speak of pursuing the promises and programmes listed in them.

It is indeed painful watching the deterioration of our democratic values and reprobate behaviour and tongue-lashing that have crept into our electioneering through a period of six decades. One wonders where we are heading for. Will we be ever able to retrieve our steps from the political precipice we are standing on today?
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New Left has passion for old China
by Ariana Eunjung Cha

Zuo Dapei took the microphone and declared that China’s leaders were going in the wrong direction. The country had become too capitalist. Things would improve, he continued, only if the state reasserted its control over corporate assets.

The crowd of about 220 people, who had come to hear Zuo and other authors and academics speak on the topic of “Unhappy China,” cheered.

For a growing number of Chinese, the solutions to the problems of the country’s present — including the income gap between rich and poor and the manipulation of the court system by state officials and company executives — lie in its past, with the teachings of Mao Zedong.

Although Chairman Mao continues to be revered here as the visionary who founded the country and transformed it into a world power, the Communist Party has broken from many of his ideals through market-based reforms over the past three decades.

Not everyone has been supportive of this shift, and a nostalgia for the old days has increased amid the global financial crisis. The most influential critics, known collectively as the New Left, are not like the dissidents or political exiles of a previous generation. They are not calling for an overthrow of the Communist regime.

Their recommendations and criticisms are, instead, based on a belief that state power can redress the injustices created by free markets, privatization and globalization. Their views are also characterized by a fierce nationalism and criticism of the West.

Although the New Left has been publishing position papers in journals and on the Internet since the 1990s, the global financial crisis has brought the group’s leading figures into the spotlight as never before. Their rise comes as the Communist Party, which has held absolute power since 1949, faces growing discontent over unemployment, contaminated infant formula that has sickened more than 300,000 babies, shoddy construction that led to the collapse of thousands of school buildings during last year’s Sichuan earthquake and corruption among public officials at all levels.

In a country where the state is often quick to crush criticism, Communist officials have tolerated the New Left, which is just one part of a broader phenomenon of emboldened Chinese questioning officials and speaking out about the failings of their government.

The new passion for politics can be seen in the existence of public seminars such as the one at which Zuo spoke this month. It is apparent in the popularity of such books as “Unhappy China” — a collection of essays that reject the government’s policy of increased international cooperation to help the world out of the financial crisis and argue that China should use its power to further its own position. There is also a new, wildly popular genre of fiction called “officialdom novels.”

The books focus on the messy, behind-the-scenes workings of high-level government in China. One series, “The Beijing Office Representative,” tells the story of a municipal official who observes real estate developers and company executives offering bribes or sex to government officials in exchange for favors. Another, called “The Mayor’s Assistant,” is told through the eyes of the assistant to a deputy mayor who watches as his boss gradually becomes more and more corrupt and, in the end, is sentenced to death for his crimes.

The New Left’s appeal is built on the work of prominent academics, including Zuo, 58, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Tsinghua University professors Cui Zhiyuan, 47, and Wang Hui, 50. They have become especially popular among young people, farmers and laid-off factory workers.

Wang, a professor of humanities who is considered the leading New Leftist, has said that China is caught between two extremes: “misguided socialism” and “crony capitalism.”

Zuo has been critical of the robber barons who took advantage of the privatization of state enterprises. He has argued that because they did not have to pay back government-run banks and did not adequately compensate workers, they essentially looted the state’s coffers.

“Look at health-care system reform, property market, and education reform — all of them have deviated from benefiting the ordinary Chinese public under the huge influence of those interest groups that argue in the name of reform,” Zuo said in an interview after his talk.

Wang Xiaodong, 55, one of five authors whose works are included in “Unhappy China” and a speaker at the event with Zuo, said in an interview that he has been disillusioned with the current leadership.

“Today in China, those elite are lazy and do nothing. They failed to generate any innovations even after spending all that money from taxpayers,” he said. “China’s current achievements are more a product of efforts by industry workers, rural workers.”

By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Delhi Durbar
‘Congress ahead of BJP’

Even though exit polls have been banned by the Supreme Court in the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha, there are enough predictions being made by ad agencies for their clients.

One such exit poll predicts that out of 543 seats, the Congress will get 139 and the BJP 136, making it a neck and neck race between the two national parties. It gave the BSP 35 seats out of 80 in UP and 21 to the Samajwadi Party.

The exit poll predicts that the Congress will get seats from Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharshtra, UP and MP. The BJP is expected to win a good number of seats in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, MP, UP, and Rajasthan.

The poll also predicts that the CPI (M) will get 30 seats from West Bengal, Andhra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Political parties are taking note of these poll predictions but are laughing them off in public.

When asked about these predictions, a BJP functionary quipped: “These projections only enhance our knowledge.’’

Parties short of funds?

The national parties are scrambling for election funds from corporate houses. However, given the weak economic situation, even corporate houses are finding it difficult to meet the demands of major national parties during this election.

In Mumbai, most bigwigs have bet their money on the Congress, which is said to have huge funds in its treasury. However, the BJP is said to be strapped for funds, so much that recently Arun Jaitely told a petroleum business corporate house in Mumbai to send some funds for elections.

Last heard, the corporate house was still mulling what kind of funds need to be given and whether there is any need to give the BJP any funds at all.

SC for supervision of media

The Supreme Court has made it clear that it was in favour of putting in place an effective mechanism to supervise, not control, the print and the electronic media. Accepting the recommendations of the Fali S Nariman Committee on the issue of media coverage of violent incidents, a three-Judge Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat, however, said it was not inclined to give any “positive directions” at “this juncture” and left it to the appropriate authorities.

The committee, set up by the court in the wake of the Gujjars’ agitation, said there was no need to “drift from self-regulation to some statutory structure which may prove to be oppressive and full of litigative potential.”

Given the exigencies of competition, there was a degree of “sensationalism” which was itself not harmful so long as “it preserves the essential role of the media: to report news as it occurs and eschew comment or criticism,” the committee said.

Appropriate methods have to be devised for self-regulation rather than external regulation in a respectable and effective way for both.

Contributed by Bhagyashree Pande and R Sedhuraman

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Corrections and clarifications

A report in the Haryana edition on April 17 ( Page 4) about a man abducted and killed, mentions that the accused “ went absconding”. It should have been ‘were absconding’.

In a report from Kathmandu on page 13 ( April 17), it should have read simply, “including action against Maoist cadre involved in violence…”

In the late city edition of April 19 on page 3 in a report on power supply, it should have been “affluent” and not “effluent”.

A report ( Page 5, April 19) from Ludhiana on the city centre case getting postponed, states that the case was adjourned “ for considerating the framing of charges…”. The phrase ‘ for framing of charges’ would have sufficed.

In a report from Yamunanagar on Haryana Page (Page 9, April 19) it should have been mother’s intervention and not ‘interference’.

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 & Friday.

Readers in such cases can write to Mr Uttam Sengupta, Associate Editor, The Tribune, Chandigarh, with the word “Corrections” on the envelope. His e-mail ID is uttamsengupta@tribunemail.com.

H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief

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