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

Better days ahead
India grows even in hard times
India’s 6.7 per cent growth in the last fiscal may be lower than an average of 9 per cent in the previous three years, but it is commendable given the financial turmoil that had engulfed much of the world.

A political masterstroke
Meira’s selection is a message for women & Dalits
T
HE Congress deserves to be commended for its decision to field Ms Meira Kumar for the post of Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Ms Kumar is eminently suited for the position and will doubtlessly command the respect of the House for her qualities of head and heart.

A Stalin in Chennai
TN remains in the hands of a captive party
Punjab’s influence in a way has spread to Tamil Nadu. Now Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s son M.K. Stalin has been installed in the Deputy Chief Minister’s chair close on the heels of the induction of his elder son M.K. Azhagiri and grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran in the Central Cabinet.



EARLIER STORIES

The fury of cyclone Aila
May 31, 2009
Tasks assigned
May 30, 2009
Team Manmohan
May 29, 2009
Lahore again
May 28, 2009
Let peace prevail
May 27, 2009
PM’s appeal
May 26, 2009
Mayawati goes berserk
May 25, 2009
Mandate for Manmohan
May 24, 2009
Manmohan Singh’s A team
May 23, 2009
Perils of “arrogance”
May 22, 2009


ARTICLE

The doctor is at fault
When does it warrant unprecedented compensation?
by Virendra Kumar
T
HE three-judge Bench judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on May 14, which awarded for the first time a huge compensation of Rs 1 crore in a case of medical negligence, was instantly brought to the attention of the public at large by The Tribune (May 15, 2009).

MIDDLE

Pitch perfect
by Ira Pande
I
T is difficult to accept that it is almost a year since she passed away. I had lost touch with Jaya Varma, as with so many of my Chandigarh friends, after we left for Delhi almost 20 years ago.

OPED

India looks on as East Asia integrates
by Zorawar Daulet Singh
T
HE recent agreement arrived at by the Finance Ministers of China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN (ASEAN+3) to create a $120 billion regional reserve pool “to address short-term liquidity difficulties in the region and to supplement the existing international financial arrangements” must surely be another milestone in East Asian geoeconomics.

Terrorists can get hold of the bomb
by R. Jeffrey Smith and Joby Warrick
Sometime next year, at a tightly guarded site south of its capital, Pakistan will be ready to start churning out a new stream of plutonium for its nuclear arsenal, which will eventually include warheads for ballistic missiles and cruise missiles capable of being launched from ships, submarines or aircraft.

Chatterati
Many share Dr Karan Singh’s grief
by Devi Cherian
N
EVER have I witnessed a gathering so distinguished as at the Sai Baba Auditorium on the Lodhi road. V.I.Ps had come together to mourn the passing away of Rajmata Yasho of Kashmir. The hall had flavours of Kashmir, power, royalty and, above all, of warmth and sharing of grief.





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Better days ahead
India grows even in hard times

India’s 6.7 per cent growth in the last fiscal may be lower than an average of 9 per cent in the previous three years, but it is commendable given the financial turmoil that had engulfed much of the world. This has further strengthened the widely held view that the economy has turned the corner and shares have risen to eight months’ high. While manufacturing languished, agriculture and services lent support to growth. This may ease pressure on Dr Manmohan Singh’s new government to announce a fresh fiscal stimulus. The Union Budget, expected in the first week of July, can instead focus on fiscal correction. The government’s massive borrowings and a bloated fiscal deficit can be a threat to financial stability the government would like to ensure.

A major reason for India escaping the heat of the meltdown is its limited dependence on exports. Unlike China, Japan and Singapore, India’s growth is driven by huge domestic demand, which remained buoyant. Rural demand got a boost from schemes like Bharat Nirman and the rural job guarantee scheme, which provided employment and cash to villagers. A steep hike in the salaries of Central and state employees kept up consumer demand in the urban and semi-urban areas. Besides, the government’s stimulus packages, tax cuts and falling global commodity prices, especially of oil, rescued the economy from any significant slide.

A jubilant industry is even talking of a return to 9 per cent growth this fiscal. Though this may be wishful thinking, the RBI growth forecast of 6 per cent for the current year can go up as signs of recovery are getting stronger. The reports from the US have further raised hope. Japan is the latest to be found bouncing back. However, India’s exports are still in the dumps and may stay there in the next few months. IT, textile and pharmaceutical companies are bearing the brunt of US recession. Money is still expensive. Governments around the world are facing a cash crunch. India can start clearing the hurdles holding back growth, however.

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A political masterstroke
Meira’s selection is a message for women & Dalits

THE Congress deserves to be commended for its decision to field Ms Meira Kumar for the post of Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Ms Kumar is eminently suited for the position and will doubtlessly command the respect of the House for her qualities of head and heart. Daughter of Dalit icon the late Babu Jagjivan Ram, who held various Cabinet positions during his long career, including that of Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Kumar has had the best of education — graduating in law and following that up with a Master’s degree in English literature — which was capped by a stint in the Indian Foreign Service. When she quit the IFS and plunged into politics, she not only stepped into her father’s shoes as a Dalit leader but also showed a modern and progressive outlook.

For the Congress the selection of Ms Kumar is a deft political move. It establishes the sincerity of its claim that it wants women’s empowerment. At the same time, it would be a matter of great fulfilment for the Dalits who are a vital vote bank. Politically, the move is aimed at building a counterpoise to UP Chief Minister Mayawati who styles herself as the messiah of the Dalits. The Congress party knows only too well that if it is to re-capture UP it would have to wean away a sizable section of Dalits from the Bahujan Samaj Party. Being from Bihar, Ms Kumar’s appointment would go down well in a state which the party is desperate to win back from Janata Dal (U) leader Nitish Kumar who, too, is a Dalit.

The selection of Ms Kumar has put the BJP on the back foot. It had planned to put up Ms Sumitra Mahajan to win support among women, but now it would be hard put to explaining why it is opposing a leader of the Dalits who is a woman. Besides, by calling up Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani and offering Deputy Speakership to the Opposition, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made sure that his accommodative attitude would win favour with the people if the BJP decides to contest the Speaker’s election. As it stands, the Congress party holds all the trumps in this game of political one-upmanship.

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A Stalin in Chennai
TN remains in the hands of a captive party

Punjab’s influence in a way has spread to Tamil Nadu. Now Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s son M.K. Stalin has been installed in the Deputy Chief Minister’s chair close on the heels of the induction of his elder son M.K. Azhagiri and grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran in the Central Cabinet. The patriarch had for long nurtured the desire that son Stalin must succeed him to the chief ministerial “gaddi” but had been holding his hand for fear of incurring the wrath of Azhagiri who was unrelenting in opposing a better deal for his brother. With Azhagiri now duly accommodated at the Centre despite his ministerial inexperience, Karunanidhi saw an opportunity to announce Stalin’s new status as number two in his government. Whatever chance there was of the Marans — Dayanidhi and his brother Kalanidhi, who owns the vast Sun TV network — stealthily working against the interests of Stalin was also removed with the rehabilitation of Dayanidhi in the Central Council of Ministers. Clearly, Karunanidhi has proved that for the DMK strongman all politics in Tamil Nadu revolves around his family.

It is, however, just as well that Karunanidhi has formalised a succession plan that had been anticipated for long. Within the DMK, no leader has the gumption to oppose the patriarch; Stalin had been functioning as a virtual number two for some time. If ever there was anyone who tried to build an independent base, the party supremo was quick to deal with him. This was what led to the exit of the mercurial Vaiko from the party some years ago.

The Chief Minister, who will be 86 next month, has been having persistent health problems since his major surgery for back pain in February and it is appropriate that he makes way for a younger person. There is not much to talk about Stalin’s record as Mayor or as minister in his father’s Cabinet, but he has age on his side and the backing of a captive party that has got accustomed to not looking beyond the Karunanidhi clan.

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Thought for the Day

He is loyal to his own career but only incidentally to anything or anyone else.

— Hugh Dalton

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The doctor is at fault
When does it warrant unprecedented compensation?
by Virendra Kumar

THE three-judge Bench judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on May 14, which awarded for the first time a huge compensation of Rs 1 crore in a case of medical negligence, was instantly brought to the attention of the public at large by The Tribune (May 15, 2009). The following day the paper editorially commented to say that the authorities would do well to subject medical doctors to criminal prosecution in case of gross medical negligence. For that matter, the daily concluded by stating that “every professional community should be made accountable for its actions”.

This has led to a debate, as is evident from the responses in “Letters to the Editor” column. One view is that monetary compensation alone is not enough and that “more stringent action should be taken against criminal negligence”. The other viewpoint brings out the “flip side” of the “stringent-action approach” by recalling the experience of the American health system, wherein the imposition of huge penalty for gross medical negligence has made the healthcare delivery system “hugely expensive and unaffordable for a vast majority of citizens” and, therefore, “imposing huge penalties may not be the only solution”.

In this case a young promising engineering student, complaining of recurring fever, was referred to a cardio-thoracic surgeon at the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), Hyderabad. For determining the cause of fever, he consented for the conduct of “excision biopsy” of “neurofibroma” (a tumour which is basically neurological in nature) in the left lung that was revealed by an X-ray. However, immediately after the surgery, he developed acute “paraplegia” with a complete loss of control over the lower limbs, and some other related complications. After a prolonged hospitalisation, when there was no improvement, he was discharged from the hospital completely paralysed.

In his complaint before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, he was able to show with expert testimony that had the operating CT surgeon associated with him a neuro-surgeon of the NIMS, whose involvement was absolutely imperative because the tumour had spread into the spinal area — a fact known pre-operatively — the complainant would not have been reduced to a paralytic state for the rest of his life. Accordingly, the commission awarded Rs 15.5 lakh in compensation to him. In an appeal against the award by the NIMS, the Supreme Court, instead of reducing the amount, instantly enhanced the compensation to Rs 1 crore!

Has the apex court evolved some new principle(s) for this unprecedented award? Our perusal of the case reveals that in evaluating “medical negligence”, the apex court has consciously applied the time-tested principle that obliges courts to bear in mind the predicament of the medical doctors. For, it has reiterated that “the complexity of the human body, and the uncertainty involved in medical procedures is of such great magnitude that it is impossible for a doctor to guarantee a successful result and the only assurance that he ‘can give or can be understood to have given by implication is that he is possessed of the requisite skill in that branch of profession which he is practicing and while undertaking the performance of the task entrusted to him he would be exercising his skill with reasonable competence’.” And the test of reasonability is not the exercise of some extraordinary or special skill or competence, but simply “the ordinary skill of an ordinary competent man exercising that particular art.”

In the instant case, since there was a blatant breach of duty on the part of the operating surgeon, inasmuch as he failed to associate a neuro-surgeon despite the pre-operation indicators, the apex court had no difficulty in agreeing with the commission on the count of medical negligence. Non-involvement of a neuro-surgeon in the case in hand was not an act of either “a simple lack of care”, “an error of judgment”, or “an accident”: it was an act of inexcusable “gross medical negligence”.

But, then, why has the Supreme Court, instead of simply affirming the decision of the commission in its entirety, modified it by enormously increasing the award of compensation? The reasons are related to the breach of basic “human values” rather than merely non-observance of the standard medical-practice-procedures for which compensation was initially awarded by the commission.The following violations can be deciphered:

Right in the first instance, there was a breach of trust that the aggrieved patient and his parents reposed in the operating doctor. They consented for “excision biopsy” for finding the cause of “recurring fever” as an exploratory measure, but the doctor instead performed the unwarranted surgery causing permanent disability as if his life were at stake! Worse still, the surgeon concealed the terrible lapse on his part first by calling the neuro-surgeon “at a belated stage,” that is after performing the damaging operation, which he as a CT surgeon was not competent to conduct alone. Secondly, the doctors did not care to share the outcome of the surgery performed on October 23, 1990, with the anxiously waiting parents outside the operation theatre from 9 a.m. to 12.45 pm. They got the shocking news of paralysis indirectly from a doctor in the recovery room late in the evening, and could confirm the same from the doctors involved only at 10 pm on that devastating day.

Having absorbed the first shock of paralysis and before the complainant was discharged after prolonged hospitalisation when there was no improvement, his father requested the NIMS on May 11, 1991, to give him “a detailed report” so that he could discuss the matter with experts from other developed countries for improving the quality of his son’s life. Non-supply of the vital personal information despite repeated requests betrayed the doctors’ conduct of dishonesty. This amounts to demeaning human values, for it foreclosed the possibility of salvaging anything worthwhile from the left-over life. Does it behove a doctor who by profession is committed to preserving life as far as possible?

It is gainsaying that the doctor-patient relationship is based upon “trust” — a basic human value reflecting honesty, veracity, justice, strength, etc. Since it partakes the character of personal relationship, the greater the trust, the greater is the responsibility of the doctor towards the patient. The betrayal of this trust is evident at the threshold level when, in the appeal before the Supreme Court, the medical institute outrightly denied any negligence on the part of any doctor. This was done despite the documentary evidence brought on record, showing negligence during the prolonged proceedings before the national commission. On independent evaluation of the same, the findings of negligence were affirmed by the Supreme Court.

The dereliction of professional duties by the doctors was accentuated by the non-observance of the basic human values of care and concern. Oblique reference is made by the apex court when it stated that in the award of compensation a balance has to be stuck between the unreasonable demand of a victim and the equally untenable claim of the opposite party, saying that nothing is payable. Again, the court emphasised that sympathy for the victim does not, and should not, come in the way of making a correct assessment, “but if the case is made out, the court must not be chary of awarding adequate compensation.”

However, the award of compensation would have been much more meaningful if the long-drawn ordeal of about 20-year court processes could be substantially reduced.

The writer is a former Professor and Chairman, Department of Laws, and UGC Emeritus Fellow, Panjab University, Chandigarh.

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Pitch perfect
by Ira Pande

IT is difficult to accept that it is almost a year since she passed away. I had lost touch with Jaya Varma, as with so many of my Chandigarh friends, after we left for Delhi almost 20 years ago. Jaya and I had known each other through the usual sarkari afsar connection as both our husbands were government servants but a shared love of music drew us closer when Mr N.N. Khosla, the intrepid music impresario of Chandigarh, came up with the idea of starting a Chandigarh Choir. Jaya was chosen to be the Conductor and a motley group of us — students, housewives, young mothers and music teachers — became its enthusiastic members.

In those days, Chandigarh was still a very provincial city: everyone knew everyone else and soon the Choir became a family with Jaya as the matriarch. She was a beautiful, elegant woman then, with her signature chignon and starched cotton sari, and the air of a slightly intimidating perfectionist. Yet her smile, when she chose to give it, lit up the room and made the recipient feel a hundred feet tall!

An accomplished vocalist herself, Jaya took great pains to initiate us into the intricacies of classical music and managed to get those of us who had no formal training, to read musical notations. Her great talent lay in composing choral pieces, something that she was passionate about. How she harnessed Ragas such as Malkauns and Bageshwari into complicated taranas was a tribute to her skill as a composer.

I am told that later, she was once approached by Kumar Shahane, who made Khayal, a film based on the life of the legendary Siddheshwari Devi, to compose music for him, but sadly, by then Jaya was already a very ill person.

Jaya’s musical genius flowered as she built up the Choir’s repertoire. She collected songs in almost every Indian language from Subramania Bharati’s stirring Tamil anthems to lyrical Rabindra Sangeet compositions, Himachali folksongs and Punjabi numbers. Once she even persuaded my mother, the late writer Shivani, to translate a famous patriotic Bengali song by Dwijendranath Roy into Hindi. Soon, Dhano Dhanya, this famous composition, became the jewel of the Choir’s repertoire. In fact, I heard it recently on U-Tube!

In its heyday, Jaya’s Choir inaugurated the Chandigarh Music Festival and was invited to sing at the annual Kulu Dussera festival. We even performed for the television in Jalandar and Delhi. However, over time, as some members left, it slowly faded away. Jaya herself moved to Pune where her husband took over the reins of the Film and Television Institute of India and my old song book became the only memento of those days. Few of us were aware of her last battle with pancreatic cancer, and I learnt only much later that Jaya passed away quietly last May.

Then, recently I was sent a posthumous collection of her stories by her husband and I became acquainted with a completely new side of this remarkable woman’s creativity. The same passion irradiates her prose that gave her music a special touch of class. While reading them, I was reminded again of the elegance of her music and persona. How I regret that I will never have the chance to tell her personally how moving some of them are and that she must write more!

So, to Jaya-wherever she is-here is a toast to a woman blessed with a perfect ear and a smile that had the mysterious allure of a Mona Lisa.

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India looks on as East Asia integrates
by Zorawar Daulet Singh

THE recent agreement arrived at by the Finance Ministers of China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN (ASEAN+3) to create a $120 billion regional reserve pool “to address short-term liquidity difficulties in the region and to supplement the existing international financial arrangements” must surely be another milestone in East Asian geoeconomics.

This, however, is not an unsurprising development but part of integration that has characterised the political economy of the region. India, on the other hand, remains disconnected from this geoeconomic space. In fact, for too long, India’s look-east policy has been based on rhetorical aspirations rather than immersing India into the commercial networks that has entwined the nations of East Asia.

To begin with, there is a default template to much of the discourse on the international relations of East Asia. The popular images that animate any discussion on East Asia such as the North Korean nuclear question, the naval dimension and sea-lanes security, disputes in the South China Sea etc. tend to emphasise the latent, potential and ongoing conflicts in the region while crowding out any meaningful conversation on the question of economic interdependence.

This is partly a result of a security bias within the Indian security establishment whereby we tend to project our perspectives on China onto other actors in the region. For the major part, however, this is because India’s own economic linkages with the East are relatively perfunctory.

It is worth highlighting the underlying dynamic that enables interdependence to operate. While some analysts have opined that the economic impulse in the region has a life of its own and security considerations have been subordinated by geoeconomics, such a perspective does not address the reality that East Asian actors have made a conscious political choice to stimulate commerce.

And the extraordinary climb in Sino-US relations has only reinforced the impulse of China’s neighbours to engage her. Thus, the situation of a muted security dilemma has paved the way for extensive interactions in the economic sphere.

The interdependence of East Asia cannot be understood without an appraisal of manufacturing supply chains and China’s role as a “conduit” in this process.

Over the past decade, production sharing has become more pronounced in the region. A number of electronic industries are now characterised by a vertical division of labour — the slicing up of the manufacturing process where each economy is specialising in a particular stage of the production sequence of a single product that is eventually shipped out from Chinese ports to western markets.

China operates as a central assembly point where high-technology components once produced are exported to China where they are processed by affiliates of multinational companies (MNCs), only to be shipped back again for further processing and sent back to China as organised components for final assembly.

This is reflected in the data. Over the past decade, the proportion of components in exports to China has increased by five times for Indonesia, 15 times for Thailand, 19 times for Malaysia and 60 times for the Philippines. Today Japan, Taiwan and South Korea account for around 50 percent of China’s component imports.

FDI into China has played a vital role in restructuring intra-industry trade in the region. Japan has established 30,000 companies and joint ventures with an investment of $60 billion. South Korea has 30,000 enterprises with an investment of $35 billion. Singapore has invested $31 billion in 16,000 projects.

Taiwanese firms are estimated to have invested $100 billion on the mainland. Taiwanese firms alone are responsible for 60 percent of China’s IT hardware exports. From 1985 to 2007, MNCs in China increased their share of total trade from 10 to 60 percent, and currently 80 percent of the value of their exports is imported.

Clearly, what we view as “Chinese” exports is in reality part of a complex trade and investment web that spans across East Asia. This has three important implications:

First, China’s manufacturing edifice must not be exaggerated since it is primarily the point of final assembly and shipment to western markets. A lot of the sophisticated R&D and high-tech components that go into China’s electronic exports continue to be manufactured in Japan, South Korea or Taiwan.

To be sure, there has been a gradual relocation of some mid-value manufacturing to the mainland as China’s advanced neighbours have moved up the value chain. But even here, MNCs (Japanese, South Korean, American) have led the way and continue to control major elements of the supply chain.

Second, for the most part (with the exception of a few labour-intensive economies) the regional division of labour has largely been a positive sum game. Thus, the popular notion of the Chinese hegemon overwhelming the Asian economic scene is empirically unjustified.

Even more ironically, it may be noted that the US has been an important beneficiary in this division of labour. It is estimated that 60 percent of all imports into the US emanate from US subsidiaries or subcontracted firms operating in China.

Thus, not only are US MNCs in East Asia playing a vital role in what is exported back home, the surpluses that China accumulates have been recycled into US government debt making China into, as economist Paul Krugman has calls it, a “T-bills republic”!

Third, the US trade deficit with China is in fact a defacto trade deficit with East Asia that bilateral statistics do not and cannot capture. Such a complex multilateral chain complicates attempts to impose economic costs on China, since protectionism against Chinese exports will inevitably penalise other East Asian producers, including US corporations themselves.

Clearly, the nuances in East Asian inter-dependence and the extensive economic involvement of the US must be appreciated if India is to craft a sensible look-East policy. The reliance on a stereotypical image of China and her neighbours has precluded India from economically immersing itself in the region.

Instead of overstating China’s economic story, New Delhi should become better acquainted with the integration dynamic in East Asia, one that is already transforming political choices in the region. And the prerequisite for India’s participation in regional supply networks will begin by constructing an ecosystem at home that encourages the allocation of resources toward labour-intensive manufacturing.

The writer is an international relations analyst and co-author of “India China Relations: The Border Issue and Beyond”.

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Terrorists can get hold of the bomb
by R. Jeffrey Smith and Joby Warrick

Sometime next year, at a tightly guarded site south of its capital, Pakistan will be ready to start churning out a new stream of plutonium for its nuclear arsenal, which will eventually include warheads for ballistic missiles and cruise missiles capable of being launched from ships, submarines or aircraft.

About 1,000 miles to the southwest, engineers in India are designing cruise missiles to carry nuclear warheads, relying partly on Russian missile-design assistance. India is also trying to equip its Agni ballistic missiles with such warheads and to deploy them on submarines. Its rudimentary missile-defense capability is slated for a major upgrade next year.

The apparent detonation of a North Korean nuclear device on Monday has renewed concerns over that country’s efforts to build up its atomic arsenal. At the same time, U.S. and allied officials and experts who have tracked developments in South Asia have grown increasingly worried over the rapid growth of the region’s more mature nuclear programs, in part because of the risk that weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.

India and Pakistan see their nuclear programs as vital points of leverage in an arms race that has begun to take on the pace and diversity, although not the size, of U.S.-Russian nuclear competition during the Cold War, according to U.S. intelligence and proliferation experts. Pakistani authorities said they are modernizing their facilities, not expanding their program; Indian officials in New Delhi and Washington declined to comment.

“They are both going great guns (on) new systems, new materials; they are doing everything you would imagine,” said a former intelligence official who has long studied the region and who spoke on the condition of anonymity. While both India and Pakistan say their actions are defensive, the consequence of their efforts has been to boost the quantity of materials being produced and the number of times they must be moved around, as well as the training of experts in highly sensitive skills, this source and others say.

U.S. experts also worry that as the size of the programs grows, chances increase that a rogue scientist or military officer will attempt to sell nuclear parts or know-how, as now-disgraced Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan did in the 1980s and 1990s.

Former Indian government officials say efforts are underway to improve and test a powerful thermonuclear warhead, even as the country adds to a growing array of aircraft, missiles and submarines that launch them. “Delivery system-wise, India is doing fine,” said Bharat Karnad, a former member of India’s National Security Advisory Board and a professor of national security studies at New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices in 1998; India first detonated an atomic bomb in 1974.

A recent U.S. intelligence report, commissioned by outgoing Bush administration officials, warned of the dangers associated with potential attacks on nuclear weapons-related shipments inside Pakistan, for example.

Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told senators days before his retirement in March that “Pakistan continues to develop its nuclear infrastructure, expand nuclear weapons stockpiles, and seek more advanced warheads and delivery systems.” He added that although Pakistan has “taken important steps to safeguard its nuclear weapons ... vulnerabilities still exist.”

Although Maples did not offer details of the expansion, other experts said he was referring to the expected completion next year of Pakistan’s second heavy-water reactor at its Khushab nuclear complex 100 miles southwest of Islamabad, which will produce new spent nuclear fuel containing plutonium for use in nuclear arms.

Before it can be used in weaponry, the plutonium must first be separated from the fuel rods at a highly guarded nuclear facility near Rawalpindi, about 100 miles northeast of Khushab. Satellite images published by Albright’s institute show a substantial expansion occurred at the complex between 2002 and 2006, reflecting a long-standing Pakistani desire to replace weapons fueled by enriched uranium with plutonium-based weapons.

Details of precautions surrounding Pakistani nuclear shipments are closely held. Abdul Mannan, the director of transport and waste safety for Pakistan’s nuclear regulatory authority, said in a 2007 presentation to the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington that Pakistani safeguards are “enough to deter and delay a terrorist attack, and any malicious diversion would be protected in early stages.” But Mannan also said the government needed to upgrade its security measures, and warned that “a country like Pakistan is not well equipped” to contain radioactive fallout from an attack on a nuclear shipment.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Chatterati
Many share Dr Karan Singh’s grief
by Devi Cherian

NEVER have I witnessed a gathering so distinguished as at the Sai Baba Auditorium on the Lodhi road. V.I.Ps had come together to mourn the passing away of Rajmata Yasho of Kashmir. The hall had flavours of Kashmir, power, royalty and, above all, of warmth and sharing of grief.

There was Sonia Gandhi whose family has close relations with the royalty of the troubled state. Along came Congress heavyweights like Ahmed Patel and Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Also present were the Abdullahs and Ghulam Nabi Azad with wife Shamim.

The Gwalior royal family, closely related by marriage, was all there in this hour of grief. The Karan Singh touch was everywhere from the choice of bhajans to beautiful white lilies — simple yet so elegant in a manner that reflected the style of Dr Karan Singh’s wife.

She was a dedicated social worker with a large heart and a gentle touch. She was an extraordinary human being and did not have any of the royal constraints in her ability to reach out to those in need.

She was a patron of several social work organisations. Her elder son, Vikramaditya, runs a chain of hotels while the younger one, Azadshatru, is an M.L.C in Kashmir. Her daughter, Jyoti, is deeply involved in social work.

MPs and their costumes

The colours of India and its many costumes — sadly fast vanishing — made a come back in the Ashoka Hall during the swearing-in ceremony. Be it Chidambaram, Shashi Tharoor, A.K.Antony or the whole DMK clan from Tamil Nadu represented many facets of india. Farooq Abdullah was there in his family trademark Achkan and cap.

Youngsters Jyotiaditya and Jitin Prasad chose to be in white khadi kurta-pyjamas. Clearly the most colourful was the Rajasthani headgear sported by Sachin Pilot in the manner of his father, Rajesh Pilot. Mamata’s army obediently wore, on Didi’s instructions, a uniform set of Bengali dhotis. Virbhadra Singh, resurrected on the national stage, showed his Himachali colours in the green cap of Bushair. His cherubic smile lit up as he saw old colleagues and friends add power to the Manmohan team.

Advani’s offer and after

The BJP seems to be in real trouble. After Advani offered to resign from the leadership of his party everyone in the BJP was quiet. Infighting started in the party as soon as a couple of names started doing the rounds. From Sushma Swaraj to Murli Manohar Joshi to Jaswant Singh, the contenders were many.

Advani and his family were quite upset that no one had even asked him to rethink his decision. It is said that Advani’s family then lost its cool and blew up a couple of senior BJP stalwarts, saying how thankless the party was.

The family worries that if he does not remain the Leader of the Opposition he would have to lose his big bungalow, Cabinet status, security and many other perks. Must say the family was right. He has slogged all his life for the party. Thus, the decision to keep Advani as the Leader of the Opposition was cleared.

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