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Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped

EDITORIALS

Containing Maoist menace
Buddhadeb’s ‘yes’ to ban will help
W
est Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s acceptance that the Central ban imposed on the Maoists would extend to West Bengal as to other states is logical and pragmatic. That it contradicts CPM general secretary Prakash Karat’s hypocritical assertion that banning the Maoists would serve no useful purpose shows up the differing perceptions that the two leaders have on an issue yet again.

Waiting for monsoon
It’s prudent to prepare for the worst
After an early start, the monsoon has got stalled, causing worries to farmers, industry and policymakers, while people in north India brave the harsh summer with increased power cuts. Since 60 per cent Indians’ livelihood still depends on agriculture, the less-than-normal rainfall can raise their cost of living, curtail rice production, push up the already high food prices and raise the government’s food subsidy bill apart from scuttling India’s nascent economic recovery.





EARLIER STORIES

Banning Maoists
June 24, 2009
Varun said it all
June 23, 2009
BJP at sea
June 22, 2009
People have right to know
June 21, 2009
Enforce the norms
June 20, 2009
PM’s offer well-meant
June 19, 2009
Beyond the handshake
June 18, 2009
Mayawati again
June 17, 2009
No changers win
June 16, 2009
That sinking feeling
June 15, 2009

Rapist cops
They deserve deterrent punishment
T
he complaint by a woman that she was criminally assaulted by five policemen inside the Inderpuri police station of Delhi is yet to be substantiated because the woman has not recorded her statement, but it is too shocking for words. Even more outrageous is the fact that among them was the SHO of the police station, who has been sent to police lines and the matter handed over to the crime branch.

ARTICLE

Perils of dialogue with Pakistan
But people-to-people contacts must be promoted
by G. Parthasarathy
O
n December 22, 2000, Pakistan-based terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) staged a dramatic attack on the Red Fort, exposing the serious shortcomings in the security arrangements in the national Capital. At a public meeting a few days later, the Amir of the Lashkar, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, proudly proclaimed that he had “unfurled the green flag of Islam” in Delhi, with luminaries like Qazi Hussain Ahmed of the Jamat-e-Islami and the “Ideological Father” of the Taliban, Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Deobandi Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam expressing admiration for his “feat”.

MIDDLE

Obama and the fly
by T.P. Sreenivasan
C
ruelty to animals”, cried the SPCA. “How do flies get into the White House?”asked the health authorities. “With such skills, he should be in Afpak, hunting Osama bin Laden”, said the terror warriors. “The President should have the freedom at least to kill flies”, said the apologists. “We always knew there were flies on the walls of the White House”, said the Republicans. “He is not the Buddha (or Mahavira) to waste his time saving pests”, said the rationalists.

OPED

Identity crisis in Haryana
Development strategy needs a paradigm shift
by D.R. Chaudhry
A
n individual in society has multiple identities — one’s family, one’s caste, community and religious affiliation, occupational pursuits, organisational status, sense of belonging to the state, deep attachment to one’s country characterised as patriotism, the process leading to one being an intrinsic part of the humanity and cosmos at large. The people of Haryana are stuck at the lower rung of the trajectory of identity formation.

It’s Mousavi vs Khamenei
by Borzou Daragahi
I
ran’s economy stood in shambles and its international status was at a nadir. Disturbed by the leadership of then-President Ali Khamenei, Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi wrote him a letter and threatened to resign from his high-ranking post, according to news accounts at the time.

Health
Better sleep, better living
by Shari Roan
S
leep isn’t just a chunk of time carved out to recharge for the following day. Increasingly, scientific evidence shows that life and sleep are woven together like 800-thread-count sheets. How people fare during their waking hours has a lot to do with how they sleep — and vice versa.


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EDITORIALS

Containing Maoist menace
Buddhadeb’s ‘yes’ to ban will help

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s acceptance that the Central ban imposed on the Maoists would extend to West Bengal as to other states is logical and pragmatic. That it contradicts CPM general secretary Prakash Karat’s hypocritical assertion that banning the Maoists would serve no useful purpose shows up the differing perceptions that the two leaders have on an issue yet again. The prospect of a conflict of interest between the Union and the state government has been promptly, and rightly, nipped in the bud by Mr Bhattacharjee’s stand. Not only has the Chief Minister declared unequivocally that West Bengal cannot be an exception to the Central law, state police also moved in quickly to arrest, under the Central Act, an alleged spokesman of the underground outfit when he came out of a television studio in Kolkata.

Mr Bhattacharjee’s rider that it would be for the state government to decide when and how to enforce the law was apparently merely a face-saving device. Law and order being a state subject, it is for the state police, and not the Central para-military forces present in the state, to detain or arrest people involved in unlawful activities. Central forces are normally called upon to assist the state police, as has been done in Lalgarh. There never was any doubt , therefore, about the role of the state government in enforcing the law and containing Maoist activities in the state.

The state government’s record in controlling Maoist activities has so far been pretty dismal, though. Although Maoist leaders are known to use Kolkata as a transit point and while it is believed that some of the leaders actually function from their base in the eastern megapolis, the Left Front government has not been able to apprehend anyone of any consequence in the past few years. It was clearly not a priority for the West Bengal police till Maoist violence continued to take place in neighbouring Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa. Now that the Maoists have expanded their activities to West Bengal, the state government has been caught napping. Both the affected states and the Union government will have to act in close conjunction if they are to nurse hopes of curbing Maoist violence which has the potential to seriously affect law and order in the region.

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Waiting for monsoon
It’s prudent to prepare for the worst

After an early start, the monsoon has got stalled, causing worries to farmers, industry and policymakers, while people in north India brave the harsh summer with increased power cuts. Since 60 per cent Indians’ livelihood still depends on agriculture, the less-than-normal rainfall can raise their cost of living, curtail rice production, push up the already high food prices and raise the government’s food subsidy bill apart from scuttling India’s nascent economic recovery. Though it is too early to say how abnormal the monsoon will be, the government should prepare itself for any eventuality, including a drought.

In 2002 when India had 19 per cent deficient rainfall, the farm output fell by 6.9 per cent, slowing India’s growth to 3.8 per cent. While weather experts are yet to forecast the exact pace of the monsoon and effect of El Nino, if any, villagers have started holding prayer meetings for timely rain. Andhra Pradesh is planning cloud seeding for artificial rain. Farmers in Jharkhand and Maharashtra are opting for less water-consuming crops, while the Bihar government has decided to help farmers with diesel subsidy.

If the monsoon keeps its date (June-end or early July) with the paddy-growing states of Punjab and Haryana, food worries in the region may be manageable. Farmers in the two states stick to paddy despite an alarming fall in the water table. This season a sharp fall in the water levels in the reservoirs of Bhakra, Pong and Ranjit Sagar has reduced the supply of canal water to them, forcing them to depend more on ground water and spend more on electricity or/and diesel to run their tubewells. Power generation has failed to match the rising demand resulting in long power cuts. The situation is particularly bad in Punjab where power is given free to a large section of the population and the near-bankrupt power board and the cash-strapped government are unable to buy additional power to meet the shortfall. In this scenario, people in general and government officials in particular should cut the use of ACs and conserve power and water.

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Rapist cops
They deserve deterrent punishment

The complaint by a woman that she was criminally assaulted by five policemen inside the Inderpuri police station of Delhi is yet to be substantiated because the woman has not recorded her statement, but it is too shocking for words. Even more outrageous is the fact that among them was the SHO of the police station, who has been sent to police lines and the matter handed over to the crime branch. Policemen are supposed to be protectors and if they turn into rapists, the people’s faith in the established order is bound to erode. Inderpuri residents have been up in arms right since Tuesday when the news of the alleged gang-rape broke out. Each such episode puts paid to the police’s efforts to present a humane face.

It is a matter of national shame that this is not the only case of its kind. Policemen have been turning into rapists far too often. Last year, a woman fell a victim to the lust of a commando and a constable right there in the commando quarters near Haryana Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh. A 25-year-old Sarita was allegedly raped by two policemen in a Rohtak police station and later committed suicide at the police headquarters in Panchkula when she failed to get justice. Within days of this horror, another married woman went to the house of an SHO in Karnal along with her husband to sort out a dispute over her inter-caste marriage. Instead of being helped, she too was raped by the policeman. Even in cosmopolitan Mumbai, a constable raped a college-going girl inside the Marine Drive police chowky. But in the worst case of barbarity, a deaf and dumb teenaged girl who was handed over to the Moga police to protect her from ruffians was raped by policemen themselves. The list is virtually endless.

Such atrocities are committed only because the policemen think that they are a law into themselves and can get away with any crime. Sadly, they actually do wriggle out of most cases because often the force comes to their rescue and tries to dilute the charges against them. What must be realised is that each such incident is an embarrassment for the entire police force. By trying to protect them, the police is bringing greater opprobrium on itself. Things have already gone too far. The least that the government can do is to make sure that no errant cop escapes justice.

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Thought for the Day

We dance round in a ring and suppose,/But the Secret sits in the middle and knows. — Robert Frost

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ARTICLE

Perils of dialogue with Pakistan
But people-to-people contacts must be promoted
by G. Parthasarathy

On December 22, 2000, Pakistan-based terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) staged a dramatic attack on the Red Fort, exposing the serious shortcomings in the security arrangements in the national Capital. At a public meeting a few days later, the Amir of the Lashkar, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, proudly proclaimed that he had “unfurled the green flag of Islam” in Delhi, with luminaries like Qazi Hussain Ahmed of the Jamat-e-Islami and the “Ideological Father” of the Taliban, Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Deobandi Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam expressing admiration for his “feat”.

It was no secret that Saeed and the LeT were protégés of the ISI, enjoying the patronage of the Pakistani state apparatus. Rather than expressing strong displeasure and retaliating appropriately, New Delhi took a perilous route to direct summit diplomacy, with no prior preparation, with Gen Pervez Musharraf, who was invited to Agra for a summit meeting. The ill-advised summit ended in a diplomatic fiasco.

Buoyed by what the Pakistan military establishment saw as an Indian weakness and ineptitude, yet another protégé of the ISI, the Jaish-e-Mohammed, attacked the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 — an attack that took the two countries to the brink of conflict.

Similarly, ignoring the involvement of the LeT in the terrorist bombings in Mumbai on July 11, 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went into a summit meeting with President Pervez Musharraf in Havana on September 16, 2006, in the belief that the India-Pakistan “composite dialogue” was “irreversible”. Astonishing statements emanated from the Havana Summit, equating India and Pakistan as “victims of terrorism” and even giving the ISI an alibi, by claiming that: “We must draw a distinction between terrorist elements in Pakistan and the Government of Pakistan.”

What followed was a decision to establish a “Joint Terror Mechanism”. Even ardent supporters of this ill-conceived “Joint Mechanism” now agree that all that has been diplomatic embarrassment, giving Pakistan the means to stall, obfuscate and plead that like India, Pakistan is also a “victim” of terrorism. If the Agra Summit led to the attack on the Indian Parliament, the Havana Summit was the prelude to the attacks on our embassy in Kabul and to the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist outrage, which were executed by groups known to be ISI proxies.

Given these experiences, it was heartening that Dr Manmohan Singh candidly told President Zardari in Yekaterinburg: “I have a limited mandate to tell you that Pakistan should not be used for terrorism against India.” While the decision now is to focus only on the deliberate Pakistani inaction against the perpetrators and masterminds of the 26/11 outrage in the forthcoming talks between the Foreign Secretaries, it is imperative that the entire emphasis and structure of the dialogue are changed when circumstances permit its resumption.

We should remember that there will be no representative of Pakistan’s real rulers, the armed forces, on the dialogue table. It is not without significance that virtually every foreign visitor of consequence to Islamabad calls on General Kiyani and not his direct boss, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar. Secondly, on issues ranging from terrorism and trade and economic relations to Jammu and Kashmir, there are serious differences between President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who echoes the hackneyed rhetoric of his Foreign Office mandarins and military-intelligence establishment.

In these circumstances, it would be useful to promote innovative ideas on people-to-people contacts and the Sir Creek issue while remaining firm on substantive issues like Pakistan’s refusal to implement the SAARC Free Trade Agreement, to which it is a signatory, or deny Indian exports transit to Afghanistan.

The entire composite dialogue process with Pakistan should be drastically restructured. The India-Pakistan ministerial-level joint commission should be revived (when Pakistan acts credibly against terrorism) to promote trade and economic cooperation, people-to-people contacts and confidence-building measures. The ill-advised Joint Terror Mechanism should be scrapped and special envoys together with the heads of the ISI and RAW could meet out of the glare of publicity for candid discussions on terrorism.

If India concludes, based on an analysis of the ground situation that Pakistan presently has no intention of winding up its infrastructure of terrorism, the necessary conclusions should be drawn, internal security further reviewed and a more proactive policy adopted for exploiting Pakistan’s growing sectarian, linguistic and ethnic fault lines. Finally, our establishment should stop shedding tears about Pakistan “also” being a “victim” of terrorism. Pakistan is merely facing the inevitable consequences of supporting terrorism.

Steve Coll of the New America Foundation has revealed that the broad contours of the settlement reached during “back channel” negotiations on Jammu and Kashmir in 2005-2007, between India and Pakistan, were based on extensive autonomy for the region, which would lead to local residents moving freely and conducting trade on both sides of the “territorial boundary”. Over time, the border would become “irrelevant”, and declining violence would allow a gradual withdrawal of troops that now face one another across the mountain passes.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri have acknowledged that they were close to reaching a solution in 2007. It is time for the Prime Minister to disclose in Parliament what precisely transpired during the “back channel” dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir and, after taking the people of India into confidence, insist that any future dialogue with Pakistan will have to move forward from where it was suspended in 2007. If Pakistan decides to disown what has transpired, as General Kiyani and Prime Minister Gilani are advocating, then India should dig its heels in.

Mercifully, unlike his predecessor, the Home Minister, Mr. Chidambaram, appears prepared to realistically deal with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. There is ample political space now after the recent elections in the state to take imaginative measures to deal with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism while moving towards a paradigm shift in the role of the Army, the paramilitary forces and the local police in dealing with insurgency. The separatist outfits in J&K should be dealt with more realistically.

Defence procurement procedures will have to be drastically changed as these are now afflicted by the Bofors syndrome, resulting in the Army’s artillery being woefully obsolete, with excessive procrastination and delays in virtually all major defence deals. The Indian Air Force is woefully under strength and the armed forces as a whole are ill-equipped to meet the current challenges. India will be taken seriously by its neighbours only if its defence forces are prepared and equipped to deal with the challenges the country faces. We should never again be caught unaware or unprepared to respond appropriately to future terrorist outrages planned and executed from across our borders.

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MIDDLE

Obama and the fly
by T.P. Sreenivasan

Cruelty to animals”, cried the SPCA. “How do flies get into the White House?”asked the health authorities. “With such skills, he should be in Afpak, hunting Osama bin Laden”, said the terror warriors. “The President should have the freedom at least to kill flies”, said the apologists. “We always knew there were flies on the walls of the White House”, said the Republicans. “He is not the Buddha (or Mahavira) to waste his time saving pests”, said the rationalists. “He should be cloned for every home to be a human fly swat”, said the super marketers. “This is the change we have been looking for”, said the Democrats. “Yes, we can”, said President Obama. The cacophony continues.

The affair was simple. President Obama was in the White House, sitting for a chitchat with a CNBC editor, exchanging ideas on how to bring about change in this world. There appeared a tiny fly, much like the one that sat on Shakuntala’s nose, giving an opportunity to Dushyanta to make a dramatic appearance with a sword in hand to save a damsel in distress, and began to hover around the President much to his annoyance.

The CNBC camera whirred on, though the editor stopped questioning the President and began following the fly. The President did what anyone else would do in such dire circumstances and began to wave the fly away. But the fly, like a disguised demon, determined to seek salvation by dying at the hands of the Lord himself, settled on his suit sleeve.

Then it happened. With a swift karate chop, which would be the envy of Bruce Lee, the President struck the fly, and wonder of wonders, got it. He threw the carcass onto the White House carpet and resumed his dialogue as though nothing had happened.

The scene was played on TV screens a million times, as though the President had accomplished one of his many feats. It was as though he made a brilliant speech without the teleprompter. He deserved all the praise, because it is not easy to kill a fly with bare hands. The fly is very swift in movement and you have to be swifter than the fly. And to do it in one shot in front of the cameras is nothing short of a miracle.

But in a free country, there is no dearth of opinions and hence the flood of commentaries ranging from high praise for his courage to condemnation for taking the life of an innocent being.

For me, the event was evocative. I once served with an ambassador, whose forte was karate; he was indeed a black belt, pretty high in the karate hierarchy. He liked demonstrating martial arts to his admiring colleagues, though there was a rumour in town that diplomats came in the expectation of a demonstration of “marital” arts by the youthful ambassador.

He took pride in the fact that he could kill flies by the dozens with his serviette on the dining table and he demonstrated the art every time he had guests for lunch or dinner.

The city was not Washington and flies were a perennially present everywhere. He would challenge his guests to beat him in the game, but most of them shied away even from trying.

My not joining the younger colleagues in cheering him was seen as part of the inevitable squabbles between the number one and the number two.

But once I had to speak up, but only in his ear in Hindi that it was not polite to engage in his pastime at the dinner table of a pious Buddhist former Prime Minister of the country! I reminded him that India too is a non-violent nation, though in his own part of the country, chopping of heads was a part of the sporting tradition.

I wished I had the skills of the venerable ambassador when I was confronted with a fly when I was trying to record a conversation in a studio. Every time I came to make an important point, a fly came and settled on my nose. The cameraman cut off the shoot and chased the fly around in the room and I myself joined in the hunt.

The fly disappeared till we resumed the recording and came to the same point. Since it was targeting my nose and not my suit sleeve, there was no way we could even try to kill it. Nor could we record the programme for the week.

I smiled when the anchor announced that the week’s analysis of world events could not be brought to the viewers for technical reasons. She should have said that there was a fly in the ointment!

As we go to the press, public opinion in the United States has not determined whether the President was justified in his action. It will be left to the Presidential historians to pass the verdict. But the fly must have been preserved for a pride of place in the Obama library in Chicago.

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OPED

Identity crisis in Haryana
Development strategy needs a paradigm shift
by D.R. Chaudhry

An individual in society has multiple identities — one’s family, one’s caste, community and religious affiliation, occupational pursuits, organisational status, sense of belonging to the state, deep attachment to one’s country characterised as patriotism, the process leading to one being an intrinsic part of the humanity and cosmos at large. The people of Haryana are stuck at the lower rung of the trajectory of identity formation.

The Tamils, the Telugus, the Malyalis, the Bengalis and several others have a sense of belonging to their respective states and feel proud of it. It was the hurt pride of the Telugus which triggered the emergence of the Telugu Desam Party under the charismatic leadership of N.T. Rama Rao.

They display their distinct identity in the metropolis of Delhi, quite a distant place from their respective states, through their cultural organisations, celebration of their festivals and several other activities.

Haryana surrounds Delhi from three sides but its denizens are not visible there. Haryana has grown under the shadow of Delhi and hence its growth has remained stunted. It provides largely drivers and bus conductors and toilers in such other lowly professions in Delhi.

One comes across Jats, Brahmins, Ahirs etc. along with the odd formation of “locals” versus “Punjabis” in Haryana but it is difficult to meet a Haryanvi in Haryana. The migrants from West Punjab who settled in Haryana after partition still lead a ghettoised existence with minimal communication with the “locals” and the cleavage between the two has bred a lack of mutual trust.

The “locals” are still mired into crippling stratifications of caste, khap, gotra and regionalism. Tiny tracts in Haryana, a small state in itself, have acquired high sounding appellations like Ahirwal inhabited largely by Ahirs, Deswal dominated by Deswali Jats, Bagar with preponderance of Bagri Jats and so on. Narrow considerations around these stratifications play a decisive role in taking momentous socio-political decisions.

Mass mobilisation around larger issues transcending narrow barriers and development programmes taking the state as an organic unit are two strategies that can help people acquire a larger identity at the state level while keeping lower level identities in their proper place. Haryana, unfortunately, is lacking in both aspects.

“Nayay Yudh”, launched by Devi Lal in the mid-seventies of the last century around disputes of sharing waters, territory and the capital city, saw mass mobilisation in Haryana which catapulted him into power, decimating his adversaries completely in the 1982 assembly elections.

Caste barriers, though not dismantled, were definitely bypassed in the mass struggle around issues which vitally affected the people of the state as a unit. However, once in power, these issues were forgotten and a golden opportunity was frittered away in narrow political pursuits.

It is regional parties which can play an important role in fashioning regional identity at the state level. Two regional parties in Haryana — the Indian National Lok Dal, regional despite the prefix in its nomenclature, and the Haryana Jan Hit Congress — are misnomer as regional identities.

They are family fiefdoms without a trace of democratic ethos in their structure and functioning. Their leadership tends to be surrounded not by companions engaged in common political enterprise but a herd of hangers-on and hirelings.

Political power acts as a glue to keep them together and once its prospects gone, the structure starts falling apart. This explains the disarray in these parties after being trounced in the recent parliamentary poll.

The ruling party in Haryana can take legitimate pride in its unprecedented victory in the elections. However, people’s mandate should be analysed in its correct perspective. The style of functioning of its leadership devoid of malice and vindictiveness was undoubtedly an asset but it was the negative campaign of its adversaries heavily laced with empty rhetoric that proved handy for the ruling party.

Haryana badly needs a paradigm shift in its development strategy. The present model based on providing doles and freebees in the shape of waivers of power dues, loans and ever-escalating age-old pension etc. — the boom in the economy until recently provided enough scope for this — does yield electoral gains in the immediate context but it is inimical to the growth of a vibrant society with self-reliant individuals in the long run.

Only the destitute with no support system should be extended all help by the state. If populism is allowed to run amuck, it is likely to sap the initiative of the citizens and render them servile and subservient to the power-wielders.

The state’s resources should be utilised in building social assets aimed at augmenting the income of its citizens so that they can live with their heads high.

This is an important prerequisite to develop a breed of citizens with initiative, self-reliance and richly earned pride without which it is unthinkable for people to rise above narrow cleavages and traverse high in the trajectory of identity formation.

The writer is a member of the Haryana Administrative Reforms Commission

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It’s Mousavi vs Khamenei
by Borzou Daragahi

Iran’s economy stood in shambles and its international status was at a nadir. Disturbed by the leadership of then-President Ali Khamenei, Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi wrote him a letter and threatened to resign from his high-ranking post, according to news accounts at the time.

“The affairs of Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan are in your hands,” Mousavi’s 1988 missive reportedly said. “You know better how disastrous these have been to the country.”

Mousavi’s threat to resign was ignored, but within a year, he was shuffled aside from Iran’s political scene, spending the next two decades painting, reading and lecturing at universities.

Today, Mousavi, 67, finds himself again facing off against Khamenei, now the country’s spiritual leader, as the figurehead of a surprise reform movement built around his own presidential election campaign and the widespread belief among his supporters and independent experts that the June 12 vote count was rigged in favor of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

As he ascends the international stage, Mousavi, however, is still very much a blank slate. In public, he remains soft-spoken, almost aloof, appearing to measure his words carefully when he speaks, often awkwardly.

Such attributes may have helped him galvanize a diverse group that includes religious conservatives, worried about the creeping militarism and strident nationalism of the Ahmadinejad era, to secular liberals who would like to loosen Iran’s social and political restrictions and end its international isolation.

Yet Mousavi’s character also leaves his allies, opponents and independent analysts guessing about how far he’s willing to go, whether he will ultimately prove more loyal to the system that he helped create or the followers who have gambled their liberty and even their lives to support him.

Under close supervision of authorities and denied access to state television or a newspaper, Mousavi has managed to occasionally put his message out. “We are not against the Islamic system and its laws,” he said in a statement that appeared on his Web site at the end of Saturday’s clashes between security forces and protesters, “but against lies and deviations and just want to reform it.”

Mousavi and Khamenei know each other well. Not only did they chafe against each other’s authority frequently during the 1980s, they are relatives, with roots in the northwestern city of Khamein. They were both part of the Islamic movement that overthrew and replaced Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the monarchy. But they were at odds as leading members of rival factions.

“They had all sorts of problems when Mousavi was prime minister and Khamenei was president,” said Ali Reza Nourizadeh, an Iran expert in London. “Almost every day, they were fighting with each other.”

As prime minister from 1981 to 1989, Mousavi is generally credited for steering the country well during the years of war with Iraq, others recall an unpredictable character unable to maneuver the system and defeat his adversaries in Iran’s hard-knuckle factional politics.

“In his domestic policy he was not able to manage his own Cabinet let alone his foreign policy,” said Mohammed Esmaeel Haydari, a journalist. “In the war-stricken country, he was a puppet whose strings were pulled by the clerical establishment. He was, in fact, a front for them.”

After the tumult of the revolution’s early years, Khamenei succeeded Khomeini as supreme leader, consolidating his power as he mastered the intricacies of Iran’s unique political system, which combines elements of a theocracy with those of a republic. He balanced faction against faction, cleric against cleric, cultivating ties with the military and winning the loyalty of the informal pro-government militias. By most accounts, his outlook also became more conservative.

Meanwhile, Mousavi reinvented himself, spending his two decades out of the political maelstrom studying and teaching at Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran, and then in 1998, taking over the presidency of the newly created Academy of Arts.

A painter and an architect, he devoted himself to the arts and later sold some of his works to raise money for his campaign. They are jumbles of abstract geometric shapes and flowers, incorporating elements of architecture and design into works that use light touches of color.

Before the revolution, Mousavi was a follower both of Khomeini and Iranian activist Ali Shariati, who combined Marxist and Islamist doctrine.

But during the 1990s, Mousavi began expanding his understanding of the world, acquainting himself with thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Juergen Habermas and Edward Said, according to Said Hosseinian, a friend and colleague who served in his campaign.

“He is an open-minded technocrat with religious ideology,” said Saleh Nikbakht, a Tehran attorney who knows him. “Though he admits that he follows the late Khomeini’s path, in fact he belongs to a moderate school with a nationalist democratic legacy and a tolerance of other opinions.”

Although Ahmadinejad fashions himself a populist in support of the poor, Hosseinian said Mousavi always leaned toward the left in his outlook. “He believed the poor have suffered more than the others,” he said.

During the 1997 to 2005 presidency of his friend former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, Mousavi began dabbling again in politics, serving as an informal speech writer and behind-the-scenes adviser.

All along, he has had an extraordinary relationship with his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, a nationally venerated scholar, artist and educator who often appeared on the campaign trail and now speaks out for him in public appearances.

“She’s not passive, behind the wall. She’s very much in evidence and vocal,” said Anoush Ehteshami, an Iran expert at Durham University in the United Kingdom. She’s always been very well known and has got quite a following among the intellectuals.”

In television appearances, Mousavi told viewers that he re-entered political life because he was worried about the direction Ahmadinejad was taking the country.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Health
Better sleep, better living
by Shari Roan

Sleep isn’t just a chunk of time carved out to recharge for the following day. Increasingly, scientific evidence shows that life and sleep are woven together like 800-thread-count sheets. How people fare during their waking hours has a lot to do with how they sleep — and vice versa.

Income, employment status, relationship satisfaction and hobbies all affect sleep, according to research presented last week in Seattle at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. And sleep affects health, relationships and decisionmaking.

“Sleep is related to everything,” said Michael Grandner, a fellow at the Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Some news from the meeting:

— Who can’t sleep? In one presentation, Grandner reviewed responses from 159,856 people who participated in a government survey — one of the largest to gather data on sleep difficulties. Overall, 1 in 5 people reported problems with sleep on seven of the 14 nights before the survey. Grandner found little difference among racial and ethnic groups, except for people of Asian ethnicity, who had far fewer problems.

But people in lower socioeconomic levels, especially women, reported more problems. So did divorced and separated people, especially divorced and separated men.

And men who described themselves as homemakers reported sleep problems on par with people who were unemployed (who had high rates of problems).

Perhaps most surprising, the worst sleep seems to occur in men and women ages 18 to 24. “The story with age is fascinating,” Grandner said. “Usually, the common knowledge is that as you get older you have more sleep problems. We found pretty much the opposite.”

It could be that older people are accustomed to sleep disturbances and don’t complain about them, he said. But it remains to be seen why so many young, ostensibly healthy people are missing out on sweet dreams.

— Cooling the brain: Treatments for insomnia include medications and lifestyle changes, neither of which appeal to some people. But research on a nondrug treatment is under way.

Insomnia seems to be caused by excessive metabolic activity in the brain’s frontal cortex. For deep, refreshing sleep to occur, the frontal cortex has to rest, said Dr. Eric Nofzinger, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

Research on brain injuries has shown that cooling the brain reduces metabolic activity. Nofzinger and his colleagues decided to try the same concept on insomnia by designing a device that gently cools the frontal cortex during sleep.

— Bedtime and depression: When parents mandate early bedtimes for teenagers, they might help reduce the teens’ risk for depression and suicidal thoughts, researchers from Columbia University found. A study of 15,000 teenagers included 1,143 who had depression and 2,038 who had experienced suicidal thoughts. Those whose parents allowed bedtimes of midnight or later were 25 percent more likely to suffer from depression and 20 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts. The study supports the idea that inadequate sleep could lead to depression, said the lead author, James Gangwisch.

— Happy, rested couples: The quality of a couple’s sleep and relationship tend to follow the same trajectory, researchers said. On a day-to-day basis, a couple’s relationship affects how well they sleep. And how well they sleep affects how the relationship functions the following day.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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