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EDITORIALS

Boosting higher education
Yashpal report must be implemented
AN all-encompassing higher education authority for the nation is the need of the hour. Consequently, the report of the Committee to Advise on the Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education asking the government to set up the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), an advisory body that would be responsible for comprehensive and continuous reforms in higher education, is very apt. For it to be effective, the NCHER should be a Central statutory body.

EARLIER STORIES

Containing Maoist menace
June 25, 2009
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
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS


Sarabjit is innocent
Pakistan must set him free
H
APLESS Indian national Sarabjit Singh, on death row in a Pakistani jail, is left at the mercy of President Asif Ali Zardari after the dismissal of his review petition by the Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday. The apex court upheld the death sentence handed to him in 1991 by an anti-terrorism court for his alleged involvement in bomb blasts in 1990.

Change in the hills
Testing time for new Uttarakhand CM
I
T is now established that Uttarakhand Health Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal will replace Mr B.C. Khanduri as the new Chief Minister. Mr Khanduri’s exit from office was never in doubt ever since the BJP’s rout in all the five seats from the state in the Lok Sabha elections. What expedited his departure is the spurt in dissidence, spearheaded by Mr Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. Mr Koshiyari had been breathing down the neck of Mr Khanduri.

ARTICLE

Home truths about Kargil
A Pakistani “insider” speaks out
by Inder Malhotra
W
HETHER by coincidence or design, on the verge of the tenth anniversary of the Kargil War, the director of operations of the Pakistan Air Force at that time, Group Captain (later Air Commodore, now retired) Kaiser Tufail, has published some home truths about the Pakistani misadventure that ought to be compulsory reading for everyone responsible for or interested in Indian security.

MIDDLE

Long day’s journey into Russia
by Shelley Walia
I
T was in the early nineteen eighties that I first took a flight to Moscow. Perestroika was still a far away reality The Soviet Union was yet to face its demise and the Cold War was as intense as ever. I took this flight because I had dreamt as a youngster of taking the same route as my mother had in the early sixties when she had been stranded for 3 days in Istanbul on the shores of the Black Sea owing to a technical snag in the Aeroflot jet.

OPED

Lalgarh waits for a war against hunger
by Uttam Sengupta
T
HE West Bengal Chief Secretary visited Lalgarh on Wednesday, possibly for the first time, and left after advising security forces to win over the people. Confused policemen have been quoted by newspapers in Kolkata as saying that they do not have a clue about how to go about it. When they set off for Lalgarh a week ago, they had been told their mission was to annihilate the Maoists. Now they are being asked to win the hearts and minds of the people.

Tracking kids who just vanish
by Joe Burris
P
ARENTS who fear getting separated from their children at amusement parks, beaches and other vacation spots are turning more often to new high- and low-tech safety devices. GPS tracking devices with wander alerts emit beeps or vibrations when a child strays too far. Digital watches and apparel have high-decibel alarms. And there’s the SafetyTat, a waterproof tattoo created by a Baltimore-area mom who wanted to attach her phone number to her child; a half-million have been sold.

Recovery won’t be easy
by Hamish McRae
I
T is time to move on. In the past few weeks three things about the world economy have become clear. The first is that some sort of recovery is in sight. The second is that the recovery will be beset with huge problems, pressures and difficulties that will last at least a decade. And the third is that when we do struggle back to solid growth the world economy will look utterly different: it won’t be business as usual for the rules of engagement will have changed for ever.


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Boosting higher education
Yashpal report must be implemented

AN all-encompassing higher education authority for the nation is the need of the hour. Consequently, the report of the Committee to Advise on the Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education asking the government to set up the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), an advisory body that would be responsible for comprehensive and continuous reforms in higher education, is very apt. For it to be effective, the NCHER should be a Central statutory body.

The Yashpal Committee, as it is popularly known, has summed up its findings in a relatively short report that is distinguished by clarity and vision. While the best and the brightest among Indian students have always found their place under the sun the world over, there has been an increasing call for reforms in higher education and disquiet about mushrooming deemed universities, and engineering and management colleges that are “mere business entities dispensing very poor quality education”.

There is also a sense that the bodies that should be monitoring educational institutions have not fulfilled their role adequately. The committee was told to look into the functioning of bodies like the University Grants Commission (UGC), the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) and the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) too. Instead of focusing on their shortcomings, it has recommended that they be subsumed under the new organisation. However, it clarifies that the “NCHER has not been visualised as a Czar, and should function while respecting the autonomy of universities”.

Fragmentation of academic courses has come at a cost, and internationally there is much stress on inter-disciplinary research and teaching. The committee opines that “great universities in the world ... would not be great if they could not accommodate people from many other disciplines. Put together, all the disciplines breed value into each other”. Reforms in the system of education in India are long overdue and it is heartening that the Minister for Human Resource Development, Mr Kapil Sibal, has set for himself a 100-day deadline for implementing the recommendations. After a long hiatus, there is now a new direction that gives hope to the education sector, which sorely needed such pro-active action.

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Sarabjit is innocent
Pakistan must set him free

HAPLESS Indian national Sarabjit Singh, on death row in a Pakistani jail, is left at the mercy of President Asif Ali Zardari after the dismissal of his review petition by the Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday. The apex court upheld the death sentence handed to him in 1991 by an anti-terrorism court for his alleged involvement in bomb blasts in 1990.

The truth, however, is that the person found to have been behind the blasts, leading to the death of 14 people, was Manjit Singh as the documents showed initially. Sarabjit has been suffering all these years because of being a case of mistaken identity. He is an innocent person, who deserves to be set free, as well-known Pakistani human rights activist and former minister Ansar Burney has been saying.

Sarabjit was to be hanged last year, but his execution was postponed for an indefinite period following a mercy appeal by the Ansar Burney Trust, which prompted intervention by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Sarabjit’s case has never been taken up properly. That is why he has failed to get justice every time he has approached a court.

First the Lahore High Court upheld his death sentence in 2003. Then his case went to the apex court, which too gave a similar verdict in 2005. After that he sent a mercy petition to former Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf, who dismissed it as was expected. The judgement pronounced on Wednesday was an ex parte one since Sarabjit’s lawyer failed to appear, an oddity in itself.

External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna’s appeal to Pakistan to “take a sympathetic and humanitarian view in the case” is unexceptionable. After all, Sarabjit has suffered imprisonment for 18 years, which is more than life sentence, even when there is no solid proof to substantiate the charge levelled against him.

There is a nagging suspicion that he was implicated in the 1990 Lahore blast case only because he is an Indian national. President Zardari must look into the matter afresh and stop the hanging of Sarabjit. His execution will amount to the “murder of justice” in Pakistan, as Mr Ansar Burney has rightly asserted.

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Change in the hills
Testing time for new Uttarakhand CM

IT is now established that Uttarakhand Health Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal will replace Mr B.C. Khanduri as the new Chief Minister. Mr Khanduri’s exit from office was never in doubt ever since the BJP’s rout in all the five seats from the state in the Lok Sabha elections. What expedited his departure is the spurt in dissidence, spearheaded by Mr Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. Mr Koshiyari had been breathing down the neck of Mr Khanduri.

The party high command sent the former to New Delhi with a Rajya Sabha membership, but this did not help matters in Dehradun. There was a truce between the two because of the Kapkot Assembly byelection. The BJP won the seat but Mr Koshiyari quit his Rajya Sabha seat as a pressure tactic. The high command told him to withdraw his resignation and dumped Mr Khanduri having felt that he did not enjoy the majority support of MLAs.

A sordid spectacle in the whole drama is the increasing role played by the party high command in the affairs of the state unit. The smooth functioning of the government was affected because the Chief Minister was a nominee of the high command and did not enjoy the genuine confidence of the state legislature party. In fact, every party is afflicted by this malaise and the BJP is no exception. Only time will tell whether Mr Pokhriyal is merely its nominee or the popular choice of the party MLAs.

With the Assembly elections due in 2012, Mr Pokhriyal has a challenging task ahead. He will have to tackle factionalism in the party, improve governance and regain the people’s confidence. It is mainly because of dissidence that his predecessor could not deliver. Uttarakhand is a hill state, endowed with rich natural resources. These need to be tapped effectively for the state’s development. Mr Pokhriyal has to rejuvenate the panchayati raj institutions, enforce environmental laws while respecting the rights of local communities, rectify the anomalies in the rural development programmes and try to implement the party manifesto for the all-round progress of the state. A seasoned politician, Mr Pokhriyal needs the cooperation of all the parties and officials to put the state back on the track of development.

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Thought for the Day

Whenever our neighbour’s house is on fire, it cannot be amiss for the engines to play a little on our own. — Edmund Burke

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Home truths about Kargil
A Pakistani “insider” speaks out
by Inder Malhotra

WHETHER by coincidence or design, on the verge of the tenth anniversary of the Kargil War, the director of operations of the Pakistan Air Force at that time, Group Captain (later Air Commodore, now retired) Kaiser Tufail, has published some home truths about the Pakistani misadventure that ought to be compulsory reading for everyone responsible for or interested in Indian security.

A lot about that war is already known, given the huge volume of writings on the subject in this country, Pakistan and elsewhere. Yet, Air Commodore Tufail’s revelations are startling and significant. His is a short, succinct account of how Gen Pervez Musharraf, having failed, in earlier years, to secure the approval of the then Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, managed to have his way over his disastrous plan after Nawaz Sharif appointed him Chief of the Army Staff in the wake of Gen Jehangir Karamat’s resignation.

More importantly, the Air Commodore’s blow-by-blow account throws a flood of light on how General Musharraf and his few cohorts in the Army kept the plan as their private secret. They did not inform even the chiefs of the other two services. What really annoyed Air Commodore Tufail and his seniors at Air Headquarters was that they were asked to provide the planners of the Kargil operation with information and were constantly misled about why the information was needed. In fact, the Air Commodore’s objective in spilling the beans is to tell the world that the air force was first conned and later unfairly blamed for the failure of the dubious brainchild of General Musharraf’s coterie.

It was some time in March 1999, says Air Commodore Tufail, that Brigadier Nadeem Taj, Director of Military Operations, phoned him to request some information about the PAF’s last “major deployment” in Skardu that he said he needed for a “paper exercise”. The next day the Brigadier rang again. This time his questions were “more probing” and he wanted information that was classified.

Tufail referred the matter to the Air Marshal in charge of operations who dispatched another officer, Group Captain Tariq Ashraf, to Skardu to “check things”. Ashraf submitted a detailed report to his superiors but confided to his colleague and friend Tufail that “something big is on”. His reasons: the Army’s “mobilisation and other preparations” at Skardu that is the base of the Northern Light Infantry that mounted the Kargil assault. Ashraf had seen helicopters “flying feverishly” and “moving guns and ammunition to the posts vacated by Indians during the winter”. “Troops in battle dress were to be seen all over the city” and Army messes were “abuzz with war chatter among young officers”.

While forwarding Ashraf’s report, the Air Marshal told his army counterpart “in a roundabout way that if the Army’s ‘contingency plans’ required the PAF to be factored in” a plan and operations team would be available for discussion. Nothing was heard until May 12 when three air force officers, including the Director of Air Operations (Tufail), were invited to the GHQ for a briefing.

The briefing officer turned out to be the dapper, Lt.-General Mehmud Ahmed, Commander of the X Corps and a Musharraf confidant. He broke the news that a “limited operation” — nothing more than a “protective manoeuvre” meant to “foreclose any further mischief by the enemy” — had been on for two days. General Mehmud ended his briefing on a high note: “Come October, we shall walk into Siachen — to mop up the dead bodies of hundreds of Indians ….”

One of the Air Commodores present asked about the kind of air support that might be needed. General Mehmud replied that air support was not envisaged. He also ruled out attacks by the Indian Air Force, declaring “I have a stinger at every peak”. Told that India was likely to use artillery, the General said that the Dras-Kargil stretch did not allow the positioning of the requisite number of artillery guns. On the way out, an Air Commodore said to his two colleagues: “It’s going to be either a Court Martial or Martial Law.” These were prophetic words. For, within three months of the Kargil fiasco, Musharraf staged his coup against Nawaz Sharif.

From the Indian point of view, the most important part of Air Commodore Tufail’s dissertation is a single sentence in the context of feverish war preparations at Skardu. “In retrospect,” he writes, “one wonders how Indian intelligence agencies failed to (get wind of all this)”.

One has only to read the report of the Kargil Committee, headed by K. Subrahmanyam, to know the astonishing extent of the failure of such agencies as the Research and Analysis Wing, the external intelligence agency better known by its acronym, RAW, and others. The remit of the Military Intelligence is confined to collecting tactical intelligence only.

It is shocking that not until three shepherds informed the Army on May 3, just a week before Pakistan launched its well-planned attack, that the Pakistanis had occupied the vacated bunkers did anyone have a clue to what was going on. To make matters worse, even though Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah told the Army authorities that the Pakistanis in the bunkers on the Indian side of the LoC were soldiers, the Army went on insisting that they were “Mujahideen”, exactly what Musharraf and Co. were pretending.

Coordination among various intelligence agencies was appalling, and even the political leadership of the day proved itself to be naďve and gullible. For instance, it believed the fiction that General Musharraf had acted behind his Prime Minister’s back and that Nawaz Sharif had nothing to do with Kargil. Others have blasted the myth of Sharif’s innocence earlier. Air Commodore Tufail writes: “After the self-serving presentation of the trio (Musharraf, Mehmud and Major-General Javed Hasan)”, Nawaz Sharif said, “General sahib, bismillah karen …” Of course, Sharif denies it “every new moon”.

All in all, in the light of the Air Commodore’s disclosures, the failure of Indian intelligence appears much worse than thought earlier. One other important fact needs to be recorded. Lt-General Mehmud is one of the three villains of the Kargil episode. General Musharraf rewarded him by appointing him Director-General of the ISI. It is an established fact that in this capacity Lt-General Mehmud arranged to send $ 100,000 to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers. The crowning irony is that on 9/11 Lt-General Mehmud was in Washington. He was having a breakfast meeting with American officials when the Pentagon was hit.

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Long day’s journey into Russia
by Shelley Walia

IT was in the early nineteen eighties that I first took a flight to Moscow. Perestroika was still a far away reality The Soviet Union was yet to face its demise and the Cold War was as intense as ever. I took this flight because I had dreamt as a youngster of taking the same route as my mother had in the early sixties when she had been stranded for 3 days in Istanbul on the shores of the Black Sea owing to a technical snag in the Aeroflot jet.

Apart from fulfilling the childhood desire, I also wanted to meet my sister and her husband who was posted at Moscow then as Indian’s Military Attaché and have a first hand experience of the Cold War. And so on a sweltering May day in the small hours of the morning, I found myself sitting in an Aeroflot flight flying over the Hindu kush mountains. I settled back, closed my eyes and thought of soon being in the land of Dostoevsky and Sholokhov, of Napoleon’s debacle in Moscow and of the Siberian hell I had read about in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago.

The first disappointment on the flight was the missing beverage on the menu. I was handed a tiny glass, half-full of orange juice that tasted more like orange squash. Being a little thirsty, I requested the airhostess, a stout well-bodied woman in her late twenties for another glass of juice. Much to my surprise, my request met a scowl and a reprimand: “Have you not had one already! Now you can have a glass of water.” Soon it was time for the mid-day meal and I was confronted by this very huge unappetizing chicken drumstick which looked more like a pig’s flank.

My co-passenger happened to be a rural Punjabi woman from Jullundur who lacked communication skills in English and requested me to ask the airhostess to exchange her food tray for a vegetarian helping. I duly passed on the request to the airhostess who hurriedly, with her bare hands, swooped on the gigantic piece of chicken from my neighbour’s remarking: “Now it is vegetarian.” As she withdrew, her gravy-ied hand hovered over my tray; she looked at me quizzically muttering to my amusement in her broken English: ‘You want? ’

I spent the next few hours enjoying the beautiful Russian landscape. Being a little chilly, I summoned the airhostess once again requesting a blanket which was given to me in exchange for my passport as security deposit. It would take me many anxious moments of waiting when I handed back the blanket and the lady rummaged through a closet looking for my passport which I feared was lost.

And so the final descent at Moscow airport. But it would be many hours before we would land. We were told that it was cloudy over Moscow airport and the flight was being diverted. The plane glided northwards, landing at some remote uninhabited airport where for the next two hours a mechanic hammered away at the belly of the aircraft. When, after a long exasperating wait, we did take off, the plane was to land yet again at another airport where the passengers were bundled into another aircraft as some extensive repairs had to be carried out in the one we had boarded at New Delhi. Almost eight hours behind schedule, I finally landed at Moscow airport only to find to my dismay that my suitcase had got left behind somewhere on the Eurasian landscape. The copy of the paper I had to present at Oxford a week later was unfortunately in it. I had no back-up.

As I see the Left go down in the recent elections, I remember the last days of the Soviet Union. The endless flight brings a fleeting thought to my mind that life is a journey, and it is the journey itself that matters, not arriving at your destination. Apart from the ever elusive Moscow, there is one redeeming feature: the hundreds of miles of green countryside that I had flown over still lies etched in my memory. It was a bright day and the ‘clouds’ hovering over Moscow airport were part of the communist strategy of doublespeak and disinformation.

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Lalgarh waits for a war against hunger
by Uttam Sengupta

THE West Bengal Chief Secretary visited Lalgarh on Wednesday, possibly for the first time, and left after advising security forces to win over the people. Confused policemen have been quoted by newspapers in Kolkata as saying that they do not have a clue about how to go about it. When they set off for Lalgarh a week ago, they had been told their mission was to annihilate the Maoists. Now they are being asked to win the hearts and minds of the people.

Living in cramped conditions in school and college buildings, primary health centres and even newly constructed hospitals, around 6,000 security personnel, armed to the teeth, are reported to be waiting for orders to launch the final offensive against armed the Maoists, whose number is unlikely to exceed a few hundred. The show of strength was undoubtedly necessary. But the battle against the Maoists is a relatively minor one compared to the much bigger war of the state to regain the trustof the people.

Curiously, Lalgarh is not very far from Jamshedpur. A distance of a little over 100 km
separate one of the most modern steel cities in the country from the impoverished
area of West Midnapore where communities continue to live off sal forests and
susbsistence cultivation. Some 50 years ago when the agrarian revolt, which came
to be known as the Naxalite movement, flared up in the region, scores of starry-
eyed revolutionaries from Kolkata made a beeline to the area to spread the
message or to take shelter in the forests, which were generally treated as out of
bounds by policemen.

The situation, claim several Left leaders, including former Naxalite leaders like Santosh Rana, has not only changed but also improved since then. “During the Naxalite movement in the sixties,” recalled Rana, “we would be given shelter by the poor and we would rarely get to eat rice, as rarely as once in a month perhaps. But now the same households manage to have at least one meal of rice every day.” There are other signs of progress with freight trains carrying iron-ore and finished steel, a university, a few colleges and more roads.

But basic issues like hunger and healthcare, social justice and human rights, administration and governance, land reforms and employment , one suspects, have not undergone much qualitative change. The Kolkata-Jamshedpur highway, which links up with the Delhi and Mumbai highways beyond the steel city, passes through the district but night-buses, for as long as one can remember, always preferred to move in a convoy while passing through, scared that passengers would be robbed.

Sometimes they would actually be stopped by the police and asked to wait, because of reports that some private vehicles ahead had been waylaid by robbers. The lawlessness in the area, particularly after dusk, was such that the police happily abdicated its responsibility and allowed CPM workers to raise a volunteer force in order to provide security to vehicles using the highway at night.

In return, they were given permission to extract a kind of toll tax, or protection money, from the vehicles. The cosy relationship between CPM workers and the police evidently invested the latter with a sense of power over others. Those who did not fall in line or dared to protest over something would find the police let loose on them. The Lalgarh campaign of the West Bengal government, however, has not inspired much confidence so far. What, after all, can be more pathetic than heavily armed securitymen forcing local village youth to walk ahead and look for landmines, with the help of iron rods?

By using villagers as cannon fodder, security forces have not exactly inspired much confidence among people. Media reports suggest that policemen have beaten up women left in the villages abandoned by menfolk, and ransacked mud-houses, damaging and destroying whatever little they found there. Smashing old bicycles or motorcycles does not take much effort, specially when several hundred security personnel are at it. But who will explain to them the value of a thousand rupees, which will perhaps be required to buy another old bicycle?

Reinstating the police back in the police stations is the easiest part of the campaign. But without the superior and more menacing firepower of para-military forces, it is unlikely that the state police would be able to man the posts. Not because they will be over-run by armed Maoists at a time of their choosing but because the state police does not enjoy the confidence of the local people any longer. With CPM workers thirsting for revenge, and with Mamata Banerjee’s supporters determined to retain the turf vacated by Marxists, the situation is bound to remain tense unless the governments formulate a better long-term strategy.

The dramatic developments around Lalgarh have overshadowed the Maoists’ plea for talks. This is perhaps for the first time that a senior leader of the banned outfit, Kishanji alias Koteshwar Rao, has offered to hold talks with the government. That too on national television. The pre-conditions laid down by him are that the talks would have to be held at a ‘neutral’ place, possibly close to the forests, and the government would have to apologise to the people for the alleged atrocities committed on them.

The West Bengal government has brushed aside the proposal with contempt. Governments, declared the state’s Chief Secretary, cannot hold talks with killers and outlaws. While the bureaucrat does have a point, there are other ways of looking at it. The government, after all, loses nothing by holding talks and offering a general amnesty—something that some state governments have already done in the past. At the very least, it would help government agencies get better acquainted with the elusive Maoists and acquire a better understanding of their game-plan.

The political class, meanwhile, has been given some food for thought by Nobel Prize-winning economist, Amartya Sen. The ‘argumentative Indian’, whose new book, “The Idea of Justice” is due for release next month, feels that politicians and political parties in India should be far more concerned about the huge gaps and neglect of health services and basic medical care. “ Why does India continue to have more hungry, under-nourished people than any other country in the world” is the question, he feels, that needs to be addressed with a sense of urgency. Rebels, after all, will always take advantage of discontent. But it is how the state manages discontent that holds the key to combating the rebels.

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Tracking kids who just vanish
by Joe Burris

PARENTS who fear getting separated from their children at amusement parks, beaches and other vacation spots are turning more often to new high- and low-tech safety devices. GPS tracking devices with wander alerts emit beeps or vibrations when a child strays too far. Digital watches and apparel have high-decibel alarms. And there’s the SafetyTat, a waterproof tattoo created by a Baltimore-area mom who wanted to attach her phone number to her child; a half-million have been sold.

But even as these products allow adults to breathe more easily, experts caution that they shouldn’t replace parental monitoring — and common sense. “Obviously it’s another layer of protection, but nothing takes the place of supervising kids,” said Debra Holtzman, a Florida-based safety expert, herself a mother of two and author of the new book “The Safe Baby: A Do It Yourself Guide To Home Safety and Healthy Living.” She added, “The most important thing is keeping an eye on them at all times.” Gary and Cathy Newton agree. The San Antonio couple took their two children to Six Flags America in Bowie, Md., on a recent weekday afternoon when the expansive amusement park was virtually empty. Still, the Newtons made certain their kids stayed close.

The Boston-based Center to Prevent Lost Children says that 90 percent of families will momentarily lose track of a child in a public place; 20 percent have lost a child more than once. Forty-five percent of the children become separated from parents in malls and stores, and 27 percent in amusement parks, according to the center, which consults with employees at amusement parks, airports, beaches and similar areas. That means tens of thousands of children go missing for some period of time each year. Most are reunited with their families within minutes. Often, parents believe they can rely upon monitoring devices more than they should, said Alyssa Dver, executive director of the center.

Six years ago she launched Wander Wear, clip-on tags for kids on which parents can write their cell-phone numbers. She was surprised to hear how often parents let their guards down once they began using the tags. Many parents recommend teaching kids what to do in the event that they are separated.

In his new book, “Parking Lot Rules and 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children,” Tom Sturges says that children should remain in one place once separated from their parents and draw as much attention to themselves as possible by flapping their arms. Sturges, an executive vice president for Universal Music Publishing, said the book speaks to real-life experiences in raising two boys. As a toddler, the older child once got away from him while the family was checking into a Las Vegas hotel.

“I look up, and there’s our 3-year-old son getting into an elevator across the lobby,” Sturges said. “He gets in and the doors close and he disappears, and time has no meaning because you’ve lost your child. But it was much ado about nothing: Three minutes later, the elevator comes down and he comes out.” Some child-safety items are designed to be hidden until activated. The AmberWatch child alarm is made for digital watches and backpacks. When activated, it emits a 110-decibel alarm that can be heard 400 yards away. The digital watches sell for about $30, while the backpack sells for about $35.

Safety 1st offers a Keep Child Close Tracker, a two-unit set (one for parent, one for child) that alerts the parent when a child wanders out of 80-foot range; it sells for about $25. Hand-held GPS devices, meanwhile, allow parents to track a child’s whereabouts on a digital display screen with a press of a button. Some allow children to activate distress signals as well. The devices sell for about $250. Although some high-tech safety products might be out of a family’s price range, they can be vital, as every second counts when a child is lost.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Recovery won’t be easy
by Hamish McRae

IT is time to move on. In the past few weeks three things about the world economy have become clear. The first is that some sort of recovery is in sight. The second is that the recovery will be beset with huge problems, pressures and difficulties that will last at least a decade. And the third is that when we do struggle back to solid growth the world economy will look utterly different: it won’t be business as usual for the rules of engagement will have changed for ever.

Can one really say that recovery is in sight when all we have to go on is some indications that the markets have perked up, that the business community around the world has overcome some of its gloom, and that growth has continued strongly in Asia? Lots of things are still going down and will continue that way for some time yet. Just on Tuesday the German Ifo Institute forecast that the economy there will continue to contract until the middle of 2010, while the OECD has said that unemployment in the developed world will go on rising until well into next year. Set against this backcloth, the talk of “green shoots” seems a bit silly – and for people whose lives have been savaged by recession, even cruel. Nevertheless, if you stand back you can see the world economy starting to swing back towards growth. Just as a year ago it was possible to warn that 2009 would be a bad year, now it is possible to see that next year will be much better than this. We can, looking at the evidence now available, be pretty confident that the notion that we face a 1930s-style depression is wrong.

So the focus shifts. The conventional view is that the recovery will be hobbled by government debts. That is right; it will. The OECD’s new Pensions at a Glance paper points out that the average deficit to GDP ratio in the developed countries next year will be close to nine per cent. The governments of virtually all developed countries will be under profound financial pressure for a decade, maybe a generation. There just won’t be any money. Tax revenues will be stagnant and the scope for borrowing will be very limited. Worse, this will come at a time when the demands on governments will continue to rise, not least from the ageing populations. This changes the shape of the recovery, putting a brake on growth. You can see how the demand of government to borrow money is forcing up long-term borrowing costs for everyone else. Fixed-rate mortgage rates are already on the up.

As a result, coming out of recession will be more of a slog than it otherwise would be. Money we pay in higher taxes or higher interest rates is money we can’t use for a car or a holiday. Some countries will do better than others and the prospect for much of continental Europe is bleak. While deficits are lower the stock of public debt is higher. Debts will not only change economics; they will also change politics. Governments promising more and more “investment” as our present one has, simply won’t be credible because we will all know they won’t have the money to finance that spending, even if it were genuine investment, which in many cases it isn’t.

Indeed we may be approaching an historic turning point, the moment when public deficits – and debt – go into reverse: the moment when it is no longer perceived to be fair or right for governments to load more debt on to our children. You could say it would be a reversal of the self-indulgence of the 1960s generation, the generation that is running the show at the moment, and its replacement by a more austere and disciplined approach. At any rate, a recovery hobbled by the need to service public debt will certainly strengthen the hand of the young, who after all are the people who have to pay for it.

If this recovery changes politics within the developed world, it will also change politics globally. We still assume that the post-war model for government established in Europe and North America will dominate the world of public policy. Sure, there are different versions of the European model, and the US model is different again. But the broad boundaries of what governments should and should not do are not so far apart, and whether we incline towards the US or Swedish end of the spectrum we still see governments having broadly the same ideas of where their responsibilities should start and end.

That is going to change. As the recovery matures we will become aware that the balance of economic power has shifted. Most obviously it will have shifted towards China and India. China will be indubitably the world’s second-largest economy and India will be in sight of overhauling the UK in terms of size. That changes everything. Why should China want to follow the Western model of government when its own delivers much higher growth? How can we be confident about our own model when it has loaded so much of a burden on to generations to come? I am not saying that we will adopt the Beijing model; far from it. Phew! But when we have to confront what is, if we are honest with ourselves, a relative failure, we are going to wonder quite what we are getting wrong and how we might do things better.

— By arrangement with The Independent

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Corrections and clarifications

In the report “Parents seek probe into Razat’s death” (Page 3, June 23), the intro should have said “There was a glimmer of hope…” and not “glimmer of hope arose…”

In the Lifestyle supplement of June 24 (Page 1) the strapline should have been “In the city for a promotional event, we catch up with the star cast of Kisaan”. The word “with” was missing.

In the report “Multi-crore statues of Maya, Kanshi to be unveiled” (Page 2, June 25), it should have been “Multi-crore rupee statues” not “Multi-crore statues”.

In the headline “BP: myth and reality” (Page 14, June 24), the “m” in the myth should have been in capital letter.

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 Kamlendra Kanwar, Senior Associate Editor, The Tribune, Chandigarh, with the word “Corrections” on the envelope. His e-mail ID is kanwar@tribunemail.com.

H.K. Dua
Editor-in-Chief


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