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EDITORIALS

Musharraf in the dock
May have to pay for clamping emergency
W
hen former Pakistan ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf shifted his residence to London three months back, he had, perhaps, come to know of trouble ahead for him under the changed circumstances. His subversion of the country’s constitution by imposing an emergency in November 2007, issuing a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and sacking 60 inconvenient judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, including Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, to perpetuate his dictatorship has come under scrutiny by the apex court.

Tackling climate change
The rich are the main cause for emissions
It is a sign of maturity in Indo-US ties that the sharp differences of approach between the two countries on climate change did not adversely impact the overall positive undercurrent in talks during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s India visit. Be it in international fora or bilaterals, India has been maintaining that while it would continue to strive to cut carbon emissions, it would not accept any legally binding commitments to do so.





EARLIER STORIES

A disgraceful act
July 23, 2009
Better than expected
July 22, 2009
Two years for killing six!
July 21, 2009
Sharif’s triumph
July 20, 2009
Bringing out the best
July 19, 2009
No to wheat exports
July 18, 2009
Dealing with terror
July 17, 2009
Letting Hafiz Saeed free
July 16, 2009
Murder and acquittal
July 15, 2009
Mishap shakes Delhi Metro
July 14, 2009

Doctor at the doorstep
Better terms will take medicare to villages
I
n a nation where at least 6 lakh more doctors and a 10 lakh nurses are needed to achieve the WHO recommended 1:1000 doctor-patient ratio, motivating doctors to serve in rural areas is a tall order. Since neither the stick nor plea to the medical fraternity’s sense of duty seems to have worked, the Health Ministry’s latest decision to offer cash benefits and perks to those willing to serve in rural and remote areas is likely to encourage doctors to go to villages.

ARTICLE

Ruinous recruitment to forces
Catastrophic corruption is rampant
by Inder Malhotra
T
WO highly disturbing news items within 48 hours are a cause not for concern but for alarm over the state of recruitment to the Army and, of course, other security forces. At a centre for Army recruitment, three majors and three subedar-majors were arrested on Saturday for allegedly extorting huge bribes from competing aspirants before giving them the job. Collusion between the “touts” infesting the place and recruiting officers facilitated the transactions involving a lakh of rupees per candidate.

MIDDLE

When life is a question mark
by Nonika Singh
D
uring my formative years I often heard my grandmother exclaim, “Kadein kissi di maan na mare” (God forbid if someone loses a mother!). Oblivious of the joys and responsibilities of motherhood, I found the remark rather prejudiced, if not outright unwarranted. Fathers, too, I thought, played an equally key role in the upbringing of children. But then I put my naani’s “archaic” statement to the fact that she belonged to a generation where men played little role, except paying bills, in shaping up the life of children.

OPED

Ads for news: Practice can dent image of some channels, papers
by Kuldip Nayar
T
HE other day there was a seminar in Delhi about the allegations that during the Lok Sabha elections both the print and electronic media not only took money from political parties and candidates, but also extorted as much as they could.

Wall Street hikes pay after bailouts
by Tomoeh Murakami Tse
W
all Street’s biggest banks are setting aside billions of dollars more to pay their executives and other employees just months after these firms were rescued with a taxpayer bailout, renewing questions about compensation practices in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Sporting glories are ultimate human drama
by Brian Viner
A
ll sports have their detractors, as does sport as a generic whole, but it is hard to think of any more maligned than cricket and golf. The late Robert Morley “would rather watch a man at his toilet than on a cricket field” while golf has been lambasted this week even by the chief sports writer of a respected national newspaper, who witlessly contended that a sport does not make the pulse race if there is no risk to life and limb.



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EDITORIALS

Musharraf in the dock
May have to pay for clamping emergency

When former Pakistan ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf shifted his residence to London three months back, he had, perhaps, come to know of trouble ahead for him under the changed circumstances. His subversion of the country’s constitution by imposing an emergency in November 2007, issuing a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and sacking 60 inconvenient judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, including Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, to perpetuate his dictatorship has come under scrutiny by the apex court. This is the result of a petition filed by the Sindh High Court Bar Association challenging the non-confirmation of two judges appointed in 2007. These judges could not get their due because of a ruling by Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, appointed by General Musharraf, validating the controversial emergency proclamation and all the actions of the government that followed.

After a long struggle led by lawyers and supported by civil society members Chief Justice Chaudhry, who was replaced by Justice Dogar in 2007, is back to the Supreme Court again. Justice Chaudhry was part of a seven-member Bench which had declared the imposition of the emergency as unconstitutional minutes before he and his colleagues were sacked. The Bench had also held that any fresh appointment under the PCO would be illegal. These and many other points of law will be closely examined by the 14-member Bench constituted to give a verdict on the case pertaining to the two judges who could not be confirmed.

The case took an interesting turn on Wednesday when the retired General was made a party to it. The next hearing has been fixed for July 29. The court verdict, whenever it comes, will have larger implications as General Musharraf in unlikely to escape severe punishment for his subversion of the 1973 Pakistan constitution to remain in power. The judgement can also serve as a deterrent for any General in future thinking of capturing the reins of government through an army coup as General Musharraf did. This may strengthen the roots of democracy in Pakistan.

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Tackling climate change
The rich are the main cause for emissions

It is a sign of maturity in Indo-US ties that the sharp differences of approach between the two countries on climate change did not adversely impact the overall positive undercurrent in talks during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s India visit. Be it in international fora or bilaterals, India has been maintaining that while it would continue to strive to cut carbon emissions, it would not accept any legally binding commitments to do so. That Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh re-emphasized India’s position while sharing the podium with Ms Clinton at a New Delhi function was apt. It is imperative that the essential burden of cutting carbon emissions must lie with the developed countries which are responsible for the accumulated levels of Greenhouse gases in the world by their recklessness in industrializing without controlling toxic emissions.

The US must appreciate that India has not been evading its own responsibility in controlling carbon emissions. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had pledged at the G8 summit in June 2007 that India will not exceed, between now and 2050, the per capita emissions of developed nations. This means that India, despite rapid growth and a predicted 16-fold rise in per capita income will have to limit emissions to no more than twice its current level of two tonnes per capita.

Confronted by melting ice caps, shifting rainfall patterns and rising sea levels, India is most acutely affected by climate changes and is conscious that it has a heavy responsibility in not replicating the blunders that the West made in its development process. But the developed world must pay a price for its misdemeanours by ensuring financial flows and technology transfers to the developing countries, for climate mitigation. Left to themselves, the less-developed nations will not be able to meet the high costs that this entails. As the time for the crucial December summit on climate change in Copenhagen draws near, the US and other rich nations must accept this liability in ample measure.

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Doctor at the doorstep
Better terms will take medicare to villages

In a nation where at least 6 lakh more doctors and a 10 lakh nurses are needed to achieve the WHO recommended 1:1000 doctor-patient ratio, motivating doctors to serve in rural areas is a tall order. Since neither the stick nor plea to the medical fraternity’s sense of duty seems to have worked, the Health Ministry’s latest decision to offer cash benefits and perks to those willing to serve in rural and remote areas is likely to encourage doctors to go to villages. Earlier, the ministry had decided to make rural postings compulsory for MBBS students which the new Health Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, says can be part of a long-term solution.

Reports have time and again underlined the acute shortage of doctors and other medical staff at rural health centres. The condition of both primary and community health centres in many states is appalling and medicare remains a mirage for most of the rural poor. It is unfortunate that only 34 per cent have access to diagnostic centres for chronic ailments. The ambitious NRHM mission launched in 2005 to provide health care to rural India has not been able to deliver due to the paucity of medical personnel. The MCI has set up many medical colleges in rural areas. Yet only one out of 10 doctors opt to work in rural areas.

India loses considerable number of its medical personnel to brain-drain to other countries. It is important to retain and motivate our medical professionals, especially specialists, by offering them an attractive remuneration. But it must be remembered that the scarcity of doctors is only one aspect of the ailing rural health care. Equal emphasis must be laid on providing infrastructure, medicines and medical equipment. In post-Independence India, rural health care has expanded considerably but it falls way short of the requirement.

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Thought for the Day

If you want me to weep, you must first feel grief yourself. — Horace

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Corrections and clarifications

n The headline “Mastuana row refuses to die” (Page 4, July 22) should have been “Mastuana row refuses to die down”.

n In “Obesity raises risk of complication during pregnancy” (Page 14, July 22), the word should have been “complications”.

n In the headline “Garbage dumping goes unabated” (Page 5, Chandigarh Tribune, July 22), the correct expression would have been “goes on unabated”.

n In the first para of the report “Sonia rap for absent Cong MPs” (Page 1, July 23), the word “hooky” has been mis-spelt as “hokey”.

Despite our earnest endeavour to keep The Tribune error-free, some errors do creep in at times. We are always eager to correct them.

This column will now appear thrice a week — every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We request our readers to write or e-mail to us whenever they find any error.

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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ARTICLE

Ruinous recruitment to forces
Catastrophic corruption is rampant
by Inder Malhotra

TWO highly disturbing news items within 48 hours are a cause not for concern but for alarm over the state of recruitment to the Army and, of course, other security forces. At a centre for Army recruitment, three majors and three subedar-majors were arrested on Saturday for allegedly extorting huge bribes from competing aspirants before giving them the job. Collusion between the “touts” infesting the place and recruiting officers facilitated the transactions involving a lakh of rupees per candidate.

The next day at a recruitment camp in Chandauli district of Uttar Pradesh, first there were complaints about “irregularities” that had “unfairly” eliminated many candidates, then clashes between the protesting complainants and those guarding the camp, and later still a firing that caused a stampede in which one young man was killed and several others injured. The recruitment was disrupted. Thereafter, in the established and apparently unalterable tradition, the mob went on the usual rampage.

It would be a dangerous delusion to assume that dismal episodes like these are mere aberrations. No one is suggesting that every jawan gets into the Army by bribing his way in. But judging by the evidence over several decades, the menace of entry into the Army on the wheels of cash is far more widespread than the authorities would like the country to believe. At the recruitment centres I have visited since the fifties, the “touts” swarm the place and visibly have a cosy relationship with the officers in charge. India’s is and has always been a wholly volunteer army, which is highly commendable. But growing unemployment has made it easier for those with itching palms and greedy hearts to have a field day. Whatever comes to notice is but the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

The state of affairs in relation to recruitment to the Centre’s paramilitary forces is infinitely worse and that concerning entry into the police force in any of the 28 states abysmal. In May, the CBI had arrested high officers of the CRPF because of a horrendous recruitment scam. Among the nine accused produced in a Patna court were an Inspector-General, a Deputy Inspector-General and two battalion commanders of the CRPF. According to the CBI’s charge-sheet, they and their civilian accomplices had amassed Rs 225 crore in just a few years.

Is it conceivable that a scandal of this magnitude could have gone on without the knowledge, if not connivance, of the force’s top officers? In fact, the CBI stated in the court that the I-G, the principal accused, was suspected of indulging in the “same corrupt practices” two years earlier, too. But he escaped punitive action. The arrests made in May were confined to the states of Bihar and Jharkhand. Under orders of the Union Home Ministry, the CBI is now probing similar complaints in UP, Punjab and Haryana. Sadly, the virus afflicting the CRPF is highly contagious. Other Central police organisations also infected heavily. About state police forces, the less said the better.

Safeguards such as holding written examinations before interviewing candidates seldom work. For, as the CRPF case showed, examination papers are leaked selectively to those agreeable to paying Rs 3 lakh each. For them interview boards are also “fixed”. All this burst into the open only because those unable to pay the requisite bribes screamed. In the absence of such shouting there is business as usual.

Up to now discussion has focused on recruitment at the lowest level of the forces concerned. What about the officers? Mercifully, in the armed forces as well as the Central police organisations and indeed even in the state police, things are reassuring. The Army officers come through the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy. Police officers are from the Indian Police Service (IPS), selected by the Union Public Services Commission (UPSC). Moreover, while there always is a surfeit of candidates for Other Ranks, the Army suffers from an acute shortage of officers. Ironically, instead of getting better, this worrisome situation is getting worse. For, more and more officers of the middle rank, especially in the technical services, are seeking premature retirement. There is great demand for their talent and experience in the greener pastures of the private sector.

However, in the police forces, Central and state, there is a vast sector between the officer class and the lowest rung, consisting of a variety of inspectors, etc. The havoc in this sector is egregious. More than seven years have passed since a politically appointed chairman of the Punjab Public Services Commission was arrested after enormous hoard of cash was recovered from his house. It was then discovered that any police inspector wanting to become a deputy superintendent of police had to cough up two and a half lakh of rupees. There were fixed rates also for all other promotions and fresh appointments. What has happened to this case no one knows. Meanwhile, similarly depressing complaints have come in from several other states. No one seems bothered.

Two very painful questions arise. First, whoever pays big bribes to seek entry into a service or promotion within it, wouldn’t he or she use the opportunity to make at least twenty times that amount? And who would bear the brunt of this loot but the poor and long-suffering people?

Secondly, and this is even worse, if all one needs to get into a sensitive security force is to produce enough money, won’t various terrorist outfits, whether foreign or homegrown, infiltrate the service of their choice? The Army at least has counter-intelligence and field security units to take care of this problem. No Central or state police has. The profound dangers of this state of affairs should be obvious, especially at a time when the country has just set up a federal investigative agency for terrorism and plans to organise a 26,000-strong task force to take care of the Maoist menace. Men for both the new forces are to be drawn from the existing Central police organisations.

Under the circumstances, the Union government needs to appoint what the Ameicans call a blue-ribbon commission and the British a royal commission to find a way out of the morass into which all security forces are neck deep. It should work faster than the Liberhan Commission and the government should not treat its report like that of the Henderson-Brookes committee on the 1962 border war with China.

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MIDDLE

When life is a question mark
by Nonika Singh

During my formative years I often heard my grandmother exclaim, “Kadein kissi di maan na mare” (God forbid if someone loses a mother!). Oblivious of the joys and responsibilities of motherhood, I found the remark rather prejudiced, if not outright unwarranted. Fathers, too, I thought, played an equally key role in the upbringing of children. But then I put my naani’s “archaic” statement to the fact that she belonged to a generation where men played little role, except paying bills, in shaping up the life of children.

Today, as a mother of a 16-year-old daughter, I understand fully that the ferocity with which a mother can guard and guide her child is simply unmatched. Yes even in this age of sensitive new-age guys, only too ready to change nappies and baby-sit, mothers are, to put it mildly, irreplaceable, a void that cannot be filled and a position that no other relation on this mortal earth can usurp. Mothers have shaped many a destiny.

The famous Hindi film one-liner, “Mere paas maa hai’”, was not just an exaggerated dose of melodrama but in a way summarised the sentiments of collective conscious, ever grateful to maa. Our very own Oscar winner A R Rahman has publicly acknowledged the debt of gratitude to his mother. In fact, it is believed that the fervour with which he sang the patriotic song “Maa tujhe salaam” actually flowed from his heart-felt sentiments for his mother. Such is the power of motherhood.

Yet here stands a would-be mother, the rape victim of Chandigarh’s Nari Niketan, whose right to motherhood itself has not only become a subject of debate but also of judicial intervention. Several rape victims must have faced this no-win situation — to abort or give birth to the child conceived not out of love but sheer viciousness of a man. Only in this case it is not the mentally challenged girl who is facing this predicament, but we the society and the courts.

While the Punjab and Haryana High Court in all its wisdom gave the nod to abortion, pragmatically right in its assumption — how will a defenceless orphan girl take care of her baby? And many would argue that at a tender age of 19 why should she carry the burden of a child forced upon her by cruel twist of circumstances and the barbarous act of a man or men?

However, the Supreme Court, once again not in the wrong, thought otherwise. Perhaps, motivated by the NGOs who have promised to take care of the child or the judges’ natural instinct to be on the side of life, the apex court has decided in favour of life — let the child be born.

This is exactly what the lead protagonist in Kundan Shah’s movie “Kya Kehna” that tackled the thorny issue of pre-marital pregnancy declared. Jilted by her lover, the heroine decides to give birth to her baby, a choice that expectedly earns her the chagrin of adversaries but also parents, friends and well-wishers. But as is with all Hindi movies, even in this path-breaking one, all is well that ends well.

Will it for the hapless girl unmindful of the consequences for or against? Can the society that could not protect her dignity be trusted to save her (and her baby) from further harm?

Suddenly, my naani’s words acquire a different meaning. Had she been alive, in all likelihood, she would have said: let no mother face such a quandary —and no baby, born or unborn, such a question mark.

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OPED

Ads for news: Practice can dent image of some channels, papers
by Kuldip Nayar

THE other day there was a seminar in Delhi about the allegations that during the Lok Sabha elections both the print and electronic media not only took money from political parties and candidates, but also extorted as much as they could.

Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal, who inaugurated the session, contended that “they” knew how stories were planted and paid for.

Several journalists also admitted that a lot of money changed hands during the election campaign. Nothing came out of the seminar, but a senior political leader told me that if a commission were to be set up to inquire into such dubious practices, he for one would be prepared to give evidence. It came as a shock to me when I did not find even a word about the seminar or Sibal’s allegation in newspapers or television. Obviously, we are all naked together. Some of us have, however, approached the Press Council to set up a committee to go into the allegations of slush money being used during the campaign.

The Election Commission has also been tapped unofficially to find its response. One member said that if payments could be proved, the Election Commission would consider them as expenses of the candidates. Such charges were also made during the last Lok Sabha elections. But then the quantum of payment was small and the number of newspapers and TV channels involved was limited. This time it seems there has been a free for all. Names of leading newspapers and TV channels are hawked about in the bazaar. Even otherwise, the Press in India has humiliated itself since the Emergency. With the exception of very few newspapers and journalists, others caved in under pressure or for a price. L.K.Advani made an apt remark after the Emergency: “You were asked to bend, but you began to crawl.”

Since then the mystique of journalism has been lessening by the day and now the media has been reduced to tittle-tattle.

Celebrities from the cine world or cricket are the only personalities that count where the media is concerned. Newspapers copy TV channels in sensation and the latter in turn copy newspapers in pontificating.

I must admit that I found journalists in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had more gumption than people in our media. Pakistan had martial law and journalists defied it and got lashes. In India the Emergency at best could detain people in jail. Still, we failed shamefully.

During the recent caretaker government in Bangladesh papers sustained democratic values and stood alone when everything around them was falling prey to sycophancy and conformity. A few journalists in Sri Lanka dared the government to silence their criticism. One of them was even killed.
 True, politicians tend to use us. They have their own interests to serve. But then we play into their hands. When we slanted news and accepted money for putting across a particular point of view during the recent Lok Sabha elections, we were not truthful and fell from the professional standards expected in a democratic structure. Why is the Press called the Fourth Estate? It is because it is one of the pillars on which the democratic edifice rests.

After reading newspapers or watching TV channels I feel as if a new version of the Emergency is starting to unfold where truth has become a relative term and there is nothing left like values.

India is not a banana republic run by and for opportunists who will stop at nothing to line their own pockets and wield power.
 We have a great heritage. Mahatma Gandhi sent his message through a weekly, Harijan. Nehru said at the All India Newspaper Editors’ Conference in 1950: “I have no doubt that even if the government dislikes the liberties taken by the Press and considers them dangerous, it is wrong to interfere with the freedom of the Press. I would have a completely free Press with all the dangers involved in the wrong use of that freedom than a suppressed or regulated Press.”
 He feared high-handedness on the part of the establishment, but little did he realise that one day the danger to the Press would be from within, not without. Journalists themselves would offer their heads on a plate in return for position, pelf and privilege.

Those who choose to bend their knees in this ignoble way should consider whether they also want to be held responsible for passing on them to the next generation. Do they seriously want to bring up their sons and daughters in the shadow of their own limitations and failings? Do they want to be like those black marketers who find that the only jobs their own children are suited for are the same black market practices of their forefathers?

Where has idealism gone?  Once the profession attracted the best and the brightest who saw that they would be in the midst of challenges facing society. They wanted to combat parochialism, archaic ideas, bullying by power brokers and anything that could be construed as threatening the common man.

Take newspapers and TV channels today. They avoid debates on issues. They present a point of view of their own or of the vested interests. They deny a voice to those who do not tally with their bias or prejudice. In fact they are the most undemocratic species talking in the name of democracy.

What kind of country do they want? At what are their sights set? Is it only entertainment? If so, they should not associate their publications with the Press.

Not long ago two reporters from The Washington Post challenged the President of the United States (Richard Nixon), ultimately forcing him to resign because he had lied to the nation. 

I am not suggesting that the Press in the West is ideal.  We saw how the whole Western media sold itself to their respective governments during the Iraq war. The embedded journalists who could only report what they were allowed were worse than our journalists in the Emergency.

When a journalist ceases to be a journalist and compromises, he brings down not only the ideals of the profession, but tells upon the democratic temperament and the ethos of the nation. I feel sorry the points made at the seminar in Delhi were not debated by society. But I feel more disappointed over the attitude of journalists and politicians who know that there is a problem of lessening integrity, yet they prefer to sweep it under the carpet.

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Wall Street hikes pay after bailouts
by Tomoeh Murakami Tse

Wall Street’s biggest banks are setting aside billions of dollars more to pay their executives and other employees just months after these firms were rescued with a taxpayer bailout, renewing questions about compensation practices in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

The recent outcry over bonuses at bailed-out firms prompted public alarm and promises of reform from financial leaders, who acknowledged that pay and bonuses should not reward risky short-term business decisions — such as those that contributed to the meltdown — but instead longer-term financial performance.

But Wall Street, helped by improving profits, is on track to pay employees as much as, or even more than, it did in the pre-crisis days. So far this year, the top six U.S. banks have set aside $74 billion to pay their employees, up from $60 billion in the corresponding period last year.

The increase in set-asides for employee pay has raised the ire of Washington, where lawmakers denounced financial leaders for returning to old habits and vowed to enact measures governing executive compensation.

Goldman Sachs caused a stir last week when it disclosed it had set aside a record $6.6 billion for compensation expenses in the most recent quarter, bringing the total for the first six months of the year to $11.4 billion. If that pace continues for the rest of the year, Goldman’s employees will earn an average of about $773,000, more than double the figure last year and even exceeding the $700,000 paid in 2007, when compensation on Wall Street hit a record high.

The recent set-asides came as Goldman announced it earned a record $3.4 billion for the second quarter, positioning itself, along with J.P. Morgan Chase, as one of the strongest banks to emerge from the crisis.

But some analysts and investors had especially sharp words for Wall Street rival Morgan Stanley, which reported Wednesday that it had set aside $6 billion so far this year for compensation expenses even as it recorded its third straight quarterly loss.

In reporting its second-quarter results, Morgan Stanley said it lost $1.26 billion, after accounting for one-time charges including an $850 million expense related to paying the government back after its bailout. Still, the company set aside $3.9 billion in compensation expenses, representing 72 percent of its revenue for the quarter.

At Wednesday night’s news conference, President Obama said that Wall Street had yet to change its behavior and practices. “With respect to compensation, I’d like to think that people would feel a little remorse and feel embarrassed and would not get million-dollar or multimillion-dollar bonuses,” he said.

Traditionally, Wall Street banks have set aside about 50 percent of revenue to pay their workers, though that ratio is lower at firms with larger commercial banking operations, like Citigroup and Bank of America, which have a sizable number of lower-paid employees handling consumer business.

Morgan Stanley’s compensation figures raised eyebrows among some analysts, who peppered Chief Financial Officer Colm Kelleher with questions about employee pay during a conference call.

He said the ratio of revenue to compensation would have been close to 50 percent if Morgan Stanley were able to exclude a $2.3 billion charge it took arising from an accounting rule related to the company’s debt.

In an interview, analyst Brad Hintz with Sanford C. Bernstein challenged that explanation, saying Morgan Stanley’s compensation ratio has remained high throughout the financial crisis.”Unfortunately, this means that Q2 was a pretty good quarter for the employees, but not so for the shareholders,” Hintz said.

The compensation figures reported in earnings for Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley include not just salary and bonuses but also pensions, contributions to 401(k) accounts, health and other benefits.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Sporting glories are ultimate human drama
by Brian Viner

All sports have their detractors, as does sport as a generic whole, but it is hard to think of any more maligned than cricket and golf. The late Robert Morley “would rather watch a man at his toilet than on a cricket field” while golf has been lambasted this week even by the chief sports writer of a respected national newspaper, who witlessly contended that a sport does not make the pulse race if there is no risk to life and limb.

He should try playing golf with my friend Davey, who is quite capable of nutting you with his drive even when you’re standing behind him, but that’s by the by.

Oddly enough, I last saw this particular sports writer at Wimbledon, where he seemed to be enjoying the Centre Court action even though Roger Federer had every chance of getting out alive, but there we go, golf will continue to be dogged by the hackneyed charge that it requires no obvious feats of athleticism or stamina.

And those who don’t understand the glory of Test cricket will continue to snipe at it for what they consider to be its frailties, but what in fact are theirs. “I have always looked on cricket as organised loafing,” said William Temple, then the headmaster of Repton School, in 1914. It is quite distressing to think that he went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury.

Rarely, though, have I felt as sorry for the cricket-bashers and the golf-knockers as I did in the 24 hours between Sunday and Monday lunchtimes. To watch 59-year-old Tom Watson so nearly winning the Open championship, only to falter, heart-breakingly, at the very last, and the next day to watch the mighty Lancastrian yeoman Andrew Flintoff falling on one crocked knee and spreading his arms messianically wide after taking five Australian wickets to all but clinch the second Ashes Test for England... that wasn’t just sport, that was human drama at its most richly compelling.

And yet there is an argument that neither Watson nor Flintoff can legitimately be described as heroes, that if a person who dives into a river to save a drowning child is a hero, then golfers and cricketers are something less. Nobody would endorse this point of view more than Watson and Flintoff themselves, men of humility and decency.

Another, a greatly esteemed colleague on this newspaper, tells a lovely story against himself, that having invoked the Battle of Stalingrad in his description of an epic sporting occasion he was telephoned by the then-deputy sports editor, who calmly pointed out that 150,000 people died at the Battle of Stalingrad and gently suggested an alternative choice of imagery.

Plainly, sportsmen and women should always be lionised with a certain sense of perspective, which is what the great Australian cricketer and wartime fighter pilot, Keith Miller, was getting at when he was asked about pressure on the field of play, and pithily replied that “pressure is having a Messerschmitt up your arse”.

But the fact remains that it is what Miller did on the ground, not in the air, that captured hearts and minds. Sport is unique in its capacity to thrill, inspire and move – as Tom Watson did simultaneously on Sunday – and, frankly, all the more marvellous when it does so without any risks to life and limb.

— By arrangement with The Independent

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