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Charting a new Asian history

Sudheendra Kulkarni


The government
gives in
n letting the land acquisition ordinance lapse,
the Union government must have hoped to come
across as an administration that is responsive to
public criticism and acknowledges key stakeholders concerns on important issues. But after having
tried hard to sell the amendments as a pro-reforms
measure, and to paint the opposition as a misinformed
and obstructionist lot, the Modi government may find
it difficult to gain any political mileage from the decision. Indeed, opposition parties are already claiming
credit for having forced the governments hand. And, in
contrast, attempts by Union Ministers and leaders of
the Bharatiya Janata Party to present the decision as
being in the interest of farmers appear to be insincere
and hollow. Too much had already been invested in the
growth and reforms agenda for the government to now
portray the decision as pro-farmer. The confusion in
the governments mind over the legislation showed up
in more ways than one. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
and BJP president Amit Shah described the decision as
pro-farmer, in part acknowledging that some of the
provisions were indeed anti-farmer. On the other hand,
Prime Minister Narendra Modi insisted that rumours had been spread on the land bill, indicating that
there was nothing fundamentally wrong with it.
The decision to let the ordinance lapse was the culmination of a series of measures to salvage at least parts
of the legislation. The government diluted it in some
respects before getting the amendments passed in the
Lok Sabha in March 2015. Originally, it had exempted
five types of projects involving defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors
and infrastructure and social infrastructure from the
consent clause in the 2013 Act brought forward by the
UPA regime. It then dropped the social infrastructure
component. After seeking to exempt the five categories
from the social impact assessment requirement, the
Modi regime added a condition that it should first be
ensured that only the minimum extent of land was
being acquired before applying the exemption. It
sought to make the Bill more acceptable by introducing
a norm that one person in every affected family be
given employment. It dropped a controversial amendment that would have enabled the acquisition of land
for private hospitals and educational institutions. Later, it considered giving State governments the flexibility to have their own acquisition laws. Even the idea of
extending the benefits of the Act to 13 laws pertaining to railways, highways and such other projects
through an executive order is only in consonance with
the original law that held back their inclusion till January 1, 2015. Thus, from the beginning the government,
which on other issues was tough and determined, appeared unsure and defensive on the land ordinance. It
was inevitable that in the end it had to give in.

All history is geographically located and influenced. Similarly, all geography is shaped,
defined and redefined by history. This is evident not only from world history but also
from the history of Asia the glory of old
Asia, its decline in colonial times, and its
more recent rise again.
The dialectic between history and geography manifests itself through the interplay
of three factors geopolitical, geo-economic
and geo-cultural/civilisational. In the case of
Asia, for nearly three centuries, the geopolitical and geo-economic realities were negatively impacted by Europe and the West in
general. However, that is largely a thing of
the past. Asia has begun to write its own
destiny now. The 20th century was marked
by Asias liberation from colonial rule and
imperialist subjugation. The history of the
21st century will chiefly be the story of Asias
rise, a process that is already underway in
some parts of the continent. The other underdeveloped parts of Asia, especially in
South Asia and South-East Asia, are craving
to become a part of this story.

Geography as ally of history

Until now, the political boundaries carved
out on the geography of South Asia and
South-East Asia had become barriers for the
countries in this vast region to overcome
socio-economic underdevelopment caused
by history. Now, thanks to advances in trade,
transport and technology, the geography of
this region can be made an ally to create a
new history of shared prosperity, progress
and peace, in addition to a revitalisation of
age-old, cultural-spiritual-civilisational ties.
This is what has been envisaged, on a
broader expanse of Asia-Europe-Africa connectivity, by the super-ambitious Silk Road
Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road plans that have been unveiled by Chinas President Xi Jinping. India
also has been evolving its own regional cooperation initiatives such as Mausam and the
Spice Route in the Indian Ocean region and
beyond, although these are nowhere as comprehensively projected, nor backed with requisite investments yet, as China is doing in
the case of its One Belt One Road vision.
[The Mausam project envisages the re-establishment of Indias ancient maritime
routes with its traditional trade partners
along the Indian Ocean. It was launched in
June 2014. The Spice Route of India visualises the India-centered link-up of historic sea
routes in Asia, Europe and Africa.]
Be it Chinas strategy or Indias, neither
can fully or smoothly become a reality in
South Asia without a strong partnership between the worlds two most populous and

Rich dividends in terms of peace and development

can be reaped if India and China work together
to synergise the proposed regional cooperation
projects that interconnect Bangladesh, Pakistan
and other neighbouring countries
civilisationally rich nations.The key to the
success of this strategy is the early implementation of the Bangladesh-China-IndiaMyanmar (BCIM) corridor, which envisages
a network of modern road, railway, port and
communication and trade connectivities in a
region stretching from Kolkata to Kunming
in southern China. Even though BCIM is one
of the richest regions in the world in terms
of natural and human resources and home to
nearly 500 million people it is also one of
the least integrated areas, economically as
well as socially.
Before history changed its map in the last
century, the people of this region not only
shared a geography without rigid borders,
but also close racial, linguistic, cultural and
spiritual interconnections. Sadly, while the

that of Germany and France combined) is

facing severe constraints in its overall
BCIM also benefits India and Bangladesh
in other ways. With natural gas reserves of
about 200 trillion cubic feet, the largest in
the Asia-Pacific, Bangladesh could become
one of the major energy exporting countries.
Yet, today it imports 500 MW of electricity
from India and is planning to import an equal
amount from Myanmar. Tourism too will get
a boost. Bangladesh attracts less than one
million foreign tourists in a year. For Indias
north-eastern States, the figure is less than
2,00,000. Contrast this to the fact that Vietnam attracts 8 million, Cambodia 5 million,
and Thailand 26 million foreign tourists

With the likely thaw in Iran-U.S. relations after

the Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal, and with China in a position
to exert pressure on Islamabad, the Iran-Pakistan-India
gas pipeline can become a reality.
neighbouring Association of South East
Asian Nations community has become a zone
of prosperity, the BCIM region (barring
southern China) is mostly underdeveloped,
Indias seven north-eastern States providing
a stark example.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi should prioritise BCIM because it can not only be a
game-changer for this region in Asia, but is
also pivotal for his Act East Policy.

The potential of BCIM

In the last week of August, I participated in

a conference in Beijing on BCIM and its interconnection with One Belt One Road,
organised by the Institute of World Economics and Politics (IWEP). Besides arguing for
BCIMs expeditious implementation, I emphatically said that the logic of India-China
regional cooperation needs to be extended
westwards through India by connecting
BCIM with the ambitious China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor (CPEC). During Mr. Xis
visit to Islamabad in April 2015, China
pledged to invest $46 billion on CPEC
roughly one-fifth of Pakistans annual GDP.
CPECs main infrastructural corridor, running over 3,000 km, will connect Kashgar in
Chinas Xinjiang province to the Gwadar port
in Pakistans Balochistan province. India
should welcome this initiative. CPEC will no
doubt boost Pakistans progress and prosperity. It will also help Pakistan tackle many
social and other internal problems, including
the menace of religious extremism and terrorism. It is in Indias vital interest to see a
stable, prosperous, progressive, united and

India will benefit from BCIM, which was

conceptualised 16 years ago, in many selfevident ways. For instance, Agartala is 1,650
kilometres from Kolkata when one travels
through the Chickens Neck, the narrow
strip of land north of West Bengal, which is
only 23 km wide. In contrast, the distance
gets reduced to just 350 km if the journey
passes through Bangladesh. Similarly, Indias
north-eastern States have no access to the
sea, even though Tripuras southernmost
border town, Sabroom, is only 72 km from
Chittagong, an international port in Bangladesh. At least one major reason behind Kolkatas economic decline after Indias
independence is its unnatural isolation from
its natural eastern neighbourhood. Apart
from denting the development of West Bengal and Indias north-east, this has hurt Bangladesh too. Landlocked from three sides,
and with only sea access to the rest of the
world, this potential economic powerhouse
(its population of 160 million is greater than

Cooperation possible, essential


Act against
right-wing groups
undays murder in Dharwad of the outspoken
Kannada scholar, M.M. Kalburgi, is tragic and
alarming. It is the first such instance in Karnataka, which has a tradition of free speech and a
record of outspoken scholars and writers. Kalburgi, a
Sahitya Akademi award winner and an authority on
Vachana literature, was known for his sharp criticism
and questioning of superstitious beliefs, and received a
death threat from the leader of a fringe right-wing
group last year. Since June 2014 he was given police
protection but some months ago he requested that it be
withdrawn. While the identity of the two assailants,
and their motive, are yet to be conclusively established,
the nature of the threats against him has led investigators and the intelligentsia to suspect the role of fringe
groups. This, especially given the backdrop of the murder of rationalist writer Narendra Dabholkar in 2013,
and of CPI activist Govind Pansare in 2015, both in
Maharashtra. In all the three cases the assailants were
motorcycle-borne, and shot from point-blank range.
While hasty conclusions on the latest murder would
be imprudent, there is no denying that fringe rightwing groups have created an atmosphere of intolerance
to outspoken writers and academics who question religious practices and myths, thereby putting pressure on
freedom of speech and expression. Soon after Kalburgis murder, a case was filed by the police in Mangaluru against a Bajrang Dal activist who tweeted that the
next victim would be the Kannada writer K.S. Bhagwan, and the activist was arrested. The social media
have amplified such threats, which are acerbic and
abusive in nature and typically target writers or academics who question ideologies and religious beliefs.
There is enough evidence of the use of brute force by
these fringe groups to enforce their points of view.
There is a need to crack down on these groups which
profess violence. It is important to use for some of
these outfits the same yardstick as is used for other
religion- and ideology-based extremist groups. Unfortunately, a majority of the cases filed against them or
their leaders for inflammatory and abusive remarks
and even violent acts do not result in convictions, and
that emboldens them further. It is also crucial to monitor and promptly curb threats made through social
media. These actions are needed to ensure that daring,
fierce and tempered academic and literary opinion
continues to be freely expressed without fear of any
retribution. Whether or not fringe groups were involved in Kalburgis murder is immaterial here.



U-turn on Land Bill
That the controversial Land Bill
was allowed to lapse by the NDA
government is a victory for the
farmer in his fight for justice (Land
ordinance gets a burial, Aug.31).
There is a need to involve all
sections of society in an issue that
has far-reaching consequences.
The right to own land is a
fundamental right that cannot be
taken away, either by force or
inducement. Finally, thought must
be given to the conversion of
uncultivable land for industrial use.
D.B.N. Murthy,

democratic Pakistan, which is at peace with

itself and also at peace with all its neighbours.
However, CPEC in its present form, unlike
BCIM, does not comprehensively capture the
benefits of regional cooperation. It needs to
be extended into landlocked Afghanistan,
which is in urgent need of national reconstruction after several decades of war. It
should also be extended into India through
Kashmir and Punjab, the two provinces
which are today divided between India and
Pakistan. Its linkage with the Indian side of
Kashmir is especially important. At present,
many in India have objected to CPEC passing
through a part of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir
(PoK), on the ground that it is disputed territory. We should know that India is in no
position to stop CPEC. A better strategy
would be to turn this reality into an advantage by proposing the construction of a subcorridor bringing CPEC into the Indian side
of Kashmir and beyond. This will help make
the disputed India-Pakistan border in Kashmir largely irrelevant, a solution that India
under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had
been actively pursuing with Pakistan. Simultaneously, extending CPEC into India
through Punjab and Sindh will make the remaining stretches of the India-Pakistan border porous with modern transport and trade
connectivities. In addition, sea transport
linking Pakistan, the western coast of India,
Sri Lanka, the eastern coast of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar should be strengthened.

Enhancing security
Interconnecting CPEC, with its extensions
into Afghanistan and India, and BCIM is not
really a novel idea. It is simply a 21st century
version of the 16th century road, built by
Shershah Suri, the Afghan emperor, connecting what later became the capitals of four
countries Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and
Afghanistan. As a new component of this
regional cooperation architecture, the IranPakistan gas pipeline, which is already a part
of CPEC, should be extended into India. New
Delhi has until now remained cool to this
flagship proposal by Tehran, partly due to
perceived security issues and partly on account of American pressure. However, with
the likely thaw in relations between Iran and
the United States after the Iran nuclear deal,
and with China playing the drivers role in
CPEC (and hence in a position to exert pressure on Islamabad), the Iran-Pakistan-India
gas pipeline can indeed become a reality.
Thus, the CPEC-BCIM interconnection has
the potential to immensely bolster Indias
energy security both on the western and eastern flanks.
Indian critics of BCIM and CPEC state
that China cannot be trusted, and cite the
divergent positions of the two countries on
Arunachal Pradesh and PoK. I firmly believe
that Indias concerns can be better addressed
by constructively engaging, rather than by
trying to confront, China. Mutually beneficial regional cooperation builds trust, and
trust in turn helps nations resolve their disputes amicably. Moreover, when two big nations such as India and China cooperate in a
regional cooperation framework, it generates
confidence among other countries in the
neighbourhood. They become crucial stakeholders in making India and China stable and
irreversible. It may also be noted here that
Chinas stakes in cooperating with India have
become higher because of its slowing
Recent months have produced three encouraging signs of an India-China convergence on the issue of regional cooperation. In
the joint statement issued after Mr. Modis
visit to China in May this year, the two sides
welcomed the progress made in promoting
cooperation under the framework of the
BCIM. Second, Beijing has expressed its willingness to work with India to explore the
synergy between its own 21st Century Maritime Silk Road plans and Indias Mausam
project with a view to addressing New Delhis
strategic concerns and gaining common
benefits. Third, India has become an important founding member of the Beijing-promoted Asian Infrastructure Investment
Bank, which can fund BCIM, CPEC and other
projects. Hence, the emerging regional cooperation agenda in South Asia, if pursued with
sagacity and sincerity, promises to become a
win-win game promoting development and
security for all.
(Sudheendra Kulkarni was an aide to
former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

rumours about the Bill led to a

scare among farmers exposes the
fact that the Bill was not without its
flaws. Bills rushed through in order
to secure political mileage have
dangerous consequences in a
democratic set-up. Let us not forget
that the farming sector is extremely
vital in the scheme of things for a
better India.
Balasubramaniam Pavani,

The rise of fear

After much bickering and wasting

of precious time in Parliament, the
ruling party has been forced to
reverse its stand. This exposes the
misuse of the ordinance route to
enable legislation. A review of this
is most certainly called for. Mutual
consultation and conciliation is the
very essence of democracy.
S.V. Venkatakrishnan,

The gunning down of rationalist

Prof. M.M. Kalburgi (Aug.31) is a
chilling reminder that there is
hardly any space for free thinkers
and intellectuals in our so-called
secular democracy. This is the third
killing of a rationalist within a span
of two years by fundamentalists. It
is a matter of concern that the
government has been unable to
pursue leads in all these cases and
ensure that justice prevails. Do we
want India to turn into a theocratic
state like some of our neighbours?
K.R. Srinivasan,

To state that the government will

include 13 points to reform the law
establishes the fact that the draft
ordinance was initially not a fullfledged Bill. By saying that

I am deeply disturbed and angry at

the assassination of Prof. Kalburgi
my sense of anger and rage grows

fundamentalist violence. I am also

disturbed by the reporting
(Kannada writer was at the centre
of controversies, Aug.31) which
says: His stubborn nature landed
him in controversies and triggered
protests by his own community
groups. He was not controversial.
He spoke his mind and spoke about
his work, regardless of which
community or religion he was born
into. Conservative, fundamentalist
mobs (including conservative
elements from his community)
created the controversy around his
work. And eventually killed him.
Let us for a change stop labelling
public intellectuals and begin
naming those responsible for the
atmosphere of fear.
It is not merely the loss of an
individual that we are witnessing in
the deaths of Dr. Dabholkar,
Govind Pansare and Prof. Kalburgi.
It is the annihilation of entire
intellectual traditions that are built
on the critical right to question, and
to destabilise our own deeply
entrenched beliefs, so that we
might understand our worlds and
our societies better. We are
descending into an abyss of
mistrust, fear, self-censorship and
violent censorship which must be
resisted at all costs. All defenders of
free speech, all critiques of

fundamentalist religion (and their

apologists) face either arrest
warrants or messengers of death.
The silence that results is not a sign
superstitious faith is the best thing.
It is a sign that speaking out
involves a risk to life and liberty.
Can we allow fear and the mob to
rule our lives any longer?
Kalpana Kannabiran,

Idea of Team India

The writer has blown big holes in
the concept of Team India (The
problem with Modis Team India,
Aug.31). The critique points out
glaring inconsistencies within the
present socio-economic conditions
that present an almost Augean
hurdle towards the establishment
of Team India. Cooperation is at
the core of this notion, and also the
metaphor of India as a business
entity ruling over its citizenemployees (untiringly used to
highlight Prime Minister Narendra
Modis capitalist underpinnings)
fails to take note of widely accepted
example, the classical guru, F.W.
Taylor, talked of a Mental
Revolution to explain that

employees (citizen) and the

management (government) dont
Instead, each must realise that all
of them exist in a cooperative cycle
of mutual altruism. To view
business (governance) as a purely
exploitative enterprise and to link
that to the theme of Team India is
quite unfair to the principles of
aspiring for an ideal is not a crime.
The writer is correct in shedding
light on the adverse situations that
impede the idea of Team India;
but adversities alone cannot be a
reason for wishing away high goals.
Prithiv Sassisegarane,
The writer seems to have presented
his own commentary on the
Independence Day address and,
unfortunately, seems to have
missed the context. It is true that
Team India is not yet a reality but
only a dream, but how is the dream
worthless, as portrayed by the
writer, if it doesnt suit his
ideology? Where did Mr Modi
mention in his speech that his
vision of Team India is to merge
the nation with the state or to
neglect the welfare of the poor?
Anoop Suri,
New Delhi

12 |





A new edifice for reservations

Jayaprakash Narayan


oads are a citys arteries, and when they are
given new names, the old lose their connect,
and with it a part of history is lost. The Bharatiya Janata Party has picked on Mughal emperor Aurangzeb to rewrite New Delhis history by
renaming a road named after him. Aurangzeb is the
archetypal villain in the Hindu nationalist imagination
the cruel ruler who put a sword to peoples heads,
offering them a choice between Islam and death. And a
despot who hated music so much he ordered it buried
deep so that no sound could escape and reach anyones
ears. Perhaps much of it was true, but often the nuance
is lost in textbooks where the process of internalisation
of history begins at a young age. Not only cruel, Aurangzeb for the BJP is an outsider, a part of Mughal history,
and history it desires to wish away. And when the party
decided to replace Aurangzeb with another Muslim, a
former President who was the antithesis of the Mughal
ruler, a man who loved to play the veena, a benevolent
man who pardoned many people from being marched
off to the gallows, it was hard not to miss the political
statement being made. MahmoodMamdani wrote in
his paper, GoodMuslim, Bad Muslim: A Political Perspective...: Whether in Afghanistan, Palestine, or Pakistan, Islam must be quarantined and the devil must be
exorcized from it by a civil war between good Muslims
and bad Muslims. In India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, then,
was a good Hindu-Muslim. Twitter broke into applause
and exhaled a happy sigh. A piece of history was erased
for good, some Twitter handles proclaimed. Of course,
once the process of correcting perceived historical
wrongs begins, there is no stopping it. Delhi and other
cities have many roads named after Muslim rulers, and
the clamour for change has only just started.
It is a good question to ask whether the departed
President could have some other road named after him.
When The Hindu rst reported the renaming plan (on
July 30, 2015), the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management
Committee suggested that Aurangzeb Road be spared to
be named after Guru Tegh Bahadur, who died defending
the Hindu faith, and another road be chosen to be
named after Abdul Kalam. It is fair to ask whether the
BJP could have chosen to rename Prithviraj Road or
Rajesh Pilot Marg after Kalam. The Congress would
then have broken into more than a rash. The party had
gone on a spree of relabelling roads named Connaught
and Curzon after Indian leaders, and defended the decisions saying it was shaking off the colonial legacy. But
Aurangzeb is a part of Indias (pre-colonial) history. A
part acknowledged through this road named after him.
This renaming is an attempt to excise that part.

The massive mobilisation of Patels in Gujarat

in their agitation for their inclusion in the
caste-based reservations scheme as Other
Backward Classes (OBC) raises vital questions on affirmative action. For decades, political parties, the media and society at large
have avoided serious debate on the promotion of equal opportunity in an iniquitous,
caste-ridden society practising discrimination by birth for centuries.
All societies face serious challenges on account of discrimination and institutionalised
inequality. The United States has its AfricanAmericans and Indian Americans, Europe
has its Gypsies, Australia has its Aborigines,
and China has its non-Han minorities. But
nowhere in the world are inequality by birth
and moral neutrality to such discrimination
so institutionalised as in Indian society. Centuries of articial division of society into
hundreds of castes, the denial of education
for all but a few upper castes, an unbreakable linkage between caste and occupation,
institutionalised untouchability and absurd
notions of impurity, the long-entrenched
tradition of endogamous marriages within a
sub-caste, and serious prejudice against
mixed marriages are all that have made the
Indian caste system the most heinous, oppressive and intractable form of discrimination and inequality by birth.

Styming opportunity
Even a cursory understanding of our society exposes the link between caste and poverty, and the denial of opportunity based
entirely on circumstances of birth. The future of a vast majority of children born in our
society can be reasonably predicted at the
time of birth merely by assessing the familys
economic status, parental education and
caste. The childs innate ability, ambition and
hard work, in most cases, are irrelevant to her
future. Not only is this an unjust, oppressive
monstrosity in this day and age, but also a
large majority of the nations gene pool is also
wasted by this denial of opportunity, and the
nations state of poverty and backwardness
are perpetuated. Given these circumstances,
caste will have to be an important factor in
determining eligibility for affirmative action
policies. However, the unimaginative way in
which reservations have been implemented
has led to several, undesirable consequences.
Most of the benets of reservations have
gone only to a few, better educated, well-off
elites among the communities eligible for
reservations. When you see the background
of youngsters recruited to the civil services,
or those admitted to medical schools, the
Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian

It is time we address the challenge of reservations

honestly, fairly and innovatively by creating
opportunities for all disadvantaged children.
Along with improving school education outcomes,
a more rational model of reservation based on
equity and common sense must be envisaged
complex process, short-sighted politicians
and caste-based leaders can easily provoke
primordial loyalties and arouse animosities
based on caste. We have seen many instances
of caste mobilisation for and against reservations. In recent years, the Jat-Gujjar-Meena
agitations in Rajasthan are too well known to
bear repetition. Now, the agitation of Patels,
the largely successful and entrepreneurial
community in Gujarat, one of Indias most
vibrant States, only illustrates the need for
rationalising reservations.
It is clear that at present most of the benets of reservations ow to a few well-educated families in the upper strata. Real poor
families among SCs, STs and OBCs are largely on the margins. The poor among Other
Categories (OC) are resentful and frustrated,
and tend to blame reservations for all their
problems. The current form of reservations
Polarisation and politics
and zero-sum approach have deepened caste
This skewed benet has paradoxical con- divisions without helping the truly poor, desequences. The poor, disadvantaged Sched- serving children to advance in life. Most Indi-

Institutes of Management, national law

schools or other courses that give real opportunities of vertical mobility, we see a pattern
emerging. Though reservation is applicable
to the poor and the rich, or the illiterate and
the educated in caste groups equally, in reality, most benets accrue to the children of
those who already have the advantages of
education, career and wealth. In most selections to/in premier institutions in higher
education or recruitment to high-end jobs, it
is the children of Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service officers and other
senior officials, the progeny of Members of
Legislative Assemblies (MLA), Members of
Parliament (MP) and the other political elite,
and the offspring of successful professionals
and businessmen who dominate the scene in
communities eligible for reservations.

While caste will continue to be the mainstay of reservation

policies, the benefits should flow to the vast majority of
underprivileged children from deprived castes; not to
a few privileged children with a caste tag.
uled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST)
and OBCs are mostly on the fringes and continue to remain mired in poverty and backwardness, as they cannot compete with
children from more advantaged backgrounds
in their own communities. Therefore, there
is enormous pain, suffering and angst often
resulting in despair and which triggers violence. Most of the poor in disadvantaged sections are sullen and angry as their lot does
not seem to improve irrespective of ability
and hard work. At the same time, the communities excluded from reservations harbour
animosity and prejudice against the castes
included in the reservation category. There
are also several poor and semi-literate families among castes not categorised as SCs or
OBCs. When a child in such a family is overtaken by an obviously wealthy child enjoying
caste reservation, the resentment created
has a snowballing effect. This caste polarisation is accentuated by the political mobilisation of caste groups for voting. Given this

ans from castes included in reservation or

excluded feel betrayed. We need an urgent,
earnest, honest, national debate, and a creative sensible, pragmatic response. Opportunities for all disadvantaged children, equity,
fairness and common sense should be the
guiding principles in evolving a more rational
model of reservations.

Case for dis-reservation

First, while caste will continue to be the
mainstay of reservation policies, the benets
should ow to the vast majority of underprivileged children from deprived castes; not to a
few privileged children with a caste tag. Families of public officials of a certain rank IAS,
IPS, other Central and State civil services,
present or former MLAs, MPs, other senior
politicians certain high income professionals like physicians, chartered accountants,
managers above a certain rank in the private
sector, and businessmen and others above a
certain income should be dis-reserved. In


refugee crisis
pity the poor immigrant, who wishes hed
stayed at home, sang the American folksinger Bob Dylan. That verse today nds
extra resonance in the scarring images of
forced human displacement across treacherous sea and
land routes into the promised land of Europe. Thousands leave every day from the war-ravaged and economically broken countries of northern Africa, Syria
and West Asia. The harrowing images of mass death
captured by the media the most recent, the 800
people feared drowned when the boat they travelled in
capsized in the Libyan waters south of the Italian
island of Lampedusa in April, or the 71 eeing Syrians
found dead in a truck in Austria last week point to the
magnitude of the human catastrophe that is unfolding
across this part of the world. The statistics on recent
migration are staggering. According to the UNHCR, the
United Nations refugee agency, 59.5 million people
were forcibly displaced in 2014, a gure that rose
sharply in 2015. A record number of 1,07,500 migrants
reached the borders of the European Union last month.
The Migrants Files, a collaborative project of journalists, claims the number of refugees who died or went
missing while making the crossing is 3,016 this year
alone. Between 2000 and today the number is 30,817.
A practical response to the refugee crisis has not,
regrettably, been forthcoming from the governments
of those countries most affected by the recent inux,
namely those of the European Union and Britain. They
have tried to turn the focus on criminal trafficking
rings that conduct risky refugee escape operations,
even as they tighten their own borders. By contrast,
there is the laudable spirit shown by organisations,
groups that have conducted perilous rescue operations
on the high seas, and provided refugees shelter and
timely support despite their constrained capabilities
and remit. The political and economic destabilisation
of countries from where the refugee ow is the greatest
those in West Asia, Libya and Syria are due in large
part to western military intervention carried out on the
strength of promises to bring democracy to peoples
portrayed as the victims of totalitarian rule. Not only
has that promise been belied, the doors have been
closed on people who now desperately seek to escape
the anarchy and civil breakdown of those countries,
which were once relatively stable. A scheme of mandatory quotas to take in refugees, proposed by the European Commission, has met with stiff opposition from
several member-states. Germany has given asylum to
over 200,000 refugees last year, and Britain to just
32,000. The EU and Britain must adopt a more humane
and responsible asylum and immigration policy on the
refugee crisis or be consumed by it.



Restoring a practice
Jainism has a positive inuence
over Indian culture, be it literature,
art and architecture. Another
important contribution it has made
is to popularise the idea of nonviolence or ahimsa, also reected in
the practice of Santhara. Though
the legal stand on Santhara has now
been made clear, I feel it is out of
line (The right to die and not to
die, Sept.1). Just because the
practice is based on the principle of
non-violence is it appropriate to let
a person die? If this is the case, then
why is Irom Sharmila, who is
seeking justice for a cause she
believes in, repeatedly arrested in
order to save her life? This verdict
appears to have created a grey area.
Pankaj Sharma,
On the face of it, the religious
practice does not sound to be like
suicide. However, the verdict raises
deep questions about our judicial
stand on issues such as euthanasia.
If the Supreme Court can stay the
Rajasthan High Court order, one
would like to know what its stand
on euthanasia is.
Andrea Aruna Anthony,

Affirmative steps
Second, we have to address the anger and
aspirations of poor families among unreserved communities. Jats, Patels and other
obviously successful communities who are
poor are easily angered by what they see as an
unjust system. With the Supreme Court ruling of 50 per cent ceiling on reservation quotas, no further reservation is possible. But
intelligent, creative, fair and practical ways of
giving the poorer children among OCs a helping hand are possible and necessary. For instance, parental education and the school the
child attended are two sure indicators of poverty and the backwardness of a family. If
parents have not had education beyond
school, and if the child goes to a government
school or a low-end, ramshackle private
school, it is a sure sign of a lack of adequate
opportunity. Such a child, however bright,
cannot compete with the privileged son of a
high official or wealthy doctor going to an
expensive private school. And yet, our socalled merit system treats a 90 per cent
score of the privileged child as better than the
80 per cent score of a poor girl in a rural
school. If reasonable weightage is given in
marks to such underprivileged children in
the category of OC an addition of marks
decided by a group of experts it will give
added opportunity to poor OCs without raising reservation quotas. At the same time, true
merit is not compromised and there is always
an aspirational level they have to meet.
Third, no child with ability and desire should
ever be denied opportunities for higher education on account of poverty or birth. Scholarships, free tuition, soft loans and other
mechanisms must be strengthened, so that a
bright child can reach for the stars irrespective of his or her familys social or economic
Once these three steps are in place, most of
the distortions in the reservation policy will
vanish. There will be far greater harmony
and little incentive to polarise society or provoke primordial loyalties. Most of all, the
really disadvantaged will have a genuine opportunity to rise to their potential. Unfullled potential is the greatest sin in our
society. Once we eliminate much of this
scourge, we can reduce reservations by one
or two per cent each year. Within a generation, discrimination by birth will be a thing
of the past, and reservations will not be necessary. Simultaneously, the state can encourage market mechanisms for equal
opportunity in the private sector.
These efforts should be coupled with a
vigorous national effort to improve school
education outcomes. The Right of Children
to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE)
Act is mostly a failure in enabling a real
opportunity for all children. Guaranteed outcomes in schools and access to real quality
school education to every child irrespective
of birth and poverty are at the heart of a
society promoting equity, opportunity and
egalitarianism. It is time we address the challenge of reservations honestly, openly, fairly
and innovatively. We cannot bury our heads
in the sand forever like an ostrich.
(Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is the founder of
the Lok Satta movement and Foundation for

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married woman to sacrice herself

out of love for her husband. The
practice had no social reasoning
and so we banned it. But dont those
who live in vegetative state have a
right to end their life in dignity? If
in Santhara, one eschews food and
water to die with dignity, then why
not let those in a pitiable physical
and mental state discard medicine
and external care in order to fade
away with dignity? The time has
come to examine practices that
have no grounds in the test of social
reasoning and which must be
banned irrespective of religious
Bibha Sinha,
Ranchi, Jharkhand

is one more shocking instance of

hate politics; its impact cannot be
taken lightly (Karnataka set to
hand over Kalburgi murder case to
CBI, Sept.1). Undaunted by such
cowardly actions, the family of
Dhabolkar has taken upon itself to
spread the message of the
importance of developing a
scientic temper. Scavengers and
unorganised workers of Kolhapur
vowed to continue their resistance
and struggles while cremating
Pansare. Mourners who gathered at
the funeral of Kalburgi have also
reiterated their commitment to
defend his ideals. These are the
only heartening aspects to emerge
in this dark phase of fanatic
tendencies in India.
Santhara is a religious practice and
S.V. Venugopalan,
no religion teaches a person to die.
So, there must be a aw in its
interpretation. According to Jain It is sad that intellectuals are being
Agamas, Santhara can only be eliminated while performing duties
practised when death is very near mentioned in the Constitution
and cannot be dodged. It is such as developing a scientic
interesting that a similar Hindu temper and rationalism along with
ritual of Sanjeevan Samadhi has not a spirit of inquiry. In such an
environment, citizens are bound to
faced any legal hurdles.
Kulish Dhanju, feel that their fundamental rights
Vellore, Tamil Nadu are
guaranteed which is a blot on a
democratic, liberal and progressive
The cold-blooded murder of society such as Indias. What is
eminent Kannada writer and ironic is that while the state has
progressive thinker, M.M. Kalburgi inltrated into the private lives of

Advent of intolerance

We abolished Sati, a practice by a

other words, once they have received a significant advantage of reservations, they should
be able to ensure opportunities for their children and vacate the space for the truly disadvantaged children in their own caste groups.
The argument that nancial or professional
success does not end discrimination, and
therefore they should forever enjoy reservations is fallacious and self-serving. The logic
of reservations is that educational and employment opportunities will reduce discrimination in a modern economy. The state has
only the power to give these opportunities. If
education, job and income do not mitigate
discrimination, then the rationale for reservation collapses. If reservations do help in
upward mobility, then what more can we
expect in life other than an IAS, IPS officer,
MLA, MP or a cardiac surgeon? It is easy to
identify families which have substantially
beneted from reservation by virtue of position, rank, profession, education, childrens
school and income. Once these families are
dis-reserved, the truly poor and disadvantaged sections among reserved communities
will get a helping hand in both higher education and jobs.

citizens, it has failed to protect

their rights.
Sumit Sharma,
Ludhiana, Punjab

New Asian history

While the article, Charting a new
Asian history (Sept.1), paints a
rosy picture, it completely ignores
the legitimate and strategic
concerns New Delhi has. First in
the absence of well-developed,
intra-regional connectivity of the
Seven Sisters and the rest of India,
connecting the South-East Asian
region/subcontinent with other
countries will not be easy. If done, it
could bring them into the sphere
of affluence of China, and fan
secessionist activities. Second,
participating in the so-called
grand initiative of CEPA will only
legitimise Pakistans position in
PoK. Third, there is no evidence
that a more prosperous Pakistan
will be less hostile towards India.
While I rmly believe that
globalisation will usher in more
affluence in the region, it is still
imperative to lter out designs that
could spell danger.
Shashank Jain,
New Delhi

Lets think dialogue

The article, Time to move from
posturing to dialogue (Sept.1), was

well-timed, but the writer should

have recognised that talks between
India and Pakistan have failed
miserably for the sole reason that
instead of resorting to a truly
meaningful dialogue based on a give
and take policy, they are used to
display one-upmanship. Instead of
merely stating that much might be
said on both sides like Sir Roger
de Coverley, the ctional character
created by Joseph Addison
Mahmud Durrani could have spelt
out what Pakistans expectations
are in this regard. Has he also
forgotten that India has never
indulged in destabilisation?
K.D. Viswanaathan,
quintessence between India and
Pakistan in resolving outstanding
issues as opposed to belligerent
posturing is a fact. Whether it is the
sensitive Kashmir problem or trade
exchange, no signicant headway
has been made in the past due to the
conspicuous lack of a spirit of give
and take complemented by an
approach of compromise and
consultation. The obsession for
status quo should give way to a
broader consensus if some tangible
progress is to be achieved.
P.K. Varadarajan,

10 |




Chasing black money, with UN help

T.P. Sreenivasan


Risky portents
in Manipur
he crisis in Manipur stems from the demand
to stop outsiders from buying land in the
State, in a context where the local population,
predominantly the Meiteis, harbours fears of
being marginalised. The valley constitutes only 10 per
cent of the States geographical area and Meiteis constitute about 50 per cent of the population there. The
long-standing demand has been to introduce a system
similar to the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in other northeastern States, or some similar stipulation, to stop inmigration. But for this to be effective, the State needs to
identify the outsiders first. But that is a complex issue
anywhere in the northeastern region as the borders are
largely porous and the Government of India has not
done enough to check the passage of people across
them. One reason this was not done was to protect the
states own interest: for a long time now, a section of the
immigrants have been engaged to counter local insurgent groups. But as the demand for an ILP escalated,
a cut-off year of 1951 was determined in the new Bills
passed on Monday in order to identify outsiders. However, one of them, the Protection of Manipur Peoples
Bill, and two amendments, have been opposed by the
tribal organisations, which claim control of the Manipur Hill districts. These are chiefly groups of Kukis,
Mizos and Chins. They feel insecure as many of them
who came to Manipur after 1951 or whose lineage may
not meet the list of criteria set out in the Bills, could
now be legally identified as outsiders. Many of them
also believe a rumour that the two amendments would
be valid in the Manipur Hills districts, which is untrue.
The issues might not have escalated had the State
government consulted the Hill Areas Committee before
passing the Bills in order to clear any misunderstanding. Neither the organisation that had led the pro-ILP
movement nor any of the tribal organisations was approached for any kind of dialogue. The pro-ILP movement was mostly confined to the Valley districts, while
the people in the Hills isolated themselves, assuming
and arguing that they were protected from outsiders
under existing laws. As the tensions grew in the absence
of dialogue, political groups added fuel to the fire to try
and topple the Congress-led government and invite
Presidents Rule. Hence, it is not any genuine fear of
becoming marginalised but realpolitik that is playing
out in the hills of Manipur. But from any perspective,
this is a dangerous portent for all the northeastern
States. The Centre and the State need to come forward
quickly to engage the people and figure out a solution to
the crisis in order that it wont go out of control.

The promise made by the Bharatiya Janata

Party-led National Democratic Alliance in
the run-up to the general election in 2014,
that if it won it would bring back all Indian
black money, estimated in billions of dollars
and stashed in foreign banks, has remained
unfulfilled. The explanation is that the matter is complicated and embroiled in the domestic laws of several countries.
After the party and the coalition won, the
move to create a special investigative team of
former judges and current regulators to find
the concealed assets, estimated to be as much
as $2 trillion, and the revelation of some
names of Indian offenders have not led to
much. Neither the details of the efforts made
nor the responses of the countries concerned
are in the public domain. The names, which
have been revealed in bits and pieces, are
mostly of relatively unknown people, who in
turn have denied that their money is black.
The reason for this impasse is that the holding countries are extremely reluctant to part
with black money and they have used every
conceivable argument to block its release.
Even the countries requesting for information should share a part of the blame because
they have not been transparent in their efforts for political reasons.

A convention of value
All this reminds me of the tough negotiations on the subject in Vienna, Austria, in
2003 as a vital part of the United Nations
Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC),
and which were very revealing. The outcome
was not very satisfactory from the point of
view of the countries, mostly the developing
ones, which had sought a framework to locate
and return these assets to their legitimate
owners. But there exists a body of provisions
in the convention, extracted through hard
negotiations, which can be applied to recover
black money. If implemented in good faith,
the convention should be of immense value
to countries where corrupt high officials
have plundered natural wealth, and where
new governments badly need these resources
to reconstruct and rehabilitate their societies. The then Secretary General of the UN,
Kofi A. Annan, expressed the hope that it
makes a major breakthrough by requiring
Member States to return assets obtained
through corruption to the country from
which they were stolen.
The rich countries hit upon the idea of
UNCAC to castigate the developing countries
for misusing aid money through corrupt

Provisions in the UN Convention Against

Corruption can help immensely in the recovery of
black money. The convention should be of great
value to countries where natural wealth has been
plundered and whose governments need these
resources to reconstruct their societies
practices. [UNCAC complements another instrument, the United Nations Convention
against Transnational Organized Crime, and
introduces a comprehensive set of standards,
measures and rules that all countries can
apply in order to strengthen their legal and
regulatory regimes to fight corruption.] They
wanted to introduce conditionalities of good
governance to block aid to certain countries
and to limit aid to others. In a strong reaction, the issue of black money being held by
certain developed countries was brought in
to show that the keepers of black money were
as guilty as those who had deposited it
abroad. When a debate on the issue became
inevitable, Austria, for instance, sought to
chair the related working group on assets
held abroad and this was conceded. But the
working group made no progress as Austria
and Switzerland stuck to the position that
their internal laws were supreme. Finally,

In Indias case, difficulties in recovering black money are in

proving that the assets were illegally obtained. The focus here
must be on the UNCAC debate that reveals the strength
of the argument against insistence on proof of illegality
India, as the Chairman of the Preparatory globe. Both sides realised, as we plodded on,
Committee, was asked to chair the group and that without the clauses on assets recovery,
a breakthrough was achieved after days of the entire convention would fall.
An important sticking point was the insisttough negotiations.
ence of the assets holding countries that it
Principle of asset recovery
was not enough for the countries making
As the chairman of the working group, I claims to establish that the assets belonged to
was confronted with the issue of reconciling them. They had to establish also that the
the legitimate interests of the countries assets were illegally obtained before they
(which demanded the return of their assets were transferred to a foreign country. These
illegally amassed abroad by their citizens) countries said that it would be difficult to
with the legal and procedural safeguards of obtain ironclad evidence to prove this bethe countries that had a vested interest in cause of the very nature of the accretion of
retaining the assets in their banks. While the assets by people in power. For instance, most
first group of countries clearly argued that of them were dictators who did not leave any
the assets should be returned as soon as their trace of evidence of the methods they had
ownership was established, the second group used. The eventual compromise was that the
of countries had concerns about protecting assets could be transferred back if the receivthe rights of the depositors and the assur- ing country was the legitimate owner of
ances of secrecy given.
property acquired through or involved in the
The first breakthrough came when the commission of offences established in ac-


The case against

death penalty
he Law Commission of India has taken a historic step by declaring that the abolition of
the death penalty must become a goal for
India. It has recommended, for a start, the
scrapping of the death penalty for all crimes except
terrorism-related offences and those that amount to
waging war against the state. The Commissions report
on the death penalty declares deterrence to be a myth,
based on extensive research. It makes a clean break
with the rarest of the rare principle that was laid down
in Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab (1980): that judgment noted that the application of the death penalty
would remain arbitrary and judge-centric and hence
would be constitutionally unsustainable. It has attempted to raise the level of discourse on the death
penalty by observing that opposition to it amounts to
objecting to the taking of lives, and not to all punishment as a concept. Retributive justice is important, it
notes, but it must not descend to the level of vengeance,
as numerous Supreme Court decisions that refer to
the conscience of the people seem to indicate. It has
sought a return to the notions of restorative and reformative justice, and urged a change in tenor, in such a
manner that victims are not made to think that the
death penalty is the only, best or ultimate form of
punishment. Most crucially, it has placed the death
penalty in the context of Indias flawed criminal justice
system, noting that even safeguards such as the right to
appeal and mercy petitions do not provide foolproof
protection from miscarriage of justice, given the uneven and error-prone application of relief.
But the Commission has not gone far enough. By
creating an artificial distinction between terror cases
and others despite admitting that there is no penological justification for doing so, it has created an unfair
hierarchy of crime and justice. It notes the death penalty is no deterrent for even a terrorist. Some of the most
egregious instances of miscarriage of justice that it
cites as an indictment of Indias criminal justice system
relate to terrorism-related cases; the 2002 Akshardham temple attack case, for instance, in which the
death penalty was imposed by the trial court and confirmed by the High Court, was based on what the
Supreme Court later ruled was wholly fabricated evidence. The concerns such instances raise about the
death penalty disproportionately affecting the poor
and marginalised are more sharply in evidence in terrorism cases 93.5 per cent of those on death row in
terrorism cases are Dalits or those from the religious
minorities. By holding itself back from recommending
a total abolition, the Commission has put the ball in
Parliaments court. The government and the principal
opposition are unlikely to support such an abolition at
this point. It can only be hoped Parliament will complete the good work the Law Commission has begun.



Reservation policy
The reservation policy has resulted
in the horizontal proliferation of
benefits to only the better-off
among eligible sections, thus
perpetuating inequalities (A new
edifice for reservations, Sept.3).
There needs to be synergy between
those in the government willing to
act rationally on reservation and
those among the elites in
marginalised sections, who out of a
sense of renunciation, would be
willing to give up many of the
benefits for the overall good of those
less privileged in their own
Abhinav Sharma,
Ludhiana, Punjab
Even after decades, primary
education and health care are still
inaccessible to many. To bridge the
widening gap, reservation is
benchmark for entry into the
reserved class should be based on
economic grounds. I have come
across people in dire conditions
even when they are from the socalled upper caste. The idea of
reservation based on per-capita
income has to come in vogue so that
the privilege is not extended to the
children of those who are
financially stable after reaping the
benefits of reservation.
L.S. Kumar,
The writers point about caste as a
criteria for affirmative action
contradicts the very need to end
caste-based discrimination in our

group established asset recovery as a fundamental principle of the convention. Then it

was only a matter of laying a framework, in
both civil and criminal law, for tracing, freezing, forfeiting and returning funds obtained
through corrupt activities. The provisions finally accepted were for supporting the efforts of the countries to recover the assets
and for sending out a message to corrupt
officials that they would not have a safe
haven where they could stash away the fruits
of their corrupt practices.
What the convention accomplished and
the credit for this goes to both sides was
that legal obstacles should be tackled with
international cooperation rather than by domestic laws. Though the two sides took extreme positions initially, the need for
compromise and cooperation became clear
in the spirit of the whole convention, which
was designed to end corruption around the

cordance with the convention.

Some of the relevant provisions of the convention are crucial to the question of recovery of assets. It provides that each state party
shall take such measures as may be necessary
to permit its competent authorities to give
effect to an order of confiscation issued by a
court of another state party. It also provides
for the provisional freezing or seizing of
property where there are sufficient grounds
for taking such actions in advance of a formal
request being received.
The countries that hold assets have been
given special responsibilities such as enhanced scrutiny of accounts deposited by
those entrusted with prominent public functions to detect suspicious transactions. They
are also required to share information with
the competent authorities of another state,
when necessary, to investigate, claim and recover proceeds of offences.
The UN, through its Office on Drugs and
Crime, which leads the fight against illicit
drugs and international crime, has been given the responsibility to implement the convention, particularly its assets recovery
provisions. But how effective UN assistance
is in legal battles in which the holding countries have a vested interest is uncertain. The
negotiations showed that they would not part
with these assets easily and that they would
fight tooth and nail legally before any assets
were returned.
Many legal treatises have been written on
the provisions of the convention, but the
convention was made possible by a political
compromise wherein the developed countries obtained a strong convention against
corruption in return for conceding that illegally obtained wealth deposited abroad
would be returned to its legal owners. In fact,
many developing countries signed and ratified UNCAC because of its assets recovery

Refining Indias approach

In the case of India, difficulties may have
arisen not in establishing that the sums
amassed abroad belong to India, but in proving that the assets were illegally obtained.
Our authorities may do well to use the records of the debate in Vienna to prove the
strength of the argument by many countries
that proof of illegality of acquisition should
not be insisted upon. Strictly speaking, this
had no relevance to the issue of the return of
assets as long as it was evident that they
belonged to the countries claiming them.
This condition was accepted only because of
the insistence that banking regulations in
many countries would not permit the return
of assets without this.
The actual recovery since the adoption of
the convention has fallen far short of expectations. Only $276.3 million of assets were
recovered in 2006-2009 and $147.2 million
in 2010-2012 as against the estimated $20
billion to $40 billion stolen every year. In
view of this, the parties to the convention
have set up a working group to assist in the
implementation of the assets recovery provisions of the convention. A working paper
prepared for its next meeting in early September this year has listed a large number of
legal issues, which need to be addressed.
These include the domestic management and
disposal of seized and confiscated assets and
the management of the return and disposal of
assets recovered in the context of international corruption cases. These are the same
issues which remained ambivalent at the
time of the negotiations.
But the unspoken truth is that the countries making the requests are not inclined to
expose the depositors by revealing the modalities of corrupt practices and the countries
that have been requested have a vested interest in not returning the assets to their
rightful owners. A disconnect persists between national commitments and the actual
behaviour of countries at the international
Representative of India to the UN, Vienna,
chaired the Preparatory Committee for the
UN Convention Against Corruption.)

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country. The foremost step is to

abolish the very notion of caste
prevalent in society. The writers
proposed solution of excluding the
privileged among the backward
classes simply boils down to
reservation solely on the basis of
economic criteria rather than castebased reservation. Moreover, the
idea of giving weightage to marks
within OC amounts to reservation
within OC as well. There is a need
for reservations but there must be a
towards it based on economic
backwardness. Affirmative action
which was sought to be a temporary
process seems to have cemented its
position in Indian society, and no
politician wishes to raise this issue
simply because it impacts his vote
Agam Singh Bedi,
Mohali, Punjab
Having economic backwardness as
the sole criteria for reservations is
not a viable option in the Indian
context as there is no specified
formula for its calculation. Also,
economic backwardness is a
dynamic concept per se. The best
possible way forward is to disreserve the creamy layer and
strengthen options to extend
underprivileged from all categories.
Rahul Balhara,
Rohtak, Haryana

Ansaris remarks
The criticism of Vice-President
Hamid Ansari (BJP, VHP attack
Muslims, Sept.2) is unfortunate.

The BJP has grossly misunderstood position as his need not have
the context in which Mr. Ansari courted controversy in this manner.
S. Nagarajan Iyer,
made this remark by reading
between the lines. He only tried to
make Muslims aware of their rights.
K.R. Srinivasan,
Secunderabad The decision to change the name of
a tree-lined road dedicated to the
It is indeed a peculiar situation if Mughal ruler in order to honour one
even the Vice-President is attacked of our Presidents seems to be part of
and blamed for being communal, the right wings warped view of the
and past as present (Editorial, Sept.2).
One The purpose of studying history
wonders if the party in power is isnt to right of the wrongs of the
repeatedly misunderstanding the past, but to prepare for a better
Vice-President or finding excuses to future. Aurangzeb remains an
attack him probably because of his important part of Indian history,
religious background. Such wrongly and history cannot be changed by
based criticism only sends out more expunging the names of its players,
signals of the antipathy towards the good or bad. It would have been
minorities. It also lowers the befitting had the admirers of A.P.J.
prestige of a constitutional post as Abdul Kalam pushed for the
that of the Vice-President of the Defence
Sumit Sharma, (DRDO), where the late President
Ludhiana, Punjab spent a great part of his professional
tenure, to be renamed after him.
It is disturbing that the ViceJ.S. Acharya,
President had to talk in such a
manner and highlight reservation
for the community he hails from. In
any community and in any society It is surprising to see how almost all
on this earth, it is only the English media outlets in India have
industrious and the studious who devoted much time and energy in
advance in life making the best out discussing threadbare the sordid
of a bad situation. The government case, which otherwise only legally
is providing equal opportunities for trained persons and systems should
all alike through education. Those do (Small-town girl, Doon school
who are ambitious move high while boy and Media trial most foul,
those who are lazy fall by the Sept.2). Will not such sensational
wayside. If Mr. Ansari could rise to media debates disrupt justice?
V. Murali,
become Vice-President, it is only
because of his own merit and
hardwork in public life. A
personality in such an exalted The patriarchal mindset of Indian

History behind names

A case and coverage

society seems to be at work

everytime it judges the actions of
Ms. Mukherjee. It is to be noted that
the case is about the crime she is
alleged to have committed, and not
about certain details in her personal
Anshuman Gogoi,
The reportage of the case shows
that the media in India has yet to
learn its lessons. In the intense
competition to be the first to break
news, there is scant respect being
shown for the privacy of the people
related or unrelated to the
Reporters are now self-made
judges. Are they not aware that
extra-judicial activity such as this
might cause impediments in the
actual legal procedure? Why cant
they wait for the final legal
judgment? Is there no media
watchdog? There is a need to adapt
international norms of reporting
and broadcasting.
Amitava Banerjee,
The media, be it electronic or print,
needs to draw a line as far as
analysis and reporting go. News
should be reported as news. What is
between family members should be
handled in a refined manner,
notwithstanding the nature of the
crime. More than this, the subject of
crime must be handled by the police
and the judiciary. The role of the
media is to just report facts in a fair
R.S. Raghavan,

10 |




Justice continues to elude Kandhamal

Brinda Karat


Welcome step
on oilfields
he government has taken a refreshing and
progressive approach with respect to the unutilised natural resources locked away in the
69 small and marginal oilfields lying with the
state-owned exploration agencies. The Union Cabinet
has not only approved the auction of these oilfields to
private, and even foreign, companies, but also initiated
a new approach in the licensing and proceeds-sharing
mechanisms. The first step was to move from a profitsharing mechanism to a revenue-sharing one. This may
appear to be a technical difference, but the effect on the
ground is likely to be huge. The profit-sharing approach
meant the government had to pore over the cost details
of those undertaking the exploration, often leading to
extended delays and disputes. The revenue-sharing approach is simpler, and is likely to earn the government
more money. Under the new plan, companies will be
allowed to sell crude oil or natural gas at market prices,
without any interference from the government. The
revenue and royalty-sharing mechanism will be pegged
at this market rate. If companies are forced to sell at
below-market prices, then the government will still get
a royalty share pegged at the market rate. If, however,
the company manages to sell at higher-than-market
prices, then the sharing mechanism will be pegged to
this higher price. Thats a win-win for the government:
less oversight and an assured minimum income.
The other welcome step has to do with the licensing
method. At present, companies need a separate licence
to exploit each of the different hydrocarbon resources
in a given field. Under the new scheme, they will receive
a unified licence for all hydrocarbons, including conventional ones such as oil and gas, and non-conventional ones such as shale oil and shale gas. This goes a long
way in the governments move towards enhancing the
ease of doing business. Apart from that, the simple act of
auctioning oilfields is a step towards weaning India
away from oil imports. The Oil Ministry says there are
hydrocarbon resources worth Rs.70,000 crore lying unutilised in these fields. At the current crude price of $45
a barrel, the production of hydrocarbons from these
new fields will be worth around Rs.3,500 crore a year.
This may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to
Indias total hydrocarbon imports of Rs.7.6 lakh crore in
2014-15, but every little drop counts. So far, these progressive steps are limited to the 69 oilfields on the block,
but hopefully they will be extended to all the oilfields in
the country. With growth in oil production slowing and
natural gas production contracting, there is a sore need
for steps like these to boost domestic production.

It is seven years since the horrific communal

violence against the Christian community
engulfed the district of Kandhamal in Odisha, in August 2008. Recently, thousands of
survivors gathered at the panchayat headquarter town of Raikia under the banner of
the Kandhamal Peace and Solidarity Committee. It was not to relive the past. Survivors of communal violence rarely want to
experience the trauma and the pain which
rises to the surface of their hearts and minds
with every retelling of those dark and terrorfilled days.
The demand was straight and simple
that they be allowed a future.

Agenda of polarisation
On the surface, things look better. In the
2014 Odisha Assembly election, the Hindutva forces suffered a resounding defeat in this
district, losing in all the three Scheduled
Tribe reserved Assembly segments. In the
previous elections in 2009, the Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) had put up Manoj Kumar
Pradhan, a man accused in two cases of murder of Christians and another 10 cases of
arson and violence. He won from G. Udaygiri
despite being in jail. The BJP reaped the
harvest of the blood of innocents. Pradhan
came out of jail within weeks of his election
and it was an open secret that he used his
clout to sabotage the processes of justice
by intimidating witnesses and instructing
the police to go slow in the cases. But this
changed in 2014, when the Congress and the
Biju Janata Dal (BJD) emerged victorious.
The Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, which was
won by the BJD candidate, comprises the
Phulbani, G.Udaygiri and Baliguda Assembly
segments in the district. The BJP candidate
was relegated to third place. In the Assembly
elections, the Baliguda seat was won by the
BJD candidate. In G.Udaygiri, the Congress
candidate won, while in Phulbani, the BJD
emerged victorious.
But it would be quite wrong to assume that
the agenda of communal polarisation has
weakened in any way following the electoral
Leaders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
(RSS)-led organisations were freed within
months of their arrests and have since resumed their toxic agenda of dividing equally

It is a matter of shame and sorrow that the

Christian community in Kandhamal is subdued
not because of its lack of courage but on account
of the failure of the Centre and the State, the
investigative agencies and the criminal justice
system, including courts, to ensure it justice
poor communities, the majority of whom are
below the poverty line, as they had done
earlier, mobilising the largely tribal Kui
community against the Dalit Pana community. This is ostensibly against the latters
demand for inclusion in the list of Scheduled
Tribes, but when in reality it is targeting
Dalits on a communal agenda as around 20
per cent of them are Christians. Tribals from
the Kui Samaj who are Christians are also
An important aim of the BJP and the RSS
and its front organisations was to ensure
that their people who had led and instigated
the mobs in 2008 would be saved from punishment, and be available in order to further
the communal agenda. In this they have

pensation fixed was just Rs.20,000 from the

State government and another Rs.10,000
from the Central government. For a fully
damaged home, the compensation was
Rs.50,000 from the State and Rs.30,000
from the Centre. The price of building materials is so high, that with this measly amount,
it would be strange if one thought that the
victim survivors could rebuild their homes.
In reality, they could manage only makeshift
structures. Today, these are there for all to
see, dotting the landscape of this beautiful
region, as asbestos or tin roofs over unplastered, half brick walls. None has a window or
a door frame, no grills for security the
evidence of callousness. In all these years,
the State government has disbursed only

Right-wing elements in Odisha have resumed their toxic agenda

of dividing poor communities revealing how communal
polarisation has not weakened despite electoral setbacks.
largely succeeded; they have literally got Rs.13 crore as compensation for damaged
away with murder.
houses. A petition filed on behalf of the survivors is pending before the Supreme Court.
Inadequate compensation
In the violence in 2008, scores of churches
The facts speak for themselves. First, lets and educational institutions were destroyed.
take the issue of compensation. It was said at The only positive aspect is that while the
the time that over 6,000 houses were burnt. Gujarat government is still fighting a case in
The government revised this and brought the Supreme Court against giving compenthe figure down to 4,818. Surveys of the ex- sation to rebuild the large number of
tent of damage were made, much like in mosques that were destroyed across that
Gujarat, when the inmates were not present. State following the 2002 riots, in Odisha, the
How could they be present when they were BJD government, in principle, has accepted
displaced and living in the squalor of 14 relief the Supreme Court suggestion for compencamps that had been set up? It was estimated sation for damage in Kandhamal, though the
at the time that there were over 56,000 men- amount disbursed was negligible Rs.70
,women and children, all Christians, who lakh.
had to flee their homes. They lost all their
belongings and the compensation package Poor conviction rate
Take the issue of registration and charge
did not take stock of the goods burnt. The
belongings of the poor are assumed to have sheeting of cases and the arrests of the accused. It is shocking that around 11,000 riotno value.
For a house partially damaged, the com- ers were given anticipatory bail which was


Sport, politics
and business
eeping politics and sport separate is easier
said than done. In the Indian sub-continent
especially, sport is heavily coloured by nationalism: for large sections of a games fans,
every win on the field is an occasion for display of
national pride, and every loss a cause for national despair. Cricket matches between India and Pakistan have
more to do with jingoism and less to do with sport as
suspense-filled drama and spectacle. Some of the flagwaving and chest-thumping patriotic fervour on show is
inevitable as long as sport at the highest level is played in
national colours. As George Orwell wrote, even a leisurely game like cricket, demanding grace rather than
strength, can cause much ill-will between the competing nations. In such a context, the calling off of a cricket
series between India and Pakistan is best seen as a
disappointment for genuine cricket fans and not as a
setback to bilateral relations. But between two nations
which otherwise find it difficult to engage with each
other in normal, structured dialogue, regular sporting
relations not just a rare, one-off cricket series can
do a lot of good. Sport would then stop being a war by
non-violent means.
However, there are factors other than the politics
surrounding India-Pakistan relations at play in a cricket
series involving the two countries. There has not been a
full bilateral series since the terror attacks in Mumbai in
2008 although Pakistan did visit India for a short,
limited-over series between December 2012 and January 2013. But the decision to revive cricket ties had little
to do with fostering better relations or satisfying fans by
promoting a marquee rivalry. Pakistan last year agreed
to the International Cricket Councils revamp, which
increased the powers of the Indian, English and Australian boards, on the condition that it would be part of
bilateral series with all the full members. Key to its
change in stance was the promise of financially lucrative
cricket with India: the then Pakistan Cricket Board
(PCB) chairman Najam Sethi had said, Its very important to play India because it generates a major chunk of
money. But the memorandum of understanding that
the two boards had reportedly signed to play six bilateral
series between 2015 and 2023 faced hurdles much before those created by the recent diplomatic tension. The
host broadcaster for the proposed series in December
2015 was TEN Sports, which has a deal with the PCB for
home series. However, reports of the network having
ties with the Essel Group, which not only has an adversarial relationship with the BCCI but has also threatened to form a breakaway international league, created
issues. Ultimately, what would weigh with the BCCI and
the PCB is not the interest of jingoists or fans, but the
power play within the ICC, and the irresistible draw of
commercial sponsorship.



Developments in PoK
China has befriended Pakistan,
Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and
Sri Lanka as a means of countering
India (China has established its
presence across PoK, Sept.3). In
turn, these countries, except
perhaps Bhutan, have warmly
responded to the overtures as a way
position. The most important of
these various relationships is that
with our bitter foe, Pakistan, which
thanks to China, enjoys a nuclear
capability. India must accept the
reality that South Asia looks up to
China, and not India, for regional
stability and prosperity. In June
2010, when U.S. strategic analyst
Selig Harrison cited the large-scale
Chinese military presence in
Northern Pakistan as a hostile
military build-up against India, it
had Indians all worked up into a
tizzy. Most of the Chinese
presence in the Northern Province
could be related to flood relief work
and some developmental projects.
India must accept the fact that a
close political, economic and
military relationship between
Pakistan and China is now long
C.V. Venugopalan,
Pakistanoccupied Kashmir (PoK) that relate
to the involvement of China in the
so-called reconstruction of the
area, highlighted in the page 1
report, the observations in the
article, 1965: resilience in war,
deftness in diplomacy (Sept. 3),
are revealing. It was the motivation

not objected to by the police. Over 3,000

complaints were filed with the police, but
they registered only 828 cases. Of these, only
605 were charge sheeted, and two of them
were cases of rape.The pathetic level of investigation can be gauged from the fact that
in 2015, there are still 228 cases pending
Independent inquiries at the time showed
that between 80 to 100 people were killed,
but the government officially registered only
39 as dead, of whom two were policemen,
and three rioters. It is clear that from the
beginning, the effort was to minimise the
extent of the crime.
The victims have fared no better with the
courts. In response to the Supreme Courts
orders following a petition filed by Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, two fast track courts
were set up in the district headquarters of
Phulbani and which started functioning after March 2009. Meanwhile, the BJP used its
powers to do everything to sabotage the
process and intimidate witnesses. As a result, the conviction rate was extremely low
in all the cases in Kandhamal. In 2010, the
fast track courts were wound up as a result of
very poor results.
According to the indefatigable activist-advocate, Dibya Parichha, who along with his
small team has been defying threats while
fighting the battle for justice in Kandhamal,
there have been convictions in only two
cases of murder. Ten of the accused have
been given the life sentence. But today, each
one of them is out on bail. The 33 other cases
of murder of Christians have been closed for
lack of evidence.
In other cases, more serious charges have
been closed and punishment given on lesser
charges; 315 cases have been closed for lack
of evidence and 4,232 accused people have
been acquitted. There have been convictions
in only 73 cases of the 605 people charge
sheeted; 492 people have been sentenced for
lesser offences, but they are all out on bail.
As of August 2015, there is only one man in
jail, held for the gang rape of a nun. Even in
this case, the other two who were convicted
were given bail and are now absconding. It is
as though nothing happened.

Shadow of terror
There are many other details available of
the perpetration of gross injustice after one
of the worst instances of carnage against the
Christian community. The message that is
clear to the victims is that peace is conditional to their subordination. It is a matter of
deep shame and sorrow that the Christian
community in Kandhamal is subdued not
because of its lack of courage but on account
of the utter failure of the Central and State
governments, the investigative agencies and
the criminal justice system, including
courts, to ensure justice to it.
In contrast to this is the States attitude to
the Kandhamal Seven the four Adivasis
and three Dalits convicted and sentenced to
life wrongly for involvement in the murder
of the religious leader , Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati. The Maoists declared that
they had killed him. Anyone going through
the atrocious judgment will come to the inescapable conclusion of their innocence.
Their crime is that they are Adivasi, they are
Dalit, they are poor and they are Christian.
Their appeal is pending before the High
Court. While murderers and arsonists are
given bail, the bail petitions of these persons
have been rejected. They have been in the
central district jail in Phulbani for the last
seven years for a crime they did not commit.
In the end, along with the struggle for
justice for the victim survivors of Kandhamal, the call to Free the Kandhamal Seven,
should resonate throughout the country; a
call that will help heal the wounds and bring
solace and confidence to those who had gathered in Raikia with a message for the world.
(Brinda Karat is a member of the CPI(M)
Polit Bureau and a former Rajya Sabha MP.)

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

movement. I am sure that the
people of Pakistan, and more so,
those in PoK, will one day regret
having a Chinese presence.
However, India would be able to
live with such a China-Pakistan
entente. It is also a matter of
interest to know that Pakistan
ended the war in 1965 against
Chinas desire for a long war for
fear of the destruction of and havoc
to important cities like Lahore. One
would wish that this fear should
have lingered even now in Pakistan
for its leaders to become cautious in
their overtures to China.
K. Rajendran,

Shuttered for a day

The time has come for our trade
unions to understand that age-old
shibboleth must be replaced with
rational thinking so that everybody
can have a share of the nations
largesse (Strike hits banking,
transport services, Sept.3). Our
political economy runs on the
capitalist mode of development.
We have to maintain the fine
balance between capital and labour
for greater productivity and
enhanced incomes. Without a
sustainable level of capitalist
development and push in reforms,
where necessary, our economy,
labour force and youth would be at
a disadvantage. The leftist trade
unions and the corporate lobby
must rise to the occasion to
overcome labour aristocracy and a
corporatisation of the economy.
Parthasarathy Sen,
New Delhi

discontent of the labour sector,

whose faith in the government
seems to be dwindling by the day.
Power-packed election campaign
speeches have to devote space for
labour rights and workers welfare.
Rupinder Singh,
Patiala, Punjab

Resolving OROP
It is unfortunate that the
government at the centre is being
influenced by the right wing in a
review of the governments
performance, policies and other
programmes (Decision on OROP
likely before Bihar poll dates are
announced, Sept.3). If the details
are true, does it not amount to
blatant interference in crucial
policy decisions?
Tharcius S. Fernando,

Irrespective of the way the OROP

issue is resolved, I have this to say.
Yes, veterans have brought glory
unto themselves, to the country
and to the armed forces in
particular, by defending our
borders in the most adverse terrain
since Independence. But the
hallmark of a soldier is implicit
obedience, discipline and loyalty to
the supreme commander. It does
not augur well to resort to a hunger
strike or petitioning the President.
It is also most un-becoming of us
I say this as a retired wing
commander to take the issue of
the OROP to Bihar. We are
apolitical and obey the orders of
government. Now that the
government says it has accepted
the matter in principle, we have to
The strike should be a wake-up call co-operate with it.
K.R. Dwarakanath,
that there is no Acche Din for the
common man. It shows the

No detention policy
The true purpose of education is to
train the mind to think. For that
reason it is priceless, said Einstein.
It is a fact that the anaemic role of
the existing educational set-up is fit
enough to churn out only clerks
(Beyond the pass-fail binary,
Sept.3). There is no application of
what is taught, which only
encourages mediocrity. A mere
pass (under the no-detention
policy) will only further worsen the
squalid conditions of students who
will continue to remain unsaleable
in the job-market. Addressing
issues such as a lack of value-based
education and discouraging rote
learning is vital. Inclusion of HR
managers as part of a curriculum
drafting team, correlation and
continuity between each promoted
class up to the college level, a
common syllabus, rejuvenating
RTE, finding a place for aptitude
and logical reasoning and scrapping
government and private schools
should also be addressed.
E.S. Chandrasekaran,
The education scene in India is one
where there is a countless mass of
poor children waiting to be
educated and middle-class parents
swayed by fancy models of
millennium schools admitting their
children into sunlight-phobic,
playtime-banned, mother-tongue
classrooms. Learning requires to be
restored to its original charm.
S.V. Venugopalan,
I am against the policy of no

detention. In the real world, there

is no such thing as a free lunch and
every child needs to learn this from
an early age as we live in a
competitive world. A child must
also be taught that its okay to fail.
The only real infrastructure any
school requires is the imagination
of the teacher.
Tanveer Sayyed,
Thane, Maharashtra

Zero-accident mission
Though it started operations in
1843, the Indian Railways still lags
behind in core areas. In the
backdrop of rising accidents, its
failure to get a grip on the way its
vast network operates is appalling.
While the zero-accident mission is
a long overdue (Railways on a
zero-accident mission, Sept.1), the
way Railway Budgets are being cast
shows that drastic reform is
R. Prabhu Raj,
In a National Technical Seminar
conducted in 2014, a senior railway
official pointed out the plight of
field technical staff in terms of poor
salary levels and the absence of
career prospects as issues that
needed to be addressed on a
priority. These workers are the
ones who are entrusted with the
prime responsibility of ensuring
planning, regular maintenance and
responses to emergencies. So the
contention of the Union Railway
Minister, Suresh Prabhu, that more
bridges and better signalling will
play a pivotal role in bringing down
the accident rate may not be wholly
N.R.U.K. Kartha,

12 |





The Patidar idea of reservation

Satish Deshpande


Unravelling of
the Janata Parivar
plits in political parties are the inevitable consequences of their growth and evolution. But
the merger of parties, when it happens, is invariably artificial, forced by the transient expediency of immediate circumstances. The Samajwadi
Party, the Janata Dal(United), the Rashtriya Janata
Dal, and the Janata Dal(Secular) came together under
the Janata Parivar umbrella only because they suffered
decimation at the BJPs hands in the 2014 Lok Sabha
election. Other than a common rival, there was little
that bound them together. Now, with the Samajwadi
Party pulling out of the grand alliance in Bihar with
the JD(U) and the RJD, the Janata Parivar faces the
prospect of unravelling. Although the SP does not have
much clout in Bihar, its inclusion in the alliance in the
State was crucial in the context of attempts to project a
national-level alternative to the BJP. After the JD(U)
and the RJD in Bihar between them took 200 of the 243
seats for contesting in the upcoming Assembly elections, and gave 40 to the Congress, the expectation was
that the SP would be accommodated by the RJD from
its quota of seats. But the RJDs offer did not go far
enough: two from its own quota of 100 seats, and three
from that of the NCP, which had exited the alliance.
Now the formation will remain largely Bihar-specific.
The SP does not need the backing of the JD(U) or the
RJD or the JD(S) in Uttar Pradesh; the JD(S), similarly,
will not benefit in any manner from the support of the
other parties in Karnataka, the only State where it has a
substantial presence. The two parties that really need
each other are the JD(U) and the RJD, and only their
alliance is likely to endure, if at all.
What prompted SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav
to jeopardise the Janata Parivar by walking out of the
alliance in Bihar for the sake of a few seats is unclear.
But evidently it was obvious to the SP that the vision of
an alternative to both the BJP and the Congress at the
national level was no more than a chimera. In Bihar,
the RJD and the JD(U) wooed the Congress but took
the SP for granted. Both the RJDs Lalu Prasad and the
JD(U)s Nitish Kumar knew what they were doing:
trying to win the election in Bihar and not worrying
about a national alternative to the BJP and the Congress. But in so doing they seem to have left the SP
miffed. Clearly, parties that cannot even come to an
understanding on seat adjustment will not be able to
merge into a single entity. The SPs exit might not point
to the success or failure of the grand anti-BJP alliance
in Bihar, but it signals that another 1970s-like Janata
experiment at the national level is doomed to fail.

he Union governments decision to waive,
through an amendment to the Income Tax
Act, minimum alternate tax (MAT) liability on
capital gains made by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) and Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) is a welcome move, especially from their point of
view. It is in line with the spirit of the promise in the
BJPs manifesto for the 2014 general elections to put an
end to tax terrorism. The announcement and the
subsequent instructions issued to the tax department to
keep in abeyance, till the appropriate amendment is
carried out, pending proceedings and to not pursue the
recovery of outstanding demands in such cases is a big
relief to FIIs. In these times of heightened uncertainty
in the global financial markets, when risk appetite of
investors is especially low, the governments decisions
would serve to restore some of the lost faith of investors
in India as an investment destination that doesnt resort to retrospective taxation. But to further demonstrate its resolve, the government must also move to
rein in the tax department, which had served notices on
68 FIIs for MAT dues adding up to about Rs.600 crore
on the basis of a direction from the Authority for Advance Rulings in 2012 to a Mauritius-based investor
Castleton. In 2010, this investor had approached the
Authority seeking a confirmation that it was not required to pay MAT on a transaction it was planning to
execute. The department has been in too many disputes
with global companies such as Vodafone and Cairn,
some of which have even dragged India into international arbitration. It has been said that Indias image as
an investment destination has suffered as a result.
The same way as the government has taken a position
on and dispelled the uncertainty around MAT, it must
quickly make up its mind and come out with an announcement on another outstanding issue, concerning
participatory notes (P-Notes). Indias indecision on this
matter is affecting FIIs. The Supreme Court-appointed
Special Investigation Team has asked regulators to put
in place regulations to identify individuals holding PNotes and take other steps to curb black money and tax
evasion through the stock market route. P-Notes are
offshore derivative instruments that a large number of
FIIs use to park funds in the equity market without
disclosing their identity to Indian regulators. The tax
authorities suspect that a huge chunk of these investments could in fact be Indian money masquerading as
foreign funds. The government had said it wont immediately act on the recommendation after the stock markets reacted sharply to news on it. But sooner or later it
will have to decide what has to be done, given that
action against black money too was a big election-time
promise of the BJP. The MAT experience shows that
sooner is better than later.


Successful sons of the market in popular perception, the Patidars are agitating to become
the sons-in-law of the State. This disorienting, almost bizarre, event has the pundits
flustered because there is really nothing to
analyse in the demand itself. As everyone
knows, including the Patidars themselves,
they have no case but they certainly have
political presence. Faced with such a phenomenon, we are forced to move beyond the
literal to the interpretive level, from factual
logic to ideological inclinations. At this level,
the Patidars invite us to re-examine four familiar themes located at the intersections of
caste, state and market.

The constitutional view of reservation requires

evidence of discrimination or backwardness, but
the dominant view today seems to be that any
caste can get reservation if it can bend the state
to its will

constitutional view glosses over, namely that

though it is egalitarian in caste terms, the
general category allows a free rein to the
inequities of wealth and social capital.

Caste pride
The third theme the Patels draw attention
to is not directly related to the Constitution:
it is the perennial one of the mutual impact of
class and caste identities. The Patidar campaign raises the subtle issue of the role of
caste pride in the context of real or perceived
downward mobility.
Given that their list of complaints is sure to
be shared by most other castes, why is it only
the Patidars who are agitating? Contingent
factors may provide part of the explanation,
but surely the sense of what is proper for
Patels is also involved. The relational nature
of caste ensures that caste pride is a mutual
thing that depends crucially on the social
distance that separates Patidars from those
whom they consider their inferiors. Discontent may be triggered by the subjective anguish of being mistaken for lowly others,
regardless of objective deprivation. Conversely, caste pride may dictate that aspirational
levels be set unrealistically high relative to
ones resources and capabilities, so that frustration with failure sets in sooner than it has
A different dimension of the caste-class
interface is that of solidarity. Like many other
communities, the Patels are a single caste
stretched across several classes. Are shared
surnames and common customs enough to
unite the diamond kingpins, detergent barons, real estate moguls and successful emigrants at one end of the spectrum with the
small farmers, diamond workers, petty businessmen, and unemployed, prospectless
youth at the other end?
At the moment this is a rhetorical question
because no one is facing a test of solidarity
and nothing is at stake. A more immediate
question is that of class solidarities across
caste lines. Are the Patidars who are genuinely striving for quotas going to get more support from like-minded quota seekers like the
Gujjars and the Kurmis, than from their quota-indifferent caste fellows? Past experience
suggests that cross-caste alliances are going
to remain tentative and lukewarm. But
whichever way one looks at it, the robustness
of caste identities is not in doubt.

to be one of the largest and best organised begins to reflect the caste composition of society, it will be time to abolish reservation.
communities in Gujarat.
Like other upper castes, the Patidars used
The contrast between the two views could
not be more stark. In the constitutional view, to think of the general category as a quota for
reservation is explicitly and exclusively about themselves. They were enraged by the inredressing caste discrimination and inequal- troduction of the quota for the Other Backity. By its very definition, reservation cannot ward Classes (OBCs), and led the Gujarat
promote the interests of the dominant castes; anti-reservation agitations of 1981 and 1985
if anything, it would work against them. In which demanded that the State end all reserthe Patidar view, any caste can get reserva- vations everywhere. At that time, the Patition if it has the power to bend the state to its dars maintained solidarity with their upper
will. What is worrisome is not the opposed caste allies as proud members of the general
A different idea now
conceptions themselves, but the fact that the category who despised quotas. The Gujarat
The first theme is the idea of reservation Patidars, like most people, are probably un- stir of 1985 pioneered the rhetoric of merit
and its relationship to the idea of India. As an aware of the constitutional view. Ultimately, and the anti-reservation arguments that were
idea, reservation predates the nation it was what really matters is not whether the Pati- later borrowed by the anti-Mandal agitation
meant to repudiate the religiously sanctioned
apartheid and oppression of caste society,
In market-friendly India, the art of the possible has been seen
and to establish the community of formal
equals that is a precondition for nationhood.
as the balancing of the gush up for big corporates with the
This dimension of reservation has been forgotten, and today it is understood more as a
trickle down for the electorally indispensable poor and lower
means for redressing caste-linked discrimicastes. Groups like the Patidars may upset the balance
nation and backwardness, and for enabling
the inclusion of hitherto excluded and underbecause, now, they want to drink from both streams.
represented groups. On none of these
grounds do the Patidars qualify for reservation, and they know this. The fact that they dars succeed or fail, but that their view of in North India. Today, the Patidars want to
are asking for it nevertheless indicates that reservation is the dominant one today.
surrender the sanctimony of merit and abantheir idea of reservation is quite different.
don the moral high ground of the general
The Patidar idea of reservation seems to be Role of the general category
category for two reasons.
The second theme highlighted by the Patithat it is simply a welfare benefit that the state
The first has to do with the escalation of
can grant to any community at its discretion. dars is the nature and role of the general competition within the upper castes. In the
From this perspective, the main qualifica- category. From the constitutional perspec- 1980s, the Patels were confident of facing
tions for getting reservation would be: an tive, the general category is the sphere of competition because of what sociologist I.P.
electorally significant population, and the equal citizenship where caste is not allowed Desai called inbuilt structural advantages.
skills needed to mobilise the community, to matter. It is the ultimate goal of the repub- In other words, they had the money, power
manage the media and mount a successful lic to make the general category truly general and connections to buy expensive coaching,
campaign to coerce the state. That this is the in the sense of including all citizens regard- or to acquire merit directly by manipulating
Patidars notion of reservation is only an in- less of caste. But because of the undeniable exam results or grabbing donation seats. But
ference, but it is well supported by known presence and continuing reproduction of now, in the Vyapam era of overheated meritfacts. First, the justifications explicitly cited caste inequalities and discrimination, the markets, the Patidars from the lower strata
by the Patidars increased competition, un- lower caste majority must be protected with are being squeezed out. The second reason is
employment, lack of access to higher and pro- quotas. In other words, the function of reser- the entry of reservation-eligible lower castes
fessional education are hardly unique to vation is to empower beneficiaries so that into the general category, about which Hardik
them. Second, they have made no systematic later generations begin to compete success- Patel, the 22-year-old spokesman of the
Caste and the market
effort thus far to present the kind of evidence fully in the general category. Thus, when can- movement, has complained.
The fourth and final theme raised by the
of backwardness or under-representation didates eligible for reservation begin to enter
The Patidar perspective on the general catthat is normally required to justify claims for the general category, it is a sign that reserva- egory may be self-seeking, but it has one im- Patidars is, of course, the ideological hegemoreservation. Finally, the Patidars do happen tion is working. When the general category portant virtue. It highlights what the ny of the market. By far the most fascinating
aspect of the Patidar agitation is its deafening
silence on the failure of the market model in
which they had placed boundless faith. Some
have suggested that the silence is dictated by
political loyalties, since the Patidars formed
the core constituency of the Modi regime in
Gujarat. But the more likely explanation is
that the sway of market ideology is so strong
that protest or criticism is not even recognised as an option. Moreover, the inability to
be rational about the market is a global epidemic today as the eminently avoidable
crashes and recessions of the recent past have
demonstrated. It is quite possible that for
faithful practitioners like the Patels, the market is like a force of nature that one cannot
protest against, just as one cannot agitate for
a good monsoon.
The real reason to worry about the market
in India is the critical role it plays in regulating caste conflict. It is not entirely coincidental that liberalisation and the OBC quota
followed closely on each other in 1990-91. In
market-friendly India, the art of the possible
has been seen as the balancing of the gush
up for big corporates with the trickle down
for the electorally indispensable poor and
lower castes. Groups like the Patidars may
upset the balance because, now, they want to
drink from both streams.
(Satish Deshpande teaches sociology


Elusive justice
That governments, Central and
State, could not even address the
simple demand by the survivors of
Kandhamal that they be allowed a
future is disturbing (Justice
continues to elude Kandhamal,
Sept.4). It is ironic that none of the
pillars of democracy, viz., the
executive, the legislature or the
confidence in the minds of those
who have been affected. India has a
largely adversarial justice delivery
system and if the appeals are not
disposed of at the earliest, it would
negate the principles of criminal
C.R. Ananthanarayanan,
The description of the plight of the
minorities in Kandhamal makes
one realise how entire systems
have failed to extend justice to the
victims. The intolerant caucus
should now adopt a constructive
approach of trying to convince
people to stick to their faith and
not fall prey to conversion. Even
the Left needs to play its role in
such areas to ensure a system of
checks and balances and instil
confidence in the region. However,
it is the economic condition of the
people which is at the root of this
A.G. Rajmohan,
Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh
It is unfortunate that the writer has
revealed her bias even though
communists are supposed to
eschew an outlook of equality
towards all. She did not appear to
be objective in citing the case of
Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati.

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Aylan Kurdi

There are many who seem to

completely lack any compassion
for these illegal migrants, evident
in comments and statements that
are both ill-informed and narrowminded. There are also those who
have restored our faith in
humanity by sparing the time and
donating money and much-needed
supplies to those in need. When all
is said and done, life truly is so very
precious; differing opinions aside,
the only significant difference that
matters between us and the illegal
migrants are the civil wars tearing
their countries apart. We need to
have this in mind while forming a
response to the crisis.
Jennifer Duraisingam,

The stark picture of the Syrian

toddler, Aylan Kurdi, lying lifeless
face down by the ocean off Turkey,
and widely shared across the global
media, is another standalone,
establishes a sense of connect with
the looming migrant crisis now
threatening to engulf Europe. At
the outset, the difference between
refugees and immigrants has to
be made clear. Refugees flee to
escape violence and threats to life,
whereas immigrants seek better
The comity of nations has to be
flexible and generous and evolve a
global strategy to deal with the
man-made migrant crisis. The
wider global response has to aim at
stopping wars, and civil wars, and
mitigating extreme poverty to stem
the tide of refugees (World page
EU under pressure to open doors
to refugees, Sept.4)
G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

The picture of the body of Aylan

Kurdi is utterly tragic and one that
will continue to haunt us. One can
only hope that sanity will somehow
prevail in barbaric parts of the
world. As a parent, ones heart feels
for the desperation of other
parents seeking relief for those
who dont seem destined to have a
Nevertheless, one wonders why
illegal migrants must seek to go
to lands where they are not wanted
and do not share cultures or
religions. There is bound to be a
backlash which will only increase
as those reaching Western shores
tire of the ever growing resentment
to the hand that feeds them, and
the expectation that it is the hosts
that need to assimilate to the
refugees, and not the other way
around. This is a powder keg that
will slowly become unstable. Is
there no way out?
Aditya Nair,
Melbourne, Australia

It was the conversion of tribals and

Dalits in the Kandhamal area that
was the trigger for violence
between communities. Of course,
this may be the unpalatable truth
for some.
B.K. Ramamurthi,
Kandhamal is completely peaceful
and one wonders why there was
such an article in the first place.
The census data, which was
released recently, will be of help to
those who have little knowledge
about Odisha and Kandhamal.
Rudra Rath,
Berhampur, Odisha

Invigorating Islam
Vice-President Hameed Ansari
belongs to the group of nationalist
Muslims like Moulana Abul Kalam
Azad and Kwaja Ahmad Abbas.
Undivided India had to face the
terrible incident of Partition
because there was nobody to listen
to sane and democratic leaders like
the Maulana and the Mahatma.
The analysis of Mr. Ansaris
creative and invigorating speech
(Invigorating Islam in India,
Sept.4), which celebrates plurality,
reminded me of what M.N. Roy
says in The Historical Role of Islam
which was published in 1939: In
view of this realistic reading of
history, Hindu superciliousness
towards the religion and culture of
Muslims is absurd. It insults
history and injures the political
future of our country. Learning
from the Muslims, Europe became
the leader of modern civilization.
Unfortunately, India could not
fully benefit by the heritage of
Islamic cultureKnowledge of
Islams contribution to human
culture and proper appreciation of
the historical value of that
contribution would shock the
Hindus out of their arrogant selfsatisfaction, and cure the narrowmindedness of the Muslims of our
day by bringing them face to face
with the true spirit of the faith they
Sukumaran C.V.,

Oilfield management
As the owner of a natural resource
such as oil, the government should
be concerned with the ultimate
recovery of oil/gas (Editorial,

Sept.4). Revenue sharing does not

ensure this, as enhanced recovery
methods impact negatively on
revenues. It is always possible to
achieving ultimate recovery and
bidding based on revenues
militates against maximising
ultimate recovery. As a result,
regulatory oversight is necessary as
far as reservoir management is
concerned in order to ensure its
health, the adoption of best
practices and prevent flogging as
any mishandling of the reservoir
will result in otherwise recoverable
reserves being irretrievably lost.
Essential controls should not be
given up under the garb of easing
ways of doing business.
T.N.R. Rao,
New Delhi

Sport and politics

That sports and politics are
inextricably intertwined with each
other is an undeniable fact
(Editorial, Sept.4). With sporting
events, especially cricket, between
India and Pakistan being looked at
through the prism of nationalism,
it is difficult to keep the
overwhelming element of jingoism
at bay.
However, a revival of the IndiaPakistan cricket series might well
help in defusing tensions in the
subcontinent if not fashion a
dramatic turnaround in bilateral
relations. Let us open up all
avenues in order to give peace a
chance. Cricket diplomacy may
usher in a cessation of hostilities
along the border as also create a
resuming stalled negotiations.
P.K. Varadarajan,

10 |





Us, them and an elusive peace

Malem Ningthouja


and agendas
hat the Bharatiya Janata Party is organically
tied to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is no
secret. Senior BJP leaders constantly reiterate
their links with the Sangh Parivar, and RSS
sanghchalaks never tire of offering advice and guidance to the BJP top brass. A private meeting between
leaders of the two organisations should not ordinarily
have caused concern. After all, political, cultural or social organisations must be free to hold closed-door discussions on policies and programmes. But what took
place at the samanvay baithak, or coordination meeting,
between the BJP and the RSS was much more than an
interaction between the party and its ideological mentor. It was not just senior BJP leaders who were in
attendance: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and most of
his ministerial colleagues from the BJP lined up for the
meeting that seemed more like an inquisition than an
interaction. Why an elected BJP government feels it is
accountable to the secretive RSS is not difficult to fathom, given the history of Hindutva politics that is sometimes micro-managed through remote-control by the
sanghchalaks. But the meeting is invested with a meaning that goes beyond the political interests of the RSS or
the BJP, and relates to the accountability of an elected
government to democratic institutions and processes.
The samanvay baithak is surely an indication of the
sense of ownership that RSS sanghchalaks feel over this
government, the rst BJP-led government that does not
depend on the support of allies. In the 2014 Lok Sabha
election, RSS volunteers, in numbers greater than ever
before, were involved in the campaign and eldwork for
the BJP. After the BJP secured a majority, many among
them seemed to believe the government ought to have
followed a core Hindutva agenda. But if the BJP managed to extend its support base beyond its traditional
strongholds, it was on account of the party adopting a
more inclusive programme of growth and development.
While he did not always rein in Ministers and leaders
speaking the language of religious hatred and communal
divisiveness, Mr. Modi was himself all political correctness. But his participation in the meeting, and his speech
its contents unpublicised in which he described
himself as an RSS swayamsevak, have again raised
doubts about the direction his government is taking. It is
not as if A.B. Vajpayee, the only other Prime Minister
from the BJP, did not have discussions or meetings with
RSS leaders while in power. However, a meeting of this
kind, with almost all the Union Ministers from the BJP
present with report cards, is unprecedented. Clearly, the
RSS is seeking to appropriate for itself the role of an
extra-constitutional super-parliament, accountable to
none but its own sanghchalaks. A coordination meeting
of this kind, by whatever name it is called, raises serious
questions about the functioning of the government,
about hidden agendas and opaque decision-making .

Manipur has often been the setting for

violent agitations, with those behind them
demanding the implementation of an Inner
Line Permit (ILP) system in order to dene
and protect insiders from buying up land
on the one hand, and from the unregulated
entry of outsiders on the other. All this can
be traced to the core in the agitations of
1920, 1935, and 1965, when sections targeted
the outsider monopoly in trade. The agitations, in 1980, 1994, and from 2006 onwards, have been primarily against
unregulated immigrants who bought up land
and immovable properties.
The agitations have been motivated by the
situation that has set alarm bells ringing following unrestrained demographic pressure
by outsiders and the need for an ILP as it
exists in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and
Nagaland. The ILP is required for other Indian citizens to enter Arunachal Pradesh,
Nagaland and Mizoram. The objective has
been to prevent outsiders from buying up
land and owning natural resources in Manipur. But these stirs have been conned to the
Manipur valley, which is about 9 per cent of
the geographical area and where 61.54 per
cent of the enumerated population (Census
2001) comprises the majority community
Meitei, tribals and others living together. Interpretations of the campaign have been
along communal lines, probably because it
was concentrated in the valley and led by
Meitei-based organisations.

The violence in Manipur is linked to

unrestrained demographic pressure by
outsiders and the cry for an Inner Line Permit
system. The role of vested interests and intercommunity tensions have exacerbated this
ment for the setting up of military establishments and other infrastructure, which led to
systematic reduction of areas under primary
economic activities. Second, Meiteis have
been in the fore front of this as despite their
known achievements in arts and culture,
sport and other skills, they are deeply apprehensive of being marginalised and facing insecurity in Manipur.
This needs to be explained in detail. Despite the perception that identies the Meitei
with the valley, in reality, the valley is liberally open to all who can buy and own land and
resources. This situation is what has promoted the large-scale migration of tribals and
outsiders from other parts of India and also
Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh. It is a one
way migration that has deeply affected the
psyche of many Meiteis, as they, as a result of
being clubbed with non-tribals, are now constitutionally not permitted to own land both
in the vast tracts of government reserved

projects, mining, and also oil exploration and

drilling at the cost of the people and the
ecology. Many have upheld that the implementation of the ILP or a similar law can act
as a form of restraint to unregulated immigration and also prevent outsiders and
companies/industry from taking control
over the land and resources, especially in the
valley, where there has been no protective
law ever since the permit system was lifted by
the Government of India in November 1950.
Following violent agitations that have often lasted months, the Government of Manipur and the Joint Committee on the Inner
Line Permit System in Manipur (JCILPS)
arrived at an agreement. Thus, on August 31,
2015, the Manipur Legislative Assembly
passed three Bills, which were not to the
complete satisfaction of pro-ILP sections.
These are the Protection of Manipur People
Bill 2015, which has xed 1951 as the base
year to detect outsiders; the Manipur Land

Meiteis, in their demand for an ILP, consider the migration of

tribals as a sign of integration and do not oppose it. What they
are critical of and apprehensive about are the outsiders.

areas in the valley and in the hills of Manipur.

However, the Meiteis consider the migration
The apparent Meitei orientation of the ag- of tribals as a sign of integration and do not
itation has been obvious since minimal tribal oppose it; what they are critical of and apprepresence in the valley has been juxtaposed hensive about are the outsiders.
with Meitei predominance and tribal organisations in the hills that have deliberately A form of restraint
Many Meiteis are worried that the numermaintained an opaqueness about a supporting role. A visible role for the Meitei is clear ical strength and growth of outsiders have
as defending the territorial integrity of Mani- now reached alarming proportions and there
pur is dear to them and as they have been the is a situation where they outnumber several
front runners in being associated with other small communities in Manipur; according to
popular movements to protect land and re- the 2001 census, there are 9.18 lakh Meiteis
sources from being consumed by controver- and others, 6.70 lakh tribals and 7.04 lakh
outsiders. They predict a socio, cultural and
sial projects.
The ILP agitation has been the brainchild economic domination by outsiders as a result
of Meitei organisations for two basic reasons. of large-scale migration, especially after the
First, its geographical epicentre has been the extension of railway lines, trans-Asian highvalley where there has been increasing pres- ways and the expansion of market corridors
sure on land as a result of population growth. towards Southeast Asian countries. They are
This includes migrations by outsiders and also worried about unrestrained land grabcontinuous land grabbing by the govern- bing in Manipur to facilitate hydro-electric

Geo-community projection

Revenue and Land Reforms Amendment Bill

2015, and the Manipur Shops and Establishments Bill 2015. These Bills are being strongly opposed by the tribal organisations in the
Manipur hill districts, particularly those of
the Kuki Chin Mizo-based organisations, and
which have now been supported by Nagabased organisations as well.

Inter-community tensions
Kuki organisations have opposed the ILP
movement from spreading in Churachandpur and Chandel districts, which led to a
violent clash on August 18, at the border town
of Moreh. They have charged the Bills as
being evidence of Meitei expansionism in the
hills to expel a large section of Kukis. The
propaganda has been appealing to many who
are unhappy with the anti-Kuki stance and
refugee tag attributed to them by individuals from other communities. There has also
been rivalry between Kuki underground or-


The gag on
or a while now, Greenpeace has been in the
cross hairs of the government, rst under the
UPA and now under the BJP, as it championed
civil liberties and causes. Its activists have been
prevented from travelling abroad. The non-governmental organisation (NGO) stands accused of concealing and
mixing foreign contributions with local contributions.
The latest step by the Ministry of Home Affairs simply
cancelling Greenpeaces registration was but an expected next stage in the chain of events leading to a gag that is
meant to choke. The obvious assumption is that without
funds Greenpeace in India will not be able to function.
This has come even as a petition from Greenpeace seeking release of funds to pay its staff, and alleging arbitrariness in the governments action, is before the Delhi High
Court. The action taken under the Foreign Contribution
Regulation Act (FCRA) which many NGOs say is a bad
application of a poorly drafted piece of legislation
means Greenpeace will not be able to receive any foreign
donations. The move has made other NGOs vulnerable
too; they face a tough choice, of either complying with
the governments line, or fading out. The media have
reported that the invoking of the provisions of the Act
followed certain actions by Greenpeace that were
deemed inimical to the economic interests of the state.
Everything from placing advertisements in newspapers
to organising protests against the Kundankulam nuclear
plant to anti-nuclear activism, was deemed inimical.
Already there is word of some NGOs trying to tailor their
activities to suit the interests of the government. What
can a democratically elected government possibly
achieve by enforcing such compliance and conformity?
Also, it is time to have another look at the FCRA.
Passed in 1976 and amended in 2010, it has come in for
criticism not only for the overarching control it seeks to
have over people-based movements but also for the
guidelines framed around it. The MHA is now changing
the rules, spelling out what NGOs are required to do,
even seeking to scrutinise their social media engagement. Whether the MHA should be looking into expenditure incurred by an NGO to teach street children, for
instance, is a moot question. There is hypocrisy involved
when some political parties are free to receive corporate
donations, especially from abroad, without any questions asked. Equally, all NGOs must respect the law of
the land, maintain transparency and remain above
board: admittedly, there are some black sheep. Most of
them comply; some dont. But that should be no excuse
to gag. Civil liberties and free speech go hand in hand.
The government will be ill-advised to trample on these.



Hawkish rhetoric
In the last few days, the war-like
rhetoric on both sides from highly
placed civil and military officials
proporations. Pakistan has been
brandishing the nuclear deterrent
while on our side no less a person
than the Army Chief has spoken of
short wars. As one who has been
witness to all the India-Pakistan
conicts from 1947 onwards, I must
sound a note of caution. With
enhanced technological capacity on
both sides, any war, how-so-ever
short, would have disastrous
Apart from our brave security
forces, the people of Jammu and
Punjab, as usual, would face the
main brunt as has invariably
happened in the past. In my
personal opinion, while fully
safeguarding national security, I do
not see why we should not talk with
Pakistan on all outstanding issues,
including Jammu and Kashmir.
They are in adverse possession of
half of my fathers former State, and
I fail to understand why we are
always on the defensive in
discussing this. But for this to
happen, the sanctity of the Line of
Control and the International
Border needs to be re-established
and peace restored.
Karan Singh,
MP, Rajya Sabha,
New Delhi

Decision on OROP
The government may have nally
came up with a reasonable solution
to the long-pending demand of our

ganisations and those who have been identied as being with other communities. There
could also be an element of fear as many of
them either people who might have migrated after 1951, or those whose lineages
might not have been recorded in the list criteria could be treated as outsiders. Other
tribes have also expressed similar concerns.
The overall projection of the Bills as being
pro-Meitei fails to holistically interpret the
limitations of the cut-off year of 1951. This
provision actually affects all, including some
sections of the Meiteis and others who came
to Manipur after 1951. It will also be practically difficult to detect and deport migrants
who have close ethnic bonds with one or
other indigenous communities. But the polemics of insecurity have interplayed with
the propaganda that the Manipur Land Revenue and Reform Act 1960 has been extended
to the hill districts, which is untrue as there is
no amendment in the territorial extent of the
said Act.
The recent tensions, and which have been
extensively reported in the media, might not
have occurred had the Government of Manipur dealt with the situation in a better way.
Instead of fully relying on the consent of the
tribal MLAs, it could have also consulted the
Hill Areas Committee or other responsible
tribal organisations in order to resolve any
misunderstanding, before passing the Bills.
On the other hand, neither the organisation
that had led the ILP movement nor the tribal
organisations who protested against the Bills
had approached each other for mutual consent in this regard. The Kuki and Naga organisations were not insensitive to the primary
objective of the cut-off year of 1951, as being
primarily to target the ethno-culturally, distinguishable outsiders from other parts of
India, Nepal and Bangladesh. They wanted to
magnify the controversies arising from these
Bills in order to invoke community sentiment, consolidate their respectively fractured communities, and to intensify the
demand for either VI Schedule status for the
tribes or different administrative systems for
Kukis and Nagas. In this, there is tactical
unity between Naga and Kuki organisations.
This is understandable in the context of Naga
enthusiasm towards the speeding up of some
kind of pan-Naga integration under the proposed framework of the recent Peace Accord.
This is something that the Kuki organisations are concerned about as this inspires the
Kuki-based undergrounds that are under
the Suspension of Order (SoO) with the government, to speed up their agenda to have
either Pan Zomi Reunication or autonomous administration. The recently leaked
Kuki National Organisations proposal to the
National Socialist Council of Nagalim (IsakMuivah) or NSCN-IM asserts: Historically,
the [Meetei or Manipur] Kingdom consisted
of the valley areas, which today form the
valley districts of Manipur The Kuki and
Naga peoples shall mutually respect one anothers identity and territory and maintain
the best of fraternal relations and work together to preserve peace in the land and usher in progress and human welfare in the Kuki
and Naga states.
Now, when tensions have been fanned,
there seems to be the role of certain vested
political groups to add fuel to the re in order
to magnify the issue of unrest, and, in turn,
use this as a reason to justify the imposition
of President's rule in order to unseat the
incumbent Congress government. In this
there is an interplay of political demagogy,
adventurism and speculation. Unrest, rioting
and repression have led to a heavy toll in
terms of civilian life, the destruction of property and a creation of tension. If the Bills are
the issue, is there no room to either clear the
misunderstandings or add some clauses in
the Bills to resolve the tension? If the Bills
are just the spark, what role should the Government of India be playing to scale down the
tensions? The question now is this: who will
negotiate for peace with whom, at what cost,
and for what purpose?
(Dr. Ningthouja is a Fellow at the Indian
Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, and the
author of three books on Manipur.)

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

defence personnel on the subject of

OROP, but one needs to make a few
observations (OROP rolled out,
but veterans want more, Sept.6).
The veterans should gracefully
accept what has been offered as
they should understand that there
are millions in this country who are
not fortunate enough to nd secure
jobs in their life time, leave alone
dream of an old-age pension.
Likewise, there are millions of
Indians without pension benets
even after putting in years of
The nation is unanimous about
personnel happy. The government
should also be equally responsible
in avoiding such an embarrassing
situation of the kind we have
witnessed. Both sides should now
display the requisite magnanimity
Procrastination on vital matters
should now be a thing of the past.
M.V. Nagavender Rao,
government has unveiled may be a
nancial bonanza for our service
personnel, the manner in which the
deal was sewn up has been
undignied. Goodwill towards our
defence personnel will now be lost
in similar and competing demands
that are sure to be put out by para
military, railway and other
government personnel (Count us
in, say railway employees and
Paramilitary forces too demand
OROP, both Sept.6).
A. Mohan,

Our veterans may have won the

main battle. The government has
placed a mug of coffee before them,
yet they claim that it is halfavoured. If there are more
demands, the doors are not yet
closed. Wise counsel should now
prevail and the government and
defence personnel should now sit
together and sort out remaining
differences and demands.
Seetharam Basani,
Warangal, Telangana
One has high regard for our defence
personnel, for their patriotism and
yeomen service towards the nation,
but it is unfortunate that they are
not completely happy with the
decision. Over the years, the
bargaining power of different
sections of society has gone up with
governments being compelled to
accept ever growing demands. A
major chunk of revenue now goes
towards the payment of salaries
and pensions. In the process, how
can the government ignore the
plight of farmers? The slogan Jai
Jawan, Jai Kisan should have
some meaning.
Kshirasagara Balaji Rao,

Akhand Bharat
Akhand Bharat is an outdated
concept (Akhand Bharat idea
behind RSS cover for talks with
Pak.? Sept.6). Whether the
partition of India, in 1947, was
articial or natural is irrelevant
today. Muslim majority areas were
named Pakistan (east and west) and
those who thought their future lay
there migrated there. The residual

Hindu population in Pakistan

moved over to India. Thus,
Partition, on religious lines, was
both complete and absolute. The
arrangement has appeared to work
very well. RSS leaders must think
more rationally and stop talking
about Akhand Bharat anymore.
M. Subrahmanyan,
As Commandant of the Rashtriya
Indian Military College, Dehradun
(once the Royal Indian Military
College, established 1922), I had the
privilege of hosting quite a few
Rimcollian veterans of the Pakistan
Army. I remember Brigadier (retd.)
Karim, originally from Bihar,
sitting opposite me at the welcome
dinner, and passionately telling me,
Commandant sir, hamara zamin
ka batwara hua, dil ka nahi our
land has been partitioned, not our
The division between India and
Pakistan was historically proven as
based on articial grounds, said
Mahmud Durrani, former National
recently but in a different context.
He added: The acrimony and
decades of mistrust between the
two nations is unwarranted and it is
in the strategic interest of both
India and Pakistan to live in peace
and friendship. With a common
geography, heritage, culture and
language, good relations and
harmony should come naturally to
the two neighbours.
One should accept Durranis
words of diplomatic wisdom in a
true spirit of friendship. Pakistan
needs to accept India as the senior

partner or a big brother while India

needs to treat Pakistan with
respect. India is part of SAARC
and has familial relations with its
neighbours. We can certainly
improve our relations with those
geographically attached to us.
There is a lot of substance in the
concept of Akhanda Bharat and it
will not be prudent to dismiss this
as a part the right wings patent
Hindutva and communal agenda.
C.V. Venugopalan,

Indians and IS
thatTurkeyremains the transit
point for those who go to Syria and
join the Islamic State (Turkey
knows better how many Indians are
with IS, Sept.6). It is not only
India, but even Europe and
especially the U.K. which faces this
problem. Turkeynow needs to take
a hard look at what is happening.
On the one hand, it wants to ght
terrorism while on the other, its
territory is being used as a gateway
to IS. India must formally request
Turkey to keep its High
Commission in Ankara informed
about all Indians who wish to
venture into Syria, which should
help keep a check on our nationals
wanting to join IS. The West should
also understand that Iraq and
Libya, whose leaders were deposed
in the name of dictatorship, are in a
shambles today. Let not the same
error be committed with respect to
T. Anand Raj,

10 |





An odd pitch to curb free speech

Markandey Katju


and after
efence Minister Manohar Parrikars announcement that the government has decided to implement the One Rank One Pension
scheme came as a huge relief to the veterans
of the armed forces and also to those now in the services. There remain some wrinkles that need to be
ironed out and gaps in clarity that have to be lled.
Most of the doubts are bound to be put to rest when the
formal government order is issued. Credit must be
given to the government for bringing a sense of closure
to an issue that has been hanging re for over 40 years.
That the Prime Ministers Office nally had to step in
after nearly three months of wrenching agitations by
the veterans is a telling commentary on the complicated nature of the issue and the hardened, almost intransigent, positions that had to be addressed. Yet it
must be said that the government could have handled
this better. The same could be said about the timing of
the announcement too. By dragging the issue to a point
nearly coinciding with the run-up to the Bihar Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi risked
pushing it squarely into the political arena, but he acted
deftly. In the time it took for the government to take a
decision, the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and sections of the Left were raring to move into the breach by
beating a path to Jantar Mantar where the veterans
were on a hunger strike in a determined attempt to
goad the government into action. The veterans should
not be allowed to become tools in the hands of politicians. Indeed, by elding a former Defence Minister to
mount a nit-picking attack after the announcement
was made, the Congress showed a certain inability to
grasp the reality. The fact is that the Congress did not
come through when it could have; instead it cited
administrative, technical and funding difficulties.
Now that most of the expectations on OROP have
been met, a spirit of give-and-take should inform the
rest of the engagement. Maximalist positions should be
shunned. A pension review every year is desirable, but
it should be asked if it would really be practical. The
announcement of a single-member judicial committee
to examine the interests of retirees may not be the ideal
way forward. Given the complexities involved, the government should rather consider an appropriate advisory committee to expedite the process. It would be a
pity if the opportunity is not utilised to close the perceived gap between the bureaucracy and the armed
services in terms of the compensation package. The
government must meanwhile remain determined to
discourage any unrealistic expectations and demands
that may now come up from other sectors following the
OROP announcement.

The Maharashtra government circular, of

September 4, 2015, while clarifying an earlier circular dated August 27, states that if
words or signs or representations by someone cause hatred, enmity, contempt or disloyalty against the government and can also
be an incitement to violence or are intended
to cause public disorder, then charges of
sedition under Section 124A IPC can be invoked against that person. However, it was
claried, comments expressing disapproval,
with a view to bring about change in government by lawful means cannot by themselves
be regarded as an act of treason.
[The background to this is as follows
this comes after a submission made by the
Advocate-General in the Bombay High
Court in a case involving political activist
and cartoonist Aseem Trivedi that the Home
Department would issue these guidelines in
the form of a circular to all policemen. Later,
the State government claried that these
guidelines were part of a general circular,
and not a Government Resolution, and were
strictly in accordance with the orders issued
by the Bombay High Court.]

Unconstitutional move
In my opinion, the Maharashtra government circular, despite its clarication, is
clearly unconstitutional as it is violative of
the freedom of speech guaranteed by Article
19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
There are many things done by the Union
and Maharashtra governments that do not
strike a chord with many people and which
causes them to express their contempt, enmity and disaffection openly. Some have
even called for a revolution in view of the
massive levels of poverty, unemployment,
malnourishment, price rise, a lack of health
care, farmers suicides, and discrimination
against the minorities, women and Dalits to
name some of the issues that are still prevalent in India. But is this a valid reason to send
such people to jail? I believe it isnt and they
For example, the recent agitation in Gujarat by the Patel community resulted in a lot
of disorder. Similarly, the agitation by exservicemen on the One Rank One Pension
issue could have resulted in large-scale public disorder. The one day, nation-wide Bharat Bandh observed by 15 crore workers
across India resulted in a lot of public disorder especially in West Bengal. In my opin-

The Maharashtra government circular, on free

speech and sedition, is unconstitutional as it is
violative of the freedom of speech guaranteed by
the Constitution
ion, in a democratic country, these are cy of abstract doctrine and advocacy of
perfectly valid methods of expressing dis- action.
sent and disenchantment with our governFreedom and state action
ments, both Central and State.
In Brandenburg vs. Ohio, 395 US 444
Establish imminent threat
(1969), the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its
In Whitney vs. California, 274 US 357 earlier decision in Whitney vs. California,
(1927), Justice Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme 274 US 357 (1927) and observed: The ConCourt observed: Fear of serious injury can- stitutional guarantees of free speech and
not alone justify suppression of free speech free press do not permit a State to forbid or
and assembly. Men feared witches and proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of
burned women. It is the function of free law violation except where such advocacy is
speech to free men from the bondage of directed to inciting or producing imminent
irrational fears. To justify suppression of lawless action and is likely to incite or profree speech there must be reasonable ground duce such action.
In Gitlow vs. New York, 268 US 652
to fear that serious evil will result if free
speech is practiced and that the danger ap- (1925), Justice Holmes of the U.S. Supreme
prehended is imminent... The wide differ- Court observed: Every idea is an
ence between advocacy and incitement, incitement.
between preparation and attempt, between
In his dissenting judgment in that case
assembling and conspiracy, must be borne in (with which Justice Brandeis joined), Jusmind.
tice Holmes observed: It is manifest that

There are things done by governments in India that do not

strike a chord with many people and which cause them to
express their contempt, enmity and disaffection openly... Is
this a valid reason to send such people to jail?
He went on to observe: Those who won
our independence by revolution were not
cowards. They did not fear political change.
They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty.
To courageous, self-reliant men, with condence in the power of free and fearless reasoning, no danger owing from speech can
be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is imminent.
The remedy to evil counsel is more speech,
not enforced silence.
In Yates vs. U.S., 354 US 298 (1957), Justice Harlan of the U.S. Supreme Court observed: In failing to distinguish between
advocacy of forcible overthrow as an abstract doctrine and advocacy of action to that
end, the District Court appears to have been
led astray by the holding in Dennis that advocacy of violent action to be taken at some
future time was enough. The District Court
apparently thought that Dennis obliterated
the traditional dividing line between advoca-


The Syrian
he shocking image of the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old boy who
drowned while eeing Syrias Kobani, was a
tragic reminder of the humanitarian crisis in
the West Asian country. Aylan and his family had been
making a perilous journey through the Mediterranean
Sea to reach the Greek island of Kos. They were not
alone. Thousands ee Syria every day as it grapples
with one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies in
recent history. More than two lakh people have already
been killed in the four-year-long civil war, according to
the United Nations. Around four million people have
been made refugees. Millions of other Syrians are
trapped in the war in which nobody appears to be
winning, forcing more people to ee the country. Aylan
Kurdi was a victim of this situation. After the image of
the boy lying face-down on a Turkish beach surfaced,
several European governments, including that of the
United Kingdom, have agreed to take in more Syrian
refugees. While such moves should be welcomed on
humanitarian grounds, it cant be forgotten that the
policies of the very same European governments towards Syria helped cause the chaos in that country.
Ever since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011,
there were no meaningful international efforts to nd a
political solution to the crisis. Instead, regional powers
turned Syria into a geopolitical battleeld. Rich Arab
countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar supported
different rebel groups against the regime because they
wanted President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Iran, to be
toppled. Turkey, driven by its regional ambitions, also
threw its weight behind the rebels and kept open its
long border, through which ghters could cross into
Syria to join the war. Western powers such as the U.S.
and Britain joined the regime change chorus and offered support to the rebels. This drive failed to oust Mr.
Assad, but has destabilised Syria, leading to the rise of
terror groups such as Islamic State. Its already too late
now to nd a political solution. IS controls almost half
the country and it is trying to advance into areas controlled by the regime. If that happens, the humanitarian situation in Syria will worsen, triggering a further
refugee exodus. To stop that from happening, regional
heavyweights such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia and
their backers in the West should reverse their policy
towards Syria. They should rein in the rebels they
bankroll and directly engage with the Assad regime to
push for talks. Mr. Assad has to be blamed for the
excessive use of force against his people. But he still
controls the most populous areas of Syria and rules
from Damascus, the seat of power. Mr. Assad clearly
has to be an integral part of any future plan for Syria.



remote from possible consequences. But the

indictment alleges the publication and nothing more.
In Noto vs. U.S. 367 US 290 (297-298),
Justice Harlan of the U.S. Supreme Court
observed: The mere teaching of Communist
theory, including the teaching of the moral
propriety or even moral necessity for a resort to force and violence, is not the same as
preparing a group for violent action and
steeling it to such action. There must be
some substantial direct or circumstantial
evidence of a call to violence now or in the
immediate future.
In Notos case (supra), Justice Hugo Black
wrote: In 1799, the English Parliament
passed a law outlawing certain societies on
the ground that they were engaged in a traitorous Conspiracy in conjunction with the
persons from time to time exercising the
powers of government in France. One of
the arguments made by those who opposed
this law was by a member, Mr. Tierney, who
said: The remedy proposed goes to the putting an end to all these societies together. I
say these attempts lead to consequences of
the most horrible kind. I see that government is acting thus: Those whom they cannot prove to be guilty, they will punish for
their suspicion. To support this system, we
must have a swarm of spies and informers.
The decision in this case, in my judgment,
illustrates the continuing vitality of this observation. The Government has failed to
produce evidence the Court believes sufficient to prove that the Communist Party
presently advocates the overthrow of the
Government by force.
In Communist Party vs. Subversive Activities Control Board, 367 US 1 (1961), Justice
Hugo Black observed: The rst banning of a
political party or association because it advocates hated ideas marks a fateful moment
in the history of a free country. That moment
seems to have arrived for this country. This
whole Act, outlaws groups that preach doctrines nearly all Americans detest. When the
practice of outlawing parties and public
groups begins, no one can say where it will
end. In most countries, such a practice once
begun ends with a one party government.
In Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee
vs. McGrath, 341 US 123, 174 (1951), Justice
Douglas observed: In days of great tension
when feelings run high, it is a temptation to
take short cuts by borrowing from the totalitarian techniques of our opponents. But
when we do, we set in motion a subversive
inuence of our own design that destroys us
from within.

there was no present danger of an attempt to

overthrow the government by force on the
part of the defendants. It is said that this
Manifesto was more than a theory, that it
was an incitement. Every idea is an incitement The only difference between the expression of an opinion and an incitement is
the speakers enthusiasm. Eloquence may
set re to reason. But the Manifesto had no
chance of starting a present conagration. If,
in the long run, the beliefs expressed in proletarian dictatorship are destined to be accepted by the dominant forces of the
community, the only meaning of free speech
is that they should be given their chance and
have their way.
If the publication of this document attempted to induce an uprising against government at once, and not at some indenite
time in the future, the object would have
been one with which the law might deal,
subject to whether it was not futile and too Part of Indian law
All these judgments of the U.S. Supreme
Court were referred to with approval by the
Indian Supreme Court in Sri Indra Das vs.
State of Assam, 2011, and, therefore, are a
part of the law of the land in India too.
In his historic decision in New York Times
vs. U.S. 1971, Justice Hugo Black observed:
In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it
must have to fulll its essential role in our
democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Governments
power to censor the press was abolished so
that the press would remain forever free to
censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of
government and inform the people. Only a
free and unrestrained press can effectively
expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free
press is the duty to prevent any part of the
government from deceiving the people and
sending them off to distant lands to die of
foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. In
my view, far from deserving condemnation
for their courageous reporting, The New
York Times, The Washington Post and other
newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers
saw so clearly. In revealing the workings of
government that led to the Vietnam war, the
newspapers nobly did precisely that which
the Founders hoped and trusted they would
(Justice Markandey Katju is a former
judge of the Supreme Court and former
Chairman, Press Council of India.)

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

On the other hand, if the

a pension, it is unjustied to deny
government is interested in
OROP benets to such personnel.
In having resolved the One Rank
G. Kameswara Rao, reducing OROP expenditure, it
One Pension issue, perhaps as a
Secunderabad must initiate schemes whereby
fullment of an election promise,
those who retire early are found
the government has unwittingly That the government has nally suitable jobs in the Central police
opened a Pandoras box; one can accepted the four-decade-old services and other government
expect similar demands to be made demand should come as a relief jobs.
Ram Gulrajani,
by personnel in the paramilitary even though it is not entirely to the
forces and railways too. While satisfaction of our veterans. We
hard-working labourers in the know that the government may
unorganised sectors continue to have had its political compulsions The government needs to be
wallow in misery, bereft of any to make the announcement before thanked. A little izzat has been
pensionary benet, periodical the code of conduct came into restored as far as the armed forces
hikes to the pay and pension to effect in Bihar. It is also probable are concerned. In fact, the way the
government employees appear to that the right wing had a role to veterans put forth their demands,
be eating away a major chunk of play. Though it was an unhappy is an example to the rest of the
quite sight to see disciplined defence nation. No buses were burnt, the
personnel going on hunger strike, public was not inconvenienced,
B. Gurumurthy, they used their strength to their there was no stone throwing and
Madurai benet, and with some help from public property was left intact. Our
the media. Our veterans should nation must understand that we
The clarication that all service now revert to their traditional are not beggars. We have sacriced
personnel who have availed of stance of maintaining a distance our lives for our great nation. The
premature retirement would be from the political world.
bureaucracy has to mend its
P. Arihanth, attitude and treat our armed forces
entitled to OROP is ambiguous.
Secunderabad personnel with the respect they
(Early retirees eligible for OROP:
Modi, Sept.7).
deserve. Imagine this. OROP could
The bureaucracy has obviously There are sure to be more demands have been solved 42 years ago.
V.V. Nair,
tried to be clever to trying to save being made by other service
Manipal, Karnataka
between 40-50 per cent of the personnel.
estimated cost of the scheme by demands, when compared to the
premature requirements of our armed forces Having rolled out OROP, the media
retirees and limiting it to those personnel, are minuscule. It should now reports that the government is
who are made to retire be understood that while most worried about the nancial
prematurely on administrative and personnel retire between the ages burden. The people of India should
medical grounds or even on of 37 and 54, unlike 60 for civil be made aware of the nancial
military savings to the government due to
superannuation. When the service employees,
conditions provide for premature personnel retire between 57 and 60 the chronic shortage of manpower
after years. This is a negligible gap and if in the armed forces. The Army
putting in the prescribed and bridged, will not cost the alone is short of about 10,000
officers and 30,000 personnel
minimum period of service to earn exchequer much.

OROP announcement

below officer rank. Because of the

risk to life and the hardship
involved in service, the armed
forces are not the preferred career
destination for most youngsters. A
gure to the shortage I have
referred to will work out to more
than Rs.1,500 crore an annum. If
one considers the other wings of
the forces, the gure is Rs.4,000
crore a year. The government,
especially bureaucrats, should
realise the unique, elite and
uncomparable service status of the
armed forces, ensure that young
people are motivated enough to
join the ranks and also boost the
high morale of our defence
personnel. A few thousand crores
of what is considered a nancial
burden is a pittance especially
when one has to maintain and
operate one of the largest military
forces in the world.
R. Ilangovan,

Manipur and peace

The very fact that the Inner Line
Permit is meant to protect tribal
cultures in Northeastern India is
known to all in the rest of India
(Us, them and an elusive peace,
Sept.7). Then why do the Meiteis
who are not tribals demand it when
they are aware of the impossibility
in implementing it in the State as
the hill districts are already
protected? It is clear that the
Meiteis are trying to use ILP as an
excuse to protect the people of
Manipur from outsiders so that a

law which can be extended to the

hill districts can be passed. This is
because the valley is rapidly getting
congested due to a growing
organisation that led the demand
for ILP silent when the Manipur
Assembly passed the three Bills
recently? The 2001 census gures
on outsiders were a manipulation.
In reality, there are just about a
lakh outsiders in Manipur. Though
no law has been officially passed to
restrict the settlement of tribals in
the valley districts, their migration
to these districts has been banned
by valley-based militant groups. I
can cite the example of a friend
who was not allowed to build a
house at Mantripukhri in Imphal
in 2006.
Solomon P. Haokip,
Churachandpur, Manipur

Hiroshimas legacy
Time has ticked by and 60 sixty
years have passed but the
ramications of dropping the
nuclear bomb on Japan continue to
haunt the world (From city of
remembrance to city of hope,
Sept.7). The world has advanced in
terms of science and technology
and along with it magnied the
perils of a nuclear war that could
happen any time. In a nuclear war,
there is no winner or loser. It is
total decimation. World leaders
must ensure that a rm deterrent is
put in place.
R. Ramanathan,

12 |





Caste and the battle for secularism

G. Sampath


he conviction of six Army personnel by a
court martial in the Machil fake encounter
case is an important step in ensuring the
accountability of the armed forces in Jammu
and Kashmir and other States where the Armed Forces
(Special Powers) Act is in force. The Army opted for a
court martial in this case after the Supreme Court ruled
in an earlier case of encounter in Pathribal that unlike
civilian investigating agencies, which under AFSPA
required prior sanction to prosecute its personnel, the
Army was free to try its members by a court martial.
That justice has been done by the court martial is
signicant in the larger context of efforts to make the
armed forces answerable for their actions in conict
zones, and to force the withdrawal of special laws that
grant impunity to security personnel in such areas.
When police investigations revealed the culpability of
its personnel, the Army chose to refer the issue to a
Court of Inquiry, which conrmed the murder-forreward conspiracy. Three Kashmiri youths were lured
by counter-insurgents in April 2010 with the promise
of Army jobs and handed over to the Army personnel,
who shot them at point-blank range in order to earn
cash rewards meant for those who eliminate militants.
The counter-insurgents were paid off to deliver the
youths to the Army personnel for the encounter.
Clearly, from beginning to end the encounter was part
of a cynical and ruthless project to claim the monetary
rewards set aside to eliminate militants.
After the denials and delays in the Pathribal case, the
Army did well to hold the rogue elements in its ranks to
account in the Machil instance. The Army top brass
knew this was no case of mistaken identity or bad
judgment in a conict situation. There was simply no
excuse to tolerate such elements in a force claiming to
ght militancy and terror. For too long, the default
response of the Army has been that its personnel cannot be subject to the regular processes of the criminal
justice delivery system. But post-Pathribal, cries to do
away with AFSPA had grown shriller. The verdict by
the court martial in the Machil encounter case represents the rst instance where Army personnel have
been convicted for an instance of human rights abuse
in Kashmir; it should thus give civil society greater
condence in the internal mechanisms of the Army in
dealing with deviant behaviour by its personnel. In the
long run, the life sentence handed down to the six men
will allow the Army greater room in dealing with militancy in the Valley. The verdict actually reduces the
pressure on Army personnel doing their job in Kashmir
and other conict zones in India.

Is Hindu nationalism a viable project? This is

not an idle question, for the Prime Minister
calls himself a Hindu nationalist and remains
an active member of a cultural organisation
that propagates a militant version of Hindu
nationalism, also known as Hindutva.
This is not an idle question for another
reason. According to the Constitution, India
can never be a Hindu nation. As a nationstate, it must remain politically de-linked
from any religion.
The same question can also be formulated
differently: is a secular Indian nationalism
a viable project? The answer, according to the
publications of the Gita Press, is a resounding
no. Their ideology is Hindu nationalism.
Their goal, a Hindu India. Given that their
ideological affiliates are currently in power at
the Centre, their answer to this question merits serious attention, since it denies the constitutional reality.

Is a secular Indian nationalism a viable project?

The answer, according to the publications of the
Gita Press, is a resounding no. Given that their
ideological affiliates are in power, this answer
merits serious attention since it denies the
constitutional reality

icle of a single religious press into a magist- standing, such as building temples, schools
erial account of the socio-cultural, economic and hospitals, sponsoring recitations of Ramand human forces at play in the politics of charitmanas, and funding cow protection
Another strategy was to set up printing
What stands out in this account is the caste
aspect of this religious publishing enterprise. presses and journals with the aim, initially, of
Gita Press and Kalyan were both funded by reforming the Marwari community, and subMarwari capital. Its longest-serving editor, sequently, of promoting Hindu dharma. PubPoddar, worked mostly with Brahmin writ- lications such as Rajasthan Samachar (started
ers, editors and artists. The narrative of Gita in 1889), Marwari Gazette (1890), Marwari
Presss history is overrun by Dalmias and Sudhar (1921), and Marwari Aggarwal (1923)
Dwivedis, Goenkas and Guptas, Birlas and were an outcome of this trend. So were Gita
Jains, Chaturvedis and Mukerjees. This com- Press and Kalyan.
Through these initiatives, Mukul argues,
bination of baniya and brahmin was not an
accident. It had everything to do with why a Marwaris replaced the aristocracy and
Hindu nation was felt to be a necessary wealthy landlords as religious patrons and
Scrutiny of Hindutva
changed the kshatriya-brahmin interface of
Among the several achievements of AkshMarwaris had begun to dominate Indian Hindu society to a vaishya-brahmin interaya Mukuls new book, Gita Press and the capitalism from the late 19th-early 20th cen- face that eventually resulted in the MarwarMaking of Hindu India, the most signicant is tury onward. As Mukul explains, this led to ization of Hinduism.
its below-the-hood scrutiny of Hindutva
the design of its engine, the kind of fuel it runs
The real objective of Hindutva never openly espoused,
on, and the levers controlling its movement
and acceleration. The entry point for this
evident from the remarkable consistency of the content
scrutiny is Gita Press, Indias oldest and most
distinguished purveyor of muscular Hinput out by Gita Press is to emasculate the OBC-Dalit
duism, with long-standing links to various
majority by keeping them under the Hindu umbrella
arms of the Sangh Parivar.
Gita Press, and the monthly magazine it
but on terms determined by other minorities.
published, Kalyan, were founded in the
mid-1920s. Most such ventures of that era are
long defunct. But not these two. As of early two contradictory things. One, the commuThe book offers ample evidence of militant
2014, the press had sold 72 million copies of nity became an object of jealousy; two, the Hinduism being bankrolled by Marwari capthe Bhagvad Gita, 70 million copies of Tulsi- Marwaris underwent an identity crisis: even ital. Even the model of Hinduism promoted
das Ramcharitmanas and other works, and though they had become economically the by Gita Press and Kalyan, Mukul points out,
94.8 million copies of monographs on the most powerful, being Vaishyas, they did not was essentially a baniya model of prot from
ideal Hindu woman and child. As of today, enjoy a commensurate social standing. The bhakti, duly attested by brahmin authorities
Kalyan has a circulation of over 2,00,000, and poorer brahmins and kshatriyas stood higher. on Hinduism.
its English counterpart, Kalyana-Kalpataru, But the decline of the landed gentry in North
The Hindutva project, then, was not so
over 1,00,000.
India in this period saw the Marwaris take much about sealing the dominance of the
What is the secret of its longevity and suc- centre stage in a process that the Indologist Hindu religious majority as about securing
cess? Much of the credit goes to its founders, Philip Lutgendorf, cited by Mukul, terms the hegemony of the upper caste minority
Jaydayal Goyandka, the owner of Gita Press, semi-involuntary upward mobility. Baniyas the three dvija (twice-born) castes of brahand Hanuman Prasad Poddar, the editor of became the new kshatriyas, owning villages mins, kshatriyas, and the new kshatriyas,
Kalyan for more than 40 years. The book and getting kshatriya titles like Raja. Most the vaishyas. For instance, Kalyans vocifdescribes
Marwari such estates were acquired via forced sales for erous opposition to the Hindu Code Bill, on
tax defaults. At the same time, Marwari trade the grounds that it would grant lower castes
By meticulously unpacking the back- practices continued to evoke anger and dis- access to upper caste homes through marital
ground, affiliations, collaborators and edito- trust of which they were not unaware.
alliances that had the sanction of law is just
rial decisions of these two men over 400-odd
Marwaris sought to resolve this identity one egregious testimony of its loyalty to the
pages, Mukul transforms his historical chron- crisis with moves aimed at gaining social varna system.


A blow for
gender parity
t took the Delhi High Court to set right last week
a largely inexplicable instance of official gender
discrimination: it ruled that the Indian Navy
must grant permanent commission to women as
well, as the Army and the Air Force had to do following
a 2010 order by a different bench of the same court.
Until now, women could qualify only for the Navys
Short Service Commission with a tenure of up to 14
years; this made them ineligible for pension and often
unable to nd other work they were qualied for, virtually midway through their working lives. Following
the latest ruling, women who qualify for permanent
commission will be able to work until the age of 54, as
their male counterparts do. The 19 women who led
petitions before the court argued that they had received the same training as their male counterparts
and worked for a comparable number of years in different departments, but could go no further for the only
reason that they were women. The High Court rightly
ruled that it could not support any provision that would
restrain the professional advancement of women.
Grant of permanent commission would allow women
to rise in rank along with the men, and gain pay parity.
In the Army, since the grant of permanent commission to women began, 340 women have been granted
such positions, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
recently told Parliament. The latest order will open the
doors for women in the Navy too. However, the Defence Ministry and the armed forces must go further.
For one, the forces must tackle entrenched sexist attitudes towards women that were in evidence when the
Army argued before the Supreme Court against the
grant of permanent commission for them, saying that
junior officers from rural areas would not be willing to
accept a woman as a leader in front line situations, or
that society was not yet willing to accept women in
combat roles. The proportion of women in Indias
armed forces and the police forces is low in terms of
global comparative gures, and recent research indicates that persistent bias is a strong ground that
drives women away from seeking to serve in them.
There has been little effort to go the extra distance to
increase female representation: Indias rst woman in
the Army to receive a gallantry award, Lt. Col. Mitali
Madhumita, had to move the Supreme Court for permanent commission after she was denied it on the
ground that she had earlier turned it down. Suicide
rates among women in the forces have also been disproportionately high, and they do not seem to be getting enough support in coping with the dual tasks of
handling work and family life. Indias armed forces
must do more now to transform themselves into a
space of truly equal opportunities.



The caste dynamic of Hindutva

Hindutva may present itself as a defender
of Hindu pride. But this pride derives from a
toxic source the regressive order of sanatan
dharma, which holds the varna system to be
the heart of Hinduism. The real objective of
Hindutva never openly espoused, but evident from the remarkable consistency of the
content put out by Gita Press over nine decades is to emasculate the Other Backward
Classes (OBC)-Dalit majority by keeping
them under the Hindu umbrella but on terms
determined by the dvija castes.
The Sangh Parivars seemingly irrational
anxiety over demographic numbers when
Hindus apparently constitute about 80 per
cent of the population is therefore not all
that irrational. The dvija Hindus are indeed a
minority if we add up the non-dvija Hindus
(shudras and Dalits), Adivasis, and the various religious minorities.
So, where does all this leave those who wish
to preserve Indias constitutional secularism? Recent history offers a clue.
First, when the anti-reservation protests of
1990 brought caste conicts under national
political spotlight, both the secular Congress (under Rajiv Gandhi) and the communal BJP were opposed to implementing the
Mandal report. But the BJP-Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) responded to
Mandal with the Mandir card successfully, if temporarily, papering over the ssions of
caste with the fusion of religion.
Second, the Gita Press has always enjoyed
the patronage of numerous Congressmen and
socialists whose beliefs and politics are indistinguishable from those of the RSS. Even today, regular osmosis between the BJP and the
self-proclaimed secular parties is common
This raises an obvious question: what if
secularism as an alternative political platform to Hindutva has run its course, as it
indisputably has, for instance, in Gujarat?
In such a scenario, the way forward for
anyone hoping to save Indias tattered secular
fabric from being torn to shreds by Hindu
majoritarianism would be to make the nondvijas the OBCs and Dalits, who together
constitute 60 per cent of the population
impervious to a supremacist ideology that
seeks to foster a synthetic Hindu pride by
positing select religious minorities as inferior
to the lowest of the Hindus in the social order
of the varna system.
But this is only possible through social empowerment and visible economic advancement of a great number of Dalits and OBCs, so
that there is no basis left for a sense of castebased superiority. Of course, it is easier said
than done.
What is politically rational could seem socially quixotic as a project, despite the fact
that secularism has no dearth of upper caste
ag-bearers. History is yet to provide a single
instance of a dominant social group that voluntarily ceded its power or privileges. If kshatriya-brahmin hegemony characterised the
subcontinents social order till the advent of
British colonialism, then bania-brahmin hegemony is equally a marker of contemporary
India. But thanks to democracy, however
awed, and a socially progressive Constitution, this hegemony, compared to those of the
past, is more vulnerable to being challenged,
and therefore weaker.
The pages of Gita Press make it abundantly
clear that no accommodation is possible between Hindutva and democracy, or between
Hindutva and equality. But the battle for secularism cannot be won without rst addressing the reality of caste, for it is the virus
behind the pathology of Hindutva. To what
extent democracy can unhinge caste hegemonies is, of course, one of the more intriguing
narratives of modern India.

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Court martial

No misadventure

The verdict by the Army court

martial judgment in awarding the
life sentence to six Army personnel
found guilty in the Machil fake
encounter case of 2010, justies
the allegations that have been
made from time to time of rights
abuses by the armed forces in
Kashmir. (6 Army men get life
term in Machil encounter case,
Sept.8). This verdict should be an
eye-opener to all personnel
deployed in the valley. Arent
senior Army officers maintaining
utmost vigil? How are they
allowing such high-handed acts?
Do they not realise that such
incidents are ammunition for our
enemies to use in spreading antiIndia propaganda?
Ravi Mannethu,
Pullad, Kerala

The Pakistan Army Chief issuing a

threat that enemies which
obviously means India would
pay dearly in case of a
misadventure is not only an
unfortunate development but also
a clear pointer that Pakistan is
uninterested in initiating any
dialogue with India (Pak. Army
misadventure, Sept. 8). India is
already ghting a proxy war.
Pakistan should realise that any
attempt to wage a full-scale war
with India will only prove
disastrous to its economy which is
already in a shambles.
K.R. Srinivasan,

While I welcome the punishment

that has been handed out, it also
evokes a sense of anger that our
soldiers, who are held in high
esteem, have stooped to such a
level mainly for the sake of
promotions and incentives. That
an officer of the rank of colonel had
a hand in this is shocking. Though
the commitment and dedication of
our soldiers cannot be doubted, it is
a few black sheep who have
brought disrepute to the Army. It is
time that steps are taken to win
back the condence of the people
in Kashmir.
T. Anand Raj,

Another is that membership of Gobind

Bhawan Karyalaya, the trust that owns Gita
Press, is open to any Sanatan Dharmi Hindu
by caste brahmin, kshatriya and vaishya and
not to shudras, untouchables, Adivasis, or
anyone else not a twice-born. Interestingly,
the Gita Press also runs a Vedic school in
Rajasthan that only admits children belonging to brahmin, kshatriya and vaishya castes.

By speaking on a policy matter of

such magnitude, Gen. Raheel
Sharif has only shown who it is that
calls the shots in Pakistan. India
has always faced constant hostility
from Pakistan since 1948, and
nothing seems to have improved
even though much water has
owed down the Jhelum. Kashmir
is an integral part of India; several
general elections have been held
and the people of Jammu and
Kashmir have ensured that they
have got the governments that
have wanted. In fact these facts will
take the wind out of the sails of
those who cry for a referendum.
Only separatist elements and those
loyal to Pakistan, and who are in a
minority, are keeping the issue
alive. A survey in 2010 by the Royal

The warning is nothing but a sign

of sheer arrogance and a pointer to
Pakistans lack of interest in
pursuing peace with India. Rather
than letting war clouds hover over
the subcontinent on account of its
provocative rhetoric and actions,
Pakistan should now initiate
strong and decisive steps towards
rooting out home-grown terror
which may even consume it one
Jeyaramachandran M.,
Sholavandan, Tamil Nadu

would cease to exist if such hartals

turned violent or disorderly. Since
the issue comes under the purview
of the fundamental rights, the
Court had stated that it is for the
government to frame appropriate
rules to ban and/or regulate
hartals. To say that Gods own
Country is the land of hartals, is to
state and stress the obvious.
Hartals are held at the drop of the
hat. And for fear of reprisal from
the organisers, hardly anyone
ventures out that day or conducts
business. Notwithstanding the
right to protest by the organisers,
what right do they have to hold
others to ransom?
The State government has to
frame appropriate legislation to
ban and regulate hartals or other
means of protests. Perhaps a place
or places need/s to be earmarked
where protests can be held.
Solutions need to be thought of
which will help the most literate
State in the country resurrect its
lost prestige.
V.S. Jayaraman,

Land of hartals

Curbing free speech

Not long ago, while disposing of a

slew of petitions which stated that
frequent hartals were having a
deleterious effect on life in
Kerala, the Kerala High Court had
held that it could not impose a ban
on political parties calling for
hartals on the grounds that its
powers were limited.
However, the Court had stated
that the rights of the common man

In the context of the increasing

tendency of governments to swoop
down on critical and dissenting
views, Justice Markandeya Katjus
article, An odd pitch to curb free
speech (Sept.8), is important. The
pioneer in safeguarding individual
rights against state power, is also a
model that predates ours by 163
years. For over 200 years now, the

Institute of International Affairs

showed that only 2 per cent of
Kashmiris wanted to join Pakistan
while 44 per cent of people in
common man in Pakistan is said to
be hardly concerned about the socalled Kashmir problem. The
civilian government is only using
the Kashmir issue to nd cover
from economic problems and an
over-bearing Army.
S.V. Venkatakrishnan,

U.S. has zealously guarded this

encroachment by narrow interests.
pronouncements arising from
jurists steeped in that tradition
and endowed with outstanding
intellectual calibre and natural
language felicity on aspects such
as freedom of speech vs incitement
against the state or even the
freedom of the press as a bulwark
of individual rights are often the
last word for insights, nuanced
elucidation and subtle denition of
the ne lines. Of course the key
word is imminent threat. The
circular is unsatisfactory, too
myopic, and vague.
A.N. Lakshmanan,

Syrian crisis
The catastrophe in Syria can be
termed as an example of one of the
greatest ironies where the U.S. and
Europe have intervened in the
internal affairs of a country only to
create a humanitarian crisis
(Editorial, Sept.8). In continuation
of this, the West is now averse to
open its doors to migrants
resulting in grave tragedies. In this,
the U.S., the European Union and
the rich and privileged Gulf
countries should share the blame.
The international community
should come to some consensus on
generating funds and helping
Ashish Khatri,
Jalgaon, Maharashtra

10 |





The starkness of being nowhere

Joydeep Biswas


he most striking commonality among the
murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar
(in Pune, August 2013), Govind Pansare (in
Kolhapur, February 2015) and M.M. Kalburgi
(in Dharwad, August 2015) is not the modus operandi
motorcycle-borne men shooting to kill and speeding
away but the intolerance and hatred toward their
strong views on religion and superstition that the acts
reect. Though investigators have found no substantive
leads in any of these cases yet, and the killers motives
remain unclear, there is little doubt that the three
rationalists had provoked religious fanatics and sectarian elements in a deeply conservative society. What is
particularly worrying is that the killings have been
meant as a warning to other writers and intellectuals
who may dare to question established belief systems.
Activist-writer Bharat Patankar recently received hate
letters asking him not to go the Dabholkar-Pansare
way, and holding out a warning that it would be his turn
next. Pansare himself had received threats after the
killing of Dabholkar for opposing superstitious beliefs.
Kalburgi too had come under pressure for his writings
against religious beliefs. Often the threat of physical
violence is held out against writers and intellectuals by
casteist and communal groups, which are quick to take
offence at anything that criticises matters of faith.
Article 25 of the Constitution not only allows the free
profession, practice and propagation of a religion of
ones choice, but also an individuals freedom of conscience. Atheists, agnostics and rationalists have the
right to propagate their views on religion as much as
believers have the right to spread theirs. What Article
25 guarantees is not a collective religious right but an
individuals freedom of choice. However, communal
and casteist groups have often asserted they have a right
not to be offended by any writing or work. In effect, they
seek a right to thwart or force the withdrawal of the
publication of anything that they imagine gives them
cause to take offence. Also, political mobilisation along
caste and communal lines gives such groups an enormous veto power, that strikes at the very root of freedom of speech and expression. Sadly, whenever
freedom of speech is thus threatened, the state, supposedly in the interest of maintaining law and order, takes
the side of the collective mob against the writer/ artist/
intellectual. Surely, the lack of any progress in identifying and nabbing Dabholkars killers must have emboldened the assailants of Pansare and Kalburgi. Whether or
not there is a common thread connecting the three
murders, it is imperative that the killers are tracked
down. Otherwise, irrespective of the motives, the killings would have had the effect of silencing other voices
of dissent and reason as well.

Very few in mainland India are aware at the

moment that a process of citizens registration on the basis of racial proling is under way on the eastern fringe of the country.
The national media both print and electronic has not cared even to report the
ongoing preparation of the National Register
of Citizens (NRC), leave alone analysing the
legal nuances involved in the action and the
possible plight of the denizens.
This exercise, initiated through a gazette
notication dated December 5, 2013 by the
Registrar General of India, was initially due
to be completed within a time span of three
years. But the judgment delivered by a Division Bench of the honourable Supreme
Court (Coram JJ, R. Gogoi, R.F. Nariman),
dated 17 December 2014, advanced the due
date of publication of the nal NRC to January 1, 2016. The whole exercise, set off in a
selective manner only for the State of Assam,
is meant for detection, detention and deportation of the illegal migrants who crossed
over to Assam from Bangladesh on or after
March 25, 1971.
The vexed issue of inltration and expulsion of foreigners in Assam, which has dominated the political theatre of the State for
over three decades, has got close links with
the very history of the subcontinent. Colonial history of the State dates back to 1826
when, under the Treaty of Yandabo, the then
geography of what is now called Assam came
under the British rule. And the tract was
made a part of the Bengal Presidency which,
of course, included the erstwhile East Bengal
as well.

The first partition of Bengal

In a different turn of events, Cachar, now
one of the three districts forming the Barak
Valley in southern Assam, was annexed by
the Britishers after the fall of the Kachari
Kingdom in 1832, and was also made a part of
the huge Bengal Presidency. Such arrangements were made much before the rst Government of India Act, 1858 through which
control over the Indian territories held by
the British East India Company was vested
in the British queen.
They effectively meant that people of Bengal and of Assam transcending ethnicity,


A transfer
amid a probe
he unceremonious transfer of Rakesh Maria
from the post of Mumbais Commissioner of
Police raises a set of serious questions. It came
at a time when the 1981-batch IPS officer was
steering the investigation in the Sheena Bora murder
case towards crucial nancial dealings possibly linked to
the crime. The investigators had put together a team of
chartered accountants and Economic Offences Wing
officers to probe a complex web of shell companies, and
requested the Enforcement Directorate to follow the
money trail. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis signing
the transfer order just before leaving for Japan reinforced the impression that the government did not want
Mr. Maria to proceed with the probe. Though the Home
Secretary explained that the transfer was deliberated
over two to three weeks and had nothing to do with the
fact that a high-prole gure was caught plotting the
murder of her own daughter, the timing was clearly
wrong. Mr. Mariawas due for a cadre promotion on
September 30 following the retirement of two senior
officers. That promotion was advanced by 22 days, while
he waseffectively shunted out from the murder investigation. Moreover, appointing Ahmed Javed, who is one
batch senior to Mr. Maria, to the post of Commissioner
of Police, and then asking Mr. Maria to continue monitoring the Sheena Bora case as Director-General
(Home Guards), has created a situation where two DGlevel officers, who have not been in the best of terms
with each other, have been put in charge of a high-prole
case. Though Mr. Maria has indicated that he wouldnt
resign, his punishment posting amounts to dissuading
him from pursuing the case in the right spirit.
Such ad hoc measures point to the malaise of the
political class seeking to exert control over police officers and playing a game of favourites. Given the power
and prestige that go with it, the post of Mumbai Police
Commissioner is a coveted one. There have been legal
battles over it. A cumulative effect is that the Maharashtra Police are now top-heavy: there are seven posts
of Directors-General, of which four, including that of DG
(Home Guards), are insignicant, non-operational postings. In order to end ad hocism, eliminate lobbying for
posts and make top-level appointments the outcome of
collective decisions, a Police Establishment Board was
set up. However, Mr. Marias transfer was not referred
to the PEB, and the government used its discretionary
powers. Only time will tell what impact this reshuffle
may have on the investigation into the Sheena Bora case.
But the message the transfer has for Dinesh Kadam, the
investigating officer at Mumbais Khar police station
where the case is registered, is far from encouraging.



Investors meet
The government in Tamil Nadu
deserves accolades for its strenuous
efforts in organising the Global
Investors Meet in Chennai (T.N.
all set for a big leap forward,
Sept.9). It is bound to give a llip to
industrial growth in the State. One
also hopes that new industrial units,
if any are decided to be set up, are
spread across the State. Backward
areas of the State must be
developed. The government should
also think in terms of starting more
Industrial Training Institutes in the
rural and semi-urban areas. Finally,
one hopes that the initial fervour in
organising the meet does not wane
and that there is constant
interaction with the signatories of
S. Nallasivan,

The National Register of Citizens in Assam,

being prepared by the Central government under
the direct supervision of the Supreme Court, will
leave more questions than it will have answered,
one of them being about the prospective
statelessness of lakhs of Bengali settlers
language and culture lived within the same
administrative jurisdiction and under the
same political dispensation.
In 1874, by a whimsical decision of the
British government, two districts of East
Bengal Sylhet (along with Cachar) and
Goalpara were separated from the Bengal
Presidency, and were joined with Assam to
create a new administrative unit which was
placed under a Chief Commissioner. This
was technically the rst Partition of Bengal,
a development that unfortunately escaped
the attention of the mainstream scholarship.
Much has been written and read about the
partition of Bengal in 1905, and its eventual
rollback in 1911. However, surprisingly
enough, historians of modern India have
shown cruel indifference to the cultural
kning of 1874, due to which the Bengalis of

by Bangladeshi nationals from across the

border was putting the Assamese language
and culture in great danger.
The six-year-long violent agitation, which
left hundreds dead and thousands traumatised, culminated in the inking of the Assam
Accord on August 14-15, 1985. This tripartite
memorandum of settlement between the
Centre, the Assam government and the AASU leadership was considered historic in
the Brahmaputra Valley. The Citizenship
Act, 1955 was suitably amended by the Parliament to incorporate Section 6(a), bringing
in a special provision of citizenship for Assam.
The legislative passage engineered by the
Rajiv Gandhi government, which had a brute
majority in both the Houses, did not care for
the history, geography and anthropology of
colonial Assam. The Nellie pogrom of February 18, 1983, in which more than 2,000 Bengali-speaking people, including women and
children, were butchered, was conveniently
forgotten by the Indian state. That gory incident has never been given enough attention in the media.

in terms of number, intensity and continuity, impact of the exodus felt on the eastern
front far exceeded that on the west. The
internal political turmoil, coupled with communal riots rst in East Pakistan, and then
in Bangladesh, made sure movements across
the boundary remained a regular feature
even after 1971.
This repeated redrawing of political map
of Assam, along with that of the twin valleys
of Surma and Barak by the colonial rulers,
showing utter disregard to the sentiments of
the Assamese and the Bengalis, is causally
connected to the emergence of the parochial
political patriarchs who assumed power in
the Assam in the post-Independence India.
Assamese middle-class saw in the British Legitimisation of racial violence
Successive governments have not been
actions of administering Bengali settlement
on their own land an evil design of linguistic able to bring the killers to justice. To the
contrary, the metamorphosis of AASU into
Asom Gana Parishad and its eventual victory
in Assembly elections has practically legitiXenophobia triggered during the early 1980s was successful in
mised the racial killings.
The Bengali speaking citizens in Assam
convincing the Indian establishment that infiltration of
now face a new kind of terror, this time, from
Bangladeshi nationals was putting Assamese culture in danger
the Indian government. On the strength of
an agreement, the State government is now
Sylhet and Goalpara of the then East Bengal, hegemony. Hence, in the post-colonial As- active in the preparation of the National
Register of Citizens. This is aimed at labellfor no fault of theirs, had to shift their alle- sam, they tried to correct history.
giance to a completely different cultural
In a bid to retaliate, the Assamese elites, ing lakhs of Bengali-speaking citizens as ilgeography.
who by then had got a fair share of political legal Bangladeshi inltrators.
The relevant rules and provisions in the
The colonial power had its own scal logic. power, began to treat Bengali settlers on
Sylhet, a revenue-rich district in British In- Assams soil as cultural foreigners. The gen- statute book, including the Citizenship Act,
dia, was tagged with a revenue-decit Assam esis of the anti-foreigner movement, spear- 1955; the Foreigners Expulsion Act, 1946;
to address the administrative purpose of s- headed by the All Assam Students Union the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam)
cal rationalisation. These two districts (AASU) during 1979-85, thus, dates back to Act, 1950; the Foreigners Tribunals Order,
thereafter continued to exist inside the ad- the series of above happenings where poli- 1964; and the Citizenship Rules, 2003 (as
amended in 2009 and 2010), have all been
ministrative boundary of Assam for the re- tics played mayhem with culture.
very carefully crafted over the years to evict
maining length of the colonial rule. In 1947,
from Assam the Partition victims of erstSylhet was lost to Pakistan on the basis of the The bogey of infiltration
There was no evidence provided by either while East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
outcome of an allegedly rigged referendum.
The Indian government has decided to
The communal carnage that took over the the government or the academia about the
subcontinent resulted in the biggest dis- scale of cross-border movement of people. upgrade the NRC only for the State of Assam
placement of people in the recorded history. Despite that, the xenophobic movement even though, ideally, the exercise should
The humanitarian crisis had its ramica- launched by the AASU during the early 1980s have covered the entire country. The purtions both on the eastern and the western was successful in convincing the Indian es- pose of this official action is not difficult to
boundaries of the newly liberated India. But tablishment that a marauding inltration decipher. The stringent set of conditions attached to the process requires the Bengalis
of Assam to prove their Indian citizenship
solely on the basis of their or their ancestors
names appearing on the electoral rolls published up to 25 March 1971 and the NRC of
1951, failing which they would be thrown out
of the updated NRC.
To make things complicated for these people, such electoral rolls are found to be both
incorrect and incomplete. On the other
hand, their Assamese and tribal counterparts would nd easy inclusion, by virtue of
being the original inhabitants of Assam beyond reasonable doubt.
The key question that confronts us now is:
what would happen to these hapless Bengali
settlers? In the absence of any bilateral arrangement between India and Bangladesh,
the latter is not ready to take them back. This
implies that lakhs of such Indian citizens,
who have had their names on the Indian
electoral rolls for the past four decades, and
who are in possession of Electoral Photo
Identity Card, would be rendered stateless.
Going by the existing deportation norms and
practices, they will just be evicted to the no
mans land on the Indo-Bangla border, that
too in the dead of night. It will be a shameful
moment for India, a proud signatory to the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
(Joydeep Biswas is an associate professor
of economics in Cachar College, Assam
Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

concerned. Only in India do we have

this crisis as we have declared
ourselves to be a secular state.
Today, caste divisions are both a
trump card and a vote-bank for
politicians. It is no wonder then
that every political party in India
has a caste tag. The fact is also that
not all the backward communities
and castes are economically weak
nor are those in OC nancially
healthy. Unless this sensitive issue
is addressed soon, one may have a
situation whereby affluent castes
may also join the caste bandwagon
citing the Constitution which
promises equal rights for all.
E.S. Chandrasekaran,

It is right that OBCs and Dalits have

faced caste atrocities in times past
but after Independence their
situation has been witness to a
growing secularism; 50 per cent of
quotas in almost all elds have
enabled them to climb the social
While there is no doubt that ladder in many instances.
Mohit Sharma,
Hindutva is a Brahmin-Baniya
New Delhi
movement, it is also true that it has
successfully evolved its ideology
and now has many Dalit and Adivasi
voters; recent elections in India It is sad that the armed forces and
uphold this (Caste and the battle the government are not very
for secularism, Sept.9). The writer supportive of the permanent
only appears to have written a commission for women in the
polemical article with an aim to armed forces (Editorial, Sept.9).
denigrate the upper castes. The This resistance is a symbol of the
other claim, that Hindutva forces manifestation of patriarchal values
want to emasculate the OBCs and that are rmly entrenched in our
Dalits by keeping them under the society. The roots of this
Hindu-fold, is hard to understand. manifestation lie in typical,
Is he trying to say that OBCs and orthodox, religious traditions and
views that are prevalent. Moreover,
Dalits are bereft of thought?
Soumyakanti Chakraborty, Indian society has always viewed
Visakhapatnam women through a narrow prism
as only sister, wife, daughter and
There is no identity crisis as far as a mother. Any other identity has been
Christian or Muslim nation is discouraged and even resisted. The

Caste and secularism

Gender parity

instead of wishing it away, Sept.9).

Hydel power can be used only to a
certain extent. While a reduction in
carbon emission is the larger issue
assistance to mine coal is not the
solution. It lies in improving
generation capabilities in existing
thermal plants. The use of modern
technology that has been pioneered
by the developed world must be
Mangesh Sonje,
The touching and soulful article on
Titwala, Maharashtra
Prof. Oliver Wolf Sacks has lessons
not only for those who are in the The article has proposed a sensible
eld of medicine, but also other strategy for India to utilise its vast
people as well (Neurologist, writer, coal reserves for power generation
healer, Sept.9). His ability to without attracting opprobrium as a
communicate with a wide range of big polluter at the climate change
patients with unusual empathy, his negotiating table. It is an irony that
consideration towards patients by uranium, which has the potential to
not treating them as mere objects harm even the unborn generations,
and his grit and composure make is touted as a clean fuel, whereas
him eminently eligible to be in the coal is maligned as dirty.
The West needs to be reminded
pantheon of illustrious names in the
that its economic growth for three
eld of medicine.
Ayyasseri Raveendranath, centuries since the Industrial
Aranmula, Kerala Revolution
engineered by coal-based thermal
Dr. Oliver Sacks was a doyen in the energy. India cannot simply afford
eld of neurology and scientic to let its huge coal deposits lie under
literature. As a young intern, I was the earth when millions of people
deeply interested in his case les, have to be lifted out of poverty
healing which is possible only through
methodologies. His works are sure development and economic growth.
to inspire a generation of doctors. Apart from seeking technology
His style of writing was both from abroad, India also needs to
engaging and struck an emotional explore indigenous and costchord.
effective solutions to reduce carbon
K.A.R. Reddy, emissions from coal-red power
Hyderabad plants.
V.N. Mukundarjan,
A developing country like India has
to depend on thermal power to
meet many of its energy The move by the Army to court
requirements (Cleaning coal martial six of its personnel will

resistance to having women in the

importantly, in combat roles is a
part of the larger manifestation of
the view that a womans body is the
embodiment of the honour and
dignity of the nation. It is important
associated with women if true
equality is to be achieved in society.
Naveen Agrawal,

Oliver Sacks

Cleaning coal

Welcome conviction

strengthen public condence in the

armed forces and bridge the trust
decit (Editorial, Sept.9). Though it
has taken over ve years for justice
to reach families of the victims, it
has nally brought closure to the
Azhar A. Khan,
Rampur, Uttar Pradesh
The verdict will act as a deterrent
for Army personnel not to indulge
in any inhuman, unethical and
unprofessional act using the cover
of AFSPA. Our defence personnel
should not forget that they are not
above the law. It will also restore
the common mans trust, faith and
condence in the impartiality of the
judicial system. Our Army is one of
the most professional forces in the
world and one hopes that this
verdict will eventually lead to a
better rapport with the people of
Jammu and Kashmir and the
Badal Jain,
Jalgaon, Maharashtra
The move will only boost the
Armys image in the eyes of the
Kashmiri people. The Union
government must now consolidate
this opportunity by making relevant
changes to AFSPA so that innocents
are not killed in conict zones on a
whim. The government must
clearly specify under what
conditions Army personnel are
exempted from punishment and
when they can be held accountable.
Finally, the Armys pragmatism and
commitment to justice will only
blunt the terror movement which
has always harped on injustices,
both perceived and real, to press for
allegiance with Pakistan.
Akshay Viswanathan,


12 |




The devil is in the details

M.K. Narayanan


Old Guard?
nder ordinary circumstances, the extension
of Sonia Gandhis tenure as Congress president by a year would not have been cause for
any surprise. After all, she is the partys longest-serving president and the senior-most member of
the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. But the vote of confidence
in Ms. Gandhi by the Congress Working Committee
was more than just that: it was, in effect, a vote of
no-confidence in Rahul Gandhi, the party vice-president and leader-in-waiting. For more than a year, Mr.
Gandhi was being prepared for this greater responsibility, and his non-elevation thus raises some serious
issues for the partys future. Whether the decision was
taken to protect Mr. Gandhi from future shocks in the
Assembly elections that are due in the coming year in
which the Congress is not expected to do well or to let
him know that his work so far has been below par, the
implication is obvious: no matter what Ms. Gandhi
thinks, the party is not ready to let her hand over the
reins to her son. Even if the CWC was merely giving
him more time to succeed his mother, Mr. Gandhi can
hardly take comfort from the fact that the partys highest decision-making body thought he needed protection from the impact of electoral losses. In Bihar, which
is already in election mode, the Congress is a minor
partner in the opposition alliance. In West Bengal and
Tamil Nadu, where elections are due next year, the
party is not even a contender for power. In Assam and
Kerala, it may well have a tough time retaining power.
Clearly, senior Congress leaders thought he could not
be of much help, and actually could do a lot of harm to
the partys prospects in these States.
After his two-month sabbatical earlier this year, Mr.
Gandhi did seem like an improved version of himself,
putting up a spirited attack on the land bill and the
governments handling of the agrarian crisis. But the
Old Guard in the Congress remains sceptical of his
capability to lead from the front, and his acceptability
among prospective allies of the party. Some of the
misgivings of senior members of the party might also
be on account of their apprehensions about their own
role in a party led by Mr. Gandhi, who keeps a coterie of
a younger generation of leaders. However willing Mr.
Gandhi might appear to be to lead the party, the Old
Guard is wary of his abilities to take on the rhetoric of
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr. Gandhi ought not
to think of leadership as privilege and of public service
as sacrifice, but of leadership as public service. In this,
he has a lot to learn from Prime Minister Modi. There
can be no power without responsibility; he certainly
cannot hope to be in the vanguard without being exposed to the line of fire.

Several weeks after the August 3 historic

accord since diluted to the status of a
framework agreement between Delhi
and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) [NSCN (I-M)], the contours of what was agreed upon remain
unclear. Instead, it has all the makings of a
riddle wrapped in an enigma.
It is not the first time that the NSCN (I-M)
has claimed to have reached an agreement
with the Indian government. Consequently,
the publicity given to the signing ceremony
on August 3 at which Prime Minister
Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath
Singh were present and the symbolism
attached to it seem rather exaggerated.
More so considering the outcome, and the
fact that a great deal of work still needs to be
The then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao
had first met an NSCN (I-M) delegation in
Paris way back in 1995. His successor Deve
Gowda had a meeting with the NSCN (I-M)
in Zurich. Later, the venue shifted to New
Delhi, where Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh had a meeting with Isak Swu and
Thuingaleng Muivah. All meetings were
held in a cordial atmosphere, but hardly
given publicity, lest it raised undue hopes.

Giving up demand for Nagalim?

Mr. Muivah, a holdover from the period
when China actively backed wars of national liberation, has been a canny and shrewd
opponent and an even smoother operator at
the negotiating table. Considering the hype
surrounding the agreement, Mr. Muivah
seems to have reconciled to (i) upholding
allegiance to the Indian Constitution and
(ii) giving up his demand for Nagalim a
euphemism for a homeland for all Naga
tribes of the Northeast. The latter would
implicitly involve redrawing the boundaries
of at least three States Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
However, less than a fortnight after the
Delhi accord, on the occasion of Naga Independence Day in Hebron (August 14), Mr.
Muivah declared that there was no question

Whether we are at the point of a historic accord

or a Framework Agreement in the Naga peace
process, adherence to fundamental principles of
the Indian Constitution is vitally important.
Therefore, the concept of shared sovereignty
needs to be examined
of giving up the demand for Naga sovereignty, and that the Nagas appreciated the fact
that New Delhi had changed its mind regarding these issues. Unfurling the Nagalim Flag to mark the day, he went on to say
that both sides now accepted the concept of
shared sovereignty the details of which
had still to be worked out.
On Naga integration, he declared that
there could be no solution without integration. Given Mr. Muivahs reputation as a
master dissimulator, the need for greater
clarity on what had transpired has become
Details of what was agreed upon are still
not in the public realm. From remarks attri-

achieved through a democratic process; almost immediately he seemed to imply that

physical integration in terms of boundaries
was not possible at this point of time, making it clear that the government of India was
not going to alter the boundaries of States.
Whether we are at the point of a historic
accord or a framework agreement, adherence to certain fundamental principles is
vitally important. Accepting the Indian
Constitution is an inalienable principle, and
whether shared sovereignty violates the
basic principles of the Indian Constitution
needs to be examined.
Almost every ethnic group in the Northeast has, at different times, come up with

The NSCN (I-M) leadership has mastered the art of semantics

but it has hardly endeared itself to other Naga communities.
The NSCN (Khaplang) and the NSCN (Konyak-Kitovi) act
independent of it
buted to the government of Indias interlocutor to the talks, it would, however, appear
that sharing of sovereign power or
shared sovereignty as the case may be did
figure in the talks with the NSCN (I-M).
Further, according to the interlocutor, sharing of sovereign power would not be confined to mere semantics, and that the Nagas
could hope to become almost sovereignlike. The play on words is rather disturbing.
The implications of shared sovereignty are
far-reaching. It cannot be accepted before
all its implications have been fully studied
and examined.
The interlocutor also seemed rather
vague on the question of Naga integration.
At one point he mentioned that it would be

somewhat similar prescriptions the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), for
example, had championed the cause of dual
citizenship. Shared sovereignty also has
implications and repercussions well beyond
the borders of Nagaland, not only impacting
States like Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh,
but many other regions of India as well.
There are other issues that also need to be
taken into consideration. The NSCN (I-M)
leadership has, no doubt, mastered the art of
semantics, but it has hardly endeared itself
to other Naga communities in the region.
The NSCN (I-M) does not represent all Naga
communities. It is today, is a debilitated
entity, though it seeks to convey a different
impression. The NSCN (Khaplang), the


High stakes
in Bihar
he Bihar Assembly elections are to be held in
five phases from October 12, to let the Election Commission cope with the challenging
logistics involved in the exercise. But it will be
an even more challenging test for the popularity not
just of the grand alliance of the Janata Dal (United),
the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress led by Chief
Minister Nitish Kumar, but also of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi, who is heading the Bharatiya Janata
Party-led combines campaign. With the BJP having
decided not to project a chief ministerial candidate, Mr.
Modis personal charisma and his 15-month-long record at the Centre will be under scrutiny. The BJPs
decision is dictated not just by the failure of Kiran Bedi,
who it chose to challenge Arvind Kejriwal in the Delhi
Assembly elections earlier this year, but also by the fact
that in caste-dominated Bihar, focussing on any one
individual could alienate those who do not belong to his
or her community. Coming as it would less than a year
after the BJP lost Delhi 67-3 to the Aam Aadmi Party, a
victory for the grand alliance will give the opposition a
shot in the arm. It will also give a fillip to the formation
of similar alliances in the context of other State elections. A BJP victory here would bolster the belief that
the party, and Mr. Modi, remain invincible.
With so much at stake, it is no wonder that both sides
are pulling out all the stops. As caste still remains the
determining factor, the grand alliance is looking to
Yadavs, Muslims and Kurmis (which is Mr. Kumars
own community), who together account for roughly 32
per cent, for core support while working to break into
the BJPs extremely backward classes (EBCs) votes by
pitching the battle as one between backward and forward castes. The BJP-led combine hopes to secure the
backing of the upper castes, the EBCs and Dalits, even
as it leverages Mr. Modis life story with the youth and
the aspirational class who account for over half the
votes to shatter the hold of caste. Mr. Kumar and
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad are friends-turned-rivalsturned-uneasy-partners who between them along
with Mr. Lalu Prasads wife Rabri Devi have ruled
Bihar for some 20 of the last 25 years. If Mr. Lalu
Prasad has not abandoned his image of an old-style
socialist if backward-caste leader, Mr. Kumar would
like people to describe him as a development-oriented,
modern politician. The two have come together to
stave off political irrelevance, and have so far succeeded in keeping their heads above the water. Mr. Kumar
has even hired for his campaign a publicist-strategist
who worked for Mr. Modi in the 2014 general elections.
Now, it is left to Bihars 66 million voters to determine
the direction of politics not just in this populous and
backward State, but perhaps in the country at large.



NSCN (Konyak-Kitovi) and the Eastern Nagaland Peoples Organization, all act independent of the NSCN (I-M). The Naga
Hoho, the tribal council of the Nagas, has
not endorsed the latters leadership of the
Naga cause. Additionally, there are intrinsic
conflicts between the Sema, the Angami, the
Ao, the Lotha and the Konyak tribes, which
further weaken the NSCN (I-M)s claim.
The fact that Mr. Muivah is a tangkhul
Naga from Manipur also affects his leadership claim. Consequently, any expectation that an agreement with the NSCN (I-M)
will be the harbinger of peace in the region
will be a mistake.
Politics in the region also clearly matters.
This is particularly true as far as moves on
the Naga chessboard are concerned. India
has plenty of experience in the effective
management of conflicts in the Northeast
and, by and large, these have been dictated
by a broader strategic vision.
The existence of different ethnic and tribal entities in the Northeast gives identity
politics here special traction, and violence is
often a given. Additionally, many pockets in
the Northeast suffer from a sense of siege.
Political narratives, hence, have to be carefully thought through, lest these foment
newer demands, including that for territory.
This could vitiate an already disturbed

Problems in other Northeast States

The doctrine of shared sovereignty, for
instance, can have unexpected consequences. Indias State-based identity has not suffered any damage and does not require the
cement of shared sovereignty to prop itself
up. If an idea is floated in order to solely
arrive at a settlement with the NSCN (I-M),
it can have an adverse impact and could
open a Pandoras Box of problems across the
country. In the Northeast, shared sovereignty will, almost immediately, give rise to
a new round of violence, especially in Manipur, and to a lesser extent in Arunachal
Manipur is already on the boil consequent
to violent protests over the passage in the
State Assembly of three Bills recently, including the Protection of Manipur Peoples
Bill. The agitation pits the Meiteis against
the Kukis, Chins, Mizos and other tribes in
the plains areas of the State, and has already
resulted in eight deaths. The danger is that
shared sovereignty is likely to be perceived
in Manipur as an attempt at pan-Naga integration, thus bringing the Naga dominated Hills district of the State into the vortex
of the conflict. This has the potential to tear
the State apart.
It is imperative that prior to finalisation
of any framework agreement, care is taken
to see that there is an across the board acceptance of fundamental principles and
objective necessities. Different communities in the Northeast compete for power and
rank, and an identity crisis afflicts most
tribes and communities. It is essential that
the special social mechanism that sustains
tribal orthodoxy is not disturbed. Otherwise, it would have a tectonic impact on
peace and tranquillity in the entire region.
There is some merit in preserving the
present frozen spatiality in the region. This
should not be disturbed through an inadequately thought out peace agreement with
just one segment of the Naga leadership
inside Nagaland. For Mr. Muivah, whose
influence is clearly waning, and who is a
tangkhul Naga from Manipur, this may be
his last throw of the dice, but there is no
need for India to go along with his desire.
(M.K. Narayanan is former National Security Advisor and former Governor of West

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

what should be actual news to the employment, there should be a

category for people who are nonIt is heartening to note that the
Hussain Mohammad Mobin, religious.
Vishiwjeet Singh,
investment target has been
Nagaon, Assam
reached during the Global
(GIM) The murders of three rationalists,
met: Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Since the dawn of human
Jayalalithaa, Sep.10). Attracting Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi, marks civilisation, there has been a
killing conflict of perception between
abundant foreign capital needs full an
confidence of investors with regard intellectualism and progressive social conservatives and social
to their security and profitability. thoughts in Indian society which rebels. Let us accept that no single
Investment for tapping solar seems to retain elements of perception is immaculate and only
energy is a positive step towards conservatism even in the 21st a holistic understanding of the self
like and universe can lead to true
meeting shortage of power in the century.
Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, who knowledge, right action and
J. Eden Alexander, established Satyashodhak Samaj transcendence, much beyond the
Thanjavur (Society for seekers of truth) in the purview of ordinary mortal souls.
Rationality may answer the facts
19th century, had also faced
The Government of Tamil Nadu opposition.
and problems of the material
The opposition now is different civilisation but faith is the sum
organising the Global Investors in the sense that cow dung has been collective memories handed down
Meet in Chennai and we replaced by bullets. It is absolutely through the ages and so cannot be
wholeheartedly wish the meet to necessary that our society becomes demeaned. Many times, through
be successful in attracting progressive, develops a spirit of faith, one gets an impetus to
maximum investments into the enquiry and understands the endure the struggle of life.
difference between faith and blind Insensitive killings of rationalists
One area I think has not been faith, as nicely explained by in contemporary India cannot be
given attention is investment in Narendra Dabholkar.
condoned as when one kills such an
Prashant B. Ugale, individual, one attempts to kill an
agriculture. TN is a dry State and
Kolhapur, Maharashtra idea. However, true sanity can be
availability of water for agriculture
is scarce. Israel is world leader in
attained only if the rationalists and
and The killings of Dabholkar, Pansare the followers of faith respect each
management and the government and now Kalburgi have created fear other's limitations and boundaries.
Parthasarathy Sen,
could have utilised Israels in the minds of people who believe
New Delhi
expertise in areas such as drip in rational approach and are
irrigation and water conservation critical of superstitious beliefs of
for the benefit of the water-starved various religions. An excess of
areas of TN for boosting superstitious beliefs has resulted
agricultural production.
There were no violations
Anthakudi Nagarajan, rationalists.
Your report headlined, After
What is more serious is that the
tiff, officer in WCD Ministry put
inability of our law enforcement
on compulsory wait (Sept.7),
authorities to trace Dabholkars
said: It is learnt that Mr. Singh,
who was also transferred out of
It is surprising to see that the perpetuation of such acts. I believe
the MHA [Ministry of Home
television media and a lot of everyone has the freedom of
Affairs] on the same day as Mr.
leading newspapers have chosen conscience and religion has its
Goyal, bypassed the Home
not to report extensively on the rightful place in our society.
Secretary and took matters
issue of killing of rationalists while Atheism also has a place and those
directly to the Minister.
giving more than ample time and who are atheists need not be
That was factually incorrect and
space to issues like Sheena Boras deterred by the acts of a handful of
created an impression that I
murder (Editorial, Sep.10). It is fundamentalists. I also believe that
violated the rules prescribed for
time the media develops some when it comes to filling up of forms
ethical code to telecast and show like

GIM successful

Silencing rationality

A climate of intolerance and hatred

has led to the killings. The killers
may have wanted to project
themselves as protectors of ancient
culture but did they forget about
the Charvaka school of philosophy
that propounds rationalism? But
for the existence of such schools of
thought, the richness of our culture
would have stood diminished.
Ashish Khatri,
Jalgaon, Maharashtra

Battle for Bihar

The Bihar elections look like a
personality contest between the
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and
the Prime Minister Narendra Modi
and stakes are very high (Fivephase Bihar polls from October 12,
Sep.10). After suffering an electoral
drubbing in Delhi, the BJP is in a
must-win situation.
H.R. Bapu Satyanarayana,

Bias against women

Mulyani Indrawatis well-argued
article The bias against women
keeps countries poorer, (Sep.10)
brings to attention the dire need to
empower women. It is heartening
to hear the story of participation of
women in the workforce in

submission of files. I followed

the channel of submission
scrupulously. No file was
submitted to the Home Minister
directly without it having been
seen by the Home Secretary. No
rule or procedure was violated
by me during my eight-month
tenure in the MHA, which
covers the tenure of [Anil]
Goswami as well as [L.C.] Goyal.
Anant Kumar Singh
Additional Secretary, Ministry
of Petroleum & Natural Gas
(former Addl. Secretary, MHA)

Bangladesh. An educated mother

can bring about a paradigm shift in
the fortunes of a family. Education
is a key tool for the empowerment
of not only women but their
families as a whole.
C.G. Kuriakose,

Sabrangs suspension
In the latest shift of focus from
Greenpeace India to Teesta
Setalvads NGO, Sabrang, the
Ministry of Home Affairs has
shown its hard-line attitude
toward NGOs operating in the
country (Licence of Teestas NGO
suspended, Sep.10). To ensure
their fair operations, a committee
with experts from both the
government and the NGOs can be
constituted to create a framework
for their functioning. We shouldnt
forget that there are crores of
people being served by the NGOs.
Sushma Rao Kallepu,

Use of thermal power

The arguments against use of coal,
which incessantly spews out
carbon dioxide that is causing
global warming, come mostly from
the developed countries, which
have taken advantage of thermal
power to reach their present
economic stage (Cleaning coal
instead of wishing it away, Sep.9).
Any economy depends on power
generation for its growth. The
global leaders are those who either
have good sources of power, like
the Gulf countries, or those who
have vast reserves of money like
China. If we were to properly use
the sources of power we have in our
country, be it coal, solar or tidal, we
would have an edge over other
emerging economies. For the time
being, coal cannot be completely
wished away.
Gadepalli Subrahmanyam,


12 |




The Donald is no trump card

Sankaran Krishna


Tamil Nadu
or a State that has long enjoyed a reputation
for being an attractive investment destination, the last few years have been sub par for
Tamil Nadu. Even as Gujarat seemed to overpower virtually every other State in the mind space of
investors, Tamil Nadu has had to contend with one
piece of bad news after another. From the closing down
of the high-prole Nokia and Foxconn factories to the
seemingly never-ending infrastructure and power
woes, there has been little going for it. It hardly helped
that there were larger issues affecting investment in
India, including concerns about the aggressive taxman,
infrastructure woes and the cost of nance. Of late,
States such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West
Bengal have taken a cue from Gujarat in staging their
own investor summits, stirring up a bit of competition.
Also, those such as Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra
Pradesh came across as being more proactive in seeking hi-tech industries. Tamil Nadu has always underplayed itself. It is in this context that one has to see
Tamil Nadus successful staging of its rst-ever Global
Investors Meet, an event that was postponed twice and
at one point even seemed a doubtful starter. The icing
on the cake is that investors have pledged Rs. 2.4 lakh
crore, more than double of what the initial target
seemed to be. One of the important implications of
investment is in job-creation. Tamil Nadu, with its
huge talent pool of engineers and students with technical skills, needs those jobs.
But the challenge starts now. There is data to show
how little of the investment promises actually translate
to investment on the ground, not just in Tamil Nadu
but across India. Even those that materialise eventually do so over a period of time. Typically, clearances
and the process of land acquisition take time. The State
has made some progress in dealing with its grave power
crisis but isnt as yet completely out of the woods. For
the promises to become reality, power reforms need to
continue. Also, its plan, under the Vision 2023 document, to invest $250 billion toward infrastructure
needs to come good. What also matters is the health of
the economy, both global and domestic. The global
economy looks fragile, and in an increasingly interlinked world could affect domestic investment. There
are many things going for the State, though, not least
the traditional advantages it has had skilled manpower, peaceful industrial relations and a strong manufacturing ecosystem. Something else that could woo
investors is its amended land acquisition Act, which
experts are already talking about as a model for other
States. Theres a lot that needs to be done to make
promises a reality but, importantly, a start has been
made. The pitch is good. Will the end result also be?

What do Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani,

Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Joe Lieberman,
Howard Dean and Pat Buchanan have in
common? If you answer by telling they are
all white men who have contested for the
nomination of their political party for the
U.S. presidency, you would be correct in a
pedantic sense. It is more important to note
that all the seven men led their nearest rival
by considerable margins, in almost every
case by double digits, in polls and surveys
held around 400 days before the actual election. If you look at the media coverage for all
of them at the time they were leading, in
particular for Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Buchanan, you might well believe/have believed
that they have had the nomination secured.
In reality, six out of these seven men never
even came close to becoming their partys
nominee, let alone becoming President of
the U.S. Barring a miracle of stupendous
proportions, the seventh, Donald Trump,
will also be consigned to the same ash heap
of electoral trivia in due course.
Straw polls and opinion surveys, like
weather reporting, gain in accuracy only as
the time horizon shortens. With his celebrity
status as a host of a popular television show;
his billions of dollars from real estate business and casinos, and a brain to mouth pipeline that seems to have no lter whatsoever,
Donald Trump has a lot of name recognition.
Faced with more than a dozen largely uncharismatic contenders, he stands out and
this might well explain his early lead.

A cat amongst the pigeons

Yet, Mr. Trump evokes strong negative
reactions from a signicant section of the
population, with his support amongst a constituency of rising importance Hispanics
being as low as 15 per cent. He has no
standing even within the Republican party,
also known as the Grand Old Party (GOP),
and even if he doesnt need their money, the
absence of political endorsements and the
lack of party support bode ill for his campaign in the longer run.
Mr. Trump has, nevertheless, been a cat
amongst the pigeons as far as the Republicans are concerned. By calling for the con-

Figures like Donald Trump are what enable the

likes of Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush to emerge as
normal and balanced candidates for the
presidency. His sheer excesses draw our attention
onto him and away from the extreme views of
the alleged moderates on similar issues
struction of a giant wall to seal the
U.S.-Mexico border; describing Mexican immigrants as drug peddlers and rapists; and
demanding the repatriation of 11 million undocumented migrants in the U.S. back to
where they came from, Mr. Trump has upped the ante on xenophobia for other aspirants. Like lemmings, with the partial
exception of Jeb Bush, they have either toed
Mr. Trumps line or tried to outdo him. Mr.
Trumps comments on women have been
equally obnoxious.
But it is his views on the economy that
could have implications for the presidential
race, irrespective of whether or not he wins
the nomination. Since Ronald Reagan, the

East Asian economies of China, South Korea,

and Singapore. The disconnect between economic growth numbers and the everyday
well-being of the vast majority of American
citizens has never been wider than it is now.
Yet, no contender for the Republican
nomination has found the political courage
to oppose this spent supply-side economic
ideology with the partial exception of Mr.
Trump. Announcing that plutocrats like
himself deserve to be taxed more, Mr.
Trump has argued that the disappearance of
the great American middle-class is a catastrophe that can be averted only by increased
taxes on the super-rich and guarded support
for state initiatives such as Obamacare.

One cannot help but despair at the poverty of political choice

in the United States. With the exception of Bernie Sanders, all
other contenders hew to a depressingly narrow range of views
when it comes to public policy
GOP has hewed to a set of supply-side policies that may be charitably summarised as
banking on the rich and screwing the poor.
The idea that economic growth can only
be ensured by slashing taxes on the rich;
further dismantling the welfare state; fullscale deregulation; and steeper reductions in
state spending has left the U.S. in a shambles.
The polarisation of society in terms of
wealth has reached levels not seen since the
1920s; real wages for working class Americans have atlined; a shrinking middle class
is faced with bleaker prospects than ever;
and the nations infrastructure bridges,
airports, highways, Amtrak, environmental
and other regulatory agencies, national
parks, you name it has deteriorated to the
point that the United States looks positively
shabby in contrast with Europe or the rising

In another departure from GOP orthodoxy, he has favoured protectionism (though

this is packaged in his usual racist ranting
against China). None of the other GOP aspirants dare join him in calling for higher taxes
on the top one per cent as they depend on
raising money from the very class. Mr.
Trump is, of course, bankrolling his own
campaign and is free of that constraint.
The surprise has been that Mr. Trumps
call for higher taxes, support for Obamacare,
and a measure of economic nationalism has
not cost him in the polls but only bolstered
his standing. Thanks to the extremism of the
Tea Party fringe on any tax increase, the
conventional wisdom was that Republicans
who mooted such an idea would be swiftly
discredited yet not only has Mr. Trump
survived, his message seems to resonate with


The perils
for Yemen
he bombing of two boats carrying also Indians
off Yemens coast by Saudi warplanes this
week shows that Riyadh is indiscriminately
using air power to pound Yemen in the name
of ghting Houthi rebels. Its still not clear why the
Saudis targeted the boats, which were moving across
the Red Sea from the Somalian port of Berbera to
Mokha in Yemen. The bodies of six of the 20 Indians
who were on board have been found; one is yet to be
accounted for. Who will answer for this tragedy? But
such questions are of little concern for Saudi Arabia,
whose months-long air campaign in Yemen has triggered a humanitarian crisis. Over 4,500 people have
been killed and 23,000 wounded since its aircraft started hitting Yemen in late-March. The destruction of
infrastructure and the import restrictions imposed by
a Saudi-led coalition have led to 21 million out of the
population of 26.7 million being deprived of essential
commodities and basic services. They now need humanitarian assistance. The Saudi version is that it intervened to defend Yemens internationally recognised
regime of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi against
Houthi rebels. But the ground reality is different.
The Houthis are Shias, who make up between 30 and
45 per cent of Yemens population, and are reportedly
close to Iran. They were instrumental in the 2011 public protests in Yemen that led to the ouster of President
Ali Abdullah Saleh. But the Saudi-managed post-Saleh
transition kept Houthis out of political power, leading
them to break peace with Sanaa and resume their
armed rebellion. When President Hadi failed to consolidate power, the Houthis marched towards the capital,
eventually forcing him to ee the country. What made
this crisis worse were its sectarian underpinnings. Saudi Arabias main concern is over Iran gaining a foothold
in its backyard through the Houthis. It must have
calculated that a military intervention in Yemen and a
possible defeat of the Houthis would weaken Iran and
strengthen its regional standing. But the operation has
been largely counter-productive, as in the case of several other external interventions in West Asia. Seven
months after Riyadh started bombing Yemen, the rebels are still in Sanaa. Meanwhile, the chaos and human tragedy caused by the war are helping terror
groups such as al-Qaeda. Its unfortunate that the people of Yemen are being forced to bear the brunt of the
Saudi-Iran rivalry. The international community cannot look away. It has to put pressure on Riyadh to end
the bombing, and try to facilitate talks between the
rival camps in Yemen. It wont be easy to bring both the
pro-Hadi factions and Houthis to the table. But failing
to do so could further devastate Yemen. The human
costs of such a development will be catastrophic.



many in the GOPs rank and le. With Bernie

Sanders anchoring himself around a socialdemocratic ideology of state spending, higher taxes, and the reconstruction of a welfare
state to revive the middle-class, Mr. Trumps
economic views hold out the promise of
shifting the debate in the U.S. a few welcome
degrees to the Left.
Stepping back from these details, one cannot help but despair at the poverty of political choice in the United States. With the
partial exception of Mr. Sanders, all other
contenders hew to a depressingly narrow
range of views when it comes to public policy. There is a touching faith in the market
and privatisation despite many catastrophic
failures. There is also a limited spectrum of
views on elds like public education; criminal justice; prisons; nancial markets; environmental sustainability; and gun control.
In the realm of foreign policy, there is a
Messianic belief in the exceptional status of
the United States. In the area of defence
production, there is tremendous support for
arms exports the U.S. exports more armaments than all the other leading countries
It merits remembering that Hillary Clinton supported George W. Bush in the rush to
war in Iraq based on dubious claims about
weapons of mass destruction and, today, assiduously dispels any idea that she is less
macho than others when it comes to foreign
policy or on being tough on crime. Not one
candidate, not even Mr. Sanders, dares to
argue for a position favourable to Palestine
in a manner that would be considered routine or ordinary in much of Europe or the
rest of the world.

Pepsi-vs.-Coke nature of the contest

American liberals, especially those smug
about their progressive ideology and beliefs,
need to ask themselves some questions that
comes hard to the citizens of any country but
perhaps especially to those of a superpower.
One of them should be: does the election of a
Democrat or a Republican to the White
House make any difference to people like,
someone living in the Swat valley in Pakistan? Or in Fallujah in Iraq? The incapacity to
even pose such a question demonstrates the
Pepsi-versus-Coke character of its presidential contests and the limits of the American
political imagination.
Viewed against such a wide backdrop, the
momentary popularity of a maverick like Mr.
Trump raises an interesting question: what
social-historical function is Mr. Trump serving at this moment? Posed that way, his
extremism, I suggest, allows for the normalisation and mainstreaming of a whole range
of opinions on race, gender, immigration,
war, militarism, defence spending, markets,
inequality, the welfare state, and related issues held by candidates of both parties that
are themselves deeply problematic and unsustainable in the long run. In other words,
gures like Mr. Trump are what enable the
likes of Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush to
emerge as normal and balanced candidates
for the presidency. His sheer excesses draw
our eyes onto him and away from the extreme views of the alleged moderates on
similar issues.
If the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu
is correct in saying that every established
order tends to produce the naturalization of
its own arbitrariness, Donald Trump may
well be the instrument of such naturalisation at this point in time. One ought then to
beware both of those vehemently critical and
those manically supportive of the man
both constituencies make you forget the
madness that occupies the allegedly desirable and normal middle ground in the United States.
(Sankaran Krishna is professor of political
science at the University of Hawaii. He can
be reached at

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Meat ban and ahimsa

The Bombay High Courts public

denouncement of the ban draws the
One of the most appealing and attention back to the earlier cowaesthetically satisfying aspects of slaughter ban. The common factor
Jainism is tolerance. The principle in the both issues is the communal
of ahimsa (non-violence) is a basic politics practised by the Bharatiya
tenet which is why we nd Jain Janata Party (BJP). The Centres
monks and nuns covering their vested interests in viewing such
mouth with cloth so that even issues through the communal
insects should not be affected when prism gives credence to the myth of
they breathe (Meat sale ban not Hindu supremacy, tossing the
feasible in Mumbai: HC, and values of our secular Constitution
From Kashmir down, the pot boils to the winds. The ruling partys
late ideological position is becoming
Ramchandra Gandhi, a unique clearer, proving that its pre-poll
philosopher, once elaborated this promises of achhe din were nothing
concept to me. One can avoid or but a resounding farce. With the
reduce hostility and thereby silencing of many dissenting voices,
violence if one can, colloquially our secular democracy has ceased
speaking, put onself in the shoes of to function.
Muhammed Hafiyy,
the other. To put in a simpler way,
you understand the other, namely
that person to whom you are
hostile, by putting yourself in her The ban on the sale of meat and sh
place. This transposition of identity in different parts of the country
could melt the hostility. Such is poses a big question mark on the
ahimsa. Therefore, it is most secular values of the nation. Should
unbecoming of the core followers of the rituals of one community be
Jainism to oppose the practices of allowed to become the reason of
the other as a requirement for inconvenience
their own satisfaction in worship community? The holy festival of
be it meditation or fasting. Their paryushan should not be
spiritual enlightenment cannot be politicised to give an impression of
gained by intrusion into the a non-existent war against the
practices of the other.
meat-eating community. A ban
Jain places of worship, called would not only discriminate
sthanaks, do not have any image or against the vast population of meat
statues or any material substance eaters but also against the
as is usually associated with many community of meat-sellers, many
other religions. It is a pity that a of whose members lead a hand-tosense of conict has been created mouth existence.
Sanya Khan,
on the behalf of Jains with respect
New Delhi
to their practices of meditation and
fasting. Preventing the fullment of
need of any other community as a
necessary condition of their own
spirituality would go against the The real test for a Janata Dal
very core of ahimsa which is the (United)-Rashtriya Janata Dal [JD
fundamental ethic of Jainism.
(U)-RJD] alliance will be after it
Devaki Jain, succeeds in securing a majority,
New Delhi especially if the RJD wins more

Bihar polls

seats than the JDU (High stakes in

Bihar, Editorial, Sep.11).
Lalu Prasad Yadavs condantes,
including his family members, will
try to extract their pound of esh by
staking claim to plum Cabinet
posts. The coalition government
could end up being indirectly
controlled by Lalu, making him the
de facto Chief Minister even as his
disqualication period of six years
runs its course.
Vineet Phadtare,

Vikramshila and Nalanda were the

oldest learning centres which had
scholars from all over the world.
However, at present, casteism and
sectarianism have become so
deeply-rooted that the politics in
Bihar suffers from a 4P syndrome
(power, package, populism and
The way forward is for all parties
to rise above sectarian divisions
and contest on the plank of
development. Qualitative and not
quantitative development will
pave the way for a progressive and
Inthe BiharAssembly Elections, prosperous Bihar.
Shubham Goel,
the stakes are high for different
Hapur, Uttar Pradesh
political parties, but it is the highest
for the 66 million voters. Despite
seeing a decent growth in the past
10 years,Biharstill remains among
the least-developed States. For The alleged rape of Nepali women
politicians, this election is about by a Saudi Arabian diplomat is not
their pride and ego, but for the just a heinous crime but a blot on
natives, it is about their livelihood the entire Saudi Arabian kingdom
(Waive immunity, Delhi tells
and their future.
For once,voters in Biharwill Riyadh, Sep.11). It is unbelievable
have to shed their traditional caste- that even officials in responsible
based voting habits and make positions resort to such shameless
strong decisions by voting in favour acts and try to get away with it. The
of those who they believe are likely government of India has done well
to improve their living conditions. to summon the envoy and request
Voters should not opt for those who for cooperation. Though India
just pretend to be well-wishers enjoys a friendly relationship with
because they belong to the same the kingdom and is hugely
caste. The true potential ofBihar, dependent on it for oil, it should not
which is immense, can only be hesitate to pursue the matter
realised if there is a strong leader, strongly.
N.J. Ravi Chander,
who rises above all castes and has
the courage to carry the entireState
Saurav Kumar, The Vienna Convention on
Muzaffarpur Diplomatic
providing immunity to diplomats
Bihar has been host to many great from arrest, doesnt permit
kingdoms and empires like violation of laws of the resident
Magadha, Avanti and Vaishali. country by them. In the case of
Pataliputra (modern Patna) was Indian
the capital of Mauryas, Guptas and Khobragade,
Nandas, It was the melting pot of subjected her to interrogations
Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. and, subsequently, India had to

Diplomatic immunity

recall her. India should take up the

matter with Embassy of the Saudi
Arabia seeking justice for the
Hemant Kumar Pandey,
New Delhi

Spectacular GIM
It is heartening to note that the
(GIM) in Chennai has attracted
Rs.2.42 lakh crore investments in
Tamil Nadu (GIM nets investment
of Rs.2.42 lakh crore, Sep.11). This
is undoubtedly an achievement as it
shows the faith placed by
theinvestors. I am reminded of a
denition of investment: It is a
point of intersection of economics
and psychology (that is, money
and mind, two Ms). But at the
same time, it must be remembered
that the State government has the
responsibility to ensure that the
desired infrastructure is provided.
S. Ramakrishnasayee,
The summit came as a welcome
employment opportunity for lakhs
of youngesters. In this respect, let
us not forget the closure of Nokia
Factory because of which 2500
employees faced unemployment.
This is a good opportunity for the
State Government to take steps to
undo the damage done due to the
closure of the factory.
A.S. Gopalakrishnan,
Having attracted twice the targeted
investment, the summit has offered
scope for a signicant proportion of
engineering students to focus on
better placements and expect
better research facilities and more
M. Subbiah,


10 |




Old Labours 21st century moment

Andrew Whitehead


No thought
for food
an one persons religious freedom interfere
with anothers food preferences? And what if
the freedom of one religious group is in conict with that of another? The ban imposed in
some States on the sale of meat during the Jain communitys annual fasting period of Paryushan is problematic for more than one reason, and militates against
the food preferences of a majority of the people in the
States concerned. Not surprisingly, the order of the
Mumbai Municipal Corporation requiring slaughter
houses and meat shops to remain closed for four days
during the fasting period led to public outrage, and the
Bharatiya Janata Party came under attack from the
Shiv Sena, its own ally in Maharashtra, over the decision. When more States began announcing similar
bans, the issue became contentious and took on a
communal colour. Indeed, the Shiv Sena warned the
Jain community that it risked being alienated from
mainstream Indian society if it continued to insist on a
ban on meat. In Jammu and Kashmir, meanwhile, the
High Court called for the strict implementation of a
long-forgotten law that prohibits the slaughter of cows,
oxen and buffaloes. This fed into the political unrest in
the Muslim-majority State, with separatist leaders calling for a shutdown in protest. That the States ruled by
the BJP are the ones seeking to impose the ban on meat
is not lost on anyone. After Maharashtra, the States of
Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Haryana followed suit, raising the suspicion that the idea of a ban
was meant to further the BJPs political agenda. In
Maharashtra, the government had already introduced
a ban on beef; the bar on all meat varieties was therefore seen as an extension of the same Hindutva agenda.
Although such a move is nothing new, the publicity
given to the ban this time, and it being extended from
two days to four and eight days, resulted in much
disquiet. Many sellers and consumers of meat are not
opposed to a ban on the sale for a day or two; usually the
days preceding and following those days would see an
increase in sales and compensate for the day of the ban.
But a bar for four consecutive days, and the wide
publicity given to it, raised fears that the implementation would be strict and that those who did not conform
might face prosecution. The stated rationale for the
prohibition which does not cover sh and eggs is to
prevent slaughter during the period of fasting. But
that did not convince the Bombay High Court, which
termed the move regressive and absurd in a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai. By ordering a ban on meat for
an extended period, the BJP governments have revealed a fundamentalist streak, and thus risked a backlash from some of their own core supporters.

The day the Labour Party died, read the

alarmist headline on The Daily Telegraphs
website, just hours after Jeremy Corbyns
victory was announced on Saturday.
The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader
of the Labour Party is a catastrophe, wrote a
columnist for The Telegraph, a paper which
has never showed much friendly interest in
the British Left. A catastrophe for the Labour Party. A catastrophe for our political
system. A catastrophe for the country, it
There are many such siren voices warning
that the British Labour Partys dramatic, and
emphatic, lurch to the Left will consign it to
electoral oblivion, and weaken democracy by
depriving the country of a credible and effective Opposition. Political commentators
have been queuing up to insist that two elections were decided over the weekend Jeremy Corbyns victory in turn means, they
argue, that the governing Centre-Right Conservatives are now certain of re-election the
next time Britain votes.
Of all the convulsions that have shocked
Britains political system of late the success of an anti-Europe, anti- immigration
party in elections to the European Parliament; the resurgence of a radical Scottish
nationalism; the outright victory of David
Camerons Conservatives in the May general
elections Jeremy Corbyns triumph is the
most outlandish and unexpected one.
The Labour Party thought it would win
the May election; instead, it got barely 30 per
cent of the national vote and so was consigned to another ve years out of power.
Labours Centre-Left leader Ed Miliband
promptly resigned, heralding the contest
which reached its climax at the weekend.

A perpetual rebel
Many thought that a humbled Labour Party would head for the centre ground, and
move back towards the New Labour pragmatism associated with Tony Blair. In fact,
the most Blairite of the leadership candidates came last with less than 5 per cent of
the vote, and the party has confounded con-

The resounding victory of veteran Left-winger

Jeremy Corbyn in the elections for leader of
Britains main Opposition party will reshape
politics in the United Kingdom and perhaps
beyond. His victory could well encourage
mavericks and outliers elsewhere to believe
that they can capture high political ground
ventional political common sense by swinging sharply away from the political Centre.
Jeremy Corbyn is, in the words of The
Economist, perhaps the most Left-wing MP
in the House of Commons. In more than 30
years in Parliament, he has been the perpetual rebel. He has never been a Minister. He
has never shown a great deal of personal

A touch of the ageing hippy

Yet, now this bearded, vegetarian, alcoholabstaining socialist with a touch of the
ageing hippy about him is the leader of Her
Majestys official Opposition. And he is 66
so Old Labour in more ways than one.
Yet he won by a landslide, taking 60 per
cent of the votes in a four-sided contest in

principled, too concerned about personal

advancement, and saying what they think is
popular rather than what they believe, Mr.
Corbyn is seen as the anti-politician politician. The man who says what he means.
As the Corbyn campaign gathered steam,
thousands of young men and women, many
of them deeply disillusioned by party politics, rallied to his standard. The strength of
his support carries a warning to politicians
of all parties they have lost the condence
and respect of a signicant slice of the country. The British political system is in some
And of course on key issues opposing
public spending cuts, protecting welfare
benets, keeping out of other countries conicts, renouncing nuclear weapons, welcom-

When so many politicians are seen as unprincipled and too

concerned about personal advancement, Mr. Corbyn is seen as
the anti-politician politician, the man who says what he means

More retro than Syriza, Podemos

which nearly half-a-million Labour Party
members and registered supporters participated. It is probably the most emphatic personal mandate any party leader has secured
in modern British history.
If you imagine Mr. Corbyn to be a ery,
charismatic demagogue, think again. He is a
none-too-impressive orator, a personable
but not a commanding personality. The
qualities which have won him the election
are constancy of political principle some
say his views have not changed on any important issue since the 1970s and his personal humility and honesty.
When so many politicians are seen as un-

ing refugees, demanding action against

social inequality Jeremy Corbyn and his
supporters took a stand which was in
marked contrast to the equivocations of his
But where does Labour go from here? Jeremy Corbyns immediate problem is that he
does not have the support of the parliamentary Labour party. While three-fth of party
members and supporters voted for him as
leader, probably no more than one-tenth of
the partys MPs backed him. Several prominent gures in the party have already said
they will not take a role in Mr. Corbyns
shadow Cabinet team.


Act with
n a country that has seen much outrage over
cases of rape and has passed strict laws in the
past few years to check such crimes, it seems
ironic that the Indian government must watch
helplessly as a diplomat who has been accused of brutalising two women is able to evade police action. The
Saudi Arabian official cannot even be taken in for
questioning on the allegedly barbaric crimes he and
some of his family members participated in at their
residence in New Delhi. While it would be unfair and
imprudent to pronounce him (and possibly others)
guilty without going through due process of law, the
facts of the case, the outcome of medical examination
procedures and eyewitness accounts have led officials
to admit that prima facie there is evidence that the
victims were repeatedly raped, sodomised, and held
captive at knife-point over months. Regardless of the
gravity of the crime, however, international diplomatic
conventions must be followed, and unless the Saudi
government can be prevailed upon to waive the diplomats immunity, he will no doubt be on a ight to safety
and out of the reach of Indian authorities pretty soon.
While Riyadh is unlikely to give up its diplomat, waiving immunity has been done in exceptional cases in the
past. In 1997, Georgia did so for its deputy ambassador
to the United States who was held guilty in a drunken
driving accident that left his 16-year-old co-passenger
dead. Other countries have also waived immunity when
the crimes merited a full investigation. However, Saudi
Arabia has always protected its diplomats, despite what
one official termed a disproportionately high number of cases involving Saudi officials in heinous crimes.
In the U.K. and the U.S., charges of enslaving women
have been brought against Saudi Arabian diplomats
to no avail. There was particular anger in the U.K. in
2004 when a Saudi official was accused of sexually
assaulting an 11-year-old girl, but he too got away.
India must push the Saudi government for accountability. India has an added responsibility, given that
those involved are citizens of a third country and came
here from earthquake-hit and impoverished parts of
Nepal seeking livelihood opportunities desperately. India will need to be sensitive to Nepals concerns in the
matter. If it fails to secure the Saudi governments
cooperation, New Delhi will still have several options
to pursue the case at the bilateral level. Sustained
pressure may bear results given that Saudi Arabia expects to host Prime Minister Narendra Modi this year.
At the very least, if New Delhi shows its determination
to pursue this case, that will serve as a deterrent to any
others who may seek to use their diplomatic status to
claim immunity from the consequences of their crimes.



Mr. Corbyn has suggested that he wants to

reach out to all wings of the party. That is a
wise move not least because the hard Left
has very few political gures of real talent
and stature. But there is a risk that the new
leader will be cold-shouldered by many of
the partys rising stars who feel deeply uncomfortable about printing more money to
ease austerity, abandoning Britains nuclear
arsenal and other of Mr. Corbyns key policy
Mainstream Labour gures are desperately worried that the party is heading to the
Left when the country is edging to the Right.
A hard-Left leader may appeal to Labour
party activists, but could well terrify the
oating voters who need to be won back from
the Conservatives.
Mr. Corbyns victory will, nevertheless,
shape Britain in coming years it is now less
likely that Britain will intervene militarily in
Syria, and a little more likely (though still
odds are against it) that the country will pull
out of the European Union (EU).
In his view of the world, Mr. Corbyn reects the 1970s socialist distrust of American foreign policy and support for
movements of an anti-imperialist mindset.
He was venomously criticised during the
leadership campaign for being sympathetic
to Irish republicanism and to Hamas and
Hizbollah in West Asia.
Labours new leader is clever enough to
know that he now needs to be a lot more
careful about who he calls his friend. But
there may well be quite a few skeletons lurking in his political closet which his rivals will
delight in disinterring.
It is doubtful whether Jeremy Corbyns
victory reects a wider trend in the European Left. One of the rst messages of congratulations came from Syriza, the hard-Left
governing party in Greece. But while Syriza
and its Spanish counterpart Podemos are the
shock troops of a new Left youthful in
prole, iconoclastic by temperament, a
break from old-style social democracy Mr.
Corbyn is much more retro. There is not a lot
of evidence of new thinking on the Labour
A greater international impact could well
be in encouraging mavericks and outliers to
believe that they can capture high political
ground. Those polar opposites of American
politics, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders,
are both likely to nd encouragement in Mr.
Corbyns success as they compete respectively for the Republican and Democratic
presidential nominations.
Could we see in a few years time Jeremy
Corbyn becoming the most Left-wing Prime
Minister in British history? Even many of his
supporters think that is unlikely. It is not
simply that the electorate may decide they
dont want a hard-line socialist leading the
country. Jeremy Corbyn hasnt really shown
a lot of hunger for the top job.
He will be in his seventies at the time of
the next general election in 2020. Britain
hasnt had a Prime Minister that old since
Winston Churchill more than sixty years
ago. It is entirely possible that he will see his
main goal as shaking up the Labour Party,
restoring its radical vigour, and making way
for a younger man or woman within two or
three years.
But the last few extraordinary months and
years in British politics have shown how
unwise it is to gaze into the soothsayers
crystal ball. So lets just sit back and watch
the drama unfold.
(Andrew Whitehead was both India correspondent and U.K. political correspondent
during a BBC career stretching over 35

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

left to the individual to decide what

he/she should eat and the state
The moratorium imposed on meat should
in Maharashtra is really an conditions only to help its citizens.
A. Mohan,
unwelcome move (Mumbai meat
ban raises key constitutional
question, Sep.13) and raises the
spectre of fascism. The ban is a
violation of fundamental rights of
Indians and I am at a loss to While the local youth in Kashmir
understand why we dont even are increasingly joining the
have the right to eat what we want. indigenous Hizbul Mujahideen, it
Governments impose such bans, is comforting to know that they are
completely ignoring the livelihood inuenced less by the Lashkar-econcerns of a large section of Taiba (LeT) and its militancy and
people who eke out a living by that terror attacks are getting
working in abattoirs. The day is not milder (Hizbul now biggest
far when people will need the militant group, Sep. 13). Even the
permission of the government recent Gurdaspur and Udhampur
terror attacks in Punjab were
even to breathe.
Mohammad Abdur Rahman, smaller in size and scale when
Khammam compared with the 7/11 or 26/11
attacks in Mumbai.
It seems that the Maharastra
However the youth of Kashmir
Government has forgotten that should know that Islam is the
India is a secular republic [as the second largest religion in India and
preamble states] and that there is that terrorism of any kind, mild or
individual liberty for every citizen strong, will only tear apart the
to practise his/her beliefs without countrys fabric of unity in
any imposition from the state. The diversity. They should see that this
question of meat ban during is a land where communal
Paryushan goes against all our harmony prevails. Muslim women
secular values. The argument given in Patna take their children
by the Bombay High Court dressed up as Lord Krishna to
advocate, Anil Singh that since participate in the Janmashtami
sh and eggs dont involve celebrations.
slaughtering, their consumption Church and Vavar Mosque are
isnt a violation of ahimsa is important destinations in the
amusing, to say the least.
south for Hindu pilgrims going to
Sneha Mukherjee, Sabarimala. I think greater
Bengaluru development
employment opportunities for the
One fails to understand the logic youth will go a long way in curbing
behind the ban on sale of meat for local militancy in Kashmir.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan,
four days in a metropolitan city like
Mumbai. In a country that upholds
the secular values and credentials
of its citizens and where different Though going by the statistics, the
beliefs, customs and faiths co-exist, overall situation in Kashmir
such a ban is lopsided. Indias appears to be favourable, the
uniqueness and culture lies in its popularity of home-grown Hizbul
unity amidst diversity. Such an ill- Mujahideen cannot but be
advised ban would only arouse disturbing. That local issues have
religious intolerance. It should be contributed to the appeal of this

Right to eat

Hizbuls popularity

militant organisation points to the

extent of disenchantment of the
people with governments at the
Centre and in the State. It also
renders hollow Indias arguments
that trouble in the State is on
account of Pakistans interference.
It would be in our countrys
interests that policymakers realise
the portents and take active steps
to wean the youth away from such
P. Prasand Thampy,

Jeremy Corbyns win

Jeremy Corbyns convincing
victory in elections for the Labour
partys leadership in the U.K. is yet
another proof of increasing
support for Left politics in the
Western world (Socialist Corbyn
wins Labour party leadership in
landslide, and Veteran socialist
shakes up Labour, Sep.13). There
appears to be a serious search
among the common people for an
alternative to the neoliberal
economic policies that have
wreaked havoc in the lives of the
poor across the world. In India too,
there is a growing concern over the
inequality bred by the economic
growth of the last few decades.
However, the Left here is on the
decline and there is no socialist
leader of stature in sight who is
capable of inspiring the nation
with an alternative vision.
Manohar Alembath,

Water visionary
Ramaswamy R. Iyer was a
bureaucrat with a difference,
surely the nest in his tribe A
visionary on water issues, Sep.12).
His intellectual prowess on policy
issues knew no bounds. He
produced a rich body of eloquent
and forthright commentary on
environmental issues. His articles

for The Hindu will certainly be

missed and his rich legacy will
always be cherished. Mr. Iyer will
always be remembered as Indias
water man who was instrumental
in drafting Indias rst national
water policy way back in 1987.
Chitvan Singh Dhillon,
I read with profound sorrow the
passing away of Ramaswamy R.
Iyer, a friend I deeply admired, not
only as a brilliant author and
contributor to your papers
columns, but for his enlightened
views on critical issues concerning
water. After a ve-year spell in
charge of forests and wildlife in the
Union Ministry of Agriculture, I
was entrusted with setting up a
new Department of Environment
in November 1980 under the
ministerial charge of Mrs. Indira
Gandhi. With my experience, I
could not help feeling a deep
concern over the growing water
crisis in our country. This was not
only due to our disappearing
natural forests and misuse of
natural resources, but also on
account of its growing exploitation
through the government policy of
engineering diversion of rivers.
appointment with the newly
appointed Secretary of the
Ministry of Water Resources,
somewhat sceptically, knowing the
indifference with which such
senior officials usually listened to
environment. However, I was
delighted when the new Secretary,
Mr. Iyer, listened to me for one
hour with rapt attention. From his
searching questions, I had no
doubt that he fully shared my
concerns, suggesting at the end
that I give a talk to the technical
staff of his Ministry. I returned
from the meeting not only having
acquired a ne and brilliant friend,
but also having found a committed

crusader who, with his impressive

scientic and technical backing,
lent invaluable support to peoples
movements against the wanton
exploitation of our most precious
natural resource water.
N.D. Jayal,

No trump card
Sankaran Krishnas analysis of the
role of gures like Donald Trump
when it comes to presidential
campaigns in the U.S. is instructive
as it helps to understand the often
elections in democracies. (The
Donald is no trump card, Sep.12).
It reminded me of Barry
Schwartzs book, The paradox of
choice: why more is less, where he
observes, I think that in modern
America, we have far too many
options for breakfast cereal and
not enough options for President.
Clearly, the dominance of the
market over the polity and the huge
expenses involved in canvassing
present a deadly challenge to the
very idea of democracy.
Firoz Ahmad,

Bihar polls
Perhaps smarting from Kiran
Bedis fate in Delhi, the BJP-led
NDA has not projected a chief
ministerial candidate and wants to
cash in on Prime Minister
Narendra Modis charisma (High
stakes in Bihar, Sep.12). The caste
factor assumes a great deal of
signicance as Nitish Kumar, with
his allies, banks on their traditional
vote banks of the Yadavas, Muslims
and Kurmis comprising
approximately 32 per cent of the
total voters, while the BJPcombine is counting on the upper
castes and the EBCs (extremely
backward Classes).
Azhar A Khan,
Rampur, Uttar Pradesh


12 |




Federalism: Nepals final frontier

Jayant Prasad


A blast and
some questions
horric blast in Petlawad, in Jhabua district
of Madhya Pradesh, has claimed the lives of
about a hundred people. It was caused by a
stockpile of gelatine sticks stored illegally in a
building. The detonation, which ripped through a
three-storey residential-cum-commercial complex
that also housed an eatery, raises disturbing questions
about the practice of illegally storing explosives in
congested residential areas. Chief Minister Shivraj
Singh Chouhan was heckled when he arrived in the
town to visit the families of the dead, and the State
government immediately took the predictable corrective measure of suspending the local Station House
Officer, for not having taken action against the illegal
storage of explosives. However, the real problem goes
deeper and involves the question of proper regulation
of the sale, purchase and subsequent monitoring of
explosive materials across the country. According to
reports, there are a number of unauthorised contractors in Jhabua district with signicant stockpiles of
gelatine sticks and detonators, largely to aid the business of sinking wells for irrigation. Rajendra Kasawa,
the owner of the seed and fertilizer shop where the
stockpile caused the devastation, is only one such.
The sale and transport of such explosive materials is
meant to be regulated by the Petroleum and Explosives
Safety Organisation, under the Union Commerce and
Industry Ministry. PESO has now claimed, with alacrity, that no licences had been issued to Mr. Kasawa. But
an incident like this raises a multitude of questions
about the ability of a Central agency to monitor all
explosive substances everywhere in the country. PESO
has its headquarters in Nagpur and it is responsible for
the administration of a host of laws pertaining to the
regulation of explosives. These include the Explosives
Act, 1884; the Inammable Substances Act, 1952 and
the Explosives Rules, 2008. In 2011, the agency announced plans to computerise its operations but that
project still appears to be a work in progress. At the
district level, the police and the Collector have access
to a portal that features data on the sale of all explosive
materials through legal vendors, but a system is yet to
be worked out for a real-time tracing and tracking
programme. A better system should enable a process of
decentralisation by allowing States to make their own
laws to regulate explosives and have an Explosives
Control Bureau, like the Narcotics Control Bureau.
Such a step, that will allow the States to take control of
what happens in their own backyard, is overdue.

The long-awaited promulgation of a new

Constitution within the next few days in Nepal was expected to be the culmination of its
transition to a pluralist democracy. The institutionalisation of the gains of Nepals remarkable peace process should have been a
time for celebration, heralding an era of harmony and progress. The Constitution is
meant to reaffirm both the social purpose
and the political commitments embedded in
the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement
and the 2007 interim Constitution, establishing Nepal as a federal democratic
Instead, a revolt is gathering momentum
across Nepal. The Terai has been on re.
Protests have shut it down for over the past
three weeks. Forty persons and policemen
have been killed in the ensuing violence. The
present calamity is man-made, unlike the
earthquake ve months ago. The violence
this time is because of a disregard for the
interests of the Janajati and Madhesi peoples
of Nepal, consisting of several disadvantaged
and subaltern social groups, including the
Tharus, who are amongst its most marginalised communities.
These groups believe the promise of a
democratic restructuring of the state stands
subverted. The six-State federation model
initially put on the table in early August by
the ruling coalition, and supported by the
United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
[UCPN-M], as also the later version that added a Province, reect political parsimony and
gerrymandering that would effectively disenfranchise the Janajati and Madhesi

Repression not the solution

Repression cannot be the right response to
political disaffection. This can only increase
alienation and cause irreparable long-term
damage to Nepals national cohesion. The
plan to ride out the protests by a display of
force might, instead, lead to a bigger movement, as happened at the time of the Jana
Andolan of 2006 and the Madhesi agitation
of 2007.
The Jana Andolan unseated the monarchy.
The Madhesi agitation persuaded the late
Girijababu (Girija Prasad Koirala, the then
Prime Minister) to guarantee a federation in
Nepal, and delimit the Constituent Assembly
(CA) seats in the Terai and the mid-hills,
proportionate to the population. In early
2008, he enabled an eight-point agreement
accepting the Madhesi peoples call for an
autonomous Madhes and other peoples de-

Nepals transition to a pluralist democracy faces a

final challenge failure of the three major parties
to accommodate the legitimate demands of
Janajati and Madhesi groups for true federalism.
Greater consensus and not the imposition of an
artificial deadline can help overcome it
sire for a federal structure with autonomous
The social and political contracts he
helped create must not be cast away. Prime
Minister Sushil Koirala must respect the legacy of Girijababu, at whose feet he learnt his
politics, and embrace an inclusive discourse.
If not, Nepal might again face troubled times,
and the half-hearted republicans and closet
monarchists, together with other regressive
elements, might drag Nepali politics irrevocably backwards.
In pushing ahead with voting on a contested Constitution, the ruling coalition in Nepal
might be on the verge of squandering the
gains of their electoral victory of November

did not immediately result in popular rule.

The Interim Government of Nepal Act of
1951 limited the Cabinets authority. First
King Tribhuvan, and from 1955 his son and
successor, King Mahendra, continued to control the key levers of government, making the
countrys politics palace-centric.
The lining up of political leaders at the
Narayanhiti Palace for attention and office
undermined their standing. Monarchy
played musical chairs with the Cabinet, with
10 of them constituted and sacked in eight
years, until a new Constitution was adopted
in 1959. NCs impressive victory was rewarded with a dismissal the following year, with
the Prime Minister jailed, political parties

The lesson from this agitation is that unless the Constitution is

equitable and encapsulates the values of the peoples
movements, the quest for democracy may run aground
2013. Excluding the 26 nominated seats in
the 601 seat Assembly, theNepali Congress
(NC)won 196 seats, followed by theCommunist Party of Nepal (Unied Marxist-Leninist) [(CPN (UML)]which won 175, together
constituting a comfortable majority.The victors should not fall victim to a sense of triumphalism. They won not because the
Janajati and Madhesi voters rejected their
own empowerment, but because the Maoist
and Madhesi leaders did not deliver on their
The Cabinets cosmetic invitation to the
Tharu and Madhesi leaders for a dialogue,
without the commitment to compromise,
was like using the wick of a candle to light an
electric bulb. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Mr. Koirala on August
25, he called for restraint, an end to violence,
and restoration of social harmony. He reiterated that Nepals political leadership
should resolve all outstanding issues through
dialogue between all political parties through
a process of consultation involving all the
parties. This was not done.
Democracy in Nepal has had tful progress. The overthrow of the Rana oligarchy in
1951, following King Tribhuvans dramatic
evacuation to Delhi and triumphal return,

outlawed, and multiparty democracy replaced by a party-less Panchayat regime that

lasted 30 years.
The rst large-scale peoples democratic
movement in Nepal, known as Jana Andolan-I, brought down this regime. King Birendra quickly adjusted to the new
contingency. A new Constitution was promulgated the following year; parliamentary
elections held in 1991, 1994, and 1999; and
local-level elections in 1992 and 1997. Democratic consolidation was prevented by palace-inspired intrigues, and from 1996, by the
added challenge of the Maoist insurgency.
After King Birendras patricidal killing in
2001, his successor, King Gyanendra, dispensed with democratic accountability and
concentrated executive authority in his
hands. Based on the twin demands of democracy and social justice, a second wave of the
peoples movement erupted in April 2006
that swept out the monarchy from the Nepali
political system.
The demand for an inclusive democracy
was not simply superimposed on Nepals
emerging democratic edice as a distemper
that could be dusted off the inheritance of
Jana Andolan-II and the Madhesi movement
of 2006-07 embedded this idea in the very


Into uncharted
he election of avowed socialist Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of Britains main Opposition party is viewed as being of a piece with
recent European movements challenging the
established status quo of parties dominated by the
Centre-Right. That is true, but only partially. In his
entire political career longer than his 32 years as the
Labour Member of Parliament from Islington North
Mr. Corbyn has stood rm with the traditional Labour
Left. His views on privatisation and markets, nuclear
disarmament, Europe, and war and peace, have been
remarkably consistent over time. Mr. Corbyn, who
scraped through the nomination process with the minimum needed number of 35 parliamentary backers,
astounded the country and probably himself by rapidly
rising in the polls, leaving the three other contenders
far behind. His unconventional campaign that broke
with the political tradition of stage-managed engagement indeed rejuvenated the ranks. He held rallies
across the country drawing audiences in their thousands. And that was buttressed by a lively social media
campaign. Sixteen thousand young people signed up as
his campaign volunteers. Clearly, Mr. Corbyn tapped
into a vein of discontent within the party and the Left,
disillusioned by Labours electoral defeat in May, and
its platform of austerity-lite.
Despite a 60 per cent mandate from his party, Mr.
Corbyn now faces his real test maintaining his radical
agenda and the momentum he has built, while readying
the party for the 2020 general elections. This challenge
cannot be underestimated. There is a sharp mismatch
between his standing among the party rank and le on
the one hand, and among the 232 Labour MPs on the
other, who worry about the electoral competitiveness
of a Labour led by Mr. Corbyn. Only 20 of them voted
for him, and several shadow Ministers resigned after he
was elected. His demands to end austerity measures
and for a national education service akin to the National Health Service, are among the policies that may win
backing from some of the parliamentarians. However,
his calls for the re-nationalisation of the railways and
the energy sector, and the withdrawal of the U.K. from
NATO, his opposition to military intervention in Syria,
and most controversial of all, the proposal to dismantle
the Trident nuclear missile programme, will meet with
stiff resistance. Even some unions oppose the lastmentioned demand. The election result made it clear
that Mr. Corbyn has a huge public backing and has even
won over those who were at one time alienated from
conventional politics, heralding what many think could
be a transformative leftward shift in Britain. These are,
however, uncharted waters that Mr. Corbyn is setting
out into. It is one thing to command the overwhelming
support of the Labour rank and le; reaching out to the
larger electorate is going to be a huge challenge.



No return to a unitary order

Despite the marginalisation of forces favouring inclusive federalism in the 2013 elections, attempts to revert to what journalist
C.K. Lal describes as the old unitary and
exclusionary order will not be politically
sustainable in the long run. The lesson from
the present agitation is that unless the new
Constitution is equitable, and encapsulates
the values emanating from the womb of the
peoples movements, Nepals quest for democratic governance might again run aground.
First and foremost, the Nepal Army, a
force of the last resort, must be pulled out
from the Terai districts. Nepals Human
Rights Commission has asked government to
do so, while urging the United Democratic
Madhesi Front (UDMF) to keep their agitation peaceful. In a stunning indictment of
the police, the Commission noted that protesters who died or were injured had been
shot in the head, chest and stomach, proving
the excessive use of force, and violation of
humanitarian norms.
The triumvirate with a combined majority
in CA that can ramrod the draft Constitution
through the NC, the CPN (UML), and the
UCPN-M must eschew the temptation to
promulgate a Constitution that is widely unacceptable.
Between the completion of the clause-byclause voting and the adoption of the Constitution as a whole, they must revisit the process and seek the broadest measure of
consensus. For a Constitution that has taken
over seven years to negotiate, imposing an
articial deadline is incomprehensible.
The oldest and the newest Constitutions in
South Asia, those of India and Bhutan, had
the signatures of each and every member of
their Constituent Assembly and the National
Assembly, respectively. It will be a pity for
Nepal to promulgate a Constitution that does
not bear the signatures of all or nearly all of
its CA members.
The differences affect just ve of the 75
districts of Nepal, which is already assured of
a federation. The effort now should be to
reduce the remaining differences on the
number and boundaries of the States to the
barest minimum and remit the remaining
issues to a commission.
Nepalis have a proven capacity for eschewing brinkmanship and showing exibility.
They have faced situations more difficult
than the one that confronts Nepal today.
They helped their country move from a state
of insurgency and civil war to the quest for an
inclusive democratic order. Visionary leadership can again overcome the clash of interests between the ruling Bahun-Chhetri
elite and the Janajatis, Dalits and Madhesis.
It is time for Nepals political leaders to show
this can be done. The quest for a new Constitution has reached the last lap of a long marathon. This is not the time to stumble and fall.
(Jayant Prasad is a former Indian Ambassador to Nepal. Currently, he is advisor, Delhi
Policy Group and visiting fellow at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries.)

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

The recent debate on meat ban has

been short-sighted and biased to
The ban on meat during Paryushan say the least. Much hype has been
is clearly a political move (No given to the arguments claiming
thought for food, Editorial, interference with food preferences
Sep.14). In Hindu culture, during of people. However, in the country
the holy month of Shravan, people of Mahatma Gandhi, nonviolence
prefer to eat vegetarian food for and the right to life of animals has
cultural and scientic reasons. The been
month of September marks the end Eating non-vegetarian food cannot
of monsoon in some States and be an absolute right as it involves
people pray to keep sea calm for the taking of lives. There is a strong
shing. There are no shing debate on abolishing death penalty
activities in coastal regions during but we rarely hear any noise when
this month. However, people have lives of animals are taken in the
never demanded ban on any food. most inhumane manner. Would it
The move has revealed the not be a progressive move if India
fundamentalist streak within the becomes the rst country to rmly
BJP government for which it has enshrine the right to life of animals
risked backlash even from its core and birds in our Constitution?
Brahma Nandan Singh,
allies like Shiv Sena.
Prashant B. Ugale,
Saharsa, Bihar
Kolhapur, Maharashtra

Politicising food

The editorial was apt and timely.

The very fact that this is being done
in BJP-ruled States makes it clear
that a crude attempt is being made
to impose a divisive agenda on the
nation. India is perhaps the only
country in the world where we
allow culinary preferences to be
dictated by the state and the
government of the day. This does
not augur well for national unity,
which is already under a fair
amount of strain.
Dr. M.K. Bajaj,
Zirakpur, Punjab

foundations of the new republic.

At the very rst meeting of the CA, on May
28, 2008, all members present, excluding
four from Rashtriya Prajatantrik Party-Nepal, declared Nepal to be a federal democratic
republic. With their common adversary
the monarchy gone, the clashing interests
of the major parties came to fore. They expended much of their energy in the making
and unmaking of governments. This caused
political fragmentation, especially within
UCPN-M, which split into two, and the Madhesi parties, which multiplied in four years
from three major parties into thirteen. CA
members were not involvedin the shaping of
constitutional debate. The social capital accumulated by civil society in 2006-07 was
largely frittered away.Compromises and
consensus-making became impossible.
Differences on the nature and form of federalism cut to the heart of Nepals political
predicament. The rst CAs Committee of
State Restructuring recommendation of 14
Provinces was considered proigate. An independent High Level State Restructuring
Recommendation Commission then recommended 10 Provinces. Divergence on the
number, names, boundary delineation, and
division of powers between Centre and Provinces continued to hold up progress.

Diplomatic impunity?

The luxury of diplomatic immunity

is the antithesis of the principle
that crime under law must be
punished (Act with rmness,
Editorial, Sep.14). It should be
waived in cases such as this one
concerning the Saudi Arabian
diplomat. Such acts bring shame to
the nation of the diplomat and the
Saudi Arabian government should
cooperate to ensure that there is a
fair trial.
Balajee S. Chemote,

It will be a sad moment for those

agitating for justice for the victims
if Riyadh takes no action against
the diplomat. The Prime Ministers
visit later this year can be called off
as a mark of protest and as a sign of
our commitment to protect human
rights of Nepali citizens working in
our country.
Prakash Ch. Mondal,

Aurangzebs position
Aurangzeb was the sixth Mughal
ruler (Aurangzeb is a severely
misunderstood gure, Sep.14). Is
there any evidence that the BJP is
erasing the history of the entire
Mughal dynasty, from Babur to
Aurangzeb is widely portrayed as a
villain. But that was seen in history
books even earlier. Further, while it
may be true that Aurangzeb acted
politically, his key source of
fundamentalism and revulsion
acceptance of Hindus was a
practical matter, not an act of great
tolerance, as evidenced by his
imposition of Jaziya. These acts are
enough to make him a villain in our
eyes. If the book being referred to in
the interview is about Sanskrit in
the Mughal court, why talk about
Aurangzeb in length? The focus
should have been on language and

those like Dara Shikoh who and kings have contributed

and immensely to the national fabric of
understanding of the two great India.
Dr. Syed Sami Ullah,
religions, Hinduism and Islam.
A. Shravan,
Warangal, Telangana
Aurangzeb was different from his
predecessors and not just when it
comes to Sanskrit. He posed
himself as a defender of Islam and
wanted to rule according to the
directions of Sharia, unlike Akbar
or Shah Jahan. Akbar set up various
institutions and Shah Jahan
excelled in art and architecture
while Aurangzeb demolished many
venerated Hindu temples. Overall,
cultural exchanges under Mughals
were not free of tensions.
C.R. Ananthanarayanan,
The interview imparts precious
insights into how history and
historical gures should be treated.
Audrey Truschke reminds us of the
scientic rules of research:
reconstructing history in an
accurate manner. I would like to
add that objectivity is the most
important tool in the hands of a
researcher. Maligning historical
gures will deprive the younger
generations of the right sense of
history and, most importantly,
polarise the society which modern
India can ill afford. All past rulers

Patel agitation

The Patels do not full any criteria

that would make them need
reservation (Gujarat calls Hardik
for talks; Dandi march off, Sep.14).
Now they have found a new way to
get their points across by escalating
the agitation in the U.S during the
PMs visit. I nd their demands
pointless and hope the government
takes suitable steps to avoid letting
the situation escalate further.
Abhishek Baul,
Andaman And Nicobar islands

Victory for workers

The Kanan Devan tea estate strike
is a unique one in the history of
labour agitations (Munnar women
triumph, Sep.14). It was a protest
political slogans and political
leaders. The suppression exploded
after years of exploitation by the
management and the hypocrisy of
the union leaders affiliated with
political parties. Unfortunately, the
national media failed to notice this
historical moment.
T.V. Sreekumar,


10 |




The pseudo-religiosity of the BJP


Fresh initiatives
in Sri Lanka
he Sri Lankan governments revelation in the
current session of the UN Human Rights
Council that it is committed to the setting up
of a Constituent Assembly of Parliament that
will adopt a new Constitution, besides a truth and
reconciliation commission, is a laudable step forward
six years after the end of the horrific civil war. It reflects
the dramatic change in the political context in the
country. The setting up of a government of national
unity with the two largest political parties, the United
National Party and the Sri Lankan Freedom Party,
sharing power, with the Tamil National Alliance being
given the post of Leader of the Opposition, has provided
a welcome space for a credible initiative on the Tamil
question. This is in pointed contrast to the nationalist
approach of its predecessor government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who appeared to be deflecting
attention from its record in the civil war by playing up
perceived differences in the international community.
The previous regimes promises of taking steps for reconciliation and rehabilitation and specific steps towards devolution of power to the provincial councils,
never manifested on the ground. Notwithstanding the
outcome of the UNHRC meeting, it is clear that institutional mechanisms are being put in order by the Sri
Lankan government. This offers the hope that there will
be a redressing of the long-standing grievances of the
minority community related to devolution of power.
This is besides the pressing issues of rehabilitation and
reconciliation. The involvement of a substantive chunk
of Tamil representatives belonging to the Tamil National Alliance in the prospective Constituent Assembly
should give a fillip to these processes, and provide an
ideal opportunity to thrash out differences related to
devolution of power and questions concerning federalism and diversity, in a democratic manner.
It was always clear that the flowering of an inclusive
republic in Sri Lanka was not delinked from the democratisation process. If violence, chauvinism and military conflict hampered this transition before the civil
war, triumphalism, persisting militarisation and the
concentration of power within an increasingly authoritarian coterie acted as restraining fetters after the
defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The
defeat of the quasi-authoritarian and chauvinist forces
in both the presidential and parliamentary elections,
the formation of a national unity government and its
explicit call for an accountable and democratic form of
governance by both the elected President and the Prime
Minister, have eased the process of building an acceptable solution to the conflict. The international community should encourage Sri Lanka on this history-making
reconciliatory path, and ensure that these efforts are
not derailed on any account.

Shiv Visvanathan
Newspaper reports often appear like fragments that the reader has to put together.
The reports on the ban on sale of meat
during the Jain festival of Paryushan made
me worry more about the way we read narratives than the act itself. Commentators
seem to deal with the activities of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with kid gloves; one
almost senses a majoritarian inevitability, a
feeling that the BJP can get away with its
political sorties against minorities. I think it
is time to take the bull by the horns and
accuse the BJP of pseudo-religiosity.
Years ago, Lal Krishna Advani unleashed the
idea of pseudo-secularism with deadly effect. Today one has to confront the religiosity of the BJP and its clones.
There is a conflation of time in the invocation of bans which is intriguing. The
BJP and its cohorts often make decisions
invoking or citing Aurangazeb, Shivaji, Rana
Pratap, the colonial regime, etc. This makes
one wonder which historical period the BJP
operates in, whether it is responding to
Mughal misrule or rectifying a current injustice. The Constitution appears like an
alien document in its diktats.

Ignoring belief
The pity is that the BJP does not take the
content of faith and the logic of belief seriously. Like marketing agencies, it aims to
control behaviour rather than examine the
content of belief. Jainism is one of the great
texts of non-violence. From Santhara to
fasting to covering ones mouth with a muslin cloth, the Jain seeks to minimise damage
to the other. Jain pinjra pols are vital institutions which care for old animals or even
cattle when their owners cannot, even during natural disasters . Non-violence thus is
not an epidermal or cosmetic ritual but
something intrinsic to Jainism.
Yet the paradox is that the BJPs ban
creates a climate of violence and controversy. As a political move, it seems to be an
electoral gimmick to be revived annually to


the honour
he adage in Indian sports, other than in cricket, goes thus: its leading practitioners have
succeeded not because of the system, but despite it. A Viswanathan Anand or an Abhinav
Bindra stands testimony to this. So does the tennis duo
of Leander Paes and Sania Mirza, who won the U.S.
Open mixed doubles and doubles crowns, their 17th
and fifth Major titles respectively, in the company of
former singles World No. 1 Martina Hingis. It is easy to
dismiss these victories as nothing extraordinary. In
fact, it is true that doubles as a format is on life-support.
The Bryan brothers are famous, but how many know
the second-best team of Horia Tecau and Jean-Julien
Rojer? On the womens side it has taken the Williams
sisters and now Hingis to give it a fillip. It is also true
that singles players are the ones who have revolutionised tennis: like a Li Na in China or a Kei Nishikori
in Japan. In the Indian context it is a potent argument
to make, particularly when the country is struggling to
produce top-100 singles players. As for mixed doubles,
it rarely exists outside the Grand Slams.
Yet, it would be remiss not to celebrate the success
stories of Paes and Mirza. The 28-year-old Mirzas
story has been, as the title of her upcoming autobiography puts it, Against All Odds. She is the first Indian
woman to win a WTA tournament, the first to be
ranked inside the top-30, the first to win a Grand Slam
of any kind, and the first to reach the top of world
rankings. The last of these came in April this year when
she became the No. 1-ranked doubles player, a position
she still holds. As an 18-year-old in 2005 she reached
the fourth round at the U.S. Open her best-ever
singles finish. Along the way she beat Marion Bartoli a
later-year Wimbledon champion on the second biggest show court there, the Louis Armstrong stadium.
These are the things racquet-wielding young women in
India dream of. On the other hand, the 42-year-old
Paes has been giving longevity a whole new meaning.
With age, a sportsperson is often bogged down by an
increasing set of limitations. He also has to make sense
of the advancements around him. Paes has not reached
a Grand Slam doubles final in two years. But his competitive zeal and persistence even when the mind and
the body no longer always act in sync have fetched him
three Major mixed doubles titles this year. In a way this
has been the essence of the latest U.S. Open of an
epilogue being as good as the book. Be it for Paes or for
Mirza, for Roger Federer or for Serena Williams, or for
the two Italians in Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci.



The idea of the ban, the aggressive attitudes,

ultimatums and closures do not resonate
either with the spirit of ahimsa or with our
Constitution. It is ironic that Jainism, which
professes a philosophy of tolerance, is
invoked today for a politics of intolerance
stoke certain issues, to invoke identity and
difference rather than respect the authenticity of belief.
The Jain practice of non-violence is
thoughtful. Apart from fasting and meditation, it seeks equanimity within the self. The
festival, Paryushan, is marked by rituals of
forgiveness, not just from fellow humans
but from all sentient beings. Such a perspective, which takes on the view point of the
other, could hardly seek to ban or harass the
practices of the other. This way of life would
be sensitive not only to the living but also to
the livelihoods of the other.
The BJP ban seems to be a way of politic-

that livelihood as a right can be nibbled

away, that time tables can create a periodic
abrogation of rights. There is something
slippery about the Supreme Court judgement where former justice Markandeya
Katju had argued that the ban in Gujarat was
not for a considerable period and that nonvegetarians can surely remain vegetarians
for nine days a year out of respect for Jain
community. It is as if rights belong to the
community, but time seems the exclusive
privilege of the Court.
It is not just the pseudo-religiosity of the
BJP that affects people; such an attitude
also makes the Constitution vulnerable.
Rights have to be integral. To think of rights
as something you can titrate from a pipette
damages the sanctity of rights without really
adding any notion of the sacred. One has to
realise that both the Constitution and religious texts share what one might call the
sense of the sacred and the BJPs attempt to
tamper with rights as if it were a damaged
piece of plumbing does not bode well for the

The ban, as anthropologists have noted, is
literally food for thought. Food politics is
not only a classificatory mode of thought but
a hierarchy of politics. Beef to the vegetarian
is most repugnant followed by other red
meat; chicken and fish occupy lesser levels
of the hierarchy. In fact, observers have
noted that fish is excluded from the current
ban because there was no wish to alienate
the Koli community of Mumbai, which is
powerful electorally. The conversation
about food in a diverse society cannot be Nature of cities
Beyond rights and religiosity, one has to
only state-meditated. What one needs is a
reciprocity of ideas and gestures. The idea of think of the culture of cities. The city is a
cosmopolitan place, the very structure of
which allows for a plurality of food practices
and a complementarity of livelihoods. Ban
One has to realise that both the Constitution and religious
politics does not just threaten livelihoods, it
texts share what one might call the sense of the sacred and
threatens the cosmopolitanism of a city
where the secular, not just as a constituthe BJPs attempt to tamper with rights as if it were a
tional idea but as a civic ideal, allows differdamaged piece of plumbing does not bode well for the future
ences to be sustained. Ban politics as a part
of a politics of electoralism can create parochial tyrannies closing down parts of the
izing difference, of catering to Jain egos, the ban as a unilateral diktat adds to policing city. Thus if the BJP were to argue in a
when Jains themselves would be upset by powers of a majoritarian state.
municipality that since Jains are a majority
meat ban politics. The idea of the ban, the
in a constituency, a meat ban should be
aggressive attitudes, ultimatums and clo- Legal confusion
imposed, there is an asymmetry here that is
Oddly, the courts, by focusing too literally worrying because individual rights cannot
sures do not resonate with the spirit of
ahimsa. A philosophy of tolerance is caught on procedures, have added their quota of be hypothecated even to a well wishing corin a politics of intolerance and this is ironic. confusion. The courts orders seem to sug- porator. The court seems a bit negligent on
The ambiguities could not have escaped gest that justice operates on a sliding scale, the idea of rights. This is not for the Mahgenuine believers. It is difficult to believe that short term bans are not problematic. arashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) and BJP
that one needs to do violence to another The first could be seen as a ritual deference to decide upon. They are subsumed under
community to fulfill the conditions of spiri- to community belief and practices while the Constitution, not electorally transcendtuality. The BJPs enthusiasm for the ban long term bans could threaten livelihoods. ent over it.
seems a piece of gimmicry creating contro- The number of days a short term ban can be
Further as the ban logic catches on and
versy by pitting one minority against the enforced becomes a political game of its states cascade into each other to accommoother, creating what a critic has called the own, creating a competitive politics of who date a particular community, one senses a
pseudo-religiosity of current majoritarian can enforce longer bans. Yet it also suggests touch of a farce, an official piety which verges on bully boy attitudes. Reducing bans by a
day or two does not reveal either sensitivity
or liberalism. In fact, food as a symbolic
marker, has often become the site of a battle
for identities and spaces between savarna
(caste Hindus) and avarna (Dalit and tribal
groups). The ethics of non-violence as a part
of brahminism becomes a vehicle of a deeper violence of enforcing caste hegemonies
on Dalit groups.
Finally such a debate while it emphasises
the centrality of food to religion, needs to
bring out the salience of food to the Constitution. The foods of the future might have to
go beyond classic taboos not only for nutritional reasons but also for reasons of ecology and scarcity. The state might need to
prepare for such contingencies rather than
practicing embargos and bans.
The recent debates do reveal that the BJP
as a party in regime loves the ban as a weapon, be it food, books, film, or body behaviour.
Deep down, one senses a threat whereby
food bans applied thoughtlessly, threaten
religion, the Constitution, democracy and in
fact culture as a way of life. Official piety and
righteousness of the BJP can create the violence of pseudo-religiosity which might be
more threatening than the pseudo-secularism of the now effete Congress.
(Shiv Visvanathan is a professor at Jindal
School of Government and Public Policy.)

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

a commendable idea to tackle the

menace of illicit stockpiling of
It may appear that Indias drought in explosives.
P.K. Varadarajan,
academic excellence has ended
(IISC, IIT-D in top 200, Sept.15).
However, it will be premature to
As usual the competent licensing
herald an educational renaissance.
We should be more worried about authorities were quick to wash their
the sea of mediocrity rather than hands off the accident by saying that
exulting over islands of excellence. no license has been issued to the
India will reap a demographic person who illegally stored the large
dividend if there are hundreds of quantity of explosive materials in
good institutions of higher the heart of the small town. As
education which provide affordable enumerated in the editorial, there is
access to thousands of aspiring no dearth of acts and rules governing
students. A few elite institutions will the storage of explosive materials,
hardly bolster Indias scientific and and the issue of license for the same.
But these are only in the rule book. If
technological capabilities.
V.N. Mukundarajan, at least one or two officials or police
Thiruvananthapuram had followed them, such loss of
human lives could have been
Will the scale of the disaster at
Petlawad (A blast and some
questions, Sept. 15) force a change
in the system? There is no doubt that Home Minister Rajnath Singhs
a large-scale systemic change is statement (Sign in Hindi, Sept. 15)
needed, if we are to ensure that such stirs a hornets nest and revives the
a tragedy is never repeated. How did old debate. While the government
Rajendra Kaswa manage to store the workforce both at the Central and
explosives in such quantities Sate level are from diverse linguistic
without the knowledge of the local backgrounds, and English is a
authorities? If the authorities were working language for all intents and
aware, then why didnt they take purposes, the Minister's statement
action even after locals complained seems to have caught everyone on
the wrong foot. While they have an
against Kaswas warehouse?
K.S. Padmanabha, electoral mandate, ministers should
Secunderabad be cautious on issues that will have
wider ramifications for the
The incident has raised serious government.
Prabhu Raj,
questions of the illegal storage of
explosives across the country. It
appears the regulation governing
sale, purchase and monitoring of The Ministers request that
their use is conspicuous by its government servants sign files in
absence. There needs to be a Hindi as the language is not getting
regulatory body to ensure the safe due respect, is surprising. The
transport and ensure the end-use of efforts to increase the use of Hindi in
gelatine sticks, ostensibly for sinking science and technology and
wells for irrigation. Setting up an literature are laudable. But this will
Explosives Control Bureau on the hardly promote the language. As late
lines of Narcotics Control Bureau is president Abdul Kalam said: to

Educational ranking

Petlawads tragedy

Signatures in Hindi

provide an ambience where multiple

civilisations should co exist with no
borders between them, the
education system should be one that
has no respect for borders.
A.J. Rangarajan,

legal officers presiding over the

Bench have openly commented on
the behaviour of advocates. It is the
lawyers who enlighten the judges
with their extensive study of various
complex matters. Lawyers must
shed their political leanings and
safeguard the interest of the litigants
The Ministers implicit directive which is their foremost duty.
S.R. Badrinarayanan,
smacks of linguistic chauvinism and
borders on imposition of Hindi. It
disregards the three language
formula being followed as a The conflict between judges and
consensus in our country known for advocates has reached a peak. It is
its linguistic heterogeneity. Clearly, high time various measures are
the Ministers advice discriminates taken to standardise the quality of
against non-Hindi-speaking people. advocates practising in various court
It reinforces the BJPs Hindu, premises by ensuring adequate
Hindi, Hindustan slogan and protection to both advocates and
rekindles the sensitive language judges.
Dr. T. Ramachandraprasad,
issue, quite unnecessarily. To hold
that Sanskrit predates Tamil is to
make an un-called for comparison
between two ancient religions with a
deliberate falsification of history. A.R. Rahmans reaction against the
The government must not attempt fatwa issued by a Mumbai based
to enforce Hindis primacy through group (Music done in good faith,
the back door and drive a wedge Sept. 15) discloses his vision as a
music director in search of
between people.
G. David Milton, perfection. His comment that Allah
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu would scold him for not scoring
music for a film on his beloved
The statement serves no purpose Muhammad is apt and interesting.
other than bringing discord among
However, his remark that we are
the people of the country with fortunate to live in a country where
multiple languages. To the narrow religious freedom is practised and
minded, India is limited to only the where the aim of all communities is
People to live in harmony is far away from
elected to govern should serve the the truth. The brutal assassinations
national interest.
of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Govind
T.V. Sree Kumar, Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi and the
Bengaluru warnings to Perumal Murugan and
K.S. Bhagvan underline this.
B. Prabha,
The Madras High Court has a long
Varkala, Kerala
history of an erudite fraternity of
lawyers known for their excellent
acumen of jurisprudence. The plea Audrey Trusches interview was
for CISF security (Bring HC interesting (Aurangzeb is severely
campuses under CISF: Sept.15) misunderstood, Sept. 14) but it
however, is a sad culmination of a threw up more questions than
series of events that has cast a answers. I admire Aurangzeb for his
shadow on the fraternity. Successive piety and parsimony, but not for his

Music and faith

High Court violence

On Aurangzeb

politics. The interview appears to be

a review of the government's policies
as compared to Aurangzebs state
policies. If Aurangzebs act of
breaking the link with Sanskrit was a
political one, is it not the same with
the BJP govt's actions as well? You
are implying that the latter is doing it
for communal purposes. For a
political party which respects and
possibly adores Shivaji, how can you
expect them to respect his
tormentor? History will continue to
be reviewed again and again and we
will have the benefit of different
R. Kailasnath,

Wickremesinghe visit
Following Sri Lankan Foreign
Minister Mangala Samaraweeras
address at United Nations in Geneva
about safeguarding the human rights
of minority Tamils (Bridging the
trust deficit, Sept 15), Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghes
bilateral visit to India assumes
significance because the government
is sincere in redressing the
grievances of Tamils soon. The
Tamil Diaspora should not lay
roadblocks in the name of Eelam and
extend co-operation. This will instil
confidence in thousands of refugees
stranded in various camps in Tamil
K.R. Srinivasan,
Behind Mr. Wickremesinghes
choice of maiden visit to India, there
remains a strong desire from the
new government to give IndoSrilanka ties a new look.Under
Narendra Modis leadership, India
should also look forward to
revamping its ties both strategically
and bilaterally. India-Sri Lanka ties
cannot be held hostage to the
consent of a particular State.
Prakash Ch.Mondal,


12 |




Reform eludes UN Security Council

T.P. Sreenivasan


New parties,
new alliances
hat the Bharatiya Janata Party is willing to go
to great lengths to accommodate prospective
allies in Bihar is an indication of the intensity
of the contest in the coming Assembly election. Both the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, which is yet
to prove its strength by contesting on its own, and the
untested Hindustani Awam Morcha led by former
Chief Minister Jiten Ram Manjhi, were able to bargain
hard: the RLSP got 23 seats, and HAM 20. Neither has
any ideological affinity with the BJP. Not surprisingly,
this seems to have upset the existing equilibrium within the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. Besides,
under a behind-the-scenes agreement, some of the
HAM candidates might be given the BJP ticket. For the
Lok Jan Shakti Party led by Ram Vilas Paswan, which
has been given 40 seats, the just-concluded seat-sharing arrangement with HAM is particularly distressing
as the support bases of the two overlap in several
constituencies. Both Mr. Paswan and Mr. Manjhi are
seeking to project themselves as the sole representatives of Dalits, and they now nd themselves on the
same side of the political fence.
But going by the experience in the rival camp led by
the Janata Dal(United) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal,
which saw desertions by the Nationalist Congress Party and the Samajwadi Party, the BJP was keen that all
partners were on board. Also, the party did not want a
situation where it would have to look for post-election
allies to form the government in the event of it falling
just short of a majority. In Maharashtra last year,
although the break-up with the Shiv Sena over seatsharing was unavoidable, the party was forced to renegotiate the alliance with it after the election, though
from a position of greater strength. But deciding on the
number of seats for each partner is only the rst hurdle
in seat-sharing talks. In the close contest that the Bihar
election is likely to be, all parties want a winnable seat.
Thus the BJP will have to settle the rival claims of the
LJP and HAM over several of the seats, and the JD(U)
and the RJD will have to sort out their differences. The
JD(U) is actually contesting fewer seats than it won ve
years ago; and the levels of discontent among aspirants
for the ticket would be high. As for the RJD, which
effectively gave up its claims for the leadership of the
alliance, it is important to win as many seats as the
JD(U) in order to avoid the possibility of being relegated as a junior partner permanently. Bihar is certainly witnessing a political churn. New parties and new
alliances have given the election an added edge.

The adoption by the UN General Assembly

(UNGA) of a consensus resolution for beginning discussions at the Intergovernmental
Negotiations Group (ING) on the basis of a
framework document has been hailed as historic and path-breaking, but, in actual fact,
the UN has not moved anywhere closer to an
agreement on reform. The proposal should
have been routinely adopted, coming as it
did from the president of the General Assembly. Sam Kutesa, the outgoing President
of the General Assembly had circulated the
framework document at the end of July 2015
after extensive consultations, to serve as a
sound basis for the next stage of consultations at the next session. He claimed that it
was developed through an inclusive and
transparent process, which included written submissions.
Trouble arose when some powerful states
and groups made submissions, but insisted
that their proposals not be included in the
framework document. As a result, the president had to prepare his text in two parts, one
containing collated views of a number of
member states and another reproducing the
letters of others.
The document revealed, not for the rst
time, that the positions of member states
remained as wide apart as before and that
there was not an iota of hope that a meeting
point could be found during the 70th anniversary and beyond.

Opposition to expanison
Many countries, particularly small and
middle powers, submitted detailed opinions
on each of the specic points on which ideas
were sought, such as categories of membership, veto, regional representation, size of
the enlarged Council and its working methods and the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly.
France and the U.K. made their submissions
and their views were reected in the document.
The setback to the whole exercise came
from China, Russia, the U.S. and some others, including the Uniting for Consensus
Group (opponents of expansion) when they
expressed their opinions in vague, but negative terms and kept out of the framework
document. This meant that they would prefer the negotiations to continue in the In-

The framework document adopted at the General

Assembly did not break the impasse on reforms,
but brought some clarity as to who was on which
side. It also became clear that any plan to
introduce a substantial draft resolution in
the next session would be futile
without a text at a snails pace.
The substance of the positions of China,
Russia and the U.S. came as a shock to India
and others, who had believed that they had
the support of these countries in one form or
another. China declared that the time had
not come for any serious negotiations, but it
would support necessary and reasonable reform, with greater representation for developing countries. Russia was equally vague
and supported any reasonable option of expanding the Council, but without any
change in the veto. The U.S. favoured a
modest expansion, without supporting
any formula under consideration and no al-

document to the ING, under its new chairman, Ambassador Courtenay Rattray of Jamaica. China spread a rumour that it would
seek amendments to the draft and even press
for a vote. But in the end, China decided to
join the consensus to commence text-based
discussions, even though it had made clear
that the time was not ripe for specic
The latest decision of the 69th session of
the General Assembly did not amount to any
change in the impasse on reform of the Security Council, but brought some clarity as to
who was on which side. It also became clear
that any plan to introduce a substantial draft
resolution in the 70th session would be fu-

Indias claim to membership

The positions of China, Russia and the U.S. have cast a gloom
on the G-4. Those of Russia and the U.S., in particular, came
as a shock to India which believed it had the support of these
countries on UNSC permanent membership
teration or expansion of the veto. Unlike
France and the U.K., these countries made
no mention of their support to India as a
permanent member. Although the U.S. and
Russia later said that there was no change in
their position of support to India, their written submissions revealed that their support
had no practical value.
Among the permanent members, France
was the closest to the Indian position, favouring the inclusion of India, Brazil, Japan
and Germany (G-4) and an African representative as permanent members and expansion of the non-permanent category of
members. France even expressed no objection to the veto power being extended to the
new permanent members. The U.K. supported G-4 as the new permanent members,
but without veto.
The positions of China, Russia and the
U.S. cast a gloom on the G-4, which proposed
a draft resolution to remit the framework

tile. The G-4 or any other group does not

have the votes to get a resolution adopted by
the General Assembly even to pressurise the
Security Council to consider a concrete proposal. The compiled views in the framework
document did not show any convergence
even within the various groups outside the
P-5. A G-4 diplomat told me in New York
that the framework document was not likely
to add any momentum to the negotiations. It
would only ensure that the debate would go
on for many more years without any result.
The numerous paragraphs within brackets
will remain in the text for long. The apparent
progress in moving to text based negotiations is illusory. It is the lack of political will
that has inhibited progress, not the lack of
drafting skills.
India and the G-4 have exhausted all the
arguments in favour of expansion and they
have to be more and more inventive in promoting their proposals. They have already


Time to reform
the UNSC
he adoption by the United Nations General
Assembly of a resolution to use a framework
text as the basis of discussions on Security
Council reforms is a welcome step forward.
As Indias Ambassador to the UN, Asoke Mukerji, said,
this is the rst time in the history of the intergovernmental negotiation process that a decision on UNSC
reform has been adopted by means of an official document. This also indicates that most countries in the
General Assembly support a restructuring of the
UNSC. Meaningful reform of the Security Council is
overdue. The institution, formed to meet the challenges of the post-War world, has struggled to cope with the
dynamics of the post-Soviet Union world order. In the
past quarter century, the global order has seen massive
changes, from American unilateralism to the rise of
multilateral institutions such as BRICS. The developing nations, including India, now play a larger role in
both the international economy and politics. But these
changes are not reected in the UN, where all critical
decisions are still being taken by the veto-wielding
permanent members of the Security Council. Besides,
the geopolitical rivalry among the permanent members
has prevented the UNSC from coming up with effective
mechanisms to deal with global crises. Syria is a case in
point. Even as a humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in
Syria, there is no consensus in the Security Council on
how to tackle it. Even UN Secretary General Ban KiMoon admitted recently that the UNSC had failed
Syria. If the UN still shies away from reforming the
Security Council, the possibility of the institution being sidelined by emerging powers cannot be ruled out.
The resolution adopted in the General Assembly offers
a chance to break the logjam.
But the road ahead is not easy. Three powerful members of the UNSC Russia, China, and the U.S. are
opposed to any major restructuring of the Council.
While Russia and the U.S. have said they would support
Indias UNSC bid, when it comes to proceedings at the
UN their positions represent a far cry from the promises they make at bilateral meetings. The U.S. favours
only a modest expansion of the UNSC, while Russia
doesnt want any change in the veto arrangement. Even
if the General Assembly members reach a consensus on
reform, it could be shot down by the permanent members. The permanent members should realise that a
more democratic and representative Security Council
would be better-equipped to address global challenges,
and that there are more pressing issues to be tackled at
the global level than merely preserving their prerogatives. The champions of reforms India, Japan, Germany and Brazil, or the G4 should continue their
multilateral diplomacy to build a democratically
evolved global consensus on restructuring the UNSC.



-religiosity of The BJP (Sep.16)
raises the question of fundamental
rights of the citizens, as enshrined
in our Constitution. BJP rulers and
ideologues should understand that
thousands of years ago, our
forefathers lived a hunter-gatherer
consuming meat as well as
vegetables for survival. A blanket
ban will be an attack on the concept
of unity in diversity on which our
democracy is premised.
N.C. Sreedharan,
The ban reects extremism in
thinking of the dispensation,
especially when it comes to its
approach toward people of other
faiths and communities. Had the
government instead requested
people not to have meat, the chaos
could have been avoided. This
worked in the case of the Give it
up campaign, when the Prime
Minister appealed to the affluent
sections of the citizenry to give up
LPG subsidies. Millions of Indians
came forward and responded
positively to the initiative. Banning
sale of meat during Paryushan, on
the other hand, is a political move.
Mayank Prakash Pandey,
There is no historical foundation
for the belief that vegetarianism is
an absolute moral essential. The
meat ban has very little to do with
respect for life of animals and
everything to do with a
majoritarian attitude on the part of

made a compromise on the veto, the claim to

which would be suspended for fteen years
or so. The next step will be to accept anything less than permanent membership,
such as extended non-permanent terms,
subject to re-election every ve years or
more. The only achievement that they can
boast of is the support of France and U.K.,
but it can melt away as part of a P-5 consensus at very short notice.
G-4 has so far maintained a faade of unity, but each of them may be amenable to
bilateral deals if any one of them becomes a
liability for the other three. Germany has
already toned down its demand for permanent membership because of over representation of Europe. This may well be the
motive for France and U.K. also to support
They may feel that a limited expansion by
way of some additions now may be better for
Europe than confronting a proposal for a
thorough reorganisation of the Security
Council later. Japan is clearly a liability because of the open opposition by China. India
and Brazil too have opposition from their
regions, but nothing serious to block their
entry in the event of a settlement.
India has upgraded its claim to right and
remained the leader of G-4. But there is a
section of opinion that Indias position on
the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its
border disputes with Pakistan and China
might be impediments to its permanent
membership. The India-U.S. nuclear deal
was expected to give de facto recognition to
Indias nuclear status, but its non-NPT status came in the way of its entering the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Missile
Technology Control Regime (MTCR). No
amount of extra effort by India can resolve
the NPT, Pakistan and China issues in a
hurry. But the expansion of the Security
Council is not contingent on any action of
omission or commission on the part of India
and so there is no particular pressure on
India to relent on these issues.
More than 34 years of struggle with the
issue of equitable representation in the
Security Council has not brought us any
closer to an expansion of the Council. An
Indian Foreign Secretary had once remarked that India had the choice of either
acquiring real power through the manufacture of nuclear weapons or pursuing illusory
power by seeking to become a permanent
member of the Security Council. Having acquired real power, India could as well give up
the pursuit of illusory power, he had said.
But in keeping with the present Governments power push, our quest for permanent membership will continue. But the best
we can get, if at all, may be a semi-permanent
status, requiring us to get elected every few
As for the UN itself, reform of the Security
Council is an existential requirement for the
organisation. If it resists all proposals for
change in the years to come, there is a real
risk of the UN being sidelined or rival organisations taking over its agenda. Therefore,
it is likely that some changes would be accommodated on the basis of one of the two
alternatives proposed by Ko Annan in his
report, In Larger Freedom in March 2005.
According to this plan, there would be no
new permanent seats, but a new category of
eight four-year renewable term seats and
one new two-year non-permanent (and nonrenewable) seat to be divided among the
various regional groups. The plan would
continue to be unacceptable to India and
some others, but it might well be the lowest
common denominator to be tried out. But
what the UN requires is not a x like that, but
a fundamental change to reect the realities
of the present century.
(T.P. Sreenivasan, who was a counsellor
(1980-83) and the Deputy Permenent Representative (1992-95) in the Indian Mission to
the UN, New York, was at the UN recently for
a conference.)

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

the government. The pseudo

vegetarianism on display is not in
harmony with the principles of
humanity and compassion that
shape the philosophy of the very
community that the government
claims to support. To make a
simple thing like food a cultural
fault line is hazardous, given its
essential nature for human
survival. To prohibit a certain kind
of food in a vibrant democracy such
as ours has no other purpose than
to delineate and perpetuate
Chitvan Singh Dhillon,
BJP has forgotten the slogan of
Minimum government, maximum
governance on whose strength it
government implies the leastpossible interference in the lives of
citizens. The government is intent
on doing just the opposite.
Mangesh Sonje,
Titwala, Maharashtra

further bans that will create

disaffected fringe elements. Worse
still, they will tamper with the
constitutional ideals which make
people from different value
systems invest belief in our
Pruthvi S.,
New Delhi

Editing the syllabus

When the endeavour should be to
environment which can be more
thoughtprovoking so as to make children
wiser and not just parrot lessons,
the AAPs proposed moves on
deleting chapters is inappropriate
(Easing the burden or dumbing
information age, a student from
Class V or VI is well-aware of the
events taking place be it a movie
release, a concert or a protest; so, to
think that the content of some of
the chapters are too dark is
Even if such arguments do have a
rationale, more appropriate ways
of learning the same concept can be
provided rather than deleting the
shouldnt the task of designing
chapters be left to the wisdom and
experience of experts rather than
the executive?
Akhil Pandey,

coexistence; inherent tolerance;
and syncretic culture, once
inextricable part of Indian culture,
are becoming irrelevant clichs.
The issue of meat ban should be
seen as a deliberate attempt on the
part of the ruling establishment to
liken itself to one electorally
important community.
This move, under the cloak of
being sensitive to some peoples
way of living, seeks to subvert the
livelihood of many. What is more
alarming is the long duration of the Kudos to the duo of Leander Paes
ban in some cases. Governments and Sania Mirza for being part of
would do well to desist from any U.S. Open doubles victories

Tennis triumphs

(Double the honour, Editorial,

Sep.16). That they reached the top
on their own in this cricket-crazy
nation makes it a great
contribution lies in the fact that
they generated hope in the young
kids who took to tennis as a
Ashish Khatri,
With reference to the editorial, we
should not forget the contribution
of Ramanathan Krishnan to tennis.
He was a seeded player at the
Wimbledon and entered the seminals of the tournament twice.
Despite there being little money
and media coverage in those days,
he achieved great heights because
of his love for the game. During his
playing days, India was also among
the top Davis Cup teams.
R. Ganesh,

Delhi-Pyongyang ties
Though the Indian Government
looks optimistic on mending ties
with North Korea, as indicated by
Kiren Rijiju's participation at its
Independence Day event, it can
repercussions (India reaches out,
wants to upgrade ties with North
Korea, Sep.16). Apart from
running a high risk of getting
betrayed by the counterpart
under tough sanctions by the
United Nations engagement
with it can invite ridicule and
criticism from all across the world.
Sumit Jain,

On Aurangzeb
This is in reference to the
interviewwith Audrey Truschke
misunderstood gure, Sep.14).
Aurangzeb was a benevolent ruler
towards his subjects, Muslims and
non-Muslims alike. This can be
proved from his farmans (permits)
issued granting jageer (land) for
Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain; Balaji
temple in Chitrakoot; and
Umananda Temple in Guwahati
These were issued between 1659
AD and 1685 AD and the fact is
well-documented by historian
historians have tarnished the
image of the ruler.
Abdul Wahab,

Signing in Hindi
Signature isones privilege and
right,andabove all,onesownseal
of authority. No government,
whether at the Centreorin the
State,shouldcompel one to sign in
a particular language. (Sign in
Hindi, Rajnath tells govt. servants,
Sep.15). The Ministers directive to
sign in Hindiisan indirectattempt
to make inroads into the
constitutional safeguards provided
majority of India. What India
needstoday is a broad-minded
approach in matters like language,
religion and culture to instill a
sense of unity among its peoples.
P.K. Parameswaran,


10 |




The way out of the economic tailspin


Moving towards
ccountability for past excesses is not easily
achieved in post-conict societies, but its
need and relevance cannot be brushed aside.
Fostering peace and reconciliation among
formerly feuding sections of society, and nding constitutional solutions to core political issues are often
the nal objectives. However, transformative and substantive justice requires establishing the truth about
past crimes perpetrated as part of a deliberate policy.
The human rights investigation report on Sri Lanka,
submitted to the UN Human Rights Council by the
High Commissioner for Human Rights, seeks to address the crucial question of accountability in the island nation for the horric crimes committed by all
parties to the conict that ended in 2009. The report
proposes a special hybrid court that will integrate international judges, prosecutors and investigators with
domestic resources. It concludes that many of the instances established may amount to war crimes or
crimes against humanity. The report records unlawful
killings, disappearances, deliberate bombardment of
hospitals, and other crimes by the security forces. It
also records the killing of civilians by the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam, its forced recruitment of adults
and children, and preventing civilians from leaving the
conict zone. The report marks a major step towards
independently establishing system crimes showing a pattern of conduct on the part of perpetrators
working within an hierarchical command structure.
The report recognises the present national unity
governments efforts to engage the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights. Sri Lankas brief
response does not contain any explicit reference to the
proposed hybrid court, but only a promise of reconciliation and non-recurrence of violations. Colombo now
has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to durable peace and reconciliation by accepting
the recommendations, especially the one relating to
enacting special legislation to establish ad hoc hybrid
courts. The process will not be easy. The political will of
the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government will come
under test, as there may be forces opposed to any
non-domestic mechanism. India will also be looking at
the process closely, the South Asian region being new
to such a trans-national inquiry. However, it should not
be forgotten that the Sri Lankan conict always had an
international dimension, with many countries involved in supporting both war and peace. The new
proposal strikes a necessary balance between the clamour for an international probe and the need to involve
domestic institutions. It is time to render justice to the
victims of what was South Asias longest war.

Subramanian Swamy
When is an economy in a tailspin? It is when
its rudder and Global Positioning System
(GPS) malfunction. For an aircraft, it means
hurtling down while spiralling to a crash.
Such a crash happens very fast and without
much notice. For example, East Asian nations such as Japan, South Korea and Philippines were growing very fast during the
1975-95 period, the growth rates of their
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) exceeding 10
per cent per year. Japan was slated to overtake the U.S. by 2005.
The World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) termed it an East
Asian Miracle in their publications and
called it a model for other nations like India.
However, in 1997, a sudden nancial blowout
knocked out these countries and all the talk
of miracle evaporated. Japan is yet to recover
from that blowout.
As it stands at present, the Indian economy is headed for a crisis and a crash. The
likely date is by early 2016 in my estimation.
Can a course correction today rectify and
rescue the economy from a crash? Yes, of
course, but only if there are short-term and
long-term prescriptions to be followed. Does
the Narendra Modi government have such
contingency prescriptions ready? Not as of

Prescriptions for the crisis

What then are my prescriptions? First, the
government must constitute a Crisis Management Team (CMT) of politicians and
economists who understand the dynamics of
Indian society and, more importantly, the
general equilibrium calculus of an economy.
At present, there is no such team in place.
The economists in the government today are
mostly hand-me-downs from the United
Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, and
are all of the IMF/World Bank vintage.
These are institutions which had miserably failed to either foresee or rectify the
nancial crises in Latin America in the
1970s; in East Asia in late 1990s; and even in
the U.S. where these two institutions are
headquartered in 2008. IMF/World Bank
studies are of value only as tabular, statistical


On the road
to recovery
government that was elected to power on the
promise of ushering in an economic revival
nationally, will have good reason to cheer
over the latest data showing an increase in
investments in the road and power sectors. With roads
and electricity acknowledged as signicant multipliers
of economic activity, any substantive improvement in
these infrastructure sectors can presage a major boost
to the real, productive economy. McKinsey & Co. estimates an increase in infrastructure investment equivalent to 1 per cent of GDP would generate an additional
3.4 million jobs, directly and indirectly. Conversely, the
low global ranking of Indias infrastructure the
World Economic Forums Global Competitiveness Index placed it in the bottom half among 144 countries
is one of the commonly cited impediments to attracting
foreign direct investment. A 2014 study by Dr. Geethanjali Nataraj of the Observer Research Foundation
estimated that lack of world-class infrastructure
shaves off 1 to 2 per cent from GDP growth every year.
It is in this backdrop that the 46 per cent surge in
project announcements, representing an amount of
Rs.1.2 lakh crore, in the rst quarter of the scal offers
much hope. More important, the 31 per cent jump in
the completion rate of projects during the period signals a distinct improvement in the investment climate,
especially in terms of efforts to reduce red tape and
revive stalled projects. Success in bringing long-mired
projects to fruition also bodes well for the banking and
nance industry, which has struggled to reduce the
levels of non-performing assets. And with the NDA
governments focus being on encouraging more private-public partnerships, this is a promising augury for
private investors in the road and power sectors. The
Vajpayee governments Golden Quadrilateral project,
completed during the UPAs term, has brought socioeconomic change and development to the hinterland
along the more than 5,800 route km of the highway
network. That gives a glimpse of the potential that can
be unlocked through better urban-rural connectivity.
Still, the data have made only a broad classication of
the road transport sector. Not offering a breakdown of
the real level of investment in road construction and
maintenance could be partly misleading if the aggregate investment in the automobile sector is being included in the overall numbers. Also, the national road
network has been blighted by an abysmal safety record.
The governments announcement of $93 billion worth
of projects in the highways sector has to be seized as a
chance to build world-class expressways and ensure
that systems are put in place to lift safety levels for the
road transportation network to global standards.



War crimes report
Many countries and human rights
demanding a probe into the war
crimes for sometime now (Sri
Lankan war crimes horric: UN
report, Sep.17). Though belated,
the call from the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights,
Zeid Raad al-Hussein, for
international participation in the
trial is welcome. Though the
response by the Sri Lankan
government in promising due
attention is well-received, it
remains to be seen how far it will
become a reality given its stubborn
No earlier to international trial
requests. While the Tamil Nadu
Assembly has earnestly urged the
Centre to take up the issue in the
UNHRC for an international
investigation, one is apprehensive
that the U.S should not play a
spoilsport as it is perceived as
being pro-Sri Lanka.
A. Jainulabdeen,

Saudi diplomats exit

The news about the Saudi diplomat
does not come as a surprise. It
could not have happened without
the knowledge of the government
and brings back unpleasant
memories of the Union Carbide
chairman having been given a
smooth send-off in the aftermath
of the Bhopal gas tragedy. We need
to mobilise our moral courage
while encountering such incidents
rather than succumbing to
international pressure.
A.G. Rajmohan,
It is really atrocious and shocking
that Majed Hassan Ashoor,
theSaudi diplomat, has been

As it stands at present, the Indian economy is

headed for a crisis and a crash by early 2016. The
government needs a Crisis Management Team of
politicians and economists who are rooted in
Indian ethos and not compliant to finance
institutions like the IMF and the World Bank
compilations and no more. Hence, the CMT
has to consist of those who are rooted in the
ethos of India and not compliant to international nancial institutions.
Second, to know what crisis-managing reforms to initiate, we must rst know which
problem to focus on and prioritise for action.
In my considered opinion, the following
questions deserve immediate answers and
consequent policy rectication:
a) Despite crude oil prices having crashed
and the dollar value of the rupee having
dropped in a steep devaluation, why have
both exports and imports, especially the former in 23 of the 30 commodity groups, declined steadily over the last 14 months?

Enterprises (SMEs) and in export ventures.

The Prime Minister is best advised to replace
him with someone like Dr. R Vaidyanathan
who is presently Professor of Finance in the
Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore
The CMT should also initiate steps for
transforming agriculture into a globalised
sector by providing adequate infrastructure
to export food and milk to Europe and the
In the long run, we need to tap the advantages we have in our demographic dividend. Through innovation, we must tap our
vast Thorium deposits for clean electricity
generation and thus end power shortage; set
up desalination plants along our long coastline to provide adequate water for coastal
States; overcome technological issues and
build a water grid by linking major rivers,
from Ganga to Cauvery, through canals; and
develop new alternative technologies such
as hydrogen fuel cells to provide an environmentally friendly substitute to petroleum products.

the skilled and semi-skilled labour force,

grown at an abysmally low rates of between 2
per cent and 5 per cent?
f) Why, when Indias agricultural products
are among the cheapest in the world despite
a low yield per hectare, are we not able to
double the production and export the products abroad?
To address these priority problems, it is
essential to implement a menu of measures
to uplift the household sentiments by abolishing the personal income tax; by lowering
the cost of capital, by reducing the prime
lending interest rates of banks to below 10
per cent; by shifting to a xed exchange rate Alternative ideological thrust
As I have written before, including in The
of Rs.50 per dollar for the nancial year
Hindu, the government also needs to give an
alternative ideological thrust to economic
policy rather than trying to improve up the
It is necessary to implement a menu of measures: abolish
past failed UPA economic policies. In
income tax, lower the cost of capital by reducing prime
a) The individual has to be persuaded by
lending rates of banks to below 10 per cent, shift to a fixed
the state through incentives and not through
exchange rate of Rs.50 per dollar and abolish Participatory
b) India can make rapid economic proNotes
gress to become a developed country only
through a globally competitive economy
b) Why have household savings, which 2016; and lowering the exchange rate further which requires assured access to the marwere the bulk of national domestic invest- for subsequent years; by abolishing Partici- kets and technological innovations of the
ments, dropped from a high of 34 per cent of patory Notes while invoking the U.N. Reso- United States and some of its allies such as
GDP in 2005 to 28 per cent of GDP in 2015? lution of 2005 to bring back black money of Israel and Japan. This has concomitant poc) Why have the Non-Performing Assets about $1 trillion; and by printing rupee notes litical obligations which must be accepted as
(NPAs) of the public sector banks risen so to fully nance basic infrastructure projects. essential.
c) Such rapid progress would require a
sharply, in fact at a rate much higher than the
Incidentally, the Reserve Bank of India
rate of the new advances made by these (RBI) Governor, Raghuram Rajan, has sin- national security strategy for a peaceful
gle-handedly brought a huge slowdown to environment.
d) The Indian state has to be minimalist in
d) When the economy needs about a $1 the Indian manufacturing sector and extrillion investment in infrastructure to ren- ports. As a doctor, he has believed that the regulatory interventions in social and ecoder Make in India a reality, why is the actual best way to bring down the temperature of a nomic matters; maximalist in providing the
investment in just 75 projects in Financial patient (i.e., ination) is to kill him (invest- quality of life needs; and optimal in the
maintenance of law and order.
Year 2015-16 valued at Rs.42,749 crore, less ment starvation).
e) The key goal of the state has to be to
than the amount invested in 2005-06, which
By raising and keeping interest rates high
was Rs.44,511 crore?
and hence making the cost of capital prohib- empower the individual through a modern
e) Why has the manufacturing sector, itive, he has killed the essential manufactur- education system that gives importance to
which provides the bulk of employment to ing investments in Small and Medium both material and spiritual progress.
f) An ethos developed on the concepts of
trusteeship of wealth, philanthropy and voluntary group action encouraged by religious
sanction for the better distribution of income and for minimising economic contradictions and deprivation.
g) At present, generally, the Indian has
loyalty to the family but is apathetic to the
community where he lives. There are character aws that have come from two centuries of deprivation and are incompatible
with a people forming a great nation. These
aws can be rectied by developing a strong
and coherent concept of national identity
whose dening characteristics can be culled
from a correct perception of Indian history.
India has always come out of crises renewed and on a higher growth path. The food
crisis of 1965-67 led to Green Revolution self
sufficiency in food, and the foreign exchange
crisis of 1990-91 led to economic reforms,
enabling the country to move away from
Soviet-style statism to market system and
high growth rates.
Thus, the present imminent economic
crash should galvanise the way we do business and make us rise to new heights
through innovation and achieve high growth
rates with nancial stability.
(Subramanian Swamy is a former Union
Cabinet Minister for Commerce and professor of economics.)

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

allowed to ee India. I really

wonder why the Ministry of
External Affairs and the Ministry
of Home Affairs failed to alert the
immigration officials in the
airports to forestall any such
government owes an explanation
not only to the people of India but
also to the Nepal government for
this breach of trust.
Tharcius S. Fernando,

Amazon work culture

The Amazon work syndrome has
raised academic debates (In love
with work, Amazon style, Sept.17).
However, work culture in India is
not nding the space and attention
it deserves. Some of our youngsters
work on an average of 12 hours a
day and are thankful to get even a
weekly holiday. The question of
work-life balance is nonexistent.
By mid-thirties they suffer a burnout, with negative impact on
personal life. The salary, when
compared to similar proles in the
West, is also meagre.
Many companies in India get
work worth two shifts done by one
individual. This contributes to
their so-called bottom line. It is
high time the government takes a
more proactive regulatory role to
ensure proper working hours at
these for these workplaces, which
V. Rajan,
The thought-provoking article
highlights the rat trap our
modern, but unwise, knowledge
worker walks into. In the industrial
era, humans made machines to
productivity. However, in the

information era, they are trying to

employ other humans as machines,
the aim being the same to
productivity. The new lubricant
here is the catchphrase Do What
You Love (DWYL). The industrialera blue-collar worker has
transformed into the knowledgeera white-collar worker. That the
so-called lovable work depends on
the not-so-lovable work is seldom
acknowledged. Most of us, in fact,
make a living only through the
Tony Augustine,
The article, though erudite, does
not deal with some aspects of work.
In this highly competitive world
with rampant unemployment, it is
very difficult to precisely select and
secure a job one loves the most.
Hence, a successful employee is
one who is prepared to make
himself employable for different
uncharitable working hours in
workplaces are unavoidable since
there is intense competition
among employees.
The employer has his own
targets and the employee needs to
show himself or herself to be
capable of achieving them. Salary,
not passion, is the criterion for
measuring work here. Speed and
precision are the watchwords. The
employee must perform or perish.
Results do matter and lead to the
employee conditioning himself or
herself to the requirements.
V. Lakshmanan,

UNSC reform
Indias marathon efforts, along
with those of Brazil, Japan and
Germany, for a permanent seat at

the UN Security Council are

appreciable (Time to reform the
UNSC, Editorial and Reform
eludes UN Security Council,
Sept.17). The G4 should also push
forward to introduce measures for
limiting the exercise of the veto
power by the existing permanent
members to reect the original
intention of the UN Charter. There
is a need for a more credible
challenges for which far-reaching
changes are required.
A. K. Merchant,
New Delhi
It is ironic that India wants to
become a permanent member of
the UN Security Council when its
own national security is constantly
in jeopardy. How can it aspire to be
a member of the top-most
international security forum and
discuss matters of international
peace when its own borders are not
secure? Indias so-called right is
based on it being the largest
democracy and one of the largest
contributors to UN Peacekeeping
Force. With constant cross-border
terrorist attacks and ceasere
violations on both the eastern and
western fronts, India does not look
eligible to decide matters on
international peace. We need to
rst improve our own national
security and then project
ourselves as a superpower.
Gaurav Singhal,
New Delhi

Educated peons
As a teacher with over half a
century of experience, I am aware
of the reasons for this mad rush of
postgraduates and Ph.D. holders
for peon jobs (23 lakh apply for
368 peon posts in Uttar Pradesh,
Sept.17). Many of them are either
in private sector jobs or are self-

employed; the rest are unemployed

unemployable. Many people think
that government jobs give you
money without responsibility. A
peon in government is better
placed monetarily than an
executive in a private rm.
I have been interviewing
graduates and postgraduates from
across the country, as a member of
various selection committees. Just
two days back, I interviewed a
number of graduates for the post of
laboratory technician. I couldnt
select even two people as most of
them did not even remember the
subjects they studied in the last
semester. This when their scores
were over 90 per cent. As a teacher,
I squarely blame the other teachers
and not just the students. These are
teachers without aptitude who
have come into the profession,
either as a last resort or just to take
life easy.
G. Subramanian,

Call for unity

It was nice to read about the allparty praise for ex-Prime Minister
Lal Bahadur Shastri (From the
archives, Sep.17). A truly inspiring
spectacle of national unity was
witnessed on that day. All political
parties, keeping aside their
unanimously endorsed the Prime
Ministers call for any sacrice to
preserve the freedom and
integrity of the nation.
Five decades have passed and in
todays scenario, we should be
ashamed that our leaders engage in
mudslinging over trivial issues. It is
sad we have never truly followed
our predecessors vision.
Balasubramaniam Pavani,


12 |




1965: a war with no winners

V.R. Raghavan


othing could be more ironical than the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government ghting
over the secularist legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru institutionalised in the form of the Nehru
Memorial Museum and Library in the heart of New
Delhi. And nothing could be more insulting to the
memory of Nehru than the sordid slugfest between the
BJP and the Congress over the appointment of Mahesh
Rangarajan as the director of the NMML. Dr. Rangarajan, a respected scholar and academic, was eventually forced to tender his resignation after an unseemly
controversy over irregularities in the process of his
appointment. The NMML is a tribute to independent
Indias rst Prime Minister, his vision and dreams for
the country; it was intended to inspire generations of
people who walk in to get glimpses of the making of a
nation. Despite assurances from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revere the memory of Nehru, it is now
quite apparent that members of his Cabinet, who draw
their strength and inspiration from the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh, are not willing to let the Museum
be. Murmurs about changing the basic structure of the
Museum to make it more contemporary have slowly
gained ground. And while Culture Minister Mahesh
Sharma might have scored a legal point by highlighting
the irregularities in Dr. Rangarajans appointment as
director, it is no secret that the government wants a
more pliable person to head the NMML.
The proposal to turn the NMML into a memorial for
governance not only smacks of political petty-mindedness, but also undermines the very purpose such memorials were meant to serve, as repositories of history.
Indeed, the battle over the institution seems but only a
small part of a larger project of the ruling establishment to challenge received historiography and erase
collective memories. The signicance of the controversy over the appointment of the NMML director thus
goes beyond personalities, and touches on the future of
public institutions and the dangers of officially sanctioned manipulation of historiography. Questions will
be asked of the UPA too, as to why the previous government demonstrated such a tearing hurry to appoint Dr.
Rangarajan. Clearly, the party thinks of the Memorial
as its efdom and thought nothing of rushing through
the appointment process just before the country went
into election mode. While the attempt to provide institutional stability to the Memorial is understandable,
due process could have been followed and Dr. Rangarajan spared the embarrassment of having to battle a
new government on the propriety of his appointment.
At the very least, the Congress could have protected the
integrity of an individual whose tenure it had sought to
retain in perpetuity. Going by the yardstick being applied to the Nehru Memorial Museum, why not turn
Gandhi Smriti too into a memorial for all the nationalists who were Gandhis contemporaries, and make it
representative of their collective vision? Surely, to do
so would be to knock all meaning and symbolism out of
such institutions, and reduce them to their functional
use as bricks-and-mortar buildings that could house
anything and everything.

A diplomatic
he quiet departure from India of Majed Hassan Ashoor, the Saudi Arabian diplomat accused of sexually assaulting two Nepali maids
at his residence in Gurgaon, is a blow to New
Delhi, both in terms of its pursuit of the issue on the
diplomatic front and its commitment to ght crimes
against women. Mr. Ashoor and some others face serious allegations. The women, rescued by the police from
his apartment, allege they were held against their will,
denied food and water, beaten and repeatedly raped
over a period of at least 15 days. Their medical examination appeared to support the charges. India could
not even question the accused before he ew home. If
early reports are true, Mr. Ashoors departure was part
of a diplomatic bargain struck between India and Saudi
Arabia. Though New Delhis decision to release the
name and designation of the diplomat Mr. Ashoor
was the First Secretary at the Saudi Arabian Embassy
is an unusual step, it failed to coax the Saudis into
lifting his diplomatic immunity and bring him to justice. Saudi Arabia should have cooperated with India in
the investigation, setting a precedent for its own diplomats and other nations in such situations.
As far as India is concerned, the case is far from being
resolved. With the diplomats departure, what was a
triangular crisis has acquired the form of a bilateral
standoff between India and Nepal, which is an important neighbour. Apparently upset over the departure of
Mr. Ashoor, Kathmandu insists India should continue
the investigation to bring the diplomats partners in the
crime to justice. The fact that the women in question
were also victims of human trafficking networks needs
to be taken into account. India thus has a legal and
moral responsibility to get to the bottom of the case. At
the same time, it is time for the international community to revisit the Vienna Convention, which offers a
high degree of legal protection to diplomats and their
families in the countries where they are posted. The
Convention was meant to enable diplomats to carry out
their duties without obstruction in the Cold War environment. Using its provisions to save diplomats facing
charges of heinous crimes such as enslavement and
rape cannot be justied under any circumstances.


Fifty years after the event, the Indian government has decided to celebrate the IndiaPakistan War of 1965. Celebrating a war,
which is never less than tragic, and is at best
a last alternative when a state nds other
avenues of peaceful existence impossible, is
a paradoxical choice of phrase for marking
history. As battles are the building blocks of
war, historically wars are milestones in a
nations journey. They offer a viewpoint
from where one can assess the journey
made and those yet to be undertaken in the
life of a nation and its people.

In search of lasting peace

The 1965 War is better viewed as a milestone in Indias strategic journey in search
of lasting peace. Carl von Clausewitz, the
Prussian military theorist of the 18th century, in his advice to his monarch, had emphasised that while war must be waged to gain a
states ends, the ultimate purpose of war is
peace and not victory. The 1965 War neither
brought victory to Pakistan, which initiated
the War in the Rann of Kutch and later in
Jammu and Kashmir, nor peace to India,
which fought back tenaciously after being
A commemoration of war, a far-better
word than celebration, is a moment for
reection. It offers an opportunity to be
grateful for the sacrices of those who died
ghting for the nations values of secularism
and democracy. It is also a moment to take
stock of where India was then and is now on
the global stage. There are meaningful lessons in such introspection which requires
neither vainglorious jingoism nor a reiteration of Pakistan as the enemy, a position it
has sadly failed to grow out of. Pakistans
military government of the time could not
think beyond a military solution. Its leadership assessed that it was a moment of
Indian weakness after its military defeat by
China in 1962 and the demise of the iconic
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964. It
assessed that its U.S.-lent weapons systems
were enough to defeat the Indian armed
Worse still, the misplaced assumptions of
the capacity of the Indian armed forces to
ght back ferociously hastened the Pakistani military decision to take to war. It was a



Truth, reconciliation
Following the example of postapartheid South Africa, Sri Lanka
can institute a Truth and
Reconciliation Commission to
promote reconciliation between
perpetrators and victims (Moving
towards accountability, Editorial
Sept.18). It should be charged with
three specic tasks: to discover the
causes and nature of human rights
violations; to identify victims with
a view to paying reparations; and
to allow amnesty to those who
fully disclose their involvement.
Hemant Kumar Pandey,
New Delhi
This is the right time for the Sri
Lankan government to commit
itself to rendering justice to the
people affected by war. The UN
report looks unbiased as it has
found fault not only with the
security forces, but has also
blamed the rebels for their forced
recruitment of children, and for
preventing civilians from eeing
war-torn areas. In this connection,
the statement by Sri Lankan
Samaraweera on the governments
commitment to bringing a
permanent political settlement on
the Tamil question gives hope that
the conict-affected minorities
will see justice and resettlement.
S. Nallasivan,

Punishing excellence
It was disheartening to read about
the quitting of the director of the
Nehru Memorial Museum and
museum director quits, Sept.18).

Fifty years since the War of 1965, India needs to

introspect in a clear-headed manner on the
lessons learnt. Unlike the Wars in 1962 and 1971,
1965 was an indecisive one. It changed neither the
status of the Kashmir dispute nor that of the
relationship between the estranged neighbours
military choice made without reckoning
with the likely international political
Indias military debacle against China was
a reality. It did not ght a war in 1962. A war
involves an overall plan, a strategy and employment of forces to work that strategy.
India threw troops pell-mell into operations, and fought a series of unconnected
battalion-level battles. The Chinese fought
as brigades and divisions which bypassed
most Indian defences to reach deep into our
territory. These were uncoordinated battalion-sized battles in which the ill-equipped
and ill-supplied Indian troops were worsted. Pakistan wrongly saw opportunities in

Indian political leadership more mature in

understanding the reality of the new world,
in which major powers would intervene to
end a war inconvenient to them.
The time dimension and strategic policy
preferences of future wars became apparent
in 1965. The Arab-Israeli War of 1967 and
the management of its outcome by the Soviet-U.S. leadership was not lost on the Indian
leadership. The role of technology and modern armament systems in the outcome of
wars was carefully observed and built into
military doctrines. Above all, the imperative
of joint warfare in which the Army, the Navy
and the Air Force operated to a cohesive
plan towards common objectives became a
key ingredient of war plans. It was a deeplyimbibed lesson that valour and heroism
alone do not win wars against superior
weapons and organisation, a lesson which
had been witnessed throughout Indian history. In an ironic way, China in 1962 and
Pakistan in 1965 both contributed to the
coming of age of Indias politico-military

the three armed forces Chiefs and his Prime

Minister. Mr. Shastri trusted his Defence
Minister completely and allowed him to
take critical decisions as the War developed.
One needs to read Mr. Chavans personal
diaries of the time to understand the way the
government functioned and the manner in
which he coordinated the work with the
three service chiefs. He makes telling observations on the strengths and constraints of
the Army, Navy and Air Force Chiefs of the
The diaries bring out Mr. Chavan and the
three Chiefs in a positive light, which could
not be said of the egotistical military com- Strategy for 1971
The seductive attraction of a military somand in Pakistan. There were outstanding
lution to political problems continued to
beguile the Pakistani military elite. Six years
after the 1965 War, despite massive political
The War taught India that valour and heroism alone do not win
developments in the country, a new military
battles against superior weapons. Ironically, China in 1962 and
leader in Pakistan preferred to exercise the
military option in 1971 in what was then
Pakistan in 1965 both contributed to the maturing of Indias
East Pakistan. The Indian response was
politico-military thinking
based on its 1965 experience. India quickly
ensured the strategic imperative by a Treaty
with the Soviet Union and prepared for a
the political uncertainties of the period, acts of individual gallantry and military pa- military conict to create conditions in East
with a new leadership under Lal Bahadur nache during the War. A simple soldier from Bengal for the return of ten million refugees
Shastri having recently taken charge. The Bihar, Albert Ekka, won the Param Vir who had poured into India. Pakistan preDefence Ministry was under Y.B. Chavan, a Chakra for single-handedly destroying Pa- dictably initiated the War in western theatseasoned former Chief Minister of Mah- kistani tanks. Muhammad Ayub, the name- re.
The 1971 War became a game changer in
arashtra. The armed forces had begun a sake of Pakistans military leader, won a Vir
command restructuring, force expansion Chakra. Major Ranjit Dyal made an intrepid strategic and geopolitical terms and reconand doctrinal shift process which had given dash against all odds to capture the Haji Pir gured the power balance in South Asia. It is
its rank and le new condence. Indian Pass. There were heroes like the Keelor sad that the attraction of a military option
commanders were new to handling brigade brothers, Denzil Keelor and Trevor Keelor, still prevails in Rawalpindi, as was seen in
and division-sized forces in battles.
and others, who used their old and out- recently Siachen and Kargil. It acts as a
Indian commanders thus far had experi- gunned aircraft to bring down the famed continuing backdrop to relations between
ence as battalion commanders in 1948 in U.S. made Sabres. Outmoded tanks of the the two countries. The backdrop is made
Jammu and Kashmir and in 1962. As a re- Indian armoured division halted Pakistans more complex by the presence of nuclear
sult, mistakes were made and losses in- Patton tank-led offensive at what later be- weapons and the continued use of terrorism
in Pakistan. While these have not held back
curred, which were offset by the gains made came known as a graveyard of tanks.
by determined combat actions by the Army
The 1965 War welded the Indian defence India from its growth into a better economy
and the Air Force. The gallantry awards of forces into a cohesive military machine. It and as a stability provider, they have created
the War speak volumes for such work.
threw up a new military leadership from the substantial socio-economic and strategic diThe Defence Minister, Mr. Chavan, had crucible of war which, six years later, led the lemmas for Pakistan.
The three wars of 1962 with China and
developed a ne working relationship with Army in the 1971 War. It also made the
1965 and 1971 with Pakistan are better
viewed through the perspective of a strategic continuum. Each of these wars had its
share of valour but also of tragic loss of lives
of its men and officers. Wars are more than
the sum of the battles, valour and sacrice.
Wars dene the nations which start it, as
also those which ght to defend national
values. An important lesson from this perspective is of outcomes from these wars, or
from any war. The 1971 War was a decisive
one. It led to the creation of a new nation, for
a people who wanted to constitute one. The
War of 1962 has left the legacy of an unsettled and disputed border, which is prone
to frequent military confrontation. There is
little prospect in the foreseeable future of a
nal settlement.
The War of 1965 has had no decisive outcome either in Jammu and Kashmir or in
the overall relations between the two countries. In fact, there has been no decisive war
after 1971, despite massive military power
used by major powers in different parts of
the world. The after-effects of human migrations and the rise of armed groups
threatening global security have been the
legacy of indecisive wars. Armies can win
wars but the gaining of peace is a different
thing altogether. It is something to ponder
over, as we commemorate the 1965 War.
(Lt. Gen. (retd.)V.R. Raghavan is amilitary strategic thinker who served in the
Indian Army for 37 years.)
Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

There was a time when unity in

diversity was the cultural motto
that dened India. Our Culture
Ministry appears to be nding this
too difficult to live by. As the heads
of one institution after the other
are axed in the name of creating an
appropriate Indian culture, the
government appears to be losing
hold of what it means to be truly
patriotic. To cause a person with
the dedication of Dr. Mahesh
Rangarajan who has clearly been
working towards revamping,
developing, and modernising the
role of NMML to resign is to
work against the development the
Prime Minister promised in his
manifesto and will only alienate an
increasingly disaffected vote bank.
Divya Karnad,
Prof. Mahesh Rangarajan has been
among the nest teachers I have
had in my academic career. Since
his induction in 2011, Dr.
Rangarajan has led NMML into
becoming a world-class multidisciplinary centre a space
where academics from all
disciplines came together. His
resignation as the director is only a
reection of how the present
government rides roughshod over
Nandini Velho,

Diplomatic flight
The incident has brought to our
attention the need to revisit the
Vienna Convention to amend
some of its provisions (Saudi
diplomat ies back, activists
upset, Sept.18). The return of the

interrogation is proof of the
Convention having the upper hand
over human rights of citizens of a
third country; in this case, Nepal.
This is a clear case of misuse of the
immunity granted. India needs to
step up talks with the Saudi
Arabian government to bring the
diplomat to justice.
Vinay Manocham,
Mandi Gobindgarh, Punjab
The alleged rape of the Nepali
housemaids by a Saudi diplomat
has brought shame to India. The
question is: why was the diplomat
allowed to ee when the crime was
committed on Indian territory?
The External Affairs Ministry is
answerable on whether there was a
deal between the two countries to
allow the him to y back. As far as
immunity is concerned, when a
diplomat has committed serious
offence, the host state could ask for
it to be waived so that he can stand
trial. If not, it can declare him a
persona non grata and force the
home state to withdraw him.
Gargie Boss,
New Delhi

Ties with N. Korea

In the wake of changing
geopolitical equations, Indian
foreign policy needs to be
pragmatic and dynamic (India
reaches out, wants to upgrade ties
with North Korea, Sept.16).
Though North Koreas track
possesses huge deposits of rare
earth minerals which India needs
for the production of electronic
gadgets. Their import will be
benecial for the expansion of a

Digital India. India should proceed

relations with North Korea, but
with caution.
Kushal Kumar G.,

Panchayat elections
The Supreme Court order calling
for an interim stay on the recently
enacted Haryana Panchayati Raj
(Amendment) Act, 2015, which
elections for Panchayati Raj
Institutions, is commendable (SC
stays operation of new Haryana
Panchayat law, Sept.18). Though
initiative looked good at face value,
it came just when the elections
were nearing and could have
waited till the next round of
elections. Here, Haryana is
emulating the example of the
neighbouring Rajasthan which did
the same last year. Unfortunately,
those aggrieved by the decision
failed to get any immediate relief.
Hemant Kumar,
Ambala City, Haryana

Easing out officials

The governments proposal is to be
welcomed. (Govt. plans to ease
out inefficient officials, Sept.17).
Among other things, the statement
that service records should include
all relevant records is signicant
because the present system of
promotions lays more stress on the
tyranny of seniority than on merit
or efficiency.
Of relevance in this connection
is the fact that the process of
reports on their subordinates by

the superiors lends itself to

subjectivity. Viewed in this
context, the directive to take into
account the previous entries in the
annual condential reports to see
whether promotions of officials in
the last ve years were on the basis
of seniority-cum-tness rather
than on the basis of merit is well
V. Krishnamoorthy,

Right to health
Health is the most essential
human requirement after food and
water (No country for the ill,
Sept.17). If India has to reap the
benets of its demographic
dividend, the health of its citizens
is vital. However, despite so much
debate and discussion, public
health spending in India remains
substantially low. Moreover, it has
never been accorded a high
priority by the Union government
as it falls under the State list.
Besides, insurance is being
projected as a magic wand. Such
discourse is misleading as most
insurance policies cover only noncommunicable diseases.
Health insurance can provide
only cure, not prevention. It is the
government alone that can initiate
large-scale, preventive health care
measures. The current dengue
crisis in Delhi is a testament to the
dilapidated public health system
in India. As a society, we must
learn from it and must demand the
enforcement of right to health as
part of right to life that comes
under Article 21 of the
Naveen Agrawal,


10 |




Hindutva 2.0s new caste challenge

Varghese K. George


The enigma
est Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjees decision to declassify 64 les pertaining to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
has resurrected a seven-decades-old controversy. The les have little in terms of denitive
evidence on Boses death or disappearance post-1945,
but have documented unconrmed reports that he may
have survived the plane crash of 1945 in Taiwan in
which he was supposed to have been killed. The release
of the les in Kolkata has stepped up pressure on the
Narendra Modi government to declassify those in the
Central governments custody so that the truth about
whether Netaji indeed died in the crash comes out.
Although the BJP had while in opposition at the Centre
demanded the declassication of the les, the Prime
Ministers Office under Mr. Modi recently turned
down a request made under the Right to Information
Act, citing concerns over relations with other nations.
The Bose story has been the stuff of legends, and
many anecdotes have been heard over time. Some said
he was sighted in Russia, others that he returned to
India as a sadhu. There is little in terms of compelling
evidence any which way. However, rumours kept the
issue simmering. There have been subtexts of conspiracy theories. Boses grandnephew and scholar Sugata
Bose wrote in his book, His Majestys Opponent, that
even in Nehrus lifetime some rumourmongers hinted
darkly at foul play by Nehru himself. Here, the controversy acquires political undercurrents. While the book
says available evidence suggests Bose died in hospital
after the crash, stories that he outlived it allow attacks
on the Nehru regime and, by implication, the NehruGandhi family and the Congress. In the fact that the
Bose family was snooped upon for a time after Independence, some saw Nehrus fear of the family. Little
can be said about the motives of the snooping till all the
les are available. Also, keeping an eye on political
leaders is widely believed to be an aspect, however
unfortunate, of statecraft, even if it has implications for
citizens privacy. There has also been a belief that Bose
was wronged by Mahatma Gandhi and his supporters
in 1939, when Gandhi refused to work with Bose as
Congress president, citing ideological differences; the
latter had to resign. Many feel Nehru didnt back Bose
enough, though evidence suggests that Nehru did try to
broker peace between Gandhi and Bose. The issue has a
strong emotive appeal in West Bengal. Chief Minister
Banerjees master stroke has put pressure on the BJP,
which was expecting to ride the Bose legacy in a State
where it has had hardly any presence. Pressure will
now mount on the Centre to declassify the les in its
own custody, before the State goes to the polls in 2016.

This is Mandal 2.0, Lalu Prasad Yadav,

addressing a rally in Bihar, pitching the
forthcoming Assembly elections as a battle
between forward and backward castes.
We will bring the State to a halt if
we dont get quotas, Hardik Patel, the
leader of the Patel mobilisation for reservation in Gujarat.
Buddhism is also part of Hinduism.
The only way to escape caste oppression is to convert to Islam, Virendra
Baghoria, leader of a group of Dalits from
Haryana who converted to Islam recently,
in an interview recorded by lm-maker
Vidya Bhushan Rawat. We dont care if
we lose our reservation rights.
All these statements represent the assertion of caste identity in various contexts. Any emphasis on caste is a challenge
to the politics of Narendra Modi whose
slogan, Sabka saath, sabka vikas (Development for all), hopes to overlook social
stratication and assumes that the market
provides a level playing eld.
The idea of a consolidated Hindu identity is essential to Mr. Modis politics, as
much as its fragmentation into various
caste identities is pivotal to the politics of
Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav
and Nitish Kumar. Therefore, while the
Modi government happily released the religion-wise break up of the census which
is being used by many of its supporters to
erroneously and viciously suggest that the
Hindus are being overtaken by Muslims in
numbers it is ignoring the clamour for
the release of the data on the numbers and
socio-economic status of various caste

Classical vs. neo-Hindutva

While explaining the rise of Mr. Modi, I
had earlier termed the accompanying politics as Hindutva 2.0, a reinvention of its
classical form. Classical Hindutva was
stunted by recalcitrant caste prejudices
but Hindutva 2.0 muted them to enable a
Hindu consolidation. However, the Patel,
Yadav, and Dalit sentiments represented
in the statements above make us wonder
whether caste is getting the better of
The Patel rebellion in Gujarat is not unprecedented. Mr. Modis ascent in Gujarat
after 2002 was deeply resented by the Patels, rst because he booted out Keshubhai
Patel, and, later, Mr. Modis governance

Forcing the dominant castes to loosen their grip

on power while integrating numerically
insignificant caste groups has been an essential
component of Hindutva 2.0. This strategy is being
put on test in Bihar
style crushed their patronage network.
Ahead of the 2007 Gujarat elections, they
erupted in rebellion, and one of the reasons
cited by a Patel leader was how the drive
against electricity pilferage was taking a
heavy toll on the community. For minor
violations, farmers are going to jail and
most of them are Patels, he had said.
Weeks ahead of the elections, in a huge
rally in Rajkot, they not only accused Mr.
Modi of selling off Gujarat to Reliance,
Adani and Essar, but also, hold your
breath, called him Noor Mohammad Modi
under the protection of Lal Mohammad
Advani, the severest abuse they could
muster up. Based on the Patel unrest, many
observers wrote Mr. Modis politics epitaph in 2007. But history took a different

Forcing the dominant castes to loosen

their grip has been an essential component
of Hindutva 2.0, along with the constant
invocation of the Muslim other. The presence of oppressive dominant castes at the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)s top repelled
the numerous lower caste groups that are
insignicant in terms of individual numbers, but add up to 50 per cent of the population in the States. The Patel-dominated
BJP in Gujarat was unravelling when Mr.
Modi took it over. When the Patels revolted, it only helped Mr. Modi to aggregate all
other castes, with the possible exception of
the tribals.
In Bihar, the Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) had become tired of the Yadavs
social domination, but the BJP did not

The Mandal 2.0 politics proposed by the Lalu-Nitish alliance

seeks to aggregate smaller caste groups by calling the BJP a
party of the upper castes. Mr. Modis campaign talks about
jungle raj, a euphemism for the Yadav social dominance
course. Now the Patels are back again to
challenge Mr. Modi.
The Yadavs in Bihar are also being mobilised in substantial numbers ahead of the
Assembly elections. There are some common threads that unite the Patel unrest in
Gujarat and the Yadav consolidation in Bihar, though there is absolutely no comparison in terms of their economic and social
status. First, Patels and Yadavs both dominated the political order in the 90s. Second, both were at the receiving end of the
2000s political order as Nitish Kumar in
Bihar and Mr. Modi in Gujarat forced the
Yadavs and Patels respectively to concede
some space to other caste groups.
Third, with the assertion of the authority of the state, both in Gujarat and Bihar,
the patronage networks of these castes
came under severe stress. In Bihar, according to one account, more than half of the
90,000 convicted under a special drive by
Nitish were Yadavs (there is no official
caste count). Several strongmen from the
Bhumihar community another dominant caste also faced the music, particularly in the initial years of the Nitish

stand a chance as long it was perceived as a

Bhumihar-Rajput party. Ignoring stiff resistance from the upper castes, in 2005, the
BJP threw its weight behind Nitish Kumar,
whose backward Kurmi community
formed less than three per cent of the population but could aggregate all minor
castes, overturning the Yadav order.
The Sangh Parivars strategy of sidelining the dominant caste in favour of a leader
from a numerically insignicant caste and
aggregating minor castes continues. The
party has appointed a Brahmin Chief Minister in Maharashtra, something that the
former CM Prithviraj Chouhan had said
during the elections, would be, unthinkable. The Brahmins constitute only four
per cent of population in the State, where
politics has been rmly in the grip of Marathas. The Parivar deployed the same approach in Haryana, where the dominance
of the Jats has been upset by the elevation
of a Punjabi as the Chief Minister, as is also
the case in Jharkhand, where a CM whose
caste is less than four per cent of the population has been appointed to the top job.
All this while, both the Parivar and Mr.
Modi have maintained a certain ambiguity


Amber light
for the RBI
he U.S. Federal Reserves decision last week
to leave interest rates unchanged offers an
amber signal for Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan as he prepares to
make the fourth bi-monthly monetary policy statement for the scal year on September 29. The Feds
move in delaying the much-anticipated start of normalisation of interest rates provides some elbow room
to Mr. Rajan as it removes, for now, the risk of rate
arbitrage seeking capital outows. The reasons cited by
Fed Chair Janet Yellen for the decision to postpone the
initial increase were mainly heightened uncertainties
in the global economy including in China and the
emerging markets, and a slightly softer expected path
for ination in the U.S. While Mr. Rajans decision will
predominantly ow from the RBIs reading of domestic
conditions including food price trends, banks lending rates and how far they reect earlier interest rate
reductions, removal of supply-side bottlenecks and assessments of the targeting of public spending and credit ows one factor predicating the retention of the
RBIs accommodative stance as spelt out in August was
the sign from the U.S. To that extent, the Fed decision
opens a window of opportunity for the Indian central
bank to further lower domestic borrowing costs if in its
reckoning the balance between spurring growth momentum and taming ination expectations has tilted
favourably away from price gains. The latest data from
the government on wholesale and consumer prices
indicate an appreciable slowing of ination, while the
Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index for August shows a softening in both output growth
and new orders from the preceding month.
That Mr. Rajan himself and Deputy Governor Urjit
Patel, speaking separately and in different contexts but
on successive days, have both underlined that the central bank believes ination expectations need to be
anchored from a longer-term perspective rather than
reading much into the latest data points, makes one
less sanguine that the RBI may be ready to switch the
green light for further policy accommodation. And Mr.
Rajans caveat that the pursuit of growth must be tempered by the lessons offered by developments in Brazil,
and that too much stimulus risks fanning ination and
decits along with faster growth, is another straw in the
wind. With a drought-like situation looming and the
prospect of renewed pressure on prices from farm
products and a waning base effect further clouding the
picture, the prospect of the central bank opting to wait
and watch till its December 1 meeting is real. And the
Fed will inevitably have to bite the bullet and initiate
its lift-off: it is only a matter of timing. This gives scope
for Mr. Rajan to see the amber as a cautionary pause.



The Netaji files
It is our right to know about the last
days of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
whose memories we hold in high
esteem (BJP strikes a note of
caution on les, and Modi
government rejected RTI plea,
Sep.20). To that extent, what
Mamata Banerjee did is good,
whether or not she did it with
political motives. The hint by
Central Ministers that the issue
involves our relations with other
countries makes it more serious
and all the more essential to let the
people be informed. Nothing short
of complete disclosure would be
acceptable. Suppressing facts shall
not be among our tools of
The mystery about the death of the
supreme commander of Indian
National Army (INA) seems to be a
announcement by the Japanese
News Agency dated 24th August,
1945, stated that Mr. Bose, the
Government of Azad Hind left
Singapore on August 16th by air for
Government. He was seriously
injured when his plane crashed at
the Taihoku aireld at 2 p.m. on

on the question of reservations. A resolution of the RSS Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi

Sabha (ABPS) in 1981, recently pasted on
the homepage of the RSS website, is instructive of its dilemma in dealing with
caste questions.
As one believing in the indivisible unity
of the entire Hindu Society including Harijans and tribals, the RSS has consistently
been endeavouring to arouse this inherent
spirit of oneness. The RSS considers it necessary that reservation be continued for
the present with a view to bringing all these
brethren of ours who have remained backward in educational, social and economic
elds over the centuries at par with the rest
of society.. The A.B.P.S. agrees with the
Prime Ministers viewpoint [Indira Gandhi
at that time] that the reservation cannot be
a permanent arrangement, that these
crutches will have to be done away with as
soon as possible, and that because of this
arrangement merit and efficiency should
not be allowed to be adversely affected.
Mr. Modi has skirted the issue whenever
it has been raised, saying that the demand
for reservation occurs only because the
economy is one of scarcity, and in an economy of plenty, nobody would want

New debates around reservations

But a new generation of Dalit-backward
caste politics is trying to open new debates
around reservations, such as on exceeding
the current ceiling of 50 per cent, and on
affirmative action in the private sector.
They want the caste census data released,
so that a new round of discussions can be
initiated. The Modi government and the
Parivar have obviously been feeling
Meanwhile, the Sangh Parivar has come
up with an ingenious theory caste divisions in India are an outcome of Muslim
rule in the country. In September 2014, at a
Sangh function, in the presence of chief
Mohan Bhagwat who supported reservations along more or less the same lines as
the resolution quoted above, Vishva Hindu
Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal declared that lower castes were warriors who
defended Hinduism and hence were punished by Muslim invaders.
The aggregation of lower castes is based
on a promise of protection against oppression by dominant castes, and simultaneously suggesting to them that their real
enemies are outside the Hindu society.
Therefore, the rst two statements at the
beginning of this article do not pose any
serious challenge to Mr. Modis politics, but
the last one does. Here, a marginal Dalit
caste feels upset. The leader goes on to say
that they had hoped that the BJP government would protect them from the highhandedness of Jats in Haryana, but now,
they feel betrayed.
In Bihar, this election is not going to be
about which caste group will dominate the
campaign scenario; rather, it will be about
who would succeed in aggregating the numerous minor castes with one or two per
cent of population each. Mandal 2.0 politics proposed by Lalu-Nitish alliance seeks
to aggregate them by pointing out that the
BJP is a Bhumihar and Rajput dominated
party. Mr. Modis campaign talks about
jungle raj, a barely concealed euphemism
for Yadav social dominance.
The Parivar strategy for Bihar is to aggregate under its banner the entire spectrum
of caste groups that made the victory of
Nitish possible in 2005 and 2010, barring
the Kurmis. Particularly signicant will be
the response of the Extremely Backward
Classes (EBC), a group of 55 castes that add
up to 35 per cent, and the Dalits.
The assertion of the Yadavs or the Patel
rebellion can do little harm to his politics if
Mr. Modi maintains his own ability to be
the aggregator of small social groups. But
by virtue of being the Prime Minister, Mr.
Modi will be shorn of the rhetoric that has
helped him aggregate these votes like the
subtle invocation of the religious rifts as he
did in Bihar during Lok Sabha elections by
raising cattle slaughter and Bangladeshi
immigration. Mr. Modi without his rhetoric would be like Amitabh Bachchan acting
in a silent movie.

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

August 18th. He was given

treatment in a hospital in Japan,
where he died at midnight. The
announcement added, ... the last
reports of Mr. Boses activities,
from Japanese sources, stated that
he left Rangoon on the last day of its
evacuation by the Japanese and had
transferred to Bangkok. It is learnt
that a trunk with precious gold and
recovered from the burnt aircraft
which establishes the fact that there
was indeed an air crash. The sealed
trunk was personally handed over
to the then Prime Minister of India
and is now in government custody.
Col. Habibur Rehman, Boses
associate, had also given his
personal statement pertaining to
the air crash and Netajis
hospitalisation and demise.
Victor Samaraj,

Laureates dilemma
This is with reference to the article
The Lady against the loaded dice
Myanmar, in political turmoil since
1990, is about to witness a
signicant moment in the form of
multiparty elections. However,
there is a need for national and
international monitors to keep an
eye on the process. There is a
glimmer of hope that Nobel
laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is set to

change the political fate of the

country. However, it is a matter of
despair that she has not raised the
issue of Rohingyas, the worlds
most-persecuted community. That
they have been denied the voting
rights should be no reason not to
take up their case. On moral
grounds, it is her obligation to ght
for their justice.
Gagan Pratap Singh,

Lowering rates
Subramanian Swamy complaining
that the RBI governor keeping the
interest rates high has led to the
slowdown of the manufacturing
sector is wholly unfair and stands
contradictory to the issue of
increasing non-performing assets
(NPA) that Dr. Swamy also
mentions in the same article (The
way out of the economic tailspin,
Sep.18). While increasing interest
rates to control ination by cutting
off the excess liquidity in the
market is a time-tested method for
controlling ination, irresponsibly
lending at unnaturally low rates is
believed to have caused the global
recession of 2008. Moreover,
uncontrollably high amounts of
money oating around in the
market leads to unproductive
endeavours and, in the process,
creates more NPAs. Finally, we

should also not forget the recent

incidents when the banks refused to
lower their borrowing rates even
after the RBI reduced its interest
Monish Borah,

Bar-Bench chasm
While laypersons using protests as a
tool is understandable, it dees
logic when qualied lawyers, who
are supposed to provide legal
remedies, resort to it that too
violently (The Bar-Bench chasm,
State-view, Sep.20). The growing
rift between the lawyers and some
judges of the Madras High Court is a
very unfortunate development, as
protests have found their way to the
court halls and judges chambers.
The two branches should sort out
the problem through talks.
K.D. Viswanaathan,

Editorial, Sep.19). Jawaharlal

Nehrus ideas gives him a
prominent place among the
constellation of great Indian
visionaries of modern era. As a
young research scholar working in
NMML in the 1980s I was greatly
beneted by its scholarly ambience
and voluminous literature available
there, including private papers on
nationalist leaders and political
Padmalata Thakur,

Impunity and after

Justice is often delayed and even

denied to ordinary people because
of diplomatic and political deals and
failure, Editorial, Sep.19). It has
been more than three years and we
have not been able to bring justice
to the families of shermen who
were killed by two Italian marines.
How then can we expect that we will
be able to drag to court a diplomat
who is not just more powerful, but is
also more protected than the
The attempt to re-vision the Nehru sailors? We may reassess and even
Memorial Museum and Library make some changes to Vienna
(NMML) and the subsequent Convention but it will not serve the
resignation of its director is nothing purpose of justice till it reaches the
but a corollary in a war of attrition weaker section of the society, the
against the Congress, thus vitiating section to which the Nepali maids
the values for which the storehouse and shermen belong.
Saurav Kumar,
of contemporary history stands
Muzaffarpur, Bihar

NMMLs plight



10 |




For an inclusive humanities pedagogy

Hemachandran Karah


sans consensus
ight years after the adoption of an interim
Constitution that heralded a peace process,
Nepal has finally managed to promulgate a
Constitution. The path to becoming a secular,
federal, democratic and republican Nepal as the
Constitution envisages it to be was tortuous, and it
could not be concluded on the basis of a consensus
among the elected legislators in the Constituent Assembly (CA). But it has moved Nepal significantly and
in a progressive manner away from the 1990 Constitution that maintained the state as a constitutional monarchy ruled by a Hindu king. That said, did Nepals
polity 507 out of the 601 lawmakers in the re-elected
CA voted in favour of promulgation, with 69 abstentions, mostly by legislators from the Terai, and 25 from
the Opposition live up to the promises in the interim
Constitution, which was itself the outcome of the Jan
Andolan seeking republicanism and state restructuring? The substantive answer to that question must be
in the negative. For one, the promulgation happened
even as violent protests raged in the Terai against
injustice meted out to the Madhesis. The protestors
were upset that the federal restructuring of Nepal into
seven provinces left the Madhesis divided among five
provinces, with only one of them having a majority of
plains-origin people. Clearly, the lack of consensus in
the run-up to the promulgation will remain a political
sticking point in the restructuring process. The leaders
of the three main political parties the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified MarxistLeninist) and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal
(Maoist) have affirmed that the federal boundaries
could be changed later. But it begs the question why
even after seven years of deliberations the concerns of
the Madhesis were not taken on board. The conclusion
is that the hill elite have thwarted what could have been
a truly inclusive and democratic Constitution.
There were also other reasons for discontent over
the new Constitution. These include the delineation of
electoral constituencies in the Terai (where more than
50 per cent of Nepals people live) which has not been
done on the basis of the population in the plains; this
creates a grievance about gerrymandering. Other complaints relate to citizenship norms that disallow children of Nepali mothers married to foreigners from
inheriting Nepali citizenship. All said, the people of
Nepal would be somewhat relieved that there has been
a degree of closure to the Constitution-writing process.
The recent earthquake had only worsened economic
conditions and there was a sense of fatigue with the
Constitution-writing process. The people required
their polity to focus on governance in a stable Nepal.
The polity could do well to take the necessary constitutional steps to address the Madhesi concerns and to
live up to these expectations on governance.

At the heart of humanities education lies

empathy, a capacity to understand others in
their own terms and contexts. To this end,
disciplines in humanities including history, literature, philosophy, and psychology
rely on the art of interpretation. An interpretative mind can not only take cognisance of
life situations, near and far, but also instil
thought processes that can transform ones
ideas about them from within.
So the impact factor of humanities, so to
speak, is categorised in terms of capacity to
transform imagination, reasoning, and
thought itself, albeit through somewhat intangible means. Influences on the mind are
difficult to quantify, so are their outcomes.
This renders humanities scholarship vulnerable to ridicule, neglect, and outright discrimination. This is not all: a conflicting
relationship with the science establishment
and a confusion concerning the appropriate
medium of learning burden Indian system of
education in humanities.

Science-humanities divide
Thinking about humanitiess discordant
relationship with the science establishment,
I cannot resist a bit of a flashback. As it
happens now, we high school students herded ourselves into first, second, third, and
fourth groups just after our high school
board exams. With a shocking sense of artificially created hierarchy among us on the
basis of our choice of groups, we began
branching out, pursuing courses in material
sciences, biological sciences, commerce,
and, last of the lot, humanities. Trapped in
our shells by a rigid sense of specialisation,
we started on our individual journeys from
where we were expected to speak in mutually unintelligible languages, chase divergent
job markets and organise our inner lives and
rate our knowledge systems in sync with the
realities inherent in our disciplines. This
mentality persists till date, bewitching technologists and humanities experts alike. Consequently, both fail to appreciate the idea
that the efforts of a social scientist and a
scientist can actually complement each
Scientists and technologists work on
problems using mathematical and experi-

An academic ambience that privileges sciences

over the humanities, English as the medium of
instruction and one identity marker over the other
will create humans rich in knowledge but short on
empathy. A more integrated approach needs to be
devised where diverse interests can interact
mental methods. Their vocation is based on
the premise that all problems are amenable
to scientific solutions. Scientists even aspire
to devise grand frameworks like the MTheory that can potentially explain everything about the universe and the humanitys
evanescent place in it.
In pursuing such grand chases and technological feats, scientists work closely with
the industrial and military complexes as
much as the ruling dispensation. Naturally,
they approach existing power structures and
controversial debates surrounding them

others assumptions and predilections. This

is unlikely to happen if both the domains
merely coexist in our centres of higher learning as two disparate groups.
Is English the most appropriate medium
of learning when it comes to social sciences?Yes indeed, say most social scientists. As a
global language, English comes with a plethora of means to access knowledge which is
not normally available through an Indian
language. Millions of Indians, including
those from the lower castes, now have a
chance to gain entry into elite Indian in-

Humanities and sciences need to interrogate each others

assumptions and predilections. This is unlikely to happen if
both the domains merely coexist in our centres of higher
learning as two disparate groups
with caution. Also, they tend to stay away
from politics, often reasoning that it does
not come within the ambit of their vocation.
Social scientists brand such a withdrawal
as Rightist leaning. This is clearly incorrect
since a typical Indian scientists formative
period is anything but politically inclined. If
humanities scholars desire a more imaginative learning world for scientists, they
should, by all means, push for the same. After
all, it is disciplines such as Medical Humanities that have prompted Western medical
science establishment into thinking about
the patients inner worlds, looking beyond
their illnesses. Similar feats can be replicated in India too where humanities are
gaining visibility in institutions devoted to
engineering and technology such as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
Of course, mere visibility cannot provide
humanities with the capacity it needs to become a transformative endeavour. Perhaps,
change will arrive when humanities and sciences are in a position to interrogate each

stitutions that were earlier the preserve of a

handful of those who had embraced English
education much earlier. Humanities scholars, though sympathetic to such liberating
shifts, do rightfully mourn the fatal neglect
of non-English knowledge systems. They apprehend a wipeout of local linguistic heritage because of English.
Education in English certainly has the capability to instil a sense of complacency, an
assumption that that critical opinion in English is an end in itself. For example, Indian
social scientists and humanities scholars
tend to have a slavish devotion to Western
thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. For the most part, they invoke
these philosophers as a shortcut and to compensate for their lack of grounding in knowledge systems of regional languages.
However, those who favour a pedagogy in
humanities that is based on Indian languages naturally brand English education as an
attractive pact with the devil.
That said, privileging English over the re-


Justice for
the victims
he seven peak-hour serial explosions on July
11, 2006 in Mumbai came as a blow to the
collective consciousness of Maximum City.
For months after the explosions, daily commuters entered the compartments of suburban trains,
rightly called the lifelines of Mumbai, with suspicion in
their eyes, and fear in their hearts, every single day. The
task of securing the lives of 7.5 million daily commuters
against attacks still remains a challenge. In these nine
years, the Railways spent over Rs. 10 crore to upgrade
security on the Central and Western Railway systems.
From a situation where there were virtually no CCTV
cameras, the suburban train lines now have over 3,600
cameras. But Mumbaikars know in their hearts that
while commuting on the train network they are really
on their own in a city that has faced seven major terror
attacks since 1993 three of them on its trains.
The 2006 train bombings killed 189 people; in terms
of numbers it is second only to 257 victims in the 1993
serial bombings. The trial of the 1993 serial bombings
case took 14 agonising years, but Judge Y.D. Shinde has
managed to complete this trial in less than five years. At
least two more terror trials including the Aurangabad
arms haul case of 2006 and the Malegaon bombings
case of 2008 are still pending in Maharashtra. Mumbais two worst terror attacks make for a strong case to
expedite terror trials through fast-track courts. It will
not only help bring quicker closure to the victims and
reduce their helplessness in the face of a tardy justice
system, but also aid the rehabilitation of unfortunate
people like Abdul Wahid Shaikh, a 37-year-old teacher
who has now been acquitted after nine years in jail. The
final verdict in this case will be significant as it will be
the first major terror case after the July 30 hanging of
Yakub Memon to bring into focus the question of the
death penalty. The Law Commission of India in its
draft report recommended speedy abolition of the
death penalty for all crimes except those involving
terrorism. The defence team led by advocate Yug Mohit
Chaudhry, a strong voice against the death penalty, has
made pertinent points before the court. He submitted
that the Law Commissions August 2015 report points
out that only 4.3 per cent of all death sentences awarded by trial courts were upheld by the Supreme Court;
the rest either resulted in acquittals or were commuted. Arguing that the train blasts case rests merely on
the confessions of the accused, which may be a basis for
conviction, he urged the court to award the death
penalty only if culpability is absolutely certain. Now,
Judge Shinde has the task of defining the direction of
the debate on capital punishment with his verdict.



The Bose enigma
The mystery surrounding the
death of Netaji Subhas Chandra
Bose should not be allowed to
continue any further (The enigma
continues; Editorial; Experts
differ on Netajis disappearance;
and Modi to host Netajis family in
New Delhi, Sep.21). There is no
reason for the present government
not to bring out the truth. Citing
that such an exercise will have an
adverse impact on our relations
with other countries is not
aceptable. To view this as a West
Bengal election matter is to belittle
the stature of a patriot like Netaji.
Mahatma Gandhi may have
rejected the path suggested by
Netaji during freedom struggle but
he never had any doubts about
Netajis commitment to the cause
of freedom.
M.V. Nagavender Rao,
The crux of the matter seems to be
that under Jawaharlal Nehru and
continued to spy on Boses family
members. This is not expected of
dispensation. Mamata Banerjees
decision to declassify 64 files is
manoeuvre even though its fallout
for her own politics is likely to
remain largely intangible. Prime
Minister Narendra Modi should
follow Mamata Banerjee and throw
open the Bose papers without
further delay. This would be the
best way of clearing the air about
his disappearance. After so many
years, what conceivable harm can
be incurred by that?
J.S. Acharya,

gional languages, and vice versa, is not going

to work any longer. We need both modes of
dissemination to handle the students capacity to absorb all modalities of learning. To
cite an example, as a teacher in an English
classroom, I find it hard to talk of romantic
love without invoking Shakespeare, Kamban
as well as Kalidasa. Though my audience
primarily comprises students of English
Studies, they inhabit a world where they get
to learn about love, and other such fine expressions, through different media. It is impossible to get to the heart of such a diverse
learning environment without seeking as
much recourse to classics in English as much
as those in the regional languages.
In a globalised context like ours, ideas
commingle in complex ways irrespective of
their linguistic roots. To disentangle such
knowledge admixtures, we need humanities
education that is rooted both in the regional
and the global. With firm roots both in English and the regional languages, humanities
education in India will cease to be a field
where Western frameworks are merely recycled. Having one foot here, and another
there, in fact can enable humanities to have a
firmly rooted empowering agenda.

Reinforcing uniqueness of identities

Finally, politics, which sciences ignore
and social sciences espouse, is not all that a
burden-free exercise. In pursuing identity
politics, for example, communities develop a
tendency to reassert their uniqueness at all
expense. Earlier, the discipline was open to
only an elite few with upper-caste affinities.
Some of them outside did manage to hook
on, but only from the peripheries. With an
expansion in identity politics, humanities
began opening up to different identities, inadvertently creating exclusive slots for identities such as those of Dalits, religious
minorities, disabled, and many more.
Notwithstanding the dynamic nature of
these slots, communities with diverse identity markers, at times, subscribe to the position that a right for representation rests
solely with them. And they believe that outsiders, no matter how much their willingness and capacity to reach out, will not be in
a position to understand them.
Such a worldview is restrictive since it
underestimates ones ability to get into others shoes. Human propensity for cruelty is
as boundless as that for kindness. And as vast
for empathy. Esoteric knowledge, uniquely
possessed by one community or one individual, can therefore differ from other strands
of knowledge only in kind, and not in degree.
However, a trained social scientist may be
able to reach out to understand the inner
worlds of a Dalit or a disabled person, and yet
fall short in accessing something that is completely esoteric and experiential about them.
Hence, we need to evolve learning environments that encourage a re-creation of esoteric forms of knowledge in some tangible
shape. Fiction, poetry, music, and other
forms of human expression can come handy
in this regard.
Empathy, therefore, is not necessarily an
inherent human trait and needs to be cultivated. Neither an identity slot nor political
assertiveness can automatically lead humanities scholars to a mission of empathy.
This requires carefully orchestrated pedagogical systems. Without imagination and
empathy, politics will become a burdensome
and a straight-jacketed exercise.
Twenty-first century humanities establishment in India will have to integrate subaltern or marginalised communities in a
conversational environment that is both empowering and soulfully enriching. A symbiotic relationship with the sciences, a rich
linguistic heritage, and a pedagogy rich in
empathy will help it achieve the goal.
(Hemachandran Karah works in the fields
of disability studies and medical

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

The claim that Netaji was living in

other countries after 1945 means
investigation needs to happen with
the assistance of other countries.
Snooping on his kin may not have
been directly related to Netaji
alone. Between the years 1946 and
1948, there was a proposal by
Huseyn Suhrawardy and Sarat
Chandra Bose for a united and
unacceptable to Congress. Leaders
of West Bengal, like Shyama Prasad
Mukherjee and B.C Roy shot down
the idea. Both Nehru and Sardar
Patel were distressed by such
moves as, at that time, national
unity was very fragile. Spying
would have happened, not just on
Bose, but on many other leaders,
including on communists. This was
not to make Nehrus position safe,
but to preserve our national unity.
C. Subrahmanyam,

Toward republicanism
With Nepal adopting a new
Constitution, the Himalayan
nations long wait for a foundation
to build its republican ideals has
ended (Nepal adopts first
democratic Constitution, Sep.21).
India, which played a very
constructive role in mediating the
process of consensus building to
chalk out the basic features of the
Constitution, has a lot to be
disappointed as its well-meant
persuasions for balancing the
interests of the communities in the
hills and the plains has largely been
ignored, with the latter up in arms
alleging discrimination.
A Constitution that leaves large
segments of the population
disgruntled can hardly help us

forge a sense of national unity. restriction on the sacrifice of European Union or leaving it were
Nationhood cannot be enforced animals defined as halaal and bad options. So the Greeks have
through the states diktat; it has to camel is one of them. In Islamic wisely accepted, albeit reluctantly,
be built brick by brick through countries like Saudi Arabia etc that they are in for tough days
inclusive policies. Since a written where camels are in abundance, it ahead.
D.B.N. Murthy,
Constitution is not cast in stone, is the most common sacrificial
India must continue to use its good animal.
Her assumption and fear that
offices to counsel the Nepali elite
to address the concerns of those tigers will be sacrificed in future
who feel marginalised in the new doesnt hold ground either as
canines Ms. Taslima Nasreens tweet on
seeming carnivores
intrusive. A recrudescence of considered haraam (forbidden). the American schoolboy, Ahmed
violence will open a new chapter of Saving an endangered animal must Mohamed, has portrayed her more
political instability which Nepal be a priority for everybody and as an anti-Islamic propagandist
awareness should be created in this rather than an atheist or a
can hardly afford.
V.N .Mukundarajan, regard but, at the same time, we rationalist (Taslima under fire for
Thiruvananthapuram should
from tweet on U.S. schoolboy, Sep.21).
and Calling oneself an atheist does not
The most remarkable feature of the misrepresention of facts.
mean that she is licensed to defame
Md. Tarique Farid, any religion or its followers
new Nepal Constitution is an
Gaya, Bihar through generalised statements.
attempt to shed its image of a
Hindu nation and take the
Also, in this case, it is highly
identity of a secular democratic It is sad inhuman to kill animals for condemnable that individual talent
state. It is Nepal's Constitution satiating our gastronomic desires. was not given attention by the
and India should not interfere too They have a right to live as much as policeman. A clock was mistaken
much in its framework. There can human beings. Camels are truly the for a bomb only because its
be deficiencies in some aspects like pride of this nation and they have inventor was a Muslim!
Sanya Khan,
delimitation and reservation but so often served the country during
they can certainly be sorted out war. I think goats, poultry and fish
through friendly consultations. are sufficient to cater to the food
This is not the time for India to needs. Let us spare the endangered
stand aloof and sulk.
K.R. Unnithan,
V. Jaya Rao, The proposal by the Indian
Hyderabad railways to paint coaches and
stations with pictures of wildlife as
desired by the World Wildlife Fund
(WWF) to spread awareness on
Maneka Gandhi has demanded ban Alexis Tsipras has managed to win conservation is welcome (Trains
on camel slaughter during Bakrid elections with a mandate for to transport you to the forests,
(The sinking ship of the desert, reforms
belt-tightening Sep.21). It is equally important on
Sep.21). To back her point, she (Greek voters return Tsipras to the part of the Railways to provide
claims that slaughter of camel on power, Sep.21). The Greeks have fences near tracks in forest areas at
Bakrid contravenes religious realised that there are no quick fix vulnerable locations where wild
injunctions as only goats are solutions and there is no animals usually cross them. They
sanctioned. She further goes on to alternative to reforms and may also impose further speed
extrapolate it could even become austerity. This is certainly a U-turn restrictions for all trains at such
fashionable to kill tigers later. I can for the ex-PM and his party but the locations to save loss of wildlife
J. Eden Alexander,
only say that nothing can be farther people had no real choice. Taking a
from the truth. Koran places no confrontationist approach with the

Taslimas tweet

Fauna on trains

Camel slaughter

Tspiras' victory



10 |




Modis unrealistic American dreams

Pulapre Balakrishnan


Living down
a covert unit
he Technical Support Division, a covert intelligence unit of the Army raised during the
tenure of General V.K. Singh as Army chief, is
in the news for all the wrong reasons. The
revelation that sensitive documents relating to it were
destroyed illegally in 2012, in the nal days of General
Singhs tenure he is a Union Minister today deserves a thorough and serious inquiry. The TSD has
faced allegations that it misused funds earmarked for
secret service operations, indulged in unauthorised
surveillance and made attempts to destabilise the Jammu and Kashmir government. Some of these charges
are attributed to the ndings of an inquiry report by a
Board of Officers. The latest expos by this newspaper,
with documentary evidence, shows that between May
22 and May 25, 2012, the Pune-based Southern Army
Command assembled two different boards of officers
to destroy all TSD-related documents in its possession.
It is puzzling that the military authorities went ahead
with a general court-martial against a havildar who was
charged with offering these documents to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), though the originals had been destroyed. Further, the documents that
were used during the court-martial proceedings were
not certied copies. And two different sets of copies
appear to have been produced by the Army and the DRI
in the court-martial. To compound the problems, Havildar Sham Das D. has not been given a copy of the
verdict, citing reasons of secrecy, making it difficult for
him to go in appeal. Whether he was actually trying to
leak official secrets or was framed as part of a larger
feud among the Army top brass, requires investigation.
The entire episode concerning the TSD, its functioning as well as the inquiry against it, and the manner in
which the fallout of disclosures about the probe report
was handled, indicate that two factions may be at work
within the Army seeking to discredit each other. Given
the sensitive nature of the unit that is involved, it is
possible that the destruction of the documents may be
part of an effort to clean up the mess left behind by
disclosures about the TSD. The most sensitive aspect
from a diplomatic and national security point of view
concerns the claim that the TSD was actually involved
in covert operations in a neighbouring country. It may
be for reasons of secrecy and the need to protect the
dignity of the Army as an institution that no public
disclosure has been made about all aspects of this
controversy. There have been only occasional news
reports and leaked information about purported inquiries and ndings. What is required to live down the
operations of a disbanded covert unit is a comprehensive and independent judicial investigation, followed
by internal reform in all such agencies.

There is at least one dimension in which the

distance between Narendra Modi and Jawaharlal Nehru is not so great after all. I speak
not of their fondness for the bandgala but of
their penchant for world travel. Not a day
passes without us being informed of some
impending visit by our Prime Minister. Right
now, we are being bombarded with the details of the itinerary of his visit to the U.S.
later this month. He will start, were told,
with the annual meeting of the U.N. General
Assembly and from there proceed to the
west coast.
Nehru had undertaken this journey too, in
1949. However, we were a different country
then, having inherited a bloodily-partitioned
nation with a declining per capita income.
On the other hand, India is today one of the
worlds fastest-growing economies, hoarding a young labour stock and a substantial
talent pool, making the task of its leadership
a little easier by comparison.
While India must constantly engage with
the rest of the world at all levels, the rest of
the world does not hold the key to either the
pace or inclusiveness of its economic
growth. It is, therefore, altogether surprising
that the leader of India should travel westward urging Come make in India.

Indias unique place in world order

India is made to appear as a supplicant
when no one asks it to be one. Nehru himself
had travelled the world as the torchbearer
both of an ancient civilisation and a cosmopolitan internationalism with roots in the
West to which he considered himself a natural heir. Till the 1990s, many an Indian
abroad would have been the beneciary of
praise from African students and American
workers for Indias role in hastening the
process of decolonisation. It is not without
signicance that India had been the rst port
of call for Nelson Mandela after the end of
apartheid in South Africa.
Before it comes to be imagined that Nehrus forays into the wider world had amounted only to showcasing Indian attire, we may


ike death and taxes, it has become a certainty:
every passing week brings forth a reminder
that freedom of speech and expression are
wobbly concepts in our country. Recently,
Bengaluru-based producer, entrepreneur and independent MLA Ashok Kheny announced a lm based on
the persona of Tipu Sultan, with Tamil superstar Rajinikanth possibly in the lead. The mere mention of the
project was enough, it seemed, to unsettle the BJP and
its ideological allies. Some of its Tamil Nadu-based
gures quickly denounced Tipu as an aggressor who
had committed atrocities against Hindus. Then they
brought in another angle, saying Tamils had suffered
during Tipus rule, and so making a lm about him
would be an insult to Tamils. Even the actors reputation was not spared. Given that Rajinikanth portrays
himself as a spiritual person, they questioned the appropriateness of his acting in a movie about someone
who robbed this country. Such reactions to a lm that is
just in the stage of a proposal is but further proof that
sections of Indias political establishment have lost the
ability to distinguish between artistic expression and
historical accuracy. It would appear that they want to
control the narrative of gures and events from the
past to reect a view that corresponds with their own,
with scant regard for history or artistic freedoms.
After all, the issue is also about an artists fundamental right to re-examine a mythological or historical
gure through books or paintings or cinema. If the
political parties involved believe in the democratic
system, then they should debate the legacy of Tipu
Sultan. Was he a courageous anti-colonial crusader, or
just a religious imperialist who lusted for political power? What did he mean to Tamils, to Hindus? But that
would mean allowing the possibility of another point of
view emerging, in the manner democracy should function. The protagonist of the Hollywood lm The American President says, America isnt easy Its gonna say
You want free speech? Lets see you acknowledge a
man whose words make your blood boil You want to
claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol
of your country cant just be a ag; the symbol also has
to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that
ag in protest. Or take the case of The Queen, which
was an unattering portrait of the British royal family
in the aftermath of Princess Dianas death. There was
nary a protest from any quarter, or demands to ban the
lm, despite the story being about people who were still
alive. In contrast, in India, even long-dead gures seem
to be beyond the hands of artists. Apparently, they
belong only to politicians.



Generals unit
A soldier turned politician, Gen.
(retd.) V.K. Singh has shown an
uncanny knack of getting into news
for the wrong reasons (Different
papers emerged in court martial;
But soldier was sent to prison for
10 years; and Parties demand
documents, Sep.22). While the
news on Technical Support
Division (TSD) had evoked severe
revelations about the alleged
destruction of documents under
Gen. Singhs watch have only added
a new dimension to this
controversy. It is time for the
Defence Minister to make an
official statement on actions
proposed by the government on
the issue, if any. The truth must not
be compromised on the pretext of
national security.
S.K. Choudhury,

As the Prime Minister makes another U.S. trip,

with hopes of attracting greater foreign
investment, there are pressing domestic issues
back home seeking his attention issues
like poverty, hunger and misgovernance.
A Digital India backed by greater FDI flows can
only play a limited role in tackling these

with its signicant Indian presence, has long

ago sensed the prot opportunity in engaging with India and does not need handholding. So it is likely to bide its time.
Altogether, while the government is right
to pursue foreign investment and technology, it does gives the impression of not giving
as much importance to other areas. Without
suggesting what these areas are, we might
suggest that soon as the PM returns from
abroad he goes on a virtual Bharat darshan.
He could even remain in the PMO while
travelling backwards in a time-machine.
What would be the things that he will get to
want to remember that extraordinary nan- travel to the U.S. with an anachronistic agen- see?
cial inows had been elicited then. Non- da. Yet, one may expect him to be clear of
alignment brought with it an unexpected what it will yield in relation to Indias cur- Domestic issues, imported solutions
He will nd a farmer committing suicide
reward as the rival ideological blocks vied rent priorities. An argument is usually made
with one another to shower India with aid. out in terms of attracting foreign direct in- in Hyderabad because he couldnt afford
Over a quarter of the total nancing for the vestment (FDI) and, possibly, technology to medical care for his son. He will nd that in
Bihar, to which State he has promised an
Second Five-Year Plan was via official aid drive the Digital India programme.
from the rest of the world. Michal Kalecki,
It is incontestable that both foreign in- out-of-turn special assistance of Rs. 1.25 lakh
the astute Polish economist who was one vestment and the spread of Information and crore, the overwhelming majority of rural
among many intellectuals who had made a Communications Technology are very im- households do not have access to sanitation.
beeline for this quickening country, had re- portant for India. In fact, every effort must In Delhi, he will nd a doctor of the All India
marked pithily that Indias policy of non- be made to accelerate their adoption. How- Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) analignment was akin to a clever calf sucking ever, on FDI, much of what can be achieved nounce on television that dengue is endemmilk from two cows!
via enabling legislation has been achieved. ic to its population, a grave diagnosis
indeed. In Rajasthan, a State run by his own
party, he would nd that a senior civil servant ran an extortion racket yielding four
The Prime Minister needs to show better statesmanship in
crores in ready rupees, thus taking the
achieving a bipartisan consensus while evolving solutions. Both
meaning of ease of doing business to an
altogether new level. So, alighting from the
the technical and financial means are within our reach
time machine, he is likely to be struck by the
thought that while Digital India is a worthIt is also of interest that Nehru had shown Further, the tariff barrier to trade has been while project per se, it can only be a partial
answer to what needs to be done in this vast
no particular anxiety over wanting India as a rescinded along with quantitative controls.
permanent member of the U.N. Security
Foreign trade accounts for more than 50 and yet underdeveloped country.
The hardship of everyday life faced by
Council, even as he thanklessly championed per cent of the Indian economy by now.
Communist Chinas claims. It is not known However, the promised gains in manufactur- Indians has a history far older than that of
what exactly he had thought of the prize ing are disappointing, suggesting that do- Mr. Modis prime ministership. It is the reitself, but it could not have escaped his atten- mestic supply and demand conditions may sult of decades of misgovernance. Resolving
tion that even when it was not a cabal of the be at least as important for Indian manu- the citizens problems also involves a role for
rich and powerful it could hardly count as a facturing as is an open trade regime. It is the States, where his writ hardly runs. But, as
democratic arrangement. Contrast this with indeed correct that FDI has increased expo- Prime Minister he is expected to show leadIndias desperate attempts today to gain nentially over the past one year, suggesting ership in providing solutions to these. The
membership of this discredited club. But of to some that this reects a new international least he can do is to draw attention to them,
course the world has changed since the f- condence in Indias economy. While the set up bipartisan committees to propose perties. Apartheid and colonialism have van- gure is impressive it is not unprecedented. manent solutions, and suggest means of ished, and China is rmly entrenched in the In any case, FDI accounts for less than 10 per nancing them. The role of the rest of the
Security Council, and one might say with cent of total capital formation in the coun- world which, it seems, looms large in Mr.
nary a thought for Indias inclusion.
try. As for the IT tsars Mr. Modi is to meet in Modis imagination in solving these probSo, one should not expect Mr. Modi to Silicon Valley, the U.S.-based IT industry, lems faced by the people of India is somewhat limited.
The technical element in the solutions is
fully understood and entirely within our capability to handle. Even the nancial constraints can be overcome through political
will. For instance, should the public sector
not be required to yield a much larger surplus than it does? And shouldnt the government plead with the well off to give-up
regressive consumption subsidies? Here,
even Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi, with his niche
presence in the political rmament, has
shown greater statesmanship by reportedly
proposing that subsidies for pilgrimages,
mostly undertaken by men, be diverted to
educate the girl child.
Nevertheless, we wish our Prime Minister
an enjoyable visit to the San Francisco Bay
Area where a festival of ideas awaits him. He
will nd that though California is the home
of the IT industry, it also has a ourishing
agriculture. He will nd that it is a society
where diversity is celebrated as a result of
which minorities bring their best to the table. He will nd women, of Indian origin at
that, in highest public office. And if he ever
travels to the headquarters of the iconic Apple Computers, he will nd that it is headed
by a gay man. Being a keen observer, he can
hardly remain unaffected by these rich rewards of freethinking. In turn, we await his
safe return, hopefully rewired and ready, at
last, to govern.
(The author teaches economics at Ashoka
University. The views expressed are
Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Whether Havildar Sham Das, a

clerk at the TSD, is the real culprit
or if he has been made a scapegoat
will only come to light if an
independent inquiry is held. The
Prime Minister, who desires
greater transparency in Cabinet
functioning, should step in and
seek an explanation from Gen. V.K.
Mani Nataraajan,

Secular republic Nepal

Nepals adoption of a secular and

successful step in moving away
from being a Hindu monarchy, is a
welcome development. However,
Madhesis and Janajatis, who
constitute a signicant section of
the population, have reasons to feel
left out. India, with its good
relationship with Nepal, needs to
provide friendly counsel to the
neighbour to protect the freedom
of these groups.
If Gen. V.K. Singh had intended the
K.R. Srinivasan,
division to be so secretive, the
Pune-based Southern Command
liaison unit would not have kept on It is a historic moment for Nepalis.
record a destruction certicate by This is a moment of celebration not
Col. Anoop Kumar, which was only because the country has
subsequently made available to adopted secularism, democracy
your reporter. Armys secret and and republicanism but also
top-secret les are normally because of the ability of its people
destroyed after the operation but, to achieve consensus even after
in every case, a destruction suffering a bloody civil war and a
certicate is maintained on record. massive earthquake. The natural
This is carried out to prevent any disaster, which killed more than
possible leaking of information. 9,000 people, created a sense of
Every piece of information with unity among members of the
Constituent Assembly.
the Army is national property.
C.V. Venugopalan,
However, Indias response is not
Palakkad an encouraging one. We need to
remember that we faced problems
The ruling partys stoic silence on of regionalism in the 1950s which
the destruction of the key we overcome only gradually
documents is baffling. The issue through the restructuring of
calls for an immediate probe. States, a process which is still

ongoing. We need to congratulate

the Nepali people and the countrys
politicians not as a big brother
but as a friend and a partner for
the achievement. At the same time,
we need to engage with the country
in a constructive manner to help it
integrate the minorities.
Mohanraj T.,
This is the right time for Nepali
leaders to take into account the
concerns of the Madhesis. They
need to learn from Indias example,
which has failed to assuage the
concerns of many sections of
population in the Northeast even
after six decades of reorganisation.
The Nagaland question is just one
of the examples.
K. Sathya Priya,
Kandamangalam, Viluppuram

Turning Left
Socialism is a dead ideology and
what is needed is compassionate
capitalism so that the widening
inequality is ironed out, if not
eliminated (What Corbyn means
for Indias Left, Sep.22). Besides,
no one is enamoured of any
ideology these days. The author has
belaboured to espouse the cause of
the Left parties as if their revival is
crucial for the survival of Indian
people. Nowhere in the world,
other than the two behemoths of
China and Russia, has the Left
progressed. The happenings in
Greece and Spain and the victory of
Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K. do not
constitute the success of Left as a
whole. Though Mr. Corbyn will be
keen to shift British politics to the
Left, he will be opposed by his own
party colleagues, the press and the
Meghana. A,
New South Wales, Australia

Doubts about the trickle-down

benets in neoliberal economics
and rising income inequality have
triggered a Leftist wave not only in
the U.S. and U.K., but in other
countries such as Greece, Russia,
Mexico, Brazil and even China. In
India, voters will gradually
abandon mainstream political
parties like the BJP and Congress if
they dont address the basic
problems of the urban poor,
working and salaried classes. Over
the last two decades of
globalisation in India, only the rich
However, the Indian Left has
shown an unwillingness to address
the real problems of the present.
To quote Arundhati Roy, it has
retreated into an inaccessible
intellectual space, where ancient
arguments are proffered in an
archaic language that few can
Kangayam R. Narasimhan,

As we see the rise of Left in the

West, we also see its decline n
India. This can be attributed to the
rapid growth of services sector, in
comparison to the slow progress of
the manufacturing sector here.
The main sources of mobilisation
for the Left parties anywhere are
the workers and the trade unions.
However, due to dismal growth of
industries here, they are not able to
garner enough support. On the
other hand, the system in the U.K.
suffers from a phenomenon called
re-patrimonialization, a term
coined by Francis Fukuyama, a
system that caters only to the
needs of lobbyists and special
interest groups. It is the
resentment toward this among the
non-MP members of the Labour
party and society in general that
has led to the rise of the so called
hard Leftist Jeremy Corbyn.
Rushal Garg,

The spectre is again rising in

Europe, and though this time it is
following all democratic norms,
the so-called defenders of
democracy still feel haunted and
threatened. David Camerons
tweet against a victorious Jeremy
Corbyn shows extreme prejudice
and intolerance on his part
towards the political choice of a
large number of British citizens.
The reaction of the media reveals
the shallow meaning they attach to
the term democracy. A similar
phobia has engulfed Indian minds
which nd the politics of
aspirations more suitable. May be
its cool to talk about equality and
justice, but taking it seriously is
uncool and undemocratic. This
hypocrisy is suffocating.
Ikbal Ahmed,

All progressive citizens must

condemn this violence and should
demand a fair probe to bring the
Karnataka Sahitya Academy gets
threat calls, Sep.22). At the same
time, rationalists must learn to
differentiate between religion and
superstition. Idol worship is an
indispensible part of Hinduism
which devotees practise and
superstition. It is distressing to
rationalists making indecent
comments on idol worship,
remarks that only weaken the trust
people impose in them. Both
believers and rationalists need to
Gampa Saidatta,
Siddipet, Telangana

Reason-religion debate



10 |




Apply Panchsheel on Nepal

Kanak Mani Dixit


The encryption
he thing to appreciate most about the governments draft encryption policy, brought forth
with the ostensible goal of ensuring privacy
and promoting Internet security, was the
speed with which it was withdrawn. There was little in
the draft that was true to the goal; the provisions,
instead, had enough in them to harm the cause. Encryption, a process in which digital messages are
scrambled so they cant be accessed by anyone other
than those they are meant for, is a means to ensure
freedom of expression and to keep information secure
in the digital world. The aliases one uses in the social
media environment can be a fun way to keep casual
users from identifying you. But that isnt enough. The
digital world also comprises criminals and terrorists,
and repressive regimes. Some of them would not only
want to know who you are and hack into your information and messages but also have the means to do
so. Encryption keeps intruders at bay. So, on Monday
when the draft was released, experts and netizens
could quickly figure out that the provisions had the real
potential to undermine encryption. One of the provisions sought to give the government access to encrypted data that rest with government departments (save
the sensitive ones), corporates and individuals. Another provision required users to store all encrypted communications for a period of 90 days. The backlash had
its effect; the draft was withdrawn the very next day.
Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad rightly and
quickly chose to emphasise that it was just a draft and
not the view of the government. But while the draft
goes back to the drawing board, it is important to
realise that any debate on encryption isnt going to be
easy and straightforward. Bigger battles await us. The
world over, administrations have sought weaker encryption standards or backdoor access to Internet
products. They present this as a public safety vs privacy
issue. Administrations cite public safety as the reason
for asking for encryption access. FBI Director James
Comey even complained to U.S. lawmakers recently:
We cannot break strong encryption. British Prime
Minister David Cameron has already created a stir by
calling for a ban on strong encryption. Granting governments the power to tap into every message and item
of information and store them, will have the potential
to make the system extremely vulnerable. David Kaye,
UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression,
wrote in a report in May: It is a seemingly universal
position among technologists that there is no special
access that can be made available only to government
authorities, even ones that, in principle, have the public
interest in mind. Access to encrypted data should,
therefore, be provided as an exception, not as a rule.

No other term but dismay can describe

ones response to New Delhis ungenerous
reply to Nepals democratic drafting of a
Constitution through a Constituent Assembly. The Ministry of External Affairs
merely took note of the document, and followed that up a day later with a veiled threat
of economic blockade, which Nepal has already experienced in 1988.
According to reports, this was followed up
the next day with a list of demands from New
Delhi as to what should go into Nepals Constitution in amendment, including the kind
of provinces to be created exclusively in the
Tarai-Madhes plains. This overt interventionism, meant to impress Kathmandus recalcitrant political class, has left the
observer aghast.
The Constitution of Nepal 2072 (in the
Vikram calendar) was the culmination of
seven years of effort, including a failed first
Constituent Assembly (CA) feeding into the
second CA. This process began with the 12Point Agreement of 2005, negotiated between the underground Maoists and Nepals
democratic parties, facilitated by New Delhi,
with the promise to hold elections for a Constituent Assembly. The constitution-writing
had been frustratingly painstaking, even suffocating, and it was hoped that India, more
than any other country, would recognise the
need of Nepal to move on with its social
agenda and economic revival.

A rights-based Constitution
Attempting to write a modernist Constitution in post-modernist times, there are
many holes and loopholes in the statute.
This is a rights-based document that makes
promises to all, rather than the spare, basic
law we have been taught to be the ideal, and
it makes many promises conditional upon
the enactment of laws.
The preamble starts with we the Nepali
people rather than the people of Nepal,
forgetting that there are those who selfidentify as Nepali elsewhere in South Asia.
A dreadful sop to the Maoists was the salute
in the preamble to the armed conflict(s) of
the past.
There are contradictions galore in this
Constitution, written by politicians responding to populist pressures rather than by
circumspect jurists and constitutionalists.
The process was weakened by senior leaders
who formed a cabal that took all decisions
instead of allowing debates on the floor of
the Constituent Assembly.
For all its weaknesses, though, the Constitution has progressive elements that would

The oldest nation-state of South Asia must be

allowed its own space to implement its new
Constitution, which for all its weaknesses has
progressive elements, from institutionalising the
republic and secularism, to conferring several
social and economic rights on its people
do all of South Asia proud, from institutionalising the republic and secularism, to confirming social and economic rights as
fundamental, to rejecting the death penalty.
The needs of marginalised communities, including the Dalits, the disabled and those
from the LGBT community, are addressed.
There is a genuine attempt to safeguard the
rights of women, though it is not seen to be
Perhaps the most welcome aspect is that
amendments can be adopted with relative
ease over the next two years and four
months, as the Constituent Assembly enjoys
a kind of afterlife as a Parliament with the
same party-based configuration. Everything

cy. For this, Nepal should be allowed to make

its own plans and mistakes.
The country has been politically sovereign
for two-and-half centuries, but lacked democracy to make governance work for the
people. Democracy was achieved in 1990 but
was derailed with the Maoist peoples war
barely five years later. The conflict ended in
2006 but then followed a peace process and
period of transition, during which time inter-community polarisation flared.
The interminable transition was to have
ended with the promulgation of the Constitution, but the violence in the plains and the
vehemence of the official Indian reaction
has raised questions on whether Nepal will

The opinion makers in India, including former Ambassadors tied

to present policy, have failed to consider the representative
and inclusive nature of Nepals Constituent Assembly
except sovereignty and national integrity are
open to amendment.
Given that we are all saddled with the
nation-state as the primordial unit of governance, it is important for India to let the
neighbour sort out its challenges on its own.
The Nepal-India relationship, including the
historically defined open border, the alive
cultural linkages and the overall goodwill
between the citizenry on the two sides, holds
out an example for South Asia as a whole. For
this reason alone the Modi dispensation,
which places such a store by improving
neighbourhood relationships, should be
careful not to act, or to be seen, as Big
The fact is that India is big, and it is a
brother to Nepal. The latter, meanwhile, is
the ideal country where enlightened sovereignty can lead to an end to social marginalisation, economic growth, and the
ratcheting down of nationalist posturing
that has been such a drag on the egalitarian
evolution of the Subcontinent over the past
six decades.
There are enough indications, through its
experiments in community radio and locally
managed forestry, local government and in
the easy cosmopolitanism of Kathmandu,
that Nepal can emerge as an ideal democra-

actually turn the corner.

New Delhis statements leading up to the
promulgation of the Constitution and thereafter have been marked by escalating interventionism, with the gloves off. Indeed,
one constant since before Mr Modi took
charge has been the itch to micromanage
Nepal, with even the external intelligence
agency enjoying a carte blanche to operate
overtly. Certainly, two key points of the
Panchsheel Principles (mutual respect for
sovereignty and non-interference) seem to
have been consigned to the dustbin.
The reason for South Blocks imperative
for visible interventionism may be as benign
as wanting to be perceived as the decisive
power on Nepal, or more problematic and
linked to strategic interests including crossborder security and Himalayan water resources. It could also be as simple as the
personal pique of mandarins and apparatchiks, who feel that Kathmandus three major
parties have stopped listening to them.
The opinion-makers in Indian media, including former Ambassadors tied to present
policy, have failed to consider the representative and inclusive nature of Nepals
Constituent Assembly. Altogether 9.5 million citizens participated in the CA elections
of November 2013, making up fully 78 per


Putins plans
for Syria
resident Vladimir Putin seems set for a grand
bargain over Syria. Going by reports from U.S.
officials and satellite images released by various organisations, including private intelligence companies, Russia has sent offensive aircraft,
advanced tanks and hundreds of troops to Syria to
defend the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, its ally.
The deployment, which represents the largest overseas
military presence for Russia since the collapse of the
Soviet Union, indicates Moscow is preparing for its first
major military operation outside its neighbourhood
since Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989.
Mr. Putin is expected to present his Syria strategy at
the UN General Assembly later this month. The Kremlin has apparently sought a meeting between Mr. Putin
and President Barack Obama to discuss the Syrian
conflict. The details of the Putin plan are yet to emerge,
but statements from Russian officials and the nature of
the military presence in Syria point to a two-pronged
strategy to prevent any rapid collapse of the Assad
regime, and to push for talks with all the stakeholders
but the jihadists, to find a political solution.
Why cant Mr. Putin now be given a chance? The
Western strategic disarray has proved disastrous for
Syria. The U.S. and its European allies backed antiAssad rebels at the beginning of the civil war, but that
only aided Syrias destabilisation and the rise of powerful jihadist groups. Then they started an airstrike campaign against Islamic State, which has been ineffective
in countering the jihadists. Even a $500-million U.S.
programme to train moderate Syrian rebels to fight
IS collapsed; the Pentagon recently admitted that only
four or five fighters are now on the battleground. There
has to be a strategic shift in the way the world is
handling the Syrian crisis, and Mr. Putin seems to be
trying to effect such a shift. To be sure, there is criticism that Russia is complicit in the Syrian tragedy as it
supports the Assad regime and therefore its overtures
cannot be taken seriously. If Russia is complicit, so are
other countries including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar,
the U.S. and those of the European Union. This war is
not just one between a ruthless dictator and his opponents; it is a complex geopolitical confrontation in
which several countries are involved, directly or
through proxies. So any meaningful multilateral effort
to find a solution to the conflict should be welcomed.
The question is whether the two powerful groups the
West and its Gulf allies and the Russia-Iran-Syria trio
can find common ground on Syria. The ferocious rise
of IS is a good enough reason for such a common
ground, provided theres the political will.



PMs U.S. visit
Prime Minister Narendra Modis
visit is seen as an attempt to attract
foreign direct investment (FDI)
but that is only one side of the
During his visit, he will host a G-4
summit in New York where he is
expected to discuss UNSC reforms.
He will also attend a meet hosted
peacekeeping forces on the agenda.
However, as pointed in the
article, Mr. Modis negligence on
domestic issues is a cause for
concern as he has the habit of
visiting only States where elections
are scheduled in the near future.
Maharashtra, Telangana and
Karnataka need his attention.
Parve Jain,

cent of registered voters. Of the 601 Assembly members, 335 were placed through proportional representation and 240 were
directly elected, itself an advanced South
Asian experiment.
In terms of the promulgation, 92 per cent
of all Constituent Assembly members endorsed the Constitution while 85 per cent
voted in favour of the document, far above
the required two-thirds majority. This was
very much the the widest possible consensus that has been Prime Minister Modis
personal insistence. Of the 116 (first-pastthe-post) seats occupied by representatives
from the Tarai-Madhes plains, 105 voted for
the Constitution while 11 boycotted.
New Delhis support has been lopsided by
focussing on the Madhes-based parties that
have been demanding plains-only provinces.
This constitutes a lack of concern for the rest
of Nepal with its profusion of communities,
125 in total. Neither is the plains citizenry
monolithic, with a multiplicity of identities
that includes the Muslim, Tharu and Dalit,
as also a large number of Pahadiya hill
The activism by New Delhi also does a
disservice to the Madhesi people of Nepal,
who have no divided loyalties and who see
their future as secure within a democratic
Nepal even as they fight for inclusion, equality and dignity. It bears keeping in mind that
only the Madhesi population has been provided an identity-based province (province
No. 2 of the east-central plains) in the federal
If the neighbours strategic interest forces
a fait accompli of exclusively plains-based
provinces, there are two possible outcomes.
First, the massive weight of poverty of the
plains will be locked in and the promise of
federalism will likely be wasted. Second, this
interference will create a politically unstable
Nepal astride Indias populous heartland. A
return to Panchsheel, therefore, seems well

Three-cornered mistake
All three sides have made mistakes in Nepal: the national leaders, the Madhes-based
parties and Indian policymakers. The topmost leaders of the national parties (Nepali
Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and Maoists) have
preferred a rule by syndicate, and made
errors such as neglecting the Tharu people in
expanding the originally proposed six provinces to seven provinces. They are yet to visit
the plains to express sorrow for the more
than 45 dead during the agitation of the past
two months.
As far as the Madhes-based parties are
concerned, at least some of their positioning
is explained by the fact that the top leaders
are fighting for political survival, having
been routed in the November 2013 elections,
when the (plains) voters rejected their main
plank of identity-based provinces.
As for the set of seven demands that New
Delhi is said to have placed before Kathmandu, including proportional representation in all arms of state, adjustment of
electoral constituencies according to population, as well as aspects of citizenship
rights, these are matters that have been already discussed between the Madhes-based
parties and the three main parties. From the
pulpit of the Constituent Assembly, the latter have committed itself to carrying out the
required amendments.
Before raising the ante on Nepal further,
the Indian side should keep in mind that
there are many forces that would want a
collapse of the Constitution of Nepal-2072,
New Delhi must introspect and take into
consideration the sovereignty of a neighbour, one that has always been sensitive to
its well-being and security concerns. Nepal
must be allowed to sort matters out by itself.
Kathmandu, for its part, should not fall short
of responding to this challenge of Indian
officialdom with dignity and logic. Only dignity and logic.
(Kanak Mani Dixit, a writer and journalist
based in Kathmandu, is founding editor of
the magazine Himal Southasian )

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

non-resident PM. Hence, the

apprehensions expressed in the
article are valid. Both his
international trips and, on the
domestic front, announcement of
schemes, are either utopian or
relevance to ground realities.
Merely copying the West or
providing largesse to States to
garner votes are not going to help
our country achieve the growth the
PM desires. He needs to sit down
and take stock of domestic issues.
R.S. Raghavan,
I agree with the author that
challenges to Indias growth and
development are internal, not
external. The focus should be on
finding indigenous solutions. Weak
governance, a manifestation of a
bureaucracy, judiciary and police,
is the biggest impediment that is
holding India back. The solution
has to involve evolving a broad
societal consensus over a proposed
solution. If India can resolve issues
of governance, ease of doing
business will improve by itself.
Naveen Agrawal,

India can never hope to grow only

through FDI. However, any effort
made in attracting investment is
equally important because of the
employment opportunities that
come with it for our large labour
force. The burden of labour on
agriculture can be reduced if
investment creates jobs in the
manufacturing sector.
Shivaraj Cholakhe,
Bijapur, Karnataka Why is it that every time the
question of accountability is raised,
Narendra Modi would top the list the criticism always falls on the
of most-travelled Prime Ministers nations bureaucracy? We do not
and has, more or less, become a apply the same standards to the

Covert military unit

other wheels of our democratic

structure. Why is it that after more
than 48 hours of The Hindus
expos on the Armys destruction
of files, we are yet to get some
clarity on the issue from the other
side (Different papers emerged in
court-martial, Sep.22)? A former
General and present Minister, who
replies to every comment on his
Twitter handle, has chosen to keep
mum. Whenever there is any
revelation on our security forces,
the only response is the clich of
national security. There is no
social media outrage against such
revelations. We should keep in
mind that questioning the gray
areas in the working of our defence
does not make us unpatriotic. You
dont need stars on your shoulders
to serve the nation.
Arjun sharma,
New Delhi

Intrusion into privacy

The hastily introduced, then
Encryption Policy makes one
wonder: what kind of expertise is
the government hiring to guide
policymaking (Draft encryption
policy dropped following outcry,
Sep.23)? It seems that it is merely
testing the waters on how much
elbow room the public is willing to
give them into their private lives. I
believe it would be enough for a
national encryption policy to
suggest the common minimum
standards that must be ensured by
ISPs and all other intermediaries.

It does not have to make any

exemptions for specific social
media services. We also need to
remember encryption is merely a
tiny cog in the wider domain of
cyber-security, and the still larger
domain of national security. Such
policies are best approached and
debated in a holistic fashion.
Karanpal Singh,

Taking to teaching
A noble act worthy of emulation by
millions of our educated youth has
been so thoughtfully highlighted
(No stopping this boy wonder,
Sep.23). The teaching Babar Ali
started doing when he was nine has
quite obviously got transformed
into a passion in the course of time.
It is inspiring that that he
continues to teach while pursuing
his masters and that six of his own
erstwhile students have also taken
up teaching in his school. Teaching
is a noble profession and serviceminded people like Babar Ali add
special charm to it.
K.D. Viswanaathan,

Brahmins as minorities
The news about the planned
agitation by Tamil Brahmins in
Kerala is depressing for many
reasons (Tamil Brahmins seek
minority status, Sep.23). Kerala
has always been most friendly and
respectful to the community of

Tamil migrants. As one who has

lived most of my 86 years here, I am
overwhelmed by the regard and
respect I have received as a
Brahmin, including from the
Christians and Muslims. The
present attempt by Kerala
Brahmana Sabha (KBS) is to upset
this equilibrium. Frankly, the
Brahmins here can have no
complaint. While they constitute
only about three per cent of the
population, they get a larger share
of the cake, be it in schools, colleges
or the government. KBS would do
well to seriously consider the
possibility of diverting the huge
funds at the disposal of the
temple toward the community's
empowerment by enriching the
educational, health and social
standards of people.
K.V. Narayanmurti,

Triple talaq
The fatwa given by Darul-UloomDeoba is a positive development
(Birth of girl no ground for talaq,
says Deoband, Sep.23). However,
the Deoband must also consider
many other cases where such
talaqs were considered valid. A
woman suffers injustice every time
a talaq is handed over in such an ad
hoc manner. The fatwa issued by
Deoband should be valid for other
such cases also where it was given
over the phone without any reason.
Aisha Ahmed,
New Delhi


10 |




Great power, greater responsibility

M.K. Narayanan


Revisit the
sedition law
s ironies go, this one is rich. A circular in
Maharashtra containing guidelines aimed at
preventing the misuse of the law relating to
sedition appears to endanger freedom of
speech and expression. The Bombay High Court has
now stayed the August 27 circular, pending a decision
on its constitutional validity. The controversial aspect
of the circular is that it seems to tell police personnel
that strong criticism of public servants can possibly
attract the sedition charge if it shows them as representatives of the Union or State government. The
circular was an offshoot of a judgment by the High
Court in March this year on the question whether the
police were right in slapping the sedition charge
against a cartoonist in 2012. Though the charge was
dropped subsequently, the court reminded the authorities that sedition as an offence requires the element of
incitement to violence and disaffection against a government established by law, and mere criticism of
government policy or public servants will not attract
the provision. The Advocate General had said the government would come up with guidelines as a circular to
police personnel on when and how Section 124A of the
Indian Penal Code may be evoked. It seems a point in
the High Court order that sedition will not be attracted
by words or signs or representations against politicians
or public servants, unless they were shown to be representative of the government, was loosely translated in
Marathi to the effect that any criticism against politicians and public servants representing the Union or
State government would attract the charge.
The potential for mischief from the circular has been
stalled by the court order now, but the fact is that police
officers continue to invoke Section 124A indiscriminately. Flagrant instances in recent times include the
registration of a sedition case against cartoonist Aseem
Trivedi, one of the petitioners against the latest circular, for cartoons produced in 2012 highlighting corruption, and the attempt to book some Kashmiri students
in a university in Meerut last year for cheering for
Pakistan in a one-day cricket match against India,
using a pre-Independence era provision that was
meant to suppress the freedom movement. While the
possibility of groups and individuals promoting disaffection against a lawful government still exists, there
is little justification to invoke the sedition charge
against political movements unless they promote violence and public disorder. Instead of ad hoc attempts to
put in place loose safeguards and guidelines, the government would do well to review such outdated penal
provisions. Legislation exists to deal with unlawful
activities and armed movements. There is no need to
criminalise words spoken or written, however strong
and provocative they are in their criticism of the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked

on his two-nation visit to Ireland and the
U.S. on September 22. It is the U.S. visit
that is clearly the more critical of the two. In
the Prime Ministers own words, the visit
seeks to build on the substantial ground
covered during their previous exchange of
visits. On this occasion, the Prime Minister
is to address the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Summit and attend
the Summit on UN Peacekeeping hosted by
President Barack Obama, apart from a bilateral meeting with the U.S. President. He will
also meet a galaxy of U.S. CEOs and visit the
Silicon Valley to meet up with the movers
and shakers in their respective fields.
It is interesting that Prime Minister Modi
will be in the U.S. at the same time as Chinese President Xi Jinping. U.S. dexterity in
simultaneously dealing with leaders of the
two Asian giants is certain to be carefully
analysed. India-U.S. relations are today on
an upswing. U.S.-China relations, for all the
bonhomie on display, are not in the best of
health. Prime Minister Modi is coming to
the U.S. laden with gifts the $3.1 billion
deal for attack and heavy lift helicopters, for
instance. The Chinese President, on the other hand, will need to battle U.S. doubts about
its cyber-snooping, and dispel increasing
U.S. concerns about its aggressive intentions, the symbolism of the recent massive
parade in Tiananmen Square, the display of
state-of-the-art military hardware, as also
Chinas reiteration that it would not brook
interference in its zone of strategic concern.

Negotiating text on UNSC reforms

Prime Minister Modis visit coincides
with a propitious moment in Indias diplomatic history, namely, the adoption of a
negotiating text for UNSC reforms by the
UN General Assembly. The resolution was
adopted despite protests from China, Pakistan and Russia, and will now form the basis
for further discussions at the Intergovernmental Negotiations Group. Prime Minister
Modi will be hosting a Summit of G-4 leaders (India, Brazil, Japan and Germany) in

To merit UN permanent membership India needs

to demonstrate that it has the gravitas to play
a bigger role. Countering IS through its vast
Islamic scholarship, and offering Europe help in
dealing with the refugee crisis are two areas where
the country can display global leadership
New York in this connection and also raise
the issue in his address to the Special Summit of the UN General Assembly. All this has
given rise to hopes of an early entry for India
into the Security Council.
It will be premature for India, however to
sing hosannas just yet. There are many obstacles to be overcome. Significant among
these is a patent unwillingness on the part of
the current Permanent Members (P5) the
U.S., the U.K., France, Russia and China to
share or dilute their privileges for any newcomer. The five possess the right of veto,
which gives them an exalted status. No less
important is the degree of hostility and jealousy that prevails among countries across

votary, but Brazils economic problems in

recent years have taken a toll. Buoyed by its
economic resurgence, India did believe that
the moment had arrived for reshaping the
Security Council so as to better reflect current economic and geopolitical realities.
Even then, there were many sceptics who
felt that India should not waste its energy on
chasing a chimera. Apart from the unwillingness of the existing Security Council
members to admit new entrants, each of the
new claimants face opposition, individually
and severally, from other claimants. Italy is
hostile to the idea of Germanys inclusion.
China is opposed to Japans entry. Pakistan
is against Indias elevation, as also is China,

Scholarship as antidote to violence

There is an impression that India feels comfortable in its role

as a recessed power more intent on treading the path of
least activism. This has to be dispelled
the globe to the upgradation of a select few
to membership of the Council. Objections
derive from ongoing conflicts between certain states and differences of principle as to
which country has the right to represent a
region or a continent.
It has taken more than a decade for the
G-4 to reach this stage. The G-4 idea dates
back to 2004, and has witnessed some
changes during this period. In the initial
period, Germany displayed considerable enthusiasm but, under Chancellor Angela
Merkel, it has proven less enthusiastic. Japan under Prime Ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe in his first term
was very keen, but after Mr. Abe stepped
down as Prime Minister (in 2007), his successors showed less interest. President Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil was a strong

but the latter tries to mask its opposition.

Brazil faces opposition from other Latin
American nations like Argentina. Africa demands a seat, but South Africas claims are
contested by countries like Nigeria.
Notwithstanding last weeks UN General
Assembly resolution, most of these parameters have not altered. The U.S., France and
the U.K. even today remain less than enthusiastic about change. Russias attitude
seems to be changing. President Vladimir
Putin and his aide, Sergei Ivanov, had previously pledged their support to Indias candidature but now the support appears to be
wavering. Chinas current enigmatic attitude hardly conceals its hostility to Indias
Hence, instead of waiting interminably
for the final outcome, it might be advanta-


imperilled writers
he threats issued by the Ansarullah Bangla
Team, a Bangladesh-based Islamist group,
against secular writers and activists pose a
challenge to the polity of Bangladesh. The
ABT, which has been blamed for a series of murders of
secular bloggers, has released a hit list on the Internet.
It names Bangla writers living in different countries,
and threatens to kill them all unless its demands are
met. It wants the government to revoke the Bangladeshi citizenship of the writers listed, who it terms
enemies of Islam, apostates and unbelievers. This
threat is a direct challenge to the state of Bangladesh. It
comes weeks after ABT leader Abul Bashar and several
other activists were arrested in connection with the
murder of blogger Avijit Roy. Yet, the ABT has sent out
a clear message that its violent campaign against critical thinkers and writers would only continue.
The secular bloggers are victims of an ongoing conflict between the ruling elite and violent Islamists. Ever
since the Awami League government of Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina opened the trial of those who committed war crimes during the countrys liberation war,
Bangladesh has seen a steady rise in violence. The
Islamist groups are steadfastly opposed to the trial, but
they lack the political capital to influence either the
society or the state. So they have chosen to vent their
anger through violent street protests. The Jamaat-eIslami, whose leaders were indicted in the trial, and the
main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party
(BNP), led the protests, which worsened the law and
order situation. It was against this background that
rightwing fringe groups such as the ABT started targeted killings. They attack the bloggers as they know they
are soft targets. Hitting government officials and others involved in the trial would invite the wrath of the
state machinery. The governments response was on
expected lines. Instead of immediately taking action
against the assailants, the authorities advised the writers to avoid provocative statements on sensitive religious issues. It took four murders this year for the
government to finally start cracking down on the ABT;
by that time it had grown in strength. The government
has to crack down on such fringe groups that are threatening free speech. The very survival of Bangladesh as a
secular-democratic country may be at stake. Mainstream parties such as the BNP should set aside narrow
political calculations and back the government in the
fight against religious fundamentalism. They should
realise that teaming up with fundamentalists might
fetch short-term dividends, but in the long term it
would only weaken the state and rupture the society.



NMMLs integrity
The exit of Mahesh Rangarajan as
director of the Nehru Memorial
Museum and Library (NMML) has
raised uncomfortable questions on
the governments alleged role in
appointments at the highest level
of institutions that have been
central to the intellectual life of the
nation (Create, but dont destroy,
and Mistaking a scholar for a
Rangarajans name is only the
latest in a long list of martyrs who
have ceded office to the Narendra
Modi governments appointees.
Malayalam author Sethu was
replaced at the National Book
Trust by a former editor of
Panchajanya, the RSS mouthpiece.
IIT Delhi director Raghunath K.
Shevgaonkar and Anil Kakodkar,
chairman of the board of governors
of IIT Bombay, were practically
forced to tender their resignations.
Such forced exits go against the
PMs vision to make India an
intellectually progressive nation.
Vani A.,
It is sad that the BJP government is
meddling with the affairs of
reputed institutions such as the
NMML to further its misplaced
agenda. That a respected scholar
like Mahesh Rangarajan has had to
resign is an indication of the low
priority accorded to propriety and
academic excellence by the present
dispensation. All these point to the
perverted motives to belittle great
personalities like Jawaharlal
Nehru at the active insistence of
the Sangh Parivar which has
nothing to boast about when it
comes to our freedom struggle.
J. Anantha Padmanabhan,

geous for India to demonstrate to the world

that it has the necessary credentials and
the gravitas to occupy a seat on the Council. India needs to carry and express the
conviction to the world that, apart from its
recent economic resurgence, it is capable,
and willing, to shoulder additional responsibilities regarding geopolitical and related
Some modest beginnings are already evident. In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, India had been invited, and agreed, to
be a member of the G-20 to help the world
tide over a difficult situation. Around the
same time, the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers
Group invested India with the halo of a
state with advanced nuclear technology and
sanctified India as a responsible member of
the nuclear community.
A great deal more, however, needs to be
done. Unfortunately, there is an impression
that India feels comfortable in its role as a
recessed power more intent on treading
the path of least activism. This has to be
dispelled. Towards this end, India must engage along many fronts. This should reduce
resistance to its entry into the Security
Two issues immediately come to mind.
One is the expanding writ of the jihadist
group, Islamic State (IS), across a wide
swathe of territory that is of crucial importance to India parts of West Asia, Yemen
and areas around the Caspian Sea, pockets
in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
India has possibly the worlds largest population of moderate Sunni Muslims, and a
long history of Islamic scholarship. It is thus
uniquely placed to deal with the challenge
posed by the IS, which has baffled much of
the world.
The choice of wrong means, including the
use of armed force and bombing raids, has
only encouraged more and more young elements to join the ranks of the IS. Only scholarship and an ideational approach can
possibly blunt the jihadist groups offensive,
one that masquerades as upkeep of purist
Islamist ideology. India with its intellectual
depth in Islamic matters can provide the
necessary strategic flexibility.
The current refugee crisis in Europe also
provides an occasion for India to showcase
its inherent strengths, derived from ancient
civilisational traditions. The European crisis has all the makings of a monumental
human tragedy. The avalanche of refugees
(in terms of numbers) is fast approaching
what we witnessed during the East Bengal
crisis in the early 1970s. India had then
shown both capability and remarkable resilience, and Indias experience would prove
useful for countries in Europe, and the European Union itself, which has, so far,
proved to be totally inept.
India could make common cause with
Germany the one country that has demonstrated a spirit of willingness to accommodate hundreds of thousands of refugees
and mobilise global opinion to help deal
with the crisis. Additionally, India with its
human resources and skills could offer to
help out. The important point is that by
doing so, India would demonstrate that it is
both willing, and eminently suited, to take
on global responsibilities, and of a kind that
very few other nations can.
If India succeeds in enlarging the ambit of
its role, the world will begin to view it
through an entirely new prism. Apart from
the relevance of size, ancient wisdom, culture and current economic strength, Indias
role as a vital 21st century problem solver
cannot but add weight to its claims to membership of the Security Council.
(M.K. Narayanan is Indias former National Security Advisor and former Governor of West Bengal.)

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

The credentials of Mahesh

Rangarajan are impeccable. But
that alone is not enough to erase
the controversial nature of his
appointment by the outgoing UPA
regime. Dr. Rangarajan must have
been aware of the circumstances
that prompted the UPA to hasten
his appointment. The Congress
party had been treating national
institutions as its fiefdom. Anyone
who accuses the BJP of
saffronising institutions must
also question the Nehru-visation
and Indira-visation that took place
for long. We need to admit that the
history of India is not the history of
Nehru-Gandhi family alone.
C.G. Kuriakose,
It is no surprise that the saffron
partys political bickering against
the Congress has made its way into
the field of academia too, as the
painful and sordid NMML episode
shows. Prof. Rangarajan is credited
with turning the institution into a
vibrant academic space. The Modiled NDA government has shown
that it was only interested in
subverting the NMMLs mandate
by diluting the salience of Nehru.
There is no doubt that the upheaval
at NMML will further strengthen
the perception that the NDA
government intends to change the
character of academic institutions.
R. Sivakumar,

Nepal Constitution
The Nepali people have given
Constitution after decades of
consensus, Sep.22, and Apply
Panchsheel on Nepal, Sep.24).
Kanak Mani Dixit is right in

suggesting that India should apply

principles of Panchsheel and give
the Nepali people space. There are
lessons to be learnt by India from
the Constitution, which has
recognised the rights of the LGBT
community and has abolished the
death penalty.
Vishal S. Jadhav,
New Delhi
It is disconcerting that Indias role
in Nepals Constitution-making is
being perceived as negative. People
from the two countries have always
enjoyed excellent relations. Nepal
is a buffer state between India and
China. Therefore, India has
genuine strategic and security
interests in Nepal, imperatives that
have forced New Delhi to intervene
in Nepal politics. I also disagree
with authors suggestion of using
Panchsheel to govern the bilateral
relationship. Because of the power
asymmetry between nations, every
state attempts to strengthen itself,
making redundant such principles.
Further, Nepal should desist from
blaming India for its internal
failures. Kathmandu elites have,
for long, used the India card to
prevent genuine power devolution.
Binod Kumar Agarwal,
The Constitution fails to recognise
the rights of the Madhesi and
Tharu communities, and deprives
them of constitutional benefits,
which could trigger a greater
migration to Indias border States,
particularly to Bihar and Uttar
Pradesh. Eventually, this would
affect the bilateral relationship.
Therefore, concerns expressed by
India are legitimate and need
Jubak Saxena,

Food preferences

Development work for developing
indigenous algorithms is one of the
key points of the draft and worth
pursuing further. The government
needs to ensure that a transparent
policy with strong guidelines is
implemented, where the citizens
can be assured of an environment
where they arent spied on, and
information is gathered only when
Abhishek Desikan,
Atlanta, Georgia

Muslim Rashtriya Manchs booklet

advising Muslims to give up beef
eating shows the RSSs attempt to
impose food habits on them (Give
up beef, RSS Muslim body says,
demonstration of RSSs desire to
turn India into its version of a
Hindu state. Had it cared to
research the Vedas and other holy
scriptures, it would have found
abundant proof of beef-eating in
ancient India.
Waris Husain, It was heartening to know about
New Delhi the reading sessions in a Tiruchi
prison of excerpts from My
Experiments With Truth to usher
in positive change in the minds of
Governments somehow keep prison inmates (Mahatmas ideals
looking for ways to compromise on being spread among prisoners in
citizens privacy over supposed Tiruchi jail, Sep.24). The jail
claims of safety (The encryption Superintendent deserves praise for
debate, Sep.24). The draft the experiment of converting the
encryption policy is only one jail into correctional centre, a truly
among the slew of such attempts by Gandhian way of bringing reform.
the government. Be it the proposed One hopes other jails across the
DNA profiling bill or UIDAI- country would take similar steps.
E.S. Chandrasekaran,
Aadhaar, these attempts not only
undermine privacy but are also a
serious affront on an individuals
rights. They are premised on
exaggerated benefits. Experience It is shocking that women are being
shows that sensitive data was divorced for reasons like birth of a
misused by authorities even in the girl child (Deoband: birth of a girl
U.S., a country that champions the child no ground for talaq, Sep.23).
The divorced women are left to
cause of individual rights.
P. Shankar, face further condemnation from
New Delhi the patriarchal society. They have
to suffer in silence and cannot reThe backlash and the subsequent marry,
withdrawal of the draft encryption unacceptable. The divorcees either
policy may serve as a blessing in live with their parents or relatives
disguise for the government. While and spend their lives in misery. The
it is an encouraging step to focus on Deobands fatwa has to be
cyber-security, it is also an welcomed by all sections.
Sohrab Alam Ansari,
extremely sensitive area which
Gaya, Bihar
requires debate. The proposal to

Debate on encryption

Talaq over girl child



12 |




Making friends, influencing Nepal

Rakesh Sood


A case for
he confrontation between the Bench and a
section of advocates in the Madras High
Court is adversely affecting the image of the
legal fraternity in Tamil Nadu. It is not the
rst time that unsavoury events are eroding the dignity
and prestige associated with the black robe. There is a
growing public perception that a belligerent section of
the lawyer community is responsible for this. Another
view is that lawyers want to raise accountability issues
against judges through such protests. More than the
occasional issues involved not all of them related to
the legal profession these perceptions have created
the current atmosphere of mistrust between the Bench
and the Bar. Disruption of work, protests and sloganshouting within High Court compounds constitute one
form of indecorous behaviour. Other forms that have
been on display include organising advocates on caste
lines and forming support groups for individual judges,
making grave allegations of misconduct and corruption
against the judiciary, and creating an atmosphere of
fear. The latest standoff arose from an unusual cause
that advocates in Madurai took up: against an order
directing the Tamil Nadu government to strictly enforce the rule that makes the wearing of helmets mandatory for two-wheeler riders. Other matters of discord
too arose: allegations against some judges, followed by
initiation of suo motu contempt proceedings against
two office-bearers of the Madurai Bar Association.
Some lawyers took up a new cause: the use of Tamil
as the language of the Madras High Court. There was a
day-long sit-in inside a court hall, something that drew
a vehement rebuke from the Chief Justice of India. The
police also found themselves at the receiving end of
adverse comments by judges for inadequate action to
prevent such protests. The court now wants the Central Industrial Security Force to be in charge of security
on the premises. The State government has declared
the High Court premises in Chennai and Madurai as
high-security zones but does not favour any Central
agency handling the security tasks. The situation bodes
ill for the litigants interests: they may not only lose
court time because of various protests, but their access
to the premises may also be curtailed. It is time for the
State government to work out a foolproof security
arrangement that does not affect public access to the
courts, but at the same time ensures smooth judicial
functioning. The Bar should close ranks and seek to
address the judges concerns. Contempt proceedings
and suspension of some protagonists from their Bar
Council membership do constitute a legitimate response, but what is more important is the restoration
of an atmosphere of amity. The dignity and reputation
of the legal profession are at stake.

Last Sunday, on September 20, Nepal promulgated its new Constitution. However, instead of being an occasion for celebration in
which all Nepali citizens could participate,
there is a tinge of triumphalism on one side
and, on the other, a growing agitation masking a sentiment of betrayal. More than onetenth of the Constituent Assembly (CA)
members boycotted the nal proceedings.
And, as often happens when Nepals domestic politics is polarised and descends into a
slugfest, Indian policies have become a convenient punching bag and Nepali nationalism reduces to anti-Indianism.
The current exercise kicked off in 2008
with the election of a Constituent Assembly
(CA) with a two-year mandate to draft a new
Constitution for a federal, democratic and
republican Nepal. Even after the CA awarded itself four extensions, the task remained
unnished. The Supreme Court intervened
to put an end to the repeated extensions in
2012 and, after a year, a new CA was elected
in November 2013 for a four-year term
though it gave itself a deadline of January
2015 to complete the Constitution which too
was not observed.
The tragic earthquake in April, which
claimed 9,000 lives and caused widespread
damage estimated at $7 billion, became a
wake-up call for the political leadership and
the government, which had come in for allround criticism for its inept crisis management. This galvanised the main political parties the Nepali Congress (NC), the
Communist Party of Nepal (Unied MarxistLeninist) [CPN(UML)] and the Unied
Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist [UCPNMaoist) led by Prachanda to push through
a Constitution, by a two-thirds majority, if
consensus was not possible. A 16-point
agreement covering some of the major issues
was announced in June.

Differences over federalism

At this point, the big three parties had the
benet of having Bijay Gachedar, leader of a
Madhesi-Tharu party, on board as a signatory. This agreement foresaw the creation of
eight provinces, with boundaries to be determined by an expert committee within six
months. However, it was shot down by a
Supreme Court single-judge bench on the
grounds that the CA was responsible for dening the federal structure and this could
not be delegated.
The big three then came out with a sixprovince proposal. Mr. Gachedar dissociated
himself from it and as protests mounted, the


Portents of
hat runs common between a middle class
Indian mother of three and a Delhi college student, as also an obscure religious
group based in a Goan village and a militant group in the northeast? They are all manifestations of a renewed radicalisation that is gripping
major religions, as old divides come to life and new
gashes open. Afsha Jabeen, who was deported to India
for her evangelisation efforts, and some youngsters
from Kerala who were sent back by the UAE for sharing
radical posts on social media, do not represent isolated
instances of a new acceptance that Islamist fundamentalism has found among many Indians. There have
been reports of several Indian youth joining Islamic
State, and more wanting to do so. The latest is the case
of a young woman from the national capital, a Delhi
University graduate and daughter of a retired Army
officer, who wanted to join the ranks of the regressive,
violent movement in Syria that is behind one of the
biggest humanitarian catastrophes of our times. These
could still be cited as isolated instances for now, but
they could well turn into a tide. Indias experience with
radical religious tendencies is still far better than that
of many other countries that have seen hundreds of
youngsters leaving modern comforts and heading for
the battle-front. What Indian society at large should
worry about is also that the fundamentalism is not
limited to Islam. Obscure groups such as Sanatan Sanstha are trying to impose their irrational arguments,
often through violent means, infringing upon the fundamental rights and seeking to subdue Indias celebrated diversity. In the northeast and in Kashmir too
fanaticism is nding new life and vigour, its ripples felt
beyond immediate geographical boundaries.
The signals are clear: religious radicalisation is not a
distant threat anymore but a reality closer home.
Forces of obscurantism are feeding on global and local
discontent to create narratives that appeal to even
those brought up on a liberal education. Religious fanaticism has found new vigour not just in the clash of
civilisations being played out across continents, but
also in the dangerous political atmosphere created by
some mainstream parties domestically. The vigour of
movements in one religion feeds similar ones in others.
Their misleading messages nd roaring life on the
information highway. As governments, political leaders, and society at large reap the benets of globalisation, they cannot ignore its dark underbelly where
obscurantist ideas ourish. One of the fallouts of the
information revolution propelled by the Internet is
that messages of fanaticism could also spread like wildre, and governments could be overwhelmed by their
power. India needs to wake up to this threat.



Tragic pilgrimage
As someone who has been to
Makkah many times on Haj and
Umrah, I am aware of the immense
task before the Saudi authorities
the safety of over two million
pilgrims (Haj stampede claims
over 700 lives near Holy city,
Sep.25). But I regret to say that
during my visits as a pilgrim, I
hardly saw safety measures. There
were no volunteers, no policepersons and no medical facilities
within sight. Also, there were no
emergency access roads for
pilgrims in distress. It appears the
authorities have left millions of
pilgrims to fend for themselves in
the event of any emergency. Also, it
has unfortunately become a
routine response for Saudis to call
any tragedy big or small an act
of God and to blame it on fate.
The Saudis have the resources to
enhance safety during Haj. They
should arrange an international
safety conference immediately to
look at all aspects of Haj safety by
inviting experts both from Muslim
and non-Muslim countries and
implement measures, possibly
before the next Haj.
M. Riaz Hasan,
Virginia, U.S.
If reports are to be believed, a large
number of undisciplined pilgrims
triggered off the stampede. It is
also appalling to learn that the Haj
was poorly organised and many
succumbed to fainting and

The promulgation of Nepals Constitution has

been followed by triumphalism on one side and
agitation on the other. Indias present challenge is
to recover lost political ground so that New Delhi
can play the role of trusted interlocutor without
resorting to micro-management

pertained to the delineation of electoral constituencies; inclusion in state structures on

basis of proportionality; and the two categories of citizenship, by descent and by naturalisation applicable to the foreign
spouse of a Nepali national, a key Madhesi
concern and the debarring of the latter
from certain government positions.
Some of these were not too difficult to
settle but unfortunately, there was no serious effort to reach out and open a dialogue.
None of the leaders of the big three parties
and their Madhesi MPs took the initiative of
going to the restive districts. Instead, all eyes
were xed on the sharing of spoils, for within
the next few weeks, Nepal will get a new
President, Vice-President, Prime Minister,
Speaker and Cabinet. Some deals have been
struck, with K.P. Oli (UML) emerging as the
likely next PM. Other contenders are in the
fray for different positions but this jockeying
too is limited to those belonging to the Bahun-Chettri elite.

north of the Siwalik Hills. Pahadi population

in the Terai consequently went up from 6 per
cent in 1952 to 36 per cent in 2001. Today,
out of the 20 Terai districts bordering India,
Madhesis enjoy a majority in less than half.
Indian political leadership has been sensitive to their circumstances and has taken up
their cause with the Kathmandu rulers. This
has worked sometimes but has often also
created tensions in the bilateral relationship
which have demanded sensitive handling.
When the Constitution-drafting exercise
began in 2008, the CAs rst decision was to Indias failed moves
To be fair, Indian policy on this issue has
abolish the 250-year-old monarchy while
laying down principles for creating a demo- been consistent. In November 2014, when
cratic, secular, federal republic, often called Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Kathmandu for the SAARC summit, it was clear
that positions were hardening. PM Modi had
said in a media interaction that outstanding
As often happens when Nepals domestic politics is polarised,
differences should be resolved through diaIndian policies have become a convenient punching bag and
logue and widespread consultation so that it
could create the basis of a united, peaceful,
Nepali nationalism is reduced to anti-Indianism
stable and prosperous Nepal. A section of the
Nepali media had reacted adversely terming
have traditionally been the oppressed a new Nepal. Over these years, Maoist and it unwarranted advice. This was a sign of
Madhesi forces have weakened. A section of the changing winds and certainly, after Bijay
Till 1950, a Madhesi needed a special per- the Maoist leadership was co-opted into the Gachedar backed away from the 16-point
mit to enter Kathmandu valley and citizen- system and Prachanda is today rumoured to agreement in June, the writing was clear on
the wall.
ship was a major issue, which was nally be a billionaire in dollar terms.
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankars visit to
While the Maoists had emerged as the
addressed in the 1990s, with over three million citizenship certicates issued, though single-largest party in 2008 with 240 seats Kathmandu last week, after the CA had comsome concerns remained. These groups had and the three Madhesi parties accounted for pleted formal voting on the Constitution,
periodically agitated for greater representa- 84 seats, the outcome in 2013 elections turn- was too late and could hardly have been
tion in power-sharing but always within the ed out very differently. Maoists were down expected to yield a favourable outcome. Inunitary framework of the monarchical sys- to 80 seats and the Madhesi parties which stead, it has been a spur to Nepali nationaltem. When the decade-long Maoist insur- had splintered from three into a dozen, could ism which, more often than not, carries
gency ended in 2006, new demands grew for only manage 40 seats. On the other hand, strains of anti-Indianism. Official Indian
the abolition of monarchy and for a federal among the two old parties, NC moved up statements noting the promulgation of the
republic. NC and UML were always luke- from 115 seats in 2008 to 196 and the UML new Constitution and expressing deep conwarm to the idea and the federalism banner from 108 to 175 seats, together accounting cern over the incidents of violence are unwas largely carried forward by the Maoists for nearly two-thirds of the CA (strength is likely to fall on receptive ears and are at
(Janjatis were part of their cadres) and the 601) in 2013. Maoists lost ground because of variance with the welcoming statements
rumours of corruption, poor governance and from other major capitals. Kathmandu is
Madhesis have a kinship with their coun- factionalism; Madhesis because of ego clash- abuzz with rumours that India is miffed and
terparts across the open border in India, es, caste differences among Brahmins, Tha- might resort to strong-arm tactics as in
particularly in northern Bihar and Uttar kurs, Yadavs and Kurmis, and political 1989-90, fuelling further anti-Indian
Pradesh (UP), often described as roti beti ka fracturing which weakened the Madhes sentiment.
rishta (sharing food and matrimonial ties). movement.
Any policy, however consistent and wellDuring the Panchayat era, the 1963 adminisDifferences over delineation of the prov- crafted, yields results only if implemented
trative restructuring raised the number of inces were narrowed down to ve districts properly. The time to use Indian inuence
districts from 32 to 75. In the bargain, Terai on the India-Nepal border Jhapa, Morang by working with our friends was during the
districts, which were earlier geographically and Sunsari in the east and Kanchanpur and rst half of the year. What was needed was to
restricted to the plains, now included areas Kailali in the west. Other contentious issues sensitise the leaders of the big three parties
to the risks of brinkmanship and get the
agitating groups to unify so that a coherent
stand could emerge. Instead, we played host
to an assortment of Nepali leaders who
would tell us what we wanted to hear, while
going back to Kathmandu and doing precisely what they wanted to do.
For too long, this has been the tricky part
of India-Nepal relations. With too many interlocutors, Indias message often loses clarity and impact. While the long-term
objective should be to address the changing
political narrative in Nepal, our present
challenge is to recover lost political ground
so that we can play the role of the trusted and
irreplaceable interlocutor between the two
sides, but without resorting to micro-management. Since 1950, Nepal has experimented with various Constitutions. It has had two
interim Constitutions (1951 and 2007) and
three formal Constitutions (1959, 1962 and
1990). Many thoughtful Nepalis realise that
the 2015 Constitution is not perfect but if it
has to stand the test of time, all sides have to
climb down from their stated positions.
However, the rst move has to come from
the leadership of the three major parties, the
NC, the CPN (UML) and UCPN (Maoist).
(Rakesh Sood, the Prime Ministers Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation till May 2014, is a former
three hurriedly made it a seven-province
federal structure. Agitations turned increasingly violent in the Terai region and have
claimed more than 40 casualties in the last
Though a small country, Nepal has more
than a hundred ethnic groups. However, it
has always been ruled by the Bahun-Chettri
(Brahmin-Kshatriya) hill elite which, together with other hill upper castes, accounts
for less than 30 per cent of the population.
The leadership of the three major political
parties, as well as that of the smaller promonarchy groups, belongs to this group. On
the other hand, the Janajatis (hill tribes),
Tharus (plains tribes), Dalits and Madhesis

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

dehydration in the heat. The

deadly accident coming close on
the heels of a crane collapse in
Makkah earlier this month is the
worst stampede in a quarter of a
century and calls for increased
safety measures from the Saudi
Arabian authorities.
N.J. Ravi Chander,

PM in the U.S.
While our PM is in the U.S., it is the
moral responsibility of the Indian
diaspora to support him and not to
take advantage of the situation
(Modi begins Make in India
pitch, Sep.25). The world
community respects India as a
large, vibrant democracy. The
Committee (OPAC) should know
that in India we have many public
fora to debate domestic issues.
They should keep faith in the three
pillars of Indian democracy.
Kushal A. Gadkari,

Lawyers under scrutiny

It is good that Sriram Panchu has
done some plain speaking about
the unlawful, undignied and
unruly behaviour of a few
advocates disturbing many others
profession (Restoring the law in
courts, Sep. 25). Lawyers of earlier
times in Tamil Nadu had a good
command over English which they
used in courtrooms, and had also a

deep love for Tamil. In fact they

rarely spoke English outside
courts, and Tamil still prospers in
the State. As for the demand for use
of Tamil in proceedings and
arguments in Madras High Court,
consider this: with the Supreme
Court judges coming from
different States in India, English
alone can be its court language,
being a language taught and
studied across the country, and
being the language of our enacted
laws. For those practicing in High
Courts, arguing in English is good
training for coasting into the
Supreme Court later on, even for a
few odd matters and one should
aim high. And remember, we are
also pressing our sensible demand
for a Bench of the Supreme Court
in Chennai.
R. Veera Raghavan,
Alexis Tocqueville had pointed out,
Nowhere has so much been left by
the law to the arbitrary
determination of the magistrates
as in democratic republics, because
this arbitrary power is unattended
by any alarming consequences.
The remedy lies in subjecting

institution of deomcracy to an
ombudsman. The Bar Council is
endowed with such power for
mechanism exists to scrutinise the
Bench, right from the lowest to the
highest level, giving cause for
concern to the litigating public.

The essence of democracy lies in

arresting muscularity in all wings
through intellectual dissection.

Netajis legacy
It is illusory to expect the BJP
government to construct a reliable
account of the Netaji saga for it is
busy distorting and rewriting
history to suit its own political
agenda (Now, Netaji gets a
inconvenient facts of history
should be studied scientically and
truth brought out if they are to help
us understand the present.
Historic personalities are being
picked up selectively for makeover
by the government to create
illusions of grandeur of the past to
suit the needs of Hindutva
ideology. For instance, the time
and energy wasted to denigrate
Jawaharlal Nehru borders on the
absurd. It should be a matter of
great concern that petty peripheral
issues have started crowding out
genuine livelihood concerns from
Manohar Alembath,
The initial mission of the Indian
National Army (INA) was to raise
an army to ght the British
alongside Japan. However, it
ceased functioning when it was
believed that the Japanese high
command was using it as a mere

pawn. For Netaji, with his limited

military power, it was not possible
to oppose every Japanese decision.
However, the role of Netaji and his
INA in Indias independence
struggle cannot be diminished. The
Naval Mutiny 1946 that is
considered to have hammered the
last nail in the coffin of British Raj
was greatly inspired by the INA. In
an interview to the BBC in
Ambedkar said that Netaji, not
Gandhi, ended British rule in India.
Buddhadev Nandi,

Rationalists under threat

The points raised in the Editorial
bloggers, Sept. 25) apply to India
as well. It is high time political
parties in India realise that by
backing fringe Right-wing groups
like the Sanatan Sanstha, they are
only emboldening them, which
may create a Frankensteins
monster and endanger our
democracy. Had the Union
government banned such groups,
the lives of many rationalists could
have been saved. Also, lackadaisical
attitude of the government toward
these fringe elements may result in
self-censorship and unwarranted
self-restraint from progressive
citizens which is perilous to the
fundamental right of freedom of
speech and expression.
Vishal Bhagat,


10 |



Revolt of the aspirational class

Shiv Visvanathan


The message
from New York
rime Minister Narendra Modis takeaways
from his ongoing visit to the United States are
being keenly watched. His primary challenges
in this phase relate to improving Indias overall relationship with the U.S. while furthering his countrys global ambitions. The decision, just hours before
Mr. Modi boarded his flight, to clear defence purchases
worth $3 billion from Boeing in many ways demonstrated the importance that New Delhi attaches to the
state visit. Expectedly, the Prime Minister has vigorously pushed for the reform of the UN Security Council
in speeches at the UN and later at a multilateral
summit. Mr. Modis decision to host the summit of the
Group of Four nations was one of the key moments of
his diplomacy in New York. While backing one anothers bid for permanent seats in the UNSC, India, Germany, Japan and Brazil have collectively called for
urgent reforms of the Security Council within a timeframe. At another gathering, Mr. Modi invited U.S.
companies to step up investments in India. The toplevel participation of American companies at the meeting, pointed to the importance U.S. industry is giving
India. Executives from 42 Fortune 500 companies,
with a combined net worth of $4.5 trillion, were there.
While the overall message from New York is positive,
the government has to work hard to bring to fruition
the goodwill established: the task begins now. Indias
most important challenge here is to continue the campaign to reform the Security Council. Nothing much
has come out of Indias push over the years to restructure the global body. The challenge is to build a democratically evolved consensus among world powers,
particularly among the Security Council members, on
the need to reform the UNSC. Second, though American companies are keen to invest in India, they remain
wary of complicated regulations, confusing bureaucracy and poor infrastructure. If the government is
serious about enhancing business and trade relations
with the U.S. further, it should accelerate the pace of
reforms at home and build quality infrastructure of
course making sure that its own long-term interests are
not sacrificed or compromised. Third, bilateral relations between India and the U.S. have always been a
tricky area for decision-makers. While defence cooperation has improved over the years, the failure to operationalise the nuclear deal, Washingtons continuing
support for Pakistan and reluctance to second major
reforms at the UNSC are issues. Besides, the principle
of a multilateral approach in Indias foreign policy has
not gone down well with the Washington elites. Mr.
Modi ought to take up some of these issues when he
meets Barack Obama on Monday. They should address
them, so that what has often been termed a natural
alliance could be firmed up to mutual advantage.

Hardik Patel is today one of Indias most

watched political serials. He represents a
movement, enacts a fable and constitutes,
along with Indrani Mukerjea, the two great
aspirational tales of contemporary India.
Today, one should not ask: Who is Hardik
Patel?, but realise there is a Hardik in all of
us. He is a Patel in a sea of Patels, who has
branded his difference. He is a Patel who
knows that he can make a difference.
The key to Hardik, the man, is his face, his
style. There is a belligerence, an impatience
representing an India which is tired of waiting, a majoritarian group ready to flex its
regional muscles. Hardik understands market as well as electoral mathematics. The
market tells him that you need a degree to be
employed and the maths tells him that the
political power of the Patels should guarantee educational entry. It is clear that this is a
demand for more, a demand the Patels realise no electoral government can refuse. The
bully-boy maths is clear and, with it, the
barely repressed violence. In fact, this violence makes it clear that Hardik is neither
Sardar Patel nor Mahatma Gandhi.
His quaint slogan relating to the proposed,
then cancelled, Reverse Dandi March explains it all. If the Dandi march spoke of
non-violence and confronted the British
Empire with the vulnerability of the body,
the reverse march not just abandons but
completely reverses these symbols of the
past. The idol of the present reverses the
iconography of the past, trampling the memory of history in pursuit of politics.

More middle class than marginal

The Reverse Dandi March is neither Swadeshi nor for Swaraj, it is more middle class
than marginal. It projects ban, threat and
boycott as messages. In fact, as Hardik explained, if Gandhi were present today, he
would abandon non-violence, as the current
state is more repressive and violent than the
British Raj. When he argues, bring out the
swords, he moves closer to Bhagat Singh. In
fact, even that comparison is unfair. Hardik
smells more of Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal
within a caste idiom.
In fact, he can be considered part of project Macaulay II. If Macaulay spoke of English education and the power of the degree,
Hardik speaks of education as a guarantee
for jobs. There is a double battle here, a


The challenge of
skills and jobs
he scale of the skilling challenge that India
faces, and the urgency involved, have been
palpable for some time, but new official data
put into cold numbers the extent of the problem. Fewer than one in 10 adult Indians has had any
form of vocational training, and even among those who
have, the type of training is not the sort of formal
skilling that employers seek the majority had either
acquired a hereditary skill or learned on the job. Just
2.2 per cent in all had received formal vocational training. In comparison, 75 per cent of the workforce in
Germany and 80 per cent in Japan has received formal
skills training. Even among the BRICS countries, India
lags behind nearly half the Chinese workforce, for
example, is skilled. Very few Indians get a technical
education in medicine, engineering or agriculture; fewer than one in ten Indians is a graduate, and among
those who are graduates, the majority get undergraduate degrees in arts, science or commerce. The problem
is more acute in rural areas and for women. Without
access to affordable and appropriate skills training,
young people, particularly those leaving rural areas and
small towns for big cities, will be stuck in low-wage,
insecure jobs that will leave them in want or poverty.
The Narendra Modi government has made skills and
jobs one of its focus areas from the beginning of its
term. In July, the Prime Minister launched an ambitious mission to impart skills training to 40 crore
people by 2022, and the new government has a dedicated Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The problem is that the previous government
talked the same talk on skills but was able to achieve
precious little; the proportion of young adults who had
received vocational training was virtually unchanged
between 2004-05 and 2011-12. There isnt any clear
evidence yet that the new government is charting out a
radically new path on skills. There remain multiple
decision-making authorities on skills and little clarity
about who exactly will do the work. Promises of corporate and foreign partnerships on skilling are pouring in,
but how these mass skilling programmes will take off is
unclear. Employers complain that job-seekers do not
have the skills they look for; there is little evidence yet
that curricula with these objectives in mind have been
designed, or that new and affordable training institutes
have been set up on a mass scale. Job creation has not
kept pace with Indias demographic momentum, and
that will in the coming days pose a problem for a skilled
workforce. But lets not put the cart before the horse a
poorly trained young workforce can neither bring
workers out of poverty nor help a country grow quickly.



India at the UN
The G4 leaders call is genuine (G4
leaders seek time-bound UN
reform, Sep.27). India is the mostdeserving candidate for the
permanent membership at the
Security Council, not only among
the G4 nations but also among
other excluded countries for
various reasons, the most
important of which is its status as
the largest democracy in the world.
Also, India cannot rely on the
support of the U.S. alone as it is
tentative and conditional. It also
needs to rally the support of other
superpowers, primarily China.
B. Prabha,
Varkala, Kerala
Indian foreign policy is moving in
the right direction at a steady pace
and will get its due at the right
time. We cannot expect radical
changes overnight at world bodies
like the UN. We need to keep
moving forward with our agenda
for international peace. There are
many areas climate change;
peace keeping efforts, especially in
the wake of the rising influence of
the Islamic State (IS); refugee
crisis confronting the European
Union (EU); and maritime issues at
the Indian Ocean where India
can show its leadership acumen to
the Permanent Members.
Kushal Gadkari,

With his quaint sloganeering, his unabashed

demand for a greater share of the caste pizza
and his agitationist attitude, Hardik Patel is
emblematic of the small-town, aspirational youth
confident, parochial, yet deeply modern. He is
also a symptom indicating that the politics of caste
quotas needs to be revisited and debated

Modi, they are the ideal Indians hardworking and trouble free. Here, protest
movements sound like agony aunt columns,
while the diaspora abroad is stoic, civic and
proud of its civic self.
The diaspora is Modis ideal constituency
as it is even more patriotic than the resident
Indian. The Patels there represent a civic
class as opposed to the local Patels, who are
political and agitationist. Hardik is shrewd
and calculating enough to issue threats of a
Patel demonstration in New York. For Modi,
that is sheer embarrassment and amounts to
pitched struggle against two systems. First, not indicate backwardness.
irreverence within the very symbolic conit is a battle with the Patel patriarchs who
There is a change in attitudes which in- stituencies he made powerful. Hardik, the
have been pompous about power and remiss dicates not just a new sense of society, de- trickster, was not something the BJP
about caste responsibilities. The very idea of mocracy and law as rule games. Hardik and anticipated.
reservation handicaps the Patels in the edu- all the new Patels, Gujjars and Jats are very
cation game and it is worse to see Patel-run clear that the rules should work for them, A Patel vs. Patel battle
The battle between Patel and Patel is faseducational institutions being extortionate that the Supreme Court ruling that reservaabout entry.
tion be capped at 50 per cent is irrelevant as cinating to watch. Patel vs. Patel is the stuff
Harik Patel plays the new Macaulay by long as they have not been accommodated. of graphic novels, somehow reminiscent of
claiming no degree, no democracy. There The cynicism of political life allows them the Mad magazines great comic strip Spy vs.
is an Oedipal struggle here where Patel chal- refuge of the Ninth Schedule, the safe haven Spy. At one end stands Anandiben, who has
lenges the patriarchy of Modi, claiming that that places laws outside the ambit of judicial been completely ambushed by the Patel upthe lotus will not bloom till the Patels come review. However, the questions our democ- rising in her backyard. The Chief Minister
home. The Patels, despite minor differences, racy and the administrative system will soon invokes the riots of 1985 and 1987 but what
were a taken-for-granted constituency of the ask is: How many provisions in the Ninth she really seems to fear is a Nav Nirman
Andolan-like agitation. It may be recalled
here that the Nav Nirman agitation of 1974
brought down the elected government of
The cynicism of political life allows those demanding OBC
then Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel.
status like the Gujjars, the Jats and the Patidars the
Anandiben gives the official spiel that
shelter of the Ninth Schedule, the haven that puts laws outside caste and community have no role in the
secular game of development while realising
the ambit of judicial review. The question is: for how long?
that her politics and power is totally Pateldriven. It is interesting that she treats the
masses as labour needed for development
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Hardiks fa- Schedule are the Other Backward Classes while Hardik speaks the language of electother was a middle-level BJP worker. So, the (OBCs) likely to have? Is it going to a special, ral politics. The Chief Minister emphasises
revolt against both Modi and the Patel estab- dominant caste haven for the Gujjars, the caste and class as the critical categories
lishment emphasises an Oedipal revolt, es- Jats and the Patidars? The Patel attitude while Hardik plays up the youth card. For
tablishing the role of youth in the makes a mockery of the reservation games, Anandiben, youth is not a category. She sees
movement. For them, the talisman is an edu- because now it is every caste for itself. The Hardiks complaints as humbug, clearly
cational degree in this era of development.
battle now is for a bigger share and not for showing she is out of touch. The first threat
Hardik, one senses, is both popular and justice. One wonders if this scenario repre- to Modis legitimacy is emerging from his
populist. His popularity is seen in the re- sents the altruistic world envisaged by Gand- own backyard and the BJP is speechless with
misunderstanding. Hardik realises that
sponses his calls for action attract. Every hi and Patel.
wave, threat or promise of violence adds a
Hardik is contemporary. In fact the BJP, youth and women are bandwagons on which
layer of support for him and his mystique. If as a party and the ruling power, realises that he can ride to power.
It is clear that Hardik is no longer a local
the ban is the Modi regimes favourite policy, he thrives on the present. He is a figure
the boycott becomes Hardiks weapon.
lapped up by the media, an ideal subject for figure because media and the limits of elecPatel power is demonstrated by threats to interviews even if his is a reverse march. He toral politics have made him a new hero.
withdraw milk supplies, and collective with- thrives on the media and network and the Hardik Patel is not just a sign but a symptom
drawals from banks. Protests by women BJPs attempt to block networks was a des- that the politics of caste quotas needs to be
across towns and cities also shows that the perate attempt to mute his impact. The news revisited and debated. Our politics has bemovement has caught on. It is clear that this of his arrest was enough to spark protests. come a politics of quotas where adminisis not a Dalit struggle for rights but the strug- He understands the medias power and its trative fiat can make or break the future of
gle of a dominant caste asking for bigger multiplier effect. Second, he knows how to communities. The battle to be seen as more
takeaways from the caste pizza. A demon- work the media. By contacting the diaspora, backward becomes critical. Caste becomes
stration conducted in cars and tractors does he plays on Modis weakness because for the most critical idiom of politics, a currency
to be speculated with, in the electoral brokerage of power. The gap between distribution as disbursing an increasing share of the
cake and justice as a normative phenomenon
becomes bleak.
The court intervenes to argue that caste
cannot be the sole determinant of reservation. In fact, it struck down the governments
notification that included Jats in the official
list of OBCs. Hardik Patels campaign has
opened up the Pandoras Box about justice
and the ability of electoral democracy to
handle issues of affirmative action.
Hardik is the new sign of our times and his
actions indicate that the new generation is
not going to wait for the court or the Parliament to determine its fate. In fact, what
Hardik represents is the ambitions of the
small town, ready to see democracy and market as acts of consumerism. This is a generation that has no memories of the ration
card, that believes in speed and struggles for
instant gratification, which believes that life,
whether in the form of a start up or a struggle, is just a few steps away. The power of the
Hardik Patel story lies in this. He is representative of the new Indian small town
confident, parochial, primordial yet deeply
modern. He is the new Indian of the global
era, one who can make or break democracies.
His mood becomes the litmus test of politics
(Shiv Visvanathan is a professor at Jindal
School of Government and Public Policy.)

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

and abused for months by an

official at the Saudi Arabian
Embassy right in our national
capital (Nepali sex abuse victim
narrates tale of horror, Sep.27).
Responding to their tragedy is no
less important than rushing
massive aid to Nepal during an
earthquake. The government
allowed the Saudi Arabian official a
safe passage to his country. Citing
diplomatic immunity as a rescue
tool against heinous crimes on
foreign land is equivalent to
showing utter disregard for human
rights. It is as untenable as Saudi
Arabia declaring the stampede
deaths in Makkah as an act of God.
This shows that Riyadh has chosen
to give unacceptable and callous
explanations in response to both
human atrocity and criminal
Matthew Adukanil,
Sogathur, Dharmapuri

Shastri the statesman

When the Pakistani aggression of

1965 took place, I had just joined
Regional Engineering College,
Warangal, to do a mechanical
engineering course (When India
found a leader, but lost a
statesman, Sep.26). Our hostel
was a mini-India, with students
from all States, all worried about
our ability to defend borders with
the debacle of 1962 still fresh on
our minds.
With clarity of thought and
astute decision making, Lal
The Indian government has not Bahadur Shastri gave direction to
done enough to ensure justice to all the three wings of military and
the two Nepali women confined helped India achieve success in its

Nepali victims

resistance. It was through the

leadership capabilities shown in
this war that Shastri who had
been made a consensus candidate
following the sudden demise of
Jawaharlal Nehru showcased his
mettle as a worthy successor of
Nehru. What happened at
Tashkent is a mystery to many
Indians which needs to be
revealed, with the release of all
relevant documents. I agree with
the author that we have failed to
honour this great leader for his
restoring our self confidence.
M.V. Nagavender Rao,

IS in Kerala
Apropos Mohammed Nazeers
thought-provoking article When
polyphony turns into a fault line,
(State-view, Sep.27), in the late
1930s, when the Nazis heaped
horrendous crimes on the Jews,
many ordinary Germans did not
support them. However, they were
guilty of silence as they failed to
speak up. A vast majority of
Muslims do not and will not
subscribe to radical Islam or
support the IS. Yet, in their silence
lies complicity and hence, guilt. In
Kerala, with its fine yet volatile
demographic balance, it is
incumbent on the part of all
religious and political leaders to
fundamentalism and give the
common man and woman the
moral backing to fight such groups.
Romy Sakharia,

Tipus legacy
Whatever be ones opinion on Tipu
Sultan, the author is right in saying
that he cannot be buried in the
annals of history (Tipu Sultan: a
secular internationalist, not a
bigot, State-view, Sep.27). What is
not known is that there is a temple
opposite where his palace once
stood. In fact, The Hindu had once
carried an article on the auctioning
of Tipus ring which had Rama
inscribed on it, some evidence of
his secular credentials. Tipu
modernised his army by
employing European generals and
manufacturing the latest weapons
to counter the British threat. In
fact, Governor-General Lord
Wellesley came to India with the
sole purpose of defeating Tipu.
Tipu's army had people
belonging to all faiths and he was
genuinely interested in bettering
the lot of his people. What makes
him so unique is that even in death,
his soldiers did not desert him,
which is something that cannot be
said of other kings at that time.
Akshay Viswanathan,
The question of whether Tipu was
a patriot, an internationalist or a
bigot is unsettled as he sought help
from the French to replace the
British to retain his power. Britain
and France were both colonial
powers, seeking a base in India and
played the local kings against each
Tipu was a product of his times
and, as the writer says, his actions
have to be seen in the context of the

political exigencies of the time.

Like other conquerors, he could
not afford to antagonise his
constituents and to care for Hindu
religious institutions was part of
his statecraft. It maybe of interest
to note that Tipu Sultan is a
revered figure in Pakistan and
personalities are held on his
birthday to throw light on his life.
H.N. Ramakrishna,

Art of translation
informative article, Translating
God in Sunday Magazine (Sep.27)
focuses on the importance of
translation, which is a device
through which great literature
travels and reaches minds in other
countries. In India, a multilingual
and multicultural country with a
cultural heritage of nearly four
thousand years, great works are in
abundance in all the languages.
Translation of these works to other
languages is sure to help in a better
appreciation of literature, and aid
us in the process of strengthening
national integration. Tagores
Gitanjali, but for translation,
would not have fetched him the
Nobel. I feel that if Subramanya
Bharathi had translated his own
poems into English, he would also
have been similarly recognised.
The latest critical techniques in
English and the other languages
should find their way into Indian
languages through translation.
M. Vathapureeswaran,


12 |



Putins grand strategy for West Asia

Stanly Johny


Mr. Modi in
Silicon Valley
ight through his whirlwind tour of the U.S.
West Coast, the rst by an Indian Prime Minister since 1982, it seemed Narendra Modi
could hardly put a foot wrong. The meeting
with all the Silicon Valley technology companies that
matter set the stage nicely for him to play the charming
salesman representing a resurgent India in a digital
age. This may be a narrative that critics, many of them
back home, dont want to buy. But whatever the political orientation, it would have been hard to miss the
buzz generated when the elected head of the worlds
largest democracy met the whos who of new-age businesses, including Googles Sundar Pichai, Microsofts
Satya Nadella, and Apples Tim Cook. Mr. Modi also
participated in another highly anticipated event a
town hall meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Its remarkable that the only other leader who
had participated in a town hall with Mr. Zuckerberg is
President Barack Obama. There is little doubt that Mr.
Modi is a master at creating a larger-than-life feel
around his events. Amplifying that feel was the fact that
a large number of Indians call Silicon Valley, the hub of
technology innovation in the world, their home. Indians came in huge numbers to cheer Mr. Modi wherever
he went. The Prime Minister, a skilled orator and one
who has more than a feel for the digital world and its
mores, obliged them gladly.
But what does all this translate to? To equate Mr.
Modis efforts in Silicon Valley just to the initiatives
promised by the big technology rms during this trip,
as some have done, would be to miss the larger point.
For the record, Google plans to enable Wi-Fi in 500
railway stations, Microsoft wants to make available
low-cost broadband in ve lakh villages, and chip manufacturer Qualcomm is launching a $150 million startup fund in India. These efforts would involve tiny sums
given their scale. But again, the point isnt that. The
point is to hard-sell India as an attractive investment
destination, a country with skilled manpower, and a
nation on the move. Mr. Modi looked more than convincing with that marketing message. Of course, it
helped tremendously that India has one of the highest
growth rates today in the world amid a sea of troubled
economies. Also, the success of Indias diaspora is a
selling point in itself. All this means that the big corporates of the world can ill afford to ignore India. But the
question now is whether investors are seeing enough
positive changes on the ground. Having successfully
made the India pitch, Mr. Modis challenge will be to
don a different hat and deliver on those promises.

Syria is not a new theatre for Russia. It has

long been a pillar of Moscows West Asia
policy. The only Russian naval base outside
the former Soviet Union is in Syrias Tartus.
And Russia has been a strong supporter of
President Bashar Al-Assad in the Syrian
civil war. It resisted every Western move at
the United Nations Security Council
(UNSC) to pass a resolution seeking Mr.
Assads removal. Also, its aggressive diplomacy was instrumental in thwarting U.S. air
strikes on Syria in 2013 amid allegations
that government forces used chemical
weapons against civilians.
Over the years, Moscow kept supplying
military and nancial aid to Damascus. But
despite these deep ties with the regime,
Russia had tactfully stayed away from joining combat in the past four years. Even
when Iran and Hizbollah sent troops to
Syria, Russia limited its role to outside support for the regime. Not any more.
The Russian involvement in the civil war
assumed greater proportions earlier this
month when reports emerged that Moscow
was sending troops to Syria. U.S. officials
said on September 14 that Russia had sent
seven T-90 tanks and artillery to the coastal
Syrian city of Latakia.
Three days later, the Washington-based
Institute for the Study of War, citing satellite imagery from AllSource Analysis, conrmed the arrival of Russian battle tanks,
armoured personnel carriers and helicopters at the Latakia airbase, indicating that
Russian troops are deployed in Syria.
Though Moscow has not conrmed its military presence, authorities have made no
secret that Russia is ramping up its role in
Syria. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has
acknowledged that new military supplies
are being sent in, accompanied by Russian

From an ally to a combat partner

While the exact details of the Russian
military presence are yet to emerge, a
change in Moscows Syria strategy is already evident. Mr. Putin wants to move
Russia from being an outside supporter to a
combat partner of the Syrian government.
To be sure, this is a risky move. It has come
at a time when Russia is battling a severe
economic crisis at home. It hasnt fought a
major war outside its traditional sphere of
inuence since its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Needless to say, the 10-year-long Afghan
war was a disaster, and the chances for the
Russian troops to get swamped in the complex Syrian civil war are high. Still, what


Wages for the

he idea of creating an Emoluments Commission to recommend salaries and allowances
for Members of Parliament has not come a
day too soon. The pay and reimbursements
drawn by lawmakers may not be unusually high in
India by global standards, but two points have been
agitating the people in recent times: the power enjoyed
by legislators to x their own salaries and the loss
suffered by the exchequer as day after day is lost to
parliamentary logjam, resulting in MPs drawing daily
allowances through whole sessions during which no
business is transacted. In this backdrop, the proposal of
the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs to establish an
independent, three-member commission to x the pay
and allowances of parliamentarians is a sign that the
government and the elected members themselves are
sensitive to growing concern about the public expenditure incurred in their name. The proposal is on the
agenda of the All-India Whips Conference to be held in
Visakhapatnam, and may form the basis for future
legislation to de-link members of the legislature from
the process of xing their emoluments. Members of
Parliament currently draw a monthly salary of Rs.
50,000, a constituency allowance of Rs. 45,000 and a
sumptuary allowance of Rs. 15,000. They may also hire
secretarial assistance for Rs. 30,000. They are entitled
to daily allowances and travel concessions besides other perquisites. The present levels of pay and allowances, however, have not been revised since 2010.
If an independent body is created for the purpose,
India will be following the example of the United Kingdom, where an Independent Parliamentary Standards
Authority has been created by law to oversee and regulate business costs or the expenditure incurred by
lawmakers in their parliamentary functions, and x
their pay and pension. Such a mechanism may help put
an end to criticism, and sometimes public outcry, over
legislators rewarding themselves with pay hikes and
additional allowances from time to time. In a country
where public life is associated in the popular imagination with unbridled greed, and parliamentary representation is seen as a means to amass wealth, it will be
tempting to wonder why lawmakers need a salary at all,
or, looking at legislative work often coming to a standstill, to question the present pay structure or the need
for regular revision. However, payment for legislative
work is an important element in attracting publicspirited citizens to participative democracy. As a general principle, pay ought not to be the primary attraction for elective office, nor the privileges and
perquisites that come with it. At the same time, it
cannot be so low as to be a disincentive to the public for
entering the legislature. An independent pay panel for
parliamentarians is surely a welcome proposal.



Digital dreams
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
seems to have taken the Silicon
Valley by storm, striking an instant
chord with the titans of the tech
endorsement for his ambitious
Digital India push (Modi boots
up Digital India with high-prole
Silicon Valley show, Sep.28). In
many ways, his discussions with
the global tech titans was as much
an extension of the Digital India
initiative that he launched in July
as it was about saluting innovation.
Mr. Modi has completed a quarter
of his tenure as Prime Minister but
the litany of complaints from the
CEOs would have been familiar.
They must have appreciated his
intentions but also pointed out the
difficulties of doing business in
India due to excessive regulation
and a creaky infrastructure.
Meghana. A,
New South Wales, Australia
Assam is the rst and perhaps the
only State so far in India to have
100 per cent Internet connectivity.
The Community Information
Centres (CIC) project in the
Northeast providing a platform
for e-governance and other ITenabled services made sure that
every block in Assam had an
Internet connection. Despite that,
less than 10 per cent of the people
use online services. Low literacy

By sending troops in support of the Assad regime

to prevent its collapse, the Russian President has
opened a new phase in the four-year-long civil
war. Unless Moscow backs this up with a global
diplomatic initiative to end the crisis, it could be
sucked into another Afghan war-like situation
made Mr. Putin change the Russian strategy? And whats Russias actual game plan?
Two recent developments in the battleeld could have inuenced the thinking in
the Kremlin. First, theres a growing concern in Moscow as well as in Tehran about
the recent setbacks suffered by the Assad
regime. The government is facing acute
manpower shortage as its troops are overstretched in the prolonged war.
Also, the key focus of the regime is to
defend its strongholds the long stretch
from the South along the Lebanese border
and the Mediterranean coast to the outskirts of the Idlib province in the northwest.
Hizbollah has positioned itself on the Leba-

Assad falls, the balance of power in West

Asian geopolitics would turn in favour of
countries hostile to Moscows interests. Besides, Mr. Assads removal would weaken
the Iran-Hizbollah network, which is another pillar of Russias West Asia policy.
More important, Moscow perceives the rise
of Islamist militancy in the region as a national security threat and considers Mr.
Assad a bulwark in the ght against the IS
and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate
in Syria.
So, from the Russian point of view, the
survival of the Assad regime is key to its
interests. Russia has interfered in West Asia
in the past to defend its interests. During
the Israeli-Egyptian War of Attrition in the
1969-70, the Soviet Union sent troops to
defend Egypt. Operation Kavkaz was aimed
at preventing a regime change in Egypt and
to save the Russian interests on the Egyptian soil the intervention was a success in
meeting the objectives.

the Syrian war is our war. The Hizbollah

intervention was crucial in retaking Qusayr
and re-establishing the regimes hold over
the Lebanese border region. The Russians
may be thinking that Mr. Assad is facing
another Qusayr moment.
Second, Moscow is wary of the TurkishSaudi Arabian game plan for Syria. These
countries major concern is not the IS, but
the Assad regime itself. Since the outbreak
of the civil war, they have been training and
bankrolling anti-Assad rebels. The rebels
Idlib advances would not have been pos- Protecting the Tartus naval base
In the case of Syria, Russia has short,
sible without greater support from outside
powers. Besides, Turkey has recently al- medium and long-term goals. The immedilowed the U.S. warplanes to use its Incirlik ate objective is to prevent a rapid collapse of
the Assad regime after its weakening on the
warfront. Russia might be calculating that
Russias assessment is that if Assad falls, the balance of power once its forces start joining the war, it
would strengthen the Syrian government
in West Asia would turn in favour of hostile countries and also
troops in terms of military capabilities and
raise their morale substantially. And even if
weaken the Iran-Hizbollah network, another pillar of support
the regime collapses, the Russian goal
would be to protect the Tartus naval base.
It is worth noting that Russian artillery
nese border region, while Iran has deployed and Diyarbakir airbases for the latters atits troops and proxies in key city centres tacks on IS positions, and both nations and tanks have landed in Latakia, which is
such as Damascus, Homs and Hama. It is in Turkey and the U.S. have also agreed to just 85 km away from Tartus. In case of an
the outskirts of the regime-held territory create a 60-mile-long safe zone strip, free eventual collapse of the regime, Russia
where Mr. Assads troops are under pres- of IS and the regime troops, along the Turk- would not hesitate to move troops to protect the naval base.
sure, a clear indication of their waning ish border.
In the medium term, Russia wants to
This could be part of a larger regime
In May, in a major setback to the regime, change game plane. Incirlik is just 15 min- build an international coalition, with a U.N.
the Islamic State (IS) terror group seized utes ying time from the Syrian border. mandate, to ght terrorism in Syria. There
the ancient city of Palmyra from govern- From the air base, the U.S. war planes and is already a multilateral coalition led by the
ment troops. Besides its archaeological sig- drones could easily patrol the Syrian skies. U.S., bombing locations controlled by the IS
nicance, Palmyra is a strategically In the name of ghting the IS, the U.S. could in Syria and Iraq. But these bombings, startimportant place from where IS could march establish a de facto no-y zone across ed in August 2014, have hardly weakened
on to both Homs and Damascus in two northeastern Syria which would neutralise the jihadist group.
The Russian idea is to stitch together a
directions (The distance between Palmyra the regimes air power advantage vis--vis
coalition of ground troops to ght both the
and Damascus is around 250 km, while that both the rebels and the jihadists.
Further, the safe zone proposal also of- IS and the al-Nusra front. President Putin
between the ancient city and Homs is hardly around 160 km). In the same month, a fers a peek into the Turkish game plan. If oated the idea on September 15 in Dushrebel coalition, largely supported by Gulf Turkey and the U.S. successfully create a anbe, Tajikistan, while speaking at a regioncountries and Turkey, captured the Idlib safe zone in the border area, the model al event. For this proposal to gain traction,
province, breathing down the neck of the could be repeated elsewhere in Syria. In- Russia would need the Wests support. Mr.
regimes costal territories. These two de- stead of nding a national political solution Putin knows that the U.S. is facing a stratefeats revived the discussion about a rapid to the Syrian crisis, many more safe zones gic dilemma over Syria, and Europe,
within rebel control would be created. swamped in a refugee crisis, is scrambling
collapse of the Assad regime.
It was in a similar scenario in 2013 that Brookings Institutions Michael E. OHan- for practical solutions to the Syrian conict.
If a common ground is reached between
the Hizbollah announced that it would join lon, a former national security analyst at
the Syrian war. The rebels had captured the Congressional Budget Office, strongly Russia and the West over Syria, Mr. Putin
Qusayr, a strategically important town on advises the West to follow this ink-spot can also re-channelise the resultant goodthe Lebanese border, and were making fur- campaign, which he calls the deconstruc- will to settle the Ukraine crisis without its
vital interests compromised. It is a bet, but
ther advances. On May 25, 2013, Hizbollah tion of Syria.
The Russian assessment is that if Mr. the contemporary history of Russian forleader Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed that
eign policy tells us that Mr. Putin is a man
who makes big geopolitical bets.
In the long run, Syria offers Russia an
opportunity to re-establish itself as a regional player in West Asia. Reclaiming the
lost glory of Soviet Union is of high priority
to Mr. Putin. He has recently stepped up
ties with Egypts military dictator Abdel
Fattah el-Sisi. West Asia offers a potential
market for Russian products and weapons
as well as a political theatre for Moscow to
expand its inuence.
It is far from clear whether Russia would
be able to meet its goals or would face another Afghanistan-like situation in Syria.
What is certain is that Mr. Putin has opened
a new phase in the Syrian civil war. If in the
rst four years, President Assad had to ght
his enemies supported by regional heavyweights with limited resources, he now
has the direct backing of a big global power.
However, unless Russia couples its military move with an international diplomatic
initiative to dial down the regional support
for rebels and jihadists, the Moscow plan
could backre. Because otherwise, to offset
the Russian support for Mr. Assad, Turkey,
Saudi Arabia and their Western backers
could step up support for anti-Assad
groups, leading to a major escalation of the
conict. The outcome would be worse than
that of the Afghan civil war.

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

has been a major hindrance to the

initiative. It is commendable on
the part of the Prime Minister to
reach out to the technology giants
in the Silicon Valley but the Digital
India programme cannot be
successful unless the masses have
proper education and knowledge
on various electronic devices.
Institutions like the CICs with
high-speed Internet need to be set
in all parts of the country and there
should be a greater focus on
computer education.
Roshan U. Alam,
New Delhi
Apropos the Editorial, The
message from New York (Sep.28),
a lot of hype has accompanied the
PMs second U.S. visit. There are
many things in the cart but not
much on the ground. As has very
rightly been pointed out, the
nuclear deal almost a decade-old
is yet to be operationalised. In
addition, U.S. military support for
Pakistan and its ip-op on Indias
efforts to get itself nominated as a
UN Security Council Permanent
Member are indeed a matter of
M.K. Bajaj,
Zirakpur, Punjab

misconceptions and overcome
cultural barriers (In a class of
their own, Sep.28). The author has
reservations are being applied
mechanically in schools without
much regard to academic readiness
or social integration. In India, we
never think of reservations at the
school level but are mostly made
aware of them only when we reach
college. Reservation, along with
due sensitisation toward the
various discriminations inherent
in our society, right at the school
level, will aid greater integration.
Maybe with a more inclusive
system, we can do away with the
need for reservation in the next
two decades.
J. Jaykris Gurucharan,

A noble soul

The leadership qualities and the

abundant willpower of Lal Bahadur
Shastri enabled him to succeed
Jawaharlal Nehru (Family wants
Shastri les declassied, Sep.27).
He was the man behind the
destruction of all Patton tanks that
inltrated into Jammu and
Kashmir from Pakistan in 1965. He
also gave appropriate direction to
our defence forces at crucial
junctures during the war. Shastri
I have personally experienced that was also a sincere politician, with
an exposure to cultural diversity no greed of any sort. He resigned

Overcoming bias

source of risk. The Pullumedu

stampede in the Sabarimala shrine
in 2011 and the recent Maha
Pushkaralu festival incident are
examples. A majority of Indias
sacred sites are situated in
inaccessible areas. Visits to these
places not having adequate
health and sanitation facilities
by children and elderly people
increases the possibilities of
accidents. We need to give urgent
attention to crowd management.
Everyone expects a white collar job
Joice K. Joseph,
or a government job on passing out
of college no matter what degree or
diploma he/she has. (The
challenge of skills and jobs, A diverse nation like India, with a
Editorial, Sep.28). This is one of the million gods, countless beliefs and
reasons why substandard self- varying ideologies is united by one
nancing institutions ourish. Has spirit, that of patriotism (The
any government shown the politics of iconography, Sep.27).
interest to test the skills of the Our freedom ghters have been
teacher community working in forerunners in inspiring this spirit
these institutions? Our judiciary among us. The ongoing attemptto
needs to intervene to show the highlight certain gures whilst
ignoring a few others is not a good
universities some direction.
Madhu M.B, practice.
Palakkad Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel
and Lajpat Rai have each
contributed immensely in their
own right to the making of our
The recent tragedy at Makkah nation and deserve equal respect.
(Haj stampede claims over 700 Together, theyenvisioned a nation
lives near holy city, Sep.25) should with a strong senseof equality,
make us more conscious of the fraternity and secularism. It is time
safety arrangements in Indias we stoppedmixing politics and
prime mass gathering destinations. patriotism.
Rohan Jagadeesh,
religious crowds, are always a

immediately after the major train

accident at Ariyalur, in 1956,
accepting moral responsibility,
persuasion to continue. People
have every right to know what
happened at Tashkent to this noble
D. Sethuraman.

Skills deficit

Choice of icons

Tragedy at holy site



10 |



Empower, not weaken the CAG

Gautam Sen


eserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan has opted to send an unequivocal message
that as long as the domestic growth momentum remains tentative and price pressures
dont pose a threat to the central banks ination target,
monetary policy will remain accommodative. The
RBIs decision to surprise markets and cut the benchmark repo rate by a sharp 50 basis points to 6.75 per
cent the lowest level in more than four years is the
most emphatic signal that it stands ready to help boost
domestic demand and investment. In saying that
more domestic demand is needed to substitute for
weakening global demand in order that the domestic
investment cycle picks up, Dr. Rajan has underlined
the fact that local demand and investment hold the key
to sustaining an incipient recovery. Clearly, the U.S.
Federal Reserves decision earlier this month to continue to maintain the funds rate near zero in the backdrop of heightened uncertainties in the global
economy, including in China and the emerging markets, has fed into Dr. Rajans calculations. So has the
fragility evidenced in the nancial markets following
the devaluation of the yuan. And slowing ination
appears to have made the central bank sanguine about
price gains being unlikely to pose a near-term threat to
the economy, prompting it to lower its Consumer Price
Index ination projection for January to 5.8 per cent.
That growth appears to have for the moment taken
pre-eminence and been placed front and centre in the
RBIs reasoning for its policy decision is, however,
cause for some concern. As central bankers down the
ages have reiterated, there are two key elements that
form the bedrock of any communication emanating
from the monetary policy authority consistency and
credibility. It is the consistency of messaging that may
now be questioned by critics. For, Dr. Rajan had, less
than two weeks ago, agged the risks of too much
stimulus fanning ination and decits, stressed the
importance of anchoring ination expectations from a
longer-term perspective, and cited the example of the
meltdown in Brazil. Indeed, the latest policy statement
itself acknowledges that ination is likely to start accelerating for a few months from September as favourable base effects reverse. And the central bank goes on
to stress the role that the government needs to play to
ensure food price stability by proactively managing the
supply side so as to head off any pressures. That Dr.
Rajan has chosen to frontload monetary action and
pass the baton to the government, the banks and industry in order to help ward off inationary risks, transmit the benets of interest rate cuts to borrowers,
including home buyers, and increase productive investments could put at stake his best-regarded asset.
And that asset is his credibility.

A conference of the chairpersons of Public

Accounts Committees (PACs) has just been
held under the aegis of the Parliaments
PAC. Nishikant Dubey, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), member PAC, and a convener of the conference, stated that the
time has come to make our national auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General
of India (CAG), accountable to Parliament
through a constitutional amendment.
This is a strange demand, given that the
CAGs constitutional mandate, under the
CAG (Duties, Powers & Condition of Service) Act or Audit Act, is to hold the executive accountable. Such a demand had
never been articulated in the past. On the
other hand, there have been demands for
strengthening the Audit Act to further empower the CAG.
The CAGs office initiated an amendment to the Audit Act during the tenure of
the rst United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
government (when Pranab Mukherjee was
the Union Finance Minister) to enable a
comprehensive audit of public funds and
bodies rendering public service, and for a
structured and time-bound response to the
audit reports. CAG did not receive a positive response from the government.

Delayed tabling of CAG reports

Baijayant (Jay) Panda, MP, Biju Janata
Dal, had initiated a private members bill in
the previous Lok Sabha, in 2013, for a similar purpose, to enable the CAG to undertake performance audits without any
constraint. There was a view in some quarters of the executive that the CAG needed
to restrict his audit primarily to the compliance of rules and regulations, and present
the audit reports to the legislature within a
specied time frame.
This bill, though eventually withdrawn,
was also intended to compulsorily ensure
the tabling of CAG reports to the legislature
by the executive, within seven days of their
receipt from the auditor, thus ensuring response from the executive. The CAGs reports on quite a few occasions were not


Space observatory
takes wing
ith the successful launch of the space observatory, Astrosat, the Indian Space Research Organisation has put India in a
select group of countries that have a space
telescope to study celestial objects and processes. The
ability to simultaneously study a wide variety of wavelengths visible light, ultraviolet and X-ray (both lowand high-energy) bands has tremendous implications for scientists globally, particularly those in India.
Though stars and galaxies emit in multiple wavebands,
currently operational satellites have instruments that
are capable of observing only a narrow range of wavelength band. Since the Earths atmosphere does not
allow X-rays and ultraviolet energy from distant cosmic objects to reach ground-based telescopes, space
observatories become important to unravel celestial
mysteries. With Astrosat, Indian researchers will no
longer have to rely on other space agencies for X-ray
data, and scientists everywhere need no longer source
data from more than one satellite to get a fuller picture
of celestial processes. As in the case of Chandrayaan-1
and the Mars Orbiter Mission, Mangalyaan, the Astrosat telescope will have no immediate commercial or
societal implications. But the instruments have been
carefully chosen to allow scientists to pursue cuttingedge research. Chandrayaan-1 and Mangalyaan returned invaluable information, although they were
launched several years after other countries sent satellites to the Moon and Mars. Given the uniqueness of
Astrosat, it will enable Indian researchers to work in
the frontier areas of high-energy astrophysics.
It is for the rst time that a majority of the payloads
for an Indian satellite has come from outside ISRO. In
fact, ISRO has built just one of the ve payloads for
Astrosat; the rest comes from scientic institutions
based in India. Two of the payload operation centres
that would validate the data obtained by Astrosat will
be located in the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research that built three of the payloads, and
one each in the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy
and Astrophysics in Pune, and the Indian Institute of
Astrophysics in Bengaluru that built one payload. This
is in recognition of their contribution to the mission.
Besides providing an opportunity to build world-class
instruments, Astrosat will present an ideal platform for
researchers in these institutions. As is the norm internationally, for a year the teams that built the payloads would have exclusive control over what is
observed by the satellite. That singularly will be the
biggest benet to Indian researchers.



The Bar-Bench divide
Sriram Panchu, in his article, has
placed much of the blame on the
lawyers, while the truth of the
matter is that the judiciary is
equally to blame for the lack of
proper and timely judicial
management (Restoring the law
in courts, Sept.25). Language is a
very sensitive issue. While it is true
that protest inside court premises
is not the answer, it is equally true
that arrest is not the solution. It
should have been handled more
gently. The Madurai Bench helmet
issue would not have blown up to
this level if only there was an
dialogue between the Bench and
the Bar, instead of the contempt
proceedings and the placing of the
institution. As and when problems
crop up, members should not come
to the conclusion that it is an
affront to their dignity and initiate
unilateral action. On the other
hand, they should mediate and
settle the issue.
The judicial saint, Justice V.R.
Krishna Iyer, once said that
bilateralism is the signature tune
of democracy. The then Chief
Justice of Madras High Court, Mr.
Justice R.K. Agrawal, in his
farewell speech last year, had said:
Friends, I seek your leave to
mention an unfortunate incident
which happened recently with me.
In my entire career of more than 37
years, both in the Bar and at the
Bench, nobody, be it friends or
foes, had ever raised their voice
while talking to me or while
addressing me during court
proceedings. But here on one
fateful day, a respected colleague of
mine had hurled invectives at me
and cast aspersions at the affairs of
this Court. I need not tell you that

A recent proposal to curtail the powers of the

Comptroller and Auditor General of India runs
contrary to national and international conventions.
Rather, it is the duty of both the executive and the
legislature to strengthen this constitutional office

made under Article 148. Therefore, there

should be no apprehensions in Parliament
or in the PAC on the accountability or nonperformance of the CAG. If at all a constitutional amendment is necessary, it could be
to amend Article 149 of the Constitution
and to explicitly indicate, but in the broadest possible manner, the scope of the CAGs
responsibility. The Audit Act, suitably amplied, could supplement the proposed
amended constitutional provision.
In most Commonwealth countries, the
legislative auditor is the Auditor-General,
whose office is a core element of parliamentary oversight, and he or she reports
directly to Parliament and to the PAC. In
some instances, the Auditor-General is an
officer of Parliament, with the latter guaranteeing him independence from the executive (as in the case of Australia and the
U.K.) while in some other instances, he or
she is independent of both the executive
and the legislature, as in the case of India.

the entire gamut of audit functions where

public interest is involved. This view is supported by judicial pronouncements in
some cases, including the Supreme Court
decision in the Civil Appeal No. 4591 of
April 2014 (Association of Unied Tele Services Providers & Others vs. Union of India) case. Therefore, it is the legitimate
duty of both the executive and the legislature to uphold the CAGs ambit, and in no
way fetter it by a constitutional amendment. In the present milieu of competing
displays of political opportunism, any
amendment that has the scope to constrict
CAGs functional role should not be en- CAG-PAC relationship
Whichever model is followed, the imporcouraged in the national interest.
It is useful to draw the publics attention tance of a very close relationship between
to Article 324 of the Constitution, which Parliaments core nancial oversight body,
the PAC, and the CAG, cannot be overstated. The Indian Parliament could adopt
a charter or convention outlining the broad
If at all an amendment is necessary, Article 149 of the
contours of cooperation between the CAG
Constitution can be amended to explicitly indicate the scope of and the PAC. The purpose may be to adopt
a mutually reinforcing approach. However,
the CAGs responsibility. The Audit Act, suitably amplified,
we have to be cautious to ensure that the
could supplement the provision
parameters do not eventually have the effect of limiting the CAGs audit powers and
thereby prevent a broad appraisal of execaudits outcome was impeded. Such a feed- fully empowers the Election Commission utive actions.
With the benet of nearly seven decades
back and accountability mechanism is an of India (ECI) to superintend, direct and
essential component of the CAGs account- control the election of the President, the of experience since Independence, it may
Vice-President and the legislatures, both at not be inappropriate to conclude that the
ability to Parliament.
the Centre and in the States. Apropos the institution of CAG has stood the test of
Greater accountability, less power
elections, the powers of the ECI are abso- time. However, there needs to be an enAccountability of the CAG to Parliament lute and even litigation before the judiciary hanced role for the CAG for a comprehenhas many implications. An extreme situa- can only come after the completion of the sive nancial oversight over not only direct
tion may arise if Parliament, controlled by election process.
government departments, but also over aua majority of members of a single ruling
CAGs functioning should be similar to tonomous and statutory entities. This is
party, prevents an audit scrutiny of trans- that of the ECI. Articles 148 to 151 of the because, in the present environment of an
actions prima facie found irregular or Constitution provide the requisite en- open economy where there are numerous
deemed injudicious or uneconomical or vi- abling constitutional framework. Under private-public enterprises, some public enolative of the statutory canons of nancial extreme circumstances, when the CAG tities may not be substantially funded by
does not function in consonance with his or the government but would, nonetheless, be
The present constitutional structure en- her constitutional role or violates it, a pro- rendering public service.
sures independence of the CAG to go into vision for his or her impeachment has been
As regards the suggestion for making the
CAG more accountable to Parliament,
there can be no justication for such an
amendment. There will be no apparent systemic improvement in making him an officer of Parliament or by making him
dependent on it, despite the move ensuring
his or her independence from the executive. On the contrary, the possibility of an
adverse application of this institutional
change cannot be ignored.
If Parliament or its PAC feels that there
is a need to look beyond the audit reports of
the CAG, there is no institutional or regulatory bar that prevents it from doing so.
There has been an instance in the U.K.
when its PAC suo motu issued a report
not based on the U.K. National Audit Office
and its Auditor Generals report to highlight departmental failures in nancial administration, which the Auditor General
appropriately followed up. The CAG in India can similarly be expected to follow up
and reinforce the PACs efforts in matters
of nancial governance towards ensuring
probity, accountability and transparency.
The CAG has only to be provided adequate
institutional support in order for him or
her to discharge this vital, constitutionally
enshrined role.
(The author is a retired Indian Defence
Accounts Service officer and former Additional Controller General of Defence Accounts of Government of India.)
being presented to the legislatures concerned on time, as they were deemed inconvenient by the government of the day,
aborting the scope for timely legislative
scrutiny and follow-up remedial action, including a xing of responsibility on the
functionaries concerned. Thus, there was a
clear undermining of the constitutional
system, impeding the accountability of the
executive to the legislature by not allowing
the CAG to perform his or her constitutionally mandated role and serve Parliament adequately in the area of nancial
Therefore, accountability of the executive to the legislature, whose members are
representatives of the people, and the legislatures ability to adequately work on the

Letters emailed to must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

the events of this Court are keenly

followed throughout the country
I worry not about personal
comments made at me; but I do get
pained when I hear that innuendos
are being targeted at the Madras
High Court and it is becoming the
subject of public ridicule. Believe
me, many of my colleagues here
have privately expressed their
desire to seek voluntary transfer to
other High Courts. My colleagues
from other High Courts are
hesitant to come to this Court.
Disagreements can, and should, be
sorted out internally; not by
making a public spectacle of
grievances which only attract
criticism and derision.
N.G.R. Prasad,

products. Moreover, we should get

concentrate on improving living
conditions in our villages which are
reeling under severe problems
such as farmer suicides, poor
shortage, sub-standard hospitals
connectivity. We need Smart
Villages too apart from Smart
Cities. There is a big gap in various
development indicators between
the urban areas and the rural areas.
This should be bridged. Merely
having broadband connectivity and
Wi-Fi in villages is not the answer.
D.B.N. Murthy,

Modi at Silicon Valley

The Prime Ministers interaction

with the global leaders in
technology companies is a new
initiative which will have a longterm impact on Indian polity,
economy and society. In a
knowledge-driven society, the role
of these companies cannot be
overemphasised. His ability to
effectively use the Indian diaspora
in the nation-building process not
only enhances the status of India
but also augments its credibility in
the global business arena.
However, the ground reality in
India, especially the approach of
the Indian bureaucracy towards
people and business groups, needs
to be changed at the earliest. A
thorough revamping of the Indian
bureaucracy is needed.
Suresh Rangarajan,

For the past 15 months, Indians

have been hearing the phrases
Clean India, Make in India and
Digital India (Zuckerberg for
balance between access and
Internet neutrality, and We want
everyone to be on the Internet,
Sept.29). Whether these ideas will
development is questionable. The
MoUs signed during Prime
Minister Narendra Modis visit can
only aid development in a
development will happen only
when all basic needs are accessible
to every Indian.
Ana Raj,
Silicon Valley, California, is
interested in supporting the
Digital India campaign launched
by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
One wonders why we should invite
the Silicon Valley IT giants when
we have our own big IT rms like
Infosys, TCS and Wipro exporting

Pay commission for MPs

The decision to form a separate
recommending pay scale revision
of MPs has come as a welcome step

(Wages for the parliamentarians,

Sept.29). It was absurd to see our
representatives revising their own
salary and allowances. The same
must be followed at the State level
for revising pay scales of MLAs and
MLCs. Also, it is paradoxical that
the candidates poll expenditures
nowhere match their salary scale
as MPs. The Election Commission
must come with stronger measures
to contain the unusually huge
expenditures by contestants.
Chowdaiah Ebbili,
Darsi, Andhra Pradesh

As the Russians nd themselves in

action in Syria, there are two
reasons for President Vladimir
Putin to be apprehensive. First, a
ght to free the region from the
clutches of the IS could easily be
perceived as a ght to save Bashar
Al-Assads regime. Also, regional
powers are gearing up for Irans
rise in the region and can easily get
including the IS, thus jeopardising
Russian efforts. Second, it can
rekindle the great power games
betweenRussiaand the U.S. Also,
Russiashould avoid repeating the
mistakes of Afghanistan and desist
from direct intervention while also
sending the message to the rest of
the world that supporting the
rebels will allow the latter to
mutate into another Taliban. It
also has to hard sell the truth that
only survival of the Assad regime
can ensure a defeat of the IS.
Shashank Jain,

One would like to know about the

attendance of the MPs, many of
whom are absent during sessions
as can be observed from vacant
seats. Many session days get
wasted due to MPs resorting to
obstruction through tactics like
agitation in the well of the house.
Commission must also prescribe a
loss of pay for the MPs on days
when they dont turn up in
Parliament, walk out or obstruct it.
Rajendra Prasad Baru,
Hyderabad The author in his article In a class
of their own (Sept. 28) has
beautifully portrayed how racism
is deeply entrenched in our society
Afghan war is a wound on the heart and is often a product of awed
of Russia and even time cannot upbringing and a skewed sense of
heal its scars (Putins grand superiority. Even Nelson Mandela,
strategy for West Asia, Sept.29). in his book Long Walk to Freedom,
And that is why Moscow is taking pointed out instances where even
every step carefully and with a mulattoes wanted to be branded as
plan. After supporting Bashar Al- superior owing to their skin colour.
Assads regime from outside for The author also points to the more
four years, Russia has now involved important
itself in the civil war. The biggest misconceptions can be mended
priority of Russia is to secure its through exposure to cultural
naval base in Tartus and if Russia is diversity. This is increasingly
able to gain control in Syria, it will becoming evident in the current
not only help Russia consolidate its globalised world where we get to
presence but also control the ow interact with people who dont
look, eat, dress or speak like us.
of refugees to Europe.
Rahul Kumar,
Pruthvi S.,
Munger, Bihar
New Delhi

Cultural sensitivity

Russias aid to Syria