Friday, June 27, 2008

** Arjun lies.....

Arjun, 75 lies in the family way
Kuldip Nayar

There is a belief among Hindus that if a person above the age of 75, after Vanprast, confesses his sins in public, he is forgiven. He purifies himself. Arjun Singh is doing something similar.

He has said that he was opposed to the Emergency imposed by Mrs Indira Gandhi on 26 June 1975. Was he really? This is as much news to his colleagues in the Congress, as it is to the media, because he has never before touched upon the topic. He was a provincial education minister in Madhya Pradesh at that time.

Telling Mrs Indira Gandhi that she was wrong needed a lot of courage in 1975. On the other hand, he says he did not want to annoy “the family”, to which he swears his loyalty every second day.

R.K. Dhawan, who was working under Mrs Gandhi during that period, says that there is no direct or indirect evidence to show that Arjun Singh had any reservations about the Emergency. Why did Arjun Singh lie? Voicing a complaint against the “family” which is reportedly not associating him with any decision of consequence, seems to be Arjun’s way of rubbing the family on the wrong side. It is obvious that he wanted to raise the subject as near the date of imposition of the Emergency as possible.

Let me remind him what the Emergency did to the nation: Fundamental rights were abrogated, the press was gagged and 100,000 people were detained without trial. Magistrates issued blank warrants to the police so that they could pick up anyone at the asking of Sanjay Gandhi or his stooges. Some politicians were badly beaten up in jail. It was Mrs Gandhi’s way of punishing the nation for demanding that she implement her slogan of Garibi Hatao.

Arjun Singh says that he told Mrs Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi that he was opposed to what they were doing. Had he whispered even a word of criticism, his fate would have been worse than that of Swaran Singh who was then a Minister in Mrs Gandhi’s Cabinet. Swaran Singh, in his oblique way, doubted whether another Emergency could be imposed when the country was still operating under an earlier one from the time of the Bangladesh War. He was dropped from the Union Cabinet.

Why should Arjun Singh sound like a dissenter when the truth of the matter is that he wants the family to trust him as it once did? D.P. Mishra, once Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, said that Arjun Singh’s liberal posturing was skin-deep and meant to merely curry favour with Mrs Gandhi.

If Arjun Singh is really sorry he should ask for implementation of the Shah Commission’s pronouncements against Emergency excesses. Some of the guilty are his colleagues in the Manmohan Singh Cabinet. I do not know if the National Archives of India retain the full proceedings of the Commission that were handed to them. Some scholars have drawn a blank when they have approached the Archives authorities.

Arjun Singh should know that Mrs Gandhi stopped awards to some gallant police officers whose only fault was that they were connected with the investigations into the atrocities committed during the Emergency. One investiture ceremony was cancelled midway because some awardees had participated in Emergency inquiries.

Similarly, the recommendations by the Police Reforms Commission appointed by the Morarji Desai-led government and headed by Dharamvira, were not recognised by Mrs Gandhi when she returned to power in 1980. She threw out the report. Consequently, the country still retains the British Police Act of 1826. Arjun Singh could at least tell Manmohan Singh that what the Shah Commission exposed was a dictatorial regime where no laws were respected.

Would Arjun Singh have the courage to do so? This has nothing to do with loyalty or disloyalty. This is what any democracy-loving citizen would do. He did not speak out when he should have. Maybe, he shares the same traits of authoritarianism.

The manner in which he has enforced reservations in higher educational institutions — without giving them adequate time to make the required adjustments — shows that he lacks sensitivity to democratic procedures. Arjun Singh is not much of a democrat. And his statement on Emergency lacks a single grain of truth [¼]

Kuldip Nayar is an author and human rights activist

Monday, June 23, 2008

**Indian students Best
Oxford University rates Indian students among the best
June 23, 2008

OXFORD: The Oxford University considers Indian students among the best in the world and would like more of them joining its campus, Chancellor Chris Patten has said.

The university, which produced the likes of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, has presently 257 Indian students on roll. But one-third of its students are from China.

"We want more Indian students because we want the best in the world to come to Oxford," Mr. Patten said. Most of the Indian students are in the Said Business School.

"About a quarter of the students are doing MBAs...but I would like to see more in social sciences and humanities, doing both under-graduate and post-graduate work," he said.

Though Indians are less in number, they have won more scholarships than the Chinese.

Last year, they won 54 different scholarships, including the prestigious Rhodes scholarship, according to an Oxford journal. "They (Indians) probably got more than China," the Chancellor said.

He said the number of scholarships may go up as the university improves its financial position.

"I hope as we develop our endowments we will be able to offer many more (scholarships) to post-graduate students in the next few years," Patten said. The university has developed a Master’s programme in South Asian studies.

For a one-year MBA programme, it could cost as much as Rs. 40 lakh, including the cost of tuition fee, boarding and lodging and the out-of-pocket expenses.

"It is a different world out here...We are gaining immensely," said Karandeep Singh Vohra, pursuing MBA at the Said Business School.

Friday, June 20, 2008

** Red Rag Adrift
Red Rag Adrift
Smita Gupta

Tremors In The Duma

- The loss in the panchayat elections has proved that the party is not invincible
-Many CPI(M) leaders fear the party's votebank is shifting
-People have begun to question the corruption of district/village-level leaders and the Marxist cadre
-Large-scale acquisition of rural land has affected Muslims sharply for most of them are farmers.
-Despite coercion and violence, a sizeable number of voters silently voted against the party

Corrective Camps

-The CPI(M) has sent out questionnaires to party functionaries right down to the panchayat level to get feedback on what had gone wrong
-The exercise will be completed by July after which the party will decide on the course correction to undertake
-The party has begun to mend relations with its Left partners, the CPI, the Forward Bloc and the RSP by being conciliatory in allocation of seats for the June-end municipal polls
-There will be no large-scale purges. The party will strengthen weak units.

Posters plastered over the walls of the dingy Trinamool Congress office in Nandigram hark back to the violence that stalked this idyll of Purba Medinipur for a year and half. Images of victims share space, ironically enough, with that apostle of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, and TC chief Mamata Banerjee. But the face that leaps out is of a man in khaki—the CRPF's Alok Raj. A 1989 IPS officer, his 12 hours in Nandigram ensured a free, if not entirely peaceful, polls here on May 11, resulting in a humiliating defeat for the CPI(M) and a thumbs down for the petrochemical hub planned in the area. For Nandigram's beleaguered residents, Raj is a hero (even though Tamluk CPI(M) MP Lakshman Seth slapped molestation charges against him; they have since been dropped).

A few theatrically evocative lines from a Sunny Deol film, Indian, written across the poster in Bengali captures their sentiments. "Jab ek pulis mar jayega/tab log kahenge accha hua/ek ghooskhor mar gaya. Jab ek sainik mar jayega/tab log rote hue kahenge/ek shahid ho gaya. (When a policeman dies, people say a bribe-taker is dead. When a soldier dies, people weep and say, a martyr is born.)"

Clearly, the locals view the state police as the CPI(M)'s "strongarm", while revering the paramilitary forces as saviors. A young Muslim woman, at the primary health centre with her sick child, tells me: "Ami Alok Rajer jonne dine paanch baar dua kori (I pray for Alok Raj five times a day)". Indeed, the message from the recent panchayat polls in the Left citadel of Bengal is that the CPI(M) party machine can be breached.

The people are clearly no longer prepared—after 30 years of unbroken absolute rule—to tolerate the corruption, arrogance and poor governance visible at the lowest levels of the panchayat administration. These results also highlight a growing alienation among Muslims, who account for 27 per cent of the state's population.

Since most Bengali Muslims are farmers, the land acquisition issue has hit them hard. In addition, the Sachar report, which confirmed that employment figures for Muslims here are abysmal, was used by the Jamait Ulema-e-Hind's Siddiqullah Chowdhury to fuel the discontent.

Indeed, it is the Muslims who are at the forefront of the cry for "poriborton" here.Of course, the Left still has a majority in all three tiers of the state's panchayat system, controlling 13 of the 17 zilla parishads (down two from 2003). But in ZPs like Murshidabad and North 24 Parganas, where it has a slender majority, and the four districts of North Dinajpur, Malda, South 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur that it lost, the going will be tough now.

Complete story at :

Thursday, June 19, 2008

** To Abolish 370 ?

Time to abolish Article 370
Satbir Singh Bedi
The Pioneer

As part of the integration of various States into the countryu, a three-fold process of integration, known as "the Patel Scheme", was implemented.

As many as 275 States were integrated into five Unions: Madhya Bharat, Patiala and East Punjab States Union, Rajasthan, Saurashtra and Travancore-Cochin. These were included in Part B of the First Schedule of the Constitution. Besides, Hyderabad, Jammu & Kashmir and Mysore were also included in Part B.

At the time of accession to India, the States had acceded only on three subjects -- defence, foreign affairs and communications. Later a revised instrument of accession was signed by which all States acceded in all matters included in the Union and Concurrent Lists.

The process of integration culminated in the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956, which abolished Part B States as a class and included all the States in Part A and B in one list.

However, Jammu & Kashmir was given special treatment based on the instrument of accession, which Maharaja Hari Singh had signed and which was accepted by the then Governor General of India.

When other States signed the revised instrument of accession, a blunder was committed by not asking the Maharaja to do the same.

On the other hand, Article 370 was incorporated in the Constitution giving a special status to Jammu & Kashmir.

Article 370 was a by-product of Jammu & Kashmir's accession to India after independence and was designed to ensure that Kashmiri aspirations were well served by the Indian Government.

According to it, the Kashmiris would have a vital say in the running of their State. The article gave the Union primacy in defence, foreign affairs and communications, while the State assumed greater control over other laws, including those of property, citizenship and fundamental rights.

The article was conceived under 'extraordinary' circumstances, when the threat of Jammu & Kashmir slipping from India's then tenuous grip was a possibility.

Article 370 was supposed to be an interim measure but, like many other temporary features in the Constitution, it has now assumed a permanent air.

Either India should be declared a federal state and thus each State should have its own Constitution or Article 370 should be declared null and void.

Article 370 & Terrorism @

Friday, June 13, 2008

** Dr. Singh's Prescription

Dr. Singh's Prescription
Bibek Debroy
June 12, IA

Twenty-two times the PM told us subsidy needs reform. How many reforms have we seen?

Quotes from 22 speeches by the prime minister follow.

(1) “They were no crony capitalists, they were no fixers and lobbyists, they were no petitioners and permit-seekers, they did not seek subsidies or quotas, they did not worry too much about the hurdles ahead, for they were determined to triumph and to overcome them,” November 23, 2004, release of a commemorative postage stamp honouring Seth Walchand Hirachand.

(2) “What this means is that whatever subsidies we offer to consumers must be offered transparently and be justified on stated economic, social and political grounds. Today we are offering subsidies to a wide range of users without a proper analysis of their economic and social rationale,” the National Energy Conservation Awards, December 14, 2004.

(3) “Even when governments offer subsidies to certain categories of users and there is scope for that, they must understand the relevance of this subsidy and have respect for the asset being provided to them,” April 4, 2005, launch of Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana.

(4) “We must reduce wasteful subsidies and divert these resources into investment and employment generation,” May 16, 2005, Congress Working Committee Meeting.

(5) “We must reduce wasteful subsidies and divert these resources into needed social sector expenditure, investment and employment generation,” May 22, 2005, release of report on one year of the UPA.

(6) “A proper targeting of subsidies is of vital concern in this (electricity) context,” August 6, 2005, first meeting of Energy Coordination Committee.

(7) “We must reduce subsidies for the rich and divert these resources into investment and employment generation,” October 8, 2005, Conference of Congress CMs.

(8) “We need to put a check on wasteful subsidies while targeting these to the genuinely needy and disadvantaged,” November 15, 2005, HT Leadership Summit.

(9) “Our past policies of offering a range of subsidies have benefited only a few.... If we really want to help the poor, we must shift the emphasis away from subsidies, to encouraging new investment and extending social security,” January 12, 2006, investing in rural India.

(10) We must examine the relevance of the entire gamut of taxes and subsidies on various energy forms and energy using devices,” July 26, 2006, Energy Conclave.

(11) “Specifically, our ability to increase gross budgetary support to 2.5 percentage points of GDP in the 11th Plan will depend upon containment of open and hidden subsidies, revenue buoyancy, pruning ongoing programmes that are not very useful and successful implementation of the public-private partnerships on a large-scale in infrastructure,” December 9, 2006, NDC Meeting.

(12) “It is time to see how we can reach any subsidies to the genuinely needy and poor,” May 28, 2007, Conference of CMs on Power.

(13) “Given that poverty levels in our country are still high and given that electricity is a basic necessity for some activities, I foresee that we need to give some subsidised power to the poorest consumers for some time to come. This is a social obligation. At the same time, we must move towards a more transparent system of subsidies,” May 28, 2007, Conclusion of Conference of CMs on Power.

(14) “It (NDC Sub-Committee) has made valuable suggestions on expanding irrigation, in improving agricultural research, in restructuring the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund, restructuring the fertilizer subsidy system, improving seed supply and revamping the extension system,” May 29, 2007, NDC Meeting.

(15) “We must reflect whether subsidies, though necessary, are being delivered in the best possible manner,” May 29, 2007, close of NDC Meeting.

(16) “We need to address the problem of mounting subsidies in food, fertilizers and now, in petroleum which is a recent phenomenon.... It is important that we restructure subsidies so that only the really needy and the poor benefit from them and all leakages are plugged,” November 7, 2007, Full Planning Commission Meeting.

(17) “Are we encouraging over use of resources through misdirected subsidies?”, November 26, 2007, Felicitation of R.K. Pachauri and IPCC.

(18) “Equity does not always imply offering subsidies. If such subsidies do not reach the poor, they do not in fact address the objectives they are meant to address. I find we spend far too much money funding subsidies in the name of equity, with neither equity objectives nor efficiency objectives being met,” December 15, 2007, IEG Golden Jubilee.

(19) “We also need to ensure that subsidised foodgrains are targeted at only the needy and the poor and that leakages and misdirected subsidies are stopped,” December 19, 2007, NDC Meeting.

(20) “Are we encouraging over use of resources through misdirected subsidies?”, February 7, 2008, Delhi Sustainable Development Summit.

(21) “While some subsidies are useful and helpful, especially when targeted to those in distress, what our rural households seek is higher investment in land development, in water management, in seed technology, in output storage and in marketing,” April 10, 2008, Global Agro Industries Forum.

(22) “We cannot allow the subsidy bill to rise any further. Nor do we have the margin to fully insulate the consumer from the impact of world commodity price and world oil price inflation,” June 2, 2008, Assocham AGM.

Developed-country agricultural subsidies figure in other PM speeches. If one ignores those and focuses on domestic subsidies, 22 mentions in 4 years should signify that subsidy-targeting is at the top of the PM’s unfinished reform agenda.

Unless one believes in Humphrey Appleby’s law of inverse relevance — the less you intend to do about something, the more you have to talk about it.

With NCMP and the UPA, one shouldn’t have expected privatisation of PSUs, opening up of insurance and retail, pension reform and changes in Chapter V-B of the Industrial Disputes Act. Subject to FRBM and permitted sleight of hand there, increase in public expenditure was also inevitable.

However, one did expect greater accountability and transparency in public expenditure, much more than the Right to Information Act and the euphoria about decentralisation to panchayats and civil society vigilance and audits.

A critical element in public expenditure reform is the targeting of subsidies. For the Central government, that’s interpreted as food, fertilizers and petroleum products. 1 2 Next Single Page View
PM's call has no takers @

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

** Its QATTAL, not JIHAD
Its not Jihad, terrorists say its Qattal now!
New Delhi, June 3

After decades of bloodbath in the name of jihad or holy war, terrorists are changing gear and indulging in qattal, an act by which they kill even their own people, a top Pakistan leader said.

"Terrorists are now replacing the term jihad with the Islamic term qattal for their acts," Hasham Baber, additional secretary general of Pakistan's Awami National Party said.

Hardline religious leaders in Pakistan are now using the new term because moderate Muslims have started denouncing the use of jihad by terrorists who indulge in violence in the name of Islam, said Baber.

Explaining the term jihad, Baber, who was in India to attend an anti-terrorism conference, said: "It is not about fighting a war or battle or even killing people but a struggle for peace. It means a collective decision to struggle.

"Qattal, on the other hand, means I am allowed to kill a Hindu, Christian at will or even a Shia.

" Stressing that Islam does not permit killing of innocents, he said "Terrorism is being given a religious colour by fundamentalists out to achieve their skewed agenda."

Baber, whose party is part of the newly-elected PPP-led coalition, said: "The religious education in Pakistan as whole has degenerated into bloodshed."

The senior leader said what is now happening in the name of terrorism is nothing but proxy war.

"Today two countries don't fight with each other. Terrorists are trained and are being sent out by establishments to wage proxy war with each other," he claimed.

Reader's Comment:

It is kind of late to disconnect Jihad from Quran now. Now
even if they use "qattal", its still done in the name of Islam.