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The Hiroshima touchstone

The centre of gravity of todays nuclear world is shifting to the Asia-Pacific. The number of nuclear players
has grown, and asymmetry in doctrines and arsenals makes the search for security more elusive
W E D N E S D AY , J U N E 1 , 2 0 1 6


The cost
of failure

he Congress has always been a party of

many factions, unfettered and free at the
lower tiers and forcibly united at the top by a
dynastic leadership. If it is truly democratic, it is only in the sense that it takes a lax view about factional
infighting and indiscipline. Its intolerant side is reflected most sharply in its refusal to entertain any
discussion or introspection on the role of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Despite all the noise about the
need for a surgical intervention to save the party after its dismal showing in four major Assembly elections, the organisation is still unable to have an honest and rational discussion on the leadership issue.
After every failure, the favourite target of criticism
is the clique surrounding the dynasty the family
itself is above reproof. In todays context, the focus
is invariably limited to whether Sonia Gandhi
should continue as president, whether she should
immediately hand over the leadership to Rahul
Gandhi, or why only Priyanka Gandhi can save the
day. It is arguable that a large party like the Congress, with its diverse support base and competing
regional satraps, needs to be guided by a strong and
unassailable leadership. But this should not stand
in the way of an honest appraisal of the loss in Assam which gave the BJP a historic victory. The defeat in Kerala, though expected, has hurt it. The party was left holding on to the tiny Union Territory of
Puducherry, a poor consolation prize. The failure
to build a viable alliance in Assam and the inability
to accommodate those unhappy with the regional
leadership of the party cost the Congress dearly. Although it did well to stitch together alliances with
the Left in West Bengal and the DMK in Tamil Nadu, there is no guarantee these will last. If success
promotes binding, failure speeds up unfastening.
Some of the problems the Congress faces at the
national level were reflected in Puducherry, where
the central leadership had to resolve differences
within the local unit on who should be Chief Minister. The eventual choice was V. Narayanasamy, an
AICC general secretary who had not even contested the Assembly election. Very often, the criteria
for electing leaders of the legislature party have
more to do with loyalty to the national leadership
and less to do with their acceptance among voters
or the cadre. The party that ran the Congress close
in this election, the AINRC, is led by N. Rangasamy,
who had to leave the Congress after other factions
rallied against him. The national leadership of the
Congress has always been deeply suspicious of regional strongmen, and factional rivalry has served
as a tool to keep middle-level leaders in check.
While this might strengthen the position of the national leadership in the organisation, the long-term
consequences of such an approach are debilitating.

On May 27, Barack Obama became the first

serving American President to visit Hiroshima, 71 years after nuclear bombs were
dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the
United States, the only country to have ever
used nuclear weapons. Richard Nixon visited Hiroshima in 1964, four years before he
won the presidential election, and Jimmy
Carter had visited in 1984, three and a half
years after he left the White House. Mr. Obamas historic visit will go down as part of his
nuclear legacy, which remains a mixed one.
Though the visit took place when he has no
more elections to fight, it was nevertheless
an act of political conviction reflecting his
deep disdain for the Washington
Obamas nuclear legacy
Since the fateful decision by U.S. President Harry Truman in 1945 to use the nuclear bomb, none of Mr. Obamas predecessors
has been willing to court the inevitable controversies that would surround a presidential visit. The most significant was the question of an apology which the Obama
administration laid to rest early on by making clear that there would be no revisiting
the 1945 decision, and, consequently, no
apology. Yet, the symbolism of the imperative for moral reflection was very apparent,
both in President Obamas speech and his
gesture of meeting the hibakushas (atomic
bomb survivors).
Less than three months into his presidency, Mr. Obama had made a landmark speech
in Prague in April 2009 (which contributed
to his Nobel Peace Prize) where he had
called for a change of thinking about the role
of nuclear weapons in the 21st century.
Promising U.S. leadership, he also laid out
the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. Seven years later, progress in this direction has been modest. The New Strategic
Arms Reduction Treaty (START) concluded with Russia limiting both countries to
800 launchers (Intercontinental Ballistic
Missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy long-range bombers) and
1,550 warheads each was concluded in 2010

A dialogue under the shadow of

the Genbaku dome is a good
place to begin. From a city of
remembrance, Hiroshima can then
become a city of hope
after which the dialogue has stalled. Gains
of the Nuclear Security initiative which Mr.
Obama launched with a summit in 2010 and
concluded with another summit earlier this
year were limited to the securing of and restricting the civilian use of highly enriched
uranium (HEU) and plutonium so that it
does not fall into terrorist hands. On the other hand, the U.S. has announced ambitious
plans to spend $1 trillion for modernisation
of its nuclear arsenal over the next three
decades. In a Nuclear Posture Review, the
U.S. has maintained the right of first-use
of nuclear weapons though limited to extreme circumstances.
Complex regional politics
In Hiroshima, Mr. Obama returned to the
nuclear disarmament agenda, stating that
new and destructive technologies needed a
moral revolution. He recalled that World
War II involving all the major powers of the
day had taken a toll of 60 million lives and
nations that prided themselves on their civilisational achievements had fallen prey to
the base instincts of conquest. He called
for moral courage to escape the logic of
fear in order to pursue the goal of a world
without nuclear weapons. Unlike in Prague,
this time he could not promise that the US

can lead this process of change, nor did

he put forward any concrete proposals.
Within the region, his visit revealed that
historical memories of the regional conflicts
are deep seated and the scars have yet to
heal. There was disquiet in many Asian
countries that Mr. Obamas visit would be an
endorsement of Prime Minister Shinzo
Abes policies that seek to move Japan beyond the guilt of World War II and the imposed pacifism, to becoming a normal
country ready to play a greater role in global affairs. Chinese commentators recalled
the horrors inflicted by Japanese militarism,
emphasising that this could not be obliterated by claiming nuclear victimhood. Some
suggested that Mr. Abe should have visited
Nanjing and Pearl Harbour first. In the Philippines, there were calls for atonement for
the Bataan death march in 1941, in which
nearly 10,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war perished.
South Korea refrained from an official
comment but a leading daily characterised
the visit as imprudent and regrettable.
Clearly, Mr. Abes apology last December on
the issue of comfort women used as sex
slaves by the Japanese military during its
Korean occupation is seen by many as inadequate. Others in South Korea wanted recognition of the fact that out of the 2,00,000
victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, more
than 40,000 were Koreans, taken to Japan as
forced labour. It is a sensitive issue because
Korean survivors who returned home after
the war faced a difficult life; they were
forced to hide their ordeal because of domestic politics. For a long time, the official
narrative in Korea justified Hiroshima and
Nagasaki as necessary for Koreas liberation.
It was only in the 1990s that they began to receive official health benefits from their government, and in 2003 that they won a court
case in Japan that obliged the Japanese government to cover medical expenses for the
foreign hibakusha.
In a press conference on May 26 in Japan,
Mr. Obama referred to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear
programme and the deployment of tactical
nuclear weapons by Pakistan as the most
worrying aspects of the current global nuclear threat. Since 2006, North Korea has
conducted four nuclear tests, the latest in January, claiming it as a hydrogen bomb. Sanctions have not been effective and there are


No jokes please,
were Indian

ometimes the reaction is the real joke. The police force in Indias financial capital have
sought legal opinion to check if they have
grounds to file an FIR against a comedian for a video he recently posted on the messaging application,
Snapchat. The Mumbai police were following up
on a complaint from the Maharashtra Navnirman
Sena, a political party with a remarkably low
threshold for taking offence. And the MNS was not
the only party outraged by the post by Tanmay
Bhat, a comedian fairly well-known for his roast
videos, or takedowns of celebrities. Sanjay Raut of
the Shiv Sena, for instance, decided to make it clear
that people like Mr. Bhat should be whipped in
public. Using the face swap feature on Snapchat,
Mr. Bhat had spoofed Sachin Tendulkar and Lata
Mangeshkar, with jibes about his cricketing ability
and her long singing career. It was certainly not polite. It could be argued that locker-room chatter
goes with the roast territory, and that it is in the nature of the beast to push the boundary of how much
political incorrectness can be deemed passable.
The point here is not to applaud his sense of humour or to condemn it. It is to spotlight the speed
with which the system mobilises to shut any expression of mockery targeted at the well-known.
That the effect is to stifle freedom of expression,
to force the next person to look over her shoulder
before mocking the next public figure, is obvious
and intended. To be mocked is the most trying way
of being critiqued. One can ignore evenly stated
takedowns not spoofs that make folks laugh. To
deal with mockery in a democratic society, one
needs to be committed to a public culture of engagement, of openness to questioning. Indias public figures are clearly not. Politicians and celebrities
(mainly film and cricket stars) have failed India not
just by using the strongest arm of the law to curb expressions of humour aimed at them, thereby forcing self-censorship on what we may laugh about.
They have failed it by not enabling sensitisation on
what should pass as good humour and what may
not. When jokiness is curbed so menacingly and
for all the brave front they may put up, cartoonists
and comedians are lonely people against the might
of the state the only response is to rally to defend
freedom of expression. In an environment where
possibly personal jokes are seen to warrant scrutiny and police action, no space can be available for
shared humour, for comedy to evolve sufficiently so
that the larger community internalises what is truly, even rockingly, funny and whats not so

clear limits to which China will push the

North Korean regime (or Pakistan for that
matter). Regime change in the DPRK is a
scary prospect for both China and South Korea. One view is that the North Korean
threat serves a U.S. purpose; the U.S. maintains nearly 30,000 soldiers on the peninsula
and deploys modern systems including ballistic missile defences. On the other hand,
U.S. presence certainly curbs nuclear ambitions in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan
which China acknowledges but grudgingly.
More than a fourth of South Koreas electricity is generated by its two dozen reactors,
but unlike Japan, it undertakes no enrichment or reprocessing, making it completely
dependent on other countries for its nuclear
fuel. This restriction is now increasingly
criticised as unfair but any change would
certainly be construed as provocative by
China and North Korea.
Generating hope
The horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
have helped generate a norm against the use
of nuclear weapons though nuclear abolition remains a distant goal. Part of the reason lies in the myth-making associated with
this issue. There is growing scholarship today that questions the U.S. conventional
narrative that using the nuclear bomb was
necessary to end the war and save the loss of
American and Japanese lives resulting from
a prolonged invasion. This idea of the military utility of nuclear weapons has been a
key driver for the pursuit of nuclear weapons and set the stage for the obscene accumulation of more than 70,000 weapons by
the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the
1970s and 1980s.
During the Cold War, another myth was
generated that the best route to nuclear disarmament was through non-proliferation
and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of
Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The truth is that
the NPT has had no impact on nuclear arms
reductions. Its limitations are apparent in
that it recognises only five nuclear weapon
states (the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom,
France and China) but is unable to deal with
the reality of India, Pakistan, Israel and
North Koreas weapon programmes. Clearly, it has reached the limits of its success but
this acknowledgement flies in the face of the
Todays nuclear world is very different
from the bipolar world of the Cold War
dominated by nuclear rivalry between the
U.S. and the Soviet Union, the two superpowers. The centre of gravity is inexorably
shifting from the Euro-Atlantic to the AsiaPacific, a more crowded geopolitical space.
The number of nuclear players has grown,
and asymmetry in doctrines and arsenals
makes the search for security more elusive.
Outer space and cyber space have become
new domains of contention even as missile
defences and conventional precision strike
capabilities blur the threshold between conventional and nuclear weapons.
Mr. Obamas visit is a reminder that Hiroshima remains the nuclear conscience
keeper of the world. In the 20th century, it
symbolised the horror of nuclear war; the
question is whether in the 21st century
which is often described as the Asian century, it can come to symbolise a new beginning. This requires going beyond the old
myths but a dialogue under the shadow of
the Genbaku dome is a good place to begin.
From a city of remembrance, Hiroshima can
then become a city of hope, a place where
the first seeds for a world free of nuclear
weapons were planted.
Rakesh Sood is a former diplomat and currently
Distinguished Fellow at ORF. He is also a member of Asia
Pacific Leaders Network, a nuclear disarmament
advocacy group.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Costly transfusion
The report that 2,234 people across
India have contracted HIV after
transfusion of contaminated blood is
an unmistakable measure of the
sorry state of affairs in the public
health sector (Bad blood: 2,234 get
HIV after transfusion, May 31). This
irreversible error is clearly the result
of not following the procedures laid
down for blood-screening and
discarding contaminated blood.
Have other life-threatening and
debilitating infections been
transmitted as well?
G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

The National AIDS Control

Organisation (NACO) has stringent
rules to maintain blood banks. It is a
common practice for blood banks to
keep blood ready (in advance) after
testing for diseases for only bulk
quantities of blood. Its a bit lax for
single units of blood. There is also a
window period for HIV and tests
may give negative results even
though the recipient might test
positive after a few months. In view
of this, there must be a foolproof
method that takes care of the
window period and having a single,
comprehensive HIV test kit in all
blood banks. The apex body, the
Indian Council of Medical Research,
and one of the worlds oldest, must
come forward with concrete
J.P. Reddy,
Nalgonda, Telangana

What is alarming is the slackening

pace of the governments AIDS

awareness campaign. The Health

Ministry has to issue an advisory to
all hospitals across India about
putting in place an effective
screening mechanism.
P.K. Varadarajan,

It made my blood boil to read about

how an innocent three-year-old in
Assam now has HIV as a result of
carelessness in transfusion. Blood
donation is a noble gesture but the
risk of contamination will now slow
down the programme. Most
stringent quality standards and
audits should be implemented to
ensure the use of safe blood.
A. Jainulabdeen,

The tall claims of world-class, public

health care in India need to be taken
with a pinch of salt when it comes to
the reality of prevention against HIV.
The government needs to enforce
strict screening standards in both
government and private hospitals.
Raunak Agarwal,

All donors do not have pure blood

and the impurity quotient is
sufficient enough to lead to a host of
Hospitals, as a matter of routine,
stock blood for emergency infusion.
The insistence that donated blood
must come from healthy and
dependable donors does not appear
to be working. It is frightening as
most towns in India lack worldclass, health care facilities.
V. Lakshmanan,
Tirupur, Tamil Nadu

I understand that there is no

mechanism in this country to file a
report on transfusion-transmitted
HIV infection. And I do not think
NACO has the mechanism. I hope
the media clarifies this and makes
available the response of NACO
being referred to in order to avoid
Dr. P. Srinivasan,

Ministry of External Affairs needs to

constitute a committee to study the
issue and take remedial measures in
this matter which has a bearing on
external affairs and bilateral
relations. The Home Ministry
should gather details of criminal
cases filed in various towns and
cities against African nationals for
their involvement in various cases
such as drug peddling and cheating.
Nallipogu Chandra Mouly,

and hurting to others (Mumbai

police seek to block video mocking
Sachin, Lata, May 31).
Praveen Patavardhan,

The uproar is justified as the content

can in no terms be accommodated in
the domain of jest. Public reaction
will naturally set things straight, by
naming and shaming the comedian,
and political support or interference
is uncalled for.
Sachin V.K. Jadhav,

Right to intervene


The article, The right to intervene

(May 31), is sure to give a new
definition to the terms terrorism
and terrorists. If we carefully
analyse world politics, the hunger of
the U.S. and the West to dominate
and rule the world, at the cost of
millions of innocent lives, is
apparent. In the name of promoting
democracy, otherwise peaceful
countries have been shattered. West
Asia is a fine example of this. Who
created al-Qaeda, the Taliban or the
Islamic State? The West talking
about terrorism is a joke, and is akin
to an anti-virus software firm
creating viruses, then promoting its
product and claiming credit for
software protection.
T. Anand Raj,

On the brink

Washim, Maharashtra

Delhi needs to closely introspect on

the reasons why the youth of
Kashmir are fatally drifting towards
the militants (Adrift in the Valley,
May 30). The issue is far more deeprooted than it appears. The youth
bulge is largely unemployed, which
is why they are engaged in such
unproductive, dangerous activities.
Medha Anand,

IPL and after


Attacks on African nationals

The incidents of violence against
African nationals have to be
condemned and legal action
initiated against the accused (May
30). But it is also relevant to analyse
the grievances of Indians against
some African nationals. The


A comedian and a video

Comedy for some in India means
mocking and using abusive and
vulgar language in their attempt to
entertain people, which is totally
uncalled for. The comedian in
question, Tanmay Bhat, should
apologise to Lata Mangeshkar and
Sachin Tendulkar for what he has
done and realise that his take is just a
mere copy of the western style of
stand-up, which contains no
indigenous or native creativity in it.
Many in this country also need to
understand that this approach of
comedy can be grossly unpleasant

Now that the Indian Premier League

is over, it is time for introspection.
These high-profile matches have
benefitted only the sponsors, players
and advertisers. The format has only
courted controversy this year it
was the severe drought. It is time the
government took a holistic view and
either stopped these matches or
spaced them out adequately.
Datta Shivane,

Rise and rise of Virat Kohli

It seems a bit premature to eulogise
Virat Kohli based on his
performance in the IPL (Editorial,
May 31). His track record, outside
the IPL format, shows that he has
failed to give India the winning edge
especially as captain and player,
while facing England, South Africa
and even Australia. We have to allow
him the space and the time to flower.
Devadas V.,
Kannur, Kerala

10 |




What the Congress could do

History and statistics show that a dying party can resurrect itself. Yet the Congress seems too
weighed down by its baggage of corruption and electoral losses to even attempt a comeback
T H U R S D AY , J U N E 2 , 2 0 1 6


Shell shock
at Pulgaon

oughly 130 tonnes of ammunition blew up in

the fire at the Armys Central Ammunition
Depot in Pulgaon, in Maharashtras Wardha
district, in the early hours of Tuesday. The cause is
unclear, and the high toll of life and material at
Indias largest ammunition dump calls for not
merely an inquiry, which has already been ordered
by the Army, but also a thorough appraisal of the
standard operating procedures for storage and inventory. The fire began past midnight, and it is to
the credit of the Quick Reaction and Fire Fighting
Teams that it was eventually restricted to just one
shed. By the time the fire was brought under control around 6 a.m., the authorities had also evacuated people from neighbouring villages, where the
impact of the explosions set off by the fire was visible in cracked houses and debris scattered from
the depot. The CAD Pulgaon is a 7,100-acre facility
that is in effect the main ammunition cupboard for
the Army. From standard-issue bullets to Brahmos
missiles, virtually all types of ammunition
purchased by the Army are stored here, feeding 14
ammunition depots and field ammunition depots
across the country. These 14 depots further
distribute the ammunition to field formations. The
brave operation by the small group of men, at risk to
their own lives, has saved Indias nuclear-armed
military from a much bigger setback.
The accident also comes at a time when the
shortage of War Wastage Reserve (WWR), the
ammunition held in the Army inventory, is
exercising military observers and the top brass.
The officially sanctioned requirement is that WWR
equivalent to 40 days of intense war be held by the
Army. However, a CAG audit in 2015 pointed out
that the Army itself was procuring ammunition
based on Minimum Acceptable Risk Level
(MARL) requirements, which averaged to WWR
for 20 days of intense war. Even this MARL level
was not being maintained, the audit found, with
availability of ammunition, as on March 2013,
below the MARL for 125 out of a total of 170 types of
ammunition the Army was using. Significantly, the
audit pointed to serious concerns regarding fire
safety, transportation and storage. In violation of
prescribed safety standards, the Army continued to
transport explosives in ordinary vehicles, not
enough had been done to ensure environmentally
friendly and timely disposal of expired explosives,
and the storage facilities were poor. Even today in
Pulgaon there are sheds covered with tarpaulin.
This tragedy must be a wake-up call, for the
government and the military, to improve the safety
of ammunition dumps and to accident-proof the
transport of ammunition. Even the slightest lapse
can have a devastating effect, as we are finding out
this week.

Rewinding to the past can throw up surprises and ironies that have a fantastical quality
to them almost as if what happened did
not happen. Truth is increasingly only what
you see today, divorced from its past,
stripped of all context. And from todays
vantage point, no political truth seems truer
than the Indian National Congresss impending death. When the Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) president, Amit Shah, rubs it in
that he has had the last laugh on CongressMukt Bharat (Bharat without Congress) or
goes on to make the even wilder claim that
his party will rule from panchayat to Parliament, few can challenge him. This is only in
part because of the BJP chiefs dabang
(strongman) personality which magnifies
anything he says into established fact. The
bigger problem is the Congress, or more accurately the First Family, whose responses
suggest that it has been psyched into believing its own death predictions. Cornered by
the media on the BJPs relentless aggression,
Sonia Gandhi came across as defensive rather than self-assuredly confident about herself and her party.
The BJP parallel
And yet, the Congress story of today is not
too different from the BJP story of yesterday.
From the trough that is the Congresss current favourite place, it is difficult to believe
that for close to a decade, it was the victor to
the BJPs vanquished. During this time, the
BJP was often written off by its own wellwishers who despaired that it had become
the bad boy of Indian politics, obstructionist in Parliament, cantankerous and bitter towards the Congress and sinking further into the quicksand with two successive
defeats. Post its shock defeat in 2004, the
BJP had behaved abominably: it stopped
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from introducing his Cabinet, tore up the Budget
papers and boycotted parliamentary committees. The BJP notched up magnificent
failures. It supported a doomed Left Front
effort to pull down Dr. Singh over the IndiaUnited States nuclear deal, forgetting its
own ideological convictions.
By 2009, the BJP was in a state of civil war.
Manmohan Singh had become the first
Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to return to office after completing a term, and,
electorally, the BJP was at its lowest point in
25 years. In his widely-followed blog, Usual
Suspects, journalist Swapan Dasgupta, who

The Congresss answer to

Team Modi-Shah is just one:
Family. But it is not even
making the requisite effort
to fight back
is self-confessedly close to the BJP, wrote
that the Congresss victory was a result of a
nation-wide positive swing in favour the trio
of Manmohan Singh, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Further, that the Congress had reinvented itself as a party of youth whereas the BJP
was seen as hidebound. The media projected the Congress as wholesome and the BJP
as ugly.
In a 2010 essay, A dying party? written for
Seminar magazine, Mr. Dasgupta noted that
even though the BJP was in control of a few
important States, it conveyed the impression of being mentally defeated. Following
the second successive defeat in the national
elections, it has been engulfed in an existential crisis which has manifested itself in
leadership squabbles, internal dissensions
over policies and an inability to attract new
adherents Further, A former cabinet
minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government , was overheard in the Central Hall of
Parliament questioning the wisdom of persisting with a dying party Uncanny? Yes.
At the time punditry had it that the BJP
owed its failures and troubles mainly to its
ideological adherence to Hindutva and its
institutional dependence on its spiritual guru, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
(RSS). Sudheendra Kulkarni, political aide

to Lal Krishna Advani, in a June 20, 2009 article in Tehelka, Hindu Divided Family, argued that the BJP was trapped in a vision of
Hindutva that was dogmatic, exclusivist and
marked by an indifference to minorities that
was of Himalayan magnitude. He urged
the RSS to introspect on why its acceptability was limited to Hindu society.
Mr. Kulkarnis gentle criticism was important because of who he was. However,
days before that Mr. Dasgupta had dropped
a bombshell that fairly shook the BJP. In a
June 4, 2009 column, A change of priorities written for The Times of India, Mr.
Dasgupta advised the BJP to dump Hindutva
as Indians were repelled by bigotry: The
BJP must candidly recognise that assertive
Hindutva marked by hate speeches and
moral policing is seen as ugly mirror images
of the Taliban. The spectacle of old and middle-aged men oozing sanctimoniousness
and droning on about Indias ancient inheritance belongs to a bygone age
In a follow-up blog, he drove home the
point lest it was missed: The BJP, he said,
must drop the H-word.
This long journey into the past might
seem pointless viewed from a 2016 perspective where the BJPs conquest of the Congress seems complete and irreversible.
However, this bit of history bristles with
both ironies and possibilities. It shows a dying party can resurrect itself, confound its
critics and exceed the most optimistic expectations. Second, Hindutva, which was
identified as the BJPs single biggest roadblock deserving of an inglorious exit, is
flourishing and is even more Taliban-like in
the Narendra Modi Government. Middleaged men and women, many of them ministers, have been unstoppably recalling the
virtues of ancient India.
Analysing electoral verdicts
So is there anything the Congress can
learn from this? Before that, it might be useful to look at the Lok Sabha verdicts of 2009
and 2014 with respect to the Congress and
the BJP. The two results are in a sense mirror
images of each other. In 2009, the BJP won
116 seats for a vote share of 18.80 per cent. In
2014, the Congress won 44 seats for a slightly higher vote share of 19.52 per cent. The
two losing performances, at least on vote
share, are eminently comparable. The winning performances are comparable too
the BJPs 2014 winning vote share of 31.34
per cent is only 2.79 percentage points higher than the Congresss 2009 winning vote
share of 28.55 per cent. In 2009, the Congress
led the BJP by 9.75 percentage points. In
2014, the BJP led the Congress by 11.82 percentage points. The difference between the


The challenge of
sustaining growth

he latest GDP growth data released by the

Central Statistics Office show that Indias
economy expanded by 7.9 per cent in the
three months ended March, a sharp acceleration
from the marginally downsized 7.2 per cent
achieved in the preceding quarter. Significantly,
that this growth has been achieved despite a prolonged and widespread drought, which would certainly have dampened rural demand, is noteworthy.
Even if it is assumed that this provisional figure is
likely to be revised downward by about 10 basis
points, in line with the revisions for recent quarters,
the number would still end up keeping India at the
top of the heap among the worlds fastest-growing
major economies. The result of the strong fiscal
fourth-quarter performance is that growth for the
full year was lifted to 7.6 per cent, from 7.2 per cent
in 2014-15. And the wind in the sails was clearly the
robust private consumption expenditure, which increased 7.4 per cent last fiscal compared with 6.2
per cent the year earlier. But then, different statistics offer different perspectives, and some of the
other data released by the CSO paint a more modest picture of the economy. Gross Value Added at
basic prices provisionally grew 7.2 per cent for the
full year, barely nudging up from the 7.1 per cent
pace posted in 2014-15, and slower than the Reserve
Bank of Indias projection for 7.4 per cent growth.
The GVA figure is significant because it strips the
impact that taxes and subsidies have on the overall
GDP number. Thus a substantial 5.6 per cent contraction in the amount the government spent on
subsidies helped inflate GDP, and by extension the
pace of growth.
The outlook for the current quarter and the rest
of this year may then hinge a lot on this years monsoon: firstly, in terms of the volume of rainfall, and
then critically in its geographical and seasonal distribution. Heavy rains in areas that faced flooding
last year or with crops standing in the fields ready
for harvest can do more damage to the rural economy than help provide the widely expected demand
fillip. And with the CSO data revealing private sector investment having slowed and showing barely
any signs of revival, the onus of providing some investment stimulus may rest squarely with the government through increased public expenditure
outlays. RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan also has his
task cut out as he is to present the bi-monthly monetary policy statement on June 7. Given the growth
data, the forecast for a normal monsoon, and the
global uncertainties, he would be justified if he opts
to hold interest rates and wait and watch instead.

leads of 2009 and 2014 is a mere two percentage points.

Back in 2009, pundits mocked the Congresss victory citing the partys laughable
vote share of 28.55 per cent. They were right.
In 1989, Rajiv Gandhi sat in the Opposition
for the sin of delivering 197 Lok Sabha seats
for a vote share of, yes, 39.53 per cent. Nonetheless, when Narendra Modi romped home
on a vote share of 31.34 per cent, he became
superman incarnate in public perception.
To be sure, the polity is so fractured today
that the narrowest of vote shares can deliver
big results.
Meeting the challenge
To recap, history and statistics suggest
that with some effort, the Congress can narrow the gap between the BJP and itself. The
question is: is this task practically doable?
The answer might lie in another question:
what was that mega something that uplifted
the BJPs plunging morale and fortunes? The
answer is not the dropping of the H-word,
which unsurprisingly did not happen, but
the Modi-Shah think-tank. If Mr. Modi
caught the popular imagination with his development pitch and the Gujarat model, Mr.
Shah met the twin objectives of micro-managing the booths and stoking the Hindutva
fires. It was a lethal combination that is far
from exhausted. Over the coming years, the
twosome will stake out constituencies,
strike impossible alliances, and adopt the
Chanakya neeti of sam, daam, dand, bhed,
(seek, entice, punish and divide) to try and
win, first Uttar Pradesh, and then the national election.
The Congresss answer to Team ModiShah is just one: Family. But Family has not
only transformed since 2014 from tried and
tested to tired and failing, it is not even making the requisite effort to fight back. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could arguably reboot the
party but the Robert Vadra millstone is even
bigger than 2G, Adarsh, Agusta and other
scams put together.
There is little point in wishing the Gandhis away because without them there is no
party. With them too there might be no party
given that as of today, the Congress runs only six State governments: three in the northeast, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry and
the only large State of Karnataka, where its
luck could soon run out. The potential winners for the Congress are Rajasthan and
Chhattisgarh. The scam-ridden Madhya
Pradesh Government is in its 13th year while
Gujarat has been laid low by caste unrest
and misgovernance.
To harvest the discontent in these States,
the Congress needs strong local leadership
which is visible only in Rajasthan. Nationally, the Congress is stuck with its image of a
corrupt, bankrupt party, clinging to a fifthgeneration, moth-eaten dynasty.
Can Rahul Gandhi do something, anything to reverse the rot? Can he show precisely where and why he is different from
the Modis and the Shahs? Yes, he can. Even if
late in the day, he could take a cue from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and
apologise for the Emergency and the 1984
anti-Sikh pogrom. That would be setting an
agenda which the BJP cannot follow.
Mr. Gandhi could make smart alliances
targeting the BJP, rather than taking on Mamata Banerjee who is both ideologically
compatible and a possible future partner.
And finally, and most importantly, he could
reach out to the youth, many of whom are
idealistic and discomfited by the BJPs extremism, and convince them that their future was tied to returning India to its liberal,
Constitutional roots.
Will Mr. Gandhi do any of this? Even if he
does, will the Congresss disillusioned current and potential allies, sit up and take
Vidya Subrahmaniam is a Senior Fellow at The Hindu
Centre for Politics and Public Policy. E-mail:


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

No lessons learnt
The problem with the Congress
party is not dynastic succession but
the style of leadership at the top
(Editorial, June 1). Sonia Gandhi and
Rahul practise centralised control
over the party apparatus, have little
patience for dissent, are reclusive by
nature, are virtually inaccessible to
the common people, and nurture
sycophancy rather than talent. All
this has alienated the masses from
them. The dependence on
secondary sources of information
has also led to incorrect decisions
and miscalculations in election
strategies. This is worrisome as
Indian democracy needs a strong
national party in the Opposition.
Y.G. Chouksey,

It is time that sections within the

Congress party pick up the courage
to force an honest in-house debate
to come up with an answer to the
partys rapidly declining support
base. The problems in Arunachal
Pradesh, and later in Uttarakhand,
could have been averted had Sonia
Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi displayed
some degree of political deftness in
averting the crises. What happened
in Assam too was yet another
example of the party leaderships
unwillingness or inability, or both,
to manage internal differences.
Unless the Family wakes up, it will
only hasten the BJPs resolve of

achieving a Congress-Mukt
Bharat sooner rather than later.
S.K. Choudhury,

After each humiliating defeat, the

Indian National Congress goes into
a huddle only to discuss strategies
on how to shield the Gandhis. It has
been happening over the past few
years ever since the Assembly
elections in late 2013. Elsewhere in
the world, we have seen leaders,
whose parties have lost, stepping
down. Such acts only pave the way
for better ideas and leaders to take
over the reins. Internal dissent
should not be brushed aside and the
Gandhis need to listen to the voice
of leaders firmly rooted to the
ground rather than the so-called
intellectuals who are part of the core
advisory team. It will avert a major
crisis for the party.
Rahul Nair,

in our society, the elderly No

country for the old? (May 31) and
The seventh stage, but not for an
exit (Open Page, May 31). The
government and planners would do
well to look at the three aspects that
are very dear to the elderly
housing, health and dignity.
Rosalind David,

heard. If the present state of affairs

in the Congress is any indication,
the BJP might not have to exert itself
much as the beleaguered party
already has a hand on the selfdestruct button.
C.V. Aravind,

modernising its nuclear arsenal.

The U.S is only trying to use Japan
as a defence against a rising China
and a sabre-rattling North Korea.
India should not be swayed by the
U.S. as it always changes its tune.
Raunak Agarwal,



HIV data

Shorter shift a dream


The Health Ministry needs to

examine the data on HIV
transmission (May 31)as some of the
so-called developed States also
figure in the list of the highest
number of HIV cases reported.
NACO should make clear the
guidelines that ensure quality
checks in all blood banks (NACO
says HIV data was based on selfreporting, June 1).
Kushal A. Gadkari,

I know of quite a few police

personnel who have to travel long
distances on work especially when
it concerns legal issues (Shorter
shift is a pipedream for police in
many States, June 1). In one
instance, the person has to travel
almost 300 km and then report for
work at his base station the very
next day. These officials hardly
spend time at home. Night duty,
pressures from top officials,
inadequate sleep and an improper
diet, along with the harsh weather,
have led to some police personnel
becoming what they are now
unresponsive and unfriendly. As
these men and women are the
guardians of the law, higher officials
should look into their work
R. Vasanth,

Growth in circulation



Obama at Hiroshima

The party now finds itself like a

rudderless boat caught in the deep
sea and being tossed around like an
aspen leaf. Rightfully, the blame for
the debacles should have been
squarely fixed on the high command
the Gandhis. Yet sycophancy is so
deep-rooted that all that leader after
leader thinks of is to create firewalls
to protect them. The time is ripe for
a change of guard and the younger
leaders in the party should rise to
the occasion and make their voices

The historic visit of U.S. President

Barack Obama to Hiroshima (The
Hiroshima touchstone, June 1) only
demonstrates the opportunistic
policies of the U.S. What peace and
disarmament are we talking about?
On one front it presents us a face of
wanting to express solidarity with
Japan and pledge nuclear
disarmament while on the other it
talks about the right to maintain
first use of nuclear weapons in
extreme circumstances and

Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu

Senior concerns
As a senior citizen, it was
heartwarming to read the articles
that relate to this growing segment

The data on increased circulation of

some of the leading dailies
(The Hindu registers 20% growth
in circulation, May 31) is a positive
trend and proof that the Indian print
media, especially the newspaper
industry, will continue to prosper
and flourish despite the invasion of
television and online editions of
dailies and periodicals. This healthy
sign could be due to the fact that
Indian readers, for decades, are
habituated to the conservative and
conventional method of reading. An
Indian reader will mostly certainly
prefer the printed version of a
newspaper for a variety of reasons
easy portability, leisure reading,
and the ownership factor. Its also
easy on the eye. Online reading
cannot provide the kind of joy and
refreshment that a reader derives
while sipping her morning brew and
browsing through the newspaper
R. Sivakumar,

10 |




Why go it alone?
India has traditionally displayed a self-imposed unilateral bias in addressing key challenges in
the neighbourhood and near abroad. The limits of this approach are evident
F R I D AY , J U N E 3 , 2 0 1 6


Finding judicial
closure in Gulbarg

or a country that has borne communal and

mob violence of horrific dimensions, every
conviction for murder and rioting is a rare
victory for justice and accountability. The Ahmedabad Gulbarg Society massacre, in which 69 Muslims, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri,
were murdered by a rampaging mob, was one of the
most gruesome incidents of the Gujarat riots of
2002. The conviction of 24 persons, including 11 for
murder, by a Special Court in Ahmedabad for their
role in the incident, marks a partial, but significant,
victory for the Special Investigation Team constituted by the Supreme Court to probe specific cases of
the post-Godhra riots, after serious misgivings
were expressed on the manner in which the cases
were being investigated and tried. That identified
members of a mob have been found guilty of murder, and several others for rioting, arson and unlawful assembly, will go some way in giving the victims
a sense of closure. The quantum of punishment will
be known shortly, but nothing short of life imprisonment is in store for at least 11 found guilty of capital ofences. Given Indias long experience of seeing perpetrators of communal violence get away, it
is some consolation that many of the Gujarat riots
cases are reaching a logical judicial conclusion.
The Best Bakery and Bilkis Bano cases ended in
convictions after being transferred out of Gujarat.
After the SIT took over, the more sensational cases
also saw rioters being jailed. The Naroda Patiya
massacre, in which 97 Muslims were killed, resulted in a historic verdict, as the trial court upheld the
conspiracy angle and sentenced a former Gujarat
Minister and a Bajrang Dal leader to life. For a riot
at Sardarpura, in which 33 people were killed, 31
were convicted and 42 acquitted.
After the SIT gave a clean chit to Narendra Modi
and repudiated allegations by Ehsan Jafris widow
that, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he had instructed
the police to let the mob run riot, the Gulbarg Society case became a rallying point for those pleading that the Modi administration be implicated in
the riots. The SIT included a police inspector and a
BJP councillor in the charge sheet, but both are
among the 36 now acquitted. The prosecution was
unable to prove any conspiracy behind the communal violence with the court finding insuicient evidence of pre-planning, never easy to establish in a
case such as this. The collapse of the conspiracy angle does not imply an acceptance of the narrative
that the Gujarat riots were an angry, reflexive response to the Godhra train carnage. The lines between spontaneity and subtle orchestration are
hard to delineate. Likewise, there is a diiculty in
assessing the varying degree of moral culpability
between commission and wilful omission. It would
be well to remember this as the Gujarat riot cases
reach their judicial closure.

The Salma Dam in Afghanistans Herat Province, built with Indian assistance and scheduled to be inaugurated during Prime Minister Narendra Modis upcoming visit to
Afghanistan, is a significant landmark in Indias engagement with the war-ravaged country. Coming close on the heels of the Indian
investment in Irans Chabahar port complex
and opening a land route onwards to Afghanistan, the ongoing strategic engagement with
Tehran and Kabul represents New Delhis
ambitious foray into its extended neighbourhood. Momentous though these initiatives
are, there is considerable scepticism within
the strategic community regarding Indias
material and political wherewithal to stay the
course vis--vis these long-term projects, especially in the context of Indias not-so-impressive record when it comes to delivering
on strategically important projects in the region and beyond.
The problem and the solution
Indias strategic engagements in the region
and beyond sufer from several handicaps.
First of all, New Delhi lacks the financial resources to invest in crucial projects in a sustained manner due to budget constraints and
compulsions of domestic priorities. New
Delhis inability to accept Colombos ofer to
build the Hambantota Port some years ago is
a case in point. Clearly, there is only so much
that a developing country like India can do to
assist others. Second, there is also a problem
of severe attention deficit resulting from an
inability to commit diplomatic and political
capital to pursue key strategic objectives.
Third, many of Indias strategic initiatives in
the region, Chabahar for instance, often get
portrayed in competitive terms, thereby getting into the cross hairs of adversarial/insecure neighbours.
Finally, this problem is compounded by the
fact that New Delhi has traditionally displayed a self-imposed unilateral bias in addressing key challenges in the neighbourhood and near abroad. Indeed, this tendency
to go solo partly explains the lacklustre
performance of at least some of Indias strategic initiatives, and has, indeed, contributed to
a certain strategic diidence in our strategic culture.
How can we overcome this material and
political inability to take our strategic initiatives to their logical conclusion and leverage
them in the longer term? The solution to this
problem, to my mind, is not throwing more
taxpayers money at these initiatives, but by
a) adopting a grand strategic approach to ad-

In todays loose multipolar world,

our alliance behaviour should be
guided by clear strategic
objectives rather than traditional
friendships alone
dressing key strategic challenges. We need to
know why we are doing what we are doing:
there should be a clear rationale guiding our
strategic engagements (I am not sure, for instance, if there is such thinking behind the
development of the Ayni airbase in Tajikistan
by India); b) moving from a unilateral approach to tackling problems to a multilateral
approach, and c) creating a regional/global
consensus on key challenges. Lets examine
some of our current strategic engagements in
the region and see whether a multilateral approach can help us pursue our objectives better.
Co-developing Chabahar
Take the case of the Indian investment in
Irans Chabahar port complex. At the outset,
it is important to be cognisant of four important issues. First, much of the Indian commentary has overstated the strategic significance of the recently signed Chabahar deal,
with some overenthusiastic media commentators even positing it as a counter to the Chinese-built Gwadar port in Pakistan. Second,
Iran was unambiguous in stating that it is not
an Indian complex (the Indian presence
would be limited to developing a small part

of a huge complex). The Iranian Ambassador

to Pakistan, Mehdi Honerdoost, went even
further: The deal is not finished. We are
waiting for new members. Pakistan, our
brotherly neighbours, and China, a great
partner of the Iranians and a good friend of
Pakistan, are both welcome.
Third, it is delusional to think we can develop the port complex and the land access to
Afghanistan onwards to Central Asia all on
our own and maintain them. Finally, even if
we are able to, hypothetically speaking, carry
out all these grand plans on our own, we may
not be able to sustain them in the longer run
due to financial and security reasons. Lets
recall that the Chabahar project was conceived of 13 years ago but it could not be completed due to a number of reasons, including
financial commitment issues and U.S. sanctions on Iran.
There is therefore no point in trying to do
it all by ourselves: why not get some of Indias
key strategic partners, such as the Japanese
who might have both the inclination and the
money, interested in developing the port
with India? Partnering with Japan or European countries to co-develop the port with India would save us some money, enable us to
complete the project on time, and ensure
more security and acceptability to the project.
Unilateralism in Afghanistan
Engagement with Afghanistan is yet another area where India seems to favour unilateralism instead of multilateral approaches.
There is no denying the fact that Indias engagement with Kabul has so far been praiseworthy thanks to its well-conceived reconstruction and development assistance (over
$2 billion so far) to Afghanistan. The Afghan
Parliament, constructed with Indian assistance and inaugurated by Mr. Modi in December last year, and scores of school buildings
and hospitals, among others, have generated
a lot of goodwill for India there.
And yet, there is a real danger of Indian interests and assets being the target of adversaries in the days ahead with the Taliban on
the rise and NATO and U.S. troops withdrawing from Afghanistan. In the past eight years,
the Indian embassy was attacked twice. So
were the Indian consulates in Herat and Jalalabad. Moreover, a number of Indian reconstruction workers have been killed, and there
was even a reported plot to blow up the Salma dam.
The problem is twofold. One, while there is
no guarantee that Indias investments in Afghanistan would be safe from future attacks,
New Delhi does not seem to have a contingency plan to deal with it other than perhaps
putting an end to the good work there. Two,
New Delhi does not seem to have recognised
the fact that reconstruction and peace-build-


Tragedy of
the boat people

he death of about 700 people in three shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea is another
reminder of the horrors of the refugee crisis
confronting Europe. Despite the obvious danger of
crossing the sea on small, unseaworthy vessels,
tens of thousands of refugees from Africa and West
Asia make this perilous journey every year, fleeing
war and misery. This year, more than 2,000 people
have drowned trying to reach Europe, a number
that may well surpass last years 3,700. Europes response to the crisis has been far from efective.
Globally there is a spike in the number of refugees
over the past few years, mainly due to the wars and
civil strife in West Asia and North Africa. Europe
cannot insulate itself from such problems in its
wider neighbourhood. Refugees have taken two
major routes to reach Europe: from Turkey to the
Greek islands, and from Libya to Italy. The One In,
One Out deal reached recently between the European Union and Turkey, under which Europe will
resettle one Syrian refugee in the continent for every Syrian returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, has seen the arrival of refugees from Turkey
subside. But the closure of this route has prompted
those who smuggle refugees to shift their focus to
Libya, resulting in a surge of arrivals on the Italian
Europe needs a comprehensive plan to tackle
this crisis. First, it should welcome more people.
But for Germany and Sweden, European countries
have largely been shy of accepting refugees. Second, Europe needs to have a more eicient and
proactive search and rescue mission with the required financial muscle. Italy has proposed the creation of euro bonds to finance the response facility,
a move Germany opposes. If Europe wants to prevent people from drowning, rescue teams should
be provided the resources they ask for. Third, the
oicial European position is that more should be
done to stop refugees from leaving for Europe in
the first place. This cannot be done unless there are
functional, cooperative governments in these
countries. The EU could reach an agreement with
Turkey because there is a stable authority in Ankara that could implement the plan. But Libya has
been in the midst of a violent civil war ever since
the regime of Muammar Qadhafi was toppled in a
war led by Europeans. This makes it diicult to
crack down on the sophisticated smuggling network that has developed over the last few years.
Any plan to check the flow needs to be supplemented by eforts to find peace in Libya.

ing should go hand in hand. It is important to

calibrate reconstruction eforts with reconciliation and peace-building to sustain the
former. India has so far shied away from participating in the Afghan peace process since
the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001.
If New Delhis Afghan policy is to be meaningful and sustainable, it needs to do two
things: get like-minded countries on board
Indias reconstruction eforts in Afghanistan,
and support and engage in the Afghan reconciliation and peace-building process. Former
Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently
stated that India, Iran and Russia should be
included in the talks with the Taliban. Why
India-China strategic partnership
India should also try to engage China more
proactively and with a long-term geopolitical
imagination. Even though the two sides have
a strategic partnership, it remains one of
Indias most underutilised strategic partnerships. One of the major reasons behind this is
that both India and China have traditionally
viewed each other through the Pakistan
prism, and the resultant faulty view of each
other has constrained us from fully utilising
our potential in addressing the challenges
faced by the region.
A more meaningful Sino-Indian strategic
partnership should therefore be undertaken
at three levels. First, by jointly fighting terror
in the region. While India is more at the receiving end of terrorist violence, China has
also started feeling the heat and will increasingly do so both on its own territory and its
assets abroad, including in Pakistan. Late last
year the two countries issued a joint statement on combating international terrorism
and described potential steps such as exchanging information on terrorist activities,
terrorist groups and their linkages, exchanging experiences on anti-hijacking, hostage
situations and other terrorism related crimes
and coordinating positions on anti-terrorism
endeavours at regional and multilateral levels and supporting each other.
Although Beijing has been less than helpful in confronting terrorism emanating from
Pakistani soil, this joint statement is a rare
opportunity for New Delhi to nudge China to
cooperate more on the terror question. A Sino-Indian joint task force on terrorism to discuss the spread of terrorism in the region and
to devise methods to deal with it would be a
useful way ahead. More so, if New Delhi is serious about getting Chinese cooperation on
fighting terror, a lot more high-level engagement with Beijing would be required.
Second, China today is a major contributor
to South Asias developmental needs. While
it is true that India had traditionally wielded
a great deal of influence in the region due to
ethnic, political and economic linkages, there
is no point in crying foul about increasing
Chinese forays into the region: its perhaps
natural for a rising global power to do so, and
there is hardly anything we can do to prevent
that. New Delhi should therefore join hands
with Beijing to develop the regions economy,
trade and infrastructure.
Finally, Indian reactions to Chinas One
Belt, One Road (OBOR) project need not be
either dismissive or worried, nor should we
dismiss it as a Chinese national project and
look the other way. Our objective should be
to see how we can utilise the many economic,
infrastructural and other opportunities
opened up by OBOR. The rise of China, and
the attendant geopolitical transformation of
the region, will take place with or without India: so lets try to use this transformation to
further our own national interests.
It is important for New Delhis strategic
planners to recognise that when it comes to
dealing with key regional challenges and opportunities, unilateralism is not the way. We
need to create alliances and coalitions to confront challenges and better utilise opportunities, and in todays loose multipolar world,
our alliance behaviour should be guided by
clear strategic objectives rather than traditional friendships alone.
Happymon Jacob is Associate Professor of Disarmament
Studies at the Centre for International Politics,
Organisation and Disarmament, School of International
Studies, JNU.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Dangerous depots
The fire accident at the Indian
Armys Central Ammunition Depot
at Pulgaon in Maharashtra is a blot
on the way we ensure the state of
preparedness of our defence forces
(War readiness may have been hit if
Pulgaon blaze had spread, June 2).
Why were the shortcomings pointed
out in the CAG report not acted
upon? Recent incidents like the fire
accident on board a naval submarine
in Mumbai, the terror attack at the
Pathankot airbase, and now this fire
raise many questions.
M. Somasekhar Prasad,
Badvel, Andhra Pradesh

The tragic accident points to the

inherent deficiencies and flaws in
our ordnance storage capabilities.
The Army is already reeling under
the shortage of ammunition and this
incident will send out all the wrong
signals. The safety and security of
our ammunition depots must be
accorded topmost priority. It was
startling to know that even BrahMos
missiles are stored at Pulgaon
(Editorial, June 2).
Rather than have one big mother
depot, there should be multiple
depots catering to specific
commands. Important and crucial

missile systems must be stored deep

underground and separately from
ordinary ammunition. High-end
technology for storage and
transportation needs to be
Gaurav Singhal,
Rewari, Haryana

The only silver lining is that people

in the surrounding villages were
evacuated in time and that the blaze
was brought under control before it
resulted in a catastrophe. Since
2000, there have been quite a few
fires in ammunition depots; there
appear to be too many violations of
standard operating procedures. It is
appalling that some of the sheds
were covered by tarpaulin. When
will be gaps in the system be
Nalini Vijayaraghavan,

I remember the time when, in 2000,

a fire at an ammunition depot in
Bharatpur claimed two lives and
caused losses of nearly $90 million,
by one estimate. Even after 16 years,
we are none the wiser about the
factors responsible. In a debate on
Doordarshan, a senior political
leader, Jaipal Reddy, claimed that the
estimate of arms and ammunition

destroyed was double what India

spent to win the Kargil war.
Mumukshu K. Thakur,
Chamba, Himachal Pradesh

A dying party?
There seem to be recurrent
Editorials and articles on how to
revive the Left and parties such as
the Congress, which makes one
wonder why there is this attempt to
force readers to read about
ideologies that are past their sell-by
date and parties that are even
unpopular with the masses (What
the Congress could do, June 2). The
Congress in particular is
synonymous with large-scale scams
and widespread corruption and has
been electorally sent out by the
people. Why should such a party be
given another chance, especially
when the efects of such scams on
the economy have not subsided?
Surya B.H.,

One has to consider the strategy of

the BJP in making it big on the
national stage. The steps leading to
the acceptance of Narendra Modi,
once portrayed as an immensely
controversial leader, were taken in
stages. Once the party was sure

about its ofering being accepted

by the masses, it began to roll out
other measures related to growth
and development. The key to the
BJPs success was a series of wellplanned initiatives, which at one
point were portrayed as random and
impulsive moves by a dying party.
Similarly, the Congress must learn
lessons from this.
Anurag Nautiyal,
Sanganer, Rajasthan

The Congress has lost its grass-root

level leadership. The BJP on the
other hand has right-wing forces
helping it to grow its cadre. The
Congress needs to amend its policies
of ticket distribution and become
the party of those who are hardworking. In each State, there has to
be a clear line of leadership.
Karan Choudhary,
Pathankot, Punjab

Milk and nutrition

The writer (One glass of milk at a
time, June 2) has omitted
mentioning the immense quantities
of adulterated milk being sold in
India while elaborating on the
nutritional benefits and the clear
business cases associated with the
dairy industry. Responsible

professionals like her ought to

highlight and emphasise the socially
relevant benefits of dairy-based
nutrition and the resultant gains that
accrue to small-holder farmers,
rather than tom-tom the commercial
aspects that reduce the healthy,
nutritious, natural drink to a mere
commodity. The inhuman
conditions under which milk-givers
lead their dismal lives as compared
to assembly-line dairy farms is
another aspect she has left out.
Urban households that consume
high quantities of high-end dairy
product, thereby inviting ill-health,
is a worrying aspect of the industry.
R. Swarnalatha,
New Delhi

Growth in circulation
Young readers are responsible for
the growth of the print media
(The Hindu registers 20% growth
in circulation, May 31). In the case of
The Hindu, they treat the daily as
one of the academic and reference
sources needed in competitive exam
preparation. Readers views are also
given importance. There is also a
bridge with readers in the form of
the Readers Editor.
J.P. Reddy,
Nalgonda, Telangana

10 |




The echoes at Gulbarg Society

The quality of waiting is often so long, so intense that everyone wants the judgment to be an epic, achieving
a kind of poetic closure. Unfortunately most judgments lack the power of closure.
S AT U R D AY , J U N E 4 , 2 0 1 6

Its raining

or the first time in three years, the India Meteorological Department has projected that the
monsoon rains will be above normal. Rainfall
during the June-to-September southwest monsoon
season is forecast to be 106 per cent of the long period average, with a margin of error of 4 per cent.
Coming as it does after two years of acute drought
that has turned large swathes of the hinterland into
dustbowls, and a scorching summer that has sent
the mercury soaring past records in many regions,
the prospect of abundant rains is obviously cause
for cheer. With the lives of more than two-thirds of
Indias 1.3 billion people directly linked to the fortunes of the rural economy, and almost 80 per cent
of Indias annual rainfall a product of the southwest
monsoon, the import of the IMDs prediction cannot be overstated. Significantly, the Met department also expects the above-normal rains to be
well distributed across key crop farming areas in
the north-west, central and southern peninsular regions, with the likelihood of a shortfall only in the
north-east. In its April policy statement, the Reserve Bank of India had highlighted the significance of the rains for monetary policy, saying that a
normal monsoon could provide a favourable supply shock by strengthening rural demand and augmenting the availability of farm produce that would
help moderate inflation. While agriculture and allied economic activities contribute just a little over
15 per cent to overall Gross Value Added, they have
a disproportionate impact on rural consumption.
So for manufacturers of goods ranging from personal care products to tractors, a bountiful monsoon can deliver a substantial boost to sales. Adequate rainfall, especially in upstream catchment
areas, will improve electricity supply in States
more dependent on hydel power, such as Karnataka
and Kerala.
However, the capricious nature of weather phenomena and the fact that the IMD has had a success
rate of about 30 per cent in correctly predicting the
rainfall range over the last 10 years, demand that
expectations remain well-anchored till the actual
onset and subsequent advance of the monsoon.
The country needs to use this opportunity to
strengthen the water retention and storage infrastructure. In his Budget speech, Finance Minister
Arun Jaitley had said work on at least five lakh farm
ponds and dug wells would be taken up as part of
MGNREGA, and it is hoped a fair portion of that
has been executed or work is set to begin. Given the
alarming levels to which groundwater has declined,
the Centre and States need to be more focussed on
enabling recharge of aquifers and waterbodies.


Justice often begins with rituals of waiting.

Waiting can be slow, painful, eventless as
one waits for a judgment. In fact waiting often provides the pathos and drama of justice, while the judgment can be a damp
squib. The quality of waiting is often so long,
so intense that everyone wants the judgment to be an epic, achieving a kind of poetic closure. Unfortunately most judgments
lack the power of closure, they leave behind
pathos and ambiguity, forcing the victim to
enact the Sisyphean myths of justice again.
The tiredness of waiting disappears to be replaced by the tiredness of a repeated struggle. The Gulbarg Society case, along with
the Naroda Patiya massacre, was among the
most dramatic in the series of investigations
the Special Investigation Team constituted
by the Supreme Court handled in the Gujarat violence of 2002.
Not like Naroda Patiya
The first announcement of Justice P.B.
Desai was seen as a mixed bag. There was
both relief and satisfaction but little of the
drama that Naroda Patiya provided. In the
latter, justice caught up with the big fish,
with the likes of the BJP Minister, Maya Kodnani, who orchestrated murder. Gulbarg
boasted no big name, no roll call of culpable
VIPs. All it had was a BJP councillor Bipin
Patel who was declared innocent. The insuiciency of evidence must be one of the
most fascinating terms in the discourse of
law. It conveys the line of taboo, the sense of
the limits of investigation marking of a domain where the accused is free. After 14
years, the special sessions court convicted
24 people, while acquitting 36 others.
The first reaction from all sides was

One waits for June 6 for

details, for observations which
can make justice more
palatable. The ghosts of
Gulbarg are yet to rest
guarded. A ritual was over, a judgment declared and made welcome. The judgment is
like a text that one must read and reread to
evaluate. The first reactions from the Jafri
family, from Teesta Setalvad of the Citizens
for Justice and Peace (CJP), even from the
BJP spokeswoman were muted. Each began
with a salute to the law, before they added
the personalised reactions. Everyone became collectively aware the judgment was a
prelude, more like a headline, indicating

number rather than the outline of the quantum of punishment or even the logic of violation. As the full judgment was to be announced on June 6, one felt justice was being
presented in pipettes. Even then first reactions had a mixed quality. While announcing the number convicted, the judgment exonerated everyone of any kind of
conspiracy. The Gulbarg massacre, the preliminary statements indicated, had no sense
of planning or system.
Ms. Setalvad, while thanking the courts,
was clear that Gulbarg was planned, a clear
act of planned murder to eliminate the housing colony composed mainly of Muslims.
She added that the struggle for justice would
continue. Zakia Jafri, wife of the former MP
who died in the Gulbarg Society massacre,
produced the more poignant reaction. She
observed that 400 people entered Gulbarg
and only 11 were found guilty of murder. It
was almost as if for the rest the event was extracurricular. Ms. Jafris comment was that
the demographics of scale did not fit the
judgment. The conviction of 11 persons
seemed pinched and puritanical. She also
commented tiredly that the judgment offered no closure, that the narratives of struggle had to begin again. Tanvir Jafri, Ehsan Jafris son, also commented that it was odd
that 11 individuals could have enacted the
murder of 69 people. Gulbarg was no fly-bynight slum but a regular residential colony.
To say that 11 persons achieved the efect of
murder and slaughter did not seem quite
convincing. Yet each of the three main protagonists praised the justice system but felt
the judgment was mixed, ofering neither
closure nor peace. It almost seemed like the
first chapter, a prelude to a longer narrative
everyone was still waiting for. The sixth of
June acquired the magic of detail, where a
substantial judgment may add resonance to
the logic of the sentence.
Behind the politeness, the civility of the


Drawing Kabul into

a closer embrace

ndias policy of deepening its engagement in the

post-Taliban Afghanistan through economic reconstruction will mark a milestone when Prime
Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates a dam built
with Indian aid in Herat province. The 42 MW dam,
with an investment of over $275 million, will boost
the agricultural and industrial sectors of Herat, one
of the few success stories in this war-torn country.
The project underlines Indias resolve to sharpen
its profile in the region. The Herat visit comes close
on the heels of a regional corridor agreement Mr.
Modi signed with Iranian and Afghan leaders in
Tehran, under which India will finance the development of Irans Chabahar port, which will be linked to Afghan road networks.
Indias interest in seeing Afghanistan move towards greater peace and prosperity cannot be overstated. India is one of the closest regional powers
that has invested in institution and infrastructure
building in Afghanistan. For India, Afghanistan has
immense strategic potential. Besides the infrastructure work India has initiated and completed, it
has also signed the TAPI pipeline project that aims
to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. More important, a
friendly, stable regime in Kabul is geopolitical insurance against Pakistans deep state. Both countries share concerns about Pakistans good-terrorist-bad-terrorist nuancing. Afghanistan is currently
going through a particularly turbulent transition.
The government in Kabul has been stretched in trying to stop Taliban advances over the past few
months. President Ashraf Ghani seems to have realised that a complete military victory is improbable. In fact, Mr. Modi goes to Afghanistan at a time
when Mr. Ghani is openly targeting Pakistan for
supporting the Taliban. This raises the question of
whether New Delhis engagement should be limited to infrastructure development or whether it
should expand its relationship. Lately, India has signalled a small shift in its policy by delivering M-25
attack helicopters to Kabul. But it remains cautious
about making larger overtures on security and is
wary of being sucked into a never-ending war. Such
caution is required. But it should not deter India
from playing a bigger role in a country whose stability is vital for its regional ambitions and whose
people traditionally count India as a well-meaning
friend. As the Chabahar agreement brought together India, Afghanistan and Iran, New Delhi should
work to bring together more regional powers invested in Afghanistans stability and economic

responses, one could sense that next to the

drama of Naroda Patiya, Gulbarg was a
damp squib. It had elements of the positive
but these were not issues that the regime
could congratulate itself for. The reaction of
the BJP spokesperson on television produced that sense of the farcical. Shaina N.C.
provided what sociologists called the
canned reaction combining knee jerk and
stereotype which had no sense of context or
detail. She indicated an artificial closure by
declaring pompously that now the nation
can move on. Movement seems more real
than closure. Then in an ironic turning of
the tables, Shaina N.C. presented Narendra
Modi as the victim and Ms. Setalvad as the
witch-hunter. The BJP spokesperson lacked
the sense of gravitas, of finesse which the
victims displayed. There was a dignity to
what they said, while the BJP spokesperson
sounded like an ATM of politics, with no
sense of history, or the pain of waiting.
There was a sense that the BJP was vindicated and now politics as usual must go on.
Sometimes a vulgarity and indiference to
pain and sufering comes in the language of
response, and the spectator wondered
whether the BJP really cared for the victims.
When a fight for justice by victims who
rediscover the pain and the power of citizenship is equated to a witch-hunt, where
the pain of the Gulbarg victims has no resonance before the inconvenience Mr. Modi
was subject to, a sense of doubt enters.
There is a smell of the farcical and the
pompous. In fact the reaction seems suspect. The way Shaina N.C. speaks you would
think it was Ehsan Jafri who was an enemy of
the state rather than the prime victim.
Aloneness of the victim
The spectator, the listener watching and
absorbing the show on TV starts wondering
at the listlessness of the entire show. The
whole day, given the centrality of Gulbarg,
gave one a sense that an IPL of Justice was
coming. Yet the event was slow, painful and
ambiguous. It was as if the law was slowly,
painfully squeezing out the truth in slow
sentences like an old toothpaste. The very
slowness added to the other slownesses of
history, the long wait for the judgment, the
sense that justice is a slow filtering system.
Between the long wait and the viscosity of
the judgment, there was a feeling that Gulbarg was yet to settle down. The background pictures on television, the scars on
the walls of the abandoned houses, the picture of Ehsan Jafri placed on the litter of time
gave a sense of the aloneness of the victim.
As one of the victims proclaimed, A photo
is all I have left.
There is an emptiness to Gulbarg Society,
echoing the vitality it must have had over a
decade ago. Gulbarg becomes a miniature of
a genocidal Gujarat. A housing colony with
that full domesticity of life is destroyed almost as if normalcy is not yet available to the
Muslim as victim. There is a sadness
around, which will take time to dispel.
Meanwhile one waits for the sixth of June
for details, for observations which can make
justice more palatable. The drama of waiting and still waiting overwhelms the power
of the judgment. The ghosts of Gulbarg are
yet to rest.
Shiv Visvanathan is a professor at Jindal Law School.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Gulbarg verdict
The conviction, even though
delayed, of 24 persons in the
Gulbarg massacre case is welcome
(24 found guilty in Gulbarg case
and Finding judicial closure in
Gulbarg, June 3). The Special
Investigation Team appointed by
the Supreme Court, free from
political pressures, stands
vindicated as being genuinely
A strong bias against Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, who was
then Gujarat Chief Minister, still
prevails in the media. The
conviction shows that the whole
blame that was placed on Mr. Modi
was false. The collapse of a
conspiracy implies that the riots
were a reflexive response to the
Godhra carnage.
Lithin Laxman,

Zakia Jafri, widow of MP Ehsan Jafri

who was killed in the Gulbarg
massacre, has said that only half
justice has been delivered. Her
statement cannot be ignored. The
fact that only 24 foot soldiers have
been found guilty in the killing of 69
people suggests there is something
amiss in the whole episode.
As the case in all probability will be
contested in the higher courts, one
cannot come to the conclusion that
justice has been delivered.
K.R. Srinivasan,

Though delayed, the verdict has

been a relief to the families of the
victims. This case shows that it is
imperative to increase the number
of courts and judicial oicers,
reform and strengthen the police
force, and investigate cases
diligently and impartially.
Communalism not only degrades
our polity and society, it also earns

us a bad name internationally.

Parthasarathy Sen,

the norm in this country.

N. Visveswaran,

New Delhi


Mr. Modi is the sole person in

Indian politics who has been
mercilessly hunted down for his
alleged role in the riots, though the
latest verdict, the SITs previous
clean chit to him, and his
emergence as Prime Minister with
an extraordinary victory in 2014 all
tell another story.
Jayasree Thampi,

After 14 years of judicial snakes and

ladders, the judgment in the
Gulbarg massacre case, though
significant in the context of other
judgments delivered in riot cases, is
unlikely to bring solace to the
families of the victims. Zakia Jafri
has persisted all these years in
seeking punishment for those who
were responsible for the murder of
her husband, against all odds and
with remarkable fortitude. Her fight
became a cause clbre. She has
now said that she is unhappy that 36
of the accused have been acquitted.
This shows that the verdict is only a
small consolation for the victims.
But it still goes a long way in
restoring the primacy of the law.
The wheels of justice will not stop
here, in the same way that they did
not stop in all other cases relating to
the Gujarat riots.
J. Akshobhya,


Twenty-four persons have been

convicted, but what about the
organisations they belong to? The
Gujarat massacre was an organised
carnage led by members belonging
to local Hindu extremist groups.
The sad reality is that these groups
still continue to exist all over the
country. Also, no action has been
taken against the district
magistrates and superintendents of
police who were in charge then.
Extremist factions within
organisations like the Bajrang Dal
and Vishva Hindu Parishad must be
banned. Any group involved in
religious polarisation, spreading
hatred, and inciting violence must
be declared unlawful.
Gaurav Singhal,
Rewari, Haryana

The verdict must have caused a

partial sense of closure for the
victims families and jubilation for
the acquitted. But if capital
punishment is going to be sought
for the convicted, I fear there will be
a lengthy judicial process all over
again. Pending cases must be fasttracked. If cases are moving slowly,
the Supreme Court must appoint
other special investigation teams to
clear them quickly. Vacancies for
the post of judges must also be
filled in urgently. We cannot aford
to be sitting on cases forever, as is


The editorial calls the verdict a

rare victory for justice and
accountability. But the verdict is
far from what justice must look like.
If true justice is to be served, even
leaders who ruled at the time of the
riots must be held responsible. That
the same leaders enjoy so much
power today shows that we have
failed as a nation.
Brahma Nandan Singh,
Saharsa district, Bihar

The question of a beard

This refers to the report The beard
truth: Army wants soldiers to have a
clean shave (June 3). The Indian
Constitution upholds the principle
of secularism, which is fundamental
to any progressive society, in letter
and spirit. But laws are subjective in
nature and do not reflect these

principles. The verdict of the

Armed Forces Tribunal, upholding
the dismissal of a Muslim man,
Maktumhusen, for growing a beard
is unfortunate. Article 25 (1) states:
Subject to public order, morality
and health, and to other provisions
of this Part, all persons are equally
entitled to freedom of conscience
and the right freely to profess,
practice, and propagate religion.
Growing a beard is not against
public order, morality, or health. A
beard would not interfere in the
efective discharge of
Maktumhusens duties either. Plus,
Sikhs are allowed to keep beards. In
a progressive world, growing a
beard cannot be held as an essential
feature of any religion, be it Sikhism
or Islam. The order encroaches on
the freedom of conscience of an
T.Sivasankar Bhavan,

The PMs report card

This refers to the report Railways
speed to top rating in poll (June 3).
This exercise is useful for the Prime
Minister in knowing how he has
performed and what a long way he
has to go. As two years have passed
since he came to power, its the right
time to take stock of the situation.
There is a lot of scope for
improvement in the Swachh Bharat
campaign and the issue of black
money. We hope that by the next
report, he would have put in the
same amount of zeal to change the
face of India for the better.
Kushal A. Gadkari,

Sting operation
The report that Janata Dal (Secular)
MLAs in Karnataka were caught in
a sting operation negotiating for
Rs.5 crore in exchange for their
votes comes as no surprise

(Karnataka MLAs caught in sting

by TV channel, June 3). Political
parties make promises of bringing
about a corrupt-free administration,
but it is increasingly apparent that
such underhand dealings continue
unchecked. If this is the prevailing
rate for the Rajya Sabha seats, one
can well imagine the high stakes for
the Lok Sabha seats. The JD(S) has
lost all credibility in the public eye.
Varadarajan P.K.,

Two-finger test
Im glad that a humiliating practice
such as the two-finger test has
finally been dropped (Bible of
forensic medicine drops two-finger
test to establish rape, June 3). It is a
positive sign of attitudinal change.
That the new chapter of A Textbook
of Medical Jurisprudence and
Toxicology calls on hospitals to
provide not just medical and
psychological but also medico-legal
support reflects the change in our
mindset towards rape victims. As
there continues to be stigma
towards the victims, the
suggestions are noteworthy.
R. Prabhu Raj,

A dying party
Vidya Subrahmaniam in the article
What the Congress could do
(June 2) has clearly stated the
problems of the party. The
Congress has no dearth of good
leaders. What it lacks is a strategy
and what it needs is a change in
leadership. Unless these gaps are
filled, it cannot dream of
strengthening its position in States
which are going to polls in a year or
two. The sooner the party makes
serious revival eforts, the better it
is for its future.
Manzar Imam,
New Delhi

10 |




Convergence, but hard choices ahead

While Narendra Modis visit will be welcomed by both the Republican and Democratic leaderships, the
investment made in deepening bilateral ties with the U.S. will need to be reinforced post-2017
M O N D AY , J U N E 6 , 2 0 1 6

in Mathura

t least 27 people are dead, including a Superintendent of Police, after violence in Mathura, which has only begun to throw up details
of a deeply secretive cult. But the longer timeline of
the Swadhin Bharats land grab in the citys Jawahar
Bagh since 2014 and the recap of those fateful final
hours on Thursday draw a clear line of indictment
running from officials in Mathura to the Uttar Pradesh administration in Lucknow. Chief Minister
Akhilesh Yadav has admitted to lapses in the police operation to evict the group, with estimates of
those present going up to 3,000. In their own defence, district officials say the police did not go to
Jawahar Bagh to clear the 200 acres involved, only
to recce the area. The explanation given for a Superintendent of Police landing up at the spot with a
few dozen men and a bulldozer in tow is that the action was meant to create an opening on one side of
the encroachment, so that, during a final operation,
those believed to be held coercively by the cult
could have safe passage. The settlers have expectedly been on edge after the Allahabad High Court
ordered their eviction. Lapses is too mild a word
to explain the botched operation, undertaken with
a few dozen personnel but with the provocation of a
bulldozer. There was a clear intelligence failure
the administration was unaware of the large cache
of arms stored by the settlers. The police were unprepared for the ferocity of the attack, during which
LPG cylinders were exploded, destroying habitations and causing roughly half the total deaths, including that of the leader of the cult.
Swadhin Bharat had arrived in Mathura from
Madhya Pradeshs Sagar district in April 2014, seeking permission to halt for a couple of days. They
were ostensibly on their way to Delhi to stage a protest at Jantar Mantar. But they stayed on, and over
time their list of irrational demands became
known: annulling the election of the President and
Prime Minister, issue of Indian National Army currency, sale of 40-60 litres of fuel for a rupee. All this
was wrapped in a dreamy, nationalist homage to
Subhas Chandra Bose. At the same time, they
chased Horticulture Department staff off the park
and met any visitors with fierce violence. Locals
tell fantastical stories about their parallel administration, something the authorities were not wholly
unaware of. FIRs were filed, the District Magistrate
informed higher-ups in Lucknow formally, and attempts were made to use drones to snoop on the
settlement. In the meantime, the two days became
years. There is a clear picture emerging that the
groups leadership enjoyed the patronage of the
powerful. This must be inquired into, along with
other lapses in the police action.


Prime Minister Narendra Modis forthcoming visit to the United States, from June 7-8,
his fourth since entering office in May 2014,
is both a pointer of the extent of distance the
two countries, India and the U.S., have traversed in the last two years and of the enormous potential still waiting to be tapped.
In the run-up to the 2014 general election
in India, the bilateral discourse stood vitiated. The strip search of an Indian diplomat
stationed in New York provided an indication of the extent to which the relationship
had got derailed. Only mature handling
could revive the relationship and impart to it
momentum for revitalisation. This was on
display in abundant measure on both sides.
American exceptionalism draws inspiration from its Constitution, the Bill of Rights
and the separation of powers contained
therein. Its sense of entitlement is enhanced
by the fact that today it has a $17-trillion GDP
and by its position as the worlds sole remaining superpower. The Indian political
elite has decided to enter into a global strategic partnership with the U.S. based on
shared democratic values and the perception of increasing convergence of interests
on bilateral, regional and global issues and
do business on a scale that would have been
considered inconceivable some years ago.
This course has very different implications
for the two countries.
Broad-based, multi-sectoral ties
In the immediate aftermath of Mr. Modis
election victory, the ice was broken and the
hesitation overcome on the Indian side. U.S.
President Barack Obama invited Mr. Modi
for a bilateral visit; the invitation was accepted and the first visit to the U.S. took place
from September 26-30, 2014. This was followed by Mr. Obamas visit to India from January 25-27, 2015 as chief guest at Indias Republic Day.

India has a window of opportunity

to see if the new administration,
post-January 2017, can be
sensitised to its concerns in relation
to Pakistan and Afghanistan
The two sides issued a Delhi Declaration
of Friendship and adopted a Joint Strategic
Vision for the Asia-Pacific and the Indian
Ocean Region, representing small but incrementally significant steps in the pursuit of
strategic convergence. Two more visits by
Mr. Modi to the U.S. from September 23-28,
2015, and another one for the Nuclear Summit in Washington from March 31-April 1,
and now the forthcoming visit, will mark the
culmination of the most active summit-level
diplomacy between the two countries ever.

Mr. Modi will be the fifth Indian Prime

Minister to address a joint meeting of Congress. The four Indian Prime Ministers to do
so earlier were Rajiv Gandhi (June 13, 1985),
P.V. Narasimha Rao (May 18, 1994), Atal Bihari Vajpayee (September 14, 2000) and Manmohan Singh (July 19, 2005).
How strong is the bilateral relationship?
Over a period of more than a decade or so,
the relationship has grown and bilateral
cooperation has certainly become more
broad-based and multi-sectoral.
The bilateral civil nuclear cooperation
agreement negotiated by the Manmohan
Singh government was considered important enough to domestically risk the survival
of his government in July 2008. It has not resulted in any significant commercial contracting even though the potential is enormous. Its real significance lies in the fact that
the rules of an international arrangement
and a technology-denial regime were altered
to admit India. This would not have been
possible without heavy lifting by the U.S. Absent similar help from the U.S., Indias entry
into the Nuclear Suppliers Group now could
also be postponed indefinitely.
The New Framework for the U.S.-India
Defence Relationship of 2005 and the updating and renewal of the Defence Framework Agreement for another 10 years in 2015
have resulted in the defence relationship
emerging as a major pillar of the new IndiaU.S. strategic partnership.
Points of divergence
Where is this strategic partnership headed? Transactional mindsets invariably produce a negotiating environment that is accident prone at the best of times. Both sides
have complaints.
Bilateral trade in goods has increased from
$5.6 billion in 1990 to $66.9 billion in 2014.
Trade in services stands at around $60 billion. The two sides set a target during Mr.
Modis visit in 2014 to increase annual bilateral trade in goods and services to $500 billion.
However, significant differences continue
to characterise the two countries approach-


Punching above
his heavyweight

pectator sport is at its riveting best when the

script involves an underdog, virtually down
and out, marshalling his last ounce of energy
to turn the tables on a fancied opponent. Both within and outside the ring, Muhammad Ali embodied
that never-say-die spirit. In 1964, a young Ali, then
known as Cassius Clay, with a gold at the Rome
Olympics behind him, squared off against the reigning world heavyweight champion, Sonny Liston.
Critics gave him no chance, but his quick feet and
quicker counterpunches forced Liston to stay in his
corner and give up at the beginning of the seventh
round. A decade on, Ali was still taking blows on his
chin and standing tall, using his rope-a-dope strategy to eventually wear out George Foreman, one of
the hardest punchers in history, after taking a
pounding on the ropes. Then he knocked him out in
the Rumble in the Jungle match in Kinshasa in
1974. The same resilience came in handy as he
weathered near-38C temperatures to last 14 rounds
and win by technical knockout against his greatest
rival, Joe Frazier, in the Thrilla in Manila in 1975.
By the time he retired in 1981, Ali had a 56-5 professional record (including 37 knockouts). But years of
pounding took a physical toll, and he bravely fought
the debilitating effects of Parkinsons disease for
more than three decades until his death on June 3
even as he turned into a global icon of peace and an
ambassador of sport at large in his later years.
The truth, however, is that the legend of Muhammad Ali will endure as much for his political activism, his showmanship and his glib talk that forced
the world to see the context of his exploits in the
ring. In an America emerging from the Jim Crow
era, Ali confronted racism insistently, and with uncommon dignity. He took his anti-racism polemic to
another level with conversion to Islam early in his
reign as heavyweight champion of the world. He refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army in Vietnam in
1967, and relinquished his title, and four years of his
sporting prime, in becoming a conscientious objector exhorting his countrymen to settle the more important, internal war against racism. The words are
telling: No, Im not going 10,000 miles from home
to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. His emergence as a counter-cultural icon of the 1960s
inspired other African-American athletes in different professional sports, basketball in particular. Ali
transcended boxing, and then transcended sport.
Was he the greatest of all time, as he claimed to be?
Such categorisations are always debatable. Whats
undisputed is that he punched well above his heavyweight all the time.

es to trade policy issues. The U.S. embarked

on a series of free trade agreements outside
the multilateral trading system in the
mid-1980s. It is exasperated, or so it would
appear, with the slow pace of negotiations in
the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is
seeking plurilateral WTO plus arrangements outside, regionally and cross-regionally. It is not averse to using unilateral coercive measures in relation to perceived
violation of its interests in the area of intellectual property, for instance.
There are also significantly different approaches the two countries adopt on issues
relating to peace and security, the use of
force and regime change in West Asia. Iraq
2003, Libya 2011 and the multi-layered crises
in Syria, with an on-going civil war, a sectarian war and a proxy war, provide the best examples in the divergence of approach. There
are also significant differences in the perception and approaches of the two countries in
relation to developments in the countries of
our region, particularly Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Pentagon and the deep
state with a long history of partnering Pakistan are unlikely to change sufficiently in a
realistic time frame. At the very least, we
should guard against hype.
2017 and beyond
Equally, not all elements of the U.S. State
system are on board with the nuclear deal
negotiated with Iran. The strongly entrenched Israeli lobby has lost for the present but will utilise the process leading up to
the inauguration in office of the 45th President of the U.S. in January 2017 to reopen the
deal. We have a window of opportunity to
see if the new administration, post-January
2017, can be sensitised to our concerns in our
western neighbourhood, particularly in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Addressing Congress is both important
and desirable. It occupies a unique position
and plays a crucial role in the shaping of U.S.
foreign policy. It has been known to be helpful to India when administrations were less
inclined to be so. Mr. Modi will be welcomed
by both the Republican and Democratic
leaderships at a time when they have little
convergence on pressing domestic issues.
Whatever the outcome in the presidential
elections in November, the incoming administration will not be in a position to turn its
back on trading arrangements entered into
such as the North American Free Trade
Agreement and through the WTO and erect
trade barriers.
Summit-level interaction does provide
positive signals but entrenched bureaucracies and interests do not always fall in line.
Mr. Obamas previous pronouncements on
Indias permanent membership of the U.N.
Security Council and now on Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation remain to be acted
upon. As do some commitments on our side.
The investment made in the bilateral relationship by India in the last two years will
need to be followed up, reinforced and
adapted to the new situation post-January
2017. Strategic autonomy, as the leitmotif of
our foreign policy, has served us admirably
in the last seven decades. It has not prevented us from upgrading individual bilateral relationships and making merit-based choices.
Some hard choices will be required to balance greater convergence with strategic
Hardeep S. Puri is a retired diplomat. The views expressed
are personal.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Mathura clashes
The seizure of arms in Mathura and
the secretive activities of a cult
cannot be dismissed as mere
administrative misjudgement
(Sect chief killed; Mathura toll hits
27, June 5 and Day after clash, huge
arms cache seized in Mathura, June
4). The scale of the violence and the
retaliatory action that recalcitrant
groups unleashed on the police are
alarming. Their motives seem to
have been to ensure massive land
grab. Corrective action, irrespective
of political proclivities, is a must.
N. Sadasivan Pillai,

go in for a judicial probe by a sitting

High Court judge in order to ensure
S.V. Venkatakrishnan,
San Jose, California, U.S.

The justice gap

That a huge cache of arms was

recovered by the police from the
encroachers at the sprawling
Jawahar Bagh is a telling
commentary on the callousness of
government officials. Chief Minister
Akhilesh Yadavs statement that the
tragic turn of events was a sequel to
administrative misjudgment is a
gross understatement. How could
the State be unaware of the
happenings over the past two years?
There seems to be a nexus between
the encroachers and officials.
P.K. Varadarajan,

The Gulbarg verdict has once again

highlighted the justice gap
between crime and conviction
prevalent in our criminal justice
system (The echoes at Gulbarg
Society, June 4). It stands to reason
that planning, organising, mobilising
and facilitating a massacre, as was
done at Gulbarg, is as much a
punishable crime as committing the
actual massacre.
Still, the masterminds got off scotfree because of a lack of evidence.
The prosecution, it appears, for
whatever reason, did not gather and
present sufficient evidence to
secure their conviction.
The neglect of official responsibility
to keep the peace was not just a
breach of the constitutional
obligation but also amounted to
complicity in the crime. This was
glossed over so as to attach no blame
to those at the helm of the affairs at
the time of the riots.
G. David Milton,


Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

The violence is cause for serious

concern. It is evident that the
Samajwadi Party government has
miserably failed in its duty to ensure
peace and handled the outfit with
kid gloves. The Chief Minister has a
lot of explaining to do.
H.P. Murali,

For a beautiful forever



The mindless violence in Mathura

shows that political patronage is too
obvious a point to be missed. The
Samajwadi Party government should

The special feature, on the changing

face of the Indian slum, is proof that
small but decisive changes can help
usher in change. Cultural and
sporting activities do provide
avenues to channelise ones energy
and discover hidden talent and as
the example in Kidderpore, West
Bengal, shows (Kidderpores
knockout kids, June 2).
R.K. Jha,
Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh

The dark picture of a slum society,

with its underdevelopment,
improper planning, crime and the
government machinerys
ineffectiveness, points to the need
for effective policies and
management. It also shows that
pursuing big dreams gives
underdogs opportunities to escape
from the harsh realities of life. With
encouragement, I am sure that there
will be many jewels waiting to be
discovered .
Pooja P.I.,

Muhammad Ali are synonymous. He

was not just the greatest but the
double greatest.
Balasubramaniam Pavani,

boxing champion was gods gift to

the sport. He strode the ring like a
colossus and brought to the sport a
sense of audacity never seen before
as he went about his job of taunting
his opponents and demolishing
them. His achievements
transcended boxing and his
memories will linger on.
N.J. Ravi Chander,

He broke the mould

Here was a iron man who delivered a

stinging blow to the anti-AfricanAmerican policy, racism and
imperialism. Who can forget his
powerful statement, My conscience
wont let me go shoot my brother, or
some darker people, or some poor
hungry people in the mud for big
powerful America... Just take me to
jail. He was the peoples champion.
Buddhadev Nandi,

I hated every minute of training, but

I said, Dont quit. Suffer now and
live the rest of your life as a
champion. Muhammad Ali, the
man, the legend and one of the
worlds greatest human beings who
uttered these words, is no more and
has passed into history. One hopes
that he will continue to be a source
of inspiration to millions who should
remember his words, I shook up the
world! I shook up the world!
Subha P.,

Muhammad Alis impact went far

beyond the boxing ring. Many of his
comments referred especially to
race and racism such as the time
when he defined boxing as a lot of
white men watching two black men
beat each other up. With his hunger
for victory bordering on brash,
overpowering self-confidence, Ali
was destined to rule the boxing
world. He will remain a legend.
C.V. Venugopalan,

Muhammad Ali was arguably one of

the most charismatic sportspersons
of all time. With his expressive good
looks, sculpted physique and gift of
the gab, he was everyones hero. I
was all of nine years in faraway
Quilon (Kollam) when he famously
knocked out Sonny Liston. I vividly
remember reading about the buildup to the fight and the incredulous
reaction after the fight. His being
diagnosed with Parkinsons disease
is perhaps a direct consequence of
the punishment he received in the
ring. The truth is that professional
boxing is a cruel and unforgiving
sport and really should have no
place in a civilised society.
Chandramohan Nair,




As an unrivalled champion of one of

the worlds oldest forms of combat
sport, Muhammad Ali earned
universal acclaim for his
humanitarian activism and courage
in the face of adversity. Beneath his
steely frame lay a tender heart that
befriended many a celebrity. It is
ironic that this sturdy man with iron
fists fell victim to Parkinsons
B. Gurumurthy,

He may have said, Float like a

butterfly and sting like a bee, but he
was stung by racial prejudice in
America. I had the opportunity to
watch a live telecast of his losing
fight with Leon Spinks when I was in
the U.S. in 1978 and was left stunned.
It was moving to see him participate,
with trembling hands due to
Parkinsons, in the opening
ceremony of the summer Olympics
in Atlanta, U.S.; these were the hands
that had his opponents tremble.
S.R. Devaprakash,

Muhammed Alis passing has robbed

the sport of one of its greatest
ambassadors. It is a pity that this
fighting sensation spent the last
years of his life fighting Parkinsons
and became a pale shadow of his
colourful self. The Tysons and the
Holyfields might have also been
crowned world champions but they
can hardly hold a candle to Ali,
whose charisma endeared him to his
legion of fans not just as a boxer but
also as a champion of civil rights and
a crusader against war and violence
in any form.
C.V. Aravind,



In the passing of Muhammad Ali, the

world of sport has lost a giant and a
true legend of all times. Boxing and

Bishnupur, West Bengal

Tumakuru, Karnataka

The three-time world heavyweight



10 |




A long road to justice

The semblance of victory in the Gujarat riots cases was achieved against great odds the Special
Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court deserves credit
T U E S D AY , J U N E 7 , 2 0 1 6


Clear the air

on FDI in retail

iven the Centres focus on attracting investment and improving Indias Ease of Doing
Business ranking, it is time it took an unambiguous stand on foreign direct investment (FDI) in
retailing. While it is true that the government has
eased some rules relating to investment in singlebrand retail operations, the norm on sourcing locally remains a significant grey area, as reflected in
the discussions around Apples plans for India. In
November, the Centre eased the rules permitting
100 per cent FDI in Single Brand Product Retail
Trading subject to the sourcing caveat the precondition being that companies with more than 51
per cent foreign ownership must source 30 per cent
of the value of goods in India, preferably from medium, small or micro enterprises. In isolation, the
requirement of a certain proportion of domestic
content in the products has a socio-economic relevance, given its potential to create jobs and protect
livelihoods. But the sourcing norm has inhibited
FDI inflow; worse, it could fall foul of the WTOs
National Treatment norms. The Centre therefore
amended this condition allowing for an exemption
to entities selling products having state-of-theart and cutting-edge technology, and even more
ambiguously, in cases where local sourcing is not
possible. Predictably Apple has sought waivers
citing the exemption clause. Its case seems to have
found support with Commerce Minister Nirmala
Sitharaman, who said her Ministry was in talks with
the Finance Ministry on allowing Apple to open
company-owned stores in India and to explore
whether there was a need for separate guidelines
for sourcing waivers.
Rather than get into a potentially convoluted debate about when exemptions should be given, the
best course, given the circumstances, is to drop the
sourcing condition altogether. It is counterproductive and open to charges of arbitrariness. Allowing
Ministry officials the discretion to decide on what
constitutes cutting-edge technology or whether
local sourcing is possible or not opens the door for
less-than-transparent outcomes and the possibility
of litigation. A competitor that has invested in local
manufacturing capacity would justifiably feel hard
done by if a rival incorporating a similar level of
technological advancement in its products were exempted. The Centres stated objectives for relaxing
FDI norms improving the availability of such
goods for the consumer and enhancing the competitiveness of Indian enterprises through access to
global designs, technologies and management
practices would be rendered fruitless if overseas companies, subject to the whims of interpretation, opt out of either entering the market or from
making significant investment. Ultimately, keeping
it simple works best, especially when it concerns
investment rules.

An Ahmedabad Sessions Judge has concluded hearing prosecution arguments over the
quantum of punishments to be awarded to
the 24 convicted in the Gulbarg Society case
relating to the cold-blooded killing of 69 persons on February 28, 2002 in the heart of Ahmedabad. The focus will be on whether the 11
found guilty under Section 302 of the Indian
Penal Code (IPC) will be awarded the death
penalty. The Special Investigation Team
(SIT) has pressed for the capital sentence. It
is now for the judge to take the call, after
hearing the pleas of the convicts, and decide
whether the killing fell in the rarest of rare
cases meriting death.
The Godhra riot cases are a landmark in
Indias history of criminal justice. There are
two basic issues here which demand serious
reflection. Should it have taken 14 years for
the wheels of justice to reach this terminus?
Will the imposition of ultimate penalty deter
criminals in the future from perpetrating
such savagery on innocent fellow citizens?
While both are relevant to any democracy,
they assume special significance for us in India, where we are dismayed by rising street
violence and the endless stories of subjectivity, sloth and corruption in agencies and institutions such as the police, prosecution
and judiciary. Statistics of crime may not tell
the whole story, but the intensity of popular
impression will.
Lessons for all
The Gujarat happenings took place in
2002. The State police investigated nearly a
hundred cases, some major, and many smaller in dimension. After political parties in the
Opposition and some non-governmental organisations protested against what they alleged were biases in the Gujarat Police investigation, and the National Human Rights
Commission echoed similar sentiments, the
apex court appointed the SIT in 2008 and as-

India does not boast of a

foolproof witness protection
scheme. The courts fiat to ensure
total protection to witnesses who
came forward to testify helped
signed to it nine of the more important cases.
After assiduous investigation, the SIT started filing charge sheets at periodic intervals
starting late 2008.
The fact these cases took more than five
years actually eight in a few instances
to come to fruition in the court is testimony
to the fact that even if an investigating agency does its job swiftly and efficiently, processes in the court take an enormous amount
of time. Several factors, including some tendentious cross-examination by the defence
counsel and a mountainous workload on
judges, contribute to this situation in which
victims have to wait inordinate length of
time for justice. I am told that in one pending
case, the defence propose to file a list of
more than 500 witnesses on its behalf. This,

after the prosecution had examined its numerous witnesses and made all of them
available for cross-examination by the defence counsel. This is obviously a condemnable dilatory tactic, seen in a majority of
cases all over the country. Many presiding
officers of courts are themselves lax in permitting this ruse, although they are well
within their rights to put down the practice.
A number of committees and commissions
have gone into this without actually succeeding in offering measurable relief to the
victims through expeditious trial.
More than this near-harassment in the
court, it is the maltreatment in police stations that is galling for many crime victims. It
is an open secret that a large number of police stations in India just refuse to register
crimes because of the fear that free registration of crime would boost crime figures and
generate the impression of a lack of control
over crime. Such a practice is normally at the
instance of the governments themselves.
More appalling is the fact that when a police
station does condescend to draw up a First
Information Report, such action would necessarily have to be preceded by the greasing
of the palms of the Station House Officer and
his staff. There are only slight signs of a willingness to change on the part of policemen,
who rationalise their misdeed by pointing
fingers at the ballooning corruption on the
political firmament and in the higher echelons of the police hierarchy. The average citizen is therefore convinced that he cannot expect justice from any of the three
components of the criminal justice system.
Naturally, he rationalises that there is nothing wrong in taking recourse to extrajudicial
avenues. In his eyes, the latter deliver justice swiftly, that too only for a small service
charge! This is a dangerous situation. Unchecked, the dim view of the states capacity
to help avenge any injury caused to a lawabiding Indian is bound to strike at the roots
of constitutional governance.
SIT model as a template
There are lessons to be drawn from the
SITs experience in Gujarat that could help


The Djokovic

as completing the career Grand Slam

winning each of the four Majors at least
once become easier in mens tennis,
with the increased homogeneity of surfaces and
playing styles? Or is the sport simply at a singular
moment in its lifetime with three of its greatest
champions succeeding each other so swiftly? There
is truth in each argument, and one does not necessarily contradict the other. But what is beyond debate is Novak Djokovics quality. It has been clear
these last two years that the Serb has elevated his
game to rarefied heights. The only caveat to his being recognised as one of the best of all time was the
lack of a French Open title. In conquering Roland
Garross unforgiving clay, the destroyer of so many
dreams, Djokovic has armoured his legacy. He is
just the eighth man to achieve the career Slam; also
only the third, after Don Budge and Rod Laver, to
hold all four Majors at the same time. Budge (1938)
and Laver (1962, 1969) did it in a single year, whereas Djokovics string of four began last Wimbledon.
But while the calendar year Grand Slam remains
tenniss holy grail, Djokovic has managed something Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the two men
to precede him to the career Slam this era, have not.
Where then does Djokovic sit at the table of the
greatest-ever? Only Federer (17), Nadal and Pete
Sampras (14 each) have more Major titles than his
12. But Sampras never made a Roland Garros final.
Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver (11 each) have fewer
Grand Slam crowns, but persuasive cases. Borg did
the French-Wimbledon double thrice when the
transition from clay to grass was at its most challenging; and he played just one Australian Open, a
tournament many top players did not bother travelling to at the time. Laver, meanwhile, lost out on
five years of his prime (1963-68) because he turned
professional. Some have suggested that Djokovic
winning the calendar Slam this year will earn him
the strongest claim to the title of the Greatest of All
Time. Its a discussion that will rage and rage, for
like many things in sport, its unknowable. More
readily apparent, however, is why Djokovic is so
good. Nobody can stay with him in the long rally, for
he enjoys a significant athletic edge over everyone
else. Working meticulously, he has honed the modern baseline style to its subtlest, most effective
form. His mental resilience, moreover, has both
drawn from and supplemented the physical to a
point where he now appears invulnerable. In professional sport, where every mask cracks, that is the
hardest illusion of all.

improve the plight of crime victims. The

semblance of victory in Gujarat was
achieved against great odds. Gulbarg by itself stands out for the more-than-marginal
vindication of those who screamed for justice and those who supported them fearlessly and single-mindedly, like civil society and
the SIT. How this was made possible is an interesting study.
The SIT was the brainchild of a humane,
innovative and fair-minded Supreme Court
Judge, Arijit Pasayat. He saw it as a neutral
body that would not bypass the state apparatus but still carry enough outside talent to
ward off charges of partisanship. He knew
that the principal task in the situation caused
by the unfortunate Gujarat riots was to lend
enough credibility to the independent labour that the SIT had to put in without fear
or favour. Of the nine cases handed over to
the SIT, eight have been concluded, and only
one, Naroda Gaon, is left. The SIT was able
to get conviction in seven of these occurrences, a signal achievement in riot cases,
something that any investigating team can
feel proud of. The apex courts close yet gentle monitoring, the State governments willingness to provide the infrastructure, and
the dedication of the lower staff of the SIT
performing the daily chores in the field all
contributed greatly. Viewed in this perspective, the Gujarat SIT is a model for other
Importance of witness protection
One factor greatly helped to promote the
cause of justice to victims. This was the apex
courts fiat to the SIT that the latter should
ensure total protection to witnesses who
came forward to testify, first before the SIT
and later in the courts. India, unlike many
other countries, especially the U.S., does not
boast of a solid and foolproof witness protection scheme. As a result, the accused have a
field day to use muscle power to browbeat
crucial witnesses. This was not allowed to
happen in the Gujarat cases handled by the
SIT. An elaborate plan of action was drawn
up and a team led by a senior officer oversaw
the arrangement. Whatever the critics of the
SIT may say, one thing they cannot allege is
any indifference to protecting the victims
and others who came forward to be examined. I have heard this from a scholar at Princeton University who came all the way to study
what kind of justice had been delivered to
the victims. This commends itself to be duplicated all over the country. It does require a
lot of resources. More than that, it needs a
large heart on the part of those who control
the administration.
Mind you, the preliminary investigation
done by the Gujarat Police in all these cases
before the SIT took over cannot not be
brushed aside as inconsequential or biased.
The early unearthing of crucial evidence by
the State police was certainly an aid to the
SIT in building the superstructure. I look upon the SIT despite all its real and manufactured shortcomings as a bold experiment launched by a dynamic Supreme Court
judge, a gamble which paid off. This offers
hope for future investigations of the kind the
SIT had to do in Gujarat.
Is all the above a drop in the ocean? I am
afraid it is so. The criminal justice system in
the country is still mired in unforgivable politicisation and graft. A momentous exercise
by the Centre in collaboration with the
States can greatly help. This requires the
kind of political will that has not been seen
R.K. Raghavan is a former CBI Director and current
Chairman, SIT Gujarat.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

The Modi tour

Prime Minister Narendra Modis
whirlwind five-nation tour appears
to have got off to a good start. As the
inauguration of the Salma dam or
the Afghan-India Friendship Dam in
Afghanistan shows, India should
lead the development process of
Afghanistan. The visit to Herat
which comes just after the
agreement signed in Iran, and where
India will finance the development
of Irans Chabahar port, should lead
to more positive steps. India would
do well to use its influence to
persuade other regional powers to
invest in Afghanistan so that it
attains economic development and
C. Koshy John,

During his speech to the diaspora in

Doha, Mr. Modi referred to the
elimination of bogus ration cards
and the saving of Rs.36,000 crore by
plugging the loopholes in the system
(Crackdown on graft annoying
some: Modi, June 6). It was no
doubt a veiled attack against the
earlier corrupt regime. The point
is that this has become a needless
refrain, totally out of context,
especially during his visits abroad. Is
it necessary for the Prime Minister
to wash dirty linen abroad? Repeated
references to corruption might only
discourage foreign investors. Mr.
Modi is certainly within his rights to
proclaim that he has ensured an
environment healthy for investment
and elaborate on several schemes
ushered in by the BJP government.
But the tone and tenor of his
speeches look like those made
during the election campaign at
home, than ones to be delivered

abroad. I do not recall any other

Indian Prime Minister speaking in
such a manner while abroad.
S.V. Venkatakrishnan,
San Jose, California, U.S.

Violence in Mathura
Criminalisation of politics and the
politicisation of crime seem to have
reached optimal complementarity in
Uttar Pradesh (Editorial, June 6).
There was no need for the district
administration to seek permission
from its political masters to evict
squatters from government
property. This itself reinforces the
perception that the cult had
powerful backers within the ruling
party. When the government fails to
fulfil its constitutional duty of
enforcing the rule of law, it forfeits
its right to continue in office.
Unfortunately, the accountability of
the rulers to the people who elected
them has not achieved the status of a
great moral force that can instil fear
in the minds of the political class.
V.N. Mukundarajan,

Conduct of lawyers
In the article, Do not browbeat
lawyers (June 3), the writers,
practising advocates, while flaying
the recent amendment to Section 34
of the Advocates Act by the Madras
High Court, seem to have
completely lost sight of the
circumstances under which the
court has come out with these
amendments. It is the shameful
conduct of a few lawyers that has
compelled the court to take this
extreme step. Nobody is above the
law and no one can take the law into
his/her hands. Indiscipline is the

bane of any organisation, more so in

the case of the judiciary.
Considering that the essence of the
amendment is to tame those who act
with contempt, one does not
understand why this opposition
when a majority of lawyers adhere to
law and decent conduct.
V.S. Jayaraman,

The changes made to Section 34 of

the Advocates Act do not affect the
independence of the legal profession
as apprehended by the legal
community. After all, lawyers are not
above corruption. The contention of
advocates that the new rule
contradicts Section 49(1)(c) of the
Advocates Act is not correct. Rule iii
says that an advocate who is found to
have sent or spread unfounded or
unsubstantiated allegations/
petitions against a judicial officer or
a judge to the superior officer is to be
punished. This does not mean that if
you have substantial evidence
against any erring judicial officer or
judge you cant send it to the
superiors. The legal profession is a
pious one and it is the responsibility
of lawyers to enable confidence in
the public about the profession.
T.S.N. Rao,
Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh

Claiming the rosogolla

Both Odisha and West Bengal
deserve to receive the intellectual
property tag for the iconic sweet
rosogolla for the simple reason that
while Odisha invented the sweet,
West Bengal popularised it (Odisha
wages a literary struggle to claim
rosogolla as its own, June 6). Such a
step will respect the feelings of both
States while ensuring that the

reputation and quality of the panIndian sweet will remain the same.
Kshirasagara Balaji Rao,

He transcended sport
The world will miss Muhammad Ali,
the icon of heavyweight boxing; he
was a giant who strode around the
boxing ring like a king and scripted
many a record (Editorial, June 6).
The philanthropist in him helped
many of the poor around the world,
making him a model sportsperson.
How many of our sports icons who
live in opulence can emulate him?
M. Somasekhar Prasad,
Badvel, Andhra Pradesh

Muhammad Ali was to boxing what

Bradman was to cricket and Pele to
football. Who can forget his quote,
Im the onliest person that can
speak to everybody in the whole
world. My name is known in Serbia,
Pakistan, Morocco. These are
countries that dont follow the
Kentucky Derby.
Jagmander Goel,

Muhammad Ali leaves behind a rich

legacy not just for boxing, but also
for all of sport. Outside the ring, he
will be remembered for his work for
racial equality. Most importantly, he
made world news at a time when
social media was non-existent. His
life was all about defying the odds
and his quotes were not only spot on
but would evoke feelings such as
fear, awe and, in some cases,
incredulous laughter.
Akshay Viswanathan,

Not many know that it was only 35

years ago, in January 1980, that

crowds thronged Chennais Nehru
stadium to witness the legend in
action. The exhibition bout saw Ali
taking on former heavyweight
champion Jimmy Ellis. I was the
referee and even had a friendly spar
with him. A local Muslim
association presented him with a
copy of the Koran.
T. Adhiraj,

In the 1980s, I was a freelance

photographer in Mumbai and had
the privilege of attending Alis press
conference. From the moment of his
entry, he made the event very lively.
I am happy to be in Bombay; I was
driving here from the airport and
came via Mohammad Ali Road
you have already named a road after
me. This brought the roof down. A
reporter asked, Sir, show us the real
Ali, to which Ali made a mocking
face, which prompted another
reporter to say: Yes, Sir, for once we
thought that the organisers have sent
a look-alike.
Suddenly Ali asked the audience if
they wanted to see a demo bout. He
invited a person from the audience
and then said, Oh, I thought no one
would come, I appreciate your
courage. He then asked the man to
open his palm. Ali went near him
and clinched his fist and said, Look,
I am going to give a punch. He held
his fist near the man and a second
later, told the excited audience,
Well, that was it, I gave him a real
good punch. The audience
protested with a loud No. Ali
responded, Didnt you see it? Oh, it
was so fast that you couldnt see it.
There were thunderous claps.
D.N.T. Rajan,

10 |




The ambiguities of gurudom

The prime attraction of todays guru is that he or she is accessible to all. In circumstances that breed despair,
the guru becomes the healer, the confidant, and the protective patriarch or matriarch
power is on public display. Certainly, Indians
have bowed their foreheads before gurus, renouncers, holy men, savants and peripatetic
sadhus since time immemorial. But these
transactions between believers and faith
leaders were private, confidential and sacrosanct. These days transactions are public affairs; conspicuously orchestrated megaevents are televised and breathlessly consumed by a global constituency.

W E D N E S D AY , J U N E 8 , 2 0 1 6


States of
the Congress

rdinarily, Ajit Jogis decision to form a new

political party in Chhattisgarh wouldnt
have caused as much as a mild flutter in the
Congress. His reputation has been under a cloud
for a long while and his importance in the Congresss scheme of things has declined. Having become the first Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh upon
its formation in 2000, he lost the State to the BJP in
2003, which has held it since then; meanwhile, the
Congress has frittered an inordinate amount of political capital in trying to defend him in a string of
controversies. His exit should have been the opportunity for the Congress to signal its regeneration in
the State. But the Congress today is affected by a
sense of helplessness. In State after State, crisis has
struck in the past few months from the defections in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand to the
exit of important leaders such as Gurudas Kamat
and Himanta Biswa Sarma in Maharashtra and Assam, respectively. There is a tendency for entrenched Congresspersons around the party president and vice-president to see every crisis as a
self-serving opportunity to embed themselves as
advice-givers. To talk of how the party should be organised and how exactly each crisis may be the moment to hasten Rahul Gandhis succession or, alternatively, to put it on hold.
The Gandhi family succession is an issue the
Congress grapples with in its own peculiar way, but
there is no evidence of the party rectifying its internal organisation to fix the lines of communication
and accountability between the high command and
the State units. Put simply, the Congress needs to
reclaim its political coherence by reassessing the
functioning of its general secretaries in working
with State leaderships. Run down the list of officebearers today and there are far too many young
leaders of old, brought in by Rajiv Gandhi to break
the hold of power-brokers. Where is the generational change? There is merit in periodic, mostly
unsolicited, advice to the Congress that it must empower its leaders in the States the party needs to
only look at the returns from giving Sachin Pilot a
freer hand in Rajasthan. Such advice is also borne of
the experience that once the Congress cedes political space to a regional party, it pretty much gets
turfed out of the State. But to fulfil its obligation as a
democratic opposition, a national party cannot be a
conglomerate of State units led by local satraps.
The Congress needs to connect the dots to align its
Akbar Road headquarters in New Delhi with the
State units. The party HQ is in as much need of reform as the Pradesh Congress Committees.

Newspaper reports on the Jawahar Bagh killings in Mathura followed in quick succession
accounts of the extravaganza hosted by Sri
Sri Ravi Shankar on the floodplain of the Yamuna in Delhi. Both reports reinforce convictions that our world is best described as
topsy-turvy. There was a time when statesmen like Jawaharlal Nehru believed that religion was dangerous because it convinced
followers that hunger, filth and misery were
their natural lot. Today god-men, accomplished practitioners of the art of politics,
wield considerable power and political
clout. But they wilfully overlook, and thereby sanction misery, hunger and filth.
Consider the paradoxes of this rapidly
growing phenomenon. Men of god are expected to be renouncers. New-age gurus
dress in flashy apparel, travel in luxurious
private planes, host celebrations attended by
pomp and splendour, and endeavour to
arouse shock and awe among devotees. Ministers, Supreme Court judges, high-ranking
bureaucrats, police officers, corporate honchos, and media personalities genuflect at
the feet of self-styled gurus. Never have religious leaders fetched such unthinking obeisance, and untrammelled power as they do
today. It is not surprising that they have neither time nor inclination to do something
about the ills of our society.
Down the ages
This was not always so. In all religions, visionary spiritual leaders have challenged
hierarchies and disparities, exploitation and
discrimination of the community. From the
sixth to the sixteenth century the Bhakti
movement launched a powerful attack on
caste-based discrimination in Hinduism.
Till today the subversive poetry authored by
Kabir is remembered, recited and sung.
Pandit, he addressed the Brahmin, look in
your heart to know. Tell me how untouchability was born untouchability is what
you made so.
Right up till the turn of the twentieth cen-

These days transactions are public

affairs; conspicuously orchestrated
mega-events are televised and
breathlessly consumed by
a global constituency
tury, a number of religious leaders driven by
the quest for a moral order, and fired by the
belief that untouchability was a later appendage to Hinduism, tried to retrieve the
spiritual essence of the religion. Over the
millennia, others threw up their metaphorical hands in despair, broke away and established new religions Buddhism, Jainism,
and Sikhism. Hinduism, smudged deeply by
social exclusion, became the object of struggle, the target of social reform movements,
and often the butt of ridicule.
Do we see any of this questioning by cults
today? Perhaps not. Self-styled gurus can
hardly launch a critique of a system of which
they are the beneficiaries. When the spiritual leader of the infamous Swadheen Bharat
Subhas Sena, Jai Gurudev, died in 2012, he reportedly left property and land worth
Rs.12,000 crore, a school, a petrol pump, a
temple that secured him immortality, ashrams, assets, and luxury cars. Hinduism is a
religion that teaches detachment; ironically,
leaders of cults are passionately attached to
worldly possessions, power and pelf. Their

Soulless world and leaders

Why do then thousands of people flock to
new-age gurus on show? Perhaps there is an
answer. Within the tradition, the guru spent
many years mastering philosophical knowledge because his role was that of a medium
between individuals and the divine. He himself was never the divine. Yet access to the
spiritual leader was restricted through elaborate rituals of exclusion of castes and often
The prime attraction of todays guru is that
he/she is accessible to all. The gates of spiritual wisdom have been thrown open, gatekeepers have been dispensed with, and religious philosophy has been democratised.
Whether the leader himself is a democrat is
questionable. But that does not matter for
people who have been left rudderless in a
world of vulgar consumerism and stark disparities. They have lost confidence in their
ability to negotiate the demands of a marketdriven society. In capitalist society the value
of a person is judged by the value of her possessions. Individuals themselves become
commodities at considerable cost to their
self-esteem and assurance.
Social norms breed despair, and the guru
becomes the healer, the confidant, and the
protective patriarch or matriarch. In a commodity-driven world, where ordinary people lurch like a fragile raft on stormy waters from one crisis to another, religion
becomes as Marx had said, the heart of a
heartless world, and the soul of the soulless
condition. The problem is not with religion,
it is with this soulless world that many seek
to negotiate with the help of a religious
The quest for reassurance and validation
of the self through face-to-face interaction
with a local deity, or saint or a god-man is not


A cautionary

eserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram

Rajan has opted for caution, citing the uncertainty surrounding the future trajectory
of inflation and signs of an upside bias to expectations. In leaving interest rates unchanged while retaining an accommodative monetary policy, he
has chosen to leave all options on the table and wait
to see how various global and domestic factors pan
out. That the RBI has opted for watchfulness, notwithstanding the prospect of an above normal
and well-distributed monsoon that has the potential of being a source of disinflationary pressure,
is testimony to the central banks concern about
keeping inflation expectations well-anchored.
Consumer price inflation posted a surprisingly rapid acceleration to 5.39 per cent in April on the back
of a more-than-seasonal jump in the prices of food
items including vegetables, fruits, sugar, meat, fish,
pulses and edible oils. Separately, international
prices of commodities have started to strengthen,
including that of crude oil; this has begun feeding
through into higher transport and communication
costs. The overall impact of these trends has been
that the inflation expectations of households, projected three months ahead, moved up marginally in
May after the previous survey had shown a decline.
And the elephant in the room is the anticipated implementation of the Seventh Central Pay Commissions recommendations: to what extent the increased payouts will fan inflation has yet to be
quantified, and will ultimately depend on the Centres timetable for implementation.
The RBI has also flagged the challenges to sustaining Indias economic momentum: global
growth is uneven and struggling to gain traction,
world trade is floundering for want of demand, the
U.S. is weighed down by contracting industrial activity and exports, deflationary pressures are building in Japan, and the slowdown in China shows no
signs of reversing. Besides, if Britain votes to leave
the European Union, there is a real risk of some
turmoil in the financial markets, according to Dr.
Rajan, who added that the RBI is armed with adequate reserves to weather any volatility that may
emerge. On the domestic front, green shoots are
visible on many fronts. Cargo traffic at major ports,
commercial vehicle sales, cement output and steel
consumption are leading an upturn that point to a
more broad-based expansion. The RBIs own surveys reveal healthier order books and a pick-up in
capacity utilisation that can help trigger a revival in
private investment. Ultimately though, a lot will
hinge on how the monsoon fares, and how much
the Centre is willing to invest by way of capital to
bolster public sector banks. The central bank, in the
end, can only do so much.

Hindutva versus god-men

Ironically personalised worship to a newage guru has recreated multiple centres of
belief that are characteristic of Hinduism.
Historians tell us that the unified religion we
call Hinduism is a colonial construct, because it were colonial administrators and
missionaries who lumped various groups,
philosophies, faiths, and ideologies under
the umbrella term Hinduism. Neo-Hindu
leaders, buffeted by criticism of practices
sanctioned by Hinduism, responded to the
colonial encounter by projecting a pan-Indian religion.
Over time this religion provided identity
and inspiration to sections of the nationalist
movement. V.D. Savarkar refused to accept
that Hinduism is of relatively recent provenance, and suggested that the religion goes
back into ancient time. He called it Hindutva, an ideology that forms the crux of the homogenising project of the religious Right.
The irony is that Hindutva can only go so far,
it contributes to identity formation through
differentiation, but it cannot fill empty or
half-filled pockets, give jobs, assure dignity,
promise security, or allay insecurities and
complexes. That only an urban-based guru
or a cult, which has replaced the traditional
roadside shrine, can give.
The contradiction is that even if gurudom
feeds into the project of Hindutva, spiritual
leaders exercise, for the state, dangerous autonomy. For example, Jawahar Bagh developed into an independent township within
the precincts of a sovereign India. Its inhabitants established an economy, an educational system, a currency, and imparted training
in violence to the children. They also created
a rather wacky political and economic agenda, but one that posed a challenge to the government. That gurus influence considerably
the electoral fortunes of the local candidate
is the worst-kept secret in India. That is why
politicians court them.
We know that Hindutva is fractured along
the lines of caste and class. But it is also a
brittle construct because it has to compete
with personalised religious cults for the loyalties of citizens. Over time, the project is
bound to come a cropper, because what we
call Hinduism is nothing but a time-bound
coalition of cults, religious groups, personalised modes of worship and localised gods.
These relentlessly subvert the homogenising ideology of Hindutva. For the rational,
god-men are irrational, for the votaries of
Hindutva they provide a rather major headache.
Neera Chandhoke is a former Professor of Political
Science, Delhi University.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Road to justice
The writer (A long road to justice,
June 7) says, The criminal justice
system in the country is still mired in
unforgivable politicisation and
graft. This is true but the tireless
investigation taken up by the SIT
under a hostile regime rekindled
hope among the victims and
strengthened their faith in the
criminal justice system. In the past,
culprits would have got away scotfree. But now, with media vigil and
support from NGOs, there is still
some hope of justice.
Mohammed Saleem Ahmed,

It is unfortunate that in India, getting

justice is not easy. R.K. Raghavans
article shows that a competent
system and a speedy trial process
can play a lead role in finally
ensuring justice.
Reshma Rajeevan,

Though one can understand and

appreciate the serious concerns and
reservations in the criminal justice
system which result in, inter alia,
inordinate delay and threat to
witnesses, it should not be forgotten
that procedural laws like the
Criminal Procedure Code, the
Indian Penal Code and the allimportant Evidence Act are
scholarly products of vintage British
India. A lot of thought has gone into
them and it is precisely why they
have not been tinkered with so far.
The SIT in the Gujarat riot cases has
done a commendable job and one
needs to recognise this.
V. Lakshmanan,
Tirupur, Tamil Nadu


new. In Punjab, for years Hindus, Muslims

and Sikhs worshipped together at roadside
shrines, or at the tomb of a Sufi saint. In the
town of Malerkotla, Hindus, Muslims, and
Sikhs offer money, jewels, and cooked sweet
rice at the mazaar of Sheikh Sadr-ud-Din,
the founder of Malerkotla and a Sufi saint.
Thousands of people visit a fair held on the
first Thursday of every month. In 1904 the
author of the Malerkotla Gazetteer wrote in
a puzzled mien, It is strange that these fairs
are mostly attended by Hindus though Sadrud-Din was a Muslim saint. This is a town of
Sufi tombs, temple bells hang in front of
mosques, and Om is tattooed on the hands of
the keeper of the shrine. Notably Malerkotla
has never witnessed a communal riot, simply because joint worship created a political
community. It is debatable whether modern
gurus teach followers to live in harmony
with other fellow beings. At best, they teach
instant moksha, at worst they exploit

While the writer has been

convincing enough in making a case
for replicating the Gujarat SIT
model, he has chosen not to speak
on the preposterous demand of the
prosecution in asking for capital
punishment for the culprits. The
state should not act like a killing
machine or repeat the deeds of the
culprits themselves ending lives.
Lets hope the judicial process takes
its course by not putting this case in
the rarest of rare categories.
Yonark Bajaj,
New Delhi

Rules of conduct
I read with interest the articles, Do
not browbeat lawyers and
Browbeating, prerogative of
lawyers? (June 3 and June 7). Gone
are the days when the Madras High
Court was noted for its eminent
lawyers who enlivened the court
with their pun, wit and fun-filled
arguments. There were followers to
read and enjoy the arguments and
verdicts of the court in the news.
The seven incidents S. Prabakaran
has cited show how decency and
decorum in the legal field have gone
downhill. For example, who cares
about rights when there is a secret
understanding to prolong civil suits
on property matters? I dont want to
speak about corrupt practices, but
all such unpleasantness must come
to an end and the past glory of the
Madras High Court regained.
Rajakumar Arulanandham,
Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu

The new conduct rules need to be

looked at in perspective. There can
be nothing wrong in taking action
against a lawyer who comes

inebriated to court. Gheraos,

placards and disruptive processions
have no place in courtrooms and
campuses. Threatening or abusing a
judge should also invite punitive
action. However, the term
browbeat should be discarded
since it is susceptible to multiple
interpretation; one lawyers strong
persuasion can become anothers
browbeating. Sending a bona fide
complaint about a judge to a
superior authority is an aid to the
administration of justice; spreading
scandalous allegations, especially on
social media, brings down judicial
morale and dignity, and the rules
should make a distinction between
the two. Taking money to bribe a
judge is reprehensible, but this can
become an avenue for harassment of
lawyers by disgruntled clients, and
interim debarment here would be an
undue threat. The rules, therefore,
require modification, but not
jettisoning. They wouldnt have
been necessary had the Bar Council,
the professional regulatory body,
played its disciplining role properly.
Till that happens, the court should
have some power to protect the
Sriram Panchu,

Being a law student, I personally

would not like to get browbeaten by
my colleagues or be in a position
where I browbeat other lawyers or
the judges who are the supreme
authority. A judgment given cannot
be considered as an unbiased one if
it is arrived at by browbeating. It
should be construed on established
facts and evidence.
Aashna Singh,
Ludhiana, Punjab

Curbing black money

The news about sharing information
on black money with the Swiss
government raises quite a few
questions (India, Switzerland agree
to curb black money, June 7). This
will be only the tip of the iceberg.
What about information from other
foreign countries? How about black
money held by business giants in
India? Except the salaried class and
businessmen with integrity, how
many declare at least 20 per cent of
their income? Honest officers face
many difficulties with their transfer
and retention in the same grade for a
long time to kill their enthusiasm
being the practice for decades. It
would be no exaggeration to say that
the government needs supermen at
the helm to ensure that things are
honest and transparent.
N.R.U.K. Kartha,

Violence in Mathura
Mathura is a sample of similar
situations prevalent all over India,
where the culprits are backed and
supported by local politicians who
will stoop to any level to conquer
(Local officials to blame for
Mathura violence: U.P. govt., June
7). It is disheartening that those who
maintain law and order have to
suffer the consequences.
Meenakshi Pattabiraman,

The problem of encroachment is

widespread not just in Uttar Pradesh
but across India. Public land can be
grabbed because a stone idol found
(or placed) at the base of a tree
heralds the arrival of a divine

presence, and the land around the

tree becomes a site for the faithful to
congregate. Or, public land can be
grabbed by brute force, as in
Mathura. At the first sign of such
violations, the authorities are dutybound to act and evict those engaged
in such activities. The events ought
not to surprise us. Nor should they
lead to finger-pointing or lend
weight to political charges.
Meghana A.,
Shell Cove, New South Wales, Australia

The importance of Ali

Muhammad Alis legacy is both
complicated and a very political one
that should not be lost to a whitewashing of history. His fights in the
ring were nothing when compared
to the ones he and fellow activists
waged in the public arena, fights that
most of white America was oblivious
to. He called out the real racial and
social disparities in the world. He
was truly a great sportsman,
graceful, outrageously funny and full
of wisdom. I cannot forget his: I
done something new for this fight...
Only last week I murdered a rock,
injured a stone, hospitalised a brick.
Im so mean I make medicine sick.
C.R. Krishnan,
Vashi, Maharashtra

The Lord of the Ring elevated the

concept of boxing as a cruel sport to
one of art, using it to chisel his life
and spirit. The pugilist in him never
rallied with punches to settle scores
with people. Instead, with super
self-esteem and strength, he showed
us how we can knockout the hurdles
in our lives.
Nirmala Varma,

10 |




Tempering economic ebullience

Continued weakness in the world economy, problems in our banking sector, the ongoing fiscal consolidation
and the falling investment rate mean a return to 8 per cent growth may not happen anytime soon
Mid-Year Economic Analysis (2015-16) and
the Economic Survey (2015-16).
A key factor boosting Indias growth in
2015-16 was the decline in world oil prices.
Lower oil prices translate into higher private
consumption. The mid-year review estimated the boost to growth from higher private
consumption at 1-1.5 percentage points, assuming that oil prices through the year would
average $50 per barrel. The Economic
Survey estimated that this benefit would
continue to accrue to the economy in 2016-17,
albeit to a lesser extent. It estimated oil prices
for 2016-17 to be $35 per barrel. The gain to Indias economic growth on this account, it
said, would be about half that in 2015-16.

T H U R S D AY , J U N E 9 , 2 0 1 6


A big crack in
the glass ceiling

ven before Americans went to the polling

booths on Tuesday for a blitzkrieg of primaries across six States, history was in the making. According to a survey by a news agency, Hillary
Clinton had already secured more than the minimum of 2,383 delegates necessary to clinch the
nomination at the Democratic Partys convention
in Philadelphia. This would make her the first
woman to clinch the presidential nomination of a
major political party in the U.S., an achievement
that comes 96 years after women in the worlds oldest democracy won the right to vote. If the superdelegates backing her stay true to their promise to
support her at the convention, then Ms. Clinton
will have finally won the bid to be on the ballot as a
presidential candidate, eight years after she first
gave it a shot. Of course, to occupy the White
House, she will first have to ward off a stiff attack
from presumptive Republican nominee Donald
Trump, the fire-breathing property billionaire. At
the moment Ms. Clintons strong delegate count
puts in the shadow her only Democratic rival the
self-declared socialist Bernie Sanders. Yet regardless of what Mr. Sanders does going forward, he will
be recognised for consistently tilting the hateful
discourse of this election year towards a more humane, less bigoted idiom and fighting unapologetically against economic inequality and the influence
of special interests.
Among the challenges Ms. Clinton faces is the
need to win, before November, the hearts and
minds of Mr. Sanders supporters, who are disenchanted with a policy that is seen as favouring the
super-rich. Her credentials as former Secretary of
State, First Lady and a well-connected Washington
insider place her in stark contrast to Mr. Sanders.
She will have to travel many miles to persuade the
young, liberal millennial cohort that supports him,
convincing them she has the quintessentially Democratic value of batting for the middle class through
publicly provided safety nets. Then there is the other persona that she has to contend with: Mr. Trump.
Despite vicious verbal attacks on minorities, including Muslims, Mexicans and the differently
abled, women and the media, he has soared from
strength to strength on the back of astonishing support from a socially insecure Middle America. Ms.
Clintons much stronger lead in nationwide opinion polls in previous months has shrunk to a mere
two-point average across seven major polls. If she is
to ultimately become Madam President, she will
have to step deftly through a quagmire of troubling
questions surrounding the 2012 Benghazi attack,
her use of a private email server while serving as
Secretary, and her ties to Wall Street finance.

The Central Statistics Offices (CSO) provisional estimates for the Indian economy for
2015-16 have created a buzz. The estimates
show the Indian economy growing at 7.6 per
cent in 2015-16, with a surge of 7.9 per cent in
the last quarter. This has led some to conclude that 8 per cent growth is around the
We need to put the celebrations on hold. In
the short run, our growth prospects are constrained by global factors and fiscal consolidation at home. The medium-term story is
jeopardised by continued weakness in the
world economy, the problems in our banking
sector and the fall in the investment rate.
Overall growth of 7.6 per cent for 2015-16 is
in line with advance estimates. It is an improvement on growth of 7.2 per cent in 201415. However, there are three puzzles to the
growth story.
The growth story, dissected
First, manufacturing has grown at 8.1 per
cent at current prices. This is not matched by
the growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), which is only 2.4 per cent. Second,
it is hard to explain how manufacturing
growth has been so strong when exports as a
whole have contracted. Third, as the Centre
for Monitoring Indian Economy has pointed
out, a big chunk of the growth in 2015-16 has
come from an item called discrepancies in
the CSOs statistics (in plain language, an
item about which we know little). Of the
growth of 7.6 per cent in 2015-16, 2.4 percentage points were accounted for by discrepancies. In 2014-15, the same item accounted for
0.1 percentage points out of growth of 7.2 per
cent. Compare 2014-15 and 2015-16 after leaving out discrepancies and the growth rate
figures are: 7.1 per cent and 5.2 per cent. It is

A big chunk of the 7.6 per cent

growth in 2015-16 has come from
an item called discrepancies in
the CSOs statistics an item
about which we know little
hard to be jubilant about something you dont
quite understand.
What about 2016-17? The upbeat view is
that we can expect a boost to growth in the
coming year from three sources: rural consumption (thanks to better monsoons), urban consumption (thanks to the impending
Seventh Central Pay Commission award),
and increased government capital expenditure projected in the Budget for 2016-17.
Alas, this upbeat view assumes that all other factors in the economy will remain constant. They will not. To grasp this, we need
only to look at the analysis presented by the

Around 7 per cent and why

This assumption threatens to be undone.
Oil prices have already moved up to $50 per
barrel. If they stay at this level, there is every
prospect that the gains in 2015-16 on account
of falling oil prices would be absent. The Pay
Commission hike could contribute about 0.6
per cent of the GDP depending on how much
of it is fully paid out in 2016-17. A better monsoon could add about 0.3 percentage points.
The net effect of private consumption on
economic growth relative to last year would
thus be minus 0.6 per cent (minus 1.5 percentage points due to the gain from lower oil prices being absent, plus 0.6 per cent due to the
Pay Commission package, plus 0.3 percentage points due to the monsoons effect on rural demand). The recent rise in oil prices
could thus overwhelm potential gains from
better monsoons and the pay hike.
The mid-year review saw higher exports in
2016-17 as fully compensating for the loss in
private consumption. It arrived at a projection of demand for Indias exports by estimating the weighted average growth of Indias trading partners. This proxy for export
demand declined from 3 per cent in 2014 to
2.7 per cent in 2015.
The mid-year review expected that it
would go back to 3 per cent in 2016, which


in Punjab

dta Punjab is not the first film that the Central Board of Film Certification has sought
changes in. And as in several previous instances of censorship, its demand has no rational
basis and violates the constitutional guarantee of
freedom of expression. The plot line of the film is
anchored in Punjabs widespread drug addiction, a
problem that has been extensively researched and
detailed. It is widely known that drugs are laying
waste the people of the State. Ironically, the CBFC
wants Punjab expunged from the title along with
edits so that the drama could be read as taking place
anywhere in the country, not specifically in Punjab.
Depictions of live issues and events are usually introduced with the caveat that resemblance to real
persons is accidental, and it would be logical to assume that this is where the Board should have left it.
The reasons for its censorious zeal are not difficult
to guess. Assembly elections in Punjab are less than
a year away, and the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal,
which leads a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata
Party, is being cornered most acutely on drug
abuse. It is accused not only of failing to check the
drug trade, but also of turning its eyes away from
the involvement of well-connected individuals.
The films producer has taken the matter to court,
and one must await further legal developments to
know the fate of the film. But in his inordinate enthusiasm in talking down Udta Punjab, CBFC chief
Pahlaj Nihalani has only brought the issue of drug
consumption in Punjab back into the spotlight.
It is just as well that the matter of certification
has been taken to the courts. As film-makers scope
the landscape for realistic depictions of immediate
issues, they face resistance in the form of CBFC recommendations or outright threats of violence from
assorted groups. From Bombay in the Nineties to
Vishwaroopam more recently, the right of producers to screen their films is often negotiated politically. There have been many efforts to secure the
freedom of expression for example the G.D.
Khosla report in 1969 recommended independent
members on the Board, then called the Central
Board of Film Censors. Independence has remained elusive and even if full autonomy of the
Board is ensured, there is no guaranteeing that the
institution would be any less scissor-happy. Perhaps the Shyam Benegal Committee set up early
this year by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has offered a more practical solution: the
CBFC should only certify a film and its scope
should be restricted to categorising the suitability
of the film according to the audience group for
which it is intended.

would translate into exports contributing 1.3

percentage points to GDP. This projection
too has been overtaken by adverse global
trends. The Economic Survey expects that
the proxy for export demand will improve
only marginally to 2.8 per cent. Given global
uncertainties, even this could prove to be optimistic. Thus, export growth can at best contribute 0.4-0.5 percentage points to GDP relative to 2015-16.
The third factor to be taken into account is
government spending. Most analysts have
got carried away by increases in capital expenditure projected in the last Budget. However, as the mid-year review correctly points
out, in estimating the impact on aggregate
demand, we should be looking at the fiscal
deficit. The fiscal deficit factors in not just
increases in capital expenditure but also declines in other government expenditure as
well higher taxes. Fiscal consolidation
planned for 2016-17 means that demand will
shrink by 0.4 percentage points of the GDP.
Lastly, we cannot expect private investment to pick up given that corporate balance
sheets are stressed and real interest rates very high. Adding up the pluses and minuses
estimated above, we get a fall in GDP growth
relative to the growth rate of 7.6 per cent in
2015-16 of 0.5 percentage points. This means
that growth is likely to end up closer to 7 per
cent in 2016-17, the lower end of the band of 77.75
Economic Survey. And this is without factoring in the potential for upheaval arising from
Brexit, a rise in U.S. interest rates and a further slowing down in China.
Problems in the medium term
The medium-term prospects are not very
encouraging either. Part of the problem is Indias increased integration with the world
economy. The Economic Survey points out
that as a result, the correlation between Indias economic growth and world economic
growth has risen from 0.2 in 1991-92 to to 0.42
in 2015-16. It says that if the world economy
continues to grow at around 3 per cent
(which is what the World Bank and International Monetary Fund project until 2018), Indias growth rate is fated to remain in the
range of 7-7.75 per cent.
The second problem is the state of the
banking sector. Sorting out the bad loan
problems, strengthening public sector banks
and getting loan growth to industry to revive
strongly will take another two to three years
at the very least. A banking crisis, which is
the failure of multiple banks, can derail an
economy from its growth path for several
years. We do not have a banking crisis but we
do have a stressed situation. Getting out of it
is not easy.
Third, the investment rate has fallen steeply. Gross fixed capital formation, which is a
measure of productive assets in the economy,
has fallen from 34.3 per cent of GDP in 2011-12
to 30.8 per cent in 2014-15. We need to increase the rate to 34-35 per cent.
Raising the growth rate to over 8 per cent
in the next two or three years is a huge challenge. Its a challenge that certainly cannot be
overcome as long as we operate within the
present straitjacket of fiscal consolidation
and inflation targeting, policies that tend to
reduce growth in the medium-term. Can the
Narendra Modi government summon the
courage to think very differently?
T.T. Ram Mohan is a professor at IIM, Ahmedabad.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Clearing a hurdle
Prime Minister Narendra Modis
whirlwind multi-nation tour has
doubtless been an image-boosting
exercise for India but only time will
tell whether it will fetch dividends.
A significant takeaway is that unlike
in 2015, there have been no
objections this time to Indias entry
into the Missile Technology Control
Regime (India to join missile treaty
club, June 8). There is also
something to cheer about in
connection with the stalled IndiaU.S. civil nuclear deal (Obama,
Modi welcome start of work on
reactors, June 8).
Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi may have
agreed on a grandiose initiative that
aims at mobilising $400 million for
renewable and low-carbon
electricity for one million Indian
homes by 2020, but the overriding
reality is that the U.S. is due for
presidential elections and the new
administrations policies remain to
be watched (India, U.S. to ratify
Paris deal by 2017, June 8).
Moreover, as there is often many a
slip between the cup and the lip
when it comes to the U.S. abiding by
the promises it makes, New Delhi
will have to prudently weigh the
pros and cons before inking the
ratification of the Paris Agreement.
The principle of equity has to be
reflected in the emerging climate
change architecture.
Nalini Vijayaraghavan,

world. The foundations followers

are from across communities and
this includes the Islamic countries.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar cannot be called
a religious leader of Hindus but is a
spiritual leader for many
communities. In fact the Art of
Living should be projected as soft
power in Indias move to strengthen
international relations.
Deepshikha Thapliyal,

One yearns for the simplicity and

towering presence of a Bhagavan
Ramana Maharshi and Jagadguru
Shankaracharya as their teachings
cut through the clutter in our minds
and appeal to the soul. Our worldly
insecurities and anxieties have led
us to modern-day godmen who are
flourishing. The heady cocktail of
religion and politics only causes
trouble and the masses hardly
emerge the wiser.
Anand Srinivasan,

The Bhakti movement focussed on

the aspect that religion is a personal
matter. But today, religion has
become a multi-crore business.
What most people do not realise is
that the conservative right is one of
the biggest promoters of these
self-styled gurus and does not want
rational thinking to develop. We
should be thankful that we have
liberal and rational thinkers to take
up the fight.
Karan Choudhary,
Pathankot, Punjab

Todays godmen run the show on a

commercial basis. We seem to have
forgotten that the Bhakti movement,
for example, laid emphasis on the
elimination of intermediaries
between god and worshippers and
exploitation in the name of religion.
People should embrace rational
thinking and realise that godmen are
mere fellow humans.
P. Prabu Kumar,



In todays predominantly
materialistic world, cut-throat
competition keeps one in a state of
constant tension. Having faith in
ones strength and the ability to cope
in any situation is what we gain
through spirituality. It is what binds
all individuals irrespective of caste,
religion or race and a guru helps us
understand this. With so many
instant gurus, the onus lies on
people to be rational and wise about
whom to choose.
Aditi Parab,

This reminds me of Ustad Zakir

Hussains observation in a seminar
some time ago that everyone wants
to be entertained and the artist has
to ensure this. What he meant was
that people attend a music concert
not only to listen to music but also to
be entertained. The backdrop is as
important as the artist. Similarly,
people attend a religious discourse
to attempt spiritual progression and
be entertained. In a commoditydriven world, hope has also become
a commodity. As Arundhati Roy
once said, man needs to hope and
there will be peddlers of hope. In the
hope market, supply creates its own
P. Perraju Sharma,

On gurudom

Thane, Maharashtra

The writer (The ambiguities of

gurudom, June 8) appears to be
biased against spirituality. How can
she claim that spiritual gurus have
neither the time nor the inclination
to do something about the ills of our
society? For example, the Art of
Living Foundation has been involved
in propagating peace across the

A point the writer has missed is the

ubiquitous absence of caste in
modern ashrams. They are open to
all castes, including Dalits, and do
not discriminate. I feel that the
presence of gurus does have a
positive impact on our society.
Pradeep Kothari,
Churu, Rajasthan


Cuts in Udta Punjab

The hue and cry over the alteration
the CBFC has sought in the narrative

of Udta Punjab, with as many as 89

cuts, points to a well-planned
strategy to malign the BJP-led NDA
government (Its like living in North
Korea: Kashyap, June 8).
The concept of a Censor Board and
the mandatory condition of its
approval before the release of any
film has always been in place and so
have been objections and refusals in
the past by the Board on various
occasions. The film certification
authority has every right to raise
objections against what it deems
unfit and suggest corrections
therein. The timing and some
political support for this film raise
doubts about the intentions of the
film-makers and the forces behind
the script. The people supporting
the case of Udta Punjab could
instead contribute towards fighting
drug addiction.
Jai Prakash Gupta,
Ambala Cantonment, Haryana

The Censor Board seems to have

become a chopping board.
Suggesting alterations to the point
where there should be no reference
to Punjab only reinforces the
perception and fact that Punjab is
facing a serious drug addiction
problem. When a film like Maachis,
which dealt with Punjab terrorism,
found no objections, how does a
yet-to-be screened film on the
States dirty drug problem end up
being sanitised?

Crisis in the Congress

Accident of birth cannot be a
surrogate for leadership, charisma
and following, which are just not
available to the Gandhi family
anymore as a given (Editorial, June
8). The time has come for partymen
in the Congress to introspect and
make an informed choice between
continuing as a family-run

organisation or being led by a

fraternity of competent and proven
leaders who can turn around the
partys fortunes systemically and
sequentially. The plan of action can
be put in place as 2019 is not too far
Mohan M. Prasad,

In the tiny Union Territory of

Puducherry, the leader of the party
and government was decided by the
high command and a non-elected
incumbent was thrust upon many
competent elected members. The
inverted pyramid structure of the
organisation is of no use in this day
and age. The party has to work hard
to rebuild its basic foundation using
youth power and infused with
dedication and a sense of sacrifice.
The Nehru-Gandhi family can guide
things. The fault lies with the second
level of leadership the older
generation which is clinging to
power centres and unwilling to
accommodate the energetic youth
force available on hand.
Mahalingam Yaaman,

There have been several articles,

editorials and letters on the state of
affairs in the grand old party.
However, one thing is very clear.
The party never seems to learn from
its mistakes. Its steady decline is
because of poor electoral strategy in
the Assembly elections; a leadership
which hardly inspires confidence at
the national level in this crisisridden phase, and a think tank which
hardly looks beyond the Family. The
party needs to come up with a
mature, senior leader who can hold
his own against a Prime Minister
who seems to be winning accolades
with each passing day and is proving
to be a leader who leads from the
C.M. Umanath,
Marikunnu, Kerala

10 |




Contours of a natural alliance

What sets the current India-U.S. relationship apart is its political and economic heft and the growing
geopolitical and security dimensions of the friendship
and convergence in its extraordinary
partnership with the U.S. The stress is on
long-term, whether it is cooperation in
clean energy, including nuclear power,
greenhouse gas emission controls, renewable power, or in combating the threat of
terrorists accessing chemical, biological,
nuclear and radiological materials. The
commitment to enhance cyber collaboration and cybersecurity cooperation defined
in the joint statement must be consolidated
with a well-structured programme of

F R I D AY , J U N E 1 0 , 2 0 1 6


The new symphony

in India-U.S. ties

t the end of his rousing speech to the U.S.

Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
quoted Walt Whitman to indicate that there
was a new symphony in play between India and
the U.S. The past two years bear out such lyricism
in the bilateral relationship. Defence ties have been
consolidated in three ways: in defence procurement from the U.S. as well as co-development projects, which are worth over $14 billion; in coordination, cooperation and sharing of information
between the two defence forces; and increasingly,
on the idea of working together on operations on
piracy, peacekeeping and patrolling. However, it is
the strategic relationship, with Indias positioning
on non-alignment, that is the most dramatic score
in the symphony. Although the Centre has drawn
the line at an alliance and joint patrols, it is clear
from the joint vision statement signed in New Delhi
last year that the Modi government intends to move
closer to the U.S. on defence issues. In recognition,
during Mr. Modis visit the U.S. declared India a
major defence partner, a designation specially
created to describe this new relationship and one
that is just short of a military alliance. In 2005, Manmohan Singh told the U.S. Congress of how Indias
growth and prosperity is in American interest, and
the heavy lifting has yielded annual bilateral trade
of $107 billion now. On Wednesday, Mr. Modi took
the theme forward by saying, A stronger and prosperous India is in Americas strategic interest.
All symphonies have a short pause between
movements, and the government must take a similar pause as the U.S. administration changes to
chart the road ahead. It must also factor in the strategic closeness with the U.S. on its other key bilateral engagements, from Russia to China, and within
the neighbourhood. Mr. Modis statement that a
strong U.S. partnership will ensure security of the
sea lanes of commerce and freedom of navigation
on seas all the way from Asia to Africa and from
the Indian Ocean to the Pacific will be read by
Beijing with some concern; India should either reassure China or be prepared for a counter-move
from Beijing on this count. Mr. Modi seemed to suggest India has firmly put its Cold War compacts behind it when he said the Indo-U.S. relationship has
overcome the hesitations of history. If such a candid admission can be made across the seas inside
the U.S. Congress, the Modi government would
serve Indias foreign policy well to explain its strategic shift to Parliament too. This is a necessary domestic input to allow the relationship to be a
bridge to a more united, humane and prosperous
world, words that drew standing ovation.

Despite the argumentative chaos of Indian

democratic life, where his proponents and
opponents continue to slug it out, Narendra
Modi is widely seen abroad as a leader who
signifies energy and hope for an aspirational India. His coming to office unleashed a
surge of expectations, and that tide has not
receded. The sustained American outreach
and his embrace of the prospect of and increasingly tangible reality of interlocking
interests between the worlds two most important democracies is very much a part of
the Modi-era zeitgeist.
Both of the Asia-Pacific world
This week Mr. Modi went to Washington
again, his visit a powerful and evocative celebration of what is now termed an enduring
global partnership between two key democracies, both countries of the Asia-Pacific world. This relationship is an ever-evolving one, increasingly multifaceted. Foreign
Secretary S. Jaishankar termed this visit, the
second bilateral visit made by Mr. Modi to
the United States in two years, as a consolidation. The joint statement issued during
the visit, on June 7, spoke of the two countries pledging to provide global leadership
on issues of shared interest.
The opening of the doors of the Capitol,
as Mr. Modi termed it, during his address to
the two Houses of Congress, of this temple
of democracy as he said, drawing reference also to Abraham Lincoln, signified in
many ways the coming round of the circle of
redemption for a political personality who,
till his coming to office as Prime Minister of
India, had been denied a visa to enter the
U.S. Pushing the right buttons, knowing
how to win American friends, speaking an
idiom understood by Americans, he demonstrated perfect pitch in his homage to the
memory of American servicemen buried in
Arlington Cemetery.
Stressing the D-word democracy is
a must for all interactions between India
and the U.S. Despite the criticism about levels of religious freedom in India, which
some Americans claim is directed against
us because India is held to a higher stan-

One of Mr. Modis messages was

that developed countries must
open their economies not only to
goods but also services from
developing economies like India
dard, Indias well-burnished credentials as
a vibrant and strongly anchored democracy
are not questioned in the U.S. Mr. Modi
struck a responsive chord when he made
the mandatory references.
At the U.S-India Business Council, the
reform to transform message was well-articulated by the Prime Minister. There has
been apprehension expressed in Washington about the pace of reform of the Indian
economy and the lack of ease of doing business. Mr. Modi sought to reassure American
business and investors by outlining measures taken by his government to effect further liberalisation of the Indian economy.
In my vision, a partnership between American capital and innovation, and Indian human resources and entrepreneurship can
be very powerful, he said. His message to
his American audience also was that developed countries must open their economies
not only to goods but also services from developing economies like India. The message should not be lost.
This is a relationship that can deservedly,
today, be granted an affirmation of good
health and as far as foreign policy narratives
go, India under Mr. Modi has moved beyond
the hesitations of history, as the Prime Minister put it, to a state of comfort, candour

The NSG message

That the U.S. champions the cause of Indias application for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and beckoned
to NSG Participating Governments to support Indias application when it comes up at
the NSG Plenary later this month is yet another indicator of the robust state of the relationship. The recognition of India as a
Major Defence Partner (or, a major partner
of equal status) of the U.S. becomes a clarion call for deeper and more substantive defence ties, especially given the understanding that India will receive licence-free
access to a wide range of dual-use technologies for defence production. This signals an
even more dynamic phase in defence cooperation and indicates the long road covered
in taking defence ties forward in the last few
years. The tying in of the co-production and
co-development of technologies covering
naval, air and weapons systems under the
Defence Technology and Trade Initiative
with the Make in India mission is another
positive development.
The Prime Minister did well to take the
opportunity of his address to the U.S. Congress to provide the geopolitical accent to
the bilateral partnership. The broad sweep
of his energetic comments encompassed
the world of the Indian Ocean and the AsiaPacific, emphasising the promise and potential of India-U.S. cooperative approaches to maritime security, trade and communication, the conflicted world of Islamist
terror that threatens both our homelands,
the crucial need to safeguard and ensure a
peaceful future for Afghanistan by working
together, and the need for a clear and unified opposition to those in Indias neighbourhood who peddle terror as an export


Preparing cities for

high water

f governments paid serious attention to the economic geography of Indias cities, they would
be doing a lot more to prepare for annual weather events like the monsoon. UN Habitat estimates
that by 2030 India will have 14 major clusters of cities accounting for 40 per cent of its GDP. Other assessments indicate that nearly 80 per cent of economic production will be in urban areas by that
year. What this underscores is the extremely vulnerable condition of cities as economic assets.
Proof of this is available from catastrophic events
such as unprecedented flooding in Chennai in 2015
and in Mumbai some years ago. Even with weak insurance cover for the general population, the volume of claims in Chennai crossed Rs.5,000 crore,
highlighting the avoidable losses arising out of infrastructure deficits. Much of the total loss was
borne by individuals. On the other hand, cities devote vast amounts of their revenue merely to repair
roads after the monsoon rather than create new assets. This is a colossal planning failure, and governments should at least now draw up integrated plans
to make cities and growing towns resilient to
weather events and disasters. This should begin
with the creation of information systems that tell
administrators about weather patterns, anomalies,
flooding data and population impacts.
The Chennai floods exposed the mindless permissions for construction in floodplains, and the
high tolerance to commercial encroachment of
wetlands. They also highlighted the indifference
among policymakers over providing decent housing for migrants. This approach is eroding the economic gains of urban India. If megacities that face
seasonal storms are to be strengthened, they
should be provided with more water harvesting facilities in the form of urban wetlands with connected drains. Suburban lakes have to be revived. Natural ecological structures are readily available to
achieve this. City managers should not commit the
mistake of building engineered systems to transfer
precious rain flows to the sea, ignoring water security for growing populations. A transparent building code that alerts buyers to hazard-free property
is vital. Equally, governments need to ensure that
during the monsoon, basic requirements of urban
living such as transport, safe water supply, energy
and health systems are not severely disrupted. On
the positive side, city residents have a higher degree of education, capability and financial wherewithal, and these should help administrations find
durable solutions. Much of urbanising India is yet
to be built, and it can be designed to withstand the
vagaries of monsoons and other weather events.

The past, as it was once said, is another

country or another set of countries, one
might say. Both India and the U.S. have consciously set aside the estrangements and
alienation of the past, they are elaborating
the concept of a regional and global commons defined by the values of democracy,
good governance, the centrality of development, the celebration of plurality and diversity, open and inclusive security structures
that ensure the management of regional
tensions, particularly in the maritime space.
The references to oceanic security (which
is as they should be, considering particularly the organic connectivity between the Bay
of Bengal and the South China Sea) are
bound, no doubt, to be observed with a gimlet eye in Beijing, which has already vented
its discomfort with what we should all acknowledge is the welcome confidence and
assertion with which India is engaging partners like the U.S., Japan, Australia, Vietnam
and Singapore in the maritime sphere.
On the eve of the visit, a veteran American observer termed Indian democracy and
stability as core American interests. Those
core interests are not a current monopoly:
they have informed the American perspective even in the past. What sets the relationship apart from its past avatars is the political and economic heft that marks it today,
the centrality of people in both countries at
its heart, the attainments and achievements
of Indian-Americans, and the growing geopolitical and security dimensions of the
friendship of the two countries. In recognising this, we would do well to acknowledge
the trend and direction set by the governments of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh in terms of a steady investment in
building a better relationship with the U.S.
No amnesia is warranted.
The Obama factor
The Prime Minister has demonstrated
through his U.S. engagement over the last
two years his capacity to bond with the
American leadership, and the bonhomie
that he and President Barack Obama exude
has had a salutary impact on diplomatic
ties. The U.S. is in the midst of a presidential
election, and we are yet to discern what the
future will hold for that country in terms of
who will emerge as winner and how the
next President will tackle the relationship
with India. This is of course especially in
the case of a Trump presidency becoming a
reality. There is a bipartisan consensus in
the U.S. Congress on India and the importance of strengthening relations, but this
does not preclude the possibility of occasional infirmities in the shape of differences
over trade and intellectual property, immigration issues, visas for professionals, and
the bringing up of issues like religious freedom. What we must continue to emphasise
is an onward and upward trajectory in the
relationship, and the ability to ingest lessons learnt in recent years. There is nothing
more respectable than the eminence of experience carried with wisdom and
As we bid farewell in the next few months
to an Obama presidency, India would do
well to acknowledge the warmth and sincerity that President Obama has demonstrated consistently in his dealings with India and his steering of this relationship from
the American side. He coined the phrase
defining partnership for our relations
and Americas new President, she or he,
must take inspiration from Mr. Obamas
willingness to chart new frontiers, while
consolidating past and present cooperation, so as to take the India-U.S. partnership
forward in the years ahead.
Nirupama Rao is a former Foreign Secretary and
Ambassador to the United States.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Film censorship
The Central Board of Film
Certifications reasons for cutting
scenes from Udta Punjab are
irrational (Never in Punjab, June
9). On the one hand, we have our
Prime Minister speaking about
freedom of speech in the U.S.; on
the other, such moves violate that
very freedom.
Bollywood movies are generally
criticised for lack of good content.
But whenever a good film comes
out (Aligarh, Udta Punjab,
Margarita With a Straw, Fire), the
CBFC has some problem or the
other. The irony is that films like
Mastizaade, Ragini MMS and
Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 are released
with minimal cuts.
Art loses its relevance when it starts
having limitations. Political parties
should stop playing politics in every
field. They have other important
issues to solve. Shyam Benegal, who
headed the government-appointed
revamp panel of the CBFC, has said
the film is very well-made. The
CBFC should respect his views and
let the audience decide what to
watch and what not to watch.
Otherwise instead of Kapil
Sharmas show, people will start
following the actions of the CBFC
for comedy.
Nisha Yadav,
Dahina, Haryana

Why has the CBFC never raised any

objection against films that are
misogynistic? Violence against
women, like the drug problem, is a

huge menace not only in one

State but in the whole country.
Second, if Udta Punjab creates
awareness about the drug problem
in Punjab, what is the problem? All
this is a dirty play of politics.
Vibhuti Mehta,
New Delhi

It seems as though the CBFC

overestimates the role of Hindi
films in influencing public opinion
and electoral outcomes. This may
have been true to some extent
earlier, but it is no longer true at a
time when there are numerous
forms of communication available.
The CBFC also seems to believe
that people are so nave that they
will suddenly forget the context of
the film once its title is changed.
How will removing Punjab from
Udta Punjab control the damage
done or change the message of the
film? The drug menace in Punjab is
a matter of national concern and
any film that showcases the extent
of the problem and offers a solution
should be endorsed.
Y.G. Chouksey,

The controversy is nothing new. It

once again brings to light the role of
the CBFC. Is it the designated moral
police of Indian society and the
custodian of heritage and culture? It
is high time the government
clarified the boards role. Let the
viewers endorse or reject a film.
The CBFC should restrict itself to
certification. This sadism of making
cuts is the surest way of destroying

creativity. Also, all this talk about

the film has only given it undue free
Mohan M. Prasad,

What is the point of removing

Punjab from the script? It will
defeat the very purpose of the film.
Moreover, why does the CBFC
always think that films that portray
social problems are negative? Why
cant they be seen as spreading
Aman Tayal,

Mr. Modi, the orator

Prime Minister Narendra Modis
address to the joint session of the
U.S. Congress was one of his finest
performances (De-link religion
from terror, Modi tells U.S.
Congress, June 9). It was an
inspirational speech, and Mr. Modi
was at his eloquent best. It seemed
as though the words came from his
heart. It was most unlike his
infamous election speeches. Mr.
Modi is one of the greatest orators
India has had.
But we must also bear in mind that
though Mr. Modi is indefatigable, he
is more conscious about his image
than anything else. He makes
promises but forgets them
immediately. He speaks too much
and does little. He inaugurates new
ports, ships, railways, factories, and
his dedicated team immediately
sends WhatsApp messages
claiming credit for him. I can only

recall the words of Abraham

Lincoln: You can fool all the people
some of the time, and some of the
people all the time, but you cannot
fool all the people all the time.
V.V. Damodaran,

From travelling to five nations in

140 hours and meeting various
diplomats, to signing numerous
deals and delivering a splendid
speech in the U.S., Mr. Modi is
proving that he is intent on making
India strong on the international
front. He has successfully ensured
that India enters the Missile
Technology Control Regime and is
now making a great deal of effort to
ensure that it is a member of the
Nuclear Suppliers Group. Besides
this, by gathering support to fight
against terrorism and raising the
issue of Indias membership to the
UN Security Council, Mr. Modi is
leaving no stone unturned to
improve the countrys reputation. A
lot of work remains to be done
within the country, but efforts on
the international front are worth
Mandvi Agarwal,

Action against NGOs

It is a matter of concern that the
government has taken action
against many NGOs and activists
since coming to power (Civil
society in India remains vibrant,
June 9). Maina Kiai makes a
pertinent point where he asks: if the

Government of India can receive so

much foreign aid and so many
grants, why cant independent
organisations? NGOs have proven
their relevance by helping the poor,
the destitute, and the marginalised.
The governments attack on NGOs
is a self-goal in Indias development
efforts. Instead of blocking foreign
funding, the Modi government
should evolve an acceptable
framework for enforcing norms of
transparency and accountability
regarding the utilisation of such
funds. The government and the
NGOs must cooperate rather than
confront each other.
Mukut Ray,

A great journalist
We have lost a gentle and moderate
face of English journalism in India
(Veteran journalist K.K. Katyal
passes away, June 9). In my
younger days, The Hindu greeted
me with in-depth reports from G.K.
Reddy and K.K. Katyal every
morning. These two journalists
were not just unbiased but were
also capable of being critical as well
as polite towards those featured in
their reports. Readers also
benefited from their impeccable
use of the English language. As
there was no breaking news
syndrome in those days, these
journalists went about their
business with their feet firmly on
the ground.
P. Vijayachandran,

10 |




The elephant at the peace table

In order to establish peace between India and Pakistan, two parallel conversations would have to begin: one
between Pakistans military and its political leadership, and the other between New Delhi and the military
S AT U R D AY , J U N E 1 1 , 2 0 1 6


Steering India
to safer roads

oad accidents in India kill more people than

some epidemics, but the Central and the
State governments refuse to see it for what it
is a national crisis. The antiquated traffic management and transportation system resulted in
1,50,000 deaths and left more than half a million injured last year, affirming the countrys status as
among the riskiest in the world for road users. Significantly, the counts for deaths and injuries in accidents are viewed as less than accurate. The Road
Safety in India status report 2015 from the Indian
Institute of Technology, Delhi, says injuries requiring hospitalisation are likely to be underestimated
by a factor of four and for all injuries by a factor of
20. For everyone undertaking a road journey, the
risk of a fatal accident has been rising steadily: absolute fatalities in 2014 showed a 6 per cent average annual growth rate compared to 1970 figures. Data also
show that more than half of those killed last year
were in the productive age group of 15 to 34, pointing to a calamitous loss of young lives. This is a public health emergency that requires immediate action. One of the most productive measures to bring
down accidents is zero tolerance enforcement.
Strong policing reduces the risk for vulnerable road
users such as pedestrians and two-wheeler riders,
who must be compelled to wear helmets.
In spite of fast-paced motorisation, India does not
have a scientific accident investigation agency. Nine
years have passed since the Sundar Committee on
Road Safety and Traffic Management recommended the creation of a safety board through legislation.
Under the archaic Motor Vehicles Act and the Indian Penal Code, the police adopt simplistic methods
to determine driver fault, rather than look at composite factors including bad road design and failure
of civic agencies to maintain infrastructure while
fixing responsibility for accidents. It is unlikely that
the proposed National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board will lead to dramatic improvements,
since it is envisaged only as an advisory body. Without empowered oversight, it is impossible to eliminate systemic corruption in transport departments
in vehicle certification and licensing of drivers, and
poor monitoring of roadworthiness of commercial
vehicles. The Centre should also act on the virtual
monopoly held by automotive companies on the
sale of spares and servicing of vehicles, which is
raising cost of ownership and affecting quality of
maintenance. Research suggests there will be an annual rise in fatalities until 2042, before a decline sets
in. That distressing prognosis can be changed only
through determined action today.

As Narendra Modi became the first leader to

send Pakistans Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
a bouquet of flowers and wishes for a quick
recovery after his heart bypass surgery, some
in Pakistan wondered about the payoff of the
direct contact between the two leaders. This
is not to suggest that friendly gestures from
political leaders should discontinue but it is
worth exploring how much of this would
help improve the otherwise estranged and
tense bilateral relations.
Starting with Mr. Modis Lahore visit in
December 2015 to Mr. Sharifs recent phone
call to his Indian counterpart from London
in response to his best wishes tweet, from a
distance it looks like a steady friendship. Indeed, Mr. Sharif does not need convincing to
reach out, as he is one of the most ardent supporters of peace with India and within the
larger South Asian region. In a recent private
conversation with a Pakistani journalist, he
reiterated the economic dividends that
would accrue from improvement in relations, which his political opponents chose to
interpret as concern for his personal financial and business stakes. Notwithstanding
the actual reason, Mr. Sharif is the only political leader willing to take the risk of pushing
the peace agenda where other leaders have
become more cautious.
PPPs rhetoric
This is despite the fact that Mr. Sharif was
not the first to take the initiative on the peace
process. When she was Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto had welcomed her counterpart,
Rajiv Gandhi, to Islamabad in 1988, thus
moving away even from her fathers slogan
of a thousand years of war with India. Later, her husband, the then President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, and the then Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, both also of the
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), tried to grant

No civilian government in Pakistan

has demonstrated an ability
to stop the Army once it
begins to checkmate a
peace initiative
India Most Favoured Nation status in 2011.
Although the efforts got blocked due to a
combination of genuine and not-so-genuine
reasons, the credit for the initiative goes to
the PPP on Pakistans side.
So, who could imagine that the same PPP
would use a slogan like Modi ka ju yaar hey,
ghaddar hey (whoever is Modis friend in
reference to Nawaz Sharif is a traitor) to
target Mr. Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim
League, or PML-N. During his recent election rallies, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari promised
people in Kashmir that hed take up the issue
as per United Nations resolutions at all high
forums and that the PML-Ns defeat must
be ensured, which would be tantamount to
Mr. Modis loss. Surrounded by a gang of four

senior PPP leaders in Punjab, who have links

with the military, the young Mr. Bhutto Zardari is trying his best to endear himself to the
Army GHQ. Through this, the PPP leadership hopes to protect its predatory control of
Sindh and gain electoral benefits in Punjab,
Pakistans largest province, in which it got
wiped out in the 2013 elections.
At the Pakistan end, the India-Pakistan
peace fairy tale begins and ends with the politically powerful armed forces. Since the
early years after the countrys birth in 1947,
the Army has continued to be the lead protagonist in both domestic politics and foreign policy. This is not a reality that Mr. Sharif is oblivious of, which gives rise to the
question, does he really imagine he could
mend fences with New Delhi on his own?
The issue here is not with Mr. Sharifs sincerity of purpose, but the tactics adopted to
attain the end.

crisis will weaken him until the next elections in 2018.

Put simply, he is not likely to regain the
strength to deliver anything substantial in
the India-Pakistan peace process. Meanwhile, the bilateral situation has gone back to
the status quo. The establishment in Islamabad, as was voiced by the Prime Ministers
adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, is not
in a hurry to kick-start the peace initiative.
Islamabads Joint Investigation Team (JIT)
looking into the Pathankot terror attack was
not convinced of anyones involvement from
Pakistan and has sent back a set of questions
for New Delhi to answer. Moreover, the argument is that if India wants to move forward on peace, it should elevate discussions
beyond terrorism and come to fundamental
issues or even if it is terrorism, then the
conversation must begin with the Samjhauta
Express attack.

Style of governance
A large part of the problem lies with Mr.
Sharifs style of governance. He resists institutionalising decisions and processes, and
that results in strategic failures. He had faced
the problem in his dealings with the Army in
1999, and he is confronting a similar crisis
again. It would have made more sense, for instance, had he taken Mr. Modi to the Governors House in Lahore instead of his personal
estate at Raiwind, where the military and
Foreign Office (which, of course, is heavily
influenced by the GHQ) were not welcome.
Apparently he committed a similar faux pas
in dealing with Saudi Arabias request for
committing troops for Riyadhs war in Yemen. This personalised style of dealing with
foreign leaders, that mainly involves his family members or close aides, tends to make the
Army very nervous. Given the suspicion, the
goodwill emanating from the Lahore visit
soon evaporated. Now, Mr. Sharif is caught in
the Panama leaks controversy, with the militarys old and new political partners, who
are equally corrupt, spinning a web of political and ethical reasoning to displace him
from office. Even if he is not removed, the

The importance of GHQ

The Kashmir dispute is one of the issues,
but it may not be the only one. The important fact is that a debate with the Pakistan
military has never been held seriously, both
internally or externally, regarding its end vision vis--vis India. The inherent flaw with
Mr. Sharifs game plan, as pointed out earlier,
is that it aims for peace without bringing the
biggest domestic actor into the conversation. In doing so, the government ignores,
much to its own disadvantage, the Armys capacity to stall any initiative. No civilian government has demonstrated an ability to stop
the Army once it begins to checkmate a
peace initiative.
According to one perspective, which is the
more popular in India, Pakistans Army hampers any move forward towards peace because its very existence depends upon conflict. But at some point the organisation will
have to respond to pressures from its external partners such as the U.S. and China. Beijing has often encouraged Islamabad to abandon its isolationist policy. The regional
environment is changing, and that will have
implications for the military, its status and
role in the region. It also should not be forgotten that the organisation is not a monolith
and from time to time it does evaluate,
though timidly, ties with India. More than a
year ago it deputed a well-known Pakistani
university, which was studying trade with India, to examine the impact on the military
business complex.
This reminds one of the signalling by the
former Inter-Services Intelligence chief, Lt.
General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, in 2009 suggesting that New Delhi engage the military
in conversation. He dropped by at the Indian
High Commission in Islamabad and later invited the three military attachs for iftar.
Sources believe that some conversation did
begin via a third country, but nothing more is
known about it. Apparently, even the then
PPP government was in the dark. In order to
establish peace, two parallel conversations
would have to begin: one between Pakistans
military and its political leadership, and the
other between New Delhi and the military.
Ultimately, peace is a long-drawn process
which will not deliver fruit in a hurry. Even if
peace is a dead-end street, the possibility is
still worth exploring by talking with actors
who have power to tilt the balance.


Growing unrest
in France

rance is no stranger to strikes. But weeks-long

unrest by left-leaning labour unions against
the policies of a Socialist government is unprecedented. The unions that began the strike on
May 17 are demanding that the government abandon a bill to reform Frances strict labour laws. If the
bill is passed in Parliament or taken to law through
a decree, employers will be allowed to negotiate the
35-hour maximum working week and severance
payments if they need to downsize the workforce in
times of financial difficulty. The government says
overhauling the labour laws is necessary for job
creation, and that it is part of a larger reform push to
spur economic growth. Growth is stalled at around
1 per cent. The unemployment rate hovers at more
than 10 per cent, twice that of Germany. Youth unemployment is stubbornly high at 25 per cent.
Franois Hollande, one of the most unpopular presidents in modern France, has to jump-start reforms
to spur growth before next years presidential elections.
But the question is whether Mr. Hollande can accomplish this while antagonising the unions that
helped him come to power four years ago. Before
the 2012 elections, he had presented himself as an
ally of the working population and vowed to
squeeze the wealthy to protect Frances egalitarianism. But once in power, Mr. Hollande turned business-friendly, and the constituency that elected
him felt betrayed. The government appears determined to move ahead with the reform plan despite
the strike, which has already affected fuel distribution in parts of France. However, over the past two
months the unions have demonstrated that they
have mass support for the protests. Since March 31,
tens of thousands of French citizens have taken to
the streets against the government. Also, a section
of the ruling Socialist Party is opposed to the governments economic policies. Unilaterally proceeding with the legislation could deepen rifts
within the party and trigger more public unrest.
These protests come at a particularly delicate time
for France. The country is already under a state of
emergency. After last Novembers Paris attacks, it
remains on heightened alert. The European Championship football tournament began in Paris on Friday, and its successful conduct needs the help of
Frances workers and security personnel. In such a
scenario, the last thing the country needs is an open
showdown between workers and the government.
In the end, there may be no option available to either but a compromise. The government must realise the limits of high-handedness and unilateralism,
just as the unions need to face up to the reality that
the French economy, fired by government and European Union subsidies and a publicly funded welfare system, cannot hold amid stalled growth.

Ayesha Siddiqa is an Islamabad-based columnist.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Spat over culling

The issue over the culling of wild
species (Maneka slams Javadekar
over culling, June 10) is a serious
reminder of the ethical dilemmas
and ironies Indians face. An
increasing population of certain
species is a result of a declining
population of predators. It is also
because of the way we have messed
up the ecosystem. Rather than taking
things into our own hands, we must
let nature even out things.
Naveen Rattu,

We are to blame for the state of

affairs. First we encroach on the
natural habitats of species and then
slaughter them when we feel they
pose a threat. There are better ways
of control. Why doesnt the Ministry
seek foreign help? Is culling the only
way to protect our farms?
G. Sudha Nachiar,

The Environment Ministrys logic of

protecting the interests of farmers
by culling farm-raiding wild animals
is strange. How does the Ministry
propose to protect farmers when
there is drought, excessive rain or
other natural events?
S. Sankar,

One wonders whether Union

Miinster Maneka Gandhi has
witnessed the misery of a small-time
orchard farmer whose crop of apples
or apricots has been destroyed by a
troop of monkeys in a matter of
minutes. Or the tears of a farmer in
Narnaul, Haryana, helpless against
fearless Nilgai. The Ahir community
in the area are strict vegetarians
subsisting on bajra and jowar from
their dry, unirrigated fields. I am
more of the opinion that her views
are quite irrational.
Navjeevan Khosla,
Panchkula, Haryana


The mode of culling should have

been converted into an opportunity
to explore the possibility of wildlife
hunting tourism. Shooting blocks
could have been opened with
facilities for camps for international
shooters and the export of meat to
foreign countries thought of. The
money earned could have been used
for wildlife conservation.
B.M.T. Rajeev,

Indias NSG bid

While much has been said and
written about the NSG, Indias
membership will pave the way for it
to lead effectively in the
international arena as a neutral state
and responsible nuclear regime
(Mexico, Italy back Indias NSG
bid, June 10). South Africa, China
and India are a part of BRICS, yet the
lack of confidence among them as
far as the nuclear issue is concerned
may introduce fissures in BRICS.
India must use its record in the
pursuit of nuclear energy for
peaceful purposes to convince
China about its bid for NSG
membership. If the 2008 nuclear
deal was made possible as a result of
the coordination between the MEA,
the Prime Ministers Office and the
IFS, similar efforts should be
pursued in the case of the NSG.
Aman Kumar Panda,
Faridabad, Haryana

The highlight of the high-profile

Modi visit is that India has buried its
non-aligned principle once and for
all. India is now openly called a
major defence partner of the U.S.
which should be seen in the context
of Indias Look East Policy and the
Americas bid to Contain China.
Another point of concern is the plan
to have six nuclear reactors in
Andhra Pradesh. Is this prohibitive
deal just to please the U.S. and help
support our bid for a permanent seat
in the U.N. Security Council and the

NSG? The visit to the U.S. has only

ended up compromising our
strategic interests.
A.G. Rajmohan,

systems. There have to be frequent

checks on those who are behind the
M.G. Warrier,

Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh


Unsafe roads

Four hundred deaths a day is akin to

having a flight crashing every day. I
live near a school where students
who are 15 or younger ride
motorbikes to school. Most of them
do not have helmets despite a courtenforced rule being in place. It is not
difficult to enforce rules and bring
some sanity back to our roads.
CCTV cameras at all junctions and
stringent enforcement of rules as in
Singapore and Dubai should be the
norm. The archaic Motor Vehicles
Act must be amended, especially in
terms of fines. A Rs.50 penalty of
1956 translates into Rs.60,000-70,000
M. Rasheed,

The reports (1.46 lakh lives lost on

Indian roads last year and Tamil
Nadu tops in road accidents, June
10) are horrifying. A major reason is
the increase in the number of
vehicles when compared to the
available road length. Urban
planning has not kept pace with the
increase in the number of vehicles.
Driving licences are not issued
based on ones knowledge, skill and
road etiquette. One has also heard
about drivers suffering from
impaired visual acuity. Accident
prevention across the world is based
on 4 Es Education, Enforcement,
Engineering and Emergency. Every
driver in India needs to follow this.
R. Sivakumar,

In India, serious thought must be

given to tackling drunken driving;
curbing the use of obsolete vehicles;
issuing licences after systematic
training which includes testing for
psychological and behavioural
patterns, and freezing driving
between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. There have
to be rest areas at regular intervals.
Sometime ago there was a report
that very few cars in India met
minimal safety standards after a
crash test. There has been no followup report.
S. Ramalingam,
North Carolina, U.S.

Our approach to accident

prevention is still pedestrian and
casual with hardly any thought being
given to ensuring zero accident
days and zero accident zones. We
need to control the vehicle
population and push for the
introduction of new public transport


Blur over Street View

Google Street View, one of the most
exciting features on the Internet,
offers a chance for everyone with an
Internet connection to become a
virtual traveller (Google Street
View denied security nod, June 10).
It is a feature that can aid the
tourism industry. The Defence
Ministrys decision may be justified
but the feasibility and practicality of
such a decision need to be studied.
Numerous satellites are in orbit and
it may be difficult to conceal key
locations. This is also the era of
high-resolution digital cameras. A
better solution would be to increase
vigil over and security in vulnerable
places rather than black out such
services altogether.
Akshy Sridhar,
Tirupur, Tamil Nadu

Bihar exam results

The media has done a great job in
highlighting the abysmal state of

education in Bihar (Results of 2

Bihar toppers declared null and
void, June 5). There needs to be a
probe into how high marks are
awarded to almost every student. In
national-level competitive
examinations, most of these toppers
just vanish into thin air.
Nandini Chakraborty,
New Delhi

It is hard to believe how a State

known for world-class education, for
example, Nalanda University, is now
being questioned about the state of
its education. The only silver lining
is that the Nitish Kumar-led
government is open to investigating
the matter. The education mafia
involved in this should be identified.
Kumar Harsh,

The controversy only underscores a

major flaw in our education system,
especially in this highly competitive
era, where admissions are secured
on the basis of ones marks in
standard 12. A high-level probe
should look at even cancelling the
registration of schools found guilty.
Karan Dange,

The reports remind me of my eighth

standard exam in Bihar, where in the
examination hall selected students
used to get solved answer sheets.
They just needed to fill in their
names and roll codes. The rest of us
were helpless as these students had
clout. When the results were
declared, they were invariably in the
list of district toppers and even
rewarded on Republic Day. Such
incidents shattered all my dreams
and demoralised me. There are
thousands of students who face this
situation every year and who yearn
for the Bihar of old, where education
was greatly respected and all was
Sohrab Alam Ansari,
Gaya, Bihar

10 |




A case for cutting out the censor

The Cinematograph Act, its Guidelines, and the censor board, by making the government the arbiter of what
films are fit or unfit for citizens to see, are fundamentally at odds with our constitutional vision
M O N D AY , J U N E 1 3 , 2 0 1 6

to defeat

urprise victories and shock defeats are usually the stuff of the direct elections; much less
frequently that of indirect elections to the Rajya Sabha. When elections to the Upper House
throw up a surprise, they usually reveal stories of
dissension and, on occasion, extraneous influences
of a dubious sort. The unexpected jolts in the last
round of Rajya Sabha elections were caused by
MLAs in the Congress in Haryana and the Janata
Dal (Secular) in Karnataka. Strategies drawn up at
the leadership level came to naught as the legislators, dissatisfied with the choice of candidates or
the style of decision-making, ensured the defeat of
official nominees. The Congress high command decided to ignore the early warning signs in Haryana,
blinkered by the overwhelming desire to defeat the
independent candidate sponsored by the Bharatiya
Janata Party media baron Subhash Chandra. For
the Haryana unit of the party, the course adopted by
its leadership, of joining hands with the Indian National Lok Dal to support the lawyer R.K. Anand,
made little political sense as the two parties are
fighting for the same political space in the State. In
this instance, the interests of the national leadership and those of the State unit were in direct conflict. The Congress high command was more intent
on reducing the support for the BJP in the Rajya
Sabha, if only by one. But the partys MLAs were
more concerned about how the battlelines are
drawn in Haryana. What makes the situation worse
for the Congress is that it is in no position to act
against the rebels. The 15 MLAs, who very deliberately invalidated their votes, have the backing of
large sections of the State unit, led from the front by
former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. It is
the national leadership of the party that will have to
pay heed to this message.
In Karnataka, it was the Congress that was the
beneficiary of another partys internal bickering.
Dissidence within the JD(S) has a longer history,
and the cross-voting had more to do with dissatisfaction with the leadership's style of functioning
than with the choice of candidate. Although some
of the rebels are considered close to Congress Chief
Minister Siddaramaiah, who was formerly with the
JD(S), their vote was largely a signal to the JD(S)
leadership, and not so much out of love for the Congress. In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress managed to
get Kapil Sibal elected despite some cross-voting in
favour of Preeti Mahapatra, a Gujarat-origin entrepreneur considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Like in some earlier Rajya Sabha elections, there was evidence in this round of wealthy
candidates securing votes across party lines, reinforcing the belief that elections to the Upper House
continue to be influenced by the power of money.

action. Instead of clarifying and cabining

the scope of discretion under Article 19(2),
they expand it, creating a broad and vague
field within which the Censor Board can operate. And Mr. Nihalanis treatment of Udta
Punjab, in fact, is not an isolated act of a
rogue official running wild, but simply one
particularly egregious application of a repressive legal regime.


Pahlaj Nihalani, the censor board chairperson, is in the news again this time for his
ham-fisted, tone-deaf treatment of Anurag
Kashyaps Udta Punjab, a film about the
drug problem in Punjab. Mr. Nihalanis bizarre claim that the film defames Punjab,
and his alleged insistence that all references
to the State be excised from the film, and a
disclaimer added acknowledging the governments efforts at controlling the drug
menace, all sound more in tune with a fervid
political campaign than with the level-headed deliberations of a film certification
In the aftermath of the controversy, it has
become tempting to cast the censor board
chairperson in the role of the comedy villain, the sinister yet dull-witted censor taking up his blunt cudgels against art and expression. Such a description is not entirely
inaccurate. However, framing the issue in
terms of the actions of one individual no
matter how arbitrary or erratic risks confusing the symptom for the disease, and
blinding us to the real problem: today, a Nihalani is made possible because of the existing legal framework, and nearly half-a-century of judicial discourse around it.
Regime of pre-censorship
The censor board (actually, the Central
Board of Film Certification) is a statutory
body under the Cinematograph Act 1952.
The Cinematograph Act creates a regime of
pre-censorship or, in technical terms, a
regime of prior restraint. Before a film can
be released for public viewing, it must be
cleared by the censor board. The board is
tasked with ensuring that the content of the
film does not fall into any of the categories
of reasonable restrictions upon free
speech that are set out under Article 19(2)
of the Constitution. Article 19(2), however,
consists of a set of abstract phrases such as

The treatment of Udta Punjab is

not an isolated act of a rogue
official running wild, but one
particularly egregious application
of a repressive legal regime
public order, decency or morality, defamation, and so on. To aid the censor board
in its task, the government is authorised to
frame concrete guidelines. These guidelines have been changed from time to time,
and at present, stipulate (among other
things) that dual meaning words as obviously cater to baser instincts are not allowed, visuals or words which promote
communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and
anti-national attitudes are not presented,
and human sensibilities are not offended
by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity.
One glance at these Guidelines should
be enough to establish that they not only allow, but positively invite, arbitrary censorial

Legal opinion
However, it didnt have to be this way. Forty-six years ago, the film-maker K.A. Abbas
challenged the constitutionality of the precensorship regime established by the Cinematograph Act, as well as the Guidelines
framed under it. Abbass argument was that
pre-censorship was too draconian to be a
reasonable restriction upon free speech
under Article 19(2). This was especially so
because other media of communication,
such as print, were not subjected to pre-censorship. In any event, he argued, at the very
least, the Guidelines were entirely vague
and arbitrary.
However, it was Abbass misfortune that
his case came to be heard before a bench led
by a judge who had not only shown himself
to be hostile to the freedom of speech and
expression, but also fancied himself as an art
and culture critic a lethal combination.
Five years before, Chief Justice M. Hidayatullah had upheld a ban on D.H. Lawrences
Lady Chatterleys Lover by dismissing its
artistic qualities as worthless, and had
adopted a 19th century legal test for obscenity focussed on preventing moral depravity and corruption. After that, he had held
that the politician E.M.S. Namboodiripad, in
suggesting that the judiciary was an instrument of class oppression according to Marx,
had failed to understand Marx, and had
committed contempt of court. Now, in writing the courts opinion on film censorship,
he not only upheld the Act and the Guidelines, but also embarked upon a psychological analysis of how the medium of cinema,
with its versatility, realism (often surrealism), and its coordination of the visual and
aural senses was able to stir people much


On the

s a deepening economic crisis aggravates

Venezuelas severe social and political unrest, it has exposed the fragility of its institutions to deal with the situation. Plagued by long
years of populism kept afloat on a sea of oil, the
plunging prices of crude have resulted in a lethal
mix of goods shortages and hyperinflation, threatening to push the country into a state of chaos. Already, there are snaky queues for food and medicines and a crippling shortage of electricity that has
forced a two-day week for government employees
and blackouts across the country. The oft-repeated
grievance of President Nicols Maduro, the charismatic Hugo Chvezs hand-picked successor, that
Venezuela is the victim of an economic war is beginning to have an increasingly hollow ring as his
government struggles to repay the massive external debt it accumulated during the oil boom even as
it is forced to cut down on imports of basic necessities to avoid a default.
As a rash of criminal activity and a surge of angry
protests break out on the streets, the opposition,
buoyed by a victory in the congressional elections
last December, is looking to oust Mr. Maduro. The
focus now is on the fate of the recall referendum,
with the opposition claiming it has the required 1.85
million signatures to force one and the government
dismissing this as fraudulent, something that a
pliant National Electoral Council has endorsed by
declaring about a third of the signatures on the petition as invalid. The opposition, led by Henrique
Capriles, a former presidential candidate, wants
the referendum to be held by January next year as a
victory would mean a fresh presidential election.
Were the referendum to take place later, then a Maduro loss would merely mean that his Vice-President runs the country until 2019. The big question is
whether the country can afford to wait for the political process to play itself out. Time and patience are
wearing thin. It is becomingly apparent that Mr.
Maduro, who has become isolated within the region he was described as a traitor to ethics by
the Secretary General of the Organisation of American States will be unable to carry the country for
much longer with rhetoric of jingoism and victimhood. The President has the backing of the armed
forces and a government-stacked Supreme Court
and is now armed with emergency powers to confront allinternational and national threats. It is
imperative that he allows some sort of international
mediation with the immediate aim of calming political tempers and dealing with the shortage in food
and medicines. The risks otherwise are a slip into
dictatorship or, even worse, anarchy.

more deeply than written words could, and,

therefore, had to be subjected to a more
stringent regulatory regime. Strangely,
Chief Justice Hidayatullahs reasoning in
K.A. Abbas was strongly reminiscent of the
argument from colonial difference, used
by the British to deny Indians civic freedoms and the right to self-governance for
the longest time. The British had regularly
invoked the emotional, mental and political
immaturity of Indians to justify both their
rule, and the necessity of imposing a repressive censorship regime upon the press and
the arts. Independence had come, and a new
Constitution, but the same Indians who
were now considered politically mature
enough to govern themselves and choose
their own leaders, could still not be trusted
by the Supreme Court to watch films without the prior approval of the government.
Moralising, patronising discourse
K.A. Abbas was an unfortunate judgment
because it not only upheld the Cinematograph Act and its vague guidelines but also
created a judicial discourse around films
and the freedom of speech that is defined by
its moralising, patronising, and paternalistic
character. A little over a decade-and-a-half
later, in S. Rangarajan vs P. Jagjivan Ram,
the Supreme Court observed that pre-censorship of films was necessary because cinema audiences were not as discerning as
newspaper readers. Nearly a decade later
again, in the Bandit Queen case, the Supreme Court permitted some scenes of violence and frontal nudity on the ground that
they served a larger social purpose of creating, in the minds of the viewers, a revulsion
towards such actions and that the scenes
were no longer and no more detailed than
was strictly necessary to serve this purpose.
And vestiges of this approach continue today: it was reported that the Bombay High
Court remarked, during the hearings on
Udta Punjab, that multiplex audiences are
now mature enough.
It is not clear in what context and for what
purpose the High Court made this observation. What should be clear, however, is that
it is high time that this discourse of maturity and immaturity (whether of multiplex
audiences or otherwise) was jettisoned
from our constitutional discourse. Our Constitution, the culmination of a decades long
struggle for political independence and civic freedom, is premised upon the belief
and the faith that citizens are autonomous individuals, who make their own
choices and take responsibility for them
whether it is in the political arena while exercising their right to elect their representatives, or in the cultural arena, in deciding
which gods to worship, whom to associate
with, and what to see, speak, or here. The
Cinematograph Act, its Guidelines, and the
censor board, by making the government
the arbiter of what films are fit or unfit for
citizens to see, on the assumption that the
wrong kinds of films might lead them to
form the wrong kinds of views or take the
wrong kinds of actions, are fundamentally at
odds with our constitutional vision.
The Courts sanctification of this legal regime has been an error. It is, however, an error that need not be further compounded. It
is time not only for Mr. Nihalani to go but also for the regime of film censorship to be
swept away along with him, unlamented and
Gautam Bhatia is a Delhi-based lawyer.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Upper House elections

It is disheartening to learn that
cross-voting and even money power
marred the Rajya Sabha polls (With
win in 11 seats, BJP gains muscle in
Rajya Sabha, June 12). It is
anybodys conjecture how the Rajya
will now be. If ends justify the
means in elections, then they
become meaningless and
questionable. But then, this is Indian
S. Ramakrishnasayee,
Ranipet, Tamil Nadu

The BJP trying to stall Kapil Sibals

election, the Congress trying its best
to stop the BJP, and reports of crossvoting make me wonder whether we
are really a democratic nation, and
where politicians are elected to
enable the welfare of the nation
(BJP strategy fails, Sibal goes to
Rajya Sabha, June 12). We the
people seem to have voted on the
basis of caste, religion and party than
for honest and illustrious
candidates. Finally, it appears that
the BJP just needs numbers in the
Rajya Sabha to carry forward its
T. Anand Raj,

If the Rajya Sabha is nothing more

than a repository for prominent
names or for politicians past their
sell-by date or, more troubling, those
possessed of the wherewithal to
command or draw in the votes of
MLAs, has not the time come to
question its utility? Perhaps the
answer lies in a reform of the
manner and method of choosing
members. First, abandon appointed
members. Second, make all
remaining members popularly
elected. Since the Rajya Sabha is
representative of the State, let each
have two members (or some other

number to be determined by the

reform process but equal for each
State) and let the members be
chosen by popular vote. The term of
membership need not be altered.
Lastly, the question which ought to
be asked is whether or not
bicameralism is necessary. Various
jurisdictions around the world find
unicameralism quite adequate.
Kamala Menon,

cause animals to experience pain.

Culling could also encourage
poaching to return, even promoting
wildlife trafficking.
Sterilisation of specific captured
animals in the target populations can
check their high reproductive rate.
Several SAARC member nations are
looking to repopulate their forests
with species from the subcontinent.
Why doesnt India help them?
Saikat Kumar Basu,
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Rape case verdict

The verdict of life to all five convicts
charged with raping a Danish
woman in Delhi in 2014 is
appropriate (June 11). Cases
involving heinous crimes such as
murder, rape or acid attack should
be referred to fast track courts with
day-do-day hearings in order to
ensure quick justice to the victims.
H.P. Murali,

I love wildlife, having had the

opportunity to come across a variety
of species during my 30 years of
service in the Forest Department.
When animals start to impact
human livelihoods their population
has to be reduced using regulated
means and by adopting a scientific
approach. Though bold steps have to
be taken, culling does not mean an
indiscriminate killing of wild
Y.S. Kadakshamani,

Culling as solution


Culling is practised in several

countries when overpopulation
poses significant threats to the
ecosystem and challenges local
agriculture and livestock
(Himachal farmers welcome
decision to cull wild animals, June
12). However, such an exercise is
monitored by forest rangers, with
each kill being officially recorded
and a strict male-female ratio
observed so that there is no change
in natural population dynamics.
There is also translocation of
excess populations to alternative
less populated and suitable habitats,
with an appropriate representation
of adults, sub-adults and juveniles.
Indiscriminate culling without
supervision will only mean mass
slaughter impacting population
dynamics. Untrained shooters can

The act of culling will only cause

grievous harm to conservation and
the need to protect dwindling
wildlife in a country like India.
There are remedies in the form of
technology-based electric fencing
and even sterilisation. Farmers do
deserve justice, but in this case there
is a danger that culling will lead to
wildlife being threatened.
N. Hasini Preetham,
Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh

This may very well be the first

instance of declaring the nilgai as
vermin and allowing its culling.
There is now the grave danger of
Indias wildlife facing extinction.
Exterminating monkeys in Himachal
Pradesh, peacocks in Goa and wild
boars in Maharashtra on the ground
of these species turning into

vermin is definitely not scientific

management of wildlife.
V. Sundararaju,

As far as Hindi cinema is concerned,

there is a need for whole new
standards in movie-making, content
selection and dignified dialogue.
Aravind Gundhalli,

Film censorship

Raichur, Karnataka

When drug abuse in Punjab is a

known fact the Central Board of Film
Certification should have acted with
wisdom (Letting our films fly, June
10). Drug trafficking, organised
crime, domestic violence against
women, and wasted young lives are
natural corollaries of the drug
menace. Udta Punjab is a film with
a social message. Lets recognise
Vinod C. Dixit,

Quota for Dalit Christians


I feel that the tirade against the

censor board, and its chairperson in
particular, is just a campaign to
abolish it. All citizens are accorded
freedom under the Constitution but
is it absolute? Arent there
restrictions? For example, having a
character wielding a sword is almost
a must in Tamil cinema; if not for
censorship I am sure directors
would have even gone to the
extreme of having a decapitation
scene. In the name of creative
freedom, romance is no longer
romance, but something deeply
embarrassing. The CBFC, like any
other regulatory authority, is not
infallible. Criticism should not be
personal or politicised but aimed at
justifying the retention of the
sequences declared objectionable.
S. Rajagopalan,

The era of new generation films has

popularised the use of over-the-top
verbal abuse and violence. If such
extreme language and insensitive
content is bypassed by censorship, it
will harm the younger generation.

Dalit Christians are those who have

been thrice discriminated against
by the state, church and society
(Tamil Nadu editions, Focus on
quota for Dalit Christians, June 6).
There are a few fallacious arguments
against their inclusion in the
Scheduled Caste list. The first is
how a Dalit Christian who converted
to escape Hindu casteism in the first
place can now complain about
alleged casteism by the church. Dalit
Christians of yesteryears converted
to Hinduism based more on the
faith aspect than on the caste issue.
This is evident from how forward
and backward Hindus also
underwent conversion. So this
argument fails the floor test. The
second is that Dalit Christians will
enjoy double benefits as SCs and
minorities. Dont Backward Class
Christians enjoy the benefits of
being BC and a minority? What
about ST and MBC Christians? The
third argument is about how
Christians of a religion that
preaches brotherhood can
complain about caste-based
discrimination. Does it mean that
Sikhism and Buddhism Dalits
from here are in the SC list do not
preach brotherhood? The final
argument is that it will promote
mass conversion of Dalit Hindus to
Christianity. One will be upholding
social justice if Dalit Christians are
treated on a par with Dalit Hindus,
Maznabi Sikhs and Neo Buddhists
by being included in the list.
A. Clement,

10 |




Dual diplomacy for Mission NSG

In its pursuit of NSG membership, India needs to focus on countries having reservations about the impact of
an India exception on the non-proliferation regime, as well as on China to resist a Pakistan hyphenation
T U E S D AY , J U N E 1 4 , 2 0 1 6


Americas new
terror reality

he toxic forces of global jihadist terror, lax

gun control laws and pernicious homophobia converged on Sunday night at a gay club
in Orlando, Florida. The outcome was the worst
mass shooting incident in U.S. history. Omar Mateen, 29, a U.S.-born son of Afghan immigrants,
killed 50 people and injured at least 53 using both a
handgun and a long gun, thought to be an AR-15style assault rifle. This bloodshed, which marked
the 16th mass shooting during the presidency of Barack Obama, speaks to that plague of peaceful
American society: gun proliferation bolstered by
constitutional protection under the Second
Amendment, and relentless lobbying on Capitol
Hill by the National Rifle Association, with its deep
pockets. Mateen, who was known to have ranted
about gay people in the past, meticulously targeted
the gay nightclub, reflecting the persistence of deep
prejudices about the community, notwithstanding
the U.S. Supreme Courts landmark decision nearly
a year ago upholding marriage equality. While the
latest attack is another grim bookmark in the annals
of gun control reform and hate crimes against the
LGBT community, the standout dimension of the
incident is without doubt the creeping menace of
lone wolf attacks linked to Islamic State (IS), and
the prognosis for the American security state.
The surest sign of the heightened political temperature surrounding domestic terrorism of this
sort came from the instant reactions of the two presumptive presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. While
both focussed on scoring political points, neither
sought to tackle the phenomenon of mounting lone
wolf attacks. On Sunday, Mateen said on a call he
made to the 911 emergency line that he swore allegiance to IS. Experts have noted that such a pledge
has come to be considered a core element of the IS
protocol. In December 2015, the San Bernardino,
California, attackers posted such an oath of allegiance on Facebook. In May 2015, the shooter at a
cartoon exhibit displaying images of the Prophet
Muhammad in Texas posted tweets pledging loyalty to IS. These public pledges prior to a violent attack eerily mesh with the recent exhortations of IS
spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who called
on supporters to kill innocents in the U.S. and Europe during the holy month of Ramzan. Without
overreach that would amount to curbing civil liberties, the U.S. surveillance and security apparatus
would have to respond with a higher level of creativity to deal with lone wolf strikes. Significantly,
the Federal Bureau of Investigation had interviewed Mateen twice but found no evidence of any
terror links. In the U.S. it is all too easy for a psychotic, bigoted or otherwise unstable individual
with leanings towards jihadist extremism to act out
his beliefs in the land that has one gun for every human being.

Last week, the special meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) held in Vienna, to
consider the issue of Indias application for
joining the group, ended inconclusively.
The matter will now be taken up at the plenary meeting scheduled for June 21-24 in Seoul. In mid-May, India formally applied to
join the NSG, reflecting the political distance it has travelled.
The NSG (initially known as the London
Club) came into being in 1974, in response to
Indias peaceful nuclear explosion. Its original members were the U.S., U.S.S.R., U.K.,
France, West Germany, Canada and Japan.
Realising that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was not robust enough
and in any event, France was not party to the
NPT and exporting sensitive nuclear technology (including to Pakistan which it then
cancelled), these seven countries adopted
stringent guidelines for nuclear exports. Today, the NSG has grown to 48 countries and
in order to get away from the notion of a
club, members are called Participating
Governments (PGs).
After the first few years, the NSG remained dormant and, in fact, did not meet
after 1977 till 1991, when concerns about
Iraqs nuclear programme surfaced following the first Gulf war. By this time, the NSG
had expanded to 26 countries and moved
quickly to expand controls to cover dual-use
items and technologies that had contributed
to Iraqs programme. The second key
change was that for non-nuclear weapon
states, full-scope safeguards became the
conditionality for nuclear transfers. Since
then, it has had regular meetings, both at the
technical and policy levels. Legally though,
it remains an informal grouping of likeminded states committed to nuclear nonproliferation, implemented through a system of harmonised export controls. Decisions in the group are taken by consensus.
Indias long journey
Contrary to popular perception, India has
never been an outlier state and though not a
member of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, has maintained an impeccable nonproliferation record coupled with a strong
commitment to controlling exports of nuclear materials, equipments and technologies.
After the 1998 nuclear tests when India
became a nuclear weapon state, India tight-

The reality is that Pakistan is not

ready to join the Nuclear
Suppliers Group... China knows
this and is employing
dilatory tactics
ened its systems further by introducing new
laws and for nearly a decade, has been a voluntary adherent to the NSG guidelines. For
over five years, it has been engaged in a formal dialogue with the NSG before deciding
last month to apply formally to become a
Since 1998, the India-U.S. dialogue has
gone through three phases. The first phase
was to obtain relief from the sanctions imposed on India by the U.S. and other countries. This objective was achieved in large
measure by 2003. The emerging green
shoots of strategic convergence led to the
launch of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and U.S. President George Bush in the
second phase.
Following its conclusion, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh and President Bush decided to move towards restoring bilateral
civil nuclear cooperation. This needed
changes in U.S. law which, in turn, required
waiver from the NSG guidelines since as a
nuclear weapon state, India could not accept full-scope safeguards. This challenging
third phase took three years and finally, in
2008, the NSG provided an exceptional
waiver to India clearing the way for India to
enter into civilian nuclear cooperation
agreements. Agreements with the U.S.,

France and Russia relating to setting up of

new nuclear power plants and long-term
agreements for supply of uranium fuel with
nearly a dozen countries have since been
The exceptional waiver provided by the
NSG in 2008 was an acknowledgement of
Indias non-proliferation record. Yet, it was
also a politically driven decision, backed
strongly by the U.S. (and Russia and France)
which did the heavy lifting with President
Bush and other senior members of his administration making phone calls to persuade the leaders of some of the reluctant
NSG members.
Wanting to put an end to the myth of India
being an outlier to the non-proliferation regime, and as a potential exporter of nuclear,
missile and other related sensitive technologies, India declared its intention to join
NSG, MTCR (Missile Technology Control
Regime), Australia Group (set up to control
exports of chemical and biological agents),
and Wassenaar Arrangement (covering exports of munitions and dual-use goods and
technologies). The U.S. backed Indias decision and the joint statement issued following President Barack Obamas visit in 2010
stated the U.S. intends to support Indias
full membership in the four multilateral export control regimes; this has been reiterated at subsequent summits. The reality is
that joining NSG offers political advantage
because the 2008 waiver has already enabled India to engage in civil nuclear cooperation. Today, India is a voluntary adherent
to NSG guidelines; as a PG, this will become
a legal obligation.
Since the NSG is an informal grouping
consisting of PGs (and not member states),
it has set out five factors for considering applications of prospective PGs. These are
the ability to supply items on NSG control
lists; acting in accordance with NSG guidelines; a legally based export control system;
support international non-proliferation efforts; and finally, membership of treaties
like the NPT that require full-scope safeguards. Evidently India more than fulfils the
first four but cannot meet the last consideration; however, these are not mandatory
criteria but factors for consideration.
Games nations play
In 2008, China was unhappy about the
NSG decision but preferred to work with
other countries like Ireland, Switzerland
and Austria who believed that the India
waiver would weaken the non-proliferation
regime. Once these countries were persuaded otherwise, China joined the consensus.
This time since Pakistan put in its applica-


Public land and

private treatment

y asking five prominent private hospitals in

the national capital to deposit nearly Rs.600
crore to compensate for their failure to treat
poor patients, the Delhi government has drawn attention to the social obligation of healthcare providers in the corporate sector as well as the need for
timely enforcement of applicable regulations. According to the Kejriwal government, trusts and registered societies to which public land was allotted
to establish hospitals were required to earmark a
percentage of their medical facilities and services
for indigent patients. The administration is now
moving against institutions that failed to comply
with the provision. As early as in 2007, the Delhi
High Court had acted on a public interest litigation
to lay down that 10 per cent of inpatient facilities
and 25 per cent of outpatient services be provided
free of cost to the poor. The effect of non-compliance was the repayment of the allegedly unwarranted profits the hospitals had made. The hospitals that have now been fined dispute any failure to
treat the required number of indigent patients and
plan to challenge the order. While the courts will
have the final say on the dispute, the principle of
opposing profiteering in the health sector cannot
be faulted.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that government accounts for only one-third
of Indias healthcare spend well below what is
desirable. As a result, we have a situation in which
the private sector accounts for a significant part of
healthcare services. Given the low penetration of
health insurance, about 86 per cent of expenditure
on health comes out of peoples pockets. This
strengthens the case for private hospitals to dedicate a part of their services to those who cannot afford treatment. However, there is no national legislation that makes this mandatory. In the case of
Delhi, it is enforced as a condition on which land is
allotted to private hospitals. Wherever such regulations can be legally enforced, it is best that they are
monitored on a real-time basis and rigorously enforced. In the present case, it has taken years to assess the audited accounts of the hospitals and initiate action to recover their profits. Enforcing social
obligations of private service providers must go
hand in hand with other measures to achieve the real goals of health policy: universal health coverage
and protection for all sections against excessive
out-of-pocket medical expenditure.

Two-track diplomacy
In Vienna, knowing that the meeting
would be inconclusive, Indias objective was
to gauge opposition and ensure that the matter be discussed in Seoul. Meanwhile India
needs to pursue two diplomatic tracks simultaneously. One track should focus on
those countries that reportedly raised concerns about the impact of an India exception
on the regime. Ireland, Switzerland and
Mexico have been brought around; South
Africa, New Zealand, Austria and Turkey
still need to be persuaded.
The second track should focus on China.
The reality is that Pakistan is not ready to
join the NSG. It has not separated its military and civilian nuclear programmes; safeguard agreements with the International
Atomic Energy Agency for its civilian programme are yet to be negotiated; and accession to the Additional Protocol is pending.
China knows this and is employing dilatory
tactics. The question is whether an assurance that India would refrain from blocking
Pakistans subsequent bid will work. An indication to this effect is there in U.S. Secretary of State John Kerrys letter to NSG members urging them to support Indias bid and
adding that with respect to other applications (read Pakistan), India would take a
merit-based approach and would not be influenced by extraneous (read bilateral) regional issues. Put simply, India could be admitted this year at Seoul and Pakistans
application would be considered on merit
after it completes the necessary requirements thereafter.
In a move reminiscent of the old Chinese
strategy game Go, India also pushed
through its MTCR membership earlier this
month. Chinas application has been on hold
since 2004 on account of its missile proliferation activities with North Korea. This
would not have gone unnoticed in Beijing.
As a Chinese diplomat once explained,
major powers do not seek favours from each
other nor do they push each other into inextricable corners; they extract favourable
outcomes by blocking moves of others. Beijing realises that the Asian century cannot be
Chinas alone. The Go board is interestingly
set and needs skilful and sensitive play to
ensure a positive outcome.
Rakesh Sood, the Prime Ministers Special Envoy for
Disarmament and Non-Proliferation till May 2014, is
currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research
Foundation, Delhi.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Orlando attack
The shooting in Orlando, Florida is
indeed an act of terror because it
instils fear, uncertainty and anxiety
among people in general (Worst
mass shooting in U.S. leaves 50 dead
in gay club, June 13). There is a need
for a wider interpretation of
terrorism so as to signify the
impact of acts like these, especially
keeping in mind how Michael
Ignatieff (2004) classified such
terrorism as loner or issue
terrorism. Finally, the incident calls
for the U.S. administration to reexamine the right to carry arms.
Sachin V.K. Jadhav,

The reign of terror unleashed by a

terrorist with Islamist leanings
shows the inherent and dynamic
capability of the IS to strike
anywhere and at any time. The
incident is also a reminder of how
easy it is for someone in the U.S. to
get hold of a weapon and become
extremely violent. The authorities
concerned need to analyse the
reasons why ordinary souls are
driven to terrorism. As steps are
being taken to begin counterterrorism, there must also be efforts
to persuade people to thwart such
sectarian violence.
Y. Chaanakya,

Washim, Maharashtra

The incident has left the world

dumbstruck. If there is a definite link
to terror then world leaders need to
act swiftly. However, a recent trend
is of terror strikes being carried
out by lone wolves. Curbing these is
now the tough problem.
Medha Anand,

The two facets on the tragedy are

that of terror and of social views
toward the LGBT community.
However, the attack on the club is
not only an act of terror but also an
act of hatred. It also raises questions
on whether Americans still treat
non-Americans well. The cause of
such hatred needs to be examined.
Shashank Dahiya,
New Delhi


tion a week after India, China has been open

in voicing its opposition. China maintains
that an exception for India would weaken
the non-proliferation rules; since there is
Pakistans application too, a criterion-based
approach should be developed; and finally,
nothing should be done in hurry that would
upset the South Asian balance. The first argument is designed to appeal to some of the
smaller countries who had resisted in 2008;
Chinas real objective is to delay Indias joining, keep it hyphenated with Pakistan and
restricted to South Asia.
China joined the NSG in 2004; at that
stage it had two power reactor projects in
Pakistan, Chashma I and II, of 325 MW and
340 MW capacity, respectively. Chashma I
was already operational and Chashma II
went online in 2011. After the India-U.S.
agreement was announced in 2005, China
declared that it would also be building new
reactors in Pakistan. Since this was a clear
violation of NSG guidelines (Pakistan does
not enjoy a similar exception like India got
in 2008), China grandfathered the announcement by citing an earlier commitment
that it had omitted to mention in 2004! A
contract for Chashma III and IV was signed
in 2009 and an announcement for Chashma
V made in 2013. Given its proliferation record, Pakistan is unlikely to obtain nuclear
cooperation from other NSG members but
China would find Pakistan a useful ally in
the NSG.

This is not the first time that such

shootings have taken place in the
U.S. Of course the scale of the attack
this time is gruesome. Even
schoolchildren in the U.S. have
access to firearms and there have
been instances of young children
ending the lives of their classmates.
How is such a culture permitted?
A. Srikantaiah,

Corporal punishment
The act of a teacher in Ulundurpet,
Tamil Nadu, who punished eight of
her students for being inattentive in
class by placing burning camphor on
their feet is inhuman (Teacher
brands 8 students with camphor,
suspended, June 11). The teacher
has failed to be tolerant and decent.

As a teacher, one has to be patient

and encouraging as this is the only
way one will win the respect of ones
students. A child who is criticised
becomes hostile, causes fights or
becomes withdrawn. It makes sense
that we respect children and
consistently demonstrate respectful
forms of behaviour. Teacher training
courses need to be upgraded to
reflect this.
A.J. Rangarajan,

Cutting out the censor

The writer has been needlessly
aggressive in the expression of his
ideas (A case for cutting out the
censor, June 13). Viewed from any
angle, his points are fundamentally
unacceptable. A film does need to be
vetted before release.
The Central Board of Film
Certification is armed with the task
of ensuring that a film should adhere
to certain parameters since
audiences of all ages might view it.
To suggest doing away with the
censor board is an extreme view.
Under the guise of permitting free
speech and expression, one cannot
turn a blind eye to provocative
scenes and dialogues. No
responsible citizen will think on
those lines. Restraint and sobriety
are essential. How is it that a number
of films have been cleared by the
same censor board without a hitch?
V. Lakshmanan,
Tirupur, Tamil Nadu

It is a much-too-facile argument to
say that people are mature enough to
make enlightened decisions and take
responsibility for them simply
because Article 19(2) empowers
them. We are a nation wherein there
need to be laws for almost
everything. An example I can think
of is making not wearing helmets
and fastening seat belts an offence
because people are not mature
enough to ensure their own safety.
A Govind Nihalani or a Shyam
Benegal may depict physical
intimacy with a high quotient of
artistic vision and thematic linkages,
but for the vast majority they will
still remain as scenes that titillate
their baser instincts.
The argument of freedom with
maturity is in fact a West-inspired
ploy to introduce disarray in the
social system through a subjective
and self-serving interpretation of
values. It is an ingenious way of
destroying indigenous cultural
values through remote
Pratap Codadu,

Udta Punjab may not be the classic

example of mindless obsession for
censorship, but it marks a point in
the trend of a steady but invisible
political writ of quelling any sign of
criticism or dissent against the
powers that be.
All talk about concern for the image
of the State and its people is
hypocritical, when extensive

research points to drug peddling and

abuse across the State. One can only
doubt the Punjab governments
ability to control the drug mafia and
its rather nonchalant attitude
towards finding a solution to a
dangerous problem especially in a
society known for its productivity
and bravery.
Chandran Dharmalingam,

Anurag Kashyap has raised an

important issue about the menace of
drugs. How many of us know about
the case of a mother who lost all her
three sons to drugs or about a man
who sold all his ancestral land, house
and four daughters to keep his drug
habit going? These are just two of
countless cases reported in 2015. We
need a film to highlight this.
Tushar Ruhil,
Bahadurgarh, Haryana

The writer has forcefully argued a

case for doing away with film
censorship as it has only become a
thorn in the flesh for film-makers
and ended up curbing creativity and
killing realism. In the case of Udta
Punjab, it was the unrelenting
attitude of the censor board
chairperson that stoked the
controversy. Censoring films is in
itself an anachronism in these days
of high-speed Internet connectivity.
The sooner it is dispensed with the
better for the industry.
C.V. Aravind,

10 |




The twin towers of terrorism

The Islamic State has displaced al-Qaeda as the dominant force in international jihadism, but the two are still
competing for funding, recruits and prestige and together pose the gravest threat to the world
W E D N E S D AY , J U N E 1 5 , 2 0 1 6

The censor
is snipped

he Bombay High Court has handed out a lesson to the scissor-happy members of the
Central Board of Film Certification, one that
they, especially its overzealous chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, should learn at least now. While ordering
that Udta Punjab be granted a certificate in the
Adult category and allowed to be screened with
one cut and a disclaimer, the court has served a reminder that certification, and not censorship, is the
real job of the CBFC. And that the power to order
changes and cuts must be exercised only in line
with provisions of the Constitution and Supreme
Court orders. Its mandate is not to interfere with
the film-makers creative process and freedom of
expression. More importantly, the CBFC has been
advised not to look at cinema like a grandmother
and instead move with the times and understand
the impulses of present-day creators who may have
a candid and direct manner of storytelling. It has reminded the Board that a film should be seen as one
whole and its scenes and dialogues be not taken out
of context. The CBFC had no business in the first
place to appoint itself the guardian of the honour of
Punjab and take umbrage at the portrayal of the prevailing reality of widespread drug addiction in the
State. Suggesting that references to Punjab and other places be deleted amounted to ordering that a
film about a besetting vice in a particular geographical area be converted into a vague tale in a makebelieve world.
The reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2)
have been routinely invoked to choke free speech
and expression. These restrictions were never
meant to include such things as whether people, in
power or otherwise, found something in poor taste,
offensive or against the grain of social or political
opinion. We live in a country where hurt sentiment
is used to seek curbs on all manner of creative expression in books, music, art and film. In doing
what he did, Mr. Nihalani may not, as some of his
detractors allege, have been batting for the ruling
dispensation in Punjab, which is slated to go to the
polls next year. But he is guilty, at the very least, of
succumbing to the view that hurt sentiments
(whether real or manufactured) are a basis for ordering extensive and story-altering cuts in a film.
The Shyam Benegal Committee, which recently
submitted its report on norms relating to film certification, recommended that the CBFC should be
nothing more than a certification body. It has suggested that films be classified on the basis of their
suitability to different age groups. After Udta
Punjab, reforming the CBFCs functioning has acquired a new urgency.

even in its weakened state, the al-Qaeda still

poses a danger to the West, West Asia and the
wider Muslim world. In recent years, it has
become more active in Yemen and has established a strong affiliate in Syria, the Jabhat alNusra, which is a dominant force among the
jihadists fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


In May 2011, U.S. Special Forces carried out

a raid on Osama bin Ladens hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It was a triumph for the
administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, but it did not mean the end of al-Qaeda.
Today, five years after bin Ladens death,
the Islamic State (IS) has, in many ways, overshadowed al-Qaeda as the worlds most serious terrorist threat. Western security officials now view IS as the greater danger to
their domestic security, especially because of
its mastery of social media and its ability to
recruit thousands of disenchanted young
Muslims into its ranks. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey warned at
a security forum last summer that the IS is
not your parents al-Qaeda.
On June 12, a gunman stormed a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 50 people
and wounding 53 others. During the massacre and ensuing three-hour standoff with
authorities, the shooter, Omar Mateen, called
police and declared his allegiance to the IS.
The group claimed responsibility for the attack the next day, proclaiming Mateen one
of the soldiers of the caliphate in America.
But U.S. officials have cautioned that even
if Mateen was inspired by the IS to undertake
the worst mass shooting in modern American history, there is still no evidence he had a
direct link to the group that he had been
trained or instructed by its terror planners.
Rather, Mateen might have heeded the call of
IS leaders to carry out lone wolf attacks in
the West, especially during the holy month of
Competing terror economies
Since 2013, IS and al-Qaeda have been competing for funding, recruits and prestige
and they often argue over tactics. IS leaders
prefer the wholesale slaughter of civilians, as
epitomised by recent attacks in Paris, Baghdad, Beirut and elsewhere.
By late 2014, the IS seized large chunks of
territory in Syria and Iraq. The group then
proclaimed a caliphate in the territory under
its control, and named its leader, Abu Bakr al-

The Islamic State does not

subscribe to al-Qaedas vision and
instead focusses on the near
enemy the so-called apostate
regimes in West Asia
Baghdadi, as caliph and leader of Muslims
The IS established a regional base that has
allowed it to govern territory, train thousands
of fighters and generate income from illicit
trade in oil and other resources all on a
scale larger than anything al-Qaeda has
achieved. The IS has also established a larger
recruitment effort and more sophisticated
social media presence than al-Qaedas.
With its self-declared caliphate, the IS has
gained control of more resources and generated more income than the al-Qaeda. The IS
generates money by selling oil and wheat, imposing taxes on residents of the territory it
controls, and through extortion.
In 2014, it raked in about $2 billion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. That included $500 million in oil sales in the black
market, and up to $1 billion in cash stolen
from banks while the group made its initial
march across Syria and Iraq. By contrast, the
al-Qaeda has historically relied on donations
from wealthy individuals, especially in the
Gulf states.
Overall, IS has displaced al-Qaeda as the
dominant force in international jihadism. But

Al-Qaedas heyday
Its essential not to underestimate al-Qaedas ability to evolve and adapt to a new landscape as it has done before. When the U.S.
invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to drive
out the ruling Taliban movement that sheltered bin Laden and his supporters, the alQaeda was temporarily thrown off balance. It
quickly regrouped, dispersing its surviving
members, distributing its ideological tracts
and terrorist techniques to a wider audience
on the Internet, and encouraging new
recruits to act autonomously under its
Even while in hiding, bin Laden and his top
lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, freely addressed their supporters through dozens of
videos, audiotapes and Internet statements.
They helped inspire hundreds of young men
to carry out suicide or conventional bombings in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Spain, Turkey and Britain.
Bin Laden and Zawahiri were believed to
be hiding in mountainous areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, under the protection of ethnic Pashtun tribes. They knew the
area well, having fought there in the 1980s
during the Central Intelligence Agencysponsored jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. But bin Laden was found
and killed in a Pakistani city about an hours
drive north of Islamabad, the capital. After
his death, Pakistans leaders did not address
questions over how bin Laden managed to
elude them for so long, and how the al-Qaeda
was able to rebuild its infrastructure in the
tribal region of northwest Pakistan.
Before the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden had relied on recruits trained at Afghan camps, and
many had personally pledged allegiance to
him. But while in hiding, he became more of a
symbol and a source of ideology than a planner of specific attacks. One of bin Ladens former bodyguards in Afghanistan once described the groups operations to an Arabic


new link

he decision of Microsoft to spend over $26

billion to buy LinkedIn, the worlds largest
professional network, is an earnest attempt
by the company founded by Bill Gates for continued relevance in a space that it once dominated, to
the point of being a monopoly. That space the
technology sector is nothing like what it was in
the 1980s and 1990s, when Microsoft ruled. Over
the last decade and a half, the rise of the Internet,
social media, and smartphones have dramatically
altered the contours of this space, giving rise to new
and more powerful companies such as Google,
Facebook, and Amazon. Add to this mix, Apple, a
company almost as old as Microsoft but one that
could afford to look beyond its legacy products and
create new ones, even new categories. For a long
time, Microsoft wasnt able to reconcile itself to
such changes, tied as it was to the old way of doing
things. As recently as last year, a sizeable share of its
$93.5 billion revenue came from its old business
model of selling its operating system and Office
suite to desktop buyers across the world. When Microsoft did wake up, the game had already slipped
from its hands. Rather than create the future, as the
clich in the technology world goes, Microsoft had
to reconcile itself to playing me-too in this new
This is not the first time Microsoft is trying the
acquisition route to make up for lost years. Three
years ago, it bought the phone-maker Nokia for
nearly $8 billion, a move that its then CEO Steve
Ballmer called a bold step into the future. But Microsoft got nowhere with that buy and had to write
down the investment eventually. Notwithstanding
this, critics are more optimistic about its latest acquisition, Microsofts biggest ever. Satya Nadella,
who took over as CEO in 2014, has been laying emphasis on playing to the companys strengths. He
has since focussed on new businesses such as cloud
services, one of the fast-growth areas for the company. But what does a software-seller have to do
with a social network? Microsoft has a history of
providing tools to businesses. And LinkedIn,
though certainly not the most high-profile social
network around, is in the business of linking business professionals in the new age. With more than
400 million members, LinkedIn makes its money
through recruitment ads and subscriptions. As its
CEO, Jeff Weiner, noted in a post: Essentially, were
both trying to do the same thing but coming at it
from two different places: For LinkedIn, its the professional network, and for Microsoft, the professional cloud. The coming together is sure to give
Microsoft the traction it needs to thrive in a digital
age, as it moves away from its legacy.

newspaper this way: Every element of alQaeda is self-activated. Whoever finds a

chance to attack simply goes ahead. The decision is theirs alone.
Near and far enemies
IS and al-Qaeda differ in other important
ways: the latter wants to overthrow what it
views as the corrupt and apostate regimes
of West Asia the near enemy. But in order to do so, al-Qaedas leaders focussed on
the far enemy: the U.S. and the West.
That focus was partly motivated by U.S. actions abroad. For decades, Washington has
supported repressive regimes in countries
such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which
spawned al-Qaedas top leaders. Both bin Laden, a Saudi, and his successor, Zawahiri, an
Egyptian, at first turned against the dictators
at home. Then realising that the U.S. was
helping to prop up these regimes they targeted the far enemy. We will never know
whether these men would have attacked
America if it hadnt supported the governments they were trying to destroy. But it did
not help.
In targeting the U.S., the al-Qaeda believes
it will eventually force Washington to withdraw its support for the autocratic Arab regimes and abandon West Asia entirely. But
the IS does not subscribe to al-Qaedas vision
and instead it mainly focusses on the near
enemy meaning the so-called apostate regimes in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the
Arab world. So far, IS has been more successful in its strategy, which relies on capturing
and holding territory.
It was Zawahiri who convinced bin Laden
to shift his attention to the far enemy, helping inspire the 9/11 attacks. Zawahiri fled
Egypt in the early 1980s, after serving three
years in prison for belonging to an outlawed
militant group. He spent time in Sudan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he first met
bin Laden in 1987. At the time, bin Laden, a
multimillionaire Saudi dissident, helped
train and finance a cadre of Afghan Arabs,
Islamist volunteers from across West Asia
who fought against the Soviet occupation of
Afghanistan. Those fighters later formed the
foundation of bin Ladens network.
In the late 1980s, Zawahiri established an
office in Peshawar, a Pakistani city near the
Afghan border that served as training ground
and supply conduit for the Afghan resistance.
It was in Peshawar that Zawahiri began to cement his relationship with bin Laden and
to reshape the Saudis thinking about militant
Islam. Zawahiri helped turn bin Laden from a
financial backer of the Afghan resistance into
a strong believer in the ideology of jihad,
fighting against the perceived enemies of
As the al-Qaedas influence waned, the IS
has tried to fill the vacuum by expanding into
new territory. In November 2014, Baghdadi
announced that the IS was creating new
provinces of its self-declared caliphate in
five new countries: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, Algeria and Egypt. While IS sympathisers had pledged allegiance to Baghdadi in
other states, the IS leader singled out only
those countries where the movement has a
strong base of support and could mount sustained attacks.
But Baghdadi also called on his supporters
to carry out lone wolf attacks wherever
possible. Oh soldiers of the Islamic State,
erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere, he declared. Light the earth with fire against all
dictators. And for more than a year, IS militants have been heeding the self-proclaimed
caliphs call.
Mohamad Bazzi is a journalism professor at New York
University and a former Middle East bureau chief at


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

No more sloganeering
The Prime Minister has rightly
reminded his partymen of the shelf
life of sloganeering (Time for
sloganeering over, PM tells
partymen, June 14). In fact this
piece of advice holds good for all
parties. The noise of electioneering,
the electric atmosphere and the war
cries may have some utility at the
time of elections. Every political
party should live up to the
expectations of the people. Mere
promises without their fulfilment,
freebies without growth and slogans
without prosperity only endanger
democracy. Party chiefs must also
revisit their manifestos.
S.A. Srinivasa Sarma,

It is amusing that the Prime

Minister, who appears to have
exclusive copyright over
sloganeering, should now remind his
partymen about this. One has lost
count of the slogans and acronyms
put together by Mr. Modi ever since
2014. The promise of heralding
Achche din was one that
mesmerised the nation into
believing that all miseries were
coming to an end. The ground
realities reflect quite the opposite,
whether it is about industrial
growth, exports, jobs, bringing back
black money, and even tackling
climate change. On the other hand,
there is an assiduous attempt to
divide society even if it means
resorting to gross misinformation
(MPs claim of forced migration
disputed and Akhilesh rubbishes
BJP list on Kairana exodus, both
June 14). Saffronisation of
institutions and triggering unrest

over alleged anti-national activities

in Centrally-funded educational
institutions of repute are on the rise.
S.K. Choudhury,

Terror in Orlando
The carnage in Orlando is a sad
reflection of the failure of the U.S.
government to have stricter gun
laws (Editorial, June 14). Based on
data compiled by The Guardian, the
U.S. has the most heavily-armed
civilian population on the planet
with an average of 88.8 guns for
every 100 people and more than 270
million firearms owned by civilians.
It is unfortunate that the presidential
candidates in the U.S. are drawing
political mileage from such sensitive
Himank Setia,
Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan

One fails to understand how the lone

wolf was able to carry out his
mission despite security measures.
Probably such attacks arise out of
the easy availability of arms and
weapons. The Orlando attack also
bears evidence of hatred towards the
LGBT community. When will we
learn to respect all individuals and
not subject them to cruelties? With
the presidential elections round the
corner, the U.S. administration
needs to re-emphasise the fact that
the security of its citizens is its top
A. Sravani Reddy,
New Delhi

Indias Mission NSG

China, all these years, seems to have
expected from India an

appeasement policy on almost all

bilateral and multilateral issues
(Dual diplomacy for Mission NSG,
June 14). However, Beijing has failed
to understand the change that has
taken place in the international
power structure as well as the
internal changes within India.
Similarly, the leadership in China
appears to have misjudged or
intentionally neglected
acknowledging the growth of a
democratic India and its place in the
international comity of nations. If
the present leadership looks back to
the history of China and the role
India played in its entry to the UN,
Beijing would not have blocked
Indias membership to any
international agency. Instead of an
appeasement policy, Indias
pragmatic approach commensurate
with its global status is well-tuned to
present-day global politics.
Suresh R.,

Films as a mirror
Films like Udta Punjab, which
portray the burning issues of real
life, should not be indiscriminately
censored (Udta Punjab to soar
with one cut, A certificate, June 14).
They create awareness about the
canker that eats into the vitals of
society. The censor board has the
right to order alterations to
communal references but the
message intended should come
through. On a different note, I feel
that the censor board needs to
address the more important issue of
how romance is handled in films. In
the name of freedom of creative
expression or the specious
argument of the script demands it,

the subject has transformed itself on

screen into something which a
family finds very uncomfortable to
C.V. Krishna Manoj,

The Bombay High Courts verdict to

release Udta Punjab with minimal
cuts is welcome. At the same time,
there is a need to delve into the
larger question regarding the role of
the CBFC. Pre-censoring is a unique
feature of film media. The boards
mandate needs to be amended and
its role clearly defined as one of
certification and not censoring.
Shyami Govind,

The irony in this entire controversy

is how films that portray western
culture without any theme or morals
appear to be easily certified while
films like Udta Punjab, which
highlight the reality in this case,
drug abuse end up being
censored. The case also shows that if
the designated authorities fail to
perform their tasks, the burden on
the judiciary only increases.
Another point is that Anurag
Kashyaps production house is
financially sound to afford the costs
of litigation but many small filmmakers cannot do so. I wonder why
the media doesnt write on this
aspect and look into films that just
disappeared this way.
S. Bindu Sravya,

Even after many years have elapsed,

I cling to poignant memories of the
subjects of drug menace and
alcoholism so ably dealt with in
films such as The Man with the

Golden Arm, starring Frank Sinatra,

and I'll Cry Tomorrow, with a
notable performance by Susan
Hayward. I firmly believe that more
such films of topical interest must be
produced and the powerful censor
board should not intervene, leaving
it to the judgment of a discerning
public instead.
S.N. Sarma,

The adage is that films are the

mirror of society. Udta Punjab is
about the problem of drugs in
Punjab. The people of India have a
right to know about this problem
and how it can be tackled. Why then
did the censor board have a problem
with this? Perhaps the controversy
arose out of political exigencies.
Azaz Hafiz Mani,
Bhagalpur, Bihar

It is rather disconcerting that the

court seems to have gone against the
popular sentiments of the nation
with regard to the contents of the
movie, but more disturbingly, it has
come down on the CBFC by advising
it not to act like a grandmother. A
grandmother represents the
personification of wisdom, true
values, knowledge, experience, and
the authority to enforce moral
courage and discipline in society. It
has conveyed the impression that
old values and opinions are now
worthless, perhaps unwittingly and
unknowingly, giving an impetus to
moral degeneration. One can change
with the times but there is no need
to make compromises with
established societal norms and
Prabhanjan R. Sangam,

10 |




The general drift of society

The troubled intellectual in India today is being asked to choose between free speech that can lead to
intellectual murder or a silence that can end in intellectual suicide
vention of Literature. The essay is about
what its title says, namely, the enemies of intellectual liberty. But Orwell is never predictable. He includes among the threats to
freedom of thought in the England of that
time the concentration of the press in a few
hands, monopoly of radio, the bureaucracy
and, curiously, the unwillingness of the public to buy books. He uses a remarkable
phrase direct and terse to describe this
threat as the general drift of society. In
our age, he writes, the idea of intellectual
liberty is under attack from two directions.
On the one side are its theoretical enemies,
the apologists of totalitarianism, and on the
other its immediate, practical enemies, monopoly and bureaucracy. Any writer or journalist who wants to retain his integrity finds
himself thwarted by the general drift of society rather than by active persecution.

T H U R S D AY , J U N E 1 6 , 2 0 1 6


Politics of

egal issues become needless controversies

when politics casts a dark shadow on them.
The issue of the President withholding assent
to a Delhi government Bill seeking to protect its 21
parliamentary secretaries from incurring disqualification on the grounds of holding an office of profit, is a flagrant example. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accuses the Narendra Modi government of
having a political motive in advising the President
against granting assent. He cites the prevailing
practice of appointing parliamentary secretaries in
several other States, notably in Gujarat and Punjab,
where the BJP and its allies are in power. Further,
laws in these States expressly protect them from
disqualification a protection that he says Delhi is
being denied by the Centre. The matter is essentially a mix of two legal questions: whether the post of
parliamentary secretary, paid or unpaid, is an office
of profit; and whether MLAs are given the positions
only to get around the constitutional limit on the
number of ministers a State can have. These questions can be settled through the Election Commission and the courts of law, and attempts to politicise
them are unnecessary. The parliamentary secretaries are under notice from the EC to show cause why
they should not be disqualified for holding an office of profit. The Centre appears reluctant to clear
the Bill as it may amount to granting retrospective
protection and pre-empting the ECs opinion.
Mr. Kejriwal contends that his parliamentary
secretaries do not draw any salaries or perquisites.
He ought to canvass this point before the Election
Commission. The EC will have to go by the set of
tests evolved by the Supreme Court on whether a
particular post is an office of profit: whether the
government makes the appointment, remunerates
the appointee, has the right to remove the appointee and controls the appointees functions. Further,
some High Courts have ruled that parliamentary
secretaries are essentially ministers and their appointment would be struck down if it resulted in
the ministrys strength breaching the constitutional limit. Under Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution,
introduced in 2003, the Council of Ministers should
not comprise more than 15 per cent of the strength
of a Legislative Assembly. In the case of the 70member Delhi Assembly, the limit is 10 per cent, or
seven ministers. Such questions arise because the
term office of profit and the post of parliamentary
secretary do not yet have a clear legal definition. A
legislative solution applicable across the country is
needed. That should ensure that there are no double standards in applying the law on office of profit.

Write as you speak, a wise old man once

told me, and speak as you think. The advice, intended to guard writing from verbosity and artifice, was sound. The urge to be
word-perfect and pitch-right can make
writing an endless and self-defeating exercise. Rather like turning and turning a pencil
in the sharpeners groove to bring the leadend to its ultimate piercing point can actually break the tip. Much the best to say it fast,
keep it blunt.
Good writing has to make good reading.
All of us have admired some writers, preferred their work over that of others for their
writing style as much as for the content of
their work. One writer who has, for more
than half a century, been admired for his
searing honesty is George Orwell. He is never recondite, but he is never trite. He says it
as it is and yet says it as it has not been said
The polemics of Orwell
Seven decades ago, Orwell wrote a clutch
of essays for the post-World War II British
journal Polemic. The brave effort lived for a
mere three years 1945-1947. But what a
journal it was! Described as a Magazine of
Philosophy, Psychology, and Aesthetics, it
aimed to be a periodical for the non-specialist intellectual. Founded by the ex-communist and Spanish Civil War fighter Humphrey
Hugh Slater, its first issue came out as a
book and only seven more issues ran. But its
leaden type-settings were, each of them,
worth their weight in gold. On the surface,
Polemic was anti-Soviet which in varying
degrees seemed like being anti-communism.
But it was essentially against totalitarianism,
not just of the Stalinist variety but of all
types, including that of intolerant majorities.
Its contributors included the iconic iconoclast Bertrand Russell (The fundamental
cause of the trouble is that in the modern
world the stupid are cocksure while the in-


Artistic expression does not

have to be gagged by the
state if there are
self-appointed vigilantes to
bully it into silence
telligent are full of doubt), the celebrated
American author Henry Miller (I need to be
alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion), the philosopher A.J.
Ayer (... when one buys a pair of shoes, one
is buying three things, the right shoe, the left
shoe and the pair), the British poet-novelist
Stephen Spender (Great poetry is always
written by somebody straining to go beyond
what he can do), the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Do not go gentle into that good night)
, the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper (The
function of a genius is not to give new answers, but to pose new questions which time
and mediocrity can resolve), the controversial thinker C.E.M. Joad (Some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age) and
Of the five essays that Orwell contributed
to Polemic, the most famous is Notes on Nationalism, the most important is The Pre-

Resonance, seven decades on

Orwells 1946 essay, written with frank fluency, is disturbingly valuable to us today,
both as a piece of masterful writing and as a
warning. One look at the just-appeared volume, Words Matter: Writings against Silence, edited by K. Satchidanandan, and published by Penguin-Viking which includes
essays by Nayantara Sahgal, Romila Thapar,
Gopal Guru, Githa Hariharan, A.R. Venkatachalapathy, Ananya Vajpeyi and others, with
selections from the writings of the slain
freethinkers Narendra Dabholkar, Govind
Pansare, and Malleshappa Kalburgi, will tell
us why it is so. The book is, in fact, a contemporary Indian avatar of Polemic.
The current Indian establishments priorities do not include the independence of writers. They do not place freedom of thought
and expression high on its list. But no less
worrisome for the defenders of free expression is the general drift of society today.
The troubled intellectual in India today is
being asked to choose between free speech
that can lead to intellectual murder or a silence that can end in intellectual suicide.
And who is demanding this? Not the state,
not directly anyway. It is what Orwell called
the general drift of society.
In his essay Orwell says that some 15 years


To be
or not to be

or the British voter, its a rare moment. The results of the June 23 referendum, the second
vote in 41 years on United Kingdoms place in
the European Union, will have implications for
generations to come. But unlike in 1975, when those
Britons who wanted the country to remain within
the European Economic Community had a clear
lead over those who wanted it to exit, this is a neckand-neck race. According to one poll tracker, the
exit camp has a one percentage point lead over the
remain lobby in the weighted average of recent
major polls. There is widespread resentment
among voters against the current terms of Britains
membership in the EU, and sections of the Tories
and other far-right politicians are trying to exploit
this. The Brexit camp argues that owing to the EU
membership, Britain is not allowed to make changes in existing laws and take independent economic
decisions. Such restrictions have cost the country
economically and are partly responsible for high
unemployment. The camp also blames the EUs immigration policies for migrant arrivals. But most of
these arguments appear hollow as a post-Brexit
scenario could throw up even worse outcomes.
Beyond the rhetoric, the Brexit lobby is yet to
make a convincing case in support of the argument
that leaving the EU would benefit the U.K. economically. On the other hand, the Treasury assesses that
Brexit would slow down growth, and could lead to a
loss of 36 billion in tax receipts. In the short term, a
No vote will throw the country into political instability as Prime Minister David Cameron is likely to
resign. There will also be economic uncertainty as
Britain will have to negotiate its new relationship
with the EU within two years. A bigger problem
would be trade. Currently, almost half of Britains
exports go to other EU countries. The economic
impact of losing access to the EUs single market
will be huge. One alternative is to follow the Norwegian model. The Scandinavian country is not
part of the EU but has access to the single market.
But Norway has had to make huge concessions for
this access, including making payments into EU
budgets. Another option is for Britain to negotiate a
free trade agreement with the EU. But this route has
at least two problems. First, free trade deals are unlikely to cover financial services. Second, the U.K.
will face competition from other economic powerhouses such as the U.S. and India in negotiating a
trade agreement with the EU. On its own, the U.K.
will be at a disadvantage compared to the bigger
markets. Moreover, Brexit would put the idea of a
united Europe in danger as it could have a domino
effect. The voters decision will have serious effects
on not just the country but on the whole region.

earlier, Conservatives and Catholics were attacking freedom but that at the time of his
writing a new political orthodoxy of the Russophile intelligentsia in tandem with the monopolist mindset in the bureaucracy was
crippling intellectual liberty. The journalist, writes Orwell, is unfree, and is conscious of un-freedom, when he is forced to
write lies or suppress what seems to him important news: the imaginative writer is unfree when he has to falsify his subjective
This is staggeringly true of us in India today. The thirty per cent of Indias electorate
that has voted the ruling party into office reflects the desire, often inchoate but not unclear, of the general drift towards blind conformity, hero worship and the narrowest of
narrow nationalisms.
Totalitarianism is not always operated by
diktat. It is insinuated by suggestion and replication. A political dictatorship is not in operation in India. But a political orthodoxy
has certainly crept into our national life.
That political orthodoxy genuflects in supremo worship, sees Hindus as Indias master race of the purest Aryan descent and the
goal of Indias Reich-like dispensation as being a superpower status. Pride is cousin to
fear. And fear does not have to be proclaimed
by the state. It can be set going as a public
The self-censoring silence
Artistic expression does not have to be
gagged by the state if there are self-appointed vigilantes to bully it into silence. Dissent
does not have to be banned if it is countered
by orchestrated mass promo rallies, hypnotising oratory. The non-intellectual public
can be mesmerised through mega events in
which celebrity stars participate; intellectuals can be immobilised through the twin
ploys of preferment and ostracism. Supremo
establishments do not need to turn Hitlerian
any more. All they need to do is to let the
Reich chemistry work. Self-regulation and
self-censorship will click in. Monopoly and
the bureaucracy (which includes, very particularly, the techno-scientific, diplomatic
and economic bureaucracy) are ever at hand
to do the needful and the three bagsful.
Raghuram Rajan, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, is a thinking man, a
strong man a much-needed and scarce
combination. The countrys central banking
institution needs a resilient brain, not a programmed robot to guide the fortunes of the
rupee. Dr. Rajans is such a brain which, in
addition, has the humour needed to protect
it from robotising. But even as he shrugs criticisms off with a laugh, a great many if not
most from the class of intellectual India
have led themselves into a self-censoring silence over Big Brotherisms. Political writing in our time, says Orwell in the Polemic
essay, consists almost entirely of prefabricated phrases bolted together like the pieces
of a childs Meccano set. It is the unavoidable
result of self-censorship. To write in plain
vigorous language one has to think fearlessly, and if one thinks fearlessly one cannot be
politically orthodox.
Guardians of intellectual liberty must
stand four square against the tyranny of the
state. But they must not spare the tyranny of
a political orthodoxy banking on our inability to write as we think and speak as we think,
with the class and style of Polemic. Words
matter, words count.
Gopalkrishna Gandhi, a former Governor of West Bengal, is
distinguished professor of history and politics, Ashoka


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Jayalalithaa meets Modi

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
Jayalalithaas meeting with Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, the first
after shes come to power again, is a
welcome sign (Jayalalithaa meets
Modi with list of 29 demands, June
15). After remaining in isolation all
these years, Ms. Jayalalithaa can no
longer afford to ignore the Central
government as Tamil Nadu is
starved of funds. The State
government needs to keep itself in
the good books of the Centre,
especially because it needs funds to
fulfil all its poll promises.
However, as Tamil Nadu is not keen
on the GST, the Union Finance
Minister should study in depth the
impact of revenue loss in the State
and the ways and means to
compensate the loss to the State
once the GST comes into force. The
Centre must include suggestions of
all the stakeholders in the final draft
before obtaining the green signal
for passage of the GST in the Upper
K.R. Srinivasan,

by temple authorities, elephant

owners, mahouts, and local
veterinarians. A ban on using
elephants in temple processions is
long overdue. The continuation of
this blatant injustice in the name of
religion is indefensible. Moreover,
governments should ensure
effective accountability
mechanisms and stringent
punishment for mahouts and
owners who violate the extant
Arjun K.V.,

Last year, I went with my family to

an elephant camp some 15 km away
from the Guruvayur temple. We
were impressed by the care given to
the 15 elephants in the camp,
forgetting the fact that these
animals have lost their freedom.
Why should elephants, one of the
most intelligent and sensitive of all
animals, be paraded in front of
thousands of people and be forced
to withstand the obnoxious sound
of firecrackers? Why cant any one
State take the lead and ban the use
of elephants in temple processions?
A.R. Ramanarayanan,

Plight of elephants


Brutal torture leading to the death

of captive elephants in Kerala once
again brings to the limelight the
plight of the jumbos (Season of
death for Keralas captive jumbos,
June 15). It is a sad testimony to the
callousness on the part of the
authorities in ensuring the
protection of these animals. The
Ministry of Environment and
Forests has been issuing directives
from time to time to prevent
elephants exploitation. But these
are all flouted in a brazen manner

Its astonishing how insensitive

human beings are to the pain of
animals. These deaths show great
negligence on the part of animal
welfare activists and the Heritage
Animal Task Force. They all pay
attention to the plight of elephants
only after the animals die. Reports
are prepared only for formality, no
action is taken later. Mahatma
Gandhi once said: The greatness of
a nation and its moral progress can
be judged by the way its animals are
treated. I dont know what he

would say if he were alive today.

Tasmeem Khan,
Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh

Orlando shooting
In early June, an Indian killed a
University of California at Los
Angeles professor and now a man of
Afghan descent has killed 50 people
in Orlando in a nightclub (Obama
denounces Trumps dangerous
mindset, June 15). The Republican
presidential nominee Donald
Trump, in his response to the attack,
suggested that all Muslim
immigrants posed potential threats
to the U.S.s security and called for a
ban on migrants from any part of
the world with a proven history of
terrorism against the U.S. or its
allies. With terrorism and shootings
on the rise, Mr. Trump might
actually be gathering support with
his polemical speeches. The
present situation gives a horrifying
indication of what lies ahead.
Poulami Mukherjee,

The recent attack is significant

(Guns and lone wolves, June 15).
The Islamic State seems to have
spread its tentacles deep into the
U.S., with lone wolves now claiming
allegiance to the terrorist
organisation. The easy availability
of arms in the U.S. will make it
difficult to stop such attacks. It is
high time the global powers
increased their pace of concerted
action against the IS.

The author rightly suggests that

group hate is the reason why such
lone wolf attacks are becoming a

recent trend. In Orlandos case,

homophobia as well as the easy
accessibility to firearms came
together to form a deadly mix. To
keep a check on recruitment into
terrorist organisations via social
media is essential in stopping such
Medha Anand,

Interview with Maneka

The interview with Union Women
and Child Development Minister
Maneka Gandhi comes as a fresh
breath in the stale atmosphere of
mans self-serving agenda for
progress (Stop having illiterate
forest departments, June 15). Her
views on the environment, womens
issues, social equity, and the mananimal conflict are on sound
footing. It is really unfortunate that
wild animals are forced to come out
of their habitat because of
deforestation and are then culled.
A. Raveendranath,
Aranmula, Kerala

The effect of a ban

The observations of the High Court
are correct (The Censor is
snipped, June 15). Works of art get
undue publicity due to such
controversies, and in an attempt to
keep such works away from the
public we end up making these
same works even more intriguing.
Often, banned books go to become
bestsellers. I have read D.H.
Lawrences Lady Chatterleys
Lover, Salman Rushdies The
Satanic Verses, and Taslima
Nasrins Lajja. Other works of these
authors are much better, yet these
books are read and relished more

because they were banned.

H.S. Dimple,
Jagraon, Punjab

The Sanskrit debate is not new to

this country (Now, Karunanidhi
warns of anti-Sanskrit agitation,
June 14). The Centres enthusiasm
to impose Sanskrit on States
certainly shows some coercion.
However, the outright opposition to
Sanskrit by some political leaders is
also unwarranted. Article 51A of the
Constitution makes it a
fundamental duty of every Indian
citizen to value and preserve the
rich heritage of our composite
culture. The Supreme Court
observed in Santosh Kumar v.
Secretary, Ministry of HRD (1994)
that though the people of this
country differed in a number of
ways, they all were proud to regard
themselves as participants in a
common heritage; and that heritage
emphatically is the heritage of
Sanskrit. Both sides need to have a
relook at their opinions so as to let
the culture of India flourish freely.
Sachin V. K. Jadhav,
Washim, Maharashtra

Road accidents
With rapid urbanisation, and cars
becoming affordable to many,
vehicular traffic has increased in
recent years. But this has not been
matched by an improvement in
road infrastructure (A shrug
instead of outrage, June 15). Also,
drivers are not trained in using the
new four-way or six-way lanes, so
this causes more accidents too.
Issuance of motor driving licences
should be made more stringent.
S. Nallasivan,
Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu

10 |




Staying power of the pass-fail system

The persistence of the crushing examination system is due to Indias hierarchical social system a point
that is grossly underexamined
F R I D AY , J U N E 1 7 , 2 0 1 6


Cracking down
on idol-looters

he thriving trade in illicitly procured temple

idols was exposed yet again after officers of
the Idol Wing of the Tamil Nadu Police raided the premises of the Chennai-based businessman
Deenadayalan on May 31. The sheer scale of the seizure 71 stone idols, 41 metal idols, 90 paintings
and an ivory item signals how big and brazen the
idol-looting business is in India. The value of the
loss from this activity cannot be computed in merely commercial terms; every item illegally exported
robs the country of a bit of its heritage. The Deenadayalan raids, for example, yielded idols of Ganapathy, Dakshinamoorthy, Garudalwar, Boodevi and
Sridevi, and numerous pillars and vessels too,
mostly dating back to the unparalleled refinement
of Dravidian sculpture and architecture during the
Chola age. The octogenarian ran four art galleries
in Tamil Nadu and one in Karnataka, each possibly
a hub for storage and smuggling. The meticulously
organised nature of this shadowy business hints at
the deep and vast network of idol thieves who have
plied their trade across not only Tamil Nadu but numerous other Indian States and even broader territories of South and South East Asia.
The most notable among these is the smuggling
ring of Subhash Kapoor, the alleged kingpin who is
now in a Tamil Nadu prison after being arrested in
the U.S. in 2011 for illegally shipping artefacts to his
Art of the Past gallery in New York and to other
museums. The loot of Indian antiquities by Kapoor
and Co. stretches as far back as the early years of Indian Independence, when Subhashs father Parshotam Ram Kapoor began plundering cultural institutions in the subcontinent and selling objects for
profit. The law of the land has changed since then.
In the 1970s India became a signatory to the UNESCO convention on preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property.
Under this rubric, no such culturally significant objects could be removed from India under any circumstances. Although more evidence connecting
Deenadayalan to Kapoor is yet to emerge, it is clear
that a loot of heritage on a breathtaking scale has
continued despite the evolving legal framework to
protect it. Although enforcement action and public
awareness of idol-smuggling have expanded, it has
only been in the last few years that idols recovered
on foreign soil have trickled back. Notably, 200 artefacts estimated at $100 million were returned to
India in Washington this month during the U.S. visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There is an urgent need to halt the outflow of idols. That requires
building up the manpower and surveillance capabilities of the police to disrupt the gangs, and facilitating inter-agency and international cooperation.

Once again, it is that time of the year when

the examination results season may be just
ending and the admissions season is in progress, and marked by a cacophony of two
contradictory voices often from the same
people that rose to deafening levels from
April to May when the results of various
school boards were declared. The first voice
celebrated those who succeeded and did
wondrously well. Newspaper articles were
published on which sections of students did
better than the other. Did girls do better than
the boys? Did school system X do better
than school system Y? Pictures of individual
students who topped the examinations were
published and their parents, teachers and
schools eulogised. Once the general results
fever subsided, this shrill voice was echoed
by private schools which claimed to have
taught some of the toppers, with their posters
appearing in every possible place, from roadside electric poles to walls.
In general, this celebration of success in an
examination goes on for the whole year, till
the next results season when the old faces are
replaced with new ones to valorise.
Pressure of expectations
More importantly, the second voice is one
of lamentation as many students, wilting under stress and pressure, burn out and even
commit suicide in this season, simply because they could not fulfil their parents expectations.
The loss of these young, and often bright,
people must make us ponder. They have
moved up all the way from nursery class to
high school to fulfil their parents ambitions
of seeing them grow into engineers, doctors
or managers graduating from the so-called
top-level institutions in the country. These
children must have seen themselves only as
exam-cracking achievers in order to make
their parents happy. They lost out on their
childhood play and free time; no pranks with
their friends and no experience of the simple
joy of just being a carefree child. This loss
would have led to a narrow vision of human
life guided by the all-important value of success; which is just defined as getting a top
job. Period. These children, deprived of social development and trapped in an artificially developed world, choose death over struggle when that world suffers a rude shock with
exam results that are less than expected.
There is very little recognition that the
first voice I talked about creates a powerful
environment wherein the trait of parents imposing their ambitions on the children becomes dominant. When they do not turn out

Education becomes a means of

fierce competition. It stops being
a self-motivated way of forming
an authentic self and gaining an
understanding of the world
to be as successful as their parents want them
to, they fade away. This problem has two
sides to it: the first is the examination-oriented Indian education system, and the second
is competitive and cruel parents.
The crushing weight of exams
About 80 years ago, the Zakir Hussain report on National Basic Education noted that
the system of examinations prevailing in our
country has proved a curse to education. It
pinpointed the malady by saying that a bad
system is made worse by awarding examinations a place much beyond their utility. The
problem, however, is much older than stated
in the Zakir Hussain report.
For this, one has to go back as early as 1904
to the Indian Educational Policy issued by
the then Governor General. This colonial
document had a section titled The abuse of
examinations and noted that [e]xaminations, as now understood, are believed to
have been unknown as an instrument of general education in ancient India. It also
claimed that examinations did not have a
prominent place even in the Despatch of
1854, commonly known as Woods Despatch.
The Hunter Commission report of 1882-83,
which left examinations and promotions to
the next class up to standard eight entirely to
the schools, did not recommend any prov-

ince-level or board exemptions. Still, the educational policy of 1904 noted that examinations had grown to extravagant
dimensions, and their influence has been allowed to dominate the whole system of education in India, with the result that instruction is confined within the rigid framework
of prescribed courses, that all forms of training which do not admit of being tested by
written examinations are liable to be neglected. It further noted that the system was
adopted on the precedence of English education which itself has finally condemned it;
however, in India, it was proving to be disastrous in its influence on education. The policy recommended reforms that included
abandoning public examination at the primary level, more equitable tests of efficiency, and to relieve the schools and scholars
from the heavy burden of recurring mechanical tests.
The Indian Educational Policy of 1913 declared victory and stated that the formerly
crushing weight of examinations has been
appreciably lightened. It further declared
that the principal objects of the school final
examination are adaptability to the course of
study and avoidance of cram.
All this shows that the devastating effects
of this curse to education have been known
quite well for over 100 years. There is no
commission or committee report after Independence which does not acknowledge the
burden of rote learning and the examination
system on its students and its futility in assessing their real abilities. They all recommend examination reforms. The recent attempts, after Right to Education (RTE)
stipulation, of no pass-fail and no board examinations till completion of elementary
education in favour of a continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) are well
However, the public education system has
completely failed to implement these reforms and the private schools have never
paid much attention to them. We have now
reached a stage where no one in the country
knows how the CCE can be implemented,
and how we can measure progress of the
child without pass-fail systems. Therefore,
there has been a concerted effort to discard
this half-hearted foraging into unknown territory as soon as the present government
came to power at the Centre. The result is
that many States have gone back to their familiar pass-fail system and board examinations at the end of eighth standard if not
Nexus of forces
The question that stares us in the face is,
how is it that we havent cleansed our education system of a curse that has been well
known for over a hundred years? There is
never a single factor behind the persistence


to watch

here is little that is surprising about Indias

recent refusal to allow Google to launch its
Street View service, which gives users a 360degree view of public spaces. As this newspaper
has reported, the proposal was rejected following
objections raised by the Defence Ministry. The decision is said to have come in the backdrop of the
terror attack on the Pathankot airbase in January,
with investigators suspecting that terrorists used
Google Maps to study the topography of the targeted area. Barely days after the airbase attack, the
Delhi High Court asked the government to examine
the issue of sensitive locations such as defence installations and nuclear power plants showing on
Google Maps. It isnt clear if these concerns have
been addressed. Street View goes a step further
than the maps. It displays panoramic views of public spaces, thanks to images captured by Googles
moving vehicles, adding a layer of depth and reality
to the maps. India has hinted that its refusal is not
final and that such issues could be resolved once
the Geospatial Bill, which seeks to regulate mapcreation and sharing, comes into force. But it is unclear whether this will help, given that the proposed legislation is somewhat overenthusiastic
about regulation. India isnt the first country to
seem troubled by Street View. Since its launch in
2007 in the U.S., the service has faced roadblocks in
many countries. In the U.S., for instance, both the
Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense had concerns over Google capturing images of sensitive locations. In Europe, especially Germany, concerns over loss of privacy took
centre stage. The script wasnt different in Japan.
And yet, Street View is available in all these
countries. Solutions were eventually found. Before
long, the service figured out a way to blur peoples
faces and licence plates automatically before the
pictures were made public. In the U.S., Google was
asked to remove sensitive information, and its image-capturing cars were ordered to keep off military bases. In Germany, households were given the
option of blurring their buildings. In Japan, the
height from which the cameras scanned the neighbourhoods was lowered and local governments
were notified prior to Googles photography. Even
Israel, which takes internal security very seriously,
gave the green signal to Street View five years ago,
reportedly making sure Google doesnt show images in real-time and only photographs public spaces
open to all. While there is an obvious tourism angle
involved, Google representatives have spoken of
Street Views usefulness in disaster management.
All things considered, it might not be in Indias best
interests to keep out this technology for long.

of such problems; it always has to be a nexus

of forces. Some of the factors that lie within
the education system are often mentioned.
The lack of seriousness, of resources, teachers untrained in new methods, etc. form the
routine list. One reason rarely mentioned is
the inconsistency between the prevailing
grade-wise curriculum and school structure
on the one hand and the idea of progress on
the learning continuum inherent in the CCE
on the other. The CCE does not suit our authoritarian school organisation, administration and syllabus organisation.
But it seems that the biggest force behind
the persistence of this curse and useless examination system is a social one which is
grossly under-examined. We are a castebased and strictly hierarchical society. In earlier times, this hierarchy had the iron-clad
stability of the caste system. That determined the place, function, work and life of an
Indian even before his/her birth. There are
attempts now, which range from constitutional rights to political struggle, to break
that mould. It may not have been dismantled
yet, but is under tremendous pressure ever
since the freedom movement began.
But social hierarchies involve privileges,
prestige and goods of life that are cherished
by all. None is ready to let go of the privileges
one has. As a result, the attempts to maintain
the old hierarchy as well as the ways to challenge it look toward education. Education,
therefore, becomes a means of fierce competition either to remain in ones position of
privilege or to rise in the hierarchy. It completely stops being a self-motivated way of
forming an authentic self and gaining an understanding of the world, and is reduced to a
means to beat/best the neighbour. A more
open and thoughtful system of education will
challenge the hierarchies which are so dear
to a caste-minded Indian. The result is that
the authoritarian system of pass-fail stays.
The stand of intellectuals
One wonders why the intellectuals in Indian society, and who understand the ills of this
education system and the implied curse of
examinations, dont make a beginning to dismantle it. The answer perhaps lies in the often noticed phenomenon of the very people
who write scathing papers and offer opinion
on the ills of the current examination system,
hold seminars and give keynote addresses on
it in conferences, taking leave and cancelling
all their engagements to be at hand when
their own children are to appear in the standard 10 and 12 board examinations. Interpreting this contradiction as a simple lack of commitment to ideals is a superficial
understanding even if it has an element of
truth. The malady is deeper. In spite of being
convinced of the truth of their analysis of
the education system and the ills of examinations, they see the possibility of privileges
their children will get through success in
these very examinations; and the dangers of
losing the positions achieved by themselves.
To face this situation one requires courage
of conviction which scholar Alberuni noted a
thousand years ago, albeit in the context of
religion, that Indians dont have. In the context of theology Alberuni notes: at the utmost, they [Indians ] fight with words, but
they will never stake their soul or body or
their property in religious controversies.
Not putting at stake their soul, body and
property in religious disputes may be considered a welcome openness; but it seems this
tendency is applicable to all ideas that might
bring change. Indians dont stake their property and position on ideas that may collide
with the existing system. Unfortunately, no
change in the system is possible without
there being a critical number of people in society who are ready to pay the price to make a
beginning. We dont seem to have that critical
number yet. And till we reach that number,
our children will continue to commit suicide
and their parents will continue to disown the
responsibility to push them to do it. And we
will all continue to blame the rigid system
without noticing that its roots are in our own
Rohit Dhankar is Professor and Director Academic
Development, Azim Premji University, Bangalore and
Academic Adviser, Digantar, Jaipur.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Changes in the sky

The new national aviation policy
appears to link social welfare with
business logic (Govt. clears civil
aviation policy, makes flying
cheaper, June 16). The slew of
measures announced enable a
competitive business ambience and
one should credit the government
for trying to be innovative. However,
when sectors like health care need to
meet stringent rules in order to
operate, why not apply the same
logic to airlines?
Vikram Sundaramurthy,

Scrapping the 5/20 rule is not a

productive idea. Start-up airlines
need at least a few years to settle
down in the business especially in a
complex country like India. There is
also the need for proper
investments, infrastructure and
licensed professionals. One also
waits to see how the moves to make
flying cheaper will pan out
especially when there is the issue of
a cess to be borne by air passengers.
G. Sudha Nachiar,

Capping fares for short flights will

not only boost air travel in smaller

towns but also lead to higher growth.

While the aim of becoming the third
largest aviation market in the world
is fine, there should be no
compromises as far as safety,
security and service are concerned.
Bal Govind,

With the advent of privatisation in

the aviation sector, several airlines
rose and fell owing to reasons such
as an unsustainable business model
to the absence of a conducive
environment. We cannot forget the
Kingfisher Airlines episode in a
hurry. One hopes that there is proper
scrutiny of new entrants. Measures
aimed to boost connectivity to the
Northeastern and far-flung areas of
the country by regional airlines will
hopefully bring tangible economic
benefits to these places.
M. Jeyaram,
Sholavandan, Tamil Nadu

While most of the policy decisions

including determining tariffs may
benefit passengers, operators are
sure to be hesitant in operating on
hitherto unserved routes as they are
by and large loss-making sectors.
One also cannot rule out the
possibility of the civil aviation
authority making services to these

destinations compulsory, which may

only cause turmoil. It is not known
whether this decision was made
after consultation with the
operators. With the state of the
general economy none-tooimpressive, there is little scope for
an increase in passenger numbers.
V. Lakshmanan,

status for India. Rather than lean

excessively toward the U.S., Mr.
Modi would do well to include both
China and Russia as important
regional partners and improve trade
and investment with them.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan,

Tirupur, Tamil Nadu

Gangas properties

Hype and no substance?

Although scientists have a

responsibility to educate and
enlighten society, they should not be
hasty in dealing with issues
especially connected to religious
practices (Testing the waters: Labs
study Ganga healing powers, June
12). When there are innumerable
issues such as agrarian distress, crop
failure, weak monsoons, climate
change, drought and low water
tables, it is startling that there is now
a proposal to check whether the
water in the Ganga river is
medicinal. Must this be such a
Kshirasagara Balaji Rao,

Prime Minister Narendra Modis

visit to the U.S. has been less
substantive than expected if one is to
go by the report Bill seeking special
status for India fails in U.S Senate
(June 16). While the grey area over
the nuclear liability bill still remains,
Mr. Modis substantial takeaways
have been the agreement to set up
six Westinghouse reactors to be
built in Andhra Pradesh and Indias
entry into the MTCR. It remains to
be seen what rabbit an outgoing
President Barack Obama is going to
pull out of his hat in order to bring
India into the NSG. The Senators
who repeatedly applauded Mr.
Modis speech in the U.S. Congress
appear to be back to work and
business as usual when they rejected
Republican Senator John McCains
amendment bill seeking special



GI tag for prasadam

The report, Panchamirtham may
pack a GI punch soon (June 16), is
nectar-like news. Prasadam is a

gracious gift, usually an edible food

offered first to a deity or a saint. It is
believed that giving prasadam to
others brings merit to the giver.
Efforts must be taken by the
authorities concerned to ensure that
adulterated/spurious prasadam is
not sold as there will be many
waiting to cash in on the business of
selling this banana, honey, milk and
milk-based, and cardamom mixture.
A.J. Rangarajan,

Fans, please behave

It is unfortunate that English football
fans are intent on fomenting trouble
wherever they go (Sport Bale,
brawl fears stalk England in Lens,
June 16). The example of what
happened when clashes took place
between fans during Englands draw
with Russia in Marseille does not
augur well for the so-called
gentlemanly English culture. The
chaotic scenes in Lille, France,
during which dozens of people were
arrested and 16 were taken to
hospital is another instance. There is
now a danger of English football fans
becoming synonymous with
Devadas V.,

12 |




On this highway, proceed with caution

India needs to carefully weigh the pros and cons of having too close a relationship with the U.S. Despite the
warmth, the objectives in each country still remain far apart, be it on Pakistan, Afghanistan or global trade
gies. Announcement of the start of
preparatory work in India for six Westinghouse nuclear reactors does mark a significant thaw in civil nuclear matters after the
deep freeze of many years. When completed, this should substantially raise the share
of nuclear energy in Indias energy mix.
However, while the Joint Statement avers
that this had become possible on account of
India ratifying the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, it left unsaid whether it also takes into
account the specific obligations imposed
under Indias draconian Nuclear Liability

S AT U R D AY , J U N E 1 8 , 2 0 1 6



he civil aviation policy, unveiled after much

ado, ticks all the right boxes. The intent to
fast-track the sector and harvest its multiplier effects on the economy, spurring investments,
tourism and employment, is clear. Making flying affordable and bringing more cities on the air transport map either by reviving defunct airports or
building no-frills as well as full-fledged commercial
terminals would boost domestic traffic, but the
target to more than triple passenger numbers by
2022 is too ambitious. A critical reform is the depoliticisation of identifying destinations. Indeed,
resources ought to be deployed based on economics rather than as populist gestures to the hinterland voter. The regional connectivity scheme will
be purely demand-driven, on the basis of commitments from airlines and State governments. Aiming
for a Rs.2,500 air ticket for hour-long flights by securing concessions from States and airports and
subsidising airlines is a populist gesture. Implementing a subsidy-based network comes with its
perils oil prices tend to swing, and the wisdom of
a dole for flyers on new routes to be financed by a
levy on flyers on high-traffic routes is questionable.
A complex regime would make airlines hesitate before investing in smaller aircraft for such routes.
Liberalising the right to fly abroad by scrapping
the five-year domestic flight operations requirement doesnt create real room for manoeuvre for
investors. Quick offers of international routes may
not mean much for new airlines; it is not financially
feasible to scale up to a fleet of 20 aircraft just to get
the right to deploy the next one on an overseas
route. Similarly, while an open sky policy with
SAARC countries is a positive, it has a misleading
ring when applied to countries beyond a 5,000-km
radius. India already has unused flying rights to EU
countries and an open-sky policy with the U.S. and
the U.K. The success of the regional connectivity
plan will hinge on concessions from States in the
form of free land, lower utility rates and tax cuts on
aircraft fuel. The Centre has offered to grant special
economic zone status for any aeronautical manufacturing activity. But such sops are not as tempting
as they used to be. While the policy promises to
bring down airport user charges and make flying
cheaper, future tariffs at airports will be calculated
on a hybrid till basis that allows operators to use
just 30 per cent of non-aeronautical revenues to
subsidise costs. This would not only push up airport costs, but also run counter to the single till approach followed by the independent airport economic regulator. The trajectory of the policy seems
right, but several unseen variables remain. These
could well throw Indian aviation off the flight path
that the government has sought to determine.

Prime Minister Narendra Modis event-filled visit to the United States, from June 6-8,
has just ended, though his oratorical flourishes during his address to a joint meeting of
the U.S. Congress still reverberate across
the globe. The 3,800-word Joint Statement is
available with the public. Ignoring the euphoria is not easy but due diligence about
outcomes may be in order. We need to make
a distinction between good copy and finite
The Prime Minister came through as
more restrained this time when compared
to previous occasions. An exception was his
address to the U.S. Congress. Even here, the
Prime Minister was more statesman than
politician. For instance, Mr. Modi displayed
a high degree of strategic wisdom in not
launching an attack on China by name. Nor
was there any criticism of the U.S. for implicitly acquiescing in Pakistans employment of terror as a strategic instrumentality
vis--vis India. The Prime Minister was also
careful not to highlight the difference in approach between Capitol Hill and the U.S. administration with regard to Pakistans record on terrorism, and the sale of F-16
fighter aircraft to that country.
Analysing the main components of the
Prime Ministers visit viz. his bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, his
address to the U.S. Congress, his meeting
with the U.S.-India Business Council and also the contents of the Joint Statement, it is
undeniable that a great deal of ground was
covered. Nevertheless, it would be difficult
to endorse the sentiment set out in the Joint
Statement: of the two countries providing
global leadership on issues of shared interest. Visuals of the high-level bilateral meeting between Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama
though visuals do not necessarily reflect the
atmosphere at such meetings also give
the impression that it lacked the spark of
previous encounters.
Some of the takeaways
The length of the Joint Statement notwithstanding, the many specific takeaways
are not many. Important among these are: (i)
creation of a $20 million U.S.-India Clean

The U.S. expects India to act as a

kind of bridgehead for an
anti-China alliance in Asia. The
paradox is that many countries
are moving closer to China
Energy Finance initiative and a $40 million
U.S.-India Catalytic Solar Finance Program,
with equal financial contribution from the
two countries and (ii) an announcement
that the U.S. recognises India as a major defense partner.
In both cases, the benefits are not as unalloyed as they may seem. The former could
impede Indias efforts to obtain funds from
non-U.S. approved sources, while the major
defence partner label is unlikely to lead to a
firm commitment by the U.S. to part with
the entire range of dual-use technologies,
as export of sensitive U.S. technologies is
solely dictated by U.S. law. The coincidence
of India of being admitted into the 34-member Missile Technology Control Regime
during the Prime Ministers visit to Washington adds little to Indias hopes of securing the entire range of dual-use technolo-

Language and interpretations

A degree of opacity and vagueness surrounds the language employed with regard
to some key issues, lending itself to differing
interpretations. One relates to Indias commitment to ratify the Paris Climate Change
Agreement by this year end, which, according to a U.S. spokesman, indicated a more
ambitious approach on Indias part when
compared to its previous timeline. If indeed
India has committed itself to work towards
shared objectives within the 2016 timeframe, then the Prime Minister has obviously ceded ground, and this was possibly intended to enable Mr. Obama to achieve his
legacy of global climate change.
Similarly, uncertainty exists regarding the
signing of the bilateral Logistics Exchange
Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
The wording is delightfully vague, viz. that it
would now be inked after finalization of its
text. This could either mean it stands deferred or that it is a done deal.
The absence of specific mention of the
South China Sea (SCS) in the Joint Statement, though the SCS had found specific
mention in the 2014 and 2015 summit statements, could have been passed off as a concession to Chinese concerns. Yet, enigmatic
references to a purported road map
which is not to be disseminated and
which U.S. officials claim contains specific
actions relating to advancing the joint strategic vision of India and the U.S. in the
Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean, are highly intriguing.
In his address to the U.S. Congress, Mr.
Modi spoke eloquently of India having
moved beyond the hesitations of history.
Against the backdrop of past India-U.S. relations, it signifies that India and the U.S. are


Merger makes
waves, again

little more than three months after detecting gravitational waves from the merger of
two massive black holes, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)
detectors recorded on December 26, 2015, gravitational waves from the merger of two smaller black
holes nearly 1.4 billion years ago. This has confirmed that the merger of binary black holes recorded on September 14, 2015 was not a chance discovery, and opened a new category of objects to be
observed in the universe. While the September
event was from the merger of black holes 36 and 29
times the mass of the Sun, the December event was
from the merger of smaller black holes that had 14
and eight times its mass. As a result of their lighter
masses, the signal from the last 27 orbits of the
black holes before they merged lasted more than
one second in LIGOs frequency band. Unlike the
September event, when three times the mass of the
Sun was radiated as gravitational waves, such
waves from the December event came from one
mass of the Sun. Hence, the signals from the December event were a lot weaker compared with the
first one (which was like a short-duration burst),
and distributed over a longer stretch of time, thus
getting buried in noise. Yet, scientists were able to
tease out the signal thanks to the seminal work of
Indian scientists in adapting a special technique for
gravitational wave data analysis and theoretical
modelling of the expected signals.
The two observations were made by two LIGO
detectors located in the U.S. Livingston in
Louisiana and Hanford in Washington during a
four-month run from September 2015. The next observation run beginning September 2016 will have
an improved sensitivity of 25 to 75 per cent. As a result, the volume of the universe that can be studied
will increase by 1.5 to two times, and the detectors
will be in operation for a longer duration of six
months. Hence, three times the number of events
will be witnessed. The Virgo detector, a third interferometer located near Pisa, Italy, which has a design that is close to LIGO but is not quite identical,
is expected to become operational during the latter
half of LIGOs upcoming observation run. Simultaneous operation of the three detectors and the 26
millisecond difference in the arrival time of incoming gravitational wave signals between LIGO and
VIRGO will improve the ability to locate the source
of each new event. The precision of source location
will further improve when the arrival time difference increases to 39 milliseconds as LIGO-India,
the fourth detector, begins operations by January
2023. Its a promising time ahead for science.

no longer Estranged Democracies. It is a

moot point though whether they are willing
to acknowledge that they are natural allies. Steps outlined during the Prime Ministers current visit do, however, suggest that
India plans to jettison its long-held belief in
strategic autonomy, in favour of a close
partnership with the U.S.
Taking on China
All this of course involves hard choices.
Care has to be taken to see that the price
paid is not too high. Just ahead of Mr. Modis
visit to Washington, the Obama administration had pronounced that the U.S. is committed to help India build its defense capabilities until it can be the net provider of
security in Asia, regardless of whether or
not there is a formal U.S.-India alliance. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, in a recent
op-ed piece, observed that India must begin acting like a close partner and ally. In
sum, the U.S. expects India to act as a kind of
bridgehead for an anti-China alliance in
The paradox is that all this is taking place
when evidence shows that many countries
are moving closer to China. Even the U.S. is
seen taking several conciliatory postures
notwithstanding its periodic declamations
against Chinese expansionism. At the recent Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, U.S.
Defence Secretary Ashton Carter went out
of his way to acknowledge that Washington
and Beijing have a shared view on many
global issues apart from a commonality of
interests. He even talked about the many
available areas of cooperation with China.
The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic
Dialogue, for instance, is today an important
plank for bettering Sino-U.S. ties.
Vietnam, a country which India has developed close relations with, is currently making overtures to China. At this years Shangri-La Dialogue, considerable bonhomie
was noticeable between the Chinese and
Vietnamese delegations. Russia has more
recently gone much closer to China. This
was again in evidence during this years
Shangri-La Dialogue. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is already on record as
saying that the Russian-Chinese partnership had grown into a strategic relationship
in terms of ensuring global and regional security and stability.
Not on the same page
Given this backdrop, India needs to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of having too close a relationship with the
U.S. Despite the current warmth in IndiaU.S. relations, the U.S.s and Indias objectives still remain far apart. U.S. dependence
on Pakistan is unlikely to shift substantially
due to continuing U.S. interest in Afghanistan and Central Asia.
While New Delhi would like Washington
to consult it more actively on Afghanistan,
there is little evidence that this was on the
agenda during the recent Obama-Modi
meeting. India and the U.S. also remain far
apart on global trade. The U.S. is neither favourably inclined to accommodate India in
the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations
nor has pressed strongly for Indias membership
Arms sales and security dominate the U.S.
agenda. Indias objectives are very different.
It is not in Indias interest to be involved in
any kind of showdown in the South China
Sea, which involves an established superpower and a presumptive one, or to align
with the U.S. to prevent China from dominating Asia. It is far from certain that this is
the key issue in global geopolitics today.
M.K. Narayanan is a former National Security Adviser and
former Governor of West Bengal.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Widening the tax net

The Prime Ministers desire to bring
more people into the tax net is
understandable but fixing a target of
only 10 crore households for thisis
intriguing (Modi wants 10 crore
households in tax net, June 17).
Every person and legal entity whose
taxable earnings are above the
threshold ought to pay tax without
exception. It is an open secret that
there are many who avoid paying
tax, which signals either a lack of
faith among the public that the taxes
collected from them are not put to
optimal use in the cause of public
welfare and nation development or
that the tax slabs are too high to
adhere to. Ours might be the only
nation where the affluent are nontaxpayers while those who nearly
lead a hand-to-mouth existence are
under the scanner for tax
compliance. When taxes were
phenomenally raised in Sweden
overnight, taxpayers rang up the
taxmen to visit them and collect the
enhanced taxes as the citizenry had
absolute faith in the end use of taxes
Sivamani Vasudevan,

There is only one spoke in the plan.

The taxpayer, while funding
governments, gets nothing in return.
The revenue generated perhaps goes
first to fill the coffers of the corrupt.
Unless the taxpayer is able to see
good roads, live in a clean and safe
environment, is able to lead a decent
life at affordable price levels, has
access to good education and cost-

efficient health care and experiences

other visible improvements in the
standard of living, there will always
be a reluctance to pay tax.
Neelakantan T.K.,

Tax revenue can be increased either

by widening the tax base or
increasing the tax rate. The latter
may not be possible as the
perception is that prevalent rates are
already high. The resistance to pay
taxes may be because the tax
revenue is not being utilised in an
effective way.
Indians are ready to pay more taxes
if they get more from governments.
By providing adequate
infrastructure and ease of doing
business, there will be more
employment opportunities which
will result in the tax net widening.
You can lead a horse to water, but
you cant make him drink.
J. Jaykris Gurucharan,

Kerala student murder

The long arm of the law has finally
nabbed the suspect in the murder of
a law student in Perumbavoor,
Kerala (June 17). We should desist
from mixing politics in this case and
look at it as a result of efficient work
by the police which went about its
work using science and technology.
It was also given a free hand
politically, which is an important
point. The case also shows that there
needs to be checks and balances as
far as migrant labourers are
Saikrishnan P.A.,

The arrest shows that there are

many challenges before the police
especially when there is the factor of
migrant labour. The government
should take steps to register all of
them and have frequent checks.
R.K. Vijay Nambiar,


Kannur, Kerala

A tax official spells fear. This culture

should be erased and a feel-good
atmosphere must be created by
clearing all the doubts of a taxpayer
in a friendly manner. Citizens must
be made to feel that they are an
integral part of national
development which will motivate
them to pay. Tax officials should
make attempts to reach out to
income tax assessees. They should
realise that ignorance may also be a
reason why there is a less number of
people in the tax net.
J.P. Reddy,

I hope this does not lead to social

tensions. Despite the findings in this
case, there should be a move to work
toward the withdrawal of the InterState Migrant Workmen Act which
imposes impossible conditions on
employers of migrant workers and
results in harassment by
government officials.
S.R.C. Nayar,

Nalgonda, Telangana


Pass-fail system
The article, Staying power of the
pass-fail system (June 17), is a bit

harsh on our education system and

fails to examine it in a pragmatic
way. Yes, there needs to be change
for the better, but for this all of us
have to participate in the process.
There are some schools in the metro
cities which do not try to subject the
child to too much pressure. When
the child moves to a higher class,
parents are given the choice of
introducing him/her to a more
conventional form of education that
includes exams. Many schools have
changed from a system of ranking to
one of grading. Parents need to be
open-minded. I have come across
parents who say that they are not
comfortable with experimental ways
in education and want their children
to learn the rote way like they did.
This is where the problem starts.
Deepa Nagaraj,

The continuous and comprehensive

evaluation system must be
introduced to relieve teachers and
particularly children from facing
undue stress and strain. The
unhealthy atmosphere of
competition, wild expectation and
the enormous pressure is what
destroys children. In some parts of
Tamil Nadu, there are special
schools where children are put
through a military-like regimen as
the target is to score full marks.
Many burn out. I disagree with the
writer that the examination system
is the result of caste-based hierarchy.
We need to have an effective
evaluation system without
compromising on values and, at the
same time, focussing on skills and

ability. Children deserve a pleasant

and memorable time in school.
R. Ramanathan,

Our education system needs to halt

this unproductive and socially
divisive form of victory and defeat
with its scant regard for quality of
life. The marks obtained in an exam
do not take into account other
dimensions to a students
personality which may result in far
more productivity and creativity.
More than ambitions and goals, what
is important is that our children
should be happy, full of energy, and
with a constructive perspective of
life. The rest will fall in place.
Sajjan Singh,

The pain a young student feels when

he realises that he is not equal to the
task of attaining academic
excellence as expected of him by his
family and wider family is
fathomless. The academic world is
yet to show the wisdom to replace
failure with deferred success.
The pass-fail examination system
as it exists today cannot be accepted
as a necessary evil just because it
aids in perpetuating a hierarchical
society. There are a thousand and
one sensible ways to evaluate a
students progress through the
temples of learning. The purpose of
education should be to enable
students to build character, acquire
knowledge and prepare them to
realise their full potential.
G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

10 |




India and the Brexit forecast

Though India has refrained from officially commenting on the crucial June 23 referendum, it remains deeply
vested in the outcome. Indian businesses and financial institutions are also hedging their bets
M O N D AY , J U N E 2 0 , 2 0 1 6

A strategic

n declaring that he will not seek a second term

after his first ends in September, Reserve Bank
of India Governor Raghuram Rajan has chosen
the best and most dignified way out of a situation
that was getting increasingly ugly. Over the last few
months, his extension became the subject of fevered speculation as it became increasingly apparent that sections within the Modi government were
uncomfortable with his continuance. The complaints against Mr. Rajan varied they included
the relatively trifling (his choice of words and
plain-speaking ways), the debatable but substantive (his unwillingness to lower interest rates despite stable macro-economic indicators), and the
indisputably ridiculous (his alleged lack of commitment to India). The last, coupled with the Centres
decision to form a search panel to select all financial sector regulators, could have nudged Mr. Rajan
to rule himself out of the race two and a half months
before his term ends. In doing so, he has saved the
Centre from the possible repercussions that a refusal to grant a second term could have had. After
all, the RBI Governor has an enormous amount of
credibility with international investors (the impact
of his exit on foreign portfolio flows will be keenly
watched), and he has earned himself the reputation
of having skilfully managed the countrys currency,
inflation and foreign exchange reserves in a faltering world economic climate.
On monetary policy, the Centres uneasiness
stemmed from what it believed was an important
reason for the economy not taking off as fast as it
could have. The slow pace of interest rate cuts, a result of what Mr. Rajan saw as fresh or rising inflationary pressures, is on that list; but although the
RBI has cut rates by 1.5 percentage points since
2015, private investments are still moribund. The
central banks crackdown on the evergreening of
loans, forcing banks to acknowledge bad loans rather than throw more good money after bad, has led
to record losses across the public sector banking
system. This has been another source of friction. By
ruling himself out for a second term, Mr. Rajan has
brought down the curtain on the unfortunate and
unpleasant politics around his continuance. In
choosing his successor, the Centre must remember
that the central bank, by its very remit, is concerned
about inflation and that the country needs a Governor with enough independence and authority to
maintain a balance between the aspirations for
growth and the concern about rising prices; it is also imperative that the new central bank chief has a
free hand in charting a course to fix banks books so
that they can begin lending again. A rubber stamp
for rate cuts wont do, and it is not such a bad thing if
a healthy tension exists between the Reserve Bank
of India and the Finance Ministry. As Mr. Rajan
himself once said, if the two always agreed, the public should be very worried.


Unlike many other governments of countries

with strong economic and historical ties with
the United Kingdom, India has refrained
from officially commenting on the crucial
European Union (EU) membership referendum to be held on June 23.
Asked at a press conference on how a Brexit outcome in the referendum could affect India-U.K. ties, Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj steered clear of a
political comment. The decision has to be
taken by the people of Britain and they would
decide keeping in mind their national interest. India has no role to play in it, she said.
It was a point that her colleague, Union
Minister for Science and Technology Harsh
Vardhan, made recently in London. He did
however add that the agreements and commitments that have been made in the area of
trade and investment as well as in science
and technology would carry on regardless of
whether Britain stayed or left the EU.
That a government that wins a Brexit vote
will foster existing ties with countries including India is a perfectly reasonable assumption. It is a promise that Brexit campaign leaders repeatedly make.
Stakes for India
At a recent debate on Would Brexit Benefit India at the House of Commons moderated by journalist Ashis Ray of Ray Events,
Lord Archie Hamilton, a former Defence
Minister and now Brexit supporter argued
that the EU was the biggest obstacle to U.K.India trade. We should be doing much more
business with India with its middle class of
200 million people, but we cant because
trade with India is part of what is known as an
EU competence, he said. An EU trade deal
with India is almost completely out of the
question, and Britain will have to get out of
the EU if we are going to tie up a bilateral
trade deal with India which I am absolutely
certain we can do.
In the absence of any realistic projection
on what a post-Brexit U.K. holds in store,
such claims carry little authority. That said,
India remains deeply vested in the outcome
of the referendum for two reasons. The first
concerns the welfare of a nearly three-million strong diaspora of Indian-origin U.K. citizens, while the second concerns the interests of a large moving population of Indians
who come to Britain ever year as tourists,
business people, professionals, students,
spouses, parents and relatives.

Given the tough stance on cutting

immigration, a Brexit government
could be expected to make curbs
such as work-related visa
restrictions more stringent
Will Brexit change the rules of doing business, or of access to higher education? Further, will it create new barriers for work visas
or the visitation rights of relatives who have
families here?
Industry and border-free access
Indian industry in the U.K. is thriving.
There are 800 Indian companies in the country -- more than the combined number in the
rest of Europe. According to the India Tracker 2016 commissioned by the Confederation
of Indian Industry (CII), Indian companies
generate 110,000 jobs. The number of Indian
companies growing at more than 10 per cent
the key benchmark for inclusion on the list
has nearly doubled this year over the last.
The total turnover of the fastest growing
Indian companies in the U.K., especially in
the fast growth sectors of technology, telecom, pharmaceuticals and financial services,
rose by 18 per cent in 2016 from 22 billion
in 2015 to 26 billion this year, according to
the Tracker. Telecom and technology companies Bharti Airtel and HCL Technologies top
the list of Indian companies, registering phenomenal growths of 886 per cent and 728 per
cent respectively. In turnover terms, the Tata
Group still dominates, although its share has

fallen from 83 per cent of total turnover of Indian companies on the Tracker compared to
90 per cent last year. Despite the downturn in
the automobile industry, Jaguar Land Rovers
business is still the success story it was, reporting a 13 per cent growth due to increased
demand for its product range.
During trade talks held during the visit of
Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the U.K. in
November 2015, 9 billion worth of commercial deals were agreed upon.
A post-Brexit government may not affect
outbound investment into India, but will the
robust growth of inward investment continue? The India Tracker report sounds a note of
caution here, describing a potential Brexit
scenario as one of pressing concern.
Uncertainty surrounding the U.K.s impending EU referendum, and the possibility
of Brexit may have a bearing on both the UK
economy and on Indian companies appetite
for investing in the U.K., particularly those
seeking access to the European market, the
survey notes, adding that close personal ties
that many Indian entrepreneurs have to the
U.K., with strong family connections and
children often educated at U.K. schools, may
counterbalance other considerations.
Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General of
CII, in a statement that spoke to a Brexit scenario underscored the importance of continued border-free access to European markets
as a key driver for Indian companies coming
to the U.K..
Anything that lessens this attractiveness
may have a bearing on future investment decisions, he said.
This pro-Europe sentiment was echoed in
a memo issued to its staff by the management
of Tata Steel a company currently in the
process of finding a buyer for its Port Talbot
steelworks. The Daily Telegraph reported
that the letter urges staff to give careful
thought to the referendum because the
choice you make on 23 June will make a difference to your working life. The memo
stated that access to the EU market is fundamental to our business.
Impact of visa restrictions
The Indian industrialist and philanthropist Lord Swraj Paul, head of the Caparo
Group, sounded a strong warning on the perils for British industry from leaving the EU in
respect of skilled labour supplies, free trade
opportunities in Europe, and immigration restrictions. On a historical note, Lord Paul
spoke of the great damage to India and Pakistan wrought by the Partition of 1947. At the
time of Partition they [citizens of India and
Pakistan] were people with the same language; yet it was decided that they should become separate countries with their own sov-


Indian hockeys
new stride

our years after the Indian hockey team finished last at the London Olympics, the men
stood on the same turf with their heads held
high, silver medals at the elite Champions Trophy
gleaming around their necks. It was a historic win,
the second podium finish at a major international
competition in six months and, going into the
Olympics, an indicator of how much India has advanced. The team lost in a shootout, but holding
world champion Australia goalless for 60 minutes
was in itself commendable, given that no one except the players believed it could be done. That it
came a day after losing 4-2 to the same opposition
makes it more impressive. It is the culmination of a
long process that often threatened to derail. The
process began with Spanish coach Jose Brasa and
trainer Jesus Garcia Pallares in 2009 soon after the
team missed the Olympic bus for the first time. Pallares was the man who brought science into training despite a very brief stay. It continued with David John who assisted Michael Nobbs and then
Jason Konrath and now Matthew Eyles. Despite the
exit of several coaches in this period, the team always had a good trainer to ensure that fitness did
not suffer.
Indias performance was notable in a number of
ways. It had the least experienced side with an average of 79.27 games per player (compared to 140 for
Britain and 160 for Belgium). Despite resting many
key players, the young side held its own against experienced opponents. The teams improved fitness
is noticeable. Till recently, it was difficult for an Indian player to keep pace with an Australian. In the
final, the Australians struggled to break free. There
is also a belief in the team that they belong in the
top order. There is hurt at not being able to put one
across Australia, and that pain is critical. A team
without the hunger to win cannot be expected to
strive for it. There is a lot to do still. India conceded
too many penalty corners and earned too few.
There is too much dependence on P.R. Sreejesh in
goal-keeping, and when he has an off-day, India
struggles. But these issues can be resolved. Once
Indian teams played with five in attack. In the final,
it had the same number in defence. The team not
only changed its entire gameplan but also stifled
Australia by sheer dint of stamina and willpower
within 24 hours of looking ragged. That deserves to
be appreciated.

ereignty. In my view, and in the view of many

other people, India and Pakistan are still suffering today from that decision, he said.
On the Brexit argument of curbing unacceptable levels of immigration into the U.K.,
he reiterated his long-held view that students
coming to the U.K. to study must be kept out
of, and apart from, immigration quotas. He
cited the Commonwealth model, which
connects nations of various diverse cultures
and histories as an experience [that] can inform our relationship with Europe.
Work-related visa restrictions have already resulted in a fall in the number of Indian students studying in British universities
from 22,385 in 2012-13 to 18,320 in 2014-15, according to the U.K. Council for International
Student Affairs (UKCISA). Given their tough
stance on cutting immigration, a Brexit government could be expected to make such
curbs more stringent.
According to Lord Karan Bilimoria, President of the UKCISA, the clutch of new visa
rules that have impacted student flows from
India especially the withdrawal in 2012 of
the post-study work visa has had disastrous consequences. A Brexit vote would only exacerbate these. Unlike other countries,
Britain classifies overseas students as immigrants. He argues that Justice Minister and
Brexit advocate Michael Gove has recommitted to a post-Brexit government aiming to reach the Conservative party target of bringing
immigration down to the tens of thousands.
The latest immigration figures put the number of immigrants at between 330-350,000 in
2015, of which 180,000 are non-EU migrants.
Even assuming that they reduce EU immigration to zero, which is highly unlikely, they
are still well above the 100,000 target. This
suggests that they will reduce the numbers of
international students, including Indian students, to reach their target, Lord Bilimoria
told The Hindu.
Voices for Brexit
The curry and mango wars are a part of
the Brexit arsenal used by the U.K.s Employment Minister of Indian-origin Priti Patel, a
leading voice of the South Asian community
for Brexit. Protectionist EU acts as a barrier
to trade for the U.K., including from India,
she argues, citing the EU-led ban on Indian
mango shipments to the U.K. in May 2014 after fruit flies were found in consignments.
The ban was lifted in early 2015, but not before Indian exporters and local traders suffered considerable losses. High European
regulatory standards are a dampener on Indian exports, as the mango ban demonstrates.
Ms. Patel also has the backing of the Bangladesh Caterers Association which represents a part of the 4 billion curry industry.
The BCA, which represents 12,000 restaurants and takeaways in Britain, attributes the
staff shortage of qualified curry chefs to restrictive immigration rules. Its much larger
and pro-Remain rival, the Asian Catering
Federation (ACF) acknowledges the visa-related reasons for the shortage, but does not
see leaving the EU as the solution.
Indian businesses and financial institutions are however hedging their bets. According to a report by the State Bank of India's Economic Research Department, Brexit
may actually strengthen India's position.
This referendum will have geopolitical implications and will affect the relation of the
rest of the world with Europe. But, our take is
that though such an exit brings up a lot of uncertainty within Europe, it definitely opens
up opportunities for India, the SBI report
With only three days to go, the outcome of
the referendum is unclear. The recent murder of a young and popular Labour MP and
Remain activist Jo Cox by a man espousing a
right wing, anti-immigrant ideology has
shocked and appalled ordinary citizens.
Whether this is a taster of what the extreme
fringe of the Brexit campaign will bring to a
post-Brexit scenario will only be known later
if and when a post-Brexit government
takes the reins after June 23.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Now, Rexit
It is most unfortunate that a
professional economist of the
calibre of Raghuram Rajan has
decided to leave the RBI and return
to academia even as the cleaning up
of dead wood in balance sheets of
banks and inflation targeting have
begun in earnest but are not yet
complete (Rajan not to seek second
term at RBI, June 19). The stability
of the rupee exchange rate is a key
variable among others for sustaining
foreign direct investment, and Mr.
Rajan greatly succeeded here during
his tenure. He did not blindly follow
the Central bank policies of the U.S.,
Europe, Japan and China which have
all embraced a cheap money policy
in total disregard of the fact that
money illusion will not create
growth or jobs. The financial
stability of India today owes much to
his perseverance in ensuring that the
balance sheets of banks reflected the
market value of assets and liabilities,
and in him standing firm against
politically expedient policies.
Vembar K. Ranganathan,
Irvington, New York, U.S.

criticism by some in the BJP, which

the government did nothing about.
Does this mean that the government
needs only a Governor who toes its
line of thinking?
Tharcius S. Fernando,

Wayanad, Kerala


Mr. Rajans decision is quite

laudable. As perhaps the most
respected economist in the country,
he demonstrated his professional
calibre in a short span. Learned,
original, straightforward and
courageous, he is one of those rare
people in the firmament of
economics who still makes sense.
K. Vijayakumaran,

His departure will impact the

financial system. Despite his global
standing as being brilliant and
graceful, he was being slighted in
different ways. His political critics
have only shown themselves to be
intolerant of the free expression of
views and of thinking minds.
Obscurantism seems to be extolled
while brilliance is merely tolerated.
P. Krishnan,
Puttaparthy, Andhra Pradesh

In his exit, we are losing a world

renowned economist and a financial
wizard who set the economy on the
right track. It is unfortunate that Mr.
Rajan has been subject to extreme

RBI. There is enough inhouse talent

for the post and these people can
think, plan and act in terms of what
is exactly suited for India.
K.V. Raghuram,

I wonder why there is such a hue and

cry. There is nothing extraordinary
or sacrosanct about someone having
an overseas degree in manning the

Getting wings
One hopes that the induction of
Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth
and Mohana Singh as the countrys
first women fighter pilots will not
only ensure gender parity in the
armed forces but also inspire other
women to join the armed forces
(Women fighter pilots earn their
stripes, June 19). Women should
now be in lead positions. They are
equal to men as far as courage, skill,
determination, knowledge and
dynamism are concerned.
Prem K. Menon,

One hopes that the Indian Army and

Indian Navy also induct women in
the combat streams and shed
imaginary fears about harm coming
to them. Gender equity is what will
drive the nation to greater economic
and social prosperity.
Raunak Agarwal,

When one surfs through myriad

websites and comes across key

words like #women, #successstories,

#genderparity, #safety,
#womenontop one has mixed
feelings. While you feel immense
pride on reading about the success
stories of some women like the three
fighter pilots, you also realise that
they are just a a part of a fortunate
few. In newspapers, you most often
come across incidents of sexual
violence, the grim state of workplace
space and rights, and gender
discrimination, which shows that
while women in India have traversed
a distance in our fight for equity, we
must be frank enough to
acknowledge the fact that we are not
there yet.
Barbie Goyal,
New Delhi

Rising road accidents

Shiv Visvanathans article, A shrug
instead of outrage (June 15),
reminded me of the time when 50
years ago, even bullock carts had to
fix hurricane lamps at the back to
indicate their presence. But today,
heavy vehicles operate without tail
lights or even headlights. There was
also a time when riding doubles on
bicycles was a crime. It is common
now to see tiny vans stuffed with
people and operating at breakneck
speed. There needs to be a
revolution as far as changing road

behaviour for the better is

concerned, which includes stringent
P. Victor Selvaraj,
Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu

Agents/middlemen have poisoned

RTOs. There is an urgent need for
reforms and standards should be
raised to the level of the developed
countries where licence tests are
scientific and important like
graduation exams. This will
dramatically improve road safety.
D. Vijaykumar,

Silver in London
Though the Champions trophy
hockey final was marred by
controversy, it seems to have been
one of the Indian teams best
performances till date (Sport
India settles for silver amidst
controversy, June 19). What is more
credible is that India held Australia
for 60 minutes and did not concede
any goal. Ball possession, of 56 per
cent and 79 per cent in the first and
second half respectively, sums up
how much in control we were in the
game. Rio will be a different ball
game altogether but the silver win
here will definitely boost the team.
Bal Govind,

10 |




Its about propriety, not constitutionality

The Delhi Assemblys Bill to protect the appointment of 21 parliamentary secretaries from disqualification
under the office of profit clause is legitimate. It can be criticised politically, but not legally
T U E S D AY , J U N E 2 1 , 2 0 1 6


The Centres big

reform push

ith India now acknowledged as the fastest growing large economy in the world
and also edging up in the World Banks
ease of doing business rankings, the time is ripe for
the country to open its doors wider to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). This is exactly what the
Centre has done by raising FDI caps in some sectors (airlines from 49 to 100 per cent), sweeping
others entirely into the automatic route (cable TV,
brownfield airports) and diluting preconditions for
sectors with restrictions (relaxation of sourcing
norms in single-brand retail and technology norms
for defence). FDI is stickier and more resilient to
business cycles than mercurial Foreign Portfolio
Investor (FPI) flows. At a time when the private
sector has a limited appetite to invest and when the
government is tied down by fiscal constraints, India needs to seek out foreign capital to keep its
growth engines purring. That foreign investors are
interested in India is evident: there has been a 23
per cent surge in inbound FDI, which touched a record $55.5 billion in 2015-16.
Even so, it is simplistic to assume that merely
opening up more sectors or setting more liberal equity caps will have foreign investors queuing up to
invest. Indias experience suggests that actual investment interest in the newly liberalised sectors
will be tied to three factors. One, foreign investors,
like domestic ones, are ROI (Return on Investment) focussed. Therefore, sectors that are already
witnessing booming consumer demand such as
DTH television, airlines and pharmaceuticals
are more likely to attract quick investment flows
than those that are in need of bailouts (asset reconstruction firms) or entail long gestation periods
(airports or defence). Two, even if the Centre is
willing to reduce initial entry barriers, frequent
market or pricing interventions can deter investors. The Centre seems to have recognised this in
watering down the sourcing norms for FDI in single-brand retail. But its attempts to woo FDI into
pharma may be stymied by increasing price controls and the lack of clarity in the policy on essential
drugs. Three, the experience with sectors such as
insurance suggests that foreign investors committing long-term capital expect to exercise control
over the entities they fund. Overall, there is no disputing that the FDI relaxations, irrespective of
whether they were timed to signal the Centres
commitment to reforms in the face of RBI Governor Raghuram Rajans exit in September, are a step
in the right direction. But as we have learnt from the
past, the devil is usually in the detail.

The brouhaha over President Pranab Mukherjee withholding assent to the disqualification removal bill passed by the Delhi Assembly has only obfuscated the real issue.
The electronic media has been discussing it
with a degree of excitement which is seen
only when there is a war between India and
Pakistan. The media made us believe that
the disqualification of the 21 unfortunate
MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party is imminent
and consequently the fall of the Delhi government. The opinions of some legal experts that now the decision of the Election
Commission on the disqualification is just a
formality added grist to their mill.
Difficult term to explain
Let us look at this issue dispassionately
and objectively. The issue is whether the 21
MLAs who have been appointed as parliamentary secretaries are holding an Office
of Profit under the government. If the office
of parliamentary secretary is an office of
profit under the government then they are
liable to be disqualified. But this issue is at
present before the Election Commission,
which will decide it after proper hearings.
What the President refused assent to is a
Bill passed by the Delhi Assembly declaring
that the office of parliamentary secretary
shall not disqualify the holder of this office.
As a matter of fact the Constitution of India
empowers every legislature in the country
to pass such a law and exempt any such office from disqualifying its holder. So the
Delhi government has only exercised a power which is vested in it by the Constitution. It
is not known why the President withheld assent to this Bill. All legislatures including
Parliament have passed such laws exempting one office or the other from the disqualifying effect and many such laws were also
given retrospective effect. In any case the
Presidents decision to reject the Bill has no
impact on the main issue before the Election


The Law Ministry presumes that

the secretaries are ministers... But
without meeting constitutional
requirements, one cannot be
treated as a minister
Office of Profit is not a term which can
be easily understood or explained. This concept originated in the House of Commons in
England. The history of British House of
Commons is the history of conflicts with the
crown. The king, in his efforts to undermine
the House of Commons, used to offer positions of executive nature with pecuniary
benefits to its members and buy their loyalty. This practice kept the members out of the
House most of the time and thus there arose
a conflict between their duty and their personal interest. The continued absence of a
large number of members because of their
preoccupation with executive functions
weakened the House of Commons in course
of time and therefore it passed a law prohibiting its members from accepting any office
from the Crown which gave them any pecuniary benefits. It was provided that any such
office which a member may accept will disqualify him.
In essence, the law of office of profit was
introduced to end the conflict between the
duty of a member of the legislature towards

the House and public and his personal

There is no law which defines the term
Office of Profit. Therefore, one has to depend on the decisions of the Supreme Court
of India. Fortunately for us the court has explained with great clarity the law of office of
profit in a large number of cases. Articles
102 and 191 of the Constitution say that a person shall be disqualified for being chosen
and for being a member of the House if he
holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the government of any
State. A large number of cases like Abdul
Shakur v. Rikhab Chand (AIR 1958 SC 52),
Ramappa v. Sangappa (AIR 1958 SC 937),
Guru Gobind Basu v. Sankari Prasad Ghosal (AIR 1964 SC 254), Shivamurthy Swami
v. Sanganna Andanappa (1971) 3 SCC 870,
Ravanna Subanna v. G.S. Kaggeerappa
(AIR 1954 SC 653), Smt. Kanta Kathuria v.
M. Manak Chand Khurana (ELR Vol. XLIII,
Page 158) laid down the conditions for deciding whether an office is an office of profit.
These conditions are: The government
makes the appointment; the government
has the right to remove or dismiss the holder; the government pays the remuneration;
the holder performs the functions for the
government; and the government exercises
control over the performance of those
All the later cases decided by the Supreme Court like Jaya Bachchan v. Union of
India (2006) 5 SCC 266 and U.C. Raman v.
P.T.A Rahim (2014) 8 SCC 934 followed the
decisions in the earlier cases. The crucial
point decided in all cases is that unless some
remuneration is attached to the office or the
office is capable of yielding some pecuniary
gains it would not be an office of profit. This
point is clearly stressed by the Supreme
Court in the U.C. Raman case. The court
says this court has given categorical clarification on more than one occasion that an
Office of Profit is an Office which is capable
of yielding a profit or pecuniary gain. It has
also been made clear by the court that compensatory allowances are meant to meet the
out-of-pocket expenses and hence do no
constitute any profit. It becomes thus clear
that an office to which no salary or remuner-



Element of retrospectivity
A lot of uninformed discussion has taken
place on the question of the retrospectivity
of the bill passed by the Delhi Assembly. The
Supreme Court has held in a number of
cases that State Legislatures and Parliament
can legislate retrospectively. In fact there
are instances when the British Parliament
validated even irregular elections of MPs
retrospectively (for instance, the Coatbridge and Springburn Elections (Validation) Bill, 1945 quoted in my book Law &
Practice Relating to Office of Profit, page
218). Halsburys Laws of England (3rd edition, vol. 14, page 5) says if a person is elected when disqualified his disqualification for
being a Member of Parliament may be remedied by an act of validation or immunity. In
Kanta Kathuria, an Act of the Rajasthan legislature removed the disqualification retrospectively. Ms. Kathuria, a member of the
legislature was disqualified by the High
Court for holding an office of profit. When
the appeal was filed in the Supreme Court,
the Assembly passed an Act removing the
disqualification. This was upheld by the Supreme Court. The court said there is nothing in the words of the article (191) to indicate that this declaration cannot be made
with retrospective effect.
Some news reports quoted Law Ministry
officials as saying that the creation of 21
posts of parliamentary secretaries is unconstitutional as it violates Article 239 AA(4)
which limits the number of ministers to 10
per cent of the strength of the Assembly and
therefore the President withheld his assent
to the Bill. The Law Ministry presumes that
the parliamentary secretaries are Ministers.
Ministers are appointed by the President.
He administers the oath of office and secrecy to them. Without meeting these constitutional requirements one cannot be treated
as a minister. Parliamentary secretaries are
not ministers within the meaning of Article
239 AA(4) because they are not appointed
by the President and are not administered
the oath of office and secrecy by him. Appointing 21 parliamentary secretaries may
raise a question of propriety but not a question of constitutionality.
Nothing illegal about it
A funny argument heard on a prominent
television channel held that it was wrong
and illegal for the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi
government to create these posts without
the backing of a law. This argument is born
out of total ignorance of the Constitution.
Articles 73 and 162 declare that the Union
executive and the State executive respectively have power to take executive action
on all matters on which Parliament and State
legislature have power to legislate.
The noise that is being made today on the
Delhi Bill is quite unnecessary. Much of the
debate that has gone on is uninformed. The
Bill was a legitimate exercise of the power
vested in the Delhi Assembly to declare that
the office of parliamentary secretary shall
not disqualify the holder. Even when this office, which has no salary or remuneration attached to it, is not an office of profit, the Bill
was passed by way of abundant caution. In
fact the Supreme Court has in U.C. Ramans
case approved this course of action.
So what is this great debate all about? It is
much sound and fury signifying nothing!

Olympics in
the time of Zika

he World Health Organisation has confirmed that the Olympic Games scheduled
to be held in August in Rio de Janeiro will go
ahead, the Zika virus notwithstanding. An Emergency Committee meeting convened by the WHO
Director-General said there is very low risk of the
virus spreading globally as a consequence of the
Games being held in Brazil. The local mosquito
population level is expected to drop sharply in August, the Brazilian mid-winter, and the annual infection rate is expected to peak before that. Intensive vector-control measures at and around the
venue will reduce transmission risks. It is possible
that a few individuals may get infected and contribute to a global spread and start off a new chain of local transmission. But the risk will be the same as in
any country where the local transmission of the Zika virus is ongoing; it does not get amplified even
when thousands come together, as the committee
has noted. The WHO, however, has stressed that
pregnant women should refrain from travelling to
Brazil and other countries where the virus is circulating. The onus is now on Brazil to ensure that
mosquito-control measures are intensified, surveillance is enhanced, and as required by the WHO,
to make all information public about the virus circulation,
Indians travelling to any country with a Zika
transmission trail have to take precautionary measures during their stay and on return. The first case
of Zika virus infection through needlestick injury
suggests that it is likely to be as infectious as HIV.
While the virus primarily spreads through infected
Aedes mosquitoes, through blood, and from mother
to foetus (vertical transmission), several studies
have confirmed a sexual route. While the Zika virus
has been detected in saliva, urine and breast milk,
there is no evidence yet of its transmission through
these body fluids. But in the case of semen, the viral
load has been found to be 100,000 times more than
in both blood and urine even two weeks after the
onset of symptoms. The virus has been found in semen even 62 days after symptom onset. A June 2016
study in The Lancet has found evidence of late sexual transmission 44 days after symptoms show
up. It is for these reasons that the WHO recommends that men and women returning from countries with Zika transmission consider abstinence or
adopt safe sex practices for two months, with these
strategies extended for at least six months for men
who exhibit symptoms. As the landscape of Zika
transmission is evolving, there is a critical need to
exercise caution. More so as the Aedes aegypti is
widely prevalent in India and the chances of the virus becoming endemic are high.

ation is attached or which is not capable of

yielding a profit is not an office of profit.

P.D.T. Achary is former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Higher Education Act

Though the T.S.R. Subramanian
panel has made a suggestion that the
prevailing UGC Act be allowed to
lapse once the new Higher
Education Act is enacted, we should
allow both Acts to prevail in order
to enhance the quality of higher
education in India (June 20). While
the new Act should be enacted in
such a way that it ensures quality
higher education, the UGC can
continue looking after the
disbursement of grants and
management of various scholarship
programmes. The erstwhile
Planning Commission was
rechristened NITI Aayog without
any improvement in its efficiency.
Likewise, the new Act should not be
enacted just to replace the UGC Act
and end up doing exactly what the
UGC did. No old wine in a new
bottle, please!
Subha Pitchaiah,

Smart Mori
We can have smart villages on the
lines of smart cities (Small is smart
for this A.P. village, June 20) as the
vast majority in India still lives in
our villages. The Mori village model
may have much going for it but, in
general, if we can make most of our
villages, or at least one village in
every district, smart by providing
good sanitation, infrastructure,
roads and creating employment, we
can also solve the problem of rural
migration. As unemployment is a
pressing issue, the first task of the
government should be to create
employment opportunities in our
villages. Sustained economic
growth with investments in
infrastructure and labour-intensive
industries, and encouragement of

small-scale and cottage industries

will all go a long way in creating
employment opportunities for our
village youth. Second, since tourism
is a flourishing industry, villages
around tourist spots should sell
their handicrafts and eatables,
which will also boost job
Veena Shenoy,
Thane, Maharashtra

Kairana oustees
It is shocking that at a time when
many States are still battling
drought and inflation, our
politicians are instead making a
beeline to Kairana. It is obvious that
these moves are with an eye on the
Assembly elections in Uttar
Pradesh. I hope that people there
will expose the game plan of
fomenting trouble. Some time ago
the BJP claimed that India now has a
Prime Minister who speaks.
Unfortunately, he appears to speak
only when outside the country and
at election rallies. Why the silence
on these divisive attempts?
N. Nagarajan,

Uttar Pradesh has had its grim share

of communal events both past and
present and most people look to the
2017 elections with a sense of
insecurity and trepidation. Since
development or vikas is one of
the ambitious items on the agenda
of the Prime Minister, and a subject
the BJP used to capture power, the
same mantra should also be the
slogan in the U.P. elections. No party
should touch upon religious and
other sensitive issues leading to
polarisation. They should revisit
what French philosopher and writer
Pierre Bayle said: In matters of
religion it is very easy to deceive a

man, and very hard to undeceive

R. Sridharan,

The political claims of a Hindu

exodus are all part of a dangerous
attempt to polarise the State and the
ruling Samajwadi Party should take
all possible steps to prevent a
muddying of the communal
atmosphere. For all its tall claims of
development and prosperity due to
its governance, it is a pity that the
BJP is clinging to non-issues to whip
up passions.
J. Anantha Padmanabhan,

Raghuram Rajans exit

We must remember that Raghuram
Rajan was neither sacked midway
nor was there talk about a second
tenure. No one is indispensable and
entities will continue to flourish. A
cursory look at the list of Mr. Rajans
22 predecessors, whether it was Sir
Osborne Smith or Sir Benegal Rama
Rau, C.D. Deshmukh or Manmohan
Singh, shows that each one was an
expert in economic management.
Suddapalli Bhaskara Rao,
Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Mr. Rajans decision is

understandable. His open letter to
his staff shows his commitment to
the cause he was entrusted with and
he can rightfully take pride in
steering the economy safely in
choppy seas. Perhaps he could have
taken care to avoid making certain
statements which obviously irked
the people at the top.
S.V. Venkatakrishnan,
San Jose, California, U.S.

The RBI Governors dignified

preemptive exit exemplifies the fact

that he is not after power. He kept

the rupee stable, and, more
importantly, forced banks to
recognise dud loans. But in an
uncertain economic world, one
wonders why the government was
cold towards him. Why self-inflict
injuries at this juncture?
Varad Seshadri,
Sunnyvale, California, U.S.

Mr. Rajans timely decision to call it

quits is an example of wisdom
displayed by one who never longs to
outstay his welcome and, in turn,
imperil his self-respect. Given
growing hostility towards him, his
move will not only spare him the
blushes but also serve as an example
to younger bureaucrats.
Azhar A. Khan,
Rampur, Uttar Pradesh

Unsafe roads
The article, A shrug instead of
outrage (June 15), was powerful.
Growing CCTV footage of
accidents, typically involving
speeding vehicles, only causes
horror and fear in us. What is worse
is when people gather at the spot
and refuse to help the accident
victim also a sign of the low value
of a life in our society. RTOs can get
tougher about issuing licences in the
first place, providing no room for
touts. Wilful offenders must be
treated on a par with historysheeters.
Anand Srinivasan,

It was Austrian philosopher and

maverick social critic Ivan Illich
who pointed out that as private
transportation speeds increase, so
does the level of inequality and the
appropriation of the public and
community realm of the road by a

few private individuals. One also

recalls the words of the mayor of a
Spanish city who remarked that the
true state of development of a city is
reflected by the width of its
footpaths! One of the basic reasons
for bad drivers in India is that they
are not rigorously taught the basics
of road use etiquette and ethics, but
only just to hold the steering wheel
(if at all!) and operate the pedals. We
need closer regulation and proper
accreditation of our driving schools.
John Kurien,

Open House in Hyderabad

The Hindus Open House session
with readers in Hyderabad was a
nice get-together (June 19 and 20)
where suggestions both critical and
positive were accepted. The Editor,
the Readers Editor and other senior
editors accepted our suggestions
sportingly. The cross section of
readers software engineers,
business people, managers, doctors
and students were by and large
happy and have asked for another
meeting. The respect The Hindu
has shown to readers is
unprecedented in the print media
and the Readers Editor deserves
our compliments.
J.P. Reddy,
Nalgonda, Telangana

Being an avid reader of The Hindu

and Frontline, I was disappointed in
not being a part of the occasion. I
seem to have been unaware of the
event. The Hindu has always been a
giant among newspapers in terms of
its high standards of reportage and
such interactions will not only help
it iron out flaws but also apply
remedial action.
Balasubramaniam Pavani,

10 |




Revisiting the Rajya Sabhas role

In addition to its role of representation and accountability, the Upper House must reflect the difference
in our polity difference marked not merely by its culture but its diversity
W E D N E S D AY , J U N E 2 2 , 2 0 1 6


our skies

ith the latest round of reforms in the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy, the
Centre has boasted that most sectors
would now be eligible for automatic approvals,
making India the most open economy in the world
for FDI. At least in the civil aviation sector, for
which the Centre also unveiled a new policy last
week targeting greater connectivity at cheaper
fares, that opinion seems a little ahead of time. Raising the FDI limit for airlines (including regional operators for whom FDI of 49 per cent was only allowed last November) to 100 per cent, with
automatic approvals for foreign ownership up to 49
per cent, sounds good on the face of it. But it is more
likely to bring relief for domestic carriers looking
to raise capital or forge an alliance with a global airline than attract many new players into the fray.
This is because global airline players continue to be
hemmed in by the 49 per cent ownership limit set
by the United Progressive Alliance government in
2012, following which ventures such as AirAsia India and Vistara took off. In theory, a foreign airline
could tie up with other institutional investors like
private equity funds to form a 49:51 joint venture
and tap Indias double-digit air traffic growth. Even
if a strategic airline investor agrees to be a junior
partner, securing a scheduled operator permit still
requires an airlines chairman and at least twothirds of its directors to be Indian citizens, and substantial ownership and effective control to be vested in Indian nationals. There need to be swift
changes in the small print, if the skies are to be as
open as hoped for in the aviation policy.
The Centre has admitted this balancing act is
part of a dynamic, calibrated process to make domestic carriers more competitive for now. This
process is also driven by security concerns. While
the U.S. originally barred foreign control of airlines
in 1926 so that its military could take charge of civilian aircraft in times of strife, most countries adopted a similar stance following World War II, citing
security concerns and the need to protect the turf
of national airlines. The U.S. now allows around 25
per cent foreign ownership in airlines, South Korea
permits 49 per cent and Chile a full 100 per cent,
even as it has done away with national control and
ownership norms. Australia has now scrapped limits on airline ownership for aircraft flying within its
airspace a model that could very well serve Indias aviation policy objectives of tripling passenger traffic by 2022 and developing regional connectivity. To stay at the forefront of FDI reforms in a
slowing global economy, India could have proposed a bolder reform in airline ownership norms
and dovetailed that with its vision of an open sky
policy within the SAARC region and beyond. That
would have been a global game changer.

The recent elections to the Rajya Sabha to

fill 57 vacant seats became notorious for alleged poaching by political parties among
the ranks of their counterparts with charges
of corruption blaring out loud against one
another. While such charges are not new,
their extent was magnified in this round
since these elections were crucial for the
ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress to decide who holds the
scales in the Upper House. The former has
found many of its pet legislative proposals
stonewalled due to the lack of majority support in the House, while the latter has turned
it into an important trench for its war of position against the ruling dispensation.
While the Rajya Sabha has generally
played second fiddle to the Lok Sabha during the periods of preponderance of a ruling
regime in both the Houses, it has become an
important platform of resistance to the majoritarianism of the Lok Sabha during the Janata regime (1977-79), National Democratic
Alliance (NDA) rule (1998-2004), UPA II
(2009-2014) and in the last two years of NDA
rule. While some instances of such resistance could be regarded as whimsical and
grandstanding, overall they drew attention
to the fact that electoral victory to the lower
House may entitle a party to rule but not
necessarily govern unless it reaches out and
engages with the central concerns and interests embedded in the polity. This was clearly voiced in the resistance against the Prevention of Terrorism Bill in 2002,
corruption charges against the government
during 2011-14, and the proposed amendment to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act in 2015.
Rationale of the House
But the Rajya Sabha is not merely meant
to play such a salutary oppositional role.
Unfortunately there has not been much reflection with regard to the nature and purpose of this House in India after the brilliant
debate in this regard in the Constituent Assembly. While it is important to highlight
the case of corruption in the election of the
members to this House, and resist the tendency of parties to pack the House with their
high and mighties without consideration to
their being worthy or not to play the repre-

Muslims, women, urban informal

labour and the rural poor could
be some of the diverse
constituencies the Rajya Sabha
sentative role, it is imperative to draw attention to the role that the Rajya Sabha needs to
play in the Indian body politic today.
In the Constituent Assembly debates we
find a set of four distinct reasons advanced
in defence of the Rajya Sabha. First, some
members of the Assembly saw it as a House
of reflective and evaluative reasoning removed from the hurry-scurry of everyday
life. N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar termed it as
the House which can rein in passions of the
moment. Lokanath Mishra described it as
a sobering House, a reviewing House, a
House standing for quality and the members
will be exercising their right to be heard on
the merits of what they say, for their sobriety
and knowledge of special problems; quantity, that is, their number, is not much of moment. In the same vein, M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar thought that in such a
platform of reflective consideration, the genius of people may have full play, and it can
make place for people who may not be able
to win a popular mandate.
Clearly there was much elitism and condescension in such a conception of the
House, that led to frequent potshots be-

tween members of both Houses in the early

days of the Parliament that were eventually
reined in by rules of Privilege Motion. Second, apart from the review and revaluation
role, there was a broad consensus in the Assembly for the need for a second legislative
chamber to initiate proposals for public policy, to elicit responsiveness from public authority, and to hold governments accountable. The constitutional provisions on
division of work between the Houses clearly
bear it out. However, in this conception, the
Rajya Sabha largely duplicates the functions
of the Lok Sabha and therefore, in the words
of Abb Sieys, turns out to be
Such an understanding has led to repeated introduction of private members bills in
the Lok Sabha for the abolition of the Rajya
Sabha, as well as moves by the enthusiasts of
the House to introduce bills to widen its jurisdiction. Needless to say, none of these
proposals has made much headway. A third
conception saw the House as the authoritative platform to accommodating diversity,
although much of this consideration laid
emphasis on political diversity reflecting
federal arrangements, drawing parallels
with the United States in the process. In this
conception while the Lower House was
meant to represent the citizen-community
at large, the Upper House, primarily voted in
by elected members of the State Assemblies,
would represent the nation as a differentiated whole.
The slide
Clearly the nature of diversity in India,
and the distribution of powers it resorted to
through federal arrangements, was markedly different from the United States. There
was a fourth conception of the House, which
was not lucidly spelt out in the Constituent
Assembly debates, although it could be read
on the sidelines again and again, captured by
the late L.M. Singhvi in the phrase the
grand inquest of the nation. While this conception saw diversity as an essential ingredient that should inform the Upper House in
India, it saw diversity not necessarily wholly
encompassed by federal arrangements.
Such a condition called for a very distinct
overlapping representation through the Upper House. Such a conception owed much to
the principle that while all representative
democracies have a predictable role for the
House, elected through universal adult franchise, the Upper House is a unique response
to the distinct historical and cultural con-


A dangerous

t is now beyond a shadow of doubt that BJP MP

Hukum Singhs infamous list, made up of members of Hindu families that had allegedly fled his
Lok Sabha constituency Kairana in western Uttar
Pradesh and in neighbouring Kandhla in Shamli
district, was a piece of fiction. Many of those who
figured in the list were either still in residence or
had left much earlier in search of better prospects.
Moreover, there is evidence that many of those who
moved out of Kairana and Kandhla did so not so
much because of communalism but crime. Both
towns are in the grip of powerful and violent criminal gangs, which have had a free run of the area. All
the fact-finding teams, irrespective of their political affiliation, have been in agreement that the region was under the threat of such groups, particularly one run by Mukeem Kala, engaged in
extortion. After his list was exposed as a gross and
mischievous exaggeration, Mr. Singh himself backtracked, claiming that the migration was, in fact, essentially a law and order problem. But mischief had
already been done, and with a hugely important Assembly election scheduled for next year, it is impossible to disregard the idea that it was wholly intended. The Kairana exodus lie exacerbated social
tensions in the region, which is yet to recover from
the Muzaffarnagar violence of 2013. As before, the
party is talking in two voices. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has exhorted the BJP rank and file to
focus on development, while others in the party are
not below using the issue as a campaign plank.
It has been left to civil society and sections of the
media to highlight the untruths and take some of
the sting out of the BJP MPs claims. The counternarrative is not coming strongly enough from the
political class. That said, even if Mr. Singhs lists
were meant to spread fear, the follow-up did put the
spotlight on the thriving criminal activity in the region. Unchecked crime that affects business and
working communities in U.P.s mofussil towns has
long been associated with Samajwadi Party rule.
The Akhilesh Yadav government has done little to
change this perception. During the Muzaffarnagar
riots, the actions of the SP and its government suggested that they were more than willing to play the
game of communal polarisation as a two-step with
the BJP. The SP paid for it in the Lok Sabha elections. If the party has learnt its lessons, it is still to
demonstrate this in sufficient measure. Till then,
the larger anxiety remains. In a region with mixed
populations, the consequences of painting a largely
crime-related phenomenon with a broad communal brush could have lethal consequences.

texts of a polity it is called upon to represent.

To what extent has the Rajya Sabha lived up
to these expectations?
There are a few formal tasks exclusive to
the Rajya Sabha in addition to the other
chores it shares with its counterpart, the Lok
Sabha, such as the power to transfer a subject from the State List to Union List for a
specified period, to create additional All-India Services, and to endorse Emergency under Article 352 for a limited period when the
Lok Sabha remains dissolved. While it does
not have the power to approve money bills,
it can offer its own suggestions on them, and
while it has no representation in the Estimates Committee, its members have a proportionate share in all other committees of
the Parliament, including those closely linked with financial dealings such as the Public
Accounts Committee, Committee on Public
Undertakings and the Standing Committees
related to Ministries/Departments. The removal of the domicile requirement mandated by the Representation of the People Act,
1951, by the five-judge Bench of the Supreme
Court in 2006 in Kuldip Nayar v. Union of
India and Others has further watered down
the mark of diversity that was the hallmark
of the Rajya Sabha. In other words, the Rajya
Sabha has turned out to be another chamber
of the Parliament akin to the Lok Sabha, except for the mode of selection of its
The thinning out of difference between
the two Houses of the Indian Parliament,
however, does not make the Rajya Sabha superfluous. Given the articulation of the Indian polity, in the foreseeable future the party
composition of the Houses will be markedly
varied in the two Houses. Given the trend of
shoving off difference under the homogenising drive in the dominant dispensation today, and a majoritarianism that necessarily
spells exclusion, a forum such as the Rajya
Sabha can be the voice of sanity, of the excluded, and of citizen rights. It can ensure, at
least to the extent constitutional provisions
go, that the majoritarian thrust of the Lower
House does not undermine rule of law and
public institutions. It is to the credit of the
Rajya Sabha that it has come to play this role
at critical junctures, and particularly in the
present. But is it enough? In this context it
might be important that the nature and role
of the Rajya Sabha be revisited, rather than
merely think of it as the parking lot for those
who cannot ensure their election from a
popular constituency.
Direction of reform
In addition to its present role of representation and accountability, the Rajya Sabha
could be the House that represents difference in our polity, difference marked not
merely by its culture but its diversity. Difference in India is encoded not merely around
regions, languages, and communities but also in its inegalitarian social relations. Representation through federal units hardly captures these multiple and often overlapping
differences. There are some constituencies
which will never be able to ensure their adequate representation through the electoral
route: Muslims; women; linguistic, religious
and ethnic diversity; regions such as the
Northeast and Jammu & Kashmir; urban informal labour; the rural poor, just to name a
few constituencies. The Constituent Assembly debates, and the need for the Upper
House to be embedded, are a sufficient justification in this regard. One can understand
the deep discomfiture that some of the nominated members feel in the House given the
adversarial context in which they have to
function. There are probably ways to shape
representation that reaches out and connects to nodal concerns without being
Valerian Rodrigues is an Indian Council of Social Science
Research National Fellow and Professor at the Department
of Political Science, Mangalore University.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Big bang reforms

The big bang FDI reforms are
essentially aimed at giving a huge
push to employment generation and
signalling the governments resolve
to make India an attractive
destination for foreign capital
(Modi fast-tracks reforms with
radical change in FDI norms, June
21). Sluggish economic growth in
major global economies has made
Indias growth rate look
phenomenal in comparison.
However, the mismatch between
the apparently rosy picture and
stagnant employment statistics
appears to have rattled the
government. Jobless growth is a
nightmare that no government
would like to face.
In the end, the government needs to
avoid the pitfalls of ad hoc tinkering
with FDI norms, especially on
taxation. Nothing repels foreign
investors more than unstable and
fickle policy making. While
insularity and protection cannot
succeed in a globalised world, the
government must assist the
domestic industry to shore up its
competencies and meet global
competition. New jobs generated
must heavily outnumber jobs lost
on account of competition.
V.N. Mukundarajan,

the Opposition and once voted to

power, conveniently discarding or
ignoring those issues and taking
shelter under the argument of
growth and employment creation.
No one would have imagined that
those opposed to FDI in defence
would now do a U-turn. The
removal of the local sourcing clause
for single-brand retail for three
years is another U-turn which will
undermine the manufacturing
Ettirankanath Krishnadas,

In India, there is no dearth of

investors. We have numerous
business houses, listed companies
and cash-rich individuals. Indian
investors and business houses are
reluctant to invest in India, yet we
invite investors from abroad to start
businesses here. We assure foreign
investors a conducive business
environment but not one for our
resident investors. The irony is that
Indian investors are looking for
investment opportunities abroad.
Our government should try to tap
the potential available in India first
and instead get foreign companies/
investors to help us in technology
J. Jaykris Gurucharan,


The sudden slew of reforms shows

that politics is all about the ability
to reach out to innocent minds by
raking up emotive issues while in

The BJPs hailing the big-ticket

reforms announced by the Modi
government is quite amusing. The
same proposal when put forward by
the previous government was

vehemently opposed by none other

than Mr. Modi. Whether the FDI
reforms announced by the present
government would generate largescale employment or not is a
different issue. What is announced
by this government looks more like
Foreign Direct Interference.
N. Nagarajan,

The Rajan balance sheet

A capital on farmland

Whether Reserve Bank of India

Governor Raghuram Rajan is
irreplaceable or not can form the
subject matter of a debate that can
go on endlessly. But the fact remains
that he steered the economy out of
the woods, was able to lend a
greater measure of credibility in the
face of a volatile market situation,
brought respectability to the rupee,
and did enough to contain inflation.
One hopes that his successor
ensures continuity in the policy
Srinivasan Umashankar,

It is a myth that 100 per cent FDI

will result in job creation. One has
numerous examples of foreign
companies setting up shop here
only to close and disappear, the
examples being Nokia, AMP and
Eswari Arun,

It is unfortunate that an erudite and

respectable official like Mr. Rajan
was subjected to the various pulls
and pressures within the political
system and even hostility. These
persons need not shed crocodile
tears over his decision not to seek a
second term.
Mani Nataraajan,



China on Indias NSG bid

It is quite strange to note that China
is against Indias membership of the
Nuclear Suppliers Group NSG
(Indias entry not on Seoul NSG
meet agenda: China, June 21).
China should gratefully remember
how fervently Nehrus India fought
for Chinas membership to the UN.
A. Balagangadharan,

Mr. Rajans decision to move on

appears to be getting undue
importance. Why should it affect
even the stock market? Are we
dependent on only one individual
to be the head of a prestigious
organisation? This type of hero
worshipping is unacceptable in a
country like India where there is
ample talent.
T.K. Raman,

The impact of the construction of

the capital of Andhra Pradesh at
Amaravati on crop prices, as a result
of a depletion in groundwater
levels, decreased cultivation, and a
loss of invaluable fertile agricultural
land, should make planners sit up
(Andhra Pradesh editions, Loss of
cultivable land in A.P. spikes
vegetable prices in Telangana
State, June 21). The situation is said
to be bad in Khammam and
Nalgonda districts of Telangana.
One hopes that the Andhra Chief
Minister is not turning a blind eye
to this. The effects of shrinking
fertile land on account of reckless
construction and land banks for
investment will also result in food
inflation and much worse. What is
the use of having a great capital city
that consumes precious agricultural
land? Dreaming about a city that
resembles Singapore or Tokyo does
not work here for two main reasons
we have a population more than
our resources permit, and we are
also an agriculture-dependent
nation unlike Singapore. Therefore,
we need to sustain our natural
resources. Mr. Naidu would do well
to understand what sustainable
development is about and look at
using barren land. In a borderless
world where developments in
communication have created the
death of distance, it hardly
matters where the capital city is.
N. Subrahmanyam,

Pollachi, Tamil Nadu




India is an economy in transition

and people involved in small retail
businesses can suffer because of
these large-scale reforms. Hence
the social security of these retailers
should be ensured.
Manoj Goel,




10 |




The Rajan syndrome

The outrage following Raghuram Rajans decision to leave the RBI in September reflects the degree to
which Indias politicians have turned civil servants into note-takers
T H U R S D AY , J U N E 2 3 , 2 0 1 6

The 10-crore

he Finance Ministry has tied itself up in

knots on whether a purported target set by
Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taxmen
was articulated or not. On June 16, it said the Prime
Minister had asked tax administrators to bring 10
crore households into the tax net, which would effectively double the number of taxpayers. A day later, the Revenue Secretary denied that a target had
been set. But the Ministry issued an official clarification the following day, emphasising that the
Prime Minister had only asked the Income Tax Department to widen the tax base and take suitable action against tax-evaders. It is not clear why there is
such panic about the number, especially if it was a
mere statement of intent. As a target, rough or otherwise, it is an ambitious goal for a country where
the direct tax base has grown at a snails pace over
six decades from six per cent of GDP in 1950-51 to
16.6 per cent in 2013-14. Just four per cent of voters
are individual income taxpayers, well short of the
governments desired 23 per cent. Given that the
Prime Minister had not set a deadline for the target,
any fears of taxmen scouring the streets menacingly to widen the tax net are misplaced.
Indias tax-to-GDP ratio is far lower than the 21
per cent average of its emerging market peers; its
public spending-to-GDP ratio is also the lowest
among BRICS nations. The country cannot scale
up necessary infrastructure and social spending
without widening its tax base. About 85 per cent of
the economy is outside the tax net. Even among
those who pay taxes, the number of individuals
who earn more than Rs.1 crore a year or pay tax in
the 30 per cent tax bracket is unrealistically low. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has taken some steps to
expand the tax base replacing the wealth tax
with a surcharge on super-high incomes, taxing
luxury car sales to build a database of potential
evaders, and even bringing advocates into the tax
net. But a more proactive strategy is needed to widen the tax base while prioritising public spending
on services that all citizens use such as infrastructure, law and order, health and education in a
way that the earning classes find value from their
tax payments. Tackling corruption and developing
an effective property tax regime to curb speculation would not only close avenues for tax evasion
but also nudge fence-sitting, potential taxpayers towards the straight and narrow. Mr. Jaitley had
promised that the government would adopt nonintrusive methods and employ information technology to widen the tax base. With several more
transactions now requiring PAN card details, an intelligent data-mining exercise could bring more
people into the tax net faster. By doing away with
the 10-crore target, the Centre has perhaps missed a

Mind our

alman Khan may have regretted his remarks

in the next breath after uttering his rape
analogy, or not. His father, Salim Khan, certainly did not hesitate to issue an apology on behalf
of his routinely errant superstar son. But regardless
of how Salman chooses to close this episode, the
storm over the analogy revives the debate on
whether India needs a more publicly mediated
standard on language. In the publicity-driven
media interaction on Saturday on his latest film,
Sultan, Mr. Khan was trying to convey just how
strenuous his training schedule was. He plays a professional wrestler in the film, and explained the
physical battering thus: When I used to walk out of
that ring, it used to be like a raped woman walking
out. The comment has been interpreted, variously,
as evidence of the white noise of patriarchy, his insensitivity, and misogyny. Social media has been
preoccupied, prominent activists have condemned
Mr. Khan, and the National Commission for Women has asked for an apology. There has also been the
counter-argument that our celebrity-obsessed culture is making too much of a possibly stray remark,
about making the distinction between words and
action, and about exploiting a famous person to
spin a story longer than it merits. While there is a
case that too much political correctness can be dangerous and limit free speech, in a modern society
some metaphors are not fine. The rape reference
is one of them.
This is not the first time a rape reference has
caused outrage. Seven years ago, Rita Bahuguna
Joshi, then the president of the Congresss Uttar
Pradesh unit, found herself arrested for one such
remark. Criticising the Uttar Pradesh governments
decision to give only Rs.25,000 to rape victims, she
exhorted the women to throw the money at the
then Chief Minister, Mayawati, and tell her, If you
get raped, Ill give you one crore [rupees]. Ms. Bahuguna subsequently apologised, and also pleaded
that her meaning not be misconstrued since, as a
woman, she was only speaking in support of victims. Then, as now, the outrage over the use of the
word rape, whether to casually refer to a physical
toll or to imagine the crime being visited upon
somebody, was justified. There is not much to be
gained by only training all guns on the person misusing the word. It is to articulate in the public
sphere the importance of dispensing with old and
inappropriate usages that are suggestive of anything other than what rape really is: a particularly
abominable criminal act.


These are exciting times and not just for

economists. Raghuram Rajan is just governor of the Reserve Bank of India a satrap
sent by the Badshahi of Delhi to rule a colony
on the western seashore. It has been doing
this for 80 years. Getting rid of a minion, putting another in his place this game of patronage is being played all the time. There
are governors for 29 States and seven Union
Territories as well, most of them men and
women of little distinction; they are installed
in ornate mansions and then removed every
once in a while, and no one gives it a thought.
This governor, perched in a skyscraper looking out on the Bombay harbour, he has not
even been dismissed. All he has said is that
he does not want to be reappointed. The entire media have gone crazy about his
Why the grief ?
The other remarkable fact about this incident is the sympathy this man has evoked in
the media. Suppose Deepika Padukone declared tomorrow that she was retreating to
Madeira to grow camellias; many might like
to join her, but I am not sure there would be
such lamentation. Mr. Rajan is going to retreat to the shores of Lake Michigan to grow
ideas. It is an enviable life for an economist;
no one need feel sorry for him. True, Mr. Rajan looks enviably winsome; I do not think
anyone else in the government comes anywhere near him. But that is not the reason behind the outbreak of grief; it is that he is by
common consensus the best man for the job,
and even people who never gave a thought to
the exchange rate think that it is a bad idea
that he should have been eased out in such an
unceremonious manner.

Politicians in power tend to be

expansionist. This is why, in
recent decades, better-run
countries have freed central banks
from finance ministries
But then, he is being eased out by luminaries whom the people of this country gave a
massive majority; if they trusted these politicians only two years ago to rule them wisely, why can they doubt that their representatives have acted in their best interests? For
one thing, people do not elect rulers to think
for them; they only create institutions and
procedures which permit rulers to take decisions when there are different opinions. It is
common amongst rulers, especially inexperienced ones, to think that an electoral victory was a vote for their wisdom. But even in a
democracy, a majority vote is the last resort.
Democratic institutions are mechanisms of
consultation and debate; they are intended

to give voice to reason.

Mr. Rajans decision to leave is just one instance of the breakdown of this mechanism
of consultation. Admittedly, he has been expressing opinions that do not fall strictly
within the purview of monetary policy and
can be taken to be critical of government.
Free expression too is a part of democratic
government. It happens that past governors
of the Reserve Bank have been economical in
resorting to free expression. Most of them
spent their working lives serving ministers
silently; by the time they came to Mint
Street, most of them had lost the art of free
expression, and those who retained it in
some measure thought it irreligious to venture beyond the most conventional and boring statements. The sensation that Mr. Rajan
has caused is more a reflection on the way
politicians have turned civil servants into
slaves. All democracies are governments in
the making. In theory, the discretion of those
in power is constrained by propriety as
much as by law. But there is no foolproof
mechanism for drawing the line between
discretion and propriety. The conventions in
this country are so fragile that propriety is
overwhelmed by impunity.
Central bank vs Finance Ministry
The conflict between political discretion
and economic circumspection sharpened in
the last years of Mr. Rajans tenure. Politicians in power tend everywhere to be expansionist; they would prefer to spend more and
borrow without interest. If they do so without restraint, the country can have inflation
which, if not controlled, can turn into hyperinflation. In a world of open economies, excessive spending by governments can also
result in payments problems. This is why, in
recent decades, better-run countries have
freed central banks from finance ministries
and given them power to control money supply, influence interest rates and regulate financial markets.


That power was not used in this country

when governors were sent from Delhi to the
Reserve Bank. They were too subservient to
finance ministers. As a result, we had a payments crisis at least once a decade; and we
had chronic inflation. When I was taken into
the Finance Ministry in 1991, I was shocked
to see how much power we had, and how casually we exercised it. We transferred some
of the powers to the Reserve Bank and Securities and Exchange Board of India, and tried
to exercise self-control in fiscal management. It did not work immediately. Finance
ministers were amateurs; they took some
years to learn the ropes, by which time they
were often defeated or removed and replaced by new ones. But slowly, under the
long rule of Manmohan Singh, conventions
began to take shape including induction
of outside intellectuals in government. I was
the first. Manmohan Singh readily accepted
invitations to academia, and knew many academics. So his government had no difficulty
in attracting intellectuals into the government. Mr. Rajan was one of them. Manmohan Singh heard him when he went to inaugurate a conference in Neemrana, liked what
he saw and heard, and lured Mr. Rajan into
Return to nativism
Not surprisingly, no leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party has such rapport with academics and intellectuals. Its leaders believe
that knowledge is hidden in ancient Hindu
scriptures. More important, they do not believe that knowledge emerges and grows
through contention of ideas and testing
them against facts. After coming to power,
the partys new appointees have tried to replace the long tradition of contention with a
new one of indigenous faith. Mr. Rajan is a
worshipper of a foreign economic faith. He
turned the Reserve Bank into a temple of
western-style independent monetary policy.
Monetary policy must be retrieved from the
heretic, and be brought back into the ideological pantheon. Mr. Rajan would not be
handled roughly like Kanhaiya Kumar, but
sedition will be dealt with without mercy.
But what will be the new monetary policy? It is too early to ask that. The shastra of
monetary policy, like all shastras, has been
suppressed by agents of the western civilisation. It will take some time to be rediscovered and reinvented. It is not possible at this
moment to appoint a monetary mahant.
What will be done, however, is to appoint
someone with the right faith, who will work
in harmony with the holy powers in Delhi.
Everyone will remember the victory Arun
Jaitley declared in March in the nationalism
debate. The monetary policy debate too will
be won just as easily, without argument, contention or persuasion.
This is not the first time faith has triumphed. It did so once before, in the 1950s;
dissenters were thrown out of the government, and the nation progressed on a
planned path to the famine and payments
crisis of 1966. This time, though, the exit will
not be so straightforward; the economy is
doing too well.
Ashok V. Desai is an itinerant economist who has taught,
done research, coordinated projects and helped make


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Relevance of the Rajya Sabha

The deadlock between both Houses
on parliamentary matters is a major
setback to Indias progress and only
shows the leadership of all parties in
a bad light. The Rajya Sabha was
designed for the purpose of
representing the interests of States
(Revisiting the Rajya Sabhas role,
June 22). However, all this seems to
have been forgotten as it
increasingly appears to have
become a rehabilitation House.
While some members do have the
necessary qualifications that will do
justice to the role of the Rajya
Sabha, others do not measure up.
The problem has been exacerbated
by the Kuldip Nayar judgment
which removed the requirement of
domicile. It has now been
misinterpreted for political
expediency. As the recent Rajya
Sabha elections show, we now have
MPs who are representing a State to
which they do not belong. For the
Rajya Sabha to be more effective,
certain steps need to be taken. All
States must be given an equal
number of seats. Most importantly,
it needs to be seen as a House
brimming with talented
Akshay Viswanathan,

amounts to taking the electorate for

granted. Second, people get in from
States they are least connected with.
Even though we are moving towards
a pan-India polity, this poses the
question as to what the stand of the
alien MP with respect to the new
constituency would be and what he
or she is going to do for its
development. The abuse of Rajya
Sabha posts should be stopped, the
only comparison today being the
way the Governors post is on the
decline. There has to be a
mechanism to ensure that qualified
people reflecting the diversity of
our country are represented in the
Rajya Sabha. At best, the Elders can
facilitate the smooth functioning of
our democracy and be the
spokespersons for the marginalised.
Saishankar Swaminathan,

The Rajya Sabha is not only a House

for second thought but is also a
guardian of a States rights. As it has
the role of a watchdog, it must assert
itself as a House of correction. Its
function is to improve legislation
passed by the Lower House and is
not one of obstruction.
V.K. Babu Prakash,
Kollam, Kerala


The reforms push

There is no doubt that the Elders

have played an important part in the
functioning of our democracy. Even
if they dont have the power to stop
a bill in its tracks, the fact that they
do discuss and call for suggestions
by itself shows that the system is
hale and hearty. Also, given the fact
that the composition of political
parties varies especially in the Lok
Sabha, the Rajya Sabha does help
provide the required checks and
balances. But a couple of trends
cannot be missed. Many parties are
now using the Rajya Sabha as a
backdoor to get members elected,
most of whom will not be able to
win a Lok Sabha election. This is
something that must be avoided as it

In India, the first reaction to

whenever the government
announces a new policy shift is
always a reactionary one (Modi
fast-tracks reforms with radical
change in FDI norms, June 21).
With all the liberalised loans doled
out to Indian companies and
industries, the progress and the
results achieved in lifting the
economy are scanty and tardy.
There is also a question mark over
the integrity of loan defaulters who
defy systems and make lending
banks almost totter. Therefore, there
is nothing wrong if FDI is allowed to
boost employment and spur
industrial growth. Since 2014, there
has been a welcome break from

corruption, nepotism and

favouritism adopted in the name of
T.M. Ranganathan,

overcome the disorders caused by

an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
Anand Srinivasan,

Srirangam, Tamil Nadu

Only time will tell whether the

Narendra Modi governments serial
relaxations in foreign direct
investment (FDI) limits deserve
praise or not. People are not ready
to digest that 100 per cent FDI will
result in job creation. Why has there
been a U-turn on FDI in retail
especially when it was the core issue
for the BJP not so long ago?
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee,

The watering down of the state of

the art technology clause while
liberalising FDI in the defence
sector seems to be a hasty decision
to push defence manufacturing in
India. It will keep India dependent
on imports to access such
technology because there wont be
any compulsion now on foreign
firms to introduce cutting-edge
technology to India and share it
with domestic manufacturers. It will
also affect the chances of domestic
manufacturers accessing such
technology without going through
the long drawn and complex
process of developing it on their
own. It will further delay our aim of
achieving strategic self-sufficiency
in defence manufacturing.
Prateek Yadav,
New Delhi

Elevation of yoga
The lead role the Prime Minister
has taken in elevating yoga to
international recognition is
praiseworthy (June 23). However,
rejoicing over this Indian tradition
finding acceptance overseas when,
back home, we dont keep at it
diligently is short-lived pleasure. I
hope that most of us take to yoga
regularly and reap its purported
benefits. It takes discipline and faith
to pursue this form of exercise to

While International Yoga Day was

observed throughout the world,
including Pakistan, it is regrettable
that some of our Opposition leaders
have painted it as being religious. It
is time every one realised that yoga
does help in leading a healthy life.
N. Mahadevan,

Dangerous game
While there is some substance in
accusing the BJP of capitalising on
the Kairana incident by giving it a
communal colour, the Uttar Pradesh
government is equally guilty of its
failure to rein in the elements who
profited from the plight of those
affected (Editorial, June 22). In
matters of religion, political parties
should remember what Thomas
Fuller said Religion is the best
armour, but the worst cloak.
R. Badrinarayanan,

In what appears to be a no-holdsbarred campaign to communalise

and polarise the atmosphere in
Uttar Pradesh, there are now
allegations of some political parties
roping in the local media to spread
disharmony. With the designs of the
ruling party at the Centre being so
plain, one wonders who is there to
check the nations drift in yet
another communalised electoral
M.A. Siraj,

Jumbo travails
I have travelled frequently on the
Podanur-Madukkarai-EttimadaiWalayar sector by train for the past
half a century on my way to Kerala.
In the 1970s one could occasionally
sight, from distances afar, especially
at dawn, elephant herds converging

on the banks of the lower riparian

villages of the Walayar river that
received copious rains, for their
water needs. As the vegetative cover
was very thick then the animals had
no compulsion to stray. But now
with human settlements increasing,
denuding forest cover on either side
of the track, animals are being
driven out. Accidents such as the
one described in the report,
Knocked down by train, elephant
dies (June 21), can be avoided if the
entire stretch is illuminated and
train drivers asked to sound the
locomotives horn frequently. If this
is not possible, the tracks should be
relaid off the lower Walayar river
basin or encircling the upper
Ettimadai hills and reconnected
with the tracks towards Palakkad.
S. Vasudevan,

The picture of a dying elephant,

with its eye wide open, and lying
alongside the railway track is
haunting. Even more heartrending
was the picture in the inside pages
(June 21) of the animal lying with its
hind legs trapped in the concrete
channel alongside the track. It is
sickening that humans think that
they alone have the right to live in
this world. Development should
never be at the cost of nature.
Neelakantan T.K.,

Activists are right in saying that the

operation to trap the rogue
elephant, nicknamed Madukkarai
Maharaj, in Coimbatore and now
dead raises serious questions
about conservation efforts
(Trapped Maharaj dies in
Anamalai, June 22). There seems to
have been no proper application of
mind in this case. Perhaps the
government should educate
foresters on how a similar situation
is handled in Thailand and Africa
where frequent man-animal
encounters occur.
T. Anand Raj,

10 |




A strange obsession with the NSG

With the waiver of 2008, India no longer needs the Nuclear Suppliers Group for its civil nuclear facilities.
Why is it then pursuing a second-class membership so avidly?
To expect those who revised Paragraph 6 of
the guidelines with India in mind to accept a
consensus to change or dilute its provisions
is a pipedream. So if the government says it
must get into the NSG because it wants to
make or change the rules, it is being
What the government is pursuing so avidly now is a second-class membership. All
other members of the NSG would trade in
all phases of the nuclear cycle, except for India, where there would be a presumption of
denial on enrichment and reprocessing. India would be the sole exception in the club,
denied a privilege to which all the others are
entitled. Why would any self-respecting
government yearn for something so demeaning? It is far better to stay out of it, with
the ambiguity of the unique status that the
waiver granted to India.

F R I D AY , J U N E 2 4 , 2 0 1 6


A stitch
in time

he Centres package of incentives to boost

investments and job creation in the exportoriented textile and apparel sector is a stitch
in time. That one of the economys largest employment generators outside agriculture has been
steadily ceding ground to smaller but nimbler competitors such as Bangladesh and Vietnam has been
a matter of concern for industry and policymakers
alike. The measures, aimed at streamlining labour
norms and offering tax breaks, will give a big fillip
to domestic garment-makers as they vie with producers in South and Southeast Asia to gain a larger
share of the U.S. and European Union markets. As
the World Bank report, Stitches to Riches?, noted
in April 2016, the potential decrease in Chinese apparel exports as wage costs in that country rise
and manufacturing investments move up the value
chain into high-technology industries presents a
huge opportunity for South Asian countries. The
governments action will help tap this opportunity.
Of the Rs.6,000 crore earmarked for the package,
Rs.5,500 crore is set apart for providing an additional 5 per cent duty drawback for garments. Apparelmakers can now avail refunds on state levies paid
by them as part of this benefit, a long-pending demand. The other announcement with an upfront
fiscal implication is the Rs.500 crore pencilled
against additional incentives under the Amended
Technology Upgradation Funds Scheme. Specifically, the subsidy provided to garment units has
been increased to a healthy 25 per cent from 15 per
cent. This should boost employment generation.
Cognizant of the fact that leading international
brands now insist on their outsourced value chains
being compliant with global labour standards, the
Centre has aligned overtime norms for workers
with the ILOs weekly limit of eight hours. To address the seasonal nature of the workflow, the Ministry has introduced the concept of fixed-term employment for the garment industry: a worker hired
for a fixed term will be treated on a par with a permanent employee and will be eligible for all statutory dues. As a result of the sops, the apparel and
textile industry is expected to add one crore jobs
over the next three years. This ambitious goal will
become achievable if the projected investments of
Rs.74,000 crore flow in. Apparel exporters in Vietnam will gain substantial tariff advantages and market access as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
deal to which it is a signatory. Bangladesh continues to enjoy a raft of preferential tariffs and access
benefits given its status as one of the Least Developed Countries. Given this, the measures to bolster
Indias textile industry have come just in time.

The governments obsessive quest for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group
(NSG) is very like the hunting of the Snark, a
macabre, tragi-comic pursuit which ends
with the hunter becoming the quarry. Why
is it so desperate? The External Affairs Minister, usually a sane voice in the wilderness
of her government, has apparently said at
her press conference a few days back that
there is a difference between sitting outside
a room seeking the indulgence of others and
being inside making the rules. Of course
there is, which is why India used to press for
an expansion of the UN Security Council,
where non-members actually do have to
wait in an antechamber when it is in the
closed sessions in which it conducts business. But the NSG is not the Security Council, and with the waiver of 2008, India no
longer needs it for its civil nuclear facilities.
It does not have to sit outside its closed
door; this government has chosen to park itself there, begging to be let in, like a supplicant outside the portcullis of a castle.
Established rules
The NSG has already made its rules, covering every aspect of nuclear trade, spelt out
in its guidelines and trigger-lists. Complying with the fiat from the U.S. Congress in
2006, which demanded that India harmonise its export control legislation and regulations with those of the NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar
Arrangement and Australia Group and adhere to their guidelines if it wanted the nuclear deal, we have done so. The NSGs original guidelines were issued in 1978 and
revised in 1992. In 2010, two years after it
granted us the waiver that freed us from its
clutches, it decided that its rules should be
updated; the revised guidelines, incorporating 54 amendments, were issued in June
There is no record of our having conveyed
any reservations to the NSG, either over the
three years it took to negotiate the changes
or after it adopted them, though there are
rumours that we did. Under our agreement
with the U.S., our export laws and regulations either have been, or will have to be,
amended to incorporate these changes.
One of these changes, though, made a cru-

All other NSG members would

trade in all phases of the nuclear
cycle, except for India where there
would be a presumption of denial
on enrichment and reprocessing
cial difference to our waiver, which provided that transfers of sensitive exports remain
subject to paragraphs 6 and 7 of Guidelines.
In 2011, before the other amendments were
adopted, Paragraph 6 was revised to prohibit trade in enrichment and reprocessing
with any country that has not signed the
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which
means that no NSG member can cooperate
in these areas with India. Exactly as the NSG
was set up to target India after its 1974 test,
this amendment was introduced by NPT
evangelists to target India after the 2008
waiver, which they could not thwart. We
seem to have accepted this as a fait
As the record shows, once the NSG
adopts changes, it retains them for over a
decade, because its amendments are comprehensive and reaching agreement on alterations is hard. The last changes came after almost 20 years. Therefore, even if India
does become a member now, it cannot beaver away at new rules. We might well want
to revise paragraphs 6 and 7 again to suit our
needs, but the rule of consensus, on which
the NSG works, means anything we propose
must be accepted by every other member.

Ripe red herrings

Other arguments have been put forward
for our getting into the NSG: that the waiver
could be revoked, that China could create
problems for India, that if we are there we
can ensure Pakistan is not, and we should be
in a cabal that is so powerful. These are ripe
red herrings. Firstly, the waiver was not specific to the agreement with the U.S., it covered all the items in the NSGs lists, and it
has no sunset clause; India needs no further
waiver to import from willing exporters
anything it needs for IAEA-safeguarded
civil nuclear facilities; from 2011, of course,
this would exclude enrichment and reprocessing. It can only be revoked by consensus,
and India truly would be friendless if it cannot find one influential member of the NSG
to oppose a proposal that the waiver be cancelled. Neither China nor any other member
can create problems for India within the
terms of the waiver: whether any member
sells to us or not will be dependent entirely
on other factors, including its domestic laws
and the strength of our bilateral relations.
And if a consensus does build up around Pakistan, how would it help India to stand
alone against it?
And then, how powerful is the NSG? China has thumbed its nose at it after our waiver, claiming that the new reactors it then
gave Pakistan were all grand-fathered when
it joined the group. That is a lie, but no one in
the NSG has had the gumption to nail it.
Even if they had tried, of course, China
would have objected, so it escaped even the
mildest censure. If a member enjoys such
impunity, that might seem to be a good rea-


Death of
a singer

mjad Sabri, a celebrated qawwali singer, is

the latest victim of the Talibans war on plurality in Pakistan. The Tehreek-e-Taliban
Pakistan, which has claimed responsibility for Sabris murder in Karachi on Wednesday, has said the
group considers his music blasphemous. The reason lies in the Talibans own ideological moorings.
Qawwali is part of a Sufi tradition that binds not only Muslims across South Asia, but people of other
faiths too. It is indeed the most vibrant iteration of
the subcontinents syncretism. The TTP, steeped in
an extremist, fundamentalist approach to religion
and society, has long made known its displeasure
against both music and the Sufis. Being part of the
well-known Sabri family tradition, Amjad clearly
was a target. His murder is also in line with the new
tactical use of violence by the TTP. Of late, the
group has turned its focus from large-scale attacks
in public places to targeted killings. A day before
Sabri was shot, an Ahmadi doctor was killed in Karachi. Last month, a rights activist who was critical
of Islamist extremism met the same fate.
Be it large-scale attacks or targeted killings, the
goal remains the same. The TTP wants to inflame
sectarian passions that it could exploit to find
recruits among the radicalised sections. Such attacks could also trigger fear among the public, particularly among critics of the Taliban brand of Islam, and create security challenges to the
authorities. Unlike major attacks in public places,
targeted killings are unlikely to attract a massive security crackdown on militants. The TTP may have
learnt this lesson after the 2014 Peshawar school
massacre, which forced the Pakistani security establishment to turn against the militants. In the ensuing battle the TTP was badly weakened, though
its capacity to strike is still formidable. It remains a
threat to both the Pakistani state and society. The
question is whether the authorities have an effective counter-strategy to stop them. Fighting radicalisation is key to this. But the increasing use of the
controversial blasphemy law under the watch of
the state betrays reticence, or fear, on the part of
politicians and institutions in fighting radicalisation. Even Sabri had faced a blasphemy case two
years ago over his songs. Second, Karachi is known
for violent crimes. Though there was a government
sweep in 2013, militant groups are clearly still active
in the city. Third, the Pakistan armys approach towards the Taliban is complicated. It is fighting the
TTP on the Pakistani side, but maintains good ties
with the Afghan Taliban on the other side of the
border. This dual approach is self-defeating in any
meaningful fight against extremism.

son to get on the NSG, but this makes sense

only if India is bent on following China into
a life of nuclear crime, helping another state
illegally, or doing what it has not done so far,
Banal goals
It is therefore utterly baffling that the government is straining every sinew to get into
the NSG, in effect to shoot itself in the foot.
But its apologists have sprung into action,
lauding to the skies the Gadarene rush to Seoul. We are told that India now no longer
fears foreign policy failure, that this mindless slavering for what it should not want,
and cannot have, actually reveals a new level
of self-assurance, the overcoming of deference towards the great powers, the confidence to finesse conflicts of interest, the
dexterity to maintain relations with parties
mutually hostile, a willingness to take risks
and to go it alone that is the great gift and
quality of this government, a break from the
timidity of the past.
These though have been the hallmarks of
Indian foreign policy from Nehru onwards.
The difference now is that the goals are so
trivial and banal, and the special pleading
for the government so obsequious and filled
with amnesia.
In the first few years after Independence,
when India was at its weakest, Nehru took
on the great powers in a series of initiatives
on apartheid, decolonisation, disarmament where India took the lead and was
prepared to stand its ground, at first alone,
until others joined. It helped develop the utterly new concept of peacekeeping, which
the UN Charter had not catered for, and was
one of the largest providers of forces, to
challenge the West, which used its armed
strength to bully and invade. On Indira
Gandhis watch, India was prepared in 1971
to resist the pressure of a resolution on Uniting for Peace, passed in the UN General Assembly on December 7 by a vote of 104-11,
with 10 abstentions, calling for an immediate cease-fire with Pakistan, until it had won
its strategic objectives in the east.
P.V. Narasimha Rao opened an office in
South Africa as soon as the transition from
apartheid began, well before the African
Union was prepared to countenance this,
balancing Indias relations with the rest of
the continent with the need to influence
change in a vitally important country. He began the rapprochement with Israel, without
sacrificing relations with the Arabs, that
Atal Bihari Vajpayees government carried
forward. And, when India was at a low ebb, it
nevertheless had the courage and foresight
to claim a permanent seat on an expanded
Security Council, an initiative that the first
NDA government pressed on with, even after the nuclear tests of 1998 drove India into
temporary isolation. Mr. Vajpayee had the
vision and the courage to try to make peace
with Pakistan, and take India into the U.S.
orbit, Manmohan Singh taking both initiatives forward, with the nuclear deal a leap in
the dark, which took enormous self-confidence and conviction to execute.
These truly were enterprises of great pith
and moment. What has this government
done? Promoted an international day of yoga: Nehru was the Swami Vivekananda of his
day, promoting peace as a spiritual value,
Mr. Modi channels Baba Ramdev. Asked for
Masood Azhar to be put on the proscribed
list of international terrorists. And now the
Watching the Light Brigade of the British
cavalry charge straight at the Russian guns
at the Battle of Balaclava, the French Marshal Pierre Bosquet said, Its magnificent,
but its not war, its madness. This tilting at
the windmills of the NSG is manic, but its
not diplomacy, its folly.
Satyabrata Pal is a former High Commissioner to


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Rajan and Subramanian

Raghuram Rajan took up the reins
as Reserve Bank of India Governor
when the economy was going
through one of the most difficult
times (The Rajan syndrome, June
23). He was undoubtedly efficient.
His achievements have been
remarkable: he gave control to
banks, stabilised the value of the
rupee against the dollar, reoriented
Debt Recovery Tribunals, and so
on. Of course, politicians will heave
a huge sigh of relief that Dr. Rajan
will not continue as RBI Governor,
but this just goes to show that India
is not a place for economists and
leaders of his calibre. People say
another intellectual like him will
take his place, but what that
persons fate will be is anybodys
J. Sumuki,

inflation and prefers a

contractionary policy. It will be
hard to find an economist like Dr.
Rajan who speaks his mind.
Manish Patel,
New Delhi

While defending Dr. Rajan, the

author has been too harsh on the
earlier RBI Governors by saying
that they were subservient to
Finance Ministers. The RBI has had
a pantheon of Governors who were
fiercely independent and refused to
tow the Finance Ministry line on
major issues. Blaming the RBI
alone for crises such as balance of
payments and high inflation is not
right as the responsibility of
macroeconomic health rests as
much on the shoulders of the
government as on the RBI.
A.N. Appaiah,


It is disheartening that an erudite

person like Dr. Rajan has opted out
of consideration for a second term.
The self-abnegation may have been
triggered by personal reasons, but
he must have certainly felt political
pressure too. His decision is not
just a loss for the RBI, but for the
whole country. The Finance
Minister and the RBI Governor are
like fire and water one is highly
optimistic and prefers an
expansionary policy while the
other tends to keep a check on

I would like to ask Subramanian

Swamy one thing: if Chief
Economic Adviser Arvind
Subramanian indeed took such a
stand to protect U.S.
pharmaceutical interests, why has
it taken Mr. Swamy so long to ask
for his sacking? (Jaitley defends
CEA after Swamys salvo, June 23)
While Finance Minister Arun
Jaitley went public in his support
for Mr. Subramanian and
disapproved of Mr. Swamys tirade
against the CEA, the party which
prides itself for being highly

disciplined has not dared to take

Mr. Swamy to task for going public
against it and the government. One
gets the impression that Mr. Swamy
is speaking on behalf of certain
influential members of his party to
cause discomfort to Mr. Jaitley with
whom he is not on the best of
terms. Why the Prime Minister
isnt saying anything about all these
statements is baffling.
S.K. Choudhury,

People may brand Mr. Swamy a

troublemaker but the fact is that he
is knowledgeable, interested in
pursuing the truth, and patriotic as
he doesnt gain anything from his
statements; rather, he gets criticism
for plain speaking. His statements
may be unpalatable, but many of his
charges have proven true in the
past. It is better for people to listen
to what he says than simply brand
him a troublemaker. In fact, India
requires people like Mr. Swamy to
control undesirable people
occupying important positions in
V.S. Ganeshan,

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which

gave Mr. Swamy a chance to
become Rajya Sabha member, must
be getting a severe headache due to
his frequent controversial
statements. If Mr. Swamy has any
difference of opinion on the

functioning and performance of

any reputed official, he should
contact the Minister concerned. By
going to the media he might feel
heroic, but he is causing damage to
the party and the governments
image. After Dr. Rajan and Mr.
Subramanian, Mr. Swamy must be
ready to target someone else
occupying an important position. If
he continues to do this, he will lose
credibility. The government or the
BJP must do something to keep him
in check.
J.P. Reddy,

Mr. Jaitleys snub shows that Mr.

Swamy has perhaps bitten off more
than he can chew. But the
governments double standards are
discernible. While Mr.
Subramanian has got its support,
Dr. Rajan hasnt. The reason for this
seems to be that while Dr. Rajan
was appointed by the United
Progressive Alliance government,
Mr. Subramanian was picked by the
BJP government, thus giving him
the status of a holy cow.
Aravind C.V. Nair,

ISROs achievements
At a time when most of the public
sector organisations in India are
underperforming, the Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO) is
not only proving itself consistently

but is also creating unparalleled

records, thereby bringing laurels to
the nation. ISROs commitment,
hard work and team effort are a
source of inspiration for the
working class of various
organisations to achieve their goals.
Kshirasagara Balaji Rao,

The sound of silence

The frenetic pace of modern life
has desensitised us to the
deleterious effects of noise on our
physical and psychological wellbeing (Can we have some silence,
please?, June 23). The adage
silence is golden has lost appeal in
todays age as a virtue. We have
stopped treating noise as a serious
problem and decided to coexist
with it as an evil that cannot be
eliminated. The war on noise has to
start from the realisation that it is a
public health hazard.
V.N. Mukundarajan,

The author rightly asks for a

meditative state for our society.
Silence is one of the many ways in
which we communicate with each
other. Often the most powerful
things can be said by not saying
anything. Silence sometimes
conveys emotion better than
C.V. Venugopalan,

10 |




Remains of the day

Britains messy EU referendum has left two fractured political parties and a deeply fissured country

S AT U R D AY , J U N E 2 5 , 2 0 1 6

Stepping into
the unknown

he scale of unknowable consequences that

the United Kingdom has brought upon itself
and the rest of the world with the vote
in Thursdays referendum to leave the European
Union was best gauged by the relative sobriety with
which one of the Leave camps most voluble campaigners reacted. Boris Johnson, considered to be a
leading claimant to Tory leadership, welcomed the
result by saying that nothing would change right
away. But in the coming days, London will have to
manage the panic in the financial markets, the anxiety in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the
question of the international ramifications of the
British isles moving away from the continent.
Three years ago when Prime Minister David Cameron promised a referendum on the U.K.s membership in the EU, it was seen as a quick-fix to deal with
the far-right bloc in his Conservative Party. Right to
the end, few expected that Britons would actually
decide to leave the EU. That the vote has come as a
surprise shows the distance between London and
the rest, as well as the geographical divide in the
U.K. The chaos emanating from the vote also holds
a lesson for democracies elsewhere. It underlines
both the recklessness of populist politics and a
referendum is nothing more than an evasive measure in a Westminster-style democracy as well as
the groundswell of support anti-establishment
campaigns can today call upon.
Why did Britons choose the unknown future despite stark warnings from their own government,
world leaders and economists that a Brexit would
be extremely risky? Euroscepticism has been a
strong sentiment among Britons. But over the past
few years, nationalist sentiment has grown stronger in the U.K. A number of factors may have contributed to this shift. One is the public anger in Britain towards the status quo. Ordinary Britons, hit
hard by the economic crisis, feel betrayed by their
political leadership. The Conservative governments austerity policies have further alienated
these sections. The main opposition Labour Party,
organisationally divided and ideologically distraught, has been too weak to tap this resentment.
Its the far-right, ultra-nationalist sections that
stepped into this space and gave free play to fearmongering on immigration. The exact implications
of the Brexit vote are hard to predict. But the resignation of Prime Minister Cameron, the jubilation of
the anti-immigrant ultra-nationalists and the tumbling of the pound to a 30-year low offer a taste of
whats to come. The vote puts in doubt the unity of
the country as Scotland has overwhelmingly voted
Remain. Brexit also poses a challenge to the European project itself. June 23 is a day Britain, Europe and the international community may well
struggle to understand for some time to come.

and enormous budget, and that somehow it

will be able to wend its way in the global
economy. Former London Mayor Boris Johnsons reference to independence day won
him loud cheers and a standing ovation at
one of the last pre-vote debates this week. In
this context, there was little chance of nuanced, informed debate. The example of
Cornwall is a case in point: the far southeastern region of England, despite receiving
many hundreds of millions of pounds in subsidies and other funds from Europe, voted
decisively to leave.


To anyone who visited London in the days

running up to the Brexit referendum vote on
Thursday, the idea that the country would
vote to leave would have been a non-starter.
Bright red, white and blue posters of the Remain campaign peeked from windows
across the capital, and earnest, quietly confident campaigners stood by stations handing
out posters, eliciting encouraging nods from
passing commuters. Even the market had recovered from its initial jitters, bookies were
favouring Remain by a good margin, and the
UK Independence Partys (UKIP) Nigel Farage had all but acknowledged defeat.
Then came early Friday morning and
the result from Sunderland. The north-eastern town, traditionally one of the fastest to
declare election results, is seen as a bellwether of Britains voting behaviour. It had
always been expected to favour Leave but
not by the whopping 22 percentage points
that it did. Following this, the pound dipped
dramatically. Other shockers soon followed,
such as the Essex town of Basildon in southern England, where two-thirds voted Leave.
The biggest surprise came from Wales a
region widely expected to favour Remain,
much like the U.K.s other countries, Scotland and Northern Ireland but where 17 of
22 voting areas ended up backing Brexit.
There was a brief Remain surge when the
London and Scottish results came in, but by 3
a.m. it was clear that the Brexit camps 52 per
cent share was there to stay. Britain was on
course to end its 43-year-old membership of
the European Union (EU).
The buck stops with Cameron
Amidst the shock and the deliberation on
how pollsters and pretty much all informed
observers managed to call it so dreadfully
wrong, finger-pointing has begun on who
was to blame for the spectacular failure of
the Remain campaign. The result could not
be blamed on voter apathy turnout was 72
per cent, the highest in any British vote since
Much of the responsibility surely has to sit
on the shoulders of Prime Minister David
Cameron, and the decision to hold the refer-

After the vicious campaign of the

past few months, the victors will
struggle to shed the view that
many across the world have built
of them
endum in the first place. While some argue
he had no choice but to do this in order to appease the rebels in his party, it is clear that
the referendum and the run-up to it failed
spectacularly to do that. The Conservative
Party is, arguably, more divided than it has
ever been. Far from heading off the
Eurosceptic monster, the move simply gave
it some oxygen to breathe.
The very real risk of a Brexit vote should
have been clear right from the start, notwithstanding Mr. Camerons attempts to wing a
better deal for Britain in negotiations with
Merkel & Co. Britains relationship with the
EU has always been a fraught one from the
Thatcher days, fuelled by a hostile media,
and an inflated sense of its own importance
in the global context. There is a genuine and
deep-seated belief shared by many in this
country that Britain, the island nation, is
somehow above the European super-state,
with its bulging bureaucracy, regulations,

Negative strategy backfires

In seeking an explanation for what went
wrong, the larger global trend of increasing
discontent with traditional politics and politicians cannot be ignored. The success of
Donald Trump in the United States and the
near-victory of a neo-Nazi presidential candidate in Austria have heralded the increasing separation between the public and mainstream politics in the West. What has
happened in Britain must be seen as part of
this trend. Anger with the austerity of the
Tories, which has accelerated markedly
since the general election last year without
the moderating impact of the Liberal Democrats, and the failure of a split Labour party
fully to make the case to remain in the EU enabled the Leave campaign to take hold particularly in deprived, working-class areas
such as the north-east of the country where
it had one of its best performances.
The Remain campaigns decision to focus
on the dangers of leaving, rather than make a
positive case for membership and present a
grand vision of what a reformed Europe with
Britain in it could be, also proved to be a
grave political miscalculation. The campaign somehow never managed to shake off
the Project Fear label it earned in the early
days of the campaign, as it brought forth
countless economic, industry, and security
experts to warn of the dangers of a Brexit. Far
from convincing people, this strategy only
seemed to alienate many of them further.
It was as though the mainstream economic perspective had no legs to stand on and
therefore patronised ordinary people with a
simplistic account of the consequences of a
Brexit. Some of Brexits canniest proponents
such as Mr. Johnson made sure they stressed
this as a fatal weakness of the Remain campaign. It is noteworthy that car-maker Nis-


Right man
for a big task

nil Kumbles appointment as coach of the

Indian mens cricket team has evoked allround cheer. The former India captain, one
of crickets greatest bowlers with 956 international
wickets, comes to the job with an established reputation and a dignity thats been a second skin to him
throughout. This helped him secure the post ahead
of formidable competitors such as Ravi Shastri,
who until recently was the Indian teams director.
The 45-year-old Kumble does not have the formal
coaching experience that the Board of Control for
Cricket in India had sought for the coachs position.
Yet, the sheer force of his personality and his levelheadedness, reflected in his presentation of a blueprint for Indian cricket, tilted the scales in his favour. There has been the odd whisper of an old
boys club being at work, as the Cricket Advisory
Committee that picked Kumble featured former
team-mates Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and
V.V.S. Laxman. But their credentials too are impossible to fault, and such trash talk is best ignored.
Kumbles past passes scrutiny it is adjustment to
his new role as coach that will be closely watched
now. He is aware that guiding an international side
is not for the faint-hearted, and he returns to the Indian dressing room at a time of transition and with
two skippers, Virat Kohli in Tests and M.S. Dhoni in
limited-overs cricket.
India has a long season of 17 Tests ahead, with
four in the West Indies and the rest at home. It is an
ideal setting for Kumbles initial one-year contract,
while he trains his eyes on the 2019 World Cup.
Over the next few months, he can revive his old ties
with both Dhoni and Kohli, reveal his vision for the
team, and most importantly assist the squad in acquiring a sense of permanence. In Tests, for instance, only Kohli, Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane
and R. Ashwin have cemented their slots. In oneday and Twenty20 internationals, Kumble may
have to hold Kohlis hand as Dhoni gets closer to retirement. Great cricketers walk in with a halo but
their boots can get soiled in the rough and tumble
of coaching international teams. Kapil Devs and
Greg Chappells coaching stints did not trigger the
same awe as their playing days did. Kumble should
also effectively answer the conflict of interest
queries that shadow his sports training and consulting company Tenvic. He has declared that it will
be addressed before he formally takes charge. Now
his strength is his reputation, but a year down the
line it will be the Indian teams performance that
will determine the way he is judged as the coach.

The road from here

While one can start to put together answers retrospectively, the journey forward
for the U.K. is a different matter, as its citizens struggle to make sense of their identity,
political and social, and how they can chart a
course forward. The messy result has left not
only two fractured political parties but also a
deeply fissured country, as many Remain
voters struggled to understand how those
with the same nationality could have come
to such a radically different conclusion from
them. Mr. Farages claims that it was a victory for ordinary, decent people drew much
anger. Londoners on social media expressed
their disbelief over the result, with many
feeling that they inhabited a different country from the rest (some faced it with typical
dark humour, with the hash tag IndependenceForLondon trending on Twitter).
The countrys challenges, aside from the
messy economic questions, do not of course
stop there. The very future of the union
could be at stake, with the possibilities of independence referendums in Northern Ireland and Scotland rearing their heads.
Struggling to keep this all together until
October at the latest will be Mr. Cameron.
Appearing shattered, he announced emotionally he would be stepping down to ensure the country had strong, determined,
and committed leadership to lead negotiations with the EU, negotiations that will be
fraught with tensions and challenges as other member states grapple with their own domestic consequences from Britains move.
Where will Britain go from here? Ardent
Brexiteer and bookies favourite to be Prime
Minister, Boris Johnson has attempted to
portray this as a glorious opportunity for a
forward-looking country seeking to forge
stronger links with nations well beyond Europes borders. But after the vicious campaign of the past few months, the victors will
struggle to shed the view that many across
the world have built of them that of a nation that had so much but chose to abandon
it in favour of a xenophobic, small-island


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

The Great Break

In the end, the U.K. opted out of the
European Union. Right or wrong, it
is a landmark decision. The
repercussions are too many as it is
going to change the way the world
looks at Great Britain. Nationalist
emotions appear to have influenced
the decision more than economic
and political aspects. The U.K. has to
now prove that it can survive with its
unquestionable love for
Ravindranathan P.V.,

Watching the developments unfold, I

was struck by the maturity and
professionalism of the leaders and
the processes followed. There was
no sensationalism by the western
media covering the event, no talk of
money having been used to bribe
voters, a short and well-worded
speech by Prime Minister David
Cameron accepting defeat with
dignity, poise and maturity. There is
a lot to learn for us Indians.

Brexit has dashed the hopes of those

who wanted to Remain in the
European Union. While the British
feel there are more advantages, the
possibility now of more such
demands cropping up in the rest of
Europe cannot be ruled out. The first
task should be to bring order in the
financial markets.
D.B.N. Murthy,

Brexit is sure to result in the U.K.s


san, which has been one of the most vocal

opponents of a Brexit, failed to sway the population of Sunderland, the base of its car
manufacturing facility in England. There
were attempts towards the end of the campaign to focus on the importance of solidarity and the tremendous achievements of Europe in building cross-continental harmony
among the last voices to be brought out
was footballer David Beckham, who said he
wanted to be part of a vibrant and connected world but it proved too little, too late.
But the most depressing aspect of all of
this cannot be disregarded: the immigration
card. There were hopes that the vicious murder of the Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, by a
man with links to the far-Right in the U.S.,
would jolt voters into the realisation that the
Brexit campaign had gone too far with its focus on limiting immigration from the EU and
the entry of refugees. The murder itself
came on the same day UKIP released a poster of a line of brown-skinned refugees, titled
Breaking Point. This left others in the
Leave camp struggling to distance themselves from accusations of racism and what
London Mayor Sadiq Khan referred to as
Project Hate. However, the nastiness did
not prove to be much of a deterrent and
whether it was through posters warning
about the dire consequences of Turkey joining the EU (something which is far from certain, contrary to the way the Brexit campaign
often portrayed it) or proposals to introduce
a tougher Australian-esque points-based visa immigration system, the campaign

economic ratings being downgraded

and attracting less investment. India
should seize the opportunity and use
it to its full advantage.
Saikat Bhattacharya,
Asansol, West Bengal

Brexit is sure to be the catalyst for

other member states fundamentally
opposed to building a stronger EU.
The need of the hour is for the EU to
revamp itself, address the problems
of member states and develop an
enforcement mechanism to ensure
that policies are administered fairly
and equally across each member
Gagan Pratap Singh,
Noida, Uttar Pradesh

An immediate consequence could be

an upsurge in jingoistic and
xenophobic sentiments across
Europe. From a broader perspective,
this mandate represents a severe
setback to the grand vision of a
borderless Europe without tariff
barriers and limited restrictions on
labour mobility. What is clear is that
any such vision has to recognise that
national, linguistic and cultural
sensibilities are deeply ingrained and
need to be accommodated. Equally
importantly, any such regional union
has to be preceded or accompanied
by reforms that improve governance,
raise productivity and dramatically
reduce income inequalities.
Chandramohan Nair,

There are some important lessons

such as the need to take recourse to
democratic processes in order to
resolve contentious issues. The way
in which the leading proponents of
the decision to leave have reacted
publicly after the results has been
exemplary. They have acknowledged
with sobriety the contrary results
from constituent parts of Britain and
suggested that relations with the EU
will remain friendly and cooperative. It was also instructive to
see the spokespersons of the two
sides not go into triumphalism or
grumbling denial. It is also clear that
a majority did not get carried away
by the international and business-led
campaign for Remain. Hopefully,
this historic vote will be seen as
affirming peoples control over their
polity and not a xenophobic
rejection of refugees.
Firoz Ahmad,
New Delhi

It might provide an opportunity for

India to have bilateral agreements
with Britain like the FTA, which
might not have been possible had it
remained in the EU. One waits to see
how the EU will recover.
Akshay Dhadda,

Apart from the feared downslide of

the British economy, Brexit could
also throw up fresh Leave
campaigns that might result in racial
disarray. With the shrinking
economy and tough access to the EU
that is if the EU stays as it is now
jobs and businesses will face very
tough internecine competition and
strife within Britain itself. This could
spark fresh outbursts and volatile
campaigns in which non-English
populations could become the next
batch of immigrants targeted for
having taken away British jobs and

diluted British culture. Winning our

Sovereignty and Taking back
control, the much-emphasised
slogans of the Leave camp, could
have new racial and fascist meanings.
Future governments in the U.K. and
progressive citizens might have to
remain on extra vigil.
Sham Shankar,

This referendum is a great example

of how the ideal solution to
everything may not be subjecting it
to a mass vote. A decision by vote
presupposes that people making the
decision are fully informed, have
access to all the facts and the ability
to arrive at mature insights. But as
history has shown us, this is often
not the case. Crowds tend to react
emotively and are easily misled by
eloquent speakers with vested
interests. Human beings are also
prone to taking decisions based on
short-term benefits and pure selfinterest. Whether we like it or not,
this has to be factored in before we
decide to throw something to a vote.
History is likely to judge David
Cameron harshly on this front.
Sandeep Menon,

Death of an elephant
The report, A royal requiem for
Maharaj (June 24) on the death
of the rogue elephant after it was
captured in Coimbatore, and the
tribute paid to it by villagers
underpins the challenges of conflict
management. Operation
Madukkarai Maharaj was planned
well but executed poorly. Apparently

the tranquillised elephant was

bundled off hurriedly before
allowing it to cool off and regain its
posture. Kumkhis also mishandled
the elephant. The tranquillised
elephant obviously underwent
tremendous trauma and could have
suffered cardiac arrest. The protocol
in administering tranquillisers
should have been adhered to strictly
as the elephant was continuously
tracked and traumatised. It seems
little has been learnt from the
Doddabetta and Devarshola tiger
capture episodes. It is true that the
Forest Department struggles to
balance unprecedented public
outcry, media exaggerations and
saving wildlife in distress in such
challenging conflict situations.
However, it should avoid hasty and
panic reactions to smother the fear
psychosis among the local people.
The incident of another elephant
being run over by a train near
Madukkarai also needs comment.
Have we forgotten how nearly half-adozen elephants and their calves
died for the same reason at the same
spot in 2008? A wide underpass with
succulent fodder growing alongside
and a waterbody in the vicinity
would help the animals avoid
crossing the tracks. Village-level
conflict management resource
centres must be set up to help the
Forest Department. With the huge
public debate surrounding the
culling of other species considered
as vermin, the future of wildlife in
India is under great stress unless we
adopt a pragmatic approach towards
our fellow creatures.
G. Ramprasad,

10 |




Crafting the joyless university

A public audit of the UGCs functioning is required before it can do further damage to higher education

M O N D AY , J U N E 2 7 , 2 0 1 6

Shrinking spaces at
the nuclear high table

ll is not lost in Indias bid to join the high table of global nuclear commerce by gaining
membership of the Nuclear Suppliers
Group (NSG), which saw a sharp setback at the
NSG plenary in Seoul, South Korea, with China and
at least seven other nations reiterating concerns
about non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) being admitted. Indian negotiators emphasised that the countrys entry into the
elite nuclear club, which frames rules for members
nuclear trade with other nations, is justified on the
basis of its clean non-proliferation record, a factor
important in the NSG giving India a country-specific waiver in 2008. Unfortunately, the 48-member
Group could not arrive at a consensus on this issue.
But within days of the plenary, a U.S. official has
said there is a path forward that could see India becoming a full member of the regime by the end of
2016; meanwhile, an encouraging sign for South
Block has come in the form of an ambassador being
appointed to facilitate continued discussion on India. History too points to the prospects of an
emerging inflection point in Indias campaign for
NSG membership: the waiver granted to India in
September 2008 came in the wake of an NSG meeting in August of that year at which strident resistance to Indias bid was evident, resistance that was
ultimately blunted by proactive diplomacy.
Nonetheless, the failed attempt at Seoul is an opportune moment for New Delhi to introspect about
how much political and diplomatic currency it is
willing to expend in the face of unrelenting opposition; also about what alternative means there are, if
any, to secure its strategic goals. Indeed the 2008
waiver, which emerged in parallel to the India-U.S.
civil nuclear agreement, has helped India move forward with nuclear reactor agreements with others
including Russia and France, and fuel supply arrangements with Australia. It is true that under the
amendments introduced to NSG rules between
2010 and 2013, paragraph 6 was revised to prohibit
trade in enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) with
any non-signatory of the NPT, effectively an ENR
trade ban between NSG members and India. It is argued that to prevent such amendments deleterious
to Indian interests from being passed in the future,
it is better to be an influential insider than an outsider supplicant. Yet, is it worth sitting at the NSG
table as a second class citizen subject to an ENR
ban when India has indigenous ENR options? At its
heart, the NSG quagmire harkens back to the elemental conundrum of non-alignment. If that concept is today viewed in terms of India acting with a
strategic autonomy, there is no need, given our vast
energy market, to be insecure about finding economic partners on the global nuclear stage.

One phase of a long-standing stand-off between the University Grants Commission

(UGC) and a section of our university teachers appears to have ended on June 16. As reported in the press, on that day the Government of India announced that it was acceding
to all but one of their demands on the rules
governing their functioning. Some peace
would have been bought no doubt, but it cannot really further the principle that at the end
of the day, after everyones rights and responsibilities have been granted and codified, the
experience of the university must be a joyful
one for our youth. There is some reason to
believe that it is not always so in India today,
and this is a pity.
Hours of contention
There are three components to the UGCs
package governing the faculty. Of these,
mostly two have proved to be bones of contention between the two parties. These have
to do with the mandated workload for teachers and student evaluation of courses, including of the lecturer herself. But it is the third
component that needs to be scrutinised for
its suitability. This is the assessment of teacher performance on a range of activities, ideally centred on research, or what laypersons
would recognise as the contribution made to
the stock of our knowledge. As a measure of
faculty performance, the UGC has devised
the Academic Performance Indicator (API),
which is the score the teacher has attained in
all activities combined.
On the workload, having attempted to increase it by 25 per cent via a notification issued on May 10, the UGC has now climbed
down and restored status quo, whereby a
teacher has to undertake 16 Direct Teaching
Hours a week. This may not appear particularly strenuous to the public, who are used to
a 40 hour week! However, they may not be
taking into account that every hour of lecturing, or even discussion, requires several
hours of reading and preparation, these two
being distinct tasks.
So how are we to arrive at what is a reason-

A heavy load of teaching crowds

out the time left for research. Too
much of teaching also deadens
the intellect which requires leisure
and solitude to flourish
able workload for our university teachers? I
would have thought that it is obvious that in
this globalised world of knowledge production, one approach would be to seek to approximate the global norm. Were we to do
that, we would notice immediately that Indias college teachers have to teach far too
much. They teach more hours per week and
for more weeks in the year than their counterparts, at least in the anglophone world. I
shall explain how I arrive at this conclusion
but first draw attention to the fact that with
so much of teaching to do, they are left with
little time to read for their classes, which directly impinges upon the quality of the lectures students receive.
This is as far as the dissemination of

knowledge is concerned. We are yet to address the creation of knowledge. It is not only
that a heavy load of teaching crowds out the
time left for research, but too much of teaching deadens the intellect which requires leisure and solitude to flourish. So while the
UGCs decision to not increase the workload
may appear conciliatory, it must not lead us
to overlook the possibility that the existing
work norm itself may be unacceptably high.
A constructive suggestion is made here.
Instead of approaching the problem from the
perspective of a mandatory number of teaching hours, it could be viewed within a framework that starts out by setting the number of
courses a teacher must teach in a year. The
global benchmark is four courses, two being
taught in each of the two semesters. Nevertheless, this would yet leave open the issue of
the number of hours of lecture per course.
Again, globally, the norm would be no more
that 40 hours per course. I understand that in
some universities in India it is as much as 60
hours per course, no doubt determined by
the number of hours lecturers must teach per
year. This approach has the consequence that
students are now forced to attend far too
many lectures.
As with teachers, so to for the students, too
many lecture hours can be a disaster. Passive
participation kills all creativity as there is no
responsibility imposed on the student to engage. The students misery is compounded
when the quality of lecturing is poor. The answer to both overworked teachers and deadened students is to drastically reduce the lecture hours. Back-of-the-envelope calculation
based on the proposal that a teacher does
four courses of 40 hours each in a year shows
that Indias teachers, under present UGC
norms, are teaching approximately a 100 per
cent more than their peers. The consequence
of this for the quality of our universities can
be imagined.
On constant evaluation
The second of the bones of contention between the UGC and the teachers concerns
student evaluation of courses. Surely students must be given the opportunity to assess
the instruction they receive, in particular the
quality of lectures. While there is scope for
immaturity here, the answer to this is to take
the evaluations with a pinch of salt, not to


Caution on
the coastline

nvironmental disasters highlight the efficacy

of good rules and regulations in minimising
harm to people, and loss of economic assets.
The tsunami of 2004 highlighted the vulnerability
of coastal zones to a catastrophic event, and the
need to keep communities safe through scientific
planning. Clearly, any set of rules regulating human
activity along Indias 7,500 km coastline has to ensure the long-term welfare of the millions of people
who live in harmony with a fragile ecosystem. That
must be the guiding principle for the Ministry of
Environment, Forests and Climate Change, as it
considers the suggestions made by the Shailesh
Nayak Committee after its review of the Coastal
Regulation Zone Notification, 2011. The exercise
has begun badly, given that the Ministry had to be
ordered to release the Committee report under the
Right to Information Act. Now that it is in the public realm, questions relating to the lifting of development restrictions in designated sections of the
coastal zone notably those that already contain
habitations have to be discussed transparently.
The Committee acknowledges, for instance, the
ambiguities that exist in key baseline data, including the demarcation of high and low tide lines and
the coastal zone boundary, which has affected the
preparation of Coastal Zone Management Plans.
Such plans are central to the implementation of any
new CRZ notification. Transferring control of development in the CRZ-II zone, the existing built-up
area close to the shoreline, from the Environment
Department to State Town Planning authorities, as
proposed, would mark a radical shift in governance.
Also, the suggestion that construction and other activities could be taken up in CRZ-III zones just 50 m
from the high tide line in densely populated rural
areas under State norms (with the responsibility to
rescue and rehabilitate during natural calamities
left to local authorities) could be based on an overestimation of the capacity in such bodies. Proposing new, lightly regulated tourism in no development zones is extraordinary in such circumstances. The proper course would be to identify specific
areas for such activity, assess its environmental impact, demarcate the area under the States management plans, and fix responsibility for enforcement,
particularly for pollution control. Changes to the
CRZ notification should also mark an end to the
half-hearted attempts made over the years at participatory governance involving local communities. Ensuring economic development and a better
quality of life for them is unexceptionable as a goal,
but it must pass the test of sustainability.

scrap them. The university needs to know

how the courses that it offers are perceived so
that course correction is possible. There is no
substitute for student evaluation here.
Teachers must learn to treat this as part of
give and take. There is no professional or ethical ground on which they can refuse to stand
up and be evaluated by their students. The
UGC is right to recommend student evaluation of courses, even though we may argue
over the metrics.
Finally, the third aspect of governance of
our universities by the UGC. The governments statement of June 16 makes no mention of it, though it is the most controversial
component. Represented by the API, this
prescribes minimum scores to be attained
before a teacher can be considered for promotion. Mainly two elements are involved.
One is the specification of a mandatory number of years to be spent in each category, between Assistant and full Professor, and the
other is the assessment of research.
Both are problematic. There is absolutely
no reason why the number of years of experience in a post should be a consideration in assessing a teachers intellectual progress.
Things had been done differently in India in
the last century. C.V. Raman came into the
university from government and Amartya
Sen had been made a full professor when he
was all of 23 years. They went on to win Nobel Prizes.
Rule by numbers
The least credible part of the API is the
scoring of research. Scores are to be given to
publications according to the journal in
which they have been published, based on a
schedule to be notified by the UGC. I had
written in these pages, as soon as the present
government was installed, why this is problematic and shall not repeat myself but state
the reasoning proposed then. Evaluating articles by the journals in which they are published prejudges their intrinsic worth by
privileging the prestige of the journal over
the quality of the article. Even though it is a
reasonable conjecture that prestigious journals use high standards when publishing articles, it is not always the case that less prestigious journals do not contain very good
work. The same goes for the UGCs privileging of international over the merely national journals. Finally, the API awards
marks for projects undertaken, correlated
with the money value of the grant amount. It
encourages a form of academic entrepreneurship divorced from the pursuit of knowledge. All in all, the UGCs rule by numbers,
as the anthropologist U. Kalpagam has characterised governmentality in colonial India,
has turned the university into a space in
which teachers chase numerical targets to
survive. The resulting neurosis cannot but
spill over to the students.
For a full half-century Indias hapless public have faced a continuing deterioration of
our higher education system. The blame
must be laid squarely at the door of the UGC,
which has all along enjoyed unbridled power
in the regulation of the universities with
scant accountability. Its small-mindedness
has succeeded in turning the Indian university into a wasteland, and it has got away with
it. The irony is that while the Commission
pressurises the universities to maintain standards by submitting themselves to rating,
should its own record as regulator be assessed, it is unlikely to cover itself in glory. A
public audit of the functioning of the UGC is
required before it can do further damage.
Pulapre Balakrishnan teaches economics at Ashoka
University. He is currently Visiting Professor, Indian
Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. The views are


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

The Brexit vote

Great Britains unexpected exit from
the European Union has cast a huge
shadow on trade prospects with
Europe and the rest of the world at a
time of deep global economic woes
(Britain casts a dark shadow over
Europe, June 26). One fails to
understand why British Prime
Minister David Cameron, the
architect of the referendum and an
ardent supporter of Bremain, took
this step when neither necessity nor
demand arose to settle the EU issue.
The only silver lining for India is the
tumbling of the pound which is
certain to give a fillip to tourism,
realty and education. One cannot
rule out the long-term implications
for Britain given that Scotland and
Northern Ireland are for being a part
of the EU.
K.R. Srinivasan,

rest of the world, the most

prominent of them being the tragic
partition of the Indian subcontinent.
It is quite ironic that history is
repeating itself.
Saikat Kumar Basu,
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

From the results, it is evident that

Europe appears to be more
concerned about immigration
policies than ever before. Mr.
Camerons decision to fulfil his
promise of conducting the
referendum must be appreciated
and is a lesson for Indian politicians.
Once there is new leadership, he or
she will have to work really hard to
make Britain Great again. It would
be interesting to see whether Brexit
will help Donald Trump gain
momentum in his presidential bid.
Paul Jom,


The referendum is bound to affect

the credibility of the EU, already
buffeted by sluggish growth,
unemployment and the migrant
crisis. One hopes that the U.K. will
be able to effectively use its finances
to charter its own development now
that it will be free from the burden
of EU regulations.
Buddhadev Nandi,
Bishnupur, West Bengal

The Western media strongly

suspects that Brexit will once again
strengthen demands for a new
referendum on Scottish
independence. If this happens, can
Ireland be far away? Whatever may
be the future socio-economic or
geopolitical consequences, I view
this as an instance of historical
justice. Almost all the colonial
powers designed the partition of the

With reference to the article,

Remains of the day (June 25), I
would say that Brexit marks the
return of the British to 19th century
isolationism, but without the
empire. In the late 19th century, the
rise of Germany in continental
Europe pushed England to forge
alliances with France, Russia and
While the EU was an attempt to
integrate Europe financially and
semi-politically to avoid
confrontation like that of World
Wars I and II, the Cold War made it
a reality. Now there are no colonies
like India and Africa to exploit. The
British have fears of immigrants
pouring into Europe and sneaking
into England. In its eastward push,
the EUs embrace of east European
countries, with their low levels of
development, was an overstretch
with political ramifications. The

euro has its own woes. Germany and

France have a lot to bear at this
Sukhdev Singh Sohal,

Changes happen out of aspiration or

desperation. The fact that Brexit has
triumphed over Bremain is
because of desperation and a desire
for independence rather than
interdependence, aided by strident
nationalism, unemployment,
escalating immigration,
protectionism and insularity. One
must note the fact that other EU
members remained neutral, giving
the U.K. the right to decide its
future. While panic, angst and
frenetic activities are the natural
results following Brexit, one must
recall what British writer and
novelist Enoch Arnold Bennett said:
Any change, even for the better, is
always accompanied by drawbacks
and discomforts.
K. Jayanthi,

Capital project
One fails to understand the
obsession with the idea that big is
beautiful (Ground Zero Capital
project: The making of Amaravati,
June 25). Building a new State
capital should ensure that its people
are treated with dignity and respect.
The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister
may argue that land pooling has
made people partners in
development but he has certainly
forgotten to mention the grim
situation numerous landless
agricultural labourers now face. The
flawed desire to have a dream
capital rests on their ruined
livelihoods. There is also bound to
be great environmental degradation.

This kind of a development

paradigm needs to be challenged
and replaced with a model which is
based on equity and sustainable
Kush Mehndiratta,
New Delhi

Safety, an illusion
Mahatma Gandhi may have said
the day a woman can walk freely on
the roads at night, that day we can
say that India has achieved
independence, but the shocking
ways in which atrocities and
violence are inflicted on women at
different levels, as the Chennai
incident shows (A Friday to forget
for Chennai women, June 26),
makes it clear that even years after
Independence, women in India still
cannot move about freely without
fear. Women in India continue to be
victims of violence domestic and
in public. While the victim suffers
physical or emotional trauma, the
perpetrator is usually able to exploit
the loopholes in the system. The
victims family is made to run from
pillar to post to secure justice, which
is often delayed. While
infrastructure such as CCTVs and
more police patrolling may help a
little, it is how the legal system acts
which will make the big difference.
T.S. Karthik,

can be seen to be deeply involved in

action scenes, exhorting both the
villain and hero to indulge in more
such heroic actions. In television
serials, murder plots are shown in
great detail which is bound to
influence people. One wonders why
there is no censorship.
K. Sivasubramanian,

Jumbo joins the team

The move to do away with a foreign
cricket coach shows that there is
immense talent and vision in India.
Anil Kumble fits the bill perfectly as
he is a strong-willed cricketer with a
never-say-die approach. The sight of
Anil Kumble emerging from the
pavilion, ready to bowl, his face
bandaged, in the Antigua Test of
2002, is one of crickets most
inspiring images. He became the
first bowler to dismiss Brian Lara
while bowling with a broken jaw. We
wish Jumbo the best.
Balasubramaniam Pavani,

The appointment of Anil Kumble as

the coach of the Indian mens
cricket team is sure to do a world of
good to change the fortunes of
Indian cricket. As an astute judge of
the game, he has all the credentials
to shape the fortunes of the team.
C.K. Subramaniam,
Navi Mumbai

The method behind the brutal

murder of a young woman
professional in broad daylight at a
busy suburban railway station in
Chennai also points to how young
minds are easily influenced by the
storyline in many of our films and
television serials. In addition to
violence, cheap entertainment is
another formula used. Youngsters

Kumble has many great qualities

and is capable of focussing on
players strengths and helping a
cricketer overcome mistakes in a
jovial manner. In short, Anil Kumble
is a constructive strategist, a friend
and a smart manager.
P.V. Madhu,

10 |




Why the British said no to Europe

This was a vote by those angered and demoralised by the sheer arrogance of the apologists for the remain
campaign and the dismemberment of a socially just civil life in Britain
ised civil servants. All this has now come
home to Europe, enriching the likes of Tony
Blair and impoverishing and disempowering
millions. On 23 June, the British said no

T U E S D AY , J U N E 2 8 , 2 0 1 6


The question
of Scotland

cottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeons declaration that she would block the
United Kingdoms exit from the European
Union is an indication of the political and constitutional crisis looming over London after the June 23
referendum. Scots overwhelmingly voted to Remain, while Brexiteers won the composite U.K.
vote by a 52-48 per cent majority. This means that if
the U.K. leadership triggers Article 50 for an eventual exit from the EU, Scotland, despite its public
opinion being largely in favour of staying in, will also be out of the club. The Scottish vote in favour of
remaining is hardly surprising. Scotland has a positive view of the EU, unlike England and Wales. In
the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, campaigners had repeatedly warned that a decision to
leave the U.K. would be a decision to leave the EU
as well. Young people value the European labour
market for employment. Ever dissatisfied with English domination in the U.K., Scots see themselves
as part of the European project. Therefore, the
overwhelming anxiety about the Brexit reality. This
explains Ms. Sturgeons pledge to block the U.K.s
However, beyond the rhetoric, her party doesnt
have the authority to override Westminster even
if Holyrood passes a resolution against Brexit, London could dismiss it. But such a situation could
yield a bitter political and constitutional crisis. The
U.K. is not just another country where provinces
blindly follow the centres diktats. It is a confederation of four nations with competing histories and
where regional sensibilities are of great significance. Also, EU laws are incorporated directly into
the devolution statutes in Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland. The Scottish Act of 1998 clearly
states that acts of the Scottish Parliament that are
not compatible with EU legislation are not law. So
if the U.K. leaves the EU, these laws would have to
be repealed and replaced with new ones. That
could certainly put Scotland and London on a collision course. Secondly, Scottish leaders are keenly
aware of the local sentiment in support of the EU.
Recent polls suggest that the public mood in Scotland is already swinging in favour of leaving the
U.K. If 55 per cent of Scots voted for their country
continuing in the U.K. in the 2014 referendum, an
opinion poll shows that 52 per cent now support
Scottexit. Ms. Sturgeon has already said that another independence referendum is highly likely. The
question is whether the U.K. leadership will allow
that to happen. It would certainly be a risky move. If
Scotland gets another independence vote, calls for
Northern Ireland to be merged with the Republic of
Ireland, an EU member, could gain momentum. In
Northern Ireland, 56 per cent had supported Remain. Yet, the British leadership may not have
many options but to take these risks if they want to
ensure a smooth exit from the EU.

surprise kick

t is not often that professional footballers retire

from internationals at the peak of their game.
When the 29-year-old Lionel Messi, widely
reckoned to be the most skilled footballer today, announced after the 2016 Copa America Final against
Chile that he would not wear the Argentinian shirt
again, he took everyone by surprise. It is not clear if
he has made the retirement call in the heat of the
moment. It came after Messi failed, yet again, to
win a major title with the Argentinian team; he also
missed a crucial penalty in the shootout against
Chile after efficient but goal-less play in regulation
and extra time. In fact, Messis overall international
record with Argentina has been good, if not spectacular. With him, the team has reached the finals of
four important tournaments: the World Cup in 2014
and the Copa America in 2007, 2015 and 2016. His
presence has been crucial for Argentina in all these
tournaments. He is the highest goal-scorer ever for
Argentina, surpassing Gabriel Batistuta, with 55
goals in 113 appearances. Yet, the reasons for Messis frustration are evident. His legacy is often compared with that of Diego Maradona and Pele, but his
success at the international level does not match
their records.
Indeed, it has been Messis unique burden and
a heavy one that his relative lack of international
success is often projected against his stupendous
record as a club footballer. As the highest goalscorer and chief playmaker for FC Barcelona, he
has been crucial to the teams four UEFA Champions League victories and eight La Liga titles,
marking the clubs most proficient spell of winning
both in Europe and in Spain. FC Barcelonas talent
pool has been wider and the teams technical superiority has been honed over two decades, with Messi himself being a product of the clubs youth system. Argentina did not manage to consistently field
a squad that complemented Messis unique talents
as much as his club did. To his credit, he has played
at different positions for his country and fulfilled
various tactical roles as a winger, forward and
more recently as an midfield playmaker, the
enganche and performed them well. But with
teams employing defensive and hard-nosed measures to curtail Messi as Chile did in the Copa finals it was left to his playmaking and his teammates abilities to lift the squad. This has been
much easier with FC Barcelona with its full complement of skilled footballers than with Argentina
in the last decade.

The majority vote by Britons to leave the European Union was an act of raw democracy.
Millions of ordinary people refused to be
bullied, intimidated and dismissed with
open contempt by their presumed betters in
the major parties, the leaders of the business
and banking oligarchy and the media.
This was, in great part, a vote by those angered and demoralised by the sheer arrogance of the apologists for the remain campaign and the dismemberment of a socially
just civil life in Britain. The last bastion of the
historic reforms of 1945, the National Health
Service, has been so subverted by Tory and
Labour-supported privateers it is fighting
for its life.
Nothing but blackmail
A forewarning came when the Treasurer,
George Osborne, the embodiment of both
Britains ancien regime and the banking mafia in Europe, threatened to cut 30 billion
from public services if people voted the
wrong way; it was blackmail on a shocking
Immigration was exploited in the campaign with consummate cynicism, not only
by populist politicians from the lunar right,
but by Labour politicians drawing on their
own venerable tradition of promoting and
nurturing racism, a symptom of corruption
not at the bottom but at the top. The reason
millions of refugees have fled the Middle
East first Iraq, now Syria are the invasions and imperial mayhem of Britain, the
United States, France, the European Union
and NATO. Before that, there was the wilful
destruction of Yugoslavia. Before that, there
was the theft of Palestine and the imposition
of Israel.
The pith helmets may have long gone, but
the blood has never dried. A nineteenth cen-

tury contempt for countries and peoples, depending on their degree of colonial usefulness, remains a centrepiece of modern
globalisation, with its perverse socialism
for the rich and capitalism for the poor: its
freedom for capital and denial of freedom to
labour; its perfidious politicians and politic-


Perpetual forgetfulness
On Friday, the Labour Party leader, Jeremy
Corbyn, was asked by the BBC if he would
pay tribute to the departed Mr. Cameron, his
comrade in the remain campaign. Mr. Corbyn fulsomely praised Mr. Camerons dignity and noted his backing for gay marriage
and his apology to the Irish families of the
dead of Bloody Sunday. He said nothing
about Mr. Camerons divisiveness, his brutal
austerity policies, his lies about protecting
the Health Service. Neither did he remind
people of the war mongering of the Cameron
government: the dispatch of British special
forces to Libya and British bomb aimers to
Saudi Arabia and, above all, the beckoning of
world war three.
In the week of the referendum vote, no
British politician and, to my knowledge, no
journalist referred to Vladimir Putins
speech in St. Petersburg commemorating
the seventy-fifth anniversary of Nazi Germanys invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June,
1941. The Soviet victory at a cost of 27 million Soviet lives and the majority of all German forces won the Second World War.
Mr. Putin likened the current frenzied
build up of NATO troops and war material
on Russias western borders to the Third
Reichs Operation Barbarossa. NATOs exercises in Poland were the biggest since the
Nazi invasion; Operation Anaconda had simulated an attack on Russia, presumably with
nuclear weapons. On the eve of the referendum, the quisling secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, warned Britons they
would be endangering peace and security
if they voted to leave the EU. The millions
who ignored him and Mr. Cameron, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Corbyn, Mr. Obama and the man
who runs the Bank of England may, just may,
have struck a blow for real peace and democracy in Europe.
John Pilger is a journalist and film-maker.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Brexits aftermath
I was under the belief that youth
were the main force against the U.K.
staying in the European Union. But
the polls show that 73 per cent of
voters between 18 and 24 voted to
stay while it was the over-65 voters
who tilted the scales. This is a
revelation. I think governments and
politicians should involve youth in
discussions on various issues before
decisions are made.
A.N. Appaiah,

Brexit exposes the undesirability of

resorting to a referendum on vital
issues and in vibrant democracies.
There should be debate, a gathering
of public opinion in a structured
manner, a vote and then legislation.
A common mans vote is without
adequate understanding of the good
and the bad. Given loose talk now in
India of a referendum on various
subjects, I hope that better sense
prevails after the Brexit experience.
M. Bhimashankar,


Brexit appears to have set in motion

the second biggest instance of the
disintegration of a comity of
nations. The Soviet Union was the
first, welded and held together by
force and deceit, till the far-sighted
Mikhail Gorbachev unblocked that
synthetic union. Brexit is a selfinflicted grievous wound. The
economic fallout will become
known only over time. For India,
there are lessons to be learnt. There
is no alternative to healthy
N. Narasimhan,

The EU was a perfect example of

the economic unification of
different countries while retaining
their political, linguistic and
cultural identities. At a time when
the whole world is grappling with
serious issues such as terrorism and
financial misery, the EU model
should have been adopted across
the world. Now I wonder whether
important macroeconomic and
administrative decisions will be
arrived at based on the mechanism
of a referendum, and by people
who on most occasions would be
influenced by the rhetoric and
oratorical skills of those with vested
B. Harish,


The most effective propagandists

of the European ideal have an
insufferably patrician class for
whom metropolitan London
is the U.K.

The London class

The most effective propagandists of the
European ideal have not been the far right,
but an insufferably patrician class for whom
metropolitan London is the United Kingdom. Its leading members see themselves as
liberal, enlightened, cultivated tribunes of
the 21st century zeitgeist, even cool. What
they really are is a bourgeoisie with insatiable consumerist tastes and ancient instincts
of their own superiority. In their house paper, the Guardian, they have gloated, day after day, at those who would even consider
the EU profoundly undemocratic, a source
of social injustice and a virulent extremism
known as neoliberalism.
The aim of this extremism is to install a
permanent, capitalist theocracy that ensures
a two-thirds society, with the majority divided and indebted, managed by a corporate
class, and a permanent working poor. In Britain today, 63 per cent of poor children grow
up in families where one member is working.
For them, the trap has closed. More than
600,000 residents of Britains second city,
Greater Manchester, are, reports a study, experiencing the effects of extreme poverty
and 1.6 million are slipping into penury.
Little of this social catastrophe is acknowledged in the bourgeois controlled media, notably the Oxbridge dominated BBC. During
the referendum campaign, almost no insightful analysis was allowed to intrude upon the clichd hysteria about leaving Europe, as if Britain was about to be towed in
hostile currents somewhere north of
On the morning after the vote, a BBC radio
reporter welcomed politicians to his studio
as old chums. Well, he said to Lord Peter
Mandelson, the disgraced architect of Blairism, why do these people want it so badly?

The these people are the majority of

The wealthy war criminal Tony Blair remains a hero of the Mandelson European
class, though few will say so these days. The
Guardian once described Mr. Blair as mystical and has been true to his project of rapacious war. The day after the vote, the columnist Martin Kettle offered a Brechtian
solution to the misuse of democracy by the
masses. Now surely we can agree referendums are bad for Britain, said the headline
over his full-page piece. The we was unexplained but understood just as these people is understood. The referendum has
conferred less legitimacy on politics, not
more, wrote Mr. Kettle. the verdict on
referendums should be a ruthless one. Never
The kind of ruthlessness Mr. Kettle longs
for is found in Greece, a country now airbrushed. There, they had a referendum and
the result was ignored. Like the Labour Party
in Britain, the leaders of the Syriza government in Athens are the products of an affluent, highly privileged, educated middle
class, groomed in the fakery and political
treachery of post-modernism. The Greek
people courageously used the referendum to
demand their government sought better
terms with a venal status quo in Brussels
that was crushing the life out of their country. They were betrayed, as the British would
have been betrayed.

With the prevailing chaos, the

British are sure to have got a taste of
what is to come. While the longterm consequences are still hard to
predict, viewing anti-globalisation
as a cure-all will not only hurt but
also isolate such a country in
todays interconnected world.
Varad Seshadri,

27) to certify and grade how corrupt

our society is? Even a child knows
that things move only when bribes
are paid. No degree of sensitising
and sensationalism on corruption
shames us as we are too thickskinned to be sermonised about the
evils of bribery. The pet phrase of
our governments that vouch for
zero-tolerance to corruption is
amusing. Our Swachh Bharat
campaign can wait. What we really
need is Shuddh Bharat. We do not
hesitate to take an oath on god to
serve the nation selflessly but
shamelessly indulge in unethical
practices. We even elect courtdeclared corrupt men and entrust
them with power to rule us. We can
make a beginning by observing an
Honesty Day.
S. Vasudevan,

Sunnyvale, California, U.S.

Womens safety

A parallel can be drawn between

this referendum and the American
primaries. Citizens of both
countries are voicing their
discontent against immigration
policies, are unhappy with the
manner in which their
democratically elected
governments are bowing to
pressures of outsiders. Both
countries are against socialist,
labour-friendly laws and in favour
of extreme capitalism. The divide
between liberal cities and the
conservative rural areas is another
parallel. Fear of global competition
and a compromise of their existing
economic standards is yet another
thread. I wonder who will be next.
Sharda Suresh,

I recently travelled from Tirusulam

railway station to Nungambakkam
station after arriving at the Chennai
airport late in the night. Barring a
few people, the station was
otherwise empty. When I climbed
the staircase to exit the station on
the Choolaimedu side, I was
accosted by someone who was
drunk and who demanded money. I
was able to avoid him, but it made
me realise what an unsafe place a
station can be. Installing CCTV
cameras might help after the
incident where a young software
professional was murdered at
Nungambakkam station but our
lethargic legal system only adds to
the impunity with which criminals
operate (This should not happen
again, say Chennaiites, June 27).
S. Sharif,


The corruption tag

Deira, Dubai

Do we really need an international

survey (India among top 3 regions
in corruption-linked fraud, June

The presence of the police force in

Chennai does little to assuage the
fears of Chennais citizens who only

wish for peace and safety. Now, the

main role of the police is to protect
the interests of politicians. We need
to work towards ensuring that the
police are able to function
T. Ramachandraprasad,

When there is no problem in having

large-scale police deployments on
arterial roads in Chennai almost
every morning just before
politicians travel in their
cavalcades, why is it an issue when
it comes to posting a few constables
in public spaces? People have a right
to safety whatever time of the day it
R. Balakrishnan,

Women have always been at risk but

what is more appalling and
unthinkable is the attitude of other
travellers at the station. Even if one
can understand the fear of being
attacked by the murderer, how
could they have left the poor girl
bleed to death?
Samhita Guha,

UGCs functioning
A fact the writer omitted in his
article, Crafting the joyless
university (June 27), is that many
State governments have not
adopted UGC regulations in the
appointment of vice-chancellors to
State universities. This has resulted
in the appointment of a number of
unqualified persons as vicechancellors their only
qualification being their political
connections and/or their ability to
bribe politicians. The rot then
percolates to teacher appointments
and further down. Ultimately it is
the student who suffers.
R. Usha,

The norm to spend 16 hours a week

as far as direct teaching is
concerned will leave very little time
for university teachers to update
their courses. Counselling and
mentoring will suffer. In real
practice, 32 hours per week would
be more like it. In using student
feedback to evaluate teachers, care
has to be taken to make a distinction
between students with a good
record of attendance and the rest.
When it comes to promotions, I feel
that knowledge rather than
experience is what counts. The
inclusion of numerical targets to
evaluate a teacher has merits
they make it objective, specific and
easy to follow. However, the
reservations expressed in the article
deserve consideration. Projects
should be linked with their
complexity rather than the grant
Y.G. Chouksey,

The Bihar toppers

It is the Education Department in
Bihar that must be made to face the
music in the Bihar intermediate
exam results scam (Bihar exam
toppers arrest comes in for flak,
June 27). The rot set in only because
of the involvement of the higher
authorities. What is the point in just
arresting the students concerned?
Pawan Singhaniya
Gaya, Bihar

It is unfortunate that education is

on sale in a State like Bihar.
Academic permits are given based
on political affiliations, degrees are
on sale and toppers declared based
on how much money has changed
hands. Students who toil hard
throughout the year are left helpless
and severely demoralised. Is there
no solution?
Rahul Nair,

10 |




How to read the popular will

One-time referendums arent enough to decide matters of great import. That is why democratic
constitutionalism institutionalises checks and balances
W E D N E S D AY , J U N E 2 9 , 2 0 1 6

Joining the elite


he score appears to have evened out for India in its multi-year project of gaining admission to four elite global non-proliferation clubs, with one success and one failure coming
within the span of a single week. The four clubs, the
Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology
Control Regime, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Group, make rules for their members to control the export of sensitive materials and technologies to non-members. Last Friday, the Modi
government faced criticism for overplaying its
hand in its bid to enter the NSG. A few members, including China, underlined the need for all applicants to the NSG to be signatories of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty. On Monday, India officially entered the 34-member MTCR after years
spent in aligning its export controls with the Regimes. In the coming years, this membership of a
multilateral export control club is likely to yield a
rich harvest of state-of-the-art technologies for ballistic missile and drone systems, including those
that are in theory nuclear-capable.
This much is evident on the surface although
there is far less clarity about the politics of Indias
negotiations with the elite global non-proliferation
clubs. For example, Beijings application to join the
MTCR has been gathering dust for years; hints
from the Ministry of External Affairs suggest that
New Delhi may use this as a bargaining chip to win
backing for its NSG position. Similarly, the opposition has been quick to link Indias MTCR entry to a
deal struck with the sole holdout, Italy, over the
issue of two Italian marines charged with killing
two Indian fishermen. While India could not have
joined without Italys support, given the Regimes
consensus-based approach, the principle underpinning the entry relates to a broader acceptance of
Indias verifiable export controls and its perceived
potential as a supplier of, and market for, ballistic
and drone technologies. But no matter what the political intricacies that have contributed to the gradual realisation of Indias non-proliferation dreams,
it would be premature to gloat over the new pride
and glory accruing to India on the global stage owing to its MTCR admission. It is indeed a positive
development to be counted among the responsible
nations of the world from the non-proliferation
perspective rather than be associated with, say, the
Abdul Qadeer Khans of the world. However, many
more strands of interlocking strategic interest need
to be untangled before full-throttle trade in sensitive technology, such as the sale of Indias BrahMos
missile to Vietnam or the purchase of armed Predator drones from the U.S., could become a reality.

son and John Adams have feared the brute

power of majorities, created often through
clever demagoguery that plays skilfully on
insecurities and excavates hidden fears.
That is why democratic constitutionalism
institutionalises checks and balances to
control excesses of majorities. For example,
periodic elections ensure that todays minority can be transformed into a majority
five years hence, provided the process is fair
and free. Should matters of great import be
decided by one-time referendums, simple
majorities, and regionally concentrated
votes, with no follow-up?


Decisions that profoundly affect not only

the present but also succeeding generations,
should not be taken in a rush, or through
one-time referendums. This is basic political common sense. But in a voter turnout of
72.2 per cent, 51.9 per cent decided that Britain should exit the European Union (EU).
The consequences of the Brexit vote are
painfully clear. It has triggered off serious after-effects in the field of finance and economics, catapulted demands for Scottish independence, and adversely impacted the
issue of how people can learn to live with
people of other persuasions in a degree of civility. The EU might not be a perfect model
for this learning, but the experiment raised
hopes that we may see an end to narrow and
chauvinistic nationalism. Given an appropriate political context, people may well
turn outwards to other cultures and other
This turning outwards is essential for
collective life, because the lessons the latter
part of the twentieth century taught us are
bitter. The nation state, which colonised
countries fought so passionately for, has
proved one of historys most costly mistakes. There is nothing noble about nationalist prejudice and bigotry. Today we are
back to square one. Newspapers have reported heightened racial abuse of immigrants in the aftermath of the referendum.
The targets of individual and collective ire
are probably British citizens. Their future
continues to be uncertain.
Majoritarian anxieties
This was perhaps overdetermined because Brexit campaigners fought the battle
on the plank of anti-migrants only if immigrants are prevented from entering the
British Isles, peoples lives would be better.
This appealed to supporters of Brexit, many
of whom are rural-based, poor, and less educated citizens of England. Hit hard by austerity measures of the Conservative government, they lead lives embedded in anxiety.

The first suggestion is that three

referendums should be held over
a period of six years to vote on
the issue... History validates this
course of action
Riding high on precisely this insecurity, 51.9
per cent of British voters opted to close borders and minds, as against 48.1 per cent who
opposed the move. Notably a majority vote
for remaining in the EU was concentrated in
Scotland, Northern Ireland and London. Yet
Delhis Chief Minister, ever ready to rush in
where angels fear to tread, announced that
his government would hold a referendum
on statehood for the proto-state.
Certainly referral of contentious matters
to the people, and the majority principle
puts into practice the basic presupposition
of democracy: popular sovereignty. However, democracy cannot be reduced to majority rule. This belief is both crude and frightening. The majority principle is workable,
but it is morally unjustified because it violates the right of minorities to secure voice
in decision-making. Liberals from J.S. Mill,
to Alexis de Tocqueville, to Thomas Jeffer-

Lessons from a Swiss canton

A system of checks and balances has to be
devised for referendums/plebiscites. The
first suggestion is that three referendums
should be held over a period of six years to
vote on the issue. The gap between enables
the cooling down of political passions, provides opportunities for reasoned and informed debate, rational examination of the
complexities of the issue at hand, and rethinking. History validates this course of
Take the case of the Swiss canton Jura. At
the 1815 Congress of Vienna, the Frenchspeaking Catholic inhabitants of Jura voiced
discontent over the incorporation of the former episcopal principality of Basel into the
German-speaking Protestant canton of
Berne. This brought the mountainous region of Jura within Bernes control. After the
Second World War, a movement for a separate canton of Jura emerged in the seven districts of the region on the plank of linguistic,
economic and political discrimination.
But in a referendum held in 1959, the formation of a separate canton was approved
by a clear majority only in the three Frenchspeaking Catholic districts of North Jura. A
majority of French-speaking Protestant districts of South Jura, and German-speaking
Laufental, remained loyal to Berne. In the
1974 referendum, all seven districts of Jura
decided to separate from Berne. However, in
a third vote on the issue in 1978, only three of
predominantly Catholic districts opted to
separate from Berne, and form a separate
canton of Jura. One district voted to join
Basel-Land, and three other Protestant dis-


End the

nce again, the Delhi government of Arvind

Kejriwal finds itself locked in a battle with
the Centre. With the Union Home Ministry
returning 14 Bills passed by the Delhi Legislative
Assembly in the course of one year, another round
of confrontation is in the offing. The Bills have been
returned for want of compliance, with the stipulation that the Centre must grant its prior assent before they can be introduced in the Delhi Assembly.
In its response, the Delhi government has cited
Section 26 of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, that says no Act can
be held invalid for the sole reason that it did not
have the previous sanction or recommendation required by the Act. Both sides can marshal arguments to support their claim, but the provisions
they cite are subject to limitations. The prior assent clause that the Centre is referring to is limited
to Financial Bills, and those that relate to taxation
and appropriation from the Consolidated Fund of
the Capital. Whether a particular Bill requires prior
assent or not depends on its subject matter. But the
Delhi government is mistaken insomuch as Section
26 is applicable only to Acts that had received the
assent of the Lieutenant Governor, or, in some
cases, the President. But one conclusion is inevitable: the relationship between the Centre and the
Delhi government is coloured by the underlying
political confrontation.
The frequency with which confrontation arises
between the Centre and the Kejriwal regime raises
the question: is the problem with the law or with
the personalities involved? Mr. Kejriwal believes
that the Centres reluctance to grant full statehood
to Delhi is at the heart of the problem. Additionally,
he has often argued that the ruling BJP at the Centre
and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are yet to come
to terms with the Aam Aadmi Partys resounding
victory in last years Delhi election, and that the
Lieutenant Governor is impeding his routine functioning at the Centres behest. The BJP wants Mr.
Kejriwal to focus on governance and not to be in
permanent confrontation mode. Both sides need to
step back and try to repair the relationship. Mr. Kejriwal would do well to give up his penchant for
framing issues that arise out of the legal limitations
on Delhis status as if they were a malicious conspiracy against his government. Until the full statehood question is settled by Parliament, he will have
to work within the existing framework. The Union
government, on its part, should be more accommodative of an elected governments legitimate functions and avoid taking a narrow legal interpretation
of issues whenever a broader interpretation is possible and warranted. Working in a spirit of accommodation is the way forward.

The democratic deficit

The belief that people revise their choices
in different circumstances has prompted an
online petition to the British Parliament.
The petition demands a second referendum
on Brexit. More than three million British citizens have signed in. Under the onslaught
of collective public ire, the website crashed.
In the run-up to the referendum, leading
Brexiteer Nigel Farage had stated that if Remain won by a 52 per cent to 48 per cent
margin, it would constitute a compelling
reason for another vote. Why should the reverse not be equally valid now?
But even if a second referendum or even a
third is held, the basic principles and procedures of the exercise have to be clearly formulated. It has been suggested that a decision is binding only in case of a 75 per cent
turnout. This is simply not enough. Decisions of such magnitude have to be taken in
an atmosphere free of hyperbole, the whipping up of passions against migrants who
take away jobs, the idea that the government is socially responsible only for citizens
but not for people whose labour contributes
to the building of the economic infrastructure, and rhetoric that breeds insularity. Unfortunately, politics today has become like
instant coffee or noodles; a matter of reaching out to people via the social media instantaneously and unreflectively. Social
media, which hosts completely irresponsible, vicious messages, has replaced face-toface interaction and mobilisation, and defines the democratic deficit of our age. The
second suggestion, therefore, is that decisions are binding only if a two-third or a
three-fourth majority approves of a course
of action, as in the case of constitutional
Three, the outcomes of referendums need
not be binding; they merely place an obligation on a democratically elected government to proceed in a certain way. The reference for this suggestion is the ruling of the
Supreme Court of Canada. In the 1990s,
Prime Minister Jean Chrtien filed a reference in the court on the issue of Quebecois
separatism. Though the Supreme Court
ruled that unilateral secession has no basis
in law, it also held that clear popular support
for secession can engender an obligation on
the parent state to negotiate with the leaders
of the movement. Notably the British Prime
Minister has not stated specifically that the
result of the referendum is legally binding.
Therefore, in theory, it can be overruled by
the British government. One senior labour
MP has already recommended that the referendum be considered an advisory, rather
than binding on Parliament.
Finally, the option to secede from a country or a regional organisation on the ground
that people will lead better lives must be the
ultimate delusion in political dream-making. A state of ones own does not necessarily deepen democracy. Only social democracy can deepen democracy. But Britain has
rolled back the welfare state, and a slender
majority has offered people racism and
chauvinism as consolation. The country has
moved from cosmopolitanism to muggy nationalist chauvinism. The Brexit vote has
not only closed borders, it threatens to close
British minds.
Neera Chandhoke is a former Professor of Political
Science, Delhi University.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Unsafe depots
I only felt disbelief and shock after
reading the article, Defective mines
could have caused Pulgaon blast
(June 28). Is this how such a
sensitive area functions? If this is the
case, one is scared to think of how
other installations such as our
nuclear plants operate. The
authorities had a premonition of a
deadly disaster in the making and
were still negligent, which is
inexcusable. It is evident that there
were no standard operating
procedures. The authorities need to
understand the gravity of the
Venika Singhal,

Modis advice
Though Rajya Sabha member
Subramanian Swamy is well within
his right to highlight wrong goingson in any department, the path he
has chosen, of washing dirty linen in
public and by criticising senior
government functionaries, is
inappropriate. It has the effect of
sending out the wrong signals to the
Opposition that all is not well within
the government and the party. Prime
Minister Narendra Modi is right in
saying that nobody should consider
himself or herself to be above the
system (Modi raps Swamy, says
none above the system, June 28).
Mr. Swamy must realise that he was
nominated to the Upper House by
the government to put forth sound
suggestions for the larger good of
the nation instead of courting
controversy by making allegations.
K.R. Srinivasan,


tricts remained in Berne. This decision took

effect on January 1, 1979, and a truncated Jura
joined the Swiss Confederation as the 26th
canton. The move for a separate canton
eventually divided Jura on religious

Now that the BJP has given Mr.

Swamy an opportunity to be a force
to reckon with in the Rajya Sabha,
his speeches and actions have to be
in consonance with that of the
partys views. As an experienced
politician, he should understand that
if he still indulges in criticism of
high-profile officials it will only send
out the wrong signal. Though Mr.
Modis remarks have come a bit too
late, it is hoped that they will have a
sobering effect on Mr. Swamy.
S. Nallasivan,

Safety and apathy

The gruesome manner in which a
software professional was murdered
at a railway station in Chennai has
reopened the debate on womens
safety in our country (Techie
murder case: Chennai city police
take over investigation, June 28).
We seem to have lost the momentum
gained after the anger over the
Nirbhaya rape case. The apathy
towards the dying victim also shows
how our society is becoming more
selfish and inconsiderate towards
those in distress.
R. Sivakumar,

Just imagining what the girl was

going through in her final moments
is heart-wrenching and it angers me
deeply that people were just
standing there watching her life ebb
away. What has happened to
Chennai? It was a good and safe city.
Its residents must now fight back
and reclaim it from rogue elements.
Even though the Supreme Court
approved the Centres guidelines to
protect Good Samaritans though

it is mainly to assist accident victims

one still wonders why people are
still apprehensive of helping
accident/crime victims. The girl
could have been saved.
R. Sudhakar,

Brexits aftermath
Beyond the immediate reaction to
the historic EU referendum result,
British Prime Minister David
Cameron leaves behind a damning
longer-term political legacy. The
tragedy is that the choice of this
pathway stems in large part from his
own unwise decisions in office.
Thursdays vote will have potentially
massive implications for the longerterm future not just of the EU but
also the United Kingdoms. On the
latter front, for instance, the U.K.s
current constitutional settlement
will now become further
destabilised with the increased
likelihood of a second Scottish
independence referendum vote, and
also the possibility of greater
political uncertainty in Northern
For those who favour a strong U.K.
in a reformed EU, these
developments are immensely
concerning, and the end result is
likely to have ramifications for not
just England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland but also the rest of
the world. A weaker United
Kingdom would no longer punch so
strongly on the international stage
which would also adversely affect its
ability to bolster international
security and prosperity at a time
when both remain fragile. In a
doomsday scenario, budgetary cuts
forced by the loss of Scotlands tax

base could also impact the U.K.s

sizeable annual overseas aid budget,
which promotes massive goodwill
abroad. The U.K. is the worlds
second largest provider of
international aid after the United
States, and is one of the few G7 states
to adhere to an internationally
agreed target of spending 0.7 per
cent of GDP on overseas aid. The
loss of a Scottish tax base could also
lead to further budgetary cuts for the
armed forces.
Andrew Hammond,

Elephant deaths

I disagree with the writer who

appears to feel that the current
system promotes academic
entrepreneurship rather than the
pursuit of knowledge (Crafting the
joyless university, June 27). One of
the biggest issues in the system is
about the lack of application of
knowledge. This is further distorted
by the undue focus on the rigour of
research methodology rather than
focussing on problem-solving. This
is clear from the poor number of
patents being filed and a general lack
of interest in academic research in
For this to change, the UGC must
stop feeding research grants to our
institutions. These institutions must
compete and get research projects
from the field which can then be
either sponsored by related industry
players or patented by the
institutions themselves. The
monetisation of existing patented
research itself can be a huge
research project in every institution.
Mulakaluri Sridhar Chakravarthi,

The reports on the death of

elephants in Coimbatore district,
especially the one about the trapped
tusker Madukkarai Maharaj, only
evoke dismay and pain. Maharaj
was a healthy male tusker and could
have been very useful in the wild or
even in captivity. Its death during
translocation makes me recall the
successful operation to tranquillise
and translocate, in 2014, six
elephants from Jawadi Hills to an
elephant camp over 300 km away.
The animals were repeat crop
raiders and had even killed people.
The operation was under my
supervision as chief wildlife warden
of Tamil Nadu.
It was meticulously planned. The
Forest Department constituted a
committee of experts who studied
and recommended the method,
process and place of execution of the
operation. A sedated elephant can
still cause immense damage and this
was factored in. The committee
identified the place the herd would
be driven towards and then
tranquillised. This was done after
identifying the entire route of
migration. The planning was so
meticulous that the order stood the
scrutiny of the Madras High Court
even after a public litigation petition
against us. I narrate all this to
emphasise that whenever there are
such operations, there must be great
planning. Ad hocism, obviously
under pressure from the public and
others, will result in problems. The
media should also be kept under
control. The reason of the tuskers
death has to be reviewed in detail.
Rama Kant Ojha,




The joyless varsity


10 |




A downgrade for democracy

Confining panchayati raj to just the Ministry of Rural Development would be the most retrograde step in
democratic decentralisation in over a quarter century
T H U R S D AY , J U N E 3 0 , 2 0 1 6

Dangerous times
in Turkey

uesday nights suicide attack on Istanbuls

Ataturk airport that killed 41 people is yet
another reminder of the dangerous times
Turkey is living through. Its southern border has
become a transit point for jihadists travelling to Syria. In the east and southeast, government troops
are locked in a deadly conflict with Kurdish militants. The Istanbul attack, the fourth major terror
strike in the city this year, points to the worsening
security situation in urban centres. No group has
claimed responsibility for the latest assault. But the
Turkish government and Western analysts say it is
an act of the Islamic State. If so, it is a blowback for
Turkey, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogans aggressive Syria policy helped extremists mushroom
in West Asia. From the advent of the Syrian crisis,
he has led the call for President Bashar al-Assads
resignation. Turkey teamed up with Mr. Assads
other regional rivals, including Saudi Arabia and
Qatar, in bankrolling the anti-regime forces in the
Syrian civil war. And, Turkey kept its 800-km-long
border with Syria open so that militants from
around the world could transit to Syria. This openborder approach was pivotal in the ISs efforts to
build an army of foreign fighters.
But, playing with extremist groups for shortterm goals is invariably counterproductive in the
long run. By the time Turkey started changing its
policy towards the IS, partly under pressure from
Western allies, the group was already a formidable
terrorist organisation and had turned its bombers
northwards. First it attacked two left-wing gatherings in Turkey, in Suruc and Ankara last year, and
now it is targeting Istanbul in a stark warning to the
establishment. Mr. Erdogan has said that Turkey
will continue the fight against terrorism until the
end. But what is his strategy? The major security
challenges Turkey faces today are directly or indirectly linked to the Syrian war. Whether Mr. Erdogan acknowledges it or not, his ambitious plan to
expand Turkish influence in a post-Assad Syria has
come to naught. The earlier he changes tack the
better for both Syria and Turkey. To begin with, Ankara should seal its border with Syria to stop the
cross-border terrorist movement. It should also
cease the proxy war it is fighting against Mr. Assad,
and join international efforts to broker peace in Syria between the regime and the rebels. Having done
this, it could narrow its focus to an isolated IS and
assist in regional efforts to defeat the group. It will
not be an easy shift to make, given the geopolitical
investment Turkey has already made in Syria. But
no amount of strategic manoeuvring will serve Turkeys interests if its cities fall to chaos and violence.


If, as The Hindus exclusive on Wednesday

indicates, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
were to close down the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, it would confirm ones worst
fears about his governments hypocritical approach to grass-roots democracy for grassroots development.
This was a lacuna that was evident in the
Gujarat model of development long before
it began being inflicted from the Centre. For
Mr. Modi was just about the only Chief Minister to refuse me entry to the State when, as
the first ever Union Minister for the subject
during UPA-I, I was attempting to round off
my visits to all States and Union Territories
to propagate the cause and work with State
governments on State-specific action to be
A de-democratising move
Among other initiatives we took for
strengthening panchayat empowerment was
the Index of Devolution prepared by independent experts and geared towards rewarding States that over the previous year had
made the most incremental progress towards
more effective devolution in terms of the
Constitution and their own State legislation.
Many States that had been slow starters, including Bihar, Tripura, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and Rajasthan, found their scores rising
and were appropriately recognised. Gujarat
never figured because its pattern was frozen.
Worse, Gujarat ran a system under which
democracy at the village level was discouraged by financially incentivising panchayats
elected without contest. Rajasthan, and now
Haryana, have followed suit by placing regressive restrictions on less educated and
poorer candidates, particularly Dalit women,
from even contesting panchayat elections.
This de-democratisation of local self-government will be aggravated if a Cabinet Minister for Panchayati Raj is not available to advocate and promote the cause with Chief
Ministers and his counterparts in the States.
After all, the 73rd amendment, now incorporated as part IX of the Constitution, is the
joint responsibility of the Union and the
States, calling for high-level coordination to
promote and protect the provisions of the
longest and most detailed amendment ever
carried out to the Constitution. It was passed
virtually unanimously in December 1992 as
representing the consensus among Central
and State stakeholders. This consensual
method must be persisted with by bringing
State ministers together; convening academic experts and field-level NGOs; promoting

The numbers alone tell the scale

of the tale... This massive
machinery of social change being
entrusted to a Minister of State
is a recipe for retardation
feedback from and best practices among
elected panchayat representatives; monitoring the special interests of women representatives, Dalits and tribals; maintaining and
updating data-banks on all aspects of panchayat raj; commissioning expert studies and
preparing periodic reports such as the biannual State of the Panchayats reports. These
are among the key activities undertaken by
the Ministry. Providing such an all-India perspective will be seriously diluted or even entirely lost without an independent Ministry
for the subject.
The constitutional mandate
Moreover, merging or subordinating panchayat raj under rural development amounts
to a grossly inadequate reading of the Constitution, in particular the Eleventh Schedule
that lists the proposed jurisdiction (powers,
authority and responsibilities) of nationallevel panchayati raj. While schemes of the
Rural Development Ministry, like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment
Guarantee Scheme, rural housing, National
Rural Livelihoods Mission and the Pradhan

Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, are indeed covered under more than one entry in the Eleventh Schedule, the range of entries covers
virtually the entire gamut of development
and welfare in rural India, beginning with entry 1, agriculture, including agricultural extension, as also animal husbandry, dairying
and poultry (entry 4) and fisheries (entry
5) that are the responsibility of the Agriculture Ministry; minor irrigation, water management and watershed development (entry 3) that falls under the Ministry of Water
Resources; social forestry and farm forestry (entry 6) and minor forest produce (entry 7) that jointly concern the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and
the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Drinking water
(entry 11) and sanitation (entry 23), including
the much-hyped Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, are
the responsibility of the Ministry of Drinking
Water and Sanitation. The Eleventh Schedule goes on to detail small scale industries,
including food processing industries (entry
8) and khadi, village and cottage industries
(entry 9), that fall respectively under the
Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and the Ministry of Textiles.
Family welfare (entry 24) and health, including hospitals, primary health centres and
dispensaries (entry 23) are part of the National Rural Health Mission run by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; while the
massive Integrated Child Development Services programme falls under women and
child development (entry 25) that is run by
the Ministry of the same name. Education,
including primary and secondary schools
(entry 17), technical training and vocational
education (entry 18), adult and non-formal
education (entry 19) and libraries (entry 20)
belong to the domain of the Human Resource
Development Ministry, especially the transformative Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and the
Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, while cultural activities (entry
21) are part of the Ministry of Culture. Social
welfare (entry 26), the welfare of the weaker sections, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes is in
the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Public distribution system (entry 28) belongs to
the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution.
This listing is illustrative rather than
With such a wide constitutional remit,
confining panchayati raj to just the Ministry
of Rural Development will be a conceptual
infringement, an emasculation of the constitutional role envisaged for panchayati raj institutions. What the 73rd amendment sought
to do was a radical reorganisation of last-mile
delivery of public goods and services to the
panchayats by devolving such powers and


trail mail

he deadly fire at the Central Ammunition

Depot (CAD) in Pulgaon in May has raised
questions about the quality and manufacturing process of explosive TNT (trinitrotoluene).
According to official communications submitted
for the ongoing inquiry into the incident, this is the
probable cause of the May 31 fire that broke out in
Shed No. 192 at the Pulgaon CAD, setting off antitank mines stored inside and resulting in the death
of 19 military and civilian personnel involved in
fire-fighting. The inquiry has also highlighted neglect at various levels in the system, the inordinate
number of stakeholders in the line-up, lack of accountability and defective manufacturing processes at ordnance factories. For instance, the anti-tank
mines had been declared defective in 2010 due to
TNT leakage they were segregated and the CAD
was awaiting instructions on their repair or destruction. Since then, mails on the imminent danger posed went back and forth between the various
stakeholders involved: the Army, the Armament
Research and Development Establishment
(ARDE), the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), the Ordnance Factory Board
and the Defence Ministry. The low quality of the
explosive has been accepted by ARDE and HEMRL
officials on different occasions. The issue of defective mines was also flagged by the Comptroller and
Auditor General in audit reports in 2014 and 2015.
Despite all this, no action was taken and the ordnance factory at Chanda, which manufactured the
anti-tank mines, kept insisting on finding a repair
solution. The entire episode raises grave questions.
With an elaborate system of quality control in
place, how did the Controllerate of Quality Assurance (CQA) clear the mines before they were supplied to the Army? This suggests a lack of standards
in defence manufacturing at a time when the government is keen on strengthening domestic industrial capacity and increasing exports. There were
conficting interests at play, a result of the complex
and overlapping hierarchies. Explosives and ammunition are manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board and then inspected by the CQA, both of
which are under the Secretary (Defence Production). The ARDE and the HEMRL, which come under the Defence Research and Development Organisation, are under the watch of the Department of
Defence Research and Development. Meanwhile,
the three services are under the Defence Secretary.
All this gives no control to the end-user, the Army,
on the product. It is time the government fixed the
systemic deficiencies and misalignments. The
findings of the Court of Inquiry would be the logical moment to kick-start the process.

authority as may be necessary to enable them

to function as institutions of self-government (Article 243G). Note, self-government not self-governance: the fundamental mandate was to establish the panchayati
raj system as the third tier of government, not
to make these institutions implementing
agencies for State departments or Union
Ministries. This was to be achieved by endowing these institutions of self-government with the required functions, finances
and functionaries (the three Fs).
Twenty-five years of progress
Clearly such a revolution in political relations between elected local government authorities and the State political set-up requires time and patient experimentation to
play out. The Ministry of Panchayati Raj, set
up by UPA-I in 2004, has over the past 12
years or so been advocating and incentivising this. It is the primary duty of the Ministry
to perform these delicate advisory functions.
Panchayati raj remains on the State list but, in
view of the 73rd constitutional amendment,
the Centre becomes responsible to work
with the States to fulfil in letter and spirit the
aims and objects of the constitutional legislation. For this revolutionary task, an independent Ministry, preferably under a persuasive and influential Minister, is essential.
Otherwise panchayati raj will wither on the
Prime among these is activity mapping,
that is, identifying the numerous tasks to be
undertaken in planning and implementing
any given scheme with a view to allocating
these different activities to different tiers of
the system from the Central to the State government and the three separate levels of rural
self-government: the village, the intermediary (taluka or block) and the district would
have to be supplemented by parallel and simultaneous devolution to the appropriate
tiers of finances and functionaries. To this
end, the UPA Prime Minister, through the
Cabinet secretary, issued directions in November 2004 and August 2013 to departmental secretaries of all Ministries concerned to
work on such activity maps for their respective Centrally-sponsored schemes. This
called for a systemic overhaul of district and
sub-district level administration (and the
politics of administering rural India) involving the effective empowerment of a whole
new tribe of elected local representatives.
The numbers alone tell the scale of the tale.
As against about 5,000 elected MPs and
MLAs to run the worlds largest democracy, we have about 28 lakh rural and about 4
lakh urban representatives, with about 14
lakh rural and urban women, making ours also the worlds most representative democracy. There are more elected women in India alone than in the rest of the world put
together! We have also guaranteed equitable
representation for the Scheduled Castes,
Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward
Classes. The gram sabhas too have been constitutionally recognised to provide a forum of
accountability to the beneficiaries. All this is
an achievement without precedent in history
or parallel in contemporary times. And this
massive machinery of social change is, according to The Hindus report, to be entrusted to a Minister of State! What a recipe for retardation.
Notwithstanding the hurdles, real and
imagined, thrown in the way of such empowerment, virtually the whole country is moving forward, at different speeds and with considerable diversity but, nevertheless, in the
desired direction. It cannot be faster or more
uniform for there are many eggs to be broken
to make the devolution omelette.
Quietly, considerable progress has been
made in the last 25 years. Panchayati raj has
been made ineluctable, irremovable and irreversible, but much remains to be accomplished. To disrupt the process by downgrading the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and
making it an adjunct of some other Ministry
would be the most retrograde step in democratic decentralisation in over a quarter century. Is this really what Mr. Modi wants?
Mani Shankar Aiyar is a Congress leader and former Union
Minister of Panchayati Raj.


Letters emailed to letters@thehindu.co.in must carry the full postal address and the full name or the name with initials.

Parched Panchayati Raj

Any citizen who is concerned about
the nations polity will be left aghast
that the Prime Ministers muchtouted proclamation of minimum
government, maximum governance
has hit a nadir so soon (Parched
Panchayati Raj Ministry on verge of
closure, June 29). The local
governance system of panchayati raj
has been with us even before
Independence. This system was
further consolidated by the 73rd
amendment of the Constitution
which boosted the sociopolitical
empowerment of the rural
population. But this key legislation
has been allowed to fade away. The
rural-urban divide is now clearly
drawn as the Prime Minister
vouches for participative
governance in urban spaces but
remains silent on the governments
role and stakeholders participation
in panchayati raj.
C. John Rose,
Arumanai, Tamil Nadu

Terror in Turkey
Tuesdays attack in Turkey is yet
another instance of global terror
being perpetrated by suicide
bombers. Whether it is a lone wolf

attack or something more will have

to be investigated carefully.
Cooperation is essential in
protecting the homeland and
keeping our countries safe. Instead
of expressing shock and sympathy,
it is time all nations genuinely
interested in tackling terror evolved
a strategy to face the battle which is
going to be long and tough.
Countries known to be propagating,
promoting or harbouring terrorism
should be made to feel the heat of
economic and other sanctions.
S.V. Venkatakrishnan,
San Jose, California, U.S.

Popular will
The article, How to read the
popular will (June 29), reminded
me of what W.W. Hunter, in his book
The Indian Musalmans, once said
that India wouldnt be able to
survive as single country even for a
decade owing to its vast diversity
and divergent views of the people.
After Brexit, this seems ironic as it
is the United Kingdom that seems
to be in turmoil even as the
European Union is making it amply
clear that the breakup has to be very
Ashutosh Tiwari,

One-woman survey
As a liberal feminist, I was first
elated, then saddened to read the
article, 8.11 lakh women live by
themselves in T.N. (Tamil Nadu
editions, June 29) which described
single women as spinsters. The
Oxford Dictionary of English states
that the development of the word
spinster is a good example of the
way in which a word acquires
strong connotations to the extent
that it can no longer be used in a
neutral sense. From the 17th
century, the word was appended to
names as the official legal
description of an unmarried
woman. This type of use survives
today in some legal and religious
contexts. In modern, everyday
English, however, spinster cannot
be used to mean simply an
unmarried woman; it is now
always a derogatory term, referring
or alluding to a stereotype of an
older woman who is unmarried,
childless, prissy, and repressed.
We, single Indian women living
alone my grandmothers, mother
and I are privileged to be in cities
like Bengaluru and Chennai where
it is not only possible but also
common. The report does aim to
laud progress in Tamil Nadu, but

has instead brought out the deeply

entrenched misogyny that we
women still have to endure
Lakshmi Ravi Narayan,

The ritual of ragging

Just when we think that ragging of
first-year students, an annual ritual
in almost every academic
institution, has become a thing of
the past comes the report which
sent shivers down our spine of a
first-year nursing student alleged to
have been ragged severely, and
made to consume toilet-cleaning
liquid (Varsity panel finds no
evidence of ragging in Kalaburagi
case, June 29). Whatever be the
findings, it is a fact that the savagery
inflicted on a hapless youngster
only results in psychological illeffects. Ragging smacks of moral
and ethical atrophy. Colleges, the
police and governments should
view the issue seriously, especially
as the report says that most colleges
are known to sweep such incidents
under the carpet.
R. Sampath,

Ragging is one of the worst forms of

cruelty meted out to new entrants

in an academic institution. Ragging
cannot and should not be called a
tradition. Instead, it is a criminal
offence where the victim is totally
overpowered and put to extreme
suffering and humiliated in many
The fundamental right of a student
to live peacefully is abused. Antiragging squads should be more
energetic and forceful in protecting
the rights of first year students or
else we will continue to read about
many more Ashwathys.
Prem K. Menon,

Magnificent Messi
The world cannot forget Lionel
Messis words, I start early and I
stay late, not for a day, but day after
day, year after year, it took me 17
years and 114 days to become an
overnight success. Therefore, it is
stunning that the Argentinian took
everyone by surprise with his
retirement (Editorial, June 28). He
might have missed a crucial penalty
but he will stay as a legend in a
million hearts.
A salute to Lionel Messi!
Subha Pitchaiah,