Editorial 1
Editorial 2
Terror at Kandahar
This above all
Letters

 
 
EDITORIAL 1 
 
 
 
 

Long Trek

The defection of Mr Ugyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th gyalwa karmapa of Tibet, to India has unsettled Beijing more than it cares to admit. The karmapa heads the third largest Tibetan Buddhist sect, the Kagyupa or “black hats’’. The karmapa, one Tibetan spiritual leader recognized mutually by the dalai lama and the Chinese government, has long been a showpiece for Beijing. His enthronement in 1992 was the first time communist China ever acknowledged a living Buddha. He was often extolled as an example of the benevolence of Beijing’s minorities’ policy. Five years ago the dalai lama and Beijing backed different candidates for the title of panchen lama. This led China to push the karmapa as a counter to the dalai lama. Along with this has come a sharp increase in Chinese repression of Tibetan Buddhist institutions, a resurrection of the heavyhanded policies that followed the 1987 Tibetan revolt. While it is unclear why the karmapa chose to flee to India, it is likely he and his followers found the new restrictions on state sanctioned monasteries and nunneries suffocating. The karmapa was personally unhappy at being denied contact with his India based spiritual teacher. Beijing’s attempts to use him against the dalai lama did not help matters.

That the 14 year old karmapa fled from Tibet to Dharamsala, avoiding Chinese authorities during the height of winter, is almost as great an embarrassment to Beijing as his defection. The karmapa’s departure represents the most serious fallout of Chinese communist party’s recent crackdown on rival civil institutions. No longer focussed solely on internal party dissidents or pro-democracy activists, Beijing’s net now includes minority groups, religious sects, independent trade unions, artists, singers, even software developers. It has been particularly savage with the Falungong spiritual cult. Last month it took up cudgels against the Catholic church, with Beijing threatening to ordain three bishops without papal sanction. Beijing has also been concerned at spreading millenarian movements in rural China. Most scholars believe this civil unrest reflects the party’s ideological moorings and the social dislocation caused by economic change. The Indian government has been silent about the karmapa’s arrival. New Delhi’s position is complicated by the existence of a rival karmapa who lives in India. India’s position should be consistent on two points. First, that it unofficially accepts the dalai lama as Tibet’s leader in exile and will follow his lead in intra-Tibetan squabbles. Second, until the story behind his departure is clearer, India will provide the karmapa sanctuary in the same way it has done to thousands of other Tibetans. India’s succour to Tibetan refugees has long helped contrast the country’s democratic credentials to China’s totalitarianism. India’s relations with China are on the mend. But it does not owe Beijing any special favours, especially when it comes to a problem that arises from the brutality of China’s internal policies.    


 
 
EDITORIAL 2 
 
 
 
 

Brothers in arms

Politics, especially turn of the century coalition politics in India, tends to eat up its own fruits. All the good things that the Janata Dal, the Samata Party and the Lok Shakti had hoped to achieve by fighting under the Janata Dal (United) umbrella in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections seem to have suddenly become elusive. One goal was to form a “socialist” bloc within the National Democratic Alliance to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party’s dominance. The other goal was, ironically enough, Bihar, which is now proving to be the crux of the problem. The three parties planned to merge officially before the assembly elections in Bihar. The result would be, for one, a consolidated “social justice” bloc to demolish whatever is left of Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav’s backwards classes support. And fighting the polls as part of the NDA, it would share with the BJP the spoils from all the conceivable caste and class vote banks in the state. Unfortunately, the programme has hit a big road block. There are too many strong leaders and aspiring personalities crowding the canvas. The three parties, in spite of the Lok Shakti’s pacific role, cannot agree either about a chief ministerial candidate or about the presidentship of the merged party. Mr Ramakrishna Hegde of the Lok Shakti supports Mr Sharad Yadav’s continuance in the president’s chair, if only because he wishes to take the mickey out of Mr George Fernandes of the Samata Party, who does not. Presumably, Mr Fernandes managed to keep Mr Hegde out of the Union cabinet.

There are other personality clashes as well, many of them springing from the restless political pasts of the erstwhile Janata Dal leaders. Equally important now are the actual caste bases on which the Samata Party and the Janata Dal (U) depend electorally in Bihar. This is the bane of region based parties. The Samata Party draws the vote of the “creamy layer” of the backward classes. Mr Sharad Yadav’s party is supported by the extreme backward classes, traditionally hostile to the creamy layer. Merging, the leaders feel, would endanger them all. The history of the Janata family does not inspire hope of anything but a patchwork solution, if any. For the BJP, this is a mixed blessing. Bihar might not be as successful a venture as it expected, but partners squabbling among themselves will allow the BJP to remain dominant in the NDA. It is only for Mr Laloo Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal that this is an unexpected elixir.    


 
 
TERROR AT KANDAHAR 
 
 
V.R. RAGHAVAN
 
 

A widely quoted definition of national security comes from the American analyst, Walter Lippmann. It is, “A nation has security when it does not have to sacrifice its legitimate interests to avoid war, and is able, if challenged, to maintain the war.” The definition was crafted during the years of World War II, and reflects the emphasis on war or the military as the means of ensuring national security.

Things have changed greatly since then and in the last decade of the century a host of non-military issues are acknowledged to have a bearing on national security. Some countries nevertheless continue to view security through the Lippmann lens and successive Indian governments have held this belief as the core of their security policy. The hijacking of IC-814 should bring home the fallacy of such a policy.

The actions of the Indian government did little to permit waging war against the hijackers. The government’s anti-hijack forces were left flat footed even as the hijacked aircraft traversed across half the country’s air space. The military option having been squandered, the government dithered and delayed a quick response, thereby endangering the lives of the hostages.

It allowed itself to be caught on the horns of an avoidable dilemma by debating whether militants should be released in exchange for the safety of the hostages. It has now been made clear that the government kept examining — till very late and foolishly — a military option against the hijackers in Kandahar. That option had been foreclosed the moment the aircraft was allowed to get away from Amritsar.

The government was then confronted with the anger of the relatives of the hostages and a rising wave of public criticism. It then shifted blame on to the pilot’s talk from the cockpit at Amritsar. When that did not work, it put out through its admirers the argument that national interest was more important than the lives of the hostages. None amongst its worthy leaders or its spin doctors deigned it fit to explain the specific interest which was more valuable than the lives of 150 citizens. It was conveniently forgotten that there were citizens of other countries on the aircraft belonging to the government owned air carrier. In the end, the government could neither wage war nor maintain the values it set out to guard. It is now reduced to pointing fingers at other countries and reiterating that India is not a soft state.

Why do governments so often lose to the terrorist? The answer lies in the way governments define victory and defeat. Most governments view arresting, jailing or killing the terrorists as victory. The Indian government is no exception to this misplaced notion of dealing with terrorism. As for the terrorist, every bomb that goes off is a victory. A successful hijack against a country like India is a colossal victory. A governments run to protect buildings, bridges, airfields with sandbags and barbed wire. It protects its interests by heavily protecting the political leaders while leaving the citizen to the mercy of the terrorist. It protects objects but does not defend values. Governments acquire the security hardware but care nothing for the security software.

In its hasty and unwise action of suggesting that it cares more for its image than for its citizen’s lives, the government of the day demonstrated what the citizen already suspected. The citizen now knows that in a crisis he would be dispensable. Why would the citizen respond to a government’s exhortations in the future for sacrifices in the national interest?

In the long war against terrorism which India will need to wage, the role of the citizen would be critical. No government, least of all an alliance government, can win this war without the full support of the citizen. The state and the citizen need to be brought closer than they are now, if they are to cooperate against terrorism. There can be no state without the citizen.

The citizen would also be bereft without a state. The state represented by the high and mighty leadership and governed through the bureaucracy cannot therefore be above the citizen. The trust between the state and the citizen badly needs to be restored. Ask the lad who waves the tricolour when Sachin Tendulkar scores a century. He will say he waves it for India, but cares little for the state represented by the governments of the country.

That sentiment was also echoed by a released hostage, who felt ashamed that representatives of other countries had reached Kandahar before the Indian officials reached there. What would be the consequences of this outcome of the hijack? There would cetainly be an upsurge in the confidence of the terrorist organizations and their foreign mentors.

They now have confirmation of the vulnerabilities of the Indian security structures. They know now that it is the political leadership which is the Achilles heel of Indian security. What the terrorist cannot win by taking on the Indian military or other security forces, he would now attempt to obtain through exploiting the chinks in the politician’s armour.

Security cannot be predicated solely on the security forces. Years of over reliance on security forces have led to a false sense of security in the political leadership of the nation. The answer to every security incident is to raise yet more battalions of police and para-military forces. In some states the chief ministers have abrogated their responsibility by stating that the Centre should give them more battalions.

Ultimately the answer to terrorism is to build the confidence in people’s minds that the state cares for them. That care and concern will be demonstrated when the governments become accountable.

Jammu and Kashmir is the malaise of which the hijacking was a symptom. The deeper malaise is of governance overtaken by a venal official system. It is a political rather than a security problem. More and ever more packages of thousands of crores of rupees are given unto the state with no perceptible difference in the quality of life. The repeated slaughters of innocents evoke only a flying visit by a Central minister and promises of more battalions.These are the fields insensitive governments sow and terrorists reap.

The conflict in Jammu and Kashmir is far from the minds of the political leadership. The hijacking has brought it into the people’s minds. Kargil had earlier brought it into the citizens’ hearts. That is where the terrorist seeks to reach.

Through the hearts and minds of the people the terrorist and his masters hope to get at the Indian state. The terrorists are professionals. The hijacking has shown them that the state is being handled by amateurs.

The author, is director, Delhi Policy Group, and former director-general military operations    


 
 
THIS ABOVE ALL 
 
 
BY KHUSHWANT SINGH
 
 

Warriors go to school

Not all Rajputs are Rajasthanis, and not all Rajasthanis are Rajputs. Rajputs can also be found in other parts of India. In Rajasthan there are many ethnic groups like Jats, Bishnois, Mewatis, tribes like Bhils and a sizeable population of scheduled castes. However, the pride of Rajasthan are different clans of Rajputs claiming descent from the sun and moon. The Rajputs ruled the vast region known as Rajputana which includes cities like Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jaipur, Alwar, Bundi, Bharatpur and Dholpur. All the Rajputs were Hindu save the Tonks who were Muslim.

The heart of Rajput pride was Ajmer, once ruled by Prithviraj Chauhan. After defeating Mohammad Ghauri many times, Prithviraj was betrayed by his own kinsmen and fell fighting the invaders. Rajputs fought as fiercely against each other as they did outsiders. But they succumbed to the British tamely.

They became as loyal to their conquerors as the other princely families of India. A phrase was coined about the Rajputs: Jis ka raj, usee kay poot — whoever be the ruler, we are his sons. The British chose Ajmer, the capital city of the Chauhans, as their headquarters. From here their resident kept a hawk’s eye on the states of Rajputana.

Ajmer is an ancient city, much older than the Chauhans who ruled over it. It derives its name from Ajai Meru — the invincible mountain. It is ringed by hills which rise steeply from the flat plains. On the peaks are forts which give a commanding view of the plains. Potable water is assured by the innumerable lakes which collect rain water: the two best known in the vicinity of Ajmer are Ana Sagar and Pushkar. Ajmer is also known for the dargah of Khwaja Moinudin Chisti which draws pilgrims from all over the subcontinent.

Ajmer was a good choice for a school for the scions of ruling families of Rajasthan. About 350 acres were allotted for the purpose. The main building was built in traditional Rajasthani style in unpolished marble. Different states were induced to build hostels of red and beige sandstone for boys from their states.

A more impressive school campus can not be found in India. Early entrants came to the campus riding elephants followed by hundreds of retainers on horseback or on foot. It took generation of English headmasters to persuade them to cut down the display of grandeur to modest proportions. Nevertheless they strenuously carry their titles: Rana, Maharaja, Raja, Maharaja, Maharao, Rawatdown to Kunwar and Thakur.

The real change in the school complex came with independence. From being the monopoly of the princely order it was turned into a public school for all who could afford to send their sons to it. Eight years ago a girls’ school and hostel were added. There is strict segregation and mingling of boys and girls is frowned upon.

The princely states have gone; stately splendour remains in the traditions of Mayo College. Although I was not taken to the prize-giving ceremony on the back of an elephant, I rode in the Maharao of Kota’s Sumo behind a cavalry of student horsemen carrying their tent-pegging spears. As we neared the site, a band struck up. We were received by the principal who handed me over the chief monitor, a natty looking sardar named Parmit Singh Gandok.

Other monitors lined on either side were dressed in white churidars, black sherwanis with gold buttons and enormous puggaris of red and white stripes tied in Rajasthani style with the rear ends hanging down to their heels. The Maharao insisted I occupy the throne like chair made of velvet with silver arm-rests shaped like peacocks and silver legs. I looked around the throng of over 2,000 present — old boys from different parts of the world and their parents.

Sitting in tiers behind them were younger boys in multi-coloured turbans. From a distance they looked like rows of chrysanthemums of different colours in full bloom. We stood up for the prayer chanted in Sanskrit. The Maharao read his speech of welcome; the principal read out his report on the achievements of the students; I gave away prizes; it lasted over two hours.

We rose for the national anthem (played out of tune) and departed for a well-earned cup of tea. I hung on to Maharani Uttara Devi (Honey to her friends) of Kota. I felt strangely comfortable in her company. She reminisced about her days in Cooch Behar, schooling in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Switzerland. Later that evening I met them again at the principal’s residence. With them was their son Ijay Raj Singh, a handsome young man in his twenties, his lovely looking wife, a princess from Sakot (Himachal Pradesh) and their four year old son, who eyed me suspiciously and clung to his father.

Ijay Raj looks after the heritage hotel in Mota. Rulers of yesteryears have become hoteliers. I returned to my room. I heard the voices of Maharao and his friends until well after midnight. Old friends had once again come together to talk of their happy days. I was an interloper who did not share their past. They had much to talk about. I had to catch up on lost sleep. The next morning I rose to the calling of partridges in the garden. And bade farewell to Ajmer.

Afternoon siesta in Visakhapatnam

A phone out of order has one advantage: it does not disturb your peace. It also has the disadvantage of providing an excuse to people to thump your door because they could not get in touch with you. Twice my siesta was disturbed by people I didn’t know. I growled at them and told them to come after four in the afternoon.

Thus, I had six people including a family of four joining me for afternoon tea. The family comprised of an excise official, his charming wife, a girl of 10 who wanted to get into the Indian Administrative Services and a boy who wanted to join the police service. They were again at the Ashok Book Centre for a second round of handshakes and a third time at the Green Hotel where I was to speak on “challenges of the new millennium”. We became friends but I never got to know their names.

I had an hour to spare in between meetings. Ashok Kumar and his children joined me for a stroll along the beach which was clean, green and had a spectacular view of the deep blue waters of the Bay of Bengal. Oil tankers were lined up awaiting their turn to unload their cargo on the dockyard beneath Dolphin Hill. The road was lined with multi-storeyed apartments, children’s parks, pools and temples which continued till the end of the city at the base of Kailash hills rising steeply from the sea. Vizag is Andhra Pradesh’s second largest city and being so far much less crowded than Hyderabad. It is India’s city of the future.

Prasanna Kumar, retired registrar, and a man of letters introduced me to A. Sankar Rao whose family has given much to the city. The Sankar Trust provides shelter, medical and educational facilities to their underprivileged. They have eye-camps to carry out cataract operations and have set up a hospital for people suffering from tuberculosis and other ailments.

Along with these good works they carry out research on the needs of poor slum dwellers to target their activities. Sankar Rao is a committed citizen; he made his fortune and is determined to share his fortunes with the people around him. So ended the first day of my third visit to Visakhapatnam. I had two more days here packed with engagements. About them later.”

Stray buffalo tale

A farmer’s buffalo strayed into the neighbour’s field and ate up some of his wheat. When the neighbour complained, the owner of the buffalo replied, “Don’t worry, I will send you all the dung my buffalo yields from your crop tomorrow.”

Money on the run

A man presented a very soiled Rs 100 note to the clerk at the post office and said, “Please send this by Money Order to my mother.”

The clerk examined the soiled note and asked, “This is a tattered note, don’t you have a better one to send to your mother?”

“It is my note and it is my mother I want to send it to. What is your problem?” (Contributed by Ujagar Singh, Chandigarh)    


 
 
LETTERS 
 
 
 
 

Good wives

Sir — It is ironical that Sumitra Mahajan, the minister of state for human resources development, has to reward courageous women as satis in an attempt to “expand” the meaning of the word (“Sumitra sets up super-sati prizes” Jan 8). Sati always brings to mind the specifically Hindu practice in accordance with which women died on the pyres of their deceased husbands. How can such an association be shed in an instant? The etymological meaning of sati is derived from the Sanskrit “sati” meaning “faithful wife”. This suggests a sati does not have any identity of her own in the absence of a man. Women who made their mark in history and in our own times often did so by developing their own identities “apart from” being good wives. By defining bravery in terms of wifeliness, Mahajan is exposing a confusion of thought. The idea of sati is completely opposed to what she intends to reward these women for. Rewarding those who have shown fortitude against adversity must be encouraged. Calling them satis is demeaning them.

Yours faithfully,
Brinda Chowdury, Calcutta

Summing up gain and loss

Sir — The efforts of the prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, to accelerate the process of economic liberalization started in the Nineties may have dangerous ramifications for the public sector. The National Democratic Alliance, it appears, is determined to privatize all public sector industries, the better to absolve itself of any responsibility of taking on these units — ignoring the fact that the public sector has been the catalyst for the country’s economic growth since independence.

Even the public sector’s worst critics will admit that without the setting up of steel, coal, oil, power and copper plants, it would have been a mammoth task for India to become a strong economic power. In spite of this, the Central government has been downgrading the public sector by denying it vital capital for modernization and expansion. The Vajpayee government must realize that ignoring the public sector is suicidal; there is no guarantee that privatization will remove the ills plaguing the public sector. And ironically, the majority of sick industries in India belong to the private sector, where deliberate mismanagement is the main cause for industrial sickness.

Vajpayee must not forget that the main aim of the imperialist powers is to destroy India’s public sector and gain an entry into the country’s economy by joining hands with the private sector — first as partner and then as usurper. The government should refrain from walking into this trap laid by foreign powers and implement measures for the strengthening of the public sector.

Yours faithfully
Sanmay Ganguly, Calcutta

Sir — Launching the Ford Ikon in Chennai recently, the president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company, Jacques A. Nasser, warned India against allowing the import of secondhand foreign cars. Nasser feared that if secondhand cars were allowed, the domestic car market would be wiped out as has happened in New Zealand.

The situation in New Zealand is very different from that of India. New Zealand is a small country with a population of only about four million while India has a billion strong population. The potential market for “small” cars in India far exceeds the total population of New Zealand. Thus it can be assumed that after all the secondhand foreign cars are sold, there would still remain a sizeable market for domestic cars in the Rs 2-4 lakh range. Also, increasing the import of foreign cars would lead to greater availability of spare parts. In the long run it would lead to a fall in the prices of cars.

At present, domestic car manufacturers hog most of the market while multinationals like Ford service the upper segment. Nasser’s statement only reveals his fears that secondhand cars would further limit his market. Does the government need any pointers as to which side it should be on?

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