Editorial 1
Editorial 2
Decade of development
Letters to the editor


Late cut

Lord’s has finally accepted that there is more than one thing rotten in the state of cricket. The International Cricket Council, which met for two days early in May for an emergency session, has taken cognizance of the fact that betting and other corrupt practices have eroded the noblest game. This realization was thrust upon them by the confessions of the former South African captain, Hansie Cronje, who confessed last month that he had passed on information to bookies in exchange of money. What is surprising is that the ICC, after all that has happened, refused to take any action against Cronje and referred the matter back to the United Cricket Board of South Africa. This pussyfooting is inexplicable. Cronje, by any yardstick, has done irreparable damage to the game, wherever it is played, not just in South Africa. There is no justification for referring the matter back to his own board. That board has already demonstrated by its inactivity in the matter that it is somewhat clueless or wants the matter to bury itself. This seems like a replay of what happened when Mark Waugh and Shane Warne admitted having taken money from bookies in return for information. Then too the ICC chose to remain aloof and allowed the local board to handle the matter. The result was that Waugh and Warne got away after paying a nominal fine. This attitude of the ICC is no longer acceptable. This attitude is all the more surprising because on the overall issue of betting and corruption, the ICC seems to have adopted a hardline position. But this is a policy relating to the future.

There are no indications in the decisions made about what action will be taken against players found guilty of corruption in the recent past. This is important because the ICC has decided to set up within two months an independent anti-corruption commission under a suitable legal person. This commission will submit its report to Lord Griffith, the chairman of ICC’s code of conduct commission. The commission will solicit information from all who are connected with the game. It follows that certain persons will be named and proofs provided of their complicity and involvement in corrupt practices. The ICC has not clarified what action it will take against such persons. A strong policy for the future should not be a cover for present malpractices. It does appear that the ICC is trying to shut the proverbial stable door after the horse has bolted.

Unlike the flow of water, the flow of allegations in the cricketing world seems to be moving upwards. Suspicions have been cast at the integrity of the head of the ICC, Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya. This, by itself, shows the sordid ambience in which cricket is played these days. Nobody can be assumed to be above board.It is no longer possible to take for granted the bona fides of members of the ICC. Mr Dalmiya may well discover that it is a thankless task trying to protect his own integrity and the credibility of the ICC. This goes for the players too. Their failures will be seen to be driven by greed. Cricket has been smeared by the tar of corruption. Cleansing will take time and need very hard decisions. But cricket will never be the same game it once was. The noble game has sounded its last post.    


Broken troth

Man’s recalcitrance, embedded gender inequality and the slow pace of judicial procedure combine to produce an enormous amount of human suffering. The Supreme Court has ruled — the first ruling regarding this issue was in 1995 — that a man who has converted to Islam in order to marry again without divorcing the first wife is liable to prosecution under the Hindu Marriage Act and the Indian penal code. The petition on which the ruling was made is dated 1992, three years preceding the first ruling. Speeding up the process of justice would have saved time, money and a lot of human pain. The unwieldy procedures inherited from British law courts of the 19th century have not been adequately streamlined, modernized and indigenized, in spite of the growing concern over procedural delays and the piling up of cases. But this is only one aspect of the problem. What is most disheartening here is the stubbornness of people’s wrongdoing. The cynicism implied in the act of a man who converts just in order to marry again without going through a divorce, the disrespect shown towards two religions and two women, are indicative of the harm caused by a society in which gender inequality in every sphere is the rule rather than the exception. The Supreme Court can only rule on cases which come to its notice. These two similar rulings, five years apart, point to the scale and persistence of this particular offence. There can be no doubt that the law or court rulings cannot change society. Awareness, respect for others and a will to be fair are things the court cannot make mandatory. Not every woman can go to court when made the victim of this kind of a mean trick which in effect may destroy her. The important thing is to recognize this as a trick and to penalize it, socially as well as by law.

Bigamy has been the bane of Hindu society for a long time, even after it was outlawed. There is still no count of bigamous marriages and deserted first or second wives, especially among the economically underprivileged. The conversion trick, though, tends to be a weapon of the more privileged, since it directs a slightly cynical nod towards the law. At a time when the relationships among the various religions in India are under searching scrutiny from various points of view — and conversion turned into such a sensitive issue — this kind of irresponsibility should be heavily and decisively punished.    

While presenting the Uniosn budget for 2000 - 01, the finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, said, “I propose to put India on a sustained, equitable and job creating growth path of seven to eight per cent per year in order to banish the scourge of poverty from our land within a decade. The next 10 years will be India’s decade of development.”

India has a chance to make a tremendous breakthrough in economic development during this decade. Its political system is in consensus about basic reforms. The current government enjoys a strong electoral mandate. A decade of opening the economy has produced dynamism, most dramatically in information technology. The world is waking up to India’s role as the largest democracy and as a dynamic, if low income, economy. New technologies like infotech and biotechnology give new opportunities for economic and social development.

The prime minister should announce specific major national goals of development. These goals will help galvanize domestic public opinion in support of development, provide a gauge against which to judge the progress of policies, help the world appreciate the efforts underway and support them through increased foreign investment. It would be akin to the United States New Deal of the Thirties: a rallying cry for the public, a political base for the reforms. If the government succeeds in these ambitious goals, it would create a lasting legacy of political support. The government should set two broad goals for itself.

First, to double India’s per capita income by 2010. Income doubling within a decade requires annual growth in per capita income of seven per cent per annum.Second, to universalize education until class VIII by 2010, with special efforts for disadvantaged groups.

Additional targets could be set for health conditions and access to basic services like sanitation, clean water, telecommunications, power and so on, particularly in rural India.

Bill Clinton announced national goals for education in his state of the union address in January 2000. Since the US is often portrayed as a free market society, it might be supposed its government shies away from specific domestic goals as smacking too much of “central planning”. To the contrary, Clinton’s address is filled with goals relating to education, public health, child poverty, internet use, science and technology, disease control and so on. It sets broad goals and explains how they can be met. It calls on individual states to meet certain performance standards as in education. This reflects the fact that in the US, like in India, the centre may set goals but implementation rests with the states.

Clinton said, “To 21st century America, let us pledge these things. Every child will begin school ready to learn and graduate ready to succeed. Every family will be able to succeed at home and at work, and no child will be raised in poverty.” He added, “First and foremost, we need a 21st century revolution in education, guided by our faith that every single child can learn. Because education is more important than ever, more than ever the key to our children’s future.’’

India can enunciate comparably bold but achievable goals. India too needs a revolution in education, aimed at literacy for all and a high level of school attendance. To make the first decade of the 21st century a true “decade of development” will require a broad based program of economic and social action. These actions have to be broad based, requiring new approaches and legislative reforms in many areas of public policy. We summarize 10 main areas of reform.

One, universal literacy, based on national goals, backed by coordinated actions of Centre and state. Universal literacy could be achieved through creative mobilization of new infotech approaches, better school attendance and other policies, all with a clear focus on including girls and disadvantaged groups. The Centre could call together the chief ministers to launch a new national commitment in favor of this goal. The economic and social returns from such an initiative would be huge, including higher growth rates and lower fertility rates.

Two, aggressive public health campaigns against major infectious diseases and especially the incipient AIDS epidemic. Three, enhanced family planning policies, to limit the growth of India’s population to below current projection — the United Nations forecasts a 2050 population of 1.5 billion.

Four, the completion of the economic reform agenda. There are several remaining priorities of economic reform.

This includes reducing the fiscal deficit through budget cuts and privatization revenues. This is in order to reduce the ratio of public debt to national income, thereby avoiding future macroeconomic destabilization. Also, export promotion through emphasis on export processing zones, eliminating reservations for small scale industry, encouraging infotech, eliminating administrative barriers to foreign direct investment, and eliminating tax and tariff structures that are anti-export biased.

Improved infrastructure, through liberalization plus regulation. Especially in telecommunications, where privatization and competition are crucial, and power, where reform of state electricity boards is crucial.

Five, efficiency and dynamism will require the transfer of more power to states and local governments, and more democratization at the local level. Dynamic metropolitan areas will constitute the main engines of growth for India in the coming decades. These urban areas will need taxation and regulatory powers to be able to support the business and social environment.

Six, India should assert its leadership role in various venues, including the Group of Twenty, future international summits between North and South, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization. It is essential India play a significant role in the functioning of, and deliberations at, these international organizations.

Seven, India should sponsor programs and reforms to encourage universal telephony and internet access in all villages as part of the national campaigns in literacy, health and development. Physical infrastructure for data transmission within India, like fibre optic cables, remains underdeveloped.

Eight, strengthening overall ties with overseas Indian communities. The Indian diaspora constitutes a vital economic and cultural treasure for India. Nonresident Indians can play a critical role in trade, finance, technology, business competition and culture.

Nine, strengthening science and technology in India’s development policies. India can become one of the centres for global science. This is important since India faces a range of challenges like health, environment, agriculture and power where the technologies of the West are inappropriate. The government should sponsor high level science councils, pay greater attention to university-industry links in technology and give more funds to science institutes.

Ten, India’s universities should serve as a core to a knowledge based development strategy. The Indian Institutes of Technology are already world class and must be nurtured further. A dynamic university sector, built on private and public institutions, and much deeper links with foreign universities outside of India should be fostered. Also, the government should foster closer university-business relations, and create tax incentives for charitable contributions.

Jeffrey Sachs is professor of international trade, Harvard Univer- sity, US. N. Bajpai is director, India programme, Centre for International Development, Harvard University    


Guilty until proven innocent

Sir — “Zameen fisal gayi”, “I can understand what can invite a heart attack”, “I would commit suicide rather than take a bribe”, “I feel ashamed that I played cricket” — Kapil Dev should stop his histrionics for the television camera. What makes him think that he should be spared the accusations that are presently vitiating the air of subcontinental cricket? After all, as a senior cricketer, he would have been privy to rumours, if not to actual knowledge, of matchfixing. And since he didn’t blow the whistle on the iniquities of the cricketing world, he is as much responsible, if not guilty, for the present state of affairs. I.S. Bindra might be malicious or given to shooting his mouth. But there is no reason to think that Mumbai police is either. As it is, some of the mud is bound to stick; there is nothing Kapil Dev can do about it. Cricket lovers had a tough time believing that Hansie Cronje accepted bribes; they are now prepared to believe anything of cricketing icons.

Yours faithfully,
Sohan Singh,

Exploited or gratified?

Sir — The behaviour of male passengers in a manner described by Chandrima Bhattacharya in the article, “A daily and moving war of nudges” (April 24), represents only one side of the story. That this kind of sexual exploitation provides readymade and easily available sources of sexual gratification has not been mentioned.

It is true that both sexes are to be held responsible, and one exploits because the other provides, whereby such gruesome sexual games are played tactfully in a bus, minibus, train, for long. The real “green signals” come, however, in the crowded vehicles. There are some men who avail themselves of the privilege, and easily break loose under emotional strain with a sudden rise in the level of testosterone, with the slightest touch of a woman’s body. Better still if she is young and nubile. What is most interesting is that these men are well versed about what gestures should be applied to these poor women, when and how. It is true, though hard to believe, that often men, under such circumstances, do not forget to ejaculate either. However, in spite of all that, the question still uppermost in our minds is, do not these women get gratified too? Such indulgences also make many women more energetic.

It is unfortunate that in our pseudo-civilized world, such practices are rampant among people who belong to respectable families.

Yours faithfully,
Debnath Patra,

Sir — Never before have I come across such a bold article as Chandrima Bhattacharya’s “A daily and moving war of nudges” (April 24). The writer sincerely empathizes with the hazards that hundreds of women have to undergo each day in all means of public transport. These “mild” yet irritating sexual advances have become a regular tribulation for working women like us who choose not to protest. This silence often encourages men all the more, who direct their sexual overtures to women sometimes the age of their daughters. Being a daily commuter in public transport myself, I have observed that such men mostly belong to the age group of 40-55.

Another phenomenon that is gaining “popularity” among men is to crowd around the footboard with the tacit consent of conductors. Getting in or out of the vehicle then becomes the toughest part of the journey. Women have to forcibly make their way through these educated, yet uncivilized, people. If, on some rare occasion, a woman musters enough courage to protest against this terrible injustice, then the comment that hits her from all directions, is that she should travel on a taxi or a helicopter instead of the bus. Therefore, it is presumed that silence, as usual, is golden. What these men fail to realize, is that, what they do to these unknown women in public transport each day, may also affect their own female kins. Is it too difficult to realize that?

Yours faithfully,
D. Bhadury,
24 Parganas (North)

Sir — Chandrima Bhattacharya is too blatant in her article, “A daily and moving war of nudges”, April 24. She exposes how sexuality has dominated mankind since eternity. The question is: are we to associate the sexual instinct of man as a sin, or should we deal with it in a frivolous light?

Sigmund Freud has interpreted almost every human action in terms of sexuality, having also treated his patients by means of such a theory. Even Osho Rajneesh, in recent times, interpreted human psychology in terms of sexual behaviour. The moot point is to make sense of the venting of this sexual urge in man in so far as he is to be seen as a social animal.

Saints and seers belong to a different category of mankind altogether, who have succeeded in purging their sexual instincts in various ways. If women are sexually harassed by men, I dare say the reverse is also true. Teenage girls feel the need for companionship in the same way as boys do. The situation is, paradoxically, both serious and ludicrous. Free association is what psychiatrists like Freud implemented in their experiments, so that patients do not attach sin to sexual impulses. The problem is best tackled through mutual respect for and understanding of each other’s feelings, when a man and a woman come in contact with each other.

Yours faithfully,
K.R. Venkatasubramanian,

Sir — Chandrima Bhattacharya uses the term, “mild rape”, to denote the seriousness of how women are sexually harassed in public transport. But “rape” should not be used so casually, since it carries particular legal connotations. The Indian Penal Code has attempted to clarify the definition of the offence. Using the adjective “mild” does not clarify what the writer intends to imply. Instead, “molestation”, or “outraging the modesty” is perhaps more apposite.

Yours faithfully,
S. Chakrabarty,

Sir —Rape is, no doubt, a crime more offensive than murder, (“To kill a mocking bird”, April 16). However, even lifelong rigorous imprisonment cannot compensate enough for the loss of dignity of the victim. Moreover, since death is the culmination of life, it cannot be deemed a “fair” punishment. It is more important to let the culprits suffer like the ones at the receiving end.

Yours faithfully,
Chand Mohammad Mondal,

Joker in the pack

Sir — One simply cannot agree with Khushwant Singh, when he holds that Indian humourists, like Birbal, Tenali Rama, and Gopal Bhand, are less subtle and sophisticated than their Western counterparts, in “Laugh, love and be confused”, (April 17). Most of the Indian humourists were court jesters, and though some of their jokes were in part crude, others were often subtle.

They would often make their kings swallow sugar coated pills, and even expose the follies of other courtiers, and reveal serious human foibles under the guise of the frivolous. Many of these sardonic and satiric treatises retain their relevance till this day. Perhaps that is the reason behind their popularity.

By the way, I have read one of Khushwant Singh’s joke books. Some of the jokes appeared hilarious. However, sophistication was certainly not a strong point in them.

Yours faithfully,
Deboprokash Bhattacharjee,

Sir — Khushwant Singh does not rate Indian jesters very highly. This is probably because he cannot identify with their sense of humour. However, it is natural that Singh, being the writer of crude and unsophisticated jokes, cannot himself gauge the subtlety of Gopal Bhand’s humour.

Yours faithfully,
K.M. Naskar,
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