Editorial 1 / Meeting season
Editorial 2 / Books for all
The rise of the regions
A closed society and its enemies
Letters to the editor

Summit meetings between Indian and Pakistani leaders generate either public cynicism or hopes of a dramatic breakthrough. Neither sentiment is usually warranted, and can put unnecessary pressure on the leadership of the two sides. It is critical, therefore, that the forthcoming meeting between Pakistan’s chief executive, General Pervez Musharraf, and the Indian prime minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is approached with realism blended with a healthy dose of optimism. India and Pakistan cannot become friends through a single event, but summits can help unleash a process that can incrementally introduce steps, which could eventually create the conditions for peace and stability.

Summits of the past provide some helpful guidelines that Mr Musharraf and Mr Vajpayee could do well to reflect upon. Most important, it is vital to establish a personal chemistry. If two leaders cannot trust each other, it is difficult — no matter how great the domestic and international imperatives — for them to arrive at a real understanding that can be shaped into agreements. The most valuable meetings between the two countries have been on occasions when leaders have been able to establish a personal rapport. At Shimla, in 1972, it was the personal equation between Indira Gandhi and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto that led to an agreement at a point when their aides had all but given up. In the late Eighties, Rajiv Gandhi and Ms Benazir Bhutto, youthful and willing to move beyond stereotypes, got along so well that they had almost worked out an agreement on the Siachen glacier. More recently, in the Nineties, the pragmatic and business-like Mr Nawaz Sharif was able to develop a relationship with both the liberal Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, that led to the formation of the various India-Pakistan working groups on bilateral contentious issues, and with Mr Vajpayee that led to the Lahore declaration. Will Mr Musharraf and Mr Vajpayee be able to create a close working relationship? The events in Kargil are, of co- urse, still fresh and, to Mr Vajpayee, Mr Musharraf may still seem like the man who wrecked the Lahore process. On the other hand, both of them probably realize that this may be the last chance that they have to carve out a fresh future for India-Pakistan relations and leave a personal imprint on the history of the Indian subcontinent.

No less important is the need for the leaders to be aware of the vested interests and the domestic constituencies within the two countries and be prepared to carve out agreements that can strengthen the positions of the two leaders. A Nawaz Sharif who cannot sell Lahore to his own people cannot be much of an asset. If the two leaders are genuinely interested in promoting peace they must be prepared to make small but important headways that will strengthen the peace constituencies, and assuage the international community, without compromising on core issues that will weaken their domestic support. In short, Mr Musharraf and Mr Vajpayee must engage with the Kashmir issue knowing that no win-win solution is likely to emerge in the future. In the meanwhile, however, they must forge new agreements to stabilize the nuclear deterrent relationship and to make war less likely. And most critically, they must promise to continue talking and meeting until India-Pakistan relations have reached a point when summit meetings no longer make headlines.


The nation must be made to read more. Therefore, the year, 2001, has been declared Year of the Book. Books, by this logic, are as vital as the girl child or the empowerment of women, both having had their designated years. Such designations constitute the unfine art of bureaucratic tokenism. They are pompously heralded with declarations, exalting what the government perceives as endangered entities into sublime objects of nurture or promotion — the Girl Child, the Book. They rise, overnight, from the most abject neglect to the realm of platonic Ideas. This is usually followed by a riot of plans, promises, projects and sometimes (as with the empowerment of women) by legislation. The role of the government, in all this high-minded salvation, is paramount. And herein lies the first cause for alarm with the Year of the Book. Specially affordable homes are being built for writers in the capital so that they can write “the Book” in peace. This rather crude form of patronage raises the entire question of the state’s protective concern for the writer. Roping in the National Book Trust for planning out the year’s visions and festivities is one thing, but why should the state take it upon itself to ensure the writer’s peace of mind? Rural book fairs, mobile bookshops for the remoter areas, cheaper postage on books, a museum of the book, preservation of the country’s old manuscripts, greater allocation of funds to universities for the buying of books, more library hours in schools — an impressive range of possibilities are being envisaged for the revival of interest in books.

In India, the crisis in reading has very little to do with the spread of the internet. It has everything to do with endemic illiteracy, poverty and the dismal state of primary education. The literacy figures in the latest census are supposed to be heartening. But being able to sign one’s name is not the same as being able to afford the leisure of reading a book. The absurdity of this tokenism has to be understood in relation to such basic conditions of existence. Immensely valuable libraries are perishing in the most inhuman neglect in the country. Here, information technology, far from being inimical to reading, can actually make it a better organized activity. In order to acquire the habit of reading, one has to at least know how to read. Realism, and not tokenism, must inform the Centre’s strange fit of passion for books.


One key institutional support for rapid growth in China has been the decentralization of economic policy- making in the country. One of the reasons that state control on the non-state sector has been limited is that the power of the central bureaucracy in Beijing has been substantially weakened in favour of provincial and local governments. In particular, the coas- tal provinces have been relatively free to pursue market-oriented policies in support of export-led growth without being blocked by planners in Beijing.

The provinces have a significant control over government expenditure and taxation, infrastructure projects and even the policies regarding foreign direct investment. Indeed, the provinces have been competing actively with each other to attract foreign direct investment and to upgrade the infrastructure. The relative decentralization of economic policy-making among the Chinese provinces contrasts markedly with the continued strength of Central government in New Delhi in setting the overall economic agenda for India, including most major decisions over infra- structure expenditure and foreign investment.

India’s Constitution was designed to give primary economic policy-making responsibility to the Central government. The Constitution, of course, designates three kinds of policy areas: those of exclusive provenance of the Central government; those to be shared between the Centre and the states; and those that are the exclusive provenance of the state governments. In practice, the key fiscal, infrastructure and regulatory decisions on economic management remain at the Central government level.

Recent political trends (the decline of the Congress and the rise of regional political movements) suggest that economic and political authority will be more decentralized in the future. International experience, most notably that of China, suggests that such a trend will be desirable from the point of view of economic growth. Regional decentralization of economic policy-making would tend to promote deregulation, especially as regions compete with each other to attract domestic and foreign investment. It would also foster a choice of infrastructure more closely attuned to regional and local needs.

Substantial impetus can be imparted to the process of growth if the Centre decentralizes economic policy-making and allows the states to make crucial economic decisions on their own. Brazil, China and Russia are examples of regional governments taking the lead in pushing reforms and prompting further action by the central government. In Brazil, it is Sao Paulo and Minais Gerais which are the reform leaders at the regional level. In China, it is the coastal provinces and the provinces farthest from Beijing which are in the lead. In Russia, reform leaders in Nizhny Novgorod and in the Russian far east have been major spurs to reforms at the central level. With controlled decentralization in China, for example, provinces have increasingly been competing with each other in terms of attracting investments, both domestic and foreign, and in providing better infrastructure facilities, among other things.

Greater decentralization of decision-making in India is likely to lead to greater competition among the states and therefore to higher efficiency and productivity in these regions. In India, key fiscal, infrastructural and regulatory decisions on economic management are made at the Centre. Essentially what this centralized system of governance implies is that the states have very little jurisdiction in, or control over, policy and regulatory decisions. Having this control would make the states more attractive to prospective investors.

A gradual process of decentralization has begun in India as a result of the fact that regional political parties have been lending support in the formation and running of the government at the Centre. This is a healthy development. Coalition governments at the Centre, made up of regional parties representing different states, can exercise a great deal of influence in policy-making at the Centre.

While it is true that the record of the coalition governments in India so far as stability at the Centre is concerned is poor, it is also important to recognize that coalition politics is rather new to the country, and is likely to mature with the passage of time. Regional parties having representation at the Centre can play a critical role and negotiate for greater decision-making authority to be transferred to the state-level.

Policy-making at the sub-national level is essential for allowing state governments to follow development strategies suited to their socioeconomic, cultural, and geographic characteristics. Coastal states, for example, can follow a more focussed export-led growth strategy, or states with a large pool of trained manpower can lay more emphasis on information technology and the service sector.

Decentralization of decision-making from the state to the local levels is equally important. Madhya Pradesh is probably the best example in this regard. It became the first state in the country to hold elections to panchayati raj institutions after the 73rd amendment to the Indian Constitution. This constitutional amendment provided for direct elections to all three tiers of the panchayat bodies, with reservations for weaker sections. Panchayats in Madhya Pradesh have taken up primary education and primary health as their focus areas.

The state government has empowered the panchayats to set up new schools in response to the demands of the community, appoint teachers and locate land for schools. The panchayats also have the authority to dismiss teachers who are not performing. Education committees comprising of janpad panchayat and district panchayat members oversee all matters of school education like the location of new schools, transfer of teachers within the district and the staffing of district institutes of educational training. The gram panchayats also manage all schools set up through the education guarantee scheme.

In the sphere of primary health, the panchayats in Madhya Pradesh recruit volunteers to become rural health practitioners and are also responsible for disease surveillance and for reporting epidemics. The health committees comprising members of the gram, janpad, and the district panchayats supervise all aspects of primary health management. District panchayats appoint doctors in vacant positions. The state has successfully trained a new cadre of community health-workers for more than 50,000 villages.

The role of the panchayats in Madhya Pradesh may provide a strategy for all other states in India in primary education and health. This is critical in view of the fact that the state bureaucrats stationed in the state capitals manage the prevailing system in almost all the Indian states. Both the primary schools and the primary health care centres, especially in the rural areas, are in very bad shape and in desperate need of reform. Some of the villages that the author visited in Uttar Pradesh presented a very grim picture of the state-run schools and PHCs. Rarely were the teachers present in the schools and the doctors in the PHCs. The infrastructure is notoriously bad. The PHCs did not have a telephone, transport or even the basic minimum medical equipment. It was discovered that some PHCs had no work since patients never came there, but did have 10-12 full time employees, including a position for a computer person. As long as the control and oversight of primary schools and PHCs continued to be at the state-level, there is little hope of any improvement.

It was interesting to find in some villages of Uttar Pradesh that there were privately run primary schools. These schools typically had a 4-5-room school building, 5-7 teachers, a school uniform for the children, decent desks and benches for the students and regularly run school schedules — all of this for a monthly fee of Rs 40 per student.

India’s state-owned enterprises do damage in two ways. First, many of the SOEs are inefficient and loss-making firms. Second, these firms tend to be protected by grants of state monopoly, especially in areas of finance, such as commercial banking and insurance, and infrastructure, in areas such as telecommunications, port facilities and road building. An end to the state monopolization of these sectors is crucial to permit new, privately owned firms to introduce competition and higher productivity into these sectors. Privatization of these enterprises is also desirable in most cases, since the government has no particular comparative advantages in running these enterprises, and may have severe disadvantages (especially with the politicization of key investment and employment decisions of the enterprises).

A comprehensive programme of disinvestment can help raise substantial resources that could be used for achieving yet another goal announced by the prime minister in his Independence Day speech on August 15, 2000. The goal is to attain universal primary education in the country by the year 2010.

The following scheme for attaining this target is suggested. After careful analysis and background work, the government should announce a major program of disinvestment and call a meeting of all the sitting members of Parliament and inform them of this scheme, wherein each MP will be given an equal share of the disinvestment proceeds, but with the specific purpose of its usage ONLY for spending in their respective constituencies either for establishing more schools or training teachers or upgrading existing facilities and so on, depending on the specific needs of each constituency.

Of course, this will require strict monitoring, preferably by the prime minister’s office, so as to ensure that funds are being utilized for the purpose they are meant for. Such a scheme is likely to help bring together the MPs from across party lines, since they will all see a gain for them (irrespective of their party affiliations) as well as their respective constituencies and possibly unite them to pass the disinvestment plans on the floor of the house.

Securing political acceptability of such an idea at the level of the MPs will help a great deal in dealing with the opposition to disinvestment plans from the trade unions and others traditionally opposed to it. Should such a scheme work, it will not only help the government withdraw relatively easily from the loss-making public sector, from running textile mills to steel plants, from managing hotels to operating airlines and a variety of other sectors where the government is currently involved in, but will also help divert the much-needed resources in the area of primary education.

The author is a research fellow at the Center for International Development in the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and director, Harvard India Program


Even the fiercest advocates of individual liberty would perhaps think twice before singing paeans in the name of laissez faire. Human beings are largely interdependent and no man’s activity is so completely private as never to obstruct the lives of others in any way. The most dogmatic of planners of the “good society”— from Hobbes to Burke, from Bentham to Marx, from Oakeshott to Macintyre thus almost always betray their liberal humanist traits. In fact, most of the story of political and social thought has been that of finding this elusive equilibrium between man and society.

As summed up by the famous political thinker, Isaiah Berlin, in“Two Concepts Of Liberty”: “No society is free unless it is governed by at any rate two interrelated principles: first that no power, but only rights, can be regarded as absolute, so that all men, whatever power governs them, have an absolute right to refuse to behave inhumanly; and, second, that there are frontiers, not artificially drawn, within which men should be inviolable, these frontiers being defined in terms of rules so long and widely accepted that their observance has entered into the very conception of what it is to be normal human beings, and, therefore also of what is to act inhumanly or insanely.” Which would mean that freedom and liberty of the individual is measured by the strength of the social barriers and vice versa.

It is in these contexts that one should consider the ruling of the Allahabad high court which granted legal sanctity to live-in relationships. The distinction made between law and morality in the ruling would be difficult to agree with if one keeps in mind the wider social perspective.

This is because legal practice is as much about statutes and codes as about natural, divine and common law. This is not to say that with respect to live-in relationships other implications, such as entitlement of property accumulated during the relationship, legal obligation to dependent children, adoption procedures or financial benefits on the death of the partner, are less important. It is precisely because they are as important that the moral implications of the judgment becomes so significant.

The first thing that needs to be explored in the context of live-in relationships is whether there can be a compromise between individual rights of two consensual adults and the moral fallouts of such rights. To do that one must first consider personal and social morality as interactive facets instead of being antithetical to each other. The choice of living as one desires must be weighed against the claims of other social values like equality, justice, happiness, security, public order. The crucial question is whether the decision of two consensual adults — in this case, heterosexual — to cohabit jeopardizes other values even as it respects and affirms the decision-making capabilities of the two individuals.

The possible moral objections to a live-in relationship might be against unmarried cohabitation and its sexual implications. It is vital to note that this objection is not entirely logical but is based on a common sense notion that live-in relationships primarily develop from a love and attraction, often grossly physical, and as such lack in commitment. According to this belief the whole liaison is thus a way out of society.

It is also assumed that the psychological and emotional involvement between the partners are minimal. This common sense notion of morality has a very low opinion about individual responsibility. It fails to observe, for instance, that it needs tremendous faith and commitment to respect the individual space of another human being. This is the first step towards a virtuous society because it immediately moves the “meretricious spouses” away from an irresponsible personal contract towards the most essential attribute of a successful marriage — trust.

Trust and obligation evolving out of this relationship thus do not serve the self, but go into the making of a virtuous society. Indeed, viewed from such an angle live-in relationships are morally beneficial ventures. Of course, such a deduction is not logically rigorous. It also does not take into account the assumption that human beings are capable of realizing their potential not as detached individuals, but as responsible civic beings. Yet it is this assumption that lies at the root of a “good society”.

The second objection to such relationships is anthropological. The proponents believe that marriage is an institution in India, unlike in the West, where it is more of a contract. By implication, live-in relationships in India are dangerous since they contravene the common law of the land and the implicit social and religious traditions.

The claim might be dismissed as being too general. But there is a more serous ethical issue involved here. While it would be too hasty to ignore the time-tested traditions, what a plea to moral relativism based on cultural norms does is put an end to all transcultural moral criticisms. Morality cannot be only a convenient term for culturally approved habits. Stretched a little further the logic of moral relativity based on cultural assumptions would lead to absolute contingency. Paradoxically, moral relativism might lead to absolute individualism, a status not very congenial to the moral guardians of the nationalistic or utilitarian varieties. Relativism actually finds it hard to explain why the moral claims appear conflicting in the first place, and thus often ignores the issue by putting on the cloak of cultural difference.

Those who take morality seriously then must object to such a narrow definition of it. Let us be respectful to the disciplines of geography and history by conceiving of other objections than merely offering the logic of boundaries and chronologies. If live-in relationships are good for Uttar Pradesh, they are also good for the remotest part of the world.

The discussion has so far concentrated on the tug-of-war between rights and virtues. There is however a third, and a fundamentally moral, reason that argues for a responsible live-in relationship. This is the principle of “partiality”. Partiality requires that we show an overriding concern for the interests of those who share a relation of affection with us. This may be manifest in helping friends, keeping promises, pursuing symbiotic projects or obligations that rise from more abstract commitments. These would all be a plea to our partial moral concerns.

It is important to understand that such duties have a completely different thrust from enforcing contracts. It is a completely moral domain we are talking about.

Live-in relationships are one of the most dynamic areas where such pure duties can be positively realized. It is here that friendship has the ultimate scope of blossoming together with a sense of reciprocity. It is an exemplary situation where the individual takes it upon himself or herself to justify his or her partial concerns for the spouse by not delimiting his or her own situation. It is a challenging venture.

Morality is too significant a concept to be left alone to inviolable individual whims. It is also too precious to be left to the specious arguments and sleights of hand habitually identified with institutions, religious orders, nations, races, states, classes, cultures, parties, and with more vague entities such as the general will, the common good, the enlightening forces of society, the vanguard of the most progressive classes, manifest destiny. There is no intrinsic incompatibility between cohabiting outside wedlock and the idea of a virtuous society. The conflicts arise only if one takes a narrow view of morality. In other words, conflicts arise not if one takes individual liberty as the yardstick but if one takes the idea of morality less seriously.

The maximization of opportunities by minimally disturbing the prevailing ethical standards can be an agonizing problem. But as Berlin and others in his tradition pointed out, the mere removal of compulsion, the mere enabling of a man to do as he likes, is in itself no contribution to true freedom.

The reason for rejoicing in the verdict of the Allahabad high court is not because it detaches law from ethics but because it is one of the innumerable bargaining steps towards maximizing positive freedom from within the normal social set up .



Unfavourable progress report

Sir — It is strange that former cricketers like Imran Khan have damned Paul Condon’s report on matchfixing. So has the British media, on grounds that the report only indulges in ICC-bashing, without pinpointing or recommending penalties for the guilty. The International Cricket Council, other than forming an anti-corruption unit — that too after the allegations of corruption had become too numerous to be ignored — and authorizing Condon to investigate the allegations, has done precious little to reinstate the game in its rightful place of glory. Through its actions, or the conspicuous lack of them, the ICC has emerged as a spineless organization whose sole contribution to the cause of cricket has been to manage the enormous finances that the game attracts. It was not too long back that the chief of the ICC, Jagmohan Dalmiya, himself faced charges of disproportionate assets. The cricketing world can only thank Condon for daring to pull up the very organization which entrusted him with the investigation. The British media should be proud, not ashamed, of their countryman. It is, however, good to see that the ICC itself has taken the chiding in its stride with considerable grace (“ICC urged to reform itself immediately”, May 25). Should one look forward to its turning a new leaf?

Yours faithfully,
Shibashis Choudhury, Calcutta

Not a triumphant defence

Sir — Ashok Mitra’s “Look back in triumph”(May 23), fails to reflect on the disappointment of a large number of people in West Bengal who had hoped the Communist Party of India (Marxist) would be routed in the assembly elections and a new government elected in its place.

It would be unfair to blame the media, as Mitra does, for suggesting that the people of West Bengal want a change. Left politicians had realized long before the polls that Mamata Banerjee has managed to garner a solid support base and stands a good chance of winning the assembly elections. That the results do not reflect this just goes to show that the Left Front took good care to make up for the loss in popular support with its organizational skills. The election machinery of the CPI(M) has always been excellent and was put to use to turn things around.

Through a carefully planned campaign, the left set out to undermine the credibility of the Trinamool Congress by focussing on the temperamental nature and muddled policies of its chief and thereby questioning her ability to become the next chief minister of the state. By reiterating that there is no viable alternative to the left in West Bengal, the Left Front leaders managed to confuse the electorate. Yet, the results indicate the tremendous anti-establishment support received by the Trinamool Congress and the Congress.

Yours faithfully,
P.K. Das, via email

Sir — It is quite clear that Ashok Mitra has decided to use his column in The Telegraph to vent his anger against the media. After making his disdain for the media so obvious, it is strange that Mitra should use the same vehicle to express his views.

In his eagerness to abuse the media and the lady “turned into goddess”, Mitra has not cared to take into account the pitiable condition of West Bengal under left rule. He would have us believe that the enlightened Bengali intelligentsia, who carry the culture and language of Tagore, have considered the left fit to rule. Yet the chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, seems to be more pragmatic than Mitra. He at least had the good sense to admit that many were not with the left and that his administration would try to reach out to them.

Mitra has made a veiled reference to Bengal’s indifference to religious icons. It may be assumed that by this Mitra intends to point a finger at religious fundamentalists eager to indoctrinate people into their beliefs. One is tempted to ask how the communists are any different from them.

Yours faithfully,
Rajat Mukhujje, via email

Sir — Ashok Mitra holds the media’s overzealous propaganda in favour of Mamata Banerjee responsible for the results of the assembly elections in West Bengal. He is right in concluding that the intelligent electorate has hit back at the media which had taken them for granted.

However, Mitra forgets that even before the media launched its campaign in favour of Banerjee, the Trinamool leader had herself dug her grave by walking out of the National Democratic Alliance and joining hands with the Congress, which she thought had a better standing in West Bengal than the NDA parties. The people of West Bengal came to know that for petty electoral gains the Trinamool had come together with a party which as, if not more, corrupt as the combine she had forsaken. This single decision undid whatever little media support had done for her.

Yours faithfully,
S. Bhattacharya, Kharagpur

Sir — Ashok Mitra reads too much into the victory of the left in the state by calling it a triumph of the people’s will over that of the media. How can he call the results a popular mandate? If a party or a coalition gets 45 per cent of the total votes polled, which is only 55 per cent of the population, can it be said to have the mandate of the people? Also, Mitra’s explanation that the anti-incumbency factor failed to work in the state is lopsided in favour of the Left Front. He should have tried to keep his analysis free of his bias.

Yours faithfully,
K.R. Venkatasubramanian, Calcutta

Defining mores

Sir — The ruling of the Allahabad high court, granting legal sanction to live-in relationships, is a landmark development (“Morality debate on live-in sanctity”, May 23). Allahabad high court has in the past passed other verdicts which have gone a long way to strengthen democracy, rule of law and individual liberty. The latest ruling aims at protecting the individual’s freedom of action, his/her right to choose a lifestyle. More judgments of this kind will win the judiciary greater social respect.

Morality is a vague term and religious bigots have used it to suit their personal agenda. If two consenting adults decide to live together, be it out of pure hedonism, it should not be any concern of society. The ruling recognizes the changed priorities of modern societies. A live-in relationship may be entered into to test the individuals’ compatibility before entering into a marital relationship. It may also be a result of one’s unwillingness to commit oneself, or to save on high urban rent for accommodations, or it may be an expression of individual liberty. The society need not be bothered about the moral aspect of such relationships since if things go wrong, the society will not have to shoulder the blame. The couple, as consenting adults, will take the responsibility.

Yours faithfully,
Tapan Pal, Howrah

Sir — The Allahabad high court’s ruling which declares live-in relationships as legal, will have a serious impact on the socio-cultural milieu of the country. Marriage in Indian culture is a solemn, legal institution which brings together two individuals. If, instead of getting into a marital relationship, people start preferring live-together relationships, the concepts of marriage and family will gradually lose meaning and go out of fashion. Switching partners will become the norm, as live-in relationships will not legally bind one partner to another. It is not a pleasant picture to visualize.

Yours faithfully,
Arunava Bose Choudhury, Barrackpore

Sir — The first step in legalizing live-in relationships in India is welcome. A man or a woman must be free to live with a man or woman of his or her choice. But the exercise of this freedom, so as not to overstep the parameters of decency, must be kept within the purview of the court. Also, it is necessary that individuals are chided by their own conscience when it comes to a borderline question like this. While the ruling of the Allahabad high court upholds individual liberty, if misused, it can also land us in the cul-de-sac of our moral lives.

Yours faithfully,
Rahul Sinha, Berhampore

Secular oversight

n Sir — The report that all non-Muslims in Afghanistan, comprising mainly Hindus and Christians, will have to wear yellow badges to distinguish themselves from the Muslim population is unfortunate (“Taliban decree angers Hindus”, May 24). Most countries have condemned the decree. But Indian leaders have remained conspicuous by their silence. Given that the secularists in India raise a commotion the moment they get the faintest smell of minority-bashing, shouldn’t they have been a little vocal about the gross religious discrimination in a neighbouring country? And what about the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre, with their hearts brimming with sympathy for the Hindu cause? Doesn’t the plight of the Hindus in Afghanistan affect them at all?

Yours faithfully,
Devraj Baishya Pegu, Guwahati

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