Editorial 1 / Pointless talk
Editorial 2 / Needed change
Who only stand and wait
Heart is where the homeland is
Document / Exploring the available options
Letters to the editor

 
 
EDITORIAL 1 / POINTLESS TALK 
 
 
 
 
The call of the Pakistan president, Mr Pervez Musharraf, for the resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue cannot be taken very seriously. A meeting between the prime minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Mr Musharraf on the fringes of the United Nations general assembly in New York next month, as suggested by Pakistan’s leadership, is unlikely to serve any useful purpose. There are at least two good reasons why New Delhi must not respond positively to Pakistan’s latest suggestion. First, in the last few weeks, and especially after the terrorist attacks of September 11, Mr Musharraf has whipped up an anti-India hysteria in Pakistan and seems to have deliberately adopted a particularly belligerent posture towards New Delhi. Recall that in his first televised address to the Pakistani people, after agreeing to cooperate with the United States of America in its campaign against terrorists, Mr Musharraf accused India of trying to take advantage of the situation and pointedly asked New Delhi to “lay off”. Since then, Pakistan’s president has used every given opportunity to target India. Indeed, he has even sought to make a distinction between terrorists in Afghanistan and terrorist groups operating in Kashmir, and has repeatedly described the latter as freedom fighters. Indeed, even at the joint press conference with the visiting German chancellor, Mr Gerhard Schroeder, at which he called for the revival of the dialogue, he persistently referred to the “patent hostility” being demonstrated by India which was, in Mr Musharraf’s view, seeking a “hegemonic role” within the region. Moreover, there has been no de-escalation in the violence in Kashmir. Indeed, on October 1, the state witnessed the worst ever terrorist attack in its history: more than 30 persons were killed during the suicide bombing of the legislative assembly by activists of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, an outfit sponsored by Pakistan and manned by Pakistanis and Afghans. Second, Mr Musharraf is facing the worst ever internal crisis of his tenure, and is really in no position — at the moment — to normalize relations with India.

Domestic opposition to Islamabad’s decision to cooperate with the US has become even more strident. While initially much of the criticism came from religious parties, there are now reports of protests even from within the ranks of ordinary Pashtun groups, especially in the North West Frontier Province. What is more disturbing are signals that significant sections within the armed forces too may be strongly opposed to Mr Musharraf’s policies. Indeed, his recent decision to sack or transfer key army generals was reflective of the growing contradictions within the forces. Under these circumstances, any move by Mr Musharraf to compromise with India will intensify opposition to him, and may well further alienate him from the bulk of public opinion in his country. All this must, of course, be clear to the shrewd general, and his call for the resumption of the bilateral dialogue is obviously intended to secure short-term diplomatic mileage. Mr Musharraf must also have realized that given Islamabad’s recent provocations it is unlikely that Mr Vajpayee will agree to a meeting at this stage.

   

 
 
EDITORIAL 2 / NEEDED CHANGE 
 
 
 
 
The Union cabinet, as is its wont, has conflated two issues in its efforts to clean up elections to the Rajya Sabha. Its aim in reforming the rules that govern elections to the upper house of parliament was to eradicate the evils of “money power’’ and “cross voting’’. Nobody will question the wisdom of separating the electoral process from the filthy influence of lucre. Pelf wields too much power in Indian politics. To meet this goal, the cabinet has recommended that voting should no longer be through a secret ballot. Voting should be open, every one will know which legislator is voting for whom. This will minimize, to an extent, the propensity, so prevalent in elections to the Rajya Sabha, of buying over voters. This part of the recommendation deserves to be welcomed. The other “evil’’ which is the target of the amendment is “cross voting’’. The elimination of cross voting means a voter no longer votes according to the dictates of his conscience but according to the dictates of his party. In a case where there is a clash between a voter’s choice of the best candidate and the choice of the party, the latter will prevail. This is an extension of the whip which prevails within parliament. This is only an index of the immaturity of India’s democracy. The Rajya Sabha, by its very nature, should be a body where the best should be elected so that it can advise and guide the government. A blanket elimination of what is being called cross voting is also a stifling of individual choice and conscience. The baby has gone out with the bath water in the proposed recommendation.

The other plank of the changes that are being recommended relates to the residence clause. As the law stands now, those contesting polls to the upper house must be voters in the state from which they are seeking election. This is to be changed to allow candidates to contest from states where they are not registered as voters. This is one way of ensuring that the best who are interested in entering politics can enter the legislature without too much hassle. There exists a certain amount of confusion about the role of the Rajya Sabha. As a republic, India could not have a House of Lords, so the Rajya Sabha was conceived as a house of elders. This provides an avenue to induct experts into the process of decision making. Mr Manmohan Singh is the best example of how useful this avenue can be. The process needs to be reformed but the changes should guarantee that the best can get in without corruption and political patronage.

   

 
 
WHO ONLY STAND AND WAIT 
 
 
BY J. N. DIXIT
 
 
Pakistan has again trounced India diplomatically and politically by joining the anti-terrorist campaign of the United States of America. Pakistan is the greater focus of American interest and attention when compared to India, despite India’s decade-long initiatives to get close to the US — this is the lament in all pronouncements of conventional wisdom over the last four weeks. An analysis of Pakistani policies in relation to the US and the current international campaign against terrorism is pertinent in judging whether this lament is valid. To begin with, the salient points in Pakistani policies need to be recalled.

Pervez Musharraf’s first public reaction to the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York came about 24 hours after the incident, in which he condemned the violence, condoled with the US, declared that Pakistan was opposed to all categories of terrorism and offered to cooperate in countering international terrorism. In messages conveyed through the Pakistani ambassador to the US, Maleeha Lodhi, Musharraf stated that Pakistan’s cooperating with the US in the anti-terrorist campaign being planned by the latter is subject to the following conditions.

First, the US should lift the economic and technological sanctions imposed on Pakistan since the early Nineties, particularly after the Chagai nuclear tests. Second, the US should restore the flow of financial assistance of various categories, bilaterally as well as from the multi-lateral financial institutions. Third, the US should extend debt relief concessions on external debts to be repaid by Pakistan. Fourth, that Pakistan will join the US-led international coalition against terrorism only if the US ke- eps Israel and India out of the coalition despite these two countries having offered full support and cooperation to the US. Fifth, the US should restore bilateral financial and defence assistance to Pakistan. Sixth, the US should clearly commit that the campaign is not anti-Islamic but only against specific acts of terrorism. Seventh, Pakistan would like to have concrete evidence of the involvement of Osama bin Laden and the talib- an’s involvement in the terrorist attacks against the US. Eighth, President Geo- rge W. Bush should became directly active in resolving the Kashmir problem.

The US, on its part, has accepted almost all the conditions stipulated by Musharraf de facto though it did not give any formal or public response to these pre-conditions. Economic sanctions have been lifted against Pakistan, financial and defence assistance have been resumed. India and Israel have been advised by the US that their offer of support and cooperation is welcome, but both countries should refrain from taking any unilateral action against terrorism unless there are unavoidable compulsions. At the same time, both India and Israel have been told that the US does not need any operational support from both these countries at this stage. The US ambassador to Pakistan has personally given a detailed briefing on the involvement of Osama bin Laden, his organization, al Qaida, and the taliban in the terrorist attacks against the US.

Some significant nuances and shifts in Musharraf’s policies over the last four weeks also have to be noted. Musharraf has clearly stated that the violence in Jammu and Kashmir is not terrorism, implying that the US-led campaign should not cover the violence originating from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. He also underlined that while Pakistan will offer operational and logistical facilities to the US and members of the coalition in the campaign against bin Laden and the taliban, Pakistani forces will not participate in any operations in Afghanistan. When Bush announced that one of the objectives of the international campaign would be to remove the taliban from power in Afghanistan to replace it by a more acceptable Afghan government through the instrumentality of the Northern Alliance led by President Burhannudin Rabbani, Musharraf objected asserting that Pakistan cannot condone the removal of the taliban from power. Musharraf also opposed negotiations between US representatives and King Zahir Shah in Rome, aimed at bringing Zahir Shah back as titular head of the proposed new government in Afghanistan. It is only after the failure of negotiations between the Pakistani government delegation and that of the religious leaders of Pakistan with the taliban, that Musharraf changed this approach.

Another reason for this was perhaps the taliban not showing any enthusiasm about Musharraf’s proposal that he himself will go to Kabul for another round of negotiations with the taliban. Musharraf has now invited King Zahir Shah to send a special envoy to Islamabad for discussions with the government of Pakistan. This, however, does not mean that Musharraf has decided to abandon the taliban regime in Afghanistan which basically is the creation of the armed forces establishment of Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence organization.

The ground realities which provide the context for these policy orientations are: first, high political and diplomatic pressure from the US on Pakistan to cooperate. Pakistan has agreed to the US and allied forces using Pakistani air space, territory and territorial waters for the planned operations. A US naval force led by the aircraft carrier, Kitty Hawk, is deploying in Pakistani territorial waters between the ports of Karachi and Gwadar. The air and military bases in Quetta are being made available to the US forces. Pakistani armed forces personnel from these places have been withdrawn. Pakistani security forces have been deployed on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to prevent the flow of a large number of Afghan refugees moving out of central and eastern Afghanistan fearing American attacks.

There are two reasons for this. First, Pakistan does not want the taliban to move into its Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan as refugees, thereby increasing the potential of disruptive violence in these sensitive provinces of Pakistan. Second, Pakistan will find it extremely difficult to take on the additional burden of refugees economically and in terms of the social implications of such an influx. The Musharraf government has also closed down the training camps of organizations named in the prohibitory list of the US as terrorist groups. Even otherwise closing down of camps and dispersing of cadre temporarily are logical and politic from a tactical point of view. The most significant ground reality is that certain segments of Pakistani public opinion and most of the Islampasand parties are opposed to Musharraf cooperating with the US, as they perceive the US campaign as an anti-Islamic exercise.

Having said this, one acknowledges that the major political parties of Pakistan as well as the power structure in the armed forces establishment are generally supportive of Musharraf’s policies at present. The rationale and motivations of Musharraf’s interaction with the US are clear. Pakistan has been in an extremely difficult economic predicament since 1998-99. Musharraf needed US assistance to overcome this situation. Had Musharraf refused to cooperate with the US, Pakistan could have been labelled as a state supporting terrorist extremism given Pakistan’s close connections with the taliban, and given the known contacts between the ISI and bin Laden, apart from the links between various terrorist organizations based in Pakistan and the al Qaida. Musharraf, with the memories of American reactions to his Kargil adventure, also apprehended the US endorsing Indian punitive actions against Pakistan, if he did not fall in line with the US. Leaving aside the general economic difficulties, the Pakistan armed forces have been in need of a wide range of defence supplies from the US.

Musharraf’s calculation is that if he cooperates with the US, the defence relationship, especially the defence supplies relationship, between the US and Pakistan will be restored. This has already happened with the announcement by Bush that countries cooperating with the US in its anti-terrorist campaign would be provided with military assistance.

Another motivation of Musharraf in this respect is that if military supplies are restored from the US and defence cooperation revived, the power structure of the armed forces headquarters would be supportive of him. This is an important consideration for him because in the initial stages at least four or five of the 11 corps commanders of Pakistan were not terribly enthusiastic about his cooperating with the US. In fact, the former chief of the ISI, Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, is on public record as saying that Musharraf’s policies are wrong and that they do not serve the long-term interests of Pakistan.

A very important expectation on which Musharraf has predicated his policy of cooperation with the US is that the US will be more understanding if not supportive of Musharraf’s Kashmir policies and foreign policy objectives relating to India. The positive chemistry of Indo-US relations beginning with Bill Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000, and nurtured by Bush could be eroded or neutralized by Pakistan cooperating actively with the US.

This expectation stands partially fulfilled with the US not naming Pakistan specifically as one of the states from where terrorism originates. The US has also formally advised India not to take any punitive action against Pakistan-based terrorists. There is no doubt that Musharraf is walking on a high-tension political tight rope in terms of domestic pressures. One has to accept that he is doing it adroitly so far. We need not get high blood pressure because of the importance being given to Pakistan by the US in terms of the US’s short-term interests and priorities.

We should, however, monitor developments with political sensitivity and alertness. If the current Pakistan-US cooperation evolves into any policy orientations detrimental to Indian interests, we should be prepared with remedial, political and diplomatic options, even operational options against Pakistan. There is no logic in our competing with Pakistan to attract the US’s strategic and foreign policy attention.

The objective of our policies towards the US should be to aim at a strong long-term relationship with the US in the context of the overtures that we have made and the initiatives that we have taken with regard to the US over the last decade. Our approach should be tempered by a continuing awareness that both the US and Pakistan will basically function within the frame-work of their respective national interests. We must not predicate our policies ignoring this abiding reality.

The author is former foreign secretary of India

   

 
 
HEART IS WHERE THE HOMELAND IS 
 
 
BY ANURADHA KUMAR
 
 
For two decades or more, different adivasi groups in Kerala have petitioned and agitated for the return of their land that had been taken over by the new settlers and non-tribals. Earlier this month, when Kerala’s United Democratic Front government decided to accept the main demands put forward by the Adivasi Dalit Action Council, thus bringing to an end a long-drawn agitation, it was termed a “win-win” situation in several quarters. Both parties, it seemed, had finally agreed to reach an amicable settlement.

Yet, for the Adivasi Dalit Action Council, which has spearheaded the agitation of the state’s numerous tribal communities since the mid-Nineties, it has been a pyrrhic victory. This was evident in its agitation this year. It no longer asked for alienated land, at least not as emphatically as in the past. Instead it demanded, mainly, five acres of any other land each for all landless tribal families and the inclusion of tribal areas in the sixth schedule of the Constitution so as to make them autonomously functioning areas.

The nearly seven week agitation formed the lengthiest and most protracted stage in the long struggle and debate over the restoration of alienated tribal land. Despite the Dhebar commission recommendations of the Fifties, and more than two decades since the Kerala government passed the Kerala Scheduled Tribes (Restriction on Transfer of Lands and Restoration of Alienated Lands) Act in 1975, the adivasi communities have gained little from such recommendations and promises.

That state governments were unwilling to implement the provisions of the 1975 act was evident right from the beginning, even in Kerala where rules for its implementation were framed 11 years later. Though the rules framed in 1986 invalidated all land transactions and sales to “outsiders” and “non-tribals”, it also directed the adivasis or original owners to return the amounts received during the original transaction and to compensate for improvements made.

Thus, several loopholes in the rules actually helped guard the interests of the politically powerful settler-encroachers. The adivasis, who even now number 3.21 lakhs, account for only 1.1 per cent of Kerala’s population and make for a politically weak pressure group.

It was in 1996, after successive governments had sought to cynically outmanouevre a high court deadline for the implementation of the act by passing an amendment bill that legalized all transactions of tribal land upto January 1986, that the tribal agitation took a radical turn. Adivasis led by C.K. Janu forcibly tried to enter the state legislature with the support of a group of volunteers from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).

But it was the sensational “Ayyankali Pada” incident — when a group of Naxalites held the Palakkad district collector hostage demanding total implementation of the 1975 Act — that drew widespread attention to Kerala’s tribal land issue and highlighted the apathy displayed by successive state governments towards tribal concerns.

The Left Democratic Front government displayed a remarkable ingenuity by introducing the 1999 amendment bill that defined “land” as “agricultural land”, which was a state subject. This would circumvent the need to secure presidential assent that was required since the 1975 Act was included in the Constitution’s ninth schedule, The new bill also had a controversial provision that repealed the 1975 Act.

The 1999 bill in the Kerala assembly did little to disguise the government’s indifference to the plight of its tribal population, most of whom, in the two decades of governmental apathy, had been reduced to penury.

The amendment allowed for restoration of all encroached land in excess of two hectares — an ineffectual exercise as the number of applicants claiming land in excess of two hectares would be negligible. While promising that alternative land elsewhere in lieu of the land not exceeding two hectares, the new bill also promised to provide within two years land upto 16 hectares to other landless tribal people who constituted an entirely new set of beneficiaries.

When the Kerala high court rejected both the 1996 and 1999 amendment bills, the state government, appealed to the Supreme Court and obtained stay orders. Several appeals against the stay orders still remain pending before the Supreme Court.

It is also obvious that amidst the flurry of legal activity, A.K. Antony’s UDF government would have ignored unprecedented reports of starvation deaths in the adivasi districts had it not been for an incident whereby a group of tribals, supported by radical Naxalite groups, snatched food from government mobile food vans in Wayanad’s Noolpuzha area.

It was this incident that sparked off a spate of agitation by different adivasi bodies, including that by the very public and widely visible Adivasi Dalit Act-ion Council. The agitation in front of the state secretariat lasted nearly 50 days before Antony acquiesced to the tribal demands.

But post-settlement, instead of the proverbial calm, all that has descended is a storm of protest and debate between the major political parties both inside the house and outside. The opposition, mainly the LDF benches, who have worked in tandem with the UDF in blocking all tribal land legislation since the Nineties, have termed the entire venture an “image-building” exercise on Antony’s part.

Coincidentally, the state government is also engaged in passing the Kerala stay of eviction proceedings bill, 2001, that is ostensibly being introduced as a temporary measure pending a more comprehensive amendment of the Kerala LandReforms Act that would regularize the holdings of small farmers and cultivating tenants.

The government’s offer already includes the rider — that it would begin its redistribution from places where sufficient land is available and that it would provide between one acre to five acres of land to others.

The fact that the adivasi council, that claims to speak for a substantial num-ber of adivasi groups, has also agreed to accept the awaited verdict of the apex court on the 1999 Tribal Land Act also indicates its shift away from the demand for full and complete implementation of the 1975 Act.

Meanwhile, other adivasi groups feel that the settlement was a hasty compromise on the part of the adivasi council that is seen to have appointed itself as their “sole spokesman”. Opposition to the settlement by other adivasi groups was voiced at a convention of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-sponsored Adivasi Kshema Samithi.

The CPI(M), too, has its own axe to grind. It has called for an agitation if the government does not distribute among tribals land earmarked for the purpose by the previous LDF overnment.

   

 
 
DOCUMENT / EXPLORING THE AVAILABLE OPTIONS 
 
 
 
 
The share of trade in India’s gross domestic product has been low, less than half of southeast Asia’s in the Eighties, or even China’s. Between 1977 and 1986, India’s share of world exports declined from 0.61 per cent to 0.47 per cent, and did not recover to its 1977 level until 1996. It lost market share in major products to east Asian countries. In some products...where its share rose, others, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, did better…This performance reflected India’s well-known...anti-trade bias in tariffs, quotas, licences etc.

Nonetheless, India’s main export industries — textiles, leather, metal products and “other” manufactures demonstrated the benefits of exporting. Over the periods 1973-83 and 1984-93, these industries exhibited rising labour productivity, capital deepening, and falling unit labour costs which were accompanied by a rise in the rate of growth of employment and wages…The performance of these industries suggests that export markets provide the scope for rapid, employment-intensive industrial expansion... More generally, India’s export industries are more labour-intensive than its import industries…as well as more productive. These facts suggest than an expansion of India’s exports (and imports) would increase output and labour demand.

India’s 1990-91 balance of payments crisis led to major reductions in tariffs, licensing, and trade-related bureacratic procedures, and to a substantial exchange rate devaluation, all of which increased export growth sharply. From 1992 to 1996, India’s share of world exports increased every year… These years coincided with a sharp rise in total (aggregate) factor productivity… In 1997, India’s share of world trade declined (marginally) for the first time in six years, and the decline continued in 1998. This decline coincided with a slowdown in GDP growth and a fall in total (aggregate) factor productivity. Despite the prior major reductions in protection, in 1997, India was still one of the most protected countries in the world… And in 1997 and 1998, tariff protection rose… by three percentage points in September 1997, and the 1998 budget imposed an additional duty of four percentage points…The average annual real exchange rate for 1998 was about the same as in 1993, with some depreciation occurring after July 1997.

Radelet et al conclude that with a proper policy environment, south Asian export growth and GDP growth could increase to the rates achieved in east Asia. With only a 0.61 per cent share in world exports in 1998, Indian exports could keep growing faster than world trade for some time, as the east Asian countries have done in the past and some, such as China and Korea, continue to do even today. What policies would India need to get back to a sustained high export growth that increases labour demand? The best way would be to create an overall environment for export growth.

This will ensure that India makes best use of its abundant labour resources. Since a high export growth rate and share of exports in GDP also means a high import growth rate and share of imports in GDP, it will also ensure that firms, including domestically-oriented firms, face competition from the world market, thereby encouraging them to improve product quality and innovate. Finally, it will ensure that firms can invest with a view towards the export market... Schemes to offset the anti-export bias of high protection, typically, work poorly and fail to generate the general benefits of competition and export-oriented investment because of their complexity, fears of withdrawal on the part of investors, and potential leakages in the benefits.

Moreover, such schemes are susceptible to charges that they are export subsidies — even if that is not the case — as has been happening over the last year, and invite retaliatory action. Thus, the best policy is to create an environment where an export policy is not needed, as the commerce minister stated in his exim policy speech on March 31, 1999 (“Exim policy by itself cannot achieve a very high export growth rate…”)...

Specifically, action along the following lines will help reduce the anti-export bias and thereby increase exports on a more sustained basis than in the past: reducing protection to low and uniform levels and limiting anti-dumping — a new form of protection; maintaining an exchange rate that supports export competitiveness; reducing the bureaucratic, transaction costs borne by exporters; reducing logistic and infrastructural delays; providing a more hospitable environment for foreign direct investment; eliminating product reservation for small-scale industry; and increasing labour market flexibility.

Tariffs have been increased over the last two years, and anti-dumping (which also protects inefficiency) is on the rise. High protection hurts exports by making import substitution more profitable than exports, diverting scarce resources to import substitution, making inputs for exports more expensive, and keeping the exchange rate relatively appreciated. Rapid export growth requires low protection and rapid import growth, so that more of the scarce labour, capital and other factors of production can move out of import-substitution and into exports. Moreover, this policy makes imported inputs available cheaply and subjects domestic producers of inputs for exports to the discipline of import competition. Rapid export and import growth raises output, as well as labour demand, since the factors of production can produce more output, valued at world prices, in exporting industries than in import-competing ones.

To be concluded

   

 
 
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 
 
 
 
 

Out with the old and in with the new

Sir — The execution of the opposition commander, Abdul Haq, by the taliban on October 27 is shrouded in mystery (“Taliban death squad hunts for American”, Oct 28). The Central Intelligence Agency claims they were unaware that Haq would be entering Afghanistan. Yet, it has been reported that the CIA had offered a satellite phone to Haq to use on his mission in Afghanistan. The obvious inconsistency is enough to throw into doubt the entire Haq incident. The CIA also claims that although they felt it was foolhardy for Haq to enter Afghanistan they did not feel they were in a position to advise him otherwise. The callousness shown by the United States in this respect is similar to their behaviour in dealing with anyone who is no longer of any use to them. The taliban was struck off their list of favourites after it served the US’s purpose of helping to overthrow the Soviet Union. It seems a similar treatment has been meted out to Haq who has also been struck off the US top ten list after helping them in their fight against the Soviet Union during the Reagan era.

Yours faithfully,
Romila Bose, Agra

Last efforts

Sir — The Herculean effort with which the Indian cricket team proved themselves to be the superior side in their final encounter with Kenya was truly commendable. After all, the recently concluded one-day series in South Africa seemed basically to be a fight between Kenya and India. That South Africa would win the cup was a foregone conclusion, especially after India lost the first match in which both Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly scored centuries and set a target of 280 runs for South Africa. While it is impressive that members of the Indian team created world records and scored centuries while playing against Kenya, one must question why we lost to Kenya in the first place. Why is it that we all knew that if Kenya beats any team in the tournament, it obviously would be India? Our captain and Tendulkar called the defeat “a wake-up call”. Does our cricket team always need such “wake-up calls”? We seem to enjoy “wake-up calls” from Zimbabwe, Kenya and Bangladesh. Both Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri wrote in their columns that India had a strong chance to win the finals, and Shastri went on to say that this Indian one-day team was the best he had ever seen. All these comments were based on our second victory over Kenya.

Such experts should know by now that besides Tendulkar and Ganguly, there is virtually no one who can either maintain or increase the run-rate by intelligently taking quick singles and creating strike rotations, against strong sides like South Africa and Australia, not even Rahul Dravid who seems to prefer keeping his individual one-day batting average intact rather than trying to enhance the team’s run-rate. A serious change of attitude, coupled with gruelling sessions of fitness exercises and fielding practice, seems to be the only solution for the Indian team’s erratic performance. Ganguly deserves our sympathy and a pat on the back for his performance in this tournament. He did lead by example, but no one seemed to follow suit.

Yours faithfully,
Rahul Dutt, Calcutta

Sir — The one-day cricket match between India and Kenya on October 13 amply displayed the sporting spirit of Sourav Ganguly. During the match, Ganguly praised the umpire, Dave Orchard, for re-inducting Thomas Odoyo after the third umpire declared Odoyo not out. While Ganguly is normally criticized by the media for dissenting against the umpire’s decision, the media did not feel it necessary to pat Ganguly on the back for his gracious acceptance of the umpire’s decision to re-induct Odoyo. Most players of an opposing team would not have been half as gracious and the media should give credit where it is due.

Yours faithfully,
Subhashish Majumdar, Sonarpur

Liaison man

Sir — Win Chadha might not have had an aristocratic background but he definitely lived like an aristocrat and had to pay the price. He was the perfect liaison man who knew the weaknesses of the government and the media and bent them to his advantage with great skill. It is because of his manipulative powers that he not only became infamous but also extremely rich, acting as the middleman for at least three foreign firms, including the Swedish arms manufacturer, AB Bofors.

His rise to riches and his tragic death accurately reflect the nature of the Indian polity in a garish light. He was the agent and later the administrative consultant on a regular salary for the gun manufacturer years before the Bofors scandal made headlines. His annual income tax returns bear testimony to the exorbitant salary that he was paid as do the lavish parties which he was renowned for hosting.

Chadha became a criminal because of an illogical order of the government in 1986. While the Bofors deal was in an advanced stage the government forbade the involvement of any middlemen in defence deals. Though the Central Bureau of Investigation is slack in conducting inquiries and building strong cases, it is unusually tough in seeking legal restrictions on suspects. Win Chadha therefore lost out on many accounts. First, he was involved in the Bofors deal at the wrong time, and second, he was a victim of the CBI’s strange policies which did not allow him to leave the country to receive medical treatment or meet his family who live outside India.

Yours faithfully,
D.V. Vamsee Krishna, Bhubaneswar

Sir — With the death of Win Chadha, (“Win Chadha dies”, Oct 25), the accused middleman in the Rs 1437 crore Bofors scandal which surfaced way back in 1986, the chances of the truth seeing the light of day seem slim. The investigation has faced many obstacles and seems to have been a victim of political pressure.

Even after the case was handed over to the CBI in 1991, it took the CBI many years before they framed charges against the accused. The death of a few of the accused in this case — the defence secretary, S.K. Bhatnagar, and now Chadha — also jeopardizes the investigation process. Public memory is too short to keep tab of such incidents of misuse of office by politicians. One hopes that the government will not let public indifference affect the quest for justice in the Bofors scandal probe.

Yours faithfully,
Harmeet Singh Chawla, Haldia

Sir — The manner in which Win Chadha died is similar to the death of the biscuit king, Rajan Pillai, while the latter had also been in custody. Following a brain stroke, which Chadha suffered on September 17, he had approached the special court asking for permission to meet his family in Dubai. The application was due to be heard on October 29. His plea to go to Dubai for treatment was rejected by the special court and both the high court and the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the trial court’s order.

While it is commendable that the court did not sway from its stand of refusing to allow Chadha to leave India, in the light of the Hinduja brothers being allowed to leave India, the courts could have allowed Chadha to leave India subject to certain conditions. Much like Pillai, Chadha was also refused adequate healthcare which ultimately led to his death.

Of course the courts should not have to allow all and sundry to be able to leave the country whenever they desire. But the courts must follow the same rules for everyone. No explanation can justify why, while the Hindujas were allowed to leave India, Chadha was refused permission to go to Dubai for medical treatment.

Yours faithfully,
Ramona Ray, Shantiniketan

Parting shot

Sir — The former chief minister of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu, has made more than two dozens overseas trips during his term as chief minister, on the pretext of attracting foreign investments. But he had failed miserably in his endeavour. The increasing numbers of closed factories in Howrah, Hooghly and Burdwan proves this fact. The rising unemployment in West Bengal is also an indicator of the Left Front’s failure to resurrect the industrial sector.

The present chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, is following in his predecessor’s footsteps and has made a short trip to Japan (“Buddha says trip fruitful”, Sept 25). The obvious question which arises is, will Bhattacharjee also make foreign jaunts a regular feature? He must realize that investors will come to the state only if the industrial atmosphere is positive. Moreover, Bhattacharjee is yet to deliver on many of the promises made during the elections.

Gheraos, blockades, strikes and rallies have become part of the culture of the state. Law and order and infrastructure need to be improved. Bhattacharjee should ponder the reason why investors go to states like Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh instead of coming to West Bengal.

Yours faithfully,
M. Das, Jamshedpur

Letters to the editor should be sent to:

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Calcutta 700 001
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Readers in the Northeast can write to:
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