Editorial 1/ Good ending
Editorial 2/ Changeover
Global inequalities
Fifth Column/ Democrat into dictator
Words over troubled waters
Document/ Notes towards a definition of terror
Letters to the editor

People’s initiatives can go a long way in influencing perceptions and decisions of political leaders. Last week’s ceremony in Kohima to launch the “Naga national reconciliation” could well be a momentous beginning for the long-suffering people of Nagaland on a new journey of hope. A political solution to the problem of Naga insurgency requires sensitivity and a spirit of accommodation. It is therefore commendable that the Naga Hoho, the apex body of the tribal councils, the church and other mass organizations, which arranged the meeting in the state capital, put the focus on “reconciliation”. With its emphasis on a “forget and forgive” message, the Kohima “declaration” did well to avoid controversies and the blame game. It is meant to reach out also to non-Nagas — mostly security personnel — who too were “wronged”. It was particularly touching that scores of children whose fathers had been killed in the long cycle of violence attended the function to spread the message of forgiveness publicly. In a way, the meeting was a continuation of the peace process initiated by the church and other organizations at Atlanta in the United States of America some years ago to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Baptist Church in Nagaland. But the Kohima gathering is a more hopeful event because of the larger participation of the people’s organizations and representatives of the state government as well as the National Socialist Council of Nagalim led by Mr Thuingelang Muivah and Mr Isak Chisi Swu.

As organizers of the meeting must have known, it is only the beginning of a difficult journey. Reconciliation scenes often have discordant elements left somewhat unresolved. In this case, the absence of any representatives from the Khaplang faction of the NSCN could be seen as one such element. The rivalry, often violent, between these two factions has a long history, and the question of representation in the state cannot afford to ignore its proper resolution. Also, the state’s scepticism about the Centre’s motives and modus operandi cannot be wished away too easily. The good sense and hope that prompted the meeting must now prevail to continue it. While the initiatives between New Delhi and the NSCN(I-M) for a political breakthrough have to carry on, peace moves in Nagaland are too important to be left to politicians alone. Undoubtedly, the success of the ceasefire between the army and the NSCN(I-M) for the last five years, despite occasional hitches, is also because of the pressure of public opinion. The ceasefire is the result of a long-awaited realization on the part of both the Centre and the rebel groups that bullets can bloody the fields but bring no solution.


A coup should be appreciated. The chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Mr Ajit Jogi, has apparently pulled one off. If the fuming Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are to be believed, the decision of the 12 BJP legislators to join the Congress is entirely the chief minister’s doing. But sulks are not explanations, and cannot stand in for introspection. However, since the move has raised the number of Congress seats to 62 in the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly, the knee-jerk reaction on the part of the BJP is not too surprising. The walkover by the dissident legislators has been managed with a technical flawlessness that has made the BJP leadership impotent. To avoid the anti-defection law, the former BJP members of the legislative assembly formed their own party, the Chhattisgarh Vikas Party, for a day, and then announced their decision to join the Congress. Whatever the plot underlying the quick-change drama, Mr Jogi is suddenly on a better wicket than he was. Suspect among some of his partymen because his tribal antecedents were held up to question, and having pipped powerful rivals like Mr V.C. Shukla to the post of chief minister, Mr Jogi’s performance had recently come in for growing criticism. But now his unit in Chhattisgarh is big enough to enable the Congress to send two members to the Rajya Sabha from the state. Mr Jogi is excusably smug, citing discontent among the BJP ranks as reason for the split, and foreseeing such splits in other states soon. He himself, however, might have to shuffle his cabinet around a bit, in order to reward the quick changers. Discontent has a habit of spreading.

The BJP has to be content at the moment with inquiry teams and the threat of a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into allegations of horsetrading. There is also a nuanced promise of violence, since agitations are being encouraged in the assembly segments of the dissident MLAs. None of this is a solution. If the BJP is serious about preventing such mishaps in the future, then the report of the Central team looking into causes and effects of the split should act as a basis for introspection. In many ways, the BJP has been extraordinarily lucky. The December 13 Parliament attack has probably improved its chances in the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and, if the high command plays it right, the Central government may even be able to push through the prevention of terrorism ordinance. The Chhattisgarh episode is a sudden drawback. The experience may impel the party to pay more attention to its state units, because quite a few assemblies will be elected in the next two years. Chhattisgarh, for example, goes to the polls in 2003. Making a villain of Mr Jogi is rather unproductive under the circumstances.


An article by William Easterly and Ross Levine in a recent issue of the World Bank Economic Review discusses what we have learnt from a decade of empirical research on growth. The data that it discloses show how different the rates of growth of countries in the world are. It confirms the disturbing fact that at the global level income is increasingly concentrated among a small number of countries in the world, leaving the rest to deteriorate in deprivation.

The top 20 countries of the world with only 15 per cent of the world population produce 50 per cent of global gross domestic product. The poorest half of the world’s population accounts for only 14 per cent of global GDP. These concentrations of wealth and poverty have also an ethnic and geographic dimension, which increases the perception of racial factors in global income distribution. Eighteen of the top 20 countries are in western Europe or are settled in primarily by western Europeans. Seventeen of the poorest 20 countries are in tropical Africa. The richest country in the world (United States of America) had in 1985 an income 55 times larger than that of the poorest country. Further, the income of the richest quintile in the US was 528 times larger than that of the poorest quintile in the poorest country, Guinea-Bisau. The dense 10 per cent of the land area accounts for 54 per cent of the global GDP, as against the least dense for only 11 per cent.

These revealing facts about the unequal distribution of wealth lead us to the basic question as to what is it that accounts for the differential rates of growth between countries. It is obvious that countries with more capital and labour grow faster, but that is not all that is needed. In economics jargon, it is not factor accumulation that fully explains differential growth. Factor accumulation itself — which the increase of capital and labour represent — does not explain fully all the differences between rates of growth of countries. In the authors’ view, while factor accumulation does not account for the bulk of cross-country differences in the level and growth rate of GDP per capita, there is a residual factor at work.

Economists typically refer to this something else as “total factor productivity”. There is no unanimity in definition of total factor productivity, although everyone agrees that it is an important explanatory variable. The concept of TFP ranges from changes in technology to the role of externalities, changes in the sector composition of production and adoption of lower-cost production methods. Research into the profile of TFP variations is still being conducted on a large scale. It is obvious that TFP is the most important variable, which determines why, for instance, the US is growing faster than similarly endowed countries in Europe.

What explains the variations in TFP has been gone into by the authors of the article. While the article attempts to throw light on the factors that explain the variations of factor productivity, it introduces a complication by pointing out that results of research show that incorporation of human capital accumulation as an explanatory variable does not fully explain the variations in TFP between countries. The data analysed by the authors, in fact, suggest a weak and sometimes inverse correlation between improvements in educational attainments of the labour force and growth of output of work. That is to say, higher education of labour does not seem to be a sufficient condition for its higher productivity.

Quite possibly, this interesting finding is due to the mismatch between the levels of education imparted and the skills actually needed for activities that generate social and economic returns. This finding may well explain why, for instance, the high human development in terms of education in a state like Kerala is not fully reflected in its economic growth. Obviously, the finding is not to be used to reduce outlays on human development, but rather to structure outlays in such a way that they contribute to the growth of TFP by fitting in the education to the skill shortage.

The authors point out that contrary to popular impression the history of global economic growth has not been one of steady-state growth, but of ups and downs. Growth is not persistent over time, even though capital accumulation in some countries take off in the Rostowian sense, while others experience peaks and valleys. A few grow steadily and some have never grown. The primary season for these differences is variations in the TFP. The authors point out that although steady-state growth describes the US experience over the past 200 years, such models may not fit the world as a whole. Unlike the experience of the US, many other countries have gone through sharp booms and bursts.

One of the interesting conclusions of the study is that there is a tendency for the rich continuing to grow richer, aided by the accentuated global flow of factors of production. This trend must be because there are important externalities in terms of policy environment, which in richer countries encourage the flow of both capital and labour in the same direction over time.

The pervasive tendency is for all flows of factors of production to bunch together. Capital flows primarily are directed to areas that are already rich. The richest 20 per cent of the world population received 92 per cent of gross portfolio capital inflows of the world, whereas the poorest 20 per cent received just 0.1 per cent. Similarly, the richest countries of the world population received 79 per cent of foreign direct investment and the poorest 20 per cent received 0.7 per cent. Altogether, the richest 20 per cent of world population received 88 per cent of gross private capital inflows and the poorest 20 per cent received 1 per cent. The tendency is thus for the flow of factors of production to concentrate towards the richer areas, especially through flows of financial capital.

Equally important is the fact that skilled labour also tends naturally to migrate to the richer countries. While one may argue that poor countries cannot afford to take in more migrants, it is also true that the very process of immigration leads to loss of skills on the part of the poorer countries from which the labour migrates to the rich. This trend is helped by the fact that rewards for skilled labour in the richer countries are relatively much higher than in poorer countries.

Hence, the perverse result that the probability of migrating to the US is 3.4 times higher for an educated person than for an uneducated person. The fact remains that skilled labour tends to migrate to countries that are richer. It is also relevant that the US’s immigration policy has itself been consciously weighted in favour of encouraging larger immigration of persons with relevant skills needed for the new economy. This helps widen the skill gap.

The fact that there are differentials in the growth rates of countries is obvious from a study of different economies. What is not obvious, however, is what is being or not being done to set right these growth differentials. The influence of a few countries amidst deprivation of vast areas of the globe is in itself a source of trouble. Global unrest as evidenced by the recent discontent, which has taken various forms, including terrorism, cannot be addressed purely through political means or by waging war. It is necessary to attack the basic cause of income inequality between different countries and between different regions of the same country.

This cannot be attacked except through a conscious policy enabling capital and labour movements towards countries and to regions, which do not at present attack such flows. This would involve a conscious change of policy from the laissez-faire approach so as to encourage the growth of factor productivity. Studies cited by the authors in the article in the World Bank Economic Review show that policy environment has a great deal to contribute to the improvement of TFP. But, TFP improvements alone — in the absence of increased capital and labour flow — will not help in the resolution of the problem of global inequalities. Both factor flows and improvement of TFP are necessary.

At a time the richest country of the world (the US) is attacking the poorest country (Afghanistan) in an effort to set right a perceived wrong, it may look inopportune to call for a radical change of policy, which will go to the root of the problem of global economic inequalities. But careful consideration of the basic causes of the current discontent will show that only a holistic approach to the economic problems of a divided world will help solve them.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have an important role to play in reversing the trend towards the concentration of growth. Market forces alone cannot direct financial flows, which are critical to restore global growth momentum. This may call for a radical review of the role of the World Bank and other multilateral institutions. They have to perform the essential task of redressing the flowing gap, which is a consequence of the operation of market forces. Laissez-faire will only perpetuate the drift towards increasing inequality and greater unrest, which feed violence and terrorism.

The author is former governor, Reserve Bank of India


“Last week we could not afford bread. This week we cannot get bread,” said a Zimbabwean worker last October, after President Robert Mugabe imposed price cuts on basic foods that drove most producers out of the market. But Mugabe had a solution for that too: “The state will take over any businesses that are closed. We will reorganize them with workers, and at last the socialism we (always) wanted can start again.”

Bit by bit, the facade of democracy and moderation that Mugabe had constructed in Zimbabwe for the past two decades has fallen away, exposing an angry and frightened 77-year-old dictator who would rather bring the temple down around his ears than yield power gracefully. As the violence against opposition parties and the white minority and the assaults on the media and the courts have grown, Zimbabwe’s reputation has been sinking as fast as its economy — and it’s dragging a whole region down with it.

Zimbabwe, a country of 11 million people whose main source of income is agriculture, really matters only to Zimbabweans. South Africa, with four times as many people and enormous symbolic importance as the only developed country in the African continent, matters much more. The two countries have little in common except a border, but their fates are linked, because the global markets are as ignorant as they are prone to panic.

Caricature leader

Just as a debt crisis in Argentina can stampede investors into a panic-stricken exodus from markets throughout Latin America, so a political crisis in Zimbabwe can lead them to treat the whole of southern Africa as “unstable”. Since Mugabe unleashed the crisis in Zimbabwe less than two years ago, South Africa’s stock market has tumbled, its currency has halved in value, and foreign investment has collapsed — even though it is a stable democracy with completely orthodox economic policies.

It is mostly Robert Mugabe’s fault. Once revered as a liberation hero and respected as a man who had put his own Marxist and authoritarian instincts aside for the good of his people, he has become, in the words of Desmond Tutu, former archbishop of Cape Town, “almost a caricature of all the things that people think black African leaders do”.

Five years ago, Zimbabwe was a model of development in Africa: a relatively poor country where most people nevertheless had access to education and basic health care, and some hope of a better future. Now there is 100 percent inflation, no foreign exchange, and the looming prospect of international sanctions. Three-quarters of Zimbabweans live in abject poverty, and a 40 percent fall in agricultural production this year, directly due to the political violence, means many face actual starvation.

Yesterday’s man

How has this happened? It is mainly due to the fact that after 21 years of Mugabe’s rule, the country has outgrown him. He always ran a de facto one-party state behind a democratic facade, but just as he was planning to crown his career with a new constitution enshrining one-party rule, a democratic opposition emerged in the country. The mainly urban-based Movement for Democratic Change fought for the rejection of the new one-party constitution in a referendum in February 2000, and its victory was a profound shock for Mugabe. Suddenly, his own power seemed in question. He responded by launching the wave of government-sponsored political violence that has since devastated the country.

Despite all the intimidation and vote-rigging, Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party came within a whisker of losing last April’s parliamentary election. The MDC could still win in March if pressure from South Africa, the European Union, the Commonwealth and the United States forces Mugabe to accept international monitoring of the election. Robert Mugabe is yesterday’s man, and today’s Zimbabweans (thanks largely to his policies) are better educated and more sophisticated than their parents’ generation. As an official inside the Central Intelligence Organization said recently: “We can read the writing on the wall. There’s a lot of document shredding going on.”


David Blunkett, the British home secretary, recently posed the question, “How do they [immigrants] avoid a conflict between embracing the history and identity of someone born abroad and identifying with Britain, whilst being able to contribute to those cultural norms which go to make up the country we are today?” Blunkett’s query was trailing the publication of a home office report into the race riots in the English towns of Burnley, Bradford and Oldham this summer. His answers created controversy: immigrants must drop offensive practices such as forced marriages and female genital mutilation, obtain a “sufficient grasp of the English language” and possibly face a “light touch” naturalization test on English culture. As the Labour peer, Baroness Uddin, commented, “If he has been quoted correctly, it is very dangerous. His remarks sanction extremist rightwing groups to blame the riots on women who were not learning English or going into forced marriages.”

But for many critics, it is not Blunkett’s proposals that have caused exception. As the deputy mayor of Oldham, Rhiad Ahmed, has pointed out, the rioters in his town probably spoke “perfectly good English” and knew their role in society only too well. It is the implied stereotype of the immigrant as a savage who castrates his womenfolk with an inarticulate howl, that has proved offensive. And is Britain really so small and colloquial an island that confining an immigrant in one of the refugee camps on the south coast of England, is really like inviting him into “our home”? This is a more gentile form of racism: the immigrant as the good guest, who must wander around our back gardens constantly surprised by how oppression has been lifted through the grace of the English language and by dropping a few cultural practices at the host’s bequest.

The image has been flattered for several generations by the entry jobs immigrants are often “invited” to take in low level service industry: corner shop owners, taxi driving, restaurant work. But thinking of their children as immigrants, and in terms of “debts” to society, is surely one of the reasons for the unrest in the north of England. The rioters were not Calibans who had just learnt to curse, but, in the words of Mohammad Sarwar, the member of parliament for Glasgow Govan, “children born and brought up here” who “feel themselves to be British” and don’t need “any lessons from anybody about their patriotism and Britishness”. The real problem lies in poverty and a sense of exclusion, not from what the hosts offer but from what the hosts have.

Blunkett wisely sought to generalize his statements in a later statement, “Those that argue that the ability to speak English is not important are denying others the most basic tool of social inclusion. People who can’t speak English are far less likely to get jobs, share in the education of their children and take part in the wider public culture.” His comments on adopting cultural norms became “we must protect the rights and duties of all citizens and confront practices and beliefs that hold them back, particularly women”. Blunkett was using his best liberal, integrationalist language. Without reference to the riots or immigrants, who would not feel included in the magnanimous claim that “citizenship means finding a common place for diverse cultures and beliefs…”?

He has still failed, however, to address the details of the home office report into the riots. His controversial “answers” drew on only some of the report’s main points: ethnic minority communities often discriminate against women, an oath of allegiance would foster a sense of common identity between communities which otherwise suffer from a “depth of polarization” with members living “a series of parallel lives”. But as to who is responsible for this situation, the report stresses that it is not just the minority communities. Criticism of the good hosts occupies much of the report: the absence of “positive leadership” among town councillors has led to “the growth of extremist party political support”. Deals are often struck with “self-appointed…unrepresentative community custodians”. Central government community initiatives “lack coherence” and are constantly being introduced without the old ones completed. Police forces are attacked for tolerating “no go areas” on town estates, and for not following up community drives, and local media for printing anonymous inflammatory letters.

The report also focusses on the Euro-centric curriculum and the pervasive Christian worship offered by state schools. There is particular criticism of faith based schools and their fostering of communal identities (it was under Blunkett’s tenure as education secretary that 13 faith based schools were created, with 60 to be approved).

As Polly Toynbee has commented in The Guardian, referring to Blunkett’s original comments, “It is not that [he] said anything untrue, it was all in the emphasis.” The problems of emphasis were in blurring the differences between third generation Asians living in the north of England and newly arrived immigrants, in blaming minority communities for their own social exclusion, and in ignoring some of the simple initiatives suggested by the report to change the situation. These range from support for self-help initiatives such as the community patrols in Birmingham’s Balsall Heath estate, to the establishment of an anti-discrimination code for political parties in time for next May’s local elections, and the teaching of British history in schools so that “young people from ethnic minority backgrounds feel a sense of belonging and ownership”.

In short, the home secretary just didn’t speak enough about “the duller practicalities of getting communities to rub along together”. Blunkett has claimed that he wished to create debate. He has instead made good headlines, whilst ignoring the details of the report and of life in Britain, in which Matthew Taylor, the director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, finds the only hope for a viable multi-culturalism. As Taylor reflects, “I write… in the global borough of Lambeth, in which 130 languages are spoken, in which I recently counted 12 nationalities running shops within 200 yards of my home and where children enjoy a good education in a school where whites are probably in a minority. We have our tensions and troubles but so does every inner city area, including those that are almost all white. Most people in Lambeth would agree with the majority in opinion polls that Britain has become a better place as a result of growing ethnic diversity.”

Taylor is describing what is, compared with the estates of northern English towns, a prosperous part of London, where there is already a depth to ethnic overlapping. When writing on the summer riots he notes pessimistically the “failure of the liberal dream and of its translation into the policy…of multiculturalism”. But if the “liberal dream” of people “who are properly educated” living “together harmoniously,” often means in practice the majority learning to tolerate a degree of difference should its failure be regretted? Taylor finds much to celebrate in the possibility of life lived outside the terms of debates on race and assimilation/integration.

Unfortunately, Blunkett chose for his comments before the release of the race riot report the broadest of assimilationalist terms. He has ignored the fact that multiculturalism is not a creed or a belief, just the simple experience of people in Britain. In doing so he has turned the debate away from examining the social deprivation which exists in the north of England, and the details of the report, and found instead that responsibility for the disturbing summer riots resting on everyone’s shoulders but his own.


Recalling the existing international conventions relating to various aspects of the problem of international terrorism, in particular the Convention on Offences and Certain Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, signed at Tokyo on September 14, 1963; the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, signed at The Hague on December 16, 1970; the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, signed at Montreal on September 23, 1971; the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 14, 1973, the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 17, 1979; the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, signed at Vienna on March 3, 1980; the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, signed at Montreal on February 14, 1988; the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, signed at Rome on March 10, 1988; the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, signed at Rome on March 10,1988; the Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection, signed at Montreal on March 1, 1991; the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 15, 1997; the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1999.

Recalling also General Assembly resolution 49/60 of December 9, 1994 and the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism annexed thereto;

Recalling further General Assembly resolution 51/20 of December 17, 1996 and the Declaration of supplement the 1994 declaration on measures to Eliminate International Terrorism annexed thereto;

Deeply concerned about the worldwide escalation of acts of terrorism in all its forms, which endanger or take innocent lives, jeopardize fundamental freedoms and seriously impair the dignity of human beings;

Reaffirming their unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomever committed, including those which jeopardize friendly relations among states and people and threaten the territorial integrity and security of States;

Recognizing that acts, methods and practices of terrorism constitute a grave violation of the purposes and principles of the United Nations, which may pose a threat to international peace and security, jeopardize friendly relations among States, hinder international cooperation and aim at the undermining of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the democratic basis of society;

Recognizing also that the financing, planning and inciting of terrorist acts are also contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations, and that it is the duty of the States Parties to bring to justice those who have participated in such terrorist acts;

Convinced that the suppression of acts of international terrorism, including those which are committed or supported by States, directly or indirectly, is an essential element in the maintenance of international peace and security and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States;

Realizing the need for a comprehensive convention on international terrorism;

Have resolved to take effective measure to prevent acts of terrorism and to ensure that perpetrators of terrorist acts do not escape prosecution and punishment, by providing for their extradition or prosecution, and to that end have agreed as follows:

Article 1: For the purpose of this Convention: “State or government facility” includes any permanent or temporary facility or conveyance that is used or occupied by representatives of a State, members of government, the legislature or the judiciary or by officials or employees of a State or any other public authority or entity or by employees or officials of an intergovernmental organization in connection with their official duties.

“Military forces of a State” means the armed forces of a State which are organized, trained and equipped under its internal law for the primary purpose of national defence or security, and persons acting in support of those armed forces who are under their formal command, control and responsibility.

To be concluded



Hidden activities

Sir — Parimal Bhattacharya has forcefully argued that only dedicated activists, and not politicians, can fight to better the plight of the urban poor (“This is not your war”, Dec 19). Integrating slum dwellers into the mainstream city life is an urgent necessity in all third world cities. Bhattacharya has also stated that in Calcutta politicians hijack the cause of the urban poor only because we do not have committed social activists to take up their cause. While it is true that Calcutta cannot boast of high profile celebrity activists, we do have several committed NGOs and voluntary agencies working in this field. These agencies and their work are not well-known because they do not receive the kind of media coverage they would get in cities like Mumbai. Their cause and their fight for the rights of the urban poor therefore go unnoticed. Meanwhile, politicians like Mamata Banerjee and Subrata Mukherjee get all the credit of championing the rights of the poor.
Yours faithfully,
Michael Das, Calcutta

Still inseparable

Sir — I was surprised to see Ashok Mitra’s pessimistic prophecy, “Kashmir will be gone, with or without the ritual of plebiscite” (“Not the season for sanity”, Nov 23). Kashmir, much like other princely states, had acceded to India through an instrument of accession which had been signed by the Kashmiri maharaja, Hari Singh. Ever since, Kashmir has become a part of Indian territory. It should also be noted that although the Indian Constitution has a provision for accession, it has no provision for secession from Indian territory. Moreover, parliamentary elections held in Kashmir by the Indian government further confirm Kashmir’s constitutional and political integration with the country.

Ashok Mitra is, therefore, incorrect when he asserts that “Kashmir is, really and truly, an occupied territory: Indian military and paramilitary personnel rule the roost.” He should not ignore the fact that these military and paramilitary forces are required in a state where Pakistan is carrying on militant activity against the people, especially in the aftermath of the Kargil war. The presence of Indian armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir is a must if India has to monitor and stop Pakistani activity in India. That India will ever allow “Kashmir to be gone” is unthinkable. The best and most effective manner in which the Kashmir problem can be solved is through the implementation of the Simla pact as well as the Lahore declaration.

Yours faithfully,
Haridas Chakrabarti, Calcutta

Sir — Ashok Mitra in the article, “Not the season for sanity”, has called a spade a spade. What is required at this critical juncture is to view Kashmir in the right perspective. Unfortunately, the National Democratic Alliance-led government does not appear to care as much about the people of the country as they do about clinging on to the chair. Mitra’s view that Kashmir is really an occupied territory is accurate, and should be an accepted fact. In light of what Mitra says in the article, it would be appropriate on the part of our government to start working towards improving the current state of affairs, political and social, in Kashmir. The government should also seriously start considering whether or not to minimize the strength of the military forces in Kashmir. After all, while Kashmir might indeed be a part of India, the people of Kashmir will soon tire of living under the watchful eyes of the military.

Yours faithfully,
M.S. Qais, Calcutta

The suspects

Sir — The last five years have helped convince most people that J. Jayalalithaa and Laloo Prasad Yadav are possibly the most corrupt politicians in power at the moment. Although, as chief minister of Tamil Nadu from 1991-96, Jayalalithaa accepted a meagre monthly salary of only rupee one, she managed to accumulate an astonishing amount of wealth during this period. How she did so remains unanswered. Her public expenditure has been well documented, especially the crores of rupees she spent on the marriage of her adopted son a few years ago.

Much like Laloo Yadav, Jayalalithaa is facing innumerable corruption cases. Her convictions in the Pleasant Stay hotel scandal and in the Tansi land deal case have been recently over-turned by the Madras high court (“Court delivers crown to Jaya”, Dec 5). These two convictions had prevented her from contesting the assembly elections in May and led to her resignation from chief ministership. However, the original complainant, Subramaniam Swamy, is likely to move the Supreme Court against the high court verdict. It would be advisable for Jayalalithaa to wait for a clearance from the apex court before she contested the byelections.

Yours faithfully,
M. Das, Jamshedpur

Sir — That corrupt politicians like J. Jayalalithaa and Laloo Prasad Yadav are still allowed to contest elections and hold important positions in administration is an embarrassment for the country. What is most pathetic is that both these politicians have innumerable loyal supporters who fail to see the negative effects of voting them to power.

Yours faithfully,
M.S. Kilpady, Mumbai

Sir — The recent Madras high court ruling on J. Jayalalithaa shows that our Constitution needs to be amended. Jayalalithaa can easily return to office since Article 164(2) of the Constitution says “appointment of a person as chief minister cannot be challenged on the ground that he is not a member of either house of the legislature of the state at the time of his appointment”. Jayalalithaa has to become a member of the assembly. Yet, the trial court had sentenced her to two years’ imprisonment and her candidature had been cancelled on that ground before. How can such a leader be allowed to contest elections again?

Yours faithfully,
Subhashish Majumdar, Sonarpur

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