Editorial 1 / Talk about what
Editorial 2 / Wrong shot
Diplomacy / Meeting in New York
Fifth Column / An enemy behind every bush
A role outside the state
Document / Mechanics of sexual justice
Letters to the editor

 
 
EDITORIAL 1 / TALK ABOUT WHAT 
 
 
 
 
It is evident to everybody that there is a problem with Jammu and Kashmir, and this stands in the way of better relations between India and Pakistan. The latter claims that the problem pertains to the whole of Kashmir where large sections of the people are engaged in a freedom struggle to liberate themselves from Indian tutelage and oppression. India believes that Pakistan is in occupation of a part of Kashmir which India calls Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Pakistan calls Azad Kashmir. India further holds that the violence in Kashmir is sponsored by Pakistan to further its own ends in the region and to embarrass the Indian state. No communication between the two states can be free of the Kashmir crackle. The prime minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, recently reiterated that the issue is not Kashmir but PoK. Mr Vajpayee is thus clearing the path for what, by any reckoning, will be a protracted process of bargaining. Mr Vajpayee is shrewd enough to realize that if relations between India and Pakistan are to become stable and peaceful, some compromise, on both sides, will be necessary. He has put forward one bargaining chip by emphasizing the importance of PoK in any Indo-Pak dialogue. The signal is clear: Pakistan will have to make some concessions in this area where its claims are very tenuous.

Mr Vajpayee’s statement and attitude have a long history behind them. India, since 1948, has adopted too soft and too inactive a role as far as PoK is concerned. It watched Pakistan, tacitly backed by Britain, take over a part of Kashmir. It has stood by while Pakistan has allowed China to make encroachments in the area. On two occasions, when Pakistan had been militarily defeated, India, bowing to international pressure, did not press home its advantage. In return, Pakistan has used every possible opportunity to make trouble in Kashmir, directly or indirectly. It has needlessly escalated tension in the province and nurtured the delusion that Kashmir belongs to Pakistan. Like all delusions, it has no basis in fact. But Pakistan has made Kashmir into an emotive issue in its own internal politics. Witness, the claim of the Pakistan president, Mr Pervez Musharraf, that Kashmir is in the blood of every Pakistani. In order to counter this kind of exaggeration, Mr Vajpayee has emphasized that what is open to negotiations is the PoK and not the whole of Kashmir. As things stand today, it is unlikely that Pakistan will accept the assumptions embedded in Mr Vajpayee’s statement. Mr Vajpayee knows this and realizes that the present stalemate — in which there is the promise of a dialogue but no actual dialogue — suits India eminently.

   

 
 
EDITORIAL 2 / WRONG SHOT 
 
 
 
 
The army’s job in containing civilian conflicts is never easy, especially if it has to fight a propaganda war as well. It will take some time to get to the truth behind the ugly controversy that has surrounded the death of five Nepalese in an army shootout in Assam’s Kokrajhar district. It is to be hoped that the Assam government’s magisterial inquiry into the incident will steer clear of the propaganda and the communal passions which some organizations have sought to raise over the deaths. The army has repudiated the allegation that the five Nepalese had been killed “in cold blood” and submitted “proof” to claim that at least two of the victims had links with Bodo militants. Three others were said to have been involved in harbouring members of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland. It is for the inquiry committee to find out if anything about the army action went wrong. But if the Bodo militants have jumped into the fray to point an accusing finger at the army, this is primarily because of the recent army offensives against them. The NDFB has no right whatsoever of accusing the army, or the state police, of human rights violations. Its own record of ethnic killings is one of the worst for any militant group in the Northeast. Only last month, Bodo militants perpetrated their latest act of ethnic cleansing, having killed 14 Bihari farm labourers. There is, therefore, something cynical about the NDFB trying to make common cause with the All Assam Nepali Students’ Union and fomenting Nepali passions against the army .

The army has generally done a commendable job in Assam where it joins the state police and the paramilitary forces in fighting militant groups like the United Liberation Front of Asom, the NDFB or the Bodoland Liberation Tigers. The “unified command”, set up some years ago to coordinate the battle against militancy, has succeeded to a large measure in restoring peace in the state, particularly in lower Assam. Since the army’s northeastern campaign against the insurgent groups has been a long and complicated one, it has devised many ways to address local concerns and aspirations. One such project was the “Good Samaritans”, in which the army sought to reach out to remote villages in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam with help in healthcare, construction of roads and providing drinking water. The primary objective of these exercises is to win the local people’s confidence, which is crucial for the battle against insurgency. There have been occasions when the army itself took initiatives to punish officers and men responsible for human rights violations. Irrespective of the government probe, the army would do well to examine whether its officers and men erred at Kokrajhar. If they did, the army authorities should take action in the interest of its own good work in Assam.

   

 
 
DIPLOMACY / MEETING IN NEW YORK 
 
 
BY K.P. NAYAR
 
 
It was ironic that when more than 2,500 of the world’s movers and shakers, most of them ardent votaries of globalization, met during last weekend at the 2002 conference of the World Economic Forum, they spent more time discussing the globalization of terror instead of themes which have traditionally been closer to the hearts of corporate CEOs.

Terrorism was never away from the minds of the WEF members at any time during the annual meeting, not merely because it was taking place in New York, which witnessed the world’s most dramatic terrorist attack last year. The barricades at every block in Manhattan and the identity checks at every conceivable event, even those unrelated to the WEF, only served to highlight the dire new threats as a result of globalization. The New York conference was a sea change from the one in Davos last year — or any held earlier, for that matter. Last year, most of the same conferees spent a lot of time discussing the threats to globalization, especially from those committed young idealists who had successfully disrupted the World Trade Organization’s meeting in Seattle. The biggest challenge to globalization then appeared to come from what was being loosely described as the “anti-globalization movement” — the same groups which last year demonstrated their prowess in reducing parts of Genoa to rubble during the summit of the Group of Eight rich nations.

In New York, the tables appeared to have been turned altogether. Protests by these self-proclaimed enemies of the Davos process were pro forma and low key. But speaker after speaker at the Waldorf Astoria — to the opulence of which Davos had moved in 2002 — reflected directly or otherwise on the threat from globalization to what had been assumed would be mankind’s way of life in the 21st century. Meeting in New York, the WEF brought home the realization that what happened at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 would not have been possible without globalization.

If Hitler or Stalin could not do to America what 19 hijackers armed with little more than box-cutters could perpetrate on September 11, it was partly because the tools of globalization which Osama bin Laden used to his advantage were not at the disposal of either the Führer or the Soviet dictator. For proof, one need not look any further than bin Laden’s interview late in October to Al Jazeera, which was kept under wraps by the Arab television station and was telecast by CNN last week, triggering a messy quarrel between the two television outfits.

In that interview, bin Laden referred to his adept use of the technological benefits of globalization when he ridiculed White House pleas to American news organizations not to show the Saudi-born terrorist on screen lest he used TV appearances to convey hidden messages. “They made hilarious claims”, bin Laden said of the Bush administration. “They said that Osama’s messages have codes in them to the terrorists. It’s as if we were living in the time of mail by carrier pigeon, when there are no phones, no travellers, no internet, no regular mail, no express mail and no electronic mail. I mean, these are very humor- ous things. They discount people’s intellect.”

For this reason, the “global village” will no longer remain the way we knew it, especially since the end of the Cold War. Already restrictions on the United States of America’s borders with Mexico are so severe that the idea of Americans considering a “Berlin Wall” on the border to keep out unwelcome visitors is no longer in the realm of the unthinkable. In countries like India, the Canadians, under US pressure, are not issuing visas even to members of parliament and government officials going on official visits without a formal interview with consular officials. There was satisfaction at the WEF that the dire predictions of an abrupt end to globalization had not come about. But at least in the foreseeable future, the meaning of globalization will read differently in government lexicon.

Travel, as the examples of Canada and Mexico show, is no longer free, although it has not ground to a halt as some had prophesied in September. Information is no longer viewed as a right and has been severely curtailed as even innocuous facts are taken off government web sites in the US. A question mark hangs over tax havens and banking centres as movement of finance is under greater scrutiny than at any time since World War II. This can only get worse, not better, as shown by the experience of Pakistani banks engaged in legitimate business in the US, which are virtually non-functional on the orders of the Federal Reserve.

In his Oval Office, the president, George W Bush, keeps a “score card” with small pictures and short biographies of al Qaida leaders to be crossed off with a red “X” mark every time one of them is killed by US forces or their allies in Afghanistan. Of the 22 photographs there, only six have been crossed off so far. And the score card does not include names of people like the taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who are yet to be captured or killed. What this means is that much more is yet to come in America’s war against terror, as US actions now under way in the Philippines testify. That prompted Bush to talk about the “axis of evil” in his state of the union address last month focussing on Iran, Iraq and North Korea, as debate rages in Washington on the next course in the anti-terrorist campaign.

If Bush decides, unwisely, to take on a country like Iran or North Korea and adds more to this list, the reversal of globalization can only gather speed. Add to that the unfolding saga of Enron and its long term repercussions for cross-border, trans-continental businesses, and the picture is, by no means, rosy. Already, Argentina has tempered the enthusiasm of all but the most ardent advocates of laissez faire for policies which the US and western Europe have been advocating since the collapse of communism. Argentina was one country which adopted capitalist free market reforms with the passion of a new convert.

It sold off everything from its infrastructure to family silver to foreign investors, abolished all curbs on commerce and was, therefore, held up as a model for reform in Latin America along with Chile. Today, Argentina is little more than a nation of beggars, its economy non-functional, the state in tatters: at the revolving door of the presidential palace, one president lasted in office for just half an hour. After Argentina’s embrace of globalization, no developing country is quite likely to go that far.

On the day Mikhail Gorbachev was briefly overthrown in 1990 by the hardline clique in his politburo, P.V. Narasimha Rao, who had been prime minister only for a few months, warned that countries and leaders in the developing world ought to draw lessons from the experience of the last Soviet leader. He was then ridiculed by India’s Western-oriented elite for carrying baggage from the socialist past. But Rao’s warning more than a decade ago is more relevant today than in 1990. Because, as global integration slows down, the forces which could have acted as a catalyst in the process a decade ago have become weak. Indeed, after the experience of September 11, they too see the global village as a mixed blessing.

But this is not to say that the process of globalization has hit a cul-de-sac. Technology has advanced to a point where it is impossible to put the clock back. At his last meeting with K.R. Narayanan, the Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping, told the then Indian vice president, an old China hand from India’s diplomatic service, that while China was developing, the benefits of development would not reach every part of the mainland evenly. Deng regretted that there would be huge pockets of under-development in China, but it was inevitable.

It is clear from the deliberations at the WEF — and at the World Social Forum of WEF’s opponents in Brazil, also during the weekend — that the same will be true of global integration for some years to come. India is now being projected as one of the countries, along with China and Brazil, where trends in globalization will prevail. If this is, indeed, so, it is largely because New Delhi has so far been a careful — if not hesitant — traveller on the bandwagon of reform. A survey of the global scene ought to convince the prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, that the caution of the last decade must continue to guide his government’s policies.

   

 
 
FIFTH COLUMN / AN ENEMY BEHIND EVERY BUSH 
 
 
BY GWYNNE DYER
 
 
George W. Bush’s state of the union speech on January 29 pushed all the right buttons with the American population that still feels frightened and beleaguered, but it also sounded downright naive. Here was a man with practically no real military experience and little more in dealing with the wiles of the professional military, who took intelligence briefings at face value. He even believed in an “axis of terror”.

Let’s start with the remarkable notion that Iran, Iraq and North Korea — total population under 100 million, average annual per capita income under $ 5,000 — were linked in a terrorist conspiracy to bring the world to its knees.

All of these countries have sponsored terrorist acts in the past, but nothing has changed in their behaviour or policies since last August, when Bush was touting them not as terrorist menaces but as “rogue states” whose alleged nuclear missile ambitions justified his anti-ballistic missile defence project. And nothing has been found in the al Qaida camps in Afghanistan that links them in any way with Osama bin Laden or the September attacks on the United States of America.

The last known terrorist attack by North Korea was more than a decade ago, when agents of the late Kim Il Sung blew up a plane full of South Korean officials. Under his son Kim Jong Il, it remains a nasty, repressive state, but its people are starving, the economy is wrecked, and the regime has been trying for years to bargain away the nuclear weapons programme it inherited from Kim Il Sung (which is a very long way from completion) in return for large scale economic aid.

Troublesome trio

Iran’s Islamic regime loyally supports anti-Israeli guerilla groups, notably Lebanon-based Hizbollah (which last year forced Israel to pull out of southern Lebanon after a 19-year occupation). However, the last time Iran was rumoured to be involved in international terrorism outside south Asia (the “terrorism of global reach” that is the avowed target of Bush’s war) was the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. And that allegation too was not taken seriously last year by the international court that tried the Libyan agents accused of placing the bomb.

Iraq will remain a danger to its neighbours so long as Saddam Hussein is in power. Ask the Iranians, who lost hundreds of thousands of soldiers repelling Saddam’s forces in the Iran-Iraq war. But there is no evidence that Iraq has sponsored any international terrorist attacks in recent years.

As for Hussein’s once-ambitious nuclear weapons programme, it was dismantled by United Nations inspectors after the Gulf War. He has probably restarted it since UN inspectors were expelled three years ago, but he now operates under a strict international embargo.

Phony aggression

These three countries are neither allies, nor do they speak much to each other. And there has been absolutely no development, no new information, that suggests they are one whit more dangerous now, even to their immediate neighbours, than they were a year ago. So what is this all about?

“If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome. If you believe the priests, nothing is holy. If you believe the generals, nothing is safe.” Georges Clemenceau, prime minister of France during World War I, said that, but it is a lesson the younger Bush has yet to learn. Bush has fallen into the hands of intelligence agencies who see conspiracies everywhere because that is their “professional deformation”, as the French say.

He is a willing victim, because it serves his purposes to be fighting a war rather than a recession. And it will probably remain a phony war unless some of the tens of thousands who trained in al Qaida camps (the vast majority of whom remain at large) succeed in carrying out another major terrorist attack against the US.

If that happens, however, then Bush would be compelled by his own rhetoric to make massive “retaliatory” strikes against all sorts of real and alleged terrorist targets, killing thousands of innocent Muslims in the process — which is what bin Laden has been after. His real goal, after all, is to bring about anti-Western revolutions throughout the Arab and the broader Muslim world.

   

 
 
A ROLE OUTSIDE THE STATE 
 
 
BY BIDYUT CHAKRABARTY
 
 
In the contemporary discourses on development, the nongovernmental or voluntary organizations provide significant inputs. Voluntarism in development is characterized by participation in the process of economic production, exchange or distribution of non-state agencies, individual groups or associations, imbued with a certain sense of purpose. Although its impact on the development process varies from one society to another, its role can never be completely ignored simply because state-directed development has largely failed in the third world context.

Voluntary action refers to those forms of activities whereby individuals and groups seek to influence and often transform the institutions, technologies and other norms that sustain the prevalent socio-economic and political order. The states, along with other organizations, which have authority to exercise public power, play decisive roles in structuring our lives. With the onslaught of globalization and the rolling back of the state especially from the social sector, voluntary organizations appear to have created a distinct space for themselves.

The growing importance of the voluntary sector is but an aspect of the decline of the development state, which drew significantly on the model bequeathed by the colonial powers. It is true that the postcolonial state expanded its activities to reach out to those in the periphery. But this vision of development had to reckon with the failure of state-driven programmes for the people which were, by definition, formulated by those at the top of the bureaucracy.

The gap between the aim of development and its actual manifestation clearly identifies three features of third world development as engineered by Western capitalism. First, the rise of inequality reflects the inability of the capitalist economies to transfer the mechanism of capitalist growth to the non-capitalist world of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Second, decolonization was not really a break with the past since the post-colonial state failed to allocate resources into those production lines which were essential for the transition to self-sustained growth, largely because there was a clear continuity in the basic economic agenda. Third, by believing in statism and a statist view of development, the process that unfolded actually undermined what was already there in terms of the voluntaristic base of third world societies, and the new voluntaristic thrust that came up in the wake of the struggle against the alien power.

Voluntarism is therefore a significant input in development, especially in the context of a foreign rule which invariably pushed a particular process of development that matched its own ideological agenda. Given its long colonial past, India is probably the best example of the role of voluntary organizations in development. In India, voluntary organizations have two roles. First, voluntary organizations complement the activities of the state. There are activities, initiated and funded by the state, in which voluntary organizations participate to complete the task. In such a situation, since their role is virtually conditioned and governed by the state, they merely act as agents of the state.

Second, voluntary organizations undertake activities where the state is either absent or its role is negligible. This is an area where the part played by voluntary organizations is most crucial. They bring forward those areas of developmental activities which may not have interested the state for its obvious ideological bias, but are decisive for development. By suggesting new areas of necessary and significant activities, voluntary organizations contribute to a process in which an alternative to state-engineered development begins to evolve. As they are not dependent on the government, not only do they formulate their agenda, but they also decide their own modus operandi.

What this invariably results in is the involvement of the people in the developmental activities which are structured around the self-formulated agenda. With the gradual withdrawal of the state from the social sector, voluntary organizations have grown in importance not only as an alternative to what is being pursued as development but also as a relatively new experiment in which the conventional agencies are being eclipsed.

Voluntary agencies are therefore civil society organizations working on different issues for different interest groups, separately or in combination. They play the role of activists, carrying out programmes and delivering services. They mobilize opinion and awareness.

The growing importance of voluntary organizations is therefore both an outcome of and a challenge to what is construed as development in today’s parlance. The increasing presence of voluntary organizations in India’s socio-economic development, both during the nationalist movement and after independence, clearly brings out the growing importance of these efforts, usually dismissed as futile by the state-driven development schemes and programmes.

Analysis of the role of voluntary agencies in development in India highlights three points which are of immense theoretical significance in grasping the development process, particularly in a third world situation. First, their growing strength contributes significantly to the importance of civil society — a space that has largely been encroached upon by the state. Drawing on a network of various non-state institutions — families, associations of different types, including trade unions and clubs — voluntary associations are also a serious endeavour to create an autonomous sphere outside the state. Not only do they restore the space that originally belonged to civil society, but they also assist in conceptualizing development from a completely different perspective in which the state is peripheral.

Second, there has been a shift in conceptualizing the role of voluntary associations. Since the dominant paradigm for this is both statist and corporatist, their role is structured around the patron-client network in which the state is hegemonic. This is an inhibiting conceptualization in that it does not provide even a clue to meaningfully explaining voluntary efforts not rooted in the state or its initiatives.

What is needed, therefore, is an alternative analysis which draws upon not only political rights against the state but also upon rights which pertain to the social, ethnic, ecological, gender and ethical mainsprings of a diverse and plural society. So voluntary associations are probably the most important agent in radically altering the development paradigm by suggesting a more action-based agenda, founded on the rights of diverse communities, ecologies and moral orders, violated and homogenized in the process of an essentially state-oriented development.

Third, given the hegemonic role of the state, development invariably means a programme of action based on the priority of developmental goals, defined in a universalistic manner. The state is a facilitator of development, articulated in ways that ascertain conformity with an essentially Western ethos. In this sense, development is political and not at all managerial or administrative, as it is sought to be made because what accounts for a specific type of development is not the system of government but the type of state, regardless of whether it is democratic or not.

Development is not, therefore, axiomatic, and its features vary radically from one society to another, simply because of the different political contexts in which it is articulated. What is evident is that there are multiple ways of conceptualizing development and not merely through measurable indicators like the gross domestic product. The role of voluntary agencies is crucial here. They have not only exposed the inherent limitations of the state-driven development paradigm, but have also put forward a view of development which departs from the conventional ways of measuring development by focusing not on GDP and the gross national product, but on the enlargement of human capabilities and the enhancement of the quality of life for all.

   

 
 
DOCUMENT / MECHANICS OF SEXUAL JUSTICE 
 
 
 
 
“The exact time of commencement and completion of the examination shall also be noted in the report, and the registered medical practitioner shall, without delay, forward the report to the investigating officer who shall forward it to the magistrate referred to in section 173 as part of the documents referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (5) of that section.

“Nothing in this section shall be construed as rendering lawful any examination without the consent of the victim or any person competent to give such consent on his/her behalf.”

Insertion of new section 53A in the Code of Criminal Procedure recommended — The proposed section 53A shall read as follows: “53A. (1) When a person accused of any of the offences under sections 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or 376E or of an attempt to commit any of the said offences is arrested and an examination of his/her person is made under this section, he/she shall be sent without delay to a registered medical practitioner by whom he/she is to be examined.

“(2) The registered medical practitioner conducting such examination shall without delay examine such person and prepare a report specifically recording the result of his examination and giving the following particulars: (i) the name and address of the accused and the person by whom he was brought, (ii) the age of the accused, (iii) marks of injury, if any, on the person of the accused, and (iv) other material particulars in reasonable detail.

“(3) The report shall state precisely the reasons for each conclusion arrived at.

“(4) The exact time of commencement and completion of the examination shall also be noted in the report, and the registered medical practitioner shall, without delay, forward the report to the investigating officer, who shall forward it to the magistrate referred to in section 173 as part of the documents referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (5) of that section.”....

Consequent upon the proposed amendment of section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, sub-section (6) of section 198, CrPC, shall be amended in the following manner: The words “sexual intercourse” shall be substituted with the words “sexual assault” and the word “fifteen” shall be substituted with the word “sixteen”.

After section 198A of the CrPC, 1973, the following new section 198B shall be inserted: “...No court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under sub-sections (2) and (3) of section 376E of the IPC (45 of 1860) except upon a police report of facts which constitute such offence or upon a complaint made by the person aggrieved by the offence or by his/her father, mother, brother, sister or by his/her father’s or mother’s brother or sister, or by any other person related to him/ her by blood or adoption, if so permitted by the court.”

A proviso to the following effect be added under section 273, CrCP, above the explanation clause therein: “Provided that where the evidence of a person below 16 years who is alleged to have been subjected to sexual assault or any other sexual offence is to be recorded, the court may take appropriate measures to ensure that such person is not confronted by the accused while at the same time ensuring the right of cross-examination of the accused.”

We recommend that section 114A of the Indian Evidence Act,1872, be modified to read as follows: “114A. Presumption as to absence of consent in certain prosecutions for sexual assault. — In a prosecution for sexual assault under clause (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) or (g) of sub-section (2) of section 376 of the IPC (45 of 1860) where sexual intercourse by the accused is proved and the question is whether it was without the consent of the other person alleged to have been sexually assaulted and such other person states in his/her evidence before the court that he/she did not consent, the court shall presume that he/she did not consent.”...the aforesaid presumption is a rebuttable presumption of law (“shall presume”) within the meaning of section 4 of the Evidence Act.

We recommend deletion of clause (4) of section 155 of the Evidence Act.... We recommend that after section 53, the following section be inserted: “53A. In a prosecution for an offence under section 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or 376E or for attempt to commit any such offence, where the question of consent is in issue, evidence of the character of the victim or of his/her previous sexual experience... shall not be relevant on the issue of such consent or the quality of consent.”

In section 146 of the Evidence Act, the following clause shall be added after clause (3): “(4) In a prosecution for an offence under section 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or 376E or for attempt to commit any such offence, where the question of consent is in issue, it shall not be permissible to adduce evidence or to put questions in the cross-examination of the victim as to his/her general immoral character, or as to his/her previous sexual experience with any person for proving such consent or the quality of consent.”

We recommend accordingly and urge the government to initiate steps to amend all the three acts, namely, the IPC, the CrPC, and the Indian Evidence Act on the lines suggested by us.

Concluded

   

 
 
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 
 
 
 
 

Think before you leap

Sir — Jyoti Basu may have retired as chief minister of West Bengal, but he seems determined to continue meddling in party politics. His moves to include his protégé, Subhas Chakraborty, in the central committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is evidence of his continued high-handedness in party affairs (“Mentor gives rebel Subhas a leg up”, Feb 1). Basu is impervious to any embarrassment Chakraborty’s elevation might cause to the party. After all, Chakraborty has quite a reputation as a rebel. He has been openly critical of his party in the past and has often defied his party’s diktats. This has cost the CPI(M) dearly, and certainly given the opposition the edge on a number of occasions. To be fair to Basu though, Chakrabarty’s inclusion in the party’s central committee might be intended to stem factionalism in North 24-Parganas. However, there is no guarantee that Chakraborty’s promotion will teach him to mend his ways. The CPI(M) should carefully weigh the cons before taking the plunge.

Yours faithfully,
Subhojit Roy, Calcutta

Politics of the list

Sir — It was hilarious to read that L.K. Advani figures on Pakistan’s list of wanted criminals for having conspired to assassinate Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan and other top leaders of the Pakistani movement in September 1947 (“Advani wanted in Pakistan”, Jan 31). It is astounding that the court officials in Karachi have discovered the “dormant” file naming Advani and 12 other “absconders” in the case, after a gap of almost 55 years. I wonder why the Pakistanis have spared Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who too was an active member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at the time? Is it because Pakistan hopes that Vajpayee, being a “moderate”, will agree to make concessions on Kashmir?

How far will Pakistan take such ridiculous behaviour? Will it now request India to extradite these criminals, including Advani, and route the request through the president of the United States of America, George W. Bush? Or, will Pervez Musharraf try and convince Bush to request Vajpayee to hand over Advani in exchange for Dawood Ibrahim, for the sake of justice of course?

This move by Pakistan is a clear sign of its frustration at the recent turn of events. Bush’s January 29 state of the union address to the US congress, in which he lauded the growing cooperation between the US, China and India in combating terrorism, warned the Jaish-e-Mohammad to stop its terrorist activities in India and ticked off nations harbouring terrorists, has further aggravated Pakistan’s ire.

Also, India has stepped up its diplomatic offensive against Pakistan and deployed more troops along the line of control — measures that seem to be paying off. It seems the US now understands India’s concerns and has kept its policy of appeasing Pakistan to the minimum. Pakistan must shed its anti-India mindset, or it will find itself isolated in the world forum.

Yours faithfully,
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur

Sir — Pakistan’s list of 12 criminals whom it wants India to hand over shows that the country’s leaders are at their wit’s end. Despite its best efforts, Pakistan has not located a single anti-Pakistan terrorist hiding in India. Frustrated that its efforts have come to naught, it has trained its guns on L.K. Advani by linking him to an entirely fictitious plot. Advani has long been a target of Pakistani ire because of his unequivocal statements about cross-border terrorism in India being sponsored by Pakistan. Pakistan’s actions show it will go to any lengths not to concede to India’s demand that it hand over the terrorists and criminals who have taken shelter in Pakistan.

Yours faithfully,
Avishek Biswas, Calcutta

Home and abroad

Sir — The Central government’s recent proposal to grant dual citizenship to non-residential Indians is no surprise (“Citizenship deal for NRIs”, Jan 9). Since most NRIs are Hindus, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has a definite motive behind taking such an initiative.

Before the government takes any decision in this regard, certain following factors must be taken into account. Will these NRIs be loyal to their motherland, and if so, in what way will they show their loyalty? Can they cast their votes in the general election, or contest elections in both countries? Can they invest in both countries and take advantage of the business laws of both countries? Will the children of parents who were born in India also be granted dual citizenship? Why should NRIs settled in the United States of America, Britain and the five other identified countries only enjoy the privilege of dual citizenship? What about Indians settled in Sri Lanka, Mauritus or any other country?

During my last visit to some European countries, I spoke to Indians settled there and found that they had many grievances. The authorities concerned should ponder over the matter in great detail before taking a decision.

Yours faithfully,
Basudeb Bhattacharya, Calcutta

Sir — The National Democratic Alliance government’s proposal to grant dual citizenship to NRIs in the US, Britain and Australia seems like a ploy to divert attention from the various controversies dogging the nation. The country has enough problems — internal and external. Besides, the economy is in a mess thanks to the financial scandals that have recently been exposed. The government had better deal with these first before floating such frivolous ideas.

Yours faithfully,
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore

What a shame

Sir — Indians make tall claims of patriotism, but are sadly lacking when it comes to giving expression to the sentiment. I realized this recently while watching the film, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, at a theatre.

In the film, a child of Indian origin living in London is depicted as singing the national anthem on his school’s annual day function. When the child started singing, I stood up, expecting the others to do the same. But I was stunned to see barely a handful of people on their feet. Worse, a few people even turned to us disbelievingly, as if we had done something bizarre. It is indeed a shame that some people feel ashamed and awkward to stand up as a sign of respect to our national anthem.

Yours faithfully,
Nisha Bothra, Calcutta

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