Editorial 1 / Countdown
Editorial 2 / Step in time
Relations stop nowhere
Fifth Column / State of a sagging morale
Mani Talk / Tremors in Tripura
Document / Not a level playing field
Letters to the editor

The results of the just concluded assembly polls in four states beam only one definite message. The electorate of Punjab, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal have lost their faith in the Bharatiya Janata Party as an organization capable of providing good governance. The BJP has been unseated from power in UP and Uttaranchal and has lost ground in the other two states. In electoral terms, this is perhaps the worst showing of the BJP since it assumed power in New Delhi. The verdict cannot but have an impact on the future of the government led by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The results embody too strong a statement of disapproval for them to be disregarded by either the BJP or its opponents. The debacle in each of the states is related to local issues and failures, yet the cumulative impact of the setback has national implications. Even before the BJP performs a post mortem of the results and reviews its political strategy, it will have to reckon with the startling fact that over large parts of the country — 25 out of the 29 states — its writ does not run at all. The overall gainer from the BJP’s losses has been the Congress, which now controls 11 states. This will mean that the Congress and other political forces opposed to the BJP will make it difficult for the BJP government at the Centre to function effectively. Governmental action will inevitably be hamstrung and governmental decisions impossible to implement. Assembly election results will thus throw portentous shadows on the BJP government at the Centre.

In the states where the verdict is fractured, as it is most markedly in UP, the political scenario will take what in India has become a predictable course. Horse trading, defections and the role of moneybags will dominate proceedings. Within the BJP, discussion will revolve around the failure to project the success, however modest, of the BJP in furthering economic reforms and in the handling of an international crisis after the events of September 11, 2001. In some quarters within the party, the defeat will be related to the abandoning of the Hindutva agenda, and criticism of Mr Vajpayee will mount. In all this, a broader constitutional point may get lost. It is obvious from the trends revealed by the recent election results that the Indian electorate is prone, these days, to lose its faith and switch loyalties rather quickly. This could be a reflection of what analysts call the incumbency factor. Elected governments seldom, if ever, deliver on promises in India and hence, they lose support and the electorate chooses a different party to articulate its interests. This tendency makes a strong case for reducing the terms of elected governments from five to four years. This might work towards reducing complacency where smugness is another name for political power.


The indefinite ceasefire agreement signed between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is by far the most important political breakthrough achieved in recent years. After 17 years of a bloody civil war, in which more than 60,000 people have been killed, there is finally hope that peace may return to Sri Lanka. It is critical, therefore, that not only is the agreement implemented, but that the government of the prime minister, Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe, work speedily to secure a political consensus on the issue. The detailed agreement, facilitated by Norwegian diplomats, lays down measures that have to be implemented in stages over the next 160 days. The most important part of the ceasefire is a complete prohibition on land, air and sea operations by both sides and a ban on assassinations, abductions and suicide missions. What is noteworthy is that the agreement allows for the gradual re-entry of unarmed LTTE cadre into government-controlled areas of the Tamil-dominated north and east of the island state for the purposes of political work.

The agreement is based on the implicit recognition of the LTTE and its leader, Mr Velupillai Prabhakaran, as the “sole spokesman” of the Tamil people. Therefore the government has agreed to the disarming of anti-LTTE militant groups within the next 30 days. Although this will cause some anxiety, no agreement could have been achieved without recognizing the supremacy of the LTTE. The ceasefire will be monitored by an international committee, largely composed of nationals from Denmark, Finland and Sweden, which will be supported by local monitors. While the full implementation of the ceasefire will be a huge step forward, the real challenge will be to ensure that the end of violence creates conditions for durable peace. Both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE have compromised on their absolute positions. The LTTE seems to have accepted that an independent eelam may not be possible. And Colombo seems to have realized that peace cannot be achieved without making concessions, including substantial devolution of powers and the unification of the Tamil-majority north and east. New Delhi has wisely hailed the pact. Although India has been working behind the scenes to secure the accord, it has resisted the temptation of an active public involvement. The only real opposition has come from the Sri Lankan president, Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga. Her criticism has so far focussed on minor technicalities, but her opposition may also be related to a feeling of being left out. It is vital that the prime minister and the president bury their political differences in the larger national interest. Only then can there be a real hope that peace will return to the island state.


The United States of America and Pakistan have been the operational focus of India’s foreign policy since the terrorist attacks on the US in September, 2001. The focus on Pakistan increased after the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13 last year. The major powers whose attitudes and policies are of importance to India are the US and China. There has been a greater clarity in US policies in this regard in Indian perceptions owing to two reasons: links between al Qaida, the taliban and Pakistan-based terrorist organizations active against India, and the continuous high-level interaction between the governments of India and US since September last.

In contrast, there have been ambiguities regarding China’s attitudes and policies in Indian perceptions. The visit of the Chinese prime minister, Zhu Rongji, to India early in January has, to some extent, clarified these ambiguities. India has been host to two senior Chinese leaders since the second half of 2001. The former prime minister and number two in the Chinese Communist Party’s hierarchy, Li Peng, was in India with a large Chinese business delegation earlier and Zhu Rongji was in India early this January.

Both Li Peng and Zhu Rongji came to India amidst the changing strategic and security environment in subcontinental Asia in the context of the US-led campaign against international terrorism. Discussions between these leaders and the Indian leaders signified, first, that the controversies which afflicted Sino-Indian relations in the aftermath of India’s nuclear weapon tests in 1998 have been set aside and that both countries are trying to get bilateral relations back on track. Second, the discussions emphasized the revival of continuity in Sino-Indian relations which began with the visit of the president, K.R. Narayanan, to China. Zhu Rongji’s visit has been interpreted in positive terms by sections of the media and political analysts.

His visiting India at a point of time when India’s relations with Pakistan are in a state of high tension has been interpreted as reflecting China’s desire to have an even-handed and impartial relationship with India and Pakistan in contrast to the close political and strategic involvement of China with Pakistan.

One must examine whether this assessment is entirely accurate. Recalling the immediate background of Rongji’s visit would be pertinent. Pervez Musharraf visited Beijing twice recently. The first at the end of last year; the second took place in response to Indian diplomatic and military pressure on Pakistan in reaction to the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. Although media reports asserted that Musharraf got a “frosty reception” in Beijing, and that unlike in 1965 and 1971, the Chinese did not generate any overt political and military pressure on India, the fact is that China has given both financial assistance and defence supplies to Pakistan in recent months since September 2001 to the tune of about half a billion dollars. This has been done on the rationale that China, apart from continuing its traditional defence relationship with Pakistan, is strengthening Pakistan as a partner and ally in the global struggle against international terrorism. It is interesting to note that the US government and media have interpreted this recent assistance as proof of China’s support to the US-led coalition against terrorism.

Whatever the interpretation, the net result is that Pakistan’s military capacities are sustained and enhanced by this assistance. This cannot be ignored by India. We must realize that while sustaining its close substantive strategic relationship with Pakistan, China is engaged in an exercise of structuring a political balance in power equations in the subcontinent by simultaneously engaging the Indian government. Rongji came at a point of time when the US’s strategic presence was increasing in south and central Asia. The Kuwait war in 1990-91 initiated this process. While forces of the Pacific and central commands of the US converge in their jurisdictional role across the Pacific and the Atlantic, in the Indian Ocean and west Asia, the US central command’s physical presence is now there in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The chief of the US central command, Lieutenant General Tommy Franks, stated during his recent visit to Pakistan that the US will continue its military presence in the south Asian region for some time to come. George W. Bush’s state of the union message on January 30 underpins this indication. He stated that the campaign against terrorism is just beginning and is to last a long time. He indicated that North Korea, Iraq and Iran, could be the subsequent targets of the US campaign.

There is US military presence now in Peshawar, Abbotabad and at the ports of Pasni, Gwadar and Karachi. The US’s military presence at Gwadar has complicated China’s naval presence at that Pakistani port. It is logical, therefore, for China to structure its south Asian policies in the context of the challenge which the US poses to Chinese influence in the area by the US’s planned long-term strategic presence. This, in a manner, could encourage China to have a practical and stable relationship with India, while sustaining its equations with Pakistan to the maximum extent possible. This is the logic of Rongji’s recent visit to India, more than China’s desire to be impartial to Pakistan and India.

We would do well to remember that in relative terms, relations with the US and Pakistan remain a matter of higher priority in Chinese foreign policy, owing to economic and political reasons.

This is the context in which one has to assess the short-term prospects of India’s relations with China. Six significant bilateral agreements were signed with China during Rongji’s visit. These were on resumption of direct civil aviation contact between Beijing and New Delhi, on cooperation in the fields of tourism, space, science and technology, and to cooperate in countering terrorism through the creation of a Sino-Indian joint and comprehensive disarmament, an agreement on working towards a just and fair economic order and the potential for bilateral technological cooperation. There is a basis for structuring a durable and practical relationship between India and China despite the undercurrents of competition and the legacy of mutual suspicions.

Rongji’s coming to India at a time of subcontinental crisis and his statements here indicate that possibilities of such Sino-Indian cooperation exist.

The author is former foreign secretary of India


At the time of independence, West Bengal accounted for a fourth of India’s total industrial production. By 1995-96, the state’s share had come down to 4.1 per cent. In 1985-86, West Bengal accounted for 10 per cent of India’s total foreign trade, which came down to 4 per cent in 1998-99. After Maharashtra, West Bengal is the second most indebted state, and has an extremely poor record of resource mobilization. Its per capita income has also steadily declined, placing West Bengal among the middle-income-group states. Despite a slight recovery, this stagnation shows no sign of abating.

A recent report, “Industrial Revival in West Bengal”, released by a group of the state’s foremost economists, quashes the belief that labour problems are the primary cause of the state’s industrial decline. In fact, the state has, and always had, one of the lowest incidence of strikes.

The report strongly advises against the pursuit of high-tech and capital-intensive heavy industries which are likely to benefit only Calcutta. Besides, the high-tech sector is relatively new to the state and investors would rather invest in ventures located in Bangalore or Hyderabad.

Sector of concern

This argument tends to see the information technology sector as one homogeneous whole — data-entry operators and software developers. But IT is a highly differentiated sector. In the Seventies, Calcutta was considered an ideal location for India’s IT industry. After the exodus of some major industrial houses, IT-enabled services are again mushrooming rapidly in the state.

From low-value call centres to back-end IT applications and analytics, IT-enabled services have made the job market vibrant in India, even as recession benights the United States of America. The IT boom is fuelled by the trend to outsource business processes to cheaper locations such as Mexico, India and the Philippines by US and European companies. The market for outsourcing, it is estimated, will be an enormous $ 540 billion by 2004. This year, even an optimistic body like the National Association of Software and Service Companies has had to revise its estimate for the growth of IT-enabled services upwards to 70 per cent. India has a meagre 0.5 per cent of this mammoth market.

IT-enabled services have the potential to absorb much of the state’s registered 5 million unemployed. Two integral components of the IT industry are high bandwidth connectivity and educated manpower. West Bengal can lead the country in this phenomenally high growth area.

Shaping up

The IT makeover in the state will acquire depth with the proposed software technology parks at Durgapur, Kharagpur and Siliguri; e-governance initiatives like the computerization of health, family welfare and rural development departments; office automation projects; community information centres and the tele-medicine link between hospitals in Calcutta and the districts.

The report emphasizes industrial growth through small units in which the state has certain advantages. This of course needs to go hand in hand with the development of infrastructure like roads, electricity and communication.

Land reforms, the increasing importance of panchayats and the seeping influence of market forces have been able to break the centuries-old stagnation in agriculture in the state. From the early Eighties, agriculture has been growing at a much faster rate than the national average.

The broad industrial strategy thus proposed needs to hinge on three critical priorities: infrastructure, IT and support for small-scale units. The government needs to tackle urban unemployment with IT-enabled services, and the downturn in the rural economy with small-scale industries. The model should be the broad-based and diversified industrial sectors in China or in the successful east Asian countries.

That is still some way off. “Single window clearance” in West Bengal still means taking a “no objection” certificate from 35 to 47 organizations starting with the local sanitary inspector. English must be introduced from kindergarten. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s slogan, “Do it now”, may be able to prompt the gigantic leap West Bengal has been waiting for.


The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has won a handsome victory in the byelection to the Lok Sabha in the Tripura West constituency, retaining the seat with a majority of nearly 1.5 lakh votes over its nearest rival, the Congress. At the same time, the Congress has increased its votes from 84,000 in 1999 to nearly 2.5 lakh this time round. And Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (whose partner in crime is the Bharatiya Janata Party, indeed, the whole of the ruling National Democratic Alliance at the Centre) has crashed ignominiously from nearly 1.75 lakh in 1999 to under 35,000 in 2002. Not an earthquake, perhaps, but a tremor yet too slight, apparently, to be accorded much attention on the political Richter scale. Yet, look below the surface and certain trends emerge which political analysts would be well-advised to fit into their calculus. For the future beckons. This byelection covered half the assembly segments of the state. Elections to the state assembly are due in a year’s time. Is it conceivable that Tripura will go the Kerala way or remain a pale imitation of West Bengal?

The comparison with Kerala collapses because there is no Trinamool or equivalent in Kerala. Moreover, the battle there is between two long-established fronts, led respectively by the CPI(M) and the Congress, regularly alternating with each other. In Tripura, the battle-lines are more straightforward, the two major parties on either side of the divide, and the tribal voters sitting on the fence deciding where to jump. Since December 1997, when Mamata founded her Trinamool Congress, the battlelines have been muddied, with the Congress and its breakaway vying for recognition as the second major party of the state. Indeed, in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool led the Congress by nearly one lakh votes even if it fell a good 2 lakh votes behind the CPI(M).

The erosion of the Trinamool has now reached the stage of erasure. Their candidate, former Congress chief minister, Sudhir Ranjan Mazoomdar, has polled so shamefully low a vote that it would be reasonable to bet that he will be the first to return to the Congress after this poll and bring with him the remaining 35,000 errant voters. Tripura is thus restored to the battle-field between the CPI(M) and the Congress, with, at first glance, the Congress so far behind the CPI(M) as to enable the latter to spend the next twelve months snoring like the hare in Aesop’s fable. If it were to do so, the Congress tortoise is well-placed to overtake the CPI(M) hare and breast the tape first, come February 2003.

However, I yield to none in my respect for the CPI(M) cadre. So, I do not for a moment entertain the illusion that the CPI(M) will celebrate its Tripura West victory by nodding off like some 21st century Rip van Winkle. It is clear that, as of now, approximately 4 lakh voters are with the CPI(M) and approximately 3 lakh are against the CPI(M). The Congress must, therefore, steal at least 50,000 votes from the CPI(M) and add a few more from those who voted neither in 1999 nor in 2002 to come within kissing distance of victory in the state assembly elections, as far as the segments falling within Tripura West are concerned. The prospects for the Tripura East segments will be profoundly influenced by what happens in the western segments although, of course, the tribal-dominated eastern half of the state has its own political dynamics.

Thus far, the CPI(M)’s tribal vote has remained virtually unimpaired, notwithstanding the merger earlier this month of the Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti, led by Shyama Charan Tripura, and the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, led by Bejoy Hrangkhawl (who earned his spurs in the underground Maquis). The new formation, the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura, was in alliance with the Congress but, as the results from the seven tribal-concentration assembly segments of Tripura show, has not impacted electorally on the CPI(M)-held segments even in these constituencies. Therefore, is the new INPT a damp squib or a fire-cracker waiting to go off at the next state assembly elections? On the answer to this question turn to the prospects for 2003.

Apologists for the limited impact of the INPT-Congress alliance could argue that the merger and alliance were struck too close to the polls to have the desired impact. They could also point to the opposition of the tribal students’ federation to the merger and alliance, which objection was withdrawn only on the immediate eve of the elections, leaving little time for the message to penetrate the dense and remote forest areas where many of the tribals live. Also, there is some truth in the assertion that militant groups fighting both the security forces and the political (as distinct from insurgent) elements of tribal opinion were not put sufficiently on the run to desist from intimidating voters on polling day proper. But this recitation of excuses does not add up to a political game-plan. Tactically, if not strategically, the INPT-Congress alliance is still to make its mark and prove that it is soundly conceived.

The precedent to bear in mind is the state assembly elections of 1988 which Rajiv Gandhi whisked away from under veteran Nripen Chakraborty’s nose by the stratagem of ending the insurgency of the Tripura National Volunteers (then led by Bejoy Hrangkhawl who is now once again in alliance with the Congress) and allying the Congress with the TUJS. Tragically, Rajiv died and the Congress was not able to maintain the alliance into the 1993 elections. It thus lost two state assembly elections in a row. The TUJS is now reinforced by the IPFT and disillusioned with ten years of step-motherly treatment at the hands of the CPI(M). No alternative organized political force exists among the tribals; it is a question of winning over those still influenced by the secessionist, gun-toting militants. That is the task which is cut out for the new INPT over the next twelve months.

The INPT went into the recent Lok Sabha byelection without a manifesto on the key issues confronting the tribal communities of the state, especially the vexed question of a “state within a state”. The rest of Tripura can hardly enter into a political dialogue with the INPT until the INPT clarifies its collective mind on such complex constitutional issues and carries with it the tribal community as a whole on the internal consensus so evolved. An INPT convention is scheduled to be held shortly. The elaboration of a common ground at this convention will be the first step towards giving the new formation an element of political coherence. From such coherence will spring political relevance. It was the absence of such coherence which primarily accounted for the absence of its relevance in the recently concluded byelection.

For the first principle of politics in Tripura remains the eternal truth. When tribal is divided from non-tribal, when the plains are emotionally severed from the hills, when the farmer is pitted against the forest-dweller, the CPI(M) wins. When tribal and non-tribal live in harmony, when the plains and the hills are welded into a coherent whole, when Tripuri identity prevails over narrow identities, the Congress wins. Passing byelection results do nothing to dilute that eternal truth.


Out of the 119 respondent organizations, 105 conduct awareness raising programmes. Most of the organizations are doing this within their communities by organizing functions, marches, sports, events, etc. The thrust needs to be on well-planned, impact-oriented programmes and a national-level awareness raising campaign with the help of the media.

In the past few years, there has been a lot of thrust on Community Based Rehabilitation. It has been pointed out that an estimated 70 per cent of the disabled people could have their needs met at a community level. It is, therefore, disturbing to note that only 42 of the respondent organizations provide training to CBR functionaries, though training courses are being conducted by 59 NGOs. Even after training, however, the Community Rehabilitation Workers, like the Health Workers, need support from a strong referral system. Easy access to assistive devices, adequate supervision, on-the-job technical backup and frequent refresher training, all require well coordinated secondary and tertiary level manpower training and support. Unfortunately, referral institutions and CBR interventions are seen as options, rather than as mutually supportive aspects of the same strategy.

About 68 organizations have mentioned that they bring out publications and audio-visuals. These could be a major source of awareness raising, dissemination of information and networking. Each NGO needs to make them available to a maximum number of people. It would be interesting to know if these resource materials are in local languages or in Hindi.

Out of the 119 respondent organizations, 56 have reported that they conduct research. In order to assess the impact of therapeutic techniques, education, training programmes, placement and other services, there is a definite need for in-depth, authentic evaluation and research. It is also essential to establish base-line data to formulate suitable policies. There is also a lack of reliable data relating to disabled women. They generally do not even represent a significant entity to be taken into consideration for statistical studies, even when these studies specifically relate to disability problems.

…In order to share experiences, perspectives and capabilities, and also for advocacy and policy-making, liaison amongst NGOs is essential. Resource persons and resource materials in NGOs would play a major role in these linkages. Thus, networking amongst NGOs needs to be strengthened. It is also important to recognize the importance of networking outside the disability sector.

The aim of the Research Study was to create a database on the role of NGOs vis-à-vis the employment scenario in India with reference to persons with disability.

The gender and disability segregated data on employment status in the organizations working for disabled people was obtained by mailing a questionnaire to 150 organizations in the disability sector... The study presents a very dismal picture of the role played by disabled people in the decision-making bodies of respondent NGOs. Only 22.07 per cent of the executive body members of these organizations were disabled people. The representation of women in executive bodies was only 28.45 per cent and that of disabled women was a mere 3.71 per cent.

Though a few organizations had persons with locomotor or visual impairment in their executive bodies, the representation of persons with speech and/or hearing impairment, mental impairment and other disabilities was negligible.

Only 12.89 per cent disabled people were among the professional staff members of these organizations. Disabled women again formed a dismal 4.47 per cent of the group. The administrative structure of the respondent organizations seems to be dominated by “non-disabled males”.

About 50 per cent of the disabled people “placed” by the respondent organizations in the last two years were self-employed. Only one fourth of the beneficiaries were disabled women.

According to the data, about 90 per cent of the people placed earn below Rs 2,000. In fact, 47.50 per cent of them earn below Rs 1,000 per month.

Though 1,628 private sector companies were approached in the last two years for placement by the respondent organizations, only 1,157 disabled people found jobs in this sector. While 804 public sector companies were approached, only 220 disabled people got jobs in this sector in the last two years.

To be concluded



Caught in the bush fire

Sir — North and South Korea had been on a slow but steady path towards reconciliation, thanks to the “sunshine policy”of the South Korean president, Kim Dae-jung. That was until George W. Bush declared North Korea part of a tripartite “axis of evil”. Given Kim Dae-jung’s western outlook, the North Koreans naturally took umbrage. As if he hadn’t done enough, Bush then went to South Korea, stood at a border outpost in military fatigues — “face-to-face” with North Korea — and again called it “evil” (Bush peers at North Korea, calls it “evil”, Feb 21). It is hard to imagine a more cynical piece of posturing for the domestic audience and the Pentagon “hawks”. American concerns have been needlessly brought to bear on two countries who had been trying to mend ties. Remember, it was the Harry Truman’s interventionist policy in Korea in the Fifties that lead to the partition of the country in the first place. Let us hope American interest’s shift quickly before more harm is done.
Yours faithfully,
Ragini Ozha, Calcuta

Meddling with paradise

Sir — Achin Vanaik says that the situation in Kashmir has been “Americanized” by India and Pakistan going nuclear (“Reason for pessimism”, Feb 19). He goes on to suggest that the United States of America will now attempt to “settle” the Kashmir dispute to its advantage. May I suggest that the continuation of the Kashmir dispute serves western interests very well. Since the military build-up began along the Indo-Pak border, there have been a series of arms deals with American, British and Russian defence agencies. No doubt similar deals are being finalized in Pakistan. The Kashmir dispute generates huge profits for western arms companies. So why should the US wish to end the stalemate?

Yours faithfully,
Sudhir Chaturvedi, Patna

Sir — Achin Vanaik is critical of the pro-nuclear lobby in India for its support of the Pokhran II tests, but does not appreciate the reasons for India’s wanting to join the nuclear club. China, which successfully tested its first nuclear bomb in October 1964, poses a serious threat to India. China is reported to have placed several intercontinental ballistic missiles in Tibet to target Indian cities.

It is a pity that it took the Indian leadership 24 years after Pokhran I in May 1974, to muster the courage to test nuclear bombs again in May 1998.

Yours faithfully,
Abhijit Ghosh, Texas, US

Sir — Vanaik must be congratulated for exposing the false reasoning of the pro-nuclear lobby. Of course, one can argue that India had little choice but to demonstrate that it too had the power to build the bomb, after China tested a nuclear weapon in the Sixties and reports of nuclear technology being secretly transferred to Pakistan.

Vanaik rightly argues that it is this herd mentality that has deprived India of the high moral ground on the Kashmir issue. By joining the nuclear club, we have been forced to accept arbitration by the US. If India had not tested in 1998, a bilateral resolution to Kashmir would surely have been cobbled together by now. Instead, we must look to hand-outs from the US and jostle undignifiedly with Pakistan for George W. Bush’s attention.

Yours faithfully,
Rupa Sharma, Calcutta

Sir — While it is difficult to agree with Achin Vanaik’s argument that the Kashmir issue has been “Americanized”, the US’s role in curbing terrorism in Pakistan cannot be denied. Pakistan is partly responsible for the rise of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism in many parts of the world, including the US. The Kashmir issue should be seen in the context of militancy encouraged by Pakistan to take advantage of the state’s predominantly Muslim character. It has nothing to do with Indian oppression in Kashmir or nuclearization of the subcontinent.

Contrary to Vanaik’s belief, south Asia was nuclearized long before the May 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. These tests were only manifestations of a long developed nuclear capability. Also, the nuclearization of south Asia has to be seen in the perspective of China’s possession of nuclear weapons and its support to Pakistan. Surely, India could not be blamed for developing these weapons of deterrence. The process of de-nuclearizing the region should start with China. Now that the Cold War is over, there is no reason for China to possess these weapons.

Yours faithfully,
Sanjay Prasad, Calcutta

Games selectors play

Sir — The Indian cricket selectors have chosen established players for the Nagpur test against Zimbawe, ignoring their recent poor form (“Sanjay Bangar tipped to make India XI”, Feb 20). They have left out Virender Sehwag, who performed consistently well in the earlier home series against England. The big names who have been selected will take this opportunity to notch up few hundreds against Zimbabwe, only to be exposed when they tour the West Indies and England — when no doubt Sehwag will be brought back into the team.

Yours faithfully,
Harsh Saraogi, Calcutta

Sir — The recently concluded series between Pakistan and West Indies in Sharjah once again showcased the young cricketing talent in Pakistan (“Windies go down fighting”, Feb 15). Consider Mohammed Sami, who scored a hattrick, and Shoaib Malik, who scored a century after being promoted in the order. The Pakistani selectors are not afraid to experiment with talented young players in crucial matches.

The Indian selectors are a study in contrast. The one exception has been Harbhajan Singh, who was given a chance to prove his mettle against the mighty Australians. Why are Indian selectors so afraid of experimenting on a regular basis? They should heed Imran Khan’s advice to throw them in young and watch them grow.

Yours faithfully,
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta

Sir — Steve Waugh’s exclusion from Australia’s one-day international team was not entirely unexpected (“More to Steve’s ouster”, Feb 17). It is not simply that his team failed to reach the finals of the recent tri-nation series. Those who watched him in India saw that he was losing his touch. Perhaps, he knew that his dream of leading his team to victory in the 2003 world cup was wishful thinking.

The Australian selectors, however, were more worried about the harm Waugh was doing to the public image of the captain. Waugh’s unpleasant remarks about a New Zealand player and his outbursts against the media cost him the captaincy. The Australian selectors are given to taking hard decisions. When Mark Taylor did not perform well in the one-day games, they brought in Steve Waugh, who agreed that there was nothing wrong with separate captains for tests and one-dayers. History has only repeated itself.

Yours faithfully,
M.R. Sridharan, Kanpur

Sir — Steve Waugh’s exclusion from the Australian one-day side is bizarre. Not only is Waugh one of the cricketing greats, but he is also widely recognized as one of the greatest captains ever. One can only presume that the Australian Cricket Board’s action was meant to give Waugh a jolt, and that he will be shortly reinstated. Without Waugh, the 2003 world cup will be deprived of a star performer.

Yours faithfully,
Gurumayum Joyraj Sharma,Manipur

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