Editorial 1 / A mere survey
Editorial 2 / Fractured verdict
Smooth talk and bouquets
Fifth Column / Of mice and food for men
Exit, the third party
Document / Marching along the growth path
Letters to the editor

The Economic Survey pats itself on the back at the Indian economy not having done that badly. “The Indian economy has been resilient in the face of several external shocks during this period such as the east Asian crisis of 1997-98, the oil price increase of 2000-01, and the most recent world economic slowdown. Domestic shocks in the shape of an adverse security environment, natural disasters like the Orissa cyclone and Gujarat earthquake, and two consecutive years of poor agricultural performance, have also been faced successfully by the economy.” This is fair enough. But sources of growth in large economies like India or China cannot be purely external. Nor will the bogey of natural disasters suffice. As the Survey itself recognizes, the problem lies in the lack of domestic reforms. The Survey is optimistic about the external environment improving in 2002, and this is likely. But, when the Survey is also optimistic about recommended reforms being implemented, some scepticism is in order. Faced with state-level election results, populist pressures among allies are mounting and there is increased resistance to the recently taken cabinet decision of revamping the Industrial Disputes Act. Rather paradoxically, this is the last budget before populist pressures associated with general elections take over next year. The Hindu nationalist party seems to have wedded India to a new Hindu rate of growth of 5.5 per cent. Whether this rate will be touched in 2001-02 is the question. On the basis of rather tenuous assumptions, the Survey believes that real gross domestic product growth in 2001-02 will be 5.4 per cent, with agriculture growing at 5.7 per cent, industry at 3.3 per cent and services at 6.5 per cent.

Despite the low base and better performance this year, an agricultural growth of 5.7 per cent seems unlikely. And if industry has grown at 2.3 per cent till December, as the Survey itself acknowledges, how will growth shoot up to 3.3 per cent in the remaining three months? Unfortunately, with the scaling down of growth in 2000-01 from 6 per cent to 5.2 per cent and then to 4 per cent, the Central Statistical Organization has lost all credibility and an advanced estimate of 5.4 per cent for 2001-02 may transpose into a revised or quick estimate that is completely different. However, there can be very little argument about the list of reforms the Survey highlights.

The Survey underlines the low inflation rate, though it stops short of the appalling idea recently articulated by the Reserve Bank of India, that low inflation is bad for growth. The more important question is whether the Survey’s suggested reforms are likely to be implemented. Unfortunately, history demonstrates that there is absolutely no correlation between what the Survey proposes and what the finance minister disposes through his budget speech, even if the author of the first chapter of the Survey and the budget speech happen to be the same person. Barring some limited instances of reform, which are known, Mr Yashwant Sinha will therefore ignore what the Survey has to say. As the political economy has demonstrated several times, he is hardly the monarch of what he surveys.


Manipur has to learn to live with a fractured verdict. But the lesson from this time’s assembly polls could well be that coalitions are a better way of adding up numbers than horsetrading. Whether the new government is led by the Congress or the Federal Party of Manipur — the two largest groups to emerge from the elections — the idea should be to join hands to give political stability to the state. A politics of defections cannot achieve this, as Manipur has witnessed time and again. In an age of coalition politics, it should not be difficult for parties to come together to run the government on a mutually agreed programme. It would be a travesty, however, of the popular verdict if the Bharatiya Janata Party or its ally, the Samata Party, is accepted as a partner in the ruling coalition. The people may not have given a clear verdict in favour of any party, but they have decisively voted against the BJP-Samata combine which ruled the state before the imposition of president’s rule there. The improved performance of the FPM suggests that regional aspirations are increasingly taking centre stage in the state’s politics. But then the Congress and the Communist Party of India too notched up good scores, thereby showing that large sections of the people still trust these national parties. Ideally, a marriage of regional and national aspirations will be good for Manipur’s polity which has suffered too many ethnic fractures for far too long.

Last year’s turmoil in Imphal over the Centre’s hasty decision to extend the ceasefire with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, led by Mr Isak Swu and Mr Thuingelang Muivah, to other areas left wounds that need to be healed quickly. Whichever coalition eventually forms the government will have to restore the ethnic harmony between the Nagas and Meitei, destroyed by the violence over the ceasefire extension. It would be a pity if president’s rule is extended because of a failure by the parties to put together a workable coalition. The Centre’s rule is essentially bureaucratic and cannot serve the people the way a popular government can. Manipur’s unscrupulous politicians have failed their people too often. They must now put the state’s interests above their own.


Not so long ago there was a well-attended panel discussion in Delhi; one of the members of the distinguished panel was Arun Jaitley, Union minister for law, justice, and company affairs. The subject was, “Does India deserve her politicians?” When one looked at it first, it sounded interesting and even provocative; it was only later that one realized it was very confusing. In any event, it was what the panelists spoke about, and Mr Jaitley, predictably, made out a very persuasive case for the much-maligned politician, especially the politician in power. Having dwelt on the many authorities to which the poor politician is answerable, Mr Jaitley ended by saying very smoothly, and with a charming smile, that in any case if we didn’t like the politicians we could always throw them out.

An appreciative audience gave him a big hand, and many were the compliments that he received in the comments that followed. Except for one young woman who said that Mr Jaitley’s last remark was one of the most cynical she had ever heard; she pointed out that by saying you could always throw out the politician the real issue of accountability was actually being passed over, since the whole notion of throwing out a politician was not as if one could show him the door one fine morning. It was a part of a process which did not always ensure that an irresponsible or corrupt politician was not brought back to office.

The astute Mr. Jaitley immediately informed the lady she had misunderstood him, and the issue. His point was that a politician was answerable, to the extent of even losing his seat, if it came to that. What the lady thought of this reply one doesn’t know as a whole flurry of comments overtook what could have been her reaction; but the point she had made remained as valid as it was when she made it, and Mr Jaitley, like a clever lawyer, merely side-stepped it.

The truth is that the answerability of the politician is, by and large, a myth. In the system of governance we have, described by another panelist, Rajdeep Sardesai, as a “feudal democracy” , once a politician comes to power he immediately assumes the postures and attitudes of an emperor. And it isn’t only the ministers who do so; it’s the members of the legislatures, even office-bearers of the ruling party who give themselves these airs. Servility is expected and, disgracefully, usually given by those aspiring to power themselves; government officials are treated with a peremptory disdain by member of parliament and minister alike. Can these creatures be thrown out, as Mr. Jaitley blandly said they could? Rather unlikely, to put it mildly; where old soldiers never die but simply fade away, these wretched people never fade away, leave alone die when they ought to. Most of them make nonsense of India’s life expectancy statistics, remaining vociferously alive at an age when ordinary mortals are living frail lives, or are dead.

So what happens then? In the interim, if we were for a moment to accept Mr Jaitley’s hypothesis that they can indeed be thrown out? Is there any awareness in them of answerability, of accountability to the people, to some higher or independent authority? Their actions give all of us the answer to these questions. The politician in power lives as if he will never be, can never be, answerable to anyone. His orders are like the firmans of a sultan and have to be carried out unquestioningly; if they aren’t, a terrible retribution is visited on the hapless officials concerned, and, at times, on the public, in such benighted states like Bihar.

These are people who regard the political process as merely a sort of process you have to go through, or manipulate, to get to power, and power is to them indivisible. They must have it all. And yet the system that allows them this arrogant usurpation of power rests on the very answerability that Mr Jaitley speaks about. It is not that the politician in power is unaware of it; it is just that he considers it a nuisance, and seeks to take shelter behind a number of laws and rules that the British had devised to keep their grip on their empire. The Official Secrets Act, for example. If ever a law was misused by politician and unscrupulous officer alike it is this. All manner of abuse of power has been hidden under this abomination of a law, one that deserves to be scrapped forthwith, without waiting for a new law to take its place.

This is where one wishes that politicians like Mr Jaitley occasionally confronts his fellow politicians with what he understands well, but they do not. Governing means governing with a conscience, a far greater conscience than a man on the street has. That surely is the essence of governing well. It is not merely an acceptance but an assertion of responsibility. The continual awareness that, even though they cannot be thrown out overnight, they owe it to the people, and, most importantly, to themselves, as political leaders, to govern with that responsibility. Flying the flag on their cars and being saluted by police officials is not all there is to it. In fact, if they did away with it, the perspectives would become clearer.

Ironically, it was when the possibility of politicians being thrown out was the most remote — just after independence, and in the few years that followed —- that they did leave office when they felt they ought not to continue. It was not a question of what people wanted; or even of what Parliament wanted. It was what the individual minister felt was right. And that was why Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned as railways minister, after a major accident. And why, though his leave-taking was more emotional, T.T. Krishnamachari resigned as finance minister. And as we moved towards the new millennium, we had the likes of Sukh Ram, in whose house suitcases of currency notes are said to have been found by the Central Bureau of Investigation, and who simply will not go away, Laloo Prasad Yadav, who takes recourse to playing the fool when he ought to get out of public life at once, and a number of others who cling to office when their own conscience ought to make them leave.

A system is ultimately as good as we ourselves make it, and to be honest, we get the politicians we deserve. But it isn’t as simple as it sounds. The common man waits expectantly for good governance, for persons of integrity and commitment to lead them; those who aspire to do so know how flawed the system of governance is, and it is for them to try to deliver good governance in spite of these flaws. Instead of putting up candidates for election who have formidable criminal records, they need to ask themselves why it is that the better, more enlightened politicians at the Centre have all had to come in through the Rajya Sabha. It’s not merely a question of winning an election at any cost, but of winning with honour.

But that would be to expect our party leaders to be less cynical than they are; which is why one has to agree with the lady who told Mr Jaitley that his “if you don’t like us you can always throw us out” argument was the most cynical she had heard.

The author is former secretary, ministry of information and broadcasting


The first genetically modified food product for the market was a brand of tomatoes called Flavr Savr. Before being made commercially available, it was fed to laboratory rodents. The rodents refused to eat the tomatoes which contained an alien gene. When force-fed, the rodents fell sick. Flavr Savr was a commercial disaster.

Since then, industrialized countries, mainly the United States of America, have made numerous GM food products commercially available. Ably backed by its powerful propaganda machinery, it has announced that these “novel foods” are no different from conventional foods. Joining the chorus are agricultural scientists, the media, bureaucrats and politicians. All desperately looking for financial support to survive in an era of fast-shrinking public funding.

Such is the desperation of these sections that any voice that could restrict their funds is met with hostility. This was seen when the British scientist, Arpad Pusztai, reported that rats fed with GM potatoes showed damage to the kidney, thymus, spleen and gut. Pusztai lost his job and soon became a persona non grata in the scientific community. Several other researchers have suffered as well.

Experiment with truth

While the international scientific community spares no effort to boost the sagging fortunes of the biotech industry by giving a clean chit to GM food, the simple experiments of a Dutch undergraduate, Hinze Hogendoorm, prove otherwise. Hogendoorm picked up 30 female mice from a herpetology centre. He bought some rodent mix and Kellogg’s and Quaker’s cereals and oatmeal that was specified to be “GM-free”. This formed the staple diet for the mice. For GM food, he used maize and soya.

The mice were let loose in big cages with the two piles of GM and non-GM food stacked in four bowls. The mice — obviously unaware of the virtues of GM “functional foods” — gave their verdict. They emptied the bowls containing the non-GM food, whereas the bowls with GM food remained untouched.

Hogendoorm was still not satisfied. He conducted a few more tests to find out what happens when the mice are force-fed with GM food. Significantly, one mouse, which was fed with GM food, died for unknown reasons. While the others, which were put on a GM diet, initially looked heavy but by the end of the experiment actually lost weight. The rival group of mice, which was on a non-GM diet, ate less and gained more weight, and continued to gain weight.

Keep children away

Equally worrisome were the behavioural changes that the diet had induced in the mice during the experiments. The mice on the GM diet seemed less active and more nervous and distressed. “Many were running round and round the basket, scrabbling desperately in the sawdust, and even frantically jumping up the sides, something I’d never seen before,” said Hogendoorm.

The Royal Society, however, has refrained from commenting on Hogendoorm’s experiments. To restore its credentials, it released a report on GM plants for food use and human health in the first week of February. Under pressure from British and European consumers who continue to question the scientific claims on food safety, the Royal Society has called for tougher regulations before GM food is marked as “safe for human consumption”. As a face-saving device, it has drawn attention to the potential risks for babies who are more susceptible to changes in the nutritional make-up of the food they eat.

By suggesting that GM DNA has no ill-effects on human health, and at the same time pointing to the potential threat to babies’ health, the report shows how contradictory the views are within the scientific community itself on GM food. One wonders what the Royal Society would now advise the British prime minister, Tony Blair, who has publicly gone on record saying that he finds GM food safe for his children. With the Royal Society proving him wrong, Blair should direct all British high commission offices to refrain from issuing press releases stating that GM food is safe for human and child consumption.


The government of India is toying with the idea of allowing industrial units employing less than 1,000 employees to retrench workers or close down without requiring any clearance from the state government. Currently, this applies to units employing upto 100 workers. It is almost axiomatic that the trade unions and most political leaders cutting across party lines will oppose it. On the face of it, it borders on cruelty to make retrenchment easier in a country which does not have unemployment benefits or any other element of a social safety net. So, let us have a close and dispassionate look at what is involved here.

Let us suppose, for argument’s sake, that there is some economic logic behind the proposed amendment to labour laws. Then, why is there any limit on the size of establishments? Clearly, the limit is a political decision. It is politically easier to retrench a small number of workers at a time, especially when larger units have stronger union backing. Trade unions in India are extensions of major political parties.

Next, are the workers going to be adversely affected? The reality is that industrial units of varying sizes are actually closing down everyday, with or without any such legislation, even in the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-ruled West Bengal. In many cases, these units are technically “sick”, but not closed legally. Yet, no production is taking place and employees are not being paid any salary.

The argument here is that if some workers could have been laid off earlier and modernization (which in many cases would involve more automation and use of labour-saving equipment) had taken place to make the unit economically viable, many of the workers would have retained their jobs. But by delaying the process, the accumulated losses become so great that the company goes bankrupt and a turnaround becomes impossible. All the workers eventually lose their jobs. Meanwhile, the owners strip the assets, machines become scrap without maintenance and little of value is left for workers and creditors when the company finally declares bankruptcy.

In the past, the way out for workers was the takeover of private sick units by the state. That option is no longer available, even in communist-ruled states. Moreover, if exit from this situation is made legally impossible or becomes difficult in a state or country, then new investment and new jobs will go to other places. China has permitted hiring and firing, initially in the export-oriented units in the “special economic zones” in coastal areas and now increasingly in other areas. This has been one important reason, though not the only one, why China has been able to attract a lot more foreign investment than India although the latter has a big internal market and a lower wage rate than China.

No doubt that job security is highly desirable from the point of view of an individual worker. But the flip side is that permanence of employment prevents more job creation, especially in export-oriented units where the demand for products is particularly volatile.

Let us take an example: suppose, I am the owner of a readymade garments factory. I have got an export order which may or may not be repeated in future. I would like to employ temporary hands to meet this order. But if I am afraid that I will not be able to get rid of these people when I am unable to get a repeat order in future, I would prefer not to employ anyone and would rather ignore the export order. Exports and employment would suffer. Job security basically benefits those who are fortunate to get a permanent job, often at the expense of many more potential jobs.

Is the proposed amendment going to make life easier for unscrupulous owners to milk the company dry and then close it down? It is true that such things happen and in many cases bad decisions by the management is responsible for the sickness of a unit. But remember, this is taking place in any case and the amendment is not going to worsen the situation. What the government or the regulators should ensure is that the management is not able to siphon out the revenue of a company in the form of unduly high compensation for themselves while the workers bear the brunt of the sacrifice. This is necessary, with or without the proposed amendment. Such things are not unique to India or to developing countries. We all know now what the management of Enron did in the United States of America before declaring bankruptcy, with the alleged connivance of the regulators. So, the neutrality of the regulators is essential and this certainly cannot be ensured with politicians and retired government officials manning the posts. Regulators will have to be selected from eminent personalities with a clean track record of dedicated social service, assisted by professionals who understand the tricks of the trade.

Is the proposed amendment the best way to facilitate industrial development, new investment and job creation? Opinions would differ here. In particular, the amendment suggests a handsome compensation to retrenched workers at the rate of 45 days (instead of 15 days as at present) of salary for each year of service. This would amount to two-and-a half years of salary as “golden handshake”, if a worker works for, say, 20 years. But how would a loss-making company pay such sums to workers when it is not able to pay even the current month’s salary? Such precondition, in effect, means that “sick” companies will not be able to retrench despite the legal provision. One possible solution is to finance this compensation from a national fund created for this purpose. In other words, have a nationally funded unemployment benefit scheme as it exists in advanced industrial economies. Every month each worker in all industrial units will contribute a small sum as contribution to this fund, with matching contribution from employers.

One estimate goes like this. There are some 28 million workers in the organized industrial sector. Assuming a Rs 10 contribution each month from each worker, with matching contribution from employers, a national fund of Rs 28 crore would be generated each month. From this fund, unemployment allowance can be paid to the retrenched workers. The amount would be correspondingly larger if a “progressive” contribution system (meaning more from higher salary) is used instead.

This is an economically and politically feasible proposal which would shift the burden of financing compensation to laid off workers from the troubled company to the nation where it rightfully belongs. This is the model that has been in vogue in many other industrially advanced countries and has stood the test of time. There is no reason why such a scheme cannot be introduced in our country. The standard argument that we do not have a social safety net for allowing retrenchment and exit of firms would then be invalid.


Almost all ministries of the government of India are involved in decision-making for sustainable development. However, the ministries of external affairs, environment and forests, agriculture, water resources, finance, industries, rural development, commerce, non-conventional energy sources, finance and the planning commission are the major participants. Coordination within the different bodies of the government in India is mainly through consultative meetings and discussions. There are inter-ministerial and inter-departmental committees, core groups...to formulate the optimum policy and legislation on issues concerning international cooperation/development assistance for sustainable development.

The authority for decision-making lies with the ministries of the government of India. In India, the decentralization of powers and decision-making has been done at the grass roots level. The authority for decision-making has been delegated to the provincial/state level in several areas with the exception of core areas of national interest. In matters of international relations and cooperation, the Central government coordinates the overall decision-making process...

The government of India has formulated legislation, regulations and policy instruments to address matters concerning cooperation for sustainable development at sub-regional, regional and international levels. There are legislations, regulations and policy instruments framed to fulfill obligations under the agreements signed at international conferences, MEA, and so on.

A national environmental appellate authority has been constituted to hear appeals with respect to rejection of proposals from the environmental angle. The objective is to bring in transparency in the process and accountability, and to ensure the smooth and expeditious implementation of developmental schemes and projects.

An environmental impact assessment authority for the national capital region has been constituted to deal with environmental protection problems arising out of projects planned in the NCR.

An aquaculture authority has been constituted to deal with the situation created by the shrimp culture industry in coastal states and Union territories. The Central groundwater authority...has initiated action regarding registrations for groundwater pollution/depletion. It has also initiated a mass awareness programme. Besides this, different authorities have been created for dealing with specific problems in the states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

The trade policy components of the Indian reform process undertaken since July 1991 have been motivated by a recognition of the important role that trade can play in promoting sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development. The expanded scope for specializing in areas of comparative advantage is manifest in the improved growth performance of the economy. Furthermore, while exports have responded to the removal of the anti-export bias of a protectionist environment, domestic industry appears to have been stimulated by imports and the availability of capital goods, and the challenge of competing in the international market place. The positive response of Indian industry to deregulation is amply demonstrated by the capital goods sector. The capital goods industry, which witnessed a negative growth of 12.8 per cent in 1991-92, registered an average growth of about 23 per cent during 1994-96.

To be concluded



Time for the white flag

Sir — The conclusion of a truce to bring about a formal ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is an event of great importance (“Govt, Tigers’ truce to open talks door”, Feb 23). This will have the greatest bearing on the people of Sri Lanka who have been the victims of mindless ethnic warfare for the past two decades. It is a shame that it took so many years for the warring sides to realize that the solution lies in the initiation of a peace dialogue. However, past records have shown that there is no guarantee of a positive outcome from such talks. But at least the effort made by the new prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, seems to be honest. The Norwegian peace delegation has worked relentlessly in the region and its presence may even ensure the completion of a peace treaty sometime in the near future. As an Indian, I would surely be disappointed to watch a neighbouring country head for a crisis of the west Asian kind.

Yours faithfully,
Saraswat Mukherjee, Siliguri

Murder, lies and videotape

Sir — The cold-blooded and barbaric murder of the south Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Pearl, by Pakistan-based Islamic militants, is shocking, but does not come as a surprise (“Killers deliver Pearl dead on video”, Feb 23). In his confession before the Pakistani police, Omar Sheikh, the prime suspect in the case, had said that he believed Pearl is dead. But the Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, during his recent visit to the United States of America, misled the Americans as well as the world media by saying that Sheikh’s words should not be taken seriously and that Pearl was probably alive. Musharraf also brushed off as lies Sheikh’s admitted involvement in the attack on the Jammu and Kashmir assembly building, the Parliament and the American Center in Calcutta.

The videotape which shows how Pearl was killed establishes the fact that Musharraf is merely trying to put up a brave front before the world, while having little or no control over the jihadis. Sheikh’s statements must now be taken seriously by the US authorities and pressure should be put on the Pakistani president to hand over Sheikh to India for his involvement in the three attacks carried out on Indian soil.

George W. Bush should now realize that “powerful and historic speeches” like Musharraf’s do not serve the purpose unless the words are translated into deeds. Would it be too wrong to think that the anti-US mindset in Pakistan is strong enough for the superpower to undertake Operation Enduring Freedom-II in future?

It is strange that the US has not yet included Pakistan among the “axis of evil” countries for harbouring terrorists and encouraging cross-border terrorism in the name of providing “moral, diplomatic and political support to the people of Kashmir”. Now that it is clear that Pakistani authorities have been withholding information on Pearl’s abduction, the US may have learnt a lesson.

What is most disappointing in the whole tragedy is Bush’s statement that “those who threaten Americans are agents of terror”. Is this the time to be concerned about Americans alone? India, instead of befriending the US, should take a cue from Israel in dealing with Pakistan.

Yours faithfully,
Srinivasan Balakrishnan,Jamshedpur

Sir — While expressing outrage at the “brutal killing” of the American journalist, Daniel Pearl, the editorial, “Tragic game” (Feb. 25), has brought up once more the question about how far a journalist should go in taking personal risks. Journalism is, and has always been, a profession involving personal risks. Pearl lost his life in his pursuit of “truth”. His martyrdom is a pointer to the fact that there are no limits on how far one can or should go. It seems to rest solely on the individual’s conscience and sense of purpose.

However, I also believe that both the US president and Pervez Musharraf deserve international sympathy and support at this time. In his televised address following Pearl’s death, Musharraf expressed “my resolve and the resolve of my government to move strongly, with all our force, against terrorism in Pakistan”. There is no reason to assume that this is only rhetoric, never to be translated into deed. He might mean business.

In contrast, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry, Nirupama Rao, took a cheap shot at Pakistan with her remarks that the criminals involved in the Pearl tragedy have “received support and a safe haven in Pakistan”. For the Indian government any stick seems to be good to beat Pakistan with, and at any time. Rao and her Pakistani counterpart, Rashid Qureshi, have both earned an unenviable reputation for their non sequiturs. The truth about Pearl’s death must be allowed to determine the future course of Indo-Pakistan relations.

Yours faithfully,
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Durham, US

Sir — In the history of militancy in Kashmir, several foreign nationals have been abducted by militants, and a number of them killed. Few of them have been Americans. Just because Daniel Pearl was an American and an ace reporter, he is not any more a martyr than those who have met with death for no fault of their own.

Yours faithfully,
Shamim Afzal, Calcutta

Opposite polls

Sir — The decision of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference to set up an election commission is a political gimmick (“Hurriyat names parallel poll panel”, Feb 13). This move by the APHC, which has an uncanny habit of boycotting elections, would be an aimless exercise unless it is backed by popular support.

The editorial, “One more text” (Feb 15), mentions rightly that Indians are not going to let a group of separatists conduct elections by overruling the guidelines set by the Constitution framers. Conducting elections is not an easy task, and the APHC executive committee is politically astute enough to realize that neither New Delhi nor Islamabad will entertain its move. In fact, they should bear in mind that even the people of Kashmir are questioning its representative character.

The APHC is suspecting a setback in the forthcoming elections and is apprehensive of its political end if it joins the normal election process of the country. So, in an attempt to divert attention from its shortcomings, the APHC struck upon the novel idea to set up its own election commission. Unfortunately, this novelty will not fetch them any popular support in the valley.

Yours faithfully,
Niloy Sinha, Azimganj

Sir — According to the editorial, “One more text”, the APHC’s decision to constitute a parallel election commission to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir has met with widespread disapproval. The point is how “wide” this disapproval is, and what impact it has on the APHC? This body openly ridicules, blatantly defies and now has the gall to announce its shocking decision in India. It is strange that separatist organizations in Kashmir can get away with such constitutional offences, while similar outfits in other parts of the country would not dare to declare similar plans.

It is for certain both New Delhi and Islamabad will not recognize the elections conducted by the APHC. What is disturbing is the tendency of the government of India to wait for such decisions, rather than take precautions in the initial stages. What could be the meaning of this?

Yours faithfully,
Arta Mishra, Cuttack

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