LETTERS TO THE EDITOR  11-08-2000

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 11.08.00
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Bare, naked truth Sir - This is not the first time a sarpanch has been paraded nude in this country ("Sarpanch paraded nude", August 9). Only months ago, a sarpanch in Uttar Pradesh was stripped because she was allegedly raped, and had thus turned "impure" in the eyes of the villagers. Parading a woman in the nude before mute onlookers has always been the best way of either punishing women or making them expiate their "sins". There is no need to bat an eyelid if the same thing has taken place in Chhattisgarh. Only, when everyone supporting the women's reservations bill said it would politically empower women, no one seemed concerned about what empowerment at the grassroots level signifies. The incident shows that people had the temerity to humiliate a woman who ostensibly holds political power at the panchayat level. So, before we announce that holding a position in government administration is, for women, synonymous with empowerment, what about pondering where the process of political empowerment should begin? Yours faithfully, Sudha Sengupta, Calcutta Moment of the tribals Sir - The people of the 18 district Jharkhand region have been rejoicing since the Bihar state reorganization bill 2000 was placed in the Lok Sabha along with similar bills for Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal on the first day of the monsoon session of Parliament. Forty five per cent of the land area of present day Bihar will go to the new state and 25 per cent of the population. The new state will also have 81 representatives in the state assembly; 28 of these will be reserved for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Out of the 14 Jharkhandi members of the Lok Sabha, six will have to be from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The state will also send six representatives to the Rajya Sabha. There are still a couple of hurdles the bill must cross before it is finally passed in both houses. The Biju Janata Dal, a partner of the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre, wants the Rajkharswan and Saraikela regions of Jharkhand to be incorporated into the state of Orissa, as they are primarily inhabited by Oriyas. The BJD has even threatened to quit the NDA if its demand is not met. The Rashtriya Janata Dal government in Bihar wants Rs 180,000 crore for developmental works in central and northern Bihar. No such demand, however, was made following the creation of Chhattisgarh. There is no way the Centre can hand out such a huge amount of money. The Congress's blind support of the RJD's demand may spell doom for the bill in the Rajya Sabha. The Samata Party and the Janata Dal (United), also NDA partners, are too demanding the package. Assam was divided nearly half a dozen times to create the northeastern states but no economic package was provided for the mother state. The bifurcation of Punjab too was not accompanied by any economic package. Hence there is no reason why there should be one for the three newly created states. Yours faithfully, Manoranjan Das, Jamshedpur Sir - The Union government deserves congratulations for ensuring a smooth tabling of the Bihar state reorganization bill, 2000. However, the contribution of thousands of tribal activists who have sacrificed their lives for the statehood cannot be overlooked. Their movement has led to the realization of the aspirations of two crore Jharkhandis. The true picture of the new state is yet to emerge. However, the Central government would do well to declare Jharkhand "tribal territory" and arrange for resettlement of the tribals as in the case of the northeastern states. The increase in the population of the Jharkhand region before and after industrialization, urbanization and the opening of mining is remarkable. There was nearly cent per cent land acquisition against seven per cent job reservation. Now that the area has achieved statehood, 70 per cent job reservation for the scheduled castes and tribes is desired in public and private sector undertakings and other government departments. The Chhotanagpur Territory Act, 1908 and the Santhalpargana Territory Act, 1940 must be followed strictly to safeguard rights of the landowning tribals. The constituencies of Ranchi, Dhanbad, Hazaribagh, Jamshedpur, Giridih, Bokaro and Bermo should be reserved for scheduled tribe candidates since most of the inhabitants of these areas are tribals. Legislations should be passed for allowing foreign direct investment with as little Central interference as possible. There are enough competent tribals in this land who can provide effective governance for their own state. The Central government should also review the state cess fund and the royalty paid to the government for the minerals of the region. It should also make a goodwill gesture by remitting Rs 20,000 crore to the new state exchequer for development work and setting up of infrastructure. Yours faithfully, Abha Roba, Bokaro Sir - The nation has played a game of political footsie by creating three new states ("Three times lucky", Aug 7). The new states of Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand have been created in the hope that a greater devolution of powers will speed up development in these areas and benefit the people. However, the message will not be lost on the other aspirants of to statehood like Gorkhaland, Vindhyachal, Coorg, Saurashtra and the rest. They are likely to intensify their demand of statehood. There is also a message in this for the Kashmir valley. They too can, if they negotiate with the A.B. Vajpayee government in right earnest, reach an honourable settlement with the Indian government. Yours faithfully, Sush Kocher, Calcutta Failed camp Sir - The Camp David talks between the president of Israel, Ehud Barak, and the chief of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, have ended in failure, mainly because Israel refused to accept the Palestinian demand for Jerusalem as its capital. Historically, Jerusalem was where the Jewish nation was born. The Jewish people have forged their identity with respect to Jerusalem. As such, their claim on Jerusalem is entirely valid. But the Palestinian Muslims' claim is tenuous and based solely on a history of conquest. On the very site of the Jewish temple, the Muslims built the Al-Aqsa mosque. However, what remains is a portion of the Jewish temple, known around the world as the wailing wall. In 1948, when Israel became a nation according to a United Nations resolution, and Palestine refused to set up its own state, skirmishes ensued, and Israel beat back all the opposing armies. In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Between 1948 and 1967, when East Jerusalem was under the occupation of the Islamic forces, the Jews were not allowed to visit their places of worship, but since 1967, when Israel integrated East Jerusalem, it guaranteed full freedom of worship to Muslims and Christians. This must be remembered, for it will make the case stronger for Israel's claim on Jerusalem. Yours faithfully, T. Mani Chowdary, Secunderabad Sir - The United States seems extremely magnanimous in the way it has been brokering peace between Israel and Palestine since 1978. It has so far spent several billions of dollars to hold peace talks in Camp David, as well as for resettlement of people in the two lands. Given the money that the US has spent on the talks and other peace efforts, it would have been more cost effective if it incorporated the two states as its 51st and 52nd states. States like California and New Mexico and Texas were acquired from Mexico through war. In that way, the addition of Israel and Palestine will only be a continuation of the "historic" process. Yours faithfully, K.H. Surana, Faizabad Letters to the editor should be sent to: