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vox pop: where the mind is not without fear the sonrise over, badal jr settles down P-10

india a cross section publication 

Volume 1 | Issue 3 | 15-30 March, 2013 | Rs. 20

Debates the

open

forum

for

dialogue

advertising: turning on the heat

time is running out, on electoral reforms P-16

our take

of rahul and his parachute A direct entrant to the top in politics, he is not the first such beneficiary in a country that dotes on family lineage, whether at the centre or in the states.

inside

politics & governance Modi vs wharton

6 economy & industry “air asia will be a rational competitor�

20 life around us Celebrating,yes. but what next?

wrestling: losing on glamour ground?

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The big Picture

Laura Turkington, Director of Vodafone Foundation in India, Carina Deegan, Foundation support & Sunita Chaudhary, the first female rickshaw driver.. announced the launch of ‘Red Rickshaw Revolution’, a unique initiative to celebrate the achievements of ordinary women accomplishing extraordinary feats across India. The key objective of this initiative is to spread awareness, garner support and raise funds for NGOs working to empower several other such women.

india

Debates the open forum for dialogue

editor: Navin S Berry navin@crosssectionmedia.com contributing editor

ritwik sinha ritwik@crosssectionmedia.com design

anirban bora anirban@crosssectionmedia.com business

saurabh shukla saurabh@crosssectionmedia.com India Debates is printed, published and owned by Navin S Berry and printed at Anupam Art Printers. B-52, Naraina Industrial Area, Phase II, New Delhi - 110 028. It is published from IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi – 110 002. Editor: Navin S Berry Tel: 011-43784444, 41001622. Fax: 011-41001627 Total pages 40

india debates 15-30 march 2013

ours should be a credible and most respected voice: india needs to project a unified RESPONSE

T

he recent Italian Job has surprised everyone in our country. That the two marines were allowed to go home, first for Christmas and then to cast their vote in their country’s election process begs the first questions - did we need to give them permission at all; not once, but twice. This is confusion worse confounded and leaves the big question mark - why did we even need to send them once? In these gestures, did we send out the first signals, that we were in a mood for placating the powers that be, in Italy? And now that the Italian government has said they will not be sending them back, even though the deadline has yet not expired, what does this mean for Incredible India? What is it about us that allows the Italy to consider we are such a soft state? If we combine this with how Maldives is behaving, where the President went back on his undertaking not once but repeatedly; how we played hosts to the Pakistan Prime Minister, just four days before their Parliament adopted a resolution against the hanging of Afzal Guru, and there are other instances too, in recent times, how and why do we look like a soft state that can be bullied? The problem must be within, and most certainly there is! As a nation, we are sending out too many diverse and contradicting messages, and the sum total of them is that we are seen as not united enough. There must be, and are, many issues that must transcend party politics. There should be no ambiguity in what is our national interest. And the expression of it, to all concerned at home and around the world, should be that of one voice. So often, are we taking our democracy for granted, going over the top in a spirit of ‘free expression”? We believe the media in India has been doing a great job, and that there are many issues where the media has played saviour or else the truth may never have come out. And yet, the media must also play ball, and not just keep sight of eyeballs, and remember what is national interest. Leaders across the political spectrum, too, should weight their words carefully when commenting on issues that concern our sovereign state. But for this time, we have a series of circumstances where we can and must call a spade a spade. We cannot be trifled with. And we should be firm, regardless of repercussions in the EU, not as an aberration but as a signal that we might have made mistakes in the past, and will not make them again. And, we must remain consistent to a transparent policy, that nations around the world come to respect and believe in.

Navin S Berry Editor


3

our take

“”

QUOTES worth a debate amar singh

Seasoned Politician- in an interview to a national daily I don’t see a Third Front at all. Jayalalithaa is close to Narendra Modi and NDA. Chandrababu Naidu’s political future has dwindled; his space has been occupied by Jagan Mohan Reddy. Om Prakash Chautala is in Tihar. Congress is the best manager of contradictions and the natural party of governance.

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If we do the right things, we can get back on a high growth trajectory. We can accelerate growth and improve welfare only if we effectively implement wide ranging economic and governance reforms. Slipping up on this will amount to a costly and potentially irreversible squandering away of opportunities.

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RBI Governor D Subbarao in his speech delivered at London School of Economics

My own daughter feels unsafe in the city…I am not satisfied with the law and order ... I wouldn’t be able to judge whether security has improved after December 16 or not.”

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Delhi Chief Minister

Shiela Dixit

in an interview to a television channel

We have finalized a script for a movie. Part of it will take place on the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir. But we’re still trying to figure out the casting, locations and who’s going to direct it.

Steven Spielberg,

Noted film Producer- Director in an interview to a national daily revealing his plans to produce a movie set along the border between India and Pakistan.

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cover story

of rahul and his parachute Not often does a politician express himself with such candour. There is every reason, to take him on his face value. By navin berry

W

hen Rahul Gandhi speaks publicly, as he did for a second time this year, at a meeting o f ove r 4 5 m i nu t e s

with select media and senior party members within the precincts of Parliament House, just two months after he first poured out his heart to party workers in Jaipur in January for the party’s Shivir Chintan, what comes through is the image of a sincere, unaffected young man, wishing for, and committed to making serious change. Yet, despite all of these and many other qualities, what gets debated most about Rahul is his reluctance to take centre stage either in the party, or in government. Over the last eight years or so, any post could have been his – as a minister of state, a cabinet minister, or a more senior functionary in the party organization. And yet, he has stayed away, saying he preferred to do party work, and build the party from the grassroots up. He has been called Hamlet, and more recently, Bhismah Pitamah. Both characterisations may fit with a bit of a stretch, but surely there must be something deeper to his persistent hesitation to take the plunge : when to say aye remains the question ?” In striking contrast, in the BJP, the other major party, we have a challenger from a state, the most successful winner staking his claim to the national throne on behalf of the party. And though he is being challenged, he is emerging stronger by the day, with more voices coming out in his favour. Modi is busy courting a new image, pulling out all the stops, and striking at the heart of the matter in a manner that only he knows best. india debates 15-30 march 2013

In sharp contrast, we have Rahul Gandhi, a young man who is being offered the same post and position in his party and is in fact being welcomed with open arms to take charge and the responsibility that goes with it. There is in fact quite an ongoing chorus for him to be in charge, even though the heir apparent is known to get upset with it. And yet, he remains wary. First, he talked somewhat philosophically of the poison of power and now he has described his entry into politics as a parachute landing, whatever merit or stigma he wishes to attach to it.. But then, he is not the only one whose entry into politics was direct, as it were from the heavens, and guided safely to touchdown – the truth is that there are enough politicians who have had similar parachute landings even though few would have mattered as much as his does, and even fewer would have had the candour to admit it. Naveen Pattaniak, Akhilesh Yadav and Omar Abdullah serve as adequate reminders. Others in this mould have taken to power and position quickly enough, not even spending a moment to reflect upon the state of the nation, of the political class in general, or of the need to bring change. Rahul has, more than any other single individual, emphasised the need to build upon youth power. He has roughed it out in the rural belt, stayed in huts, experienced the pain, the discomfort, and the everyday living conditions of ordinary people – in all honesty, how many of us have done so? And did he really need to? Couldn’t he too have just parachuted gently to ground without trouble and occupied his appointed place? But no, Rahul appears to be of a different mould, whether his detractors like it or not. He genuinely seems to want to bring about change, rather than


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politics & Governance

Why Bhisma? Why not Arjuna? By ritwik sinha

merely occupy any office or position. And therein lies the rub! How does one effect change in a system that abhors change and thrives upon the status quo, and when all around there is opposition to change? Even Rahul’s remark on marriage is thus being held hostage to a variety of interpretations including those of indecision or of an uncaring attitude to children, among other things. Finding fault is always easy, and poking fun is even easier – but every one of us recognises fully well the sum and substance of his concerns. Where does he go from here? Does he continue to look the other way, as it gets closer to the hustings? And thus continue to spend more time and years focussing on the party? There are many who believe he will. After all, has Manmohan Singh ever said he won’t be available? Seeing his recent sparring sessions with the main opposition, it is clear that he is certainly not a quitter. Not yet. And with the experience he has gained over the last nine years, or ten by the time we close in on the elections, he can only get better. There are other names, too, doing the rounds. And can the situation for the country itself get any worse? That’s not likely if the worst is already behind us. The economy is said to be doing better, and the current churn in our society not only highlights a greater public awareness but also the fact that the public is far more diligent in protesting about what they do not like. And perhaps if Rahul continues to stay away for some more time, the current arrangement will give the system more time to settle, and improve and function in greater harmony.

O

ne can’t be absolutely sure on it – whether what Rahul Gandhi said on marriage, children and their influence on status-quoist attitude recently resulted from reading out a script prepared by some media advisor with ambitions to give the leading in Bollywood’s popular theatrics bazaar a run for their money or he just candidly opened his heart? If the case is former, then it could well be called adding an out of the context sub-plot. But if he said each and every word out of his own volition, then as an individual, who can deny him the right to make choices about his personal life? But hang on. Was he just narrating his personal choices? Or it was mentioned in the context of hurdles at the personal level which he believes can affect someone when he assumes a public position? This intermingling needs to be placed in a proper perspective. Rahul Gandhi is in such an enviable position that everything he does and says is believed to be fraught with meanings and implications. And one of the simplest interpretation of ‘no marriage, no child for the sake of service to the nation’ theory is that he seems to have chosen Bhisma Pitamah – arguably the most reverend character of Mahabharata – as his role model. But one may well argue – why look at Bhisma for inspiration? Given the stage of his life, why not aspire to be Arjuna and look at targets like the great warrior of Mahabharata. That is not to say that Bhisma was in anyway less than Arjuna in valour. But, even without wife and children, his life was more complex and probably playing Bhisma in today’s Bharat would be easier said than done. Though Bhisma Pitamah and Rahul Gandhi do share the common thread of parachute landing at the centerstage owing to their lineage, there could be a long list of differences in their personal settings (based on socio-political differences) which strongly underline that being Bhisma would not be a good idea

for Rahul. To begin with Bhisma Pitamah was never projected as the king to the throne. Rather, his role was to safeguard its interests. Something which he did diligently all his life. But the expectations built around Rahul by his own partymen to lead from the front are so huge, it will be difficult for him to remain an omnipotent figure in the shadow for too long. It would be a huge disappointment for the large group of his supporters if he does so. However, there are still some who believe that he has not completely shunned his reluctant streak. Bhisma Pitam was never safeguarding the interests of a throne which was liable to bear the burden of a new occupant after a regular periodicity. That too with the help of partners you might be most averse to. But this is what Rahul Gandhi is supposed to do precisely. There is no escape route in today’s democratic Bharat where coalition culture has taken very strong roots. Another significant difference: Bhisma did not encourage parachute landings. Rahul Gandhi, though does not seem to like it, he has not been able to avoid it either. While Bhisma could go on his own and did not need a select group of people around him (on this front, he was more like John Rambo), the rough and tumble of today’s politics is such, Rahul Gandhi can not have this luxury. One can appreciate his “non status quoist” stand but in Rahul’s case he has had to either live with others around him or take the arduous route of cultivating an entirely new team. The story of Bhisma is not all about valour and glory. There is a major failure registered on his report card - he could not resist the decay happening around the throne he had sworn to safeguard. Surely, with Rahul Gandhi being projected as the new hope to bring change, this is not an outcome his supporters would ever imagine for him. And that is why probably, they would like to see him emerge as Arjuna and not Bhisma. 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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Debatin the value of De NARENDRA MODI AND WHARTON

Does the flip-flop by Wharton University in inviting Narendra Modi reinforce that there are still question marks on his international acceptibility? Or, is it just the case of his detractors playing their cards deftly to embarrass him? By navin berry

N

arendra Modi is no stranger to controversy. The cancellation of his keynote address at the Whar ton India Economic Forum (WIEF) which Modi was invited to give later this month via videoconferencing is not the first time he has encountered strong reactions overseas. The rejection by Wharton may only be a minor irritant in Modi’s political scheme of things, but it emphasises once again just how polarising he remains for society. What will it take him to put 2002 behind him for good, for ever?

The Background Narendra Modi was invited --- so the india debates 15-30 march 2013

organisers must have believed it was appropriate to call him. Surely, a great deal of thought must have gone into the selection process before he was considered a fitting role model to deliver the keynote address. In fact, when Wharton’s invitation to Modi was withdrawn, the Indian students put up a note saying: “The student organising body was extremely impressed with Mr Modi’s credentials, governance ideologies, and leadership, which was the primary reason for his invitation.” There was also a major sponsorship deal tied up with a leading Gujarat industrial house which happens to be headed by the industry magnate closest to the chief minister, highlighting again the fact that there must have been considerable backroom thought applied before the invite went out. Closer to the date, perhaps Wharton found Modi somewhat too hot to handle. Those opposing his address were led by three professors, Toorjo Ghose, Ania Loomba and Suvir Kaul. In their petition they highlighted two things. First was

There was also a major sponsorship deal tied up with a leading Gujarat industrial house which happens to be headed by the industry magnate closest to the chief minister

perspectives

Rajiv Malhotra

Indian-American philanthropist, public speaker and writer on current affairs, founded the Infinity Foundation, seeking to foster a better understanding of the dharma religious traditions of India most notably of Hinduism and Buddhism. “Are future business leaders being taught the lesson of succumbing to political pressure without doing thorough due diligence of their own? Have the professors behind the ambush done a disservice to American businesses by snubbing the chief minister of a state that is the most sought after destination by multinationals for their Indian manufacturing hubs? Modi’s long list of endorsements from global business leaders seems to have been overruled easily by three angry professors. Why did their opinions prevail over all others, when their main competence is in English and postcolonial theory, not business?

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politics & Governance

ng ebate Toorjo Ghose, Ania Loomba and Suvir Kaul

From the petition filed by Professors We are outraged to learn that the Wharton India Forum has invited Narendra Modi. It is incomprehensible to us that this is the man who the forum wishes to celebrate as an exemplar of economic and social development. We find it astonishing that any academic and student body ‌ can endorse ideas about economic development that are based on the systematic oppression of minority populations, whether in India or elsewhere.

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perspectives Aseem R. Shukla

associate professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation. The rescinding of Mr Modi’s invitation just weeks before he was scheduled to address the forum went against the most fundamental tenets of freedom of thought, speech and inquiry that the University of Pennsylvania categorically upholds as published policy… In capitulating to the petition that a few of my Penn colleagues initiated, this vaunted ideal of free speech was reduced to a platitude; Penn invited international opprobrium; and the university insulted legions of Indians and Indian-Americans who, while not necessarily supporting Mr Modi as a politician, have confidence in India’s democracy and judiciary.

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the February 2012 criticism of the Modi government by the Supreme Court for harassing activists. And second was the Indian Human Rights Commission (INHRC) report which stated that there was “a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state”. Realising that the invitation may lead to a controversy of a dimension they had not visualised, the better part of valour lay in making a hasty retreat. Two weeks before the planned meet, the invitation was withdrawn with a promise that a better opportunity would be made available to Modi at another time and date. Wharton preferred the controversy and the backlash that would arise out of the withdrawal of the invitation --- this being the smaller embarrassment --- rather than persisting with it and be in the middle of a much bigger one, therefore the urge to withdraw since continuing with Modi was likely to prove a bigger challenge. But was this all there was to it? Or, are there any deeper layers?

The questions that arise There are many questions that do arise india debates 15-30 march 2013

Ania Loomba

professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and petitioner. … providing Mr Modi with a plenary position to speak on economic development is a deeply political act … Mr Modi’s proposed plenary address fit very much with his sanitizing campaign … He was due to speak on his state’s economic record, and there was no forum for questioning his human rights record. While the Wharton conference organizers say they do not ascribe to any political ideology, we felt that providing an opportunity that so closely fits the campaign agenda of a controversial politician is inherently political, particularly since it repressed any attention to Mr Modi’s record on human rights and justice.

--- some going beyond the immediate controversy.

Is there a possibility that was pressure on the organisers? Is there a possibility that there was pressure on the organisers, and if so, from whom? One such pressure group was that of the Indo-American professors at US universities. Were there others, perhaps from within India, who saw a threat in

At least Shashi Tharoor differed from some of his party colleagues – he would have preferred the university to engage with Modi, and grill him. Modi’s gaining acceptance? Or, were there radical groups who opposed the invitation on fundamental grounds? If so, have only fringe pressure groups been allowed to have their say? Does it mean then that we are again pandering to destroyers of free expression and that there is no room for expression of conflicting views? Opinions vary even among the university’s faculty and are far from unanimous. Many feel that the university should have

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sought to turn this into an opportunity to debate Modi, and confront him on the controversies that surround him. That would have been true to the spirit of intellectual freedom. Universities are not known to shy away from controversial figures, and students are supposed to learn multiple sides of complex issues, and are taught to think for themselves. No university should ever compromise on its mission to foster the free exchange of ideas, feel most students and faculty. However, what the petitioners point out is that Modi was invited to address this forum as its keynote speaker. And this was the problem since he was given what is essentially ‘a chief guest’ position as far as this event goes --- this wasn’t an invitation to debate the development process. He was an honoured plenary speaker, and there was to be no real debate possible. Is Modi fishing around for international endorsements? Is Modi fishing around for international endorsements? Did he wangle an invite? And was his industry friend’s pulling out as lead sponsor a pointer that the lavish platinum sponsorship support had been part of an attempt to re-launch Modi in the U.S.? It has certainly emboldened his critics to ask if there was any quid pro


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quo involved for the Adani sponsorship. Even if there was, is there anything wrong with that? Surely, this is above board. And, in any case, the alignment between Modi and Adani is too well known. There are also those who say that Modi spends enormous time and money in building his image --- that he is cultivating a cult around himself. Does he spend crores of rupees to build his image and profile? If so, who is paying for that build up? Modi says he does not need any endorsements from anybody, except from his people. And that he claims he has in plenty, as his continued winning streak in the state would testify.

Is there any national shame involved in the withdrawal? Is there any national loss of face involved in the withdrawal? Why invite him only to rescind later? As Indians, we may well ask why Wharton did not rely on India’s institutions and courts in evaluating

There are also those who say that Modi spends enormous time and money in building his image – that he is cultivating a cult around himself. Does he spend crores of rupees to build his image and profile?

an Indian leader’s legitimacy. India has a free democracy that has elected Narendra Modi three times, as well as a legal system whose Supreme Court set up a special investigation team into the allegations against Modi. The Supreme Court investigation resulted in no charges being filed against him. Yet, these findings are apparently insufficient for Wharton. Is the withdrawal of the invitation then, with Modi the elected and chosen head of an Indian state, a slap on India’s face? Is this the right way for Indians to think --that the country stands insulted because of the withdrawal? But then there are others who say that an insult to an individual Indian, especially such a controversial one, is neither an insult to the country or to other Indians and that it is in Wharton’s inviting him that India should feel insulted as he represents fundamentalist thoughts which go against the spirit of the constitution.

Was the Congress celebrating the rejection? And was the Congress celebrating the rejection? Would the Congress have stayed away from any reaction, as they did this time, had it been one of their own CMs, say from Delhi or from Maharashtra, or would they have then cried foul? At least Shashi Tharoor differed from some of his party colleagues - he would have preferred the university to engage with Modi, and grill him, if they wished. But once having invited him, Tharoor felt they needed to go through with the invitation. “The Wharton Business School should have heard Narendra Modi after inviting him. I disagree profoundly with Mr Modi, but students should have thought through his various positions and his record before they invited him. Once they invited him, they should have actually heard him out and he should have been challenged. The university campus is a place where you can actually answer questions and ask questions and that should have been the process,” said the Congress minister. Then, what’s the final take on the episode? That if the world is opening up to Modi, and removing and lifting the ban on him, the world is also having second thoughts. And, if his flight is indeed taking off, some small turbulence can well be expected. 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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politics & Governance states: punjab

with sonrise over,

badal jr steps UP

Sukhbir Singh Badal is no longer in the shadow of his legendary father. Quite subtly, he is steering Punjab’s governance in a more progressive direction. By Aroon Sharma

P

rakash Singh Badal stands tall amongst those fathers in the country who have initiated their sons into politics. If today his son Sukhbir Singh Badal is seen as one of the country’s political role models for sensible development, the credit should go in equal measure to his cautious mentoring by his father, and the skills Badal Jr. himself developed over the last15 years. It may take many more years for him to measure up to the stature of his father who has had half a dozen tenures as the chief minister of this predominantly agrarian state, but if one were to take an overall bird’s eye view of today’s newly emerging Punjab, one would see that there is ample proof that son Sukhbir Singh seems to be on the correct course. On more than one count, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has come to be compared with the same sense of priorities, and the same perseverance in policies exhibited by Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Though they may not have met much, their connection is common knowledge, with the Shiromani Akali Dal remaining forever supportive of the Bharatiya Janata Party as the lead party in the NDA. After insignificant ministerial stints at the Centre under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when the US educated Badal Jr. took charge of the Shiromani Akali Dal, he was just a beginner, an upstart in Punjab’s enigmatic politicoreligious mix. That was 2002. The Congress had just wrested power from the Akalis in the state. Sukhbir had even lost an election, and had to make do with a seat in Rajya Sabha. But the customary Congress-Akali witch hunting after the elections was eroding the productivity potential of Punjab and uncommitted voters were faced with the little choice. The father-son duo took the opportunity to rebuild the party from ground up. Badal Sr. went

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politics & Governance

about shepherding those Akali factions who were at cross purposes with each other into joining together for one unified purpose: to regain the reins of power. Badal Jr. in the meantime, was entrusted with firming up the party’s urban base. Five years of cadre management by Sukhbir Singh Badal – no doubt aided by the misrule of the Congress – led to an Akali-Badal coalition taking the saddle in 2007. Prakash Singh Badal was sworn in as the Chief Minister for the fifth time, and Sukhbir Singh Badal’s maiden foray on his home turf had taken off. By 2012, the Shiromani Akali Dal had garnered enough goodwill for a second consecutive mandate to manage the state. And an ageing father, now 85, handed over the Deputy Chief Ministership along with several prestigious portfolios, including the Home office in particular, to the son now 50. As the Shiromani Akali Dal steps into the seventh year of its rule, Prakash Singh has retreated to the position of a revered mascot, and Sukhbir Singh has accelerated fast to become the mover and shaker of the Shiromani Akali Dal. He has proved his skills in poll-management in the recent past with such success that it has shaken the state’s Pradesh Congress Committee into a revamp, precipitated in no small measure by Congress MLA Joginderpal Singh changing sides to join the Shiromani Akali Dal. Joginderpal resigned from the assembly, and then went on to win under his new banner from the very same seat Moga in a contest

that was seen as the ultimate Sukhbir vs surplus by the end of 2013. Amarinder electoral face off. Sukhbir has also envisaged a rural A n a l y s t s s a w i n t h i s v i c t o r y a n mission in the Punjab countryside. In four unexpected tilt by the Hindu vote bank years’ time, the sewer lines of some 10,000 from the Indian National Congress not to villages and cities will be connected to the Bharatiya Janata Party as expected, but treatment plants. And, of course, his to the Shiromni Akali Dal. With another blue print includes cemented roads and MLA added to its numbers, the Akalis drains in rural areas. Conscious that stray, now have a simple but clear majority of though ugly, incidents of police brutality 59 in a House of 117. The have brought a bad credit for this achievement name to the government, goes to Sukhbir Singh. he proposes a Central He has helped With its ties with the Control Room accessible draw up a Bharatiya Janata Party as by toll free numbers for blueprint for a strong as before, Prakash distress calls. A part of the metro network in Singh Badal’s approval of CCR would coordinate the ballooning his son’s strategy was easily a rural rapid response industrial hub at discernible. Not long back, system: two policemen Ludhiana with Badal Sr. had guardedly would be on the scene E. Sreedharan, praised him saying, “I of any crime within 10 who set up Delhi’s should commend Sukhbir’s minutes. And in a first metro rail. organisational skills. He for the country, Punjab has done a good job as would have night policing President of the party.” on highways, roads and Sukhbir’s new look Punjab has already roundabouts. The force for it would rest started bringing him plaudits as yet during the day and be on duty at night. another emerging visionary in state Taking a cue from the Modi’s level politics. He has helped draw up developmental model, all Badal Jr.’s a blueprint for a metro network in the initiatives are time bound, and are to be ballooning industrial hub at Ludhiana audited and monitored. It may all sound with E. Sreedharan, who set up Delhi’s typically political tall talk, but going by metro rail. He has done away with money Sukhbir Singh Badal’s record, the changes sharking middlemen with the introduction seem likely. Were he actually to get all of the Right to Service Act through this done, no doubt he too can expect e-governance; he has ambitious plans of invitations from elite academic institutes setting up airports, four and six lane road to share experiences. That after all seems connectivity throughout the state and to be the true barometer of political self-sufficiency in power, with a planned popularity in India nowadays.

perspectives

prakash singh badal chief minister, punjab I should commend Sukhbir’s organisational skills. He has done a good job as President of the party.

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states: uttar pradesh

it is time for

goodwill to give way to good governance

It was the overwhelming support of the masses which placed Akhilesh in the driving seat of India’s most politically sensitive state last year. But as detractors and critics mount attacks on him for having failed on the governance front, he might be forced to indulge in hard-boiled political moves including realigning his internal support base on caste lines. india debates 15-30 march 2013

By Aroon Sharma

E

arly last year during electioneering for the assembly polls of Uttar Pradesh, one cyclist in his late 30s peddled his party’s symbol – the bicycle – throughout towns and villages, through both dusty forgotten hamlets as well as the notorious badlands of this 80MP yielding state. The man was Akhilesh Yadav an MP only from the year 2000 and not a particularly articulate one in Parliament, not enough anyway to garner any media attention. His campaign was in stark contrast to that of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, a many term MP, former Union Minister and a three term Chief Minister who concentrated on taking quick aerial short cuts to his various vote banks by helicopter or plane. Apparently, the father’s brief to the son was very clear : from a meagre 97 MLAs in a House of 403, up the party’s strength to stake a claim to forming the government. Though numerically the Samajwadi Party (SP) was the second largest after the then


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politics & Governance perspectives

Akhilesh’s job from here ahead is to plug leaks in loyalty. In the last reshuffle of his council of ministers, he took a calculated risk by downgrading the portfolios of three ministers, all Thakurs. ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), that was nowhere close to the family’s former ruling glory. It had been losing for rather long now by turns to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); to the BJP-BSP marriage of (in) convenience; and to the much touted social engineering of Mayawati’s BSP which finally brought her to the helm. Akhilesh Yadav, conscious of the trust reposed in him by an ageing father, drew up a detailed blue print for the plunge into electioneering. The choice of candidates was his, the campaign – from its highest levels down to literally the grassroots, was drawn up by him. On the electoral horizon there suddenly emerged an approachable lad in a red cap on a cycle like so many ride in India. He was taking on three contenders: the BSP, the BJP and the Indian National Congress (INC). Mayawati had sewn up alliances already, and was dismissive of him; the saffron bigwigs berated him as a fatheranointed deity of no weight and no value; while Rahul Gandhi an ally, remained unsure of warding off the BSP and BJP in tandem with the SP. The results proved all pollsters wrong. The Mulayam/Akhilesh duo had ‘cycled’ to unexpected heights: they had 224 MLAs in a House of 403; it was an overwhelming victory. Of the BSP, BJP and INC, no one was even close, with BSP at 80 a poor second. Mulayam Singh Yadav in a deft move made way for his enterprising son who had re-energised the party with this marvel of majority. And so Utttar Pradesh had the youngest chief minister ever in its annals: Akhilesh Yadav, 38. A year has passed. The father has been

mentoring the son who has had to make a few course corrections. There have been some unsavoury incidents of industrial and communal unease here and there, and the messy Raja Bhaiyya rigmarole at the end of his first year in office, but despite everything Akhilesh Yadav has come out seemingly clean in image and intentions. Once in a while, a Samajwadi of yore does sigh that Mulayam Singh would have made a better chief minister but these voices find no echo in the continual goodwill generated by Akhilesh as a bright, new benefactor. The hot seat in Lucknow has never

There have been some unsavoury incidents of industrial and communal unease here and there, and the messy Raja Bhaiyya rigmarole been comfortable for those who have been swept to it by the goodwill of the majority, and who took reins with the best blueprints. To undo the state’s widespread caste factionalism means being able to have change percolate down to the remotest hamlets across a terrain one half of which is spread over barely accessible vastness and the other half in a wilderness completely alien to today’s emerging India. Thus, in 2013 Uttar Pradesh remains as fragmented by fierce caste loyalties as ever and its 80 electoral golden eggs, the elected MPs this state sends to Parliament, are spread across this electorally important state as strongholds

of either the Thakurs, Brahmins, Muslims, or the Backwards and Other Backward Classes. This is where the tight rope walk begins. This is where it has always begun. In the run up to the Secretariat at Lucknow in the last elections, Akhilesh had managed the caste equations right, and so swept past the others. Caste loyalties are a huge part of community pride. Puncture that pride and a vast chunk of a particular caste or community immediately shifts base. The INC lost Muslims a long back. Later, the Thakurs and Brahmins lined up behind the BJP. Sensing space on the chess board, Kanshi Ram-Mayawati baited the Muslims and the Dalits and became the fourth force after the INC, the BJP and the SP. Akhilesh’s job from here ahead is to plug leaks in loyalty. In the last reshuffle of his council of ministers, he took a calculated risk by downgrading the portfolios of three ministers: all Thakurs – Raja Bhaiyya (since resigned), Raja Mahendra Aridaman Singh and Raj Kishore Singh. The 29 Thakurs in his party currently feel slighted. This is the community which has been supporting or withdrawing its support en bloc, and can sway results in at least 32 of the state’s Lok Sabha seats. So perhaps the son’s tilt towards Brahmins is part of a bigger overall blueprint which envisages his father catapult to South Block with 50 MPs as the consensus nonCongress, non-BJP candidate for Prime Minister ! Of course, it is unlikely that the Backwards and the Muslims would ever come together with Brahmins. But then, isn’t politics the art of the impossible? 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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politics & Governance land reforms

Hanging fire for political reasons?

The government wants to expeditiously implement the Land Acquisition Bill. But the opposition says it needs more time to examine its merit. Or, is it wary of the government running away with a potential vote winning instrument. The industry has already made its displeasure known, in no uncertain terms.

quarters, and the reasons for delay do not appear out to be a puzzle. Let’s look at the issue from the he prospect of Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement perspective of businesses. What do all Bill becoming a reality during industry chambers and associations – the current session of the ranging from the leading ones to small parliament does not look too promising. sectoral outfits – have the common On 7th March, the government convened item on their respective wishlist? It’s an all-party meeting to achieve a consensus the provision of easy access to land for on the proposed bill but opposition taking their businesses to the next level. leaders sought more time to study the But while the Land Acquisition Bill may amended legislation (28 amendments have pave the way for easier access, what it been made in the 400 pages draft bill) and would not do is to facilitate the cheaper the next meeting is now scheduled on 20 access. Among other things, the bill March. The bill which was introduced stipulates, “compensation for the owners of the acquired land in September 2011 shall be four times and cleared by while the Land the market value the GoM headed Acquisition Bill may pave in case of rural by Sharad Pawar the way for easier access areas and twice last year is slated of land for economic in case of urban to induce a major activities, what it would areas.” The broader change, particularly not do is to facilitate the intent behind in the mechanism cheaper access. this is: to create a of land acquisition more structured for economic and mechanism in land industrial usage by replacing the 117-year-old archaic deals where farmers are not left high Land Acquisition Act. But then the lack and dry. Afterall there have been a spate of consensus on what seems to be a bill of protests and also violent incidents in which will have a defining economic different parts of the country in recent impact also seems to be emerging from years wherein farmers have made their the strong political undertones. Given displeasure clear over the issue of low its pro-farmers tilt, as many observers monetary compensation vis-à-vis the high believe, the bill could be a potential vote gains which ultimately the acquirer derive. catcher for the government. On the other This has been particularly true in the case hand, the higher payouts provisions of real estate deals. The point is: the industry is extremely for the acquirer (read: industry) means the industry lobbies being left high and worried over the prospect of land cost dry. And it is this contradiction which shooting through the roof after this bill seems to be resulting in the delay in the comes into effect with land being the clearance of the bill. Add to it the political most vital component of any project ramifications as viewed from different today. “As per CII estimates, the land

By ritwik sinha

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politics & Governance acquisition cost is likely to increase by 3-3.5 times, severely affecting the viability of industrial projects across the board and eroding the competitiveness of Indian manufacturing sector. We suggest that no Solatium may be imposed over and above the multiplier and, if at all Solatium is to be retained, it could be reduced to 30% and the multiplier for urban areas be reduced to 1.5 instead of 2. Industry is also concerned on the possible steep increase in the cost of rehabilitation & resettlement (R&R) for acquisitions by the industry,” CII President Adi Godrej had argued in a column published in a leading financial daily sometime back. In the month of December, CREDAI, the leading body of real estate developers had also circulated a note to all members of parliament explaining the pitfalls of the bill for their business. “The bill appears to be one-sided as they seek to punish errant developers while ignoring defaulting buyers and corrupt officials. Provisions in the Land Acquisition Bill may make housing costlier,” the letter had strongly underlined. “ The clearance of this bill means giving quick burial to the idea of affordable housing which the government wants us to undertake,” a leading developer, who did not wish to be named, said. A clear line of argument is: through this bill the ruling government is running the risk of alienating from the industry. However, in the bargain it seems to get the support of the farmers’ community. Something on which both the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Rahul

Highlights of Land Acquisition Bill l Need to balance concerns of farmers l Proposed as the first federal law on the twin subject of resettlement and rehabilitation of families affected and displaced l Land for public purpose but under private projects can be acquired only if 80 percent of those affected agree l Public purpose defined as need for national security, infrastructure, village or urban development, and needs from natural calamities l Urgency clause in rarest of rare cases only for national defence security purposes, emergencies and natural calamities l Market value of land defined as what is determined for stamp duty or average sale price of similar type of land in the vicinity, ascertained from sale deeds in preceding three years, whichever is high. l Also, market value in rural areas will be multiplied by three l In urban areas, the award amount would be not less than twice that of the market value determined l In rural areas it would not be less than six times the original market value l For land owners and those whose livelihood depends on land, provision of subsistence allowance

Gandhi are keen on. Afterall, this bill had picked up momentum after Rahul Gandhi’s famous visit to two villages in Greater Noida in 2011 where farmers where complaining of irregularities in the land parcels acquired from them. That Congress’ support to the affected families did not convert into votes in assembly elections last year is another issue, political parties across the spectrum know well the meaning of provisioning for higher compensation for farmers. During the meeting on 7th March, both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav are reported to have pressed on the point that agricultural land should not be put for grabs for housing or industrial projects. Most interestingly, as an observer points out, state governments by and large have not come out in the open in making their stand clear on the bill. Barring some murmuring notes from Gujarat and West Bengal, other state governments seem to be watching the development from a distance. Land, after all, is a state subject but its acquisition also falls under the concurrent list. Given this contradiction, the existence of a potential flash point between nonCongress states and the centre cannot be ruled out. State governments, too, are fully empowered to draft similar legislation. Simply put, there seems to be too many hurdles in the way of Land Acquisition Bill getting the final green signal anytime soon. Those in the know of things vouch that there would be no surprise element if the bill is not adopted during the current session of parliament. Or, who knows, probably even beyond that, given its intrinsic poll related dimension.

perspectives Credai’s letter to parliamentarians The bill appears to be one-sided as they seek to punish errant developers while ignoring defaulting buyers and corrupt officials. Provisions in the Land Acquisition Bill may make housing costlier.

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Jairam Ramesh Rural Development Minister Land acquisition costs will and must increase. We are a land-deficit country but behave as if we are land-surplus and if the land acquisition bill succeeds in forcing people to buy land directly, then than is good

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Basudeb Achariya CPM Leader The bill that the government wants to pass hasn’t been reviewed by the standing committee. There are substantial amendments… It is for this reason that the amendment bill should be referred to a select committee.

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politics & Governance

interview S Y Quraishi

“you can’t love democracy and hate the politician” Former Chief election Commissioner (CEC) SY Quraishi strongly believes that the process of cleansing electoral system is a long-drawn battle as it is linked to the larger issues of corruption and criminalisation. In a candid conversation with navin Berry, he also expresses his concern with rising street protest trends. Excerpts... india debates 15-30 march 2013


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politics & Governance

Q Once again we have seen the ugly side of the political process rear up its head. Uttar Pradesh has seen a prominent cabinet minister quit on account of a murder of a senior police officer. The politician is well connected and therein lies the catch – he has power, money and a huge criminal record to back him. What sort of image does this leave the politician with? It is an unfortunate fact that the image of the politician is at the lowest ebb. Every citizen seems to have nothing but scorn and hatred. This is not a healthy situation for democracy. It is dangerous for the country. Q In what way do you sense this? The public opinion is all over. As I have often said, you cannot love democracy, and hate the politician. There can be no democracy without politicians. Q Therefore, if this be true, what needs to be done? Something drastic must be done, and urgently. This needs to be corrected without further delay, before people take things in their own hands, take to the streets. Street agitations can assume dangerous proportions and we have already had several previews. Q How do you come to this conclusion? Its obvious as daylight. The way things are going. The way the Delhi gangrape brought citizens onto the streets, the way people have started coming to Jantar Mantar or Ramlila maidan expressing their lack of confidence in the establishment. The voice of the people is the final word, in any democracy. Q Who will start this process of change? As a former CEC, do you think the EC can kick start the process? Yes and no. The EC has no power to keep the criminals out of politics. Its only a body to conduct and ensure free and fair elections. But it did kickstart by sending electoral reforms proposals to the government. Q But this street agitation that you talk about, where do you see other signs of it? Most noticeably, on the social media. We

Asked to comment on the EC as an institution, from the heady days of T N Seshan, Quraishi said that it was an institution the country can be proud of. Of course, we had a great start in the first place. Then Seshan gave it an unprecedented visibility and authority. and then every successive CEC has contributed to the effectiveness of the EC. Today ECI is considered the most powerful election management body in the world. Many countries are approaching us to learn from our experience.

see it very often on the streets, and the situation is alarming. Increasingly, there is diminishing respect for authority. At one time, all we needed was one lathi wielding cop for a thousand agitators. Now we need perhaps one for one! In fact, we need security to protect every constable! It is not uncommon for crowds to be seen attacking those meant to be in control. What more writing on the wall do we need? Q But what can be the reason for such a loss in authority, to somewhat summarise? The root causes are deep rooted corruption, and criminalisation in politics. People are losing patience. Hundreds of cases are pending against those in authority. Surely this is not something that India can be proud of? Not something very reassuring. Q What is a solution, assuming there is one? For starters, we need to debar from contesting those who have serious criminal cases pending against them. Q So, why don’t we get started? I am sure everyone is on the same page? Unfortunately not. Not those who make the laws. That’s where the problem is. Many of the ‘heroes’ are themselves in parliament and they will vote this out. Surely, we cannot say we are so hopeless? The two major political parties need to come together. They must show wisdom, political will and courage to bring up a bill, to debar criminals from contesting elections. Q Then, why is this not happening? I suppose all the parties have their own quota of such politicians among them and they keep opposing the move. Q But if we leave them out, and they continue to rule the roost, outside of parliament, we have still not removed them from the system? Baazari gunda has less nuisance value. He can be handled. It is when he also becomes a powerful neta that the problem arises. It is the mixture of power and politics with the unlawful elements that he assumes dangerous proportions. 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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politics & Governance

Q And you are saying the EC has no role in doing anything to start this? As I said, we have no role to begin with. We are only an implementing agency, monitoring free and fair elections. We are a strong and effective preventive action agency against all criminals. Q How do you do this, just to give us some idea? We do intensive vulnerability mapping exercise down to every booth. We thereby identify criminals who are capable of vitiating the election process. We initiate every preventive action possible to contain such elements, with the active help of the local courts and the local police. Q To what extent has this effort been successful? There is now virtually no poll day violence, no murders and riots – all have come down. And which is also why elections have become more peaceful, transparent and business like. We deploy video cameras across the country – to film 24x7 all the candidate with criminal and antisocial background. In the last elections, we had deployed hundreds of thousands of video cameras – with enforcement teams, headed by a magistrate. Our teams tail such criminals to prevent them from mischief. But that’s only during a few weeks of the elections. Before and after, their writ runs! Q And this has been hugely successful? I would say so, and it stands widely acknowledged. Even the hardened criminals behave like lambs – with a video camera trailing their every movement. It is like a 15 days emergency clamp down on such elements. Q Is this what Karunanidhi was complaining about the last time? Even leaders have been known to accuse us of emergency like behaviour. We show no relentlessness in our zeal, across party lines, across the country. It is our mandate to conduct these elections transparently with a single rule running right across – there are no favourites. That’s why Election Commission of India enjoys such a high level of respect india debates 15-30 march 2013

nationally and internationally. But coming back to where we started, how do we get started, as a nation? Who will bell the cat? It has to start with the parliament. We need to bring an act against those who have serious cases pending. But there have also been apprehensions expressed that such acts can be exploited against innocent people, you can frame them, and get them hooked… That is the excuse we hear. To protect against false politically inspired cases we had recommended three safeguards. One, that only those against whom there were heinous acts reported should get disqualified – cases such as rape, murder, kidnapping, and moral turpitude. Secondly, we had said that cases need to be at least six months old before the

date of elections. And that a court of law should have framed the charges. Q Then, what has been the problem? When was this clarity brought about? The proposal has been pending for 20 years. Q And what has been the reason, you would think? Political parties say there is lack of political consensus. Q But should this not be easy enough? Bring the bill, and expose those who are opposed to it? Sure, this is one way. At last the government should bring up a bill to show its seriousness of purpose and prove its credentials, and leave the rest to the


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others, to follow or not to. Those who oppose will get exposed. People will know and deal with them. Q Would it work to differentiate between hardened criminal activity like rape and murder, on the one hand, and financial corruption, on the other? Corruption is an equally dangerous issue. It also goes hand in hand with criminalisation. You cannot separate the two. Why do criminals want to get into politics, in the first place? For power, so that they can make money. Q You are saying crime and money cannot be separated? The truth is that money power has to be controlled and criminals have to be debarred.

Quraishi is just back from Kenya, having observed the national elections in that country, as a Commonwealth observer. On being asked how these elections went, he said they were most noteworthy. There were mile long queues throughout the day, from 4 am. Voters stood in queues for as long as 10 hours but I did not see a single person agitated. It was touching to see their enthusiasm and determination to vote and restore the image of their country that had suffered after the post election violence in 2007-08 that had left 1300 persons dead and over 6 lakhs homeless. Much patience in exercising their franchise, he commended the people of Kenya for reposing such confidence in the electoral process.

Q And, money for elections? What do you say for state funding of elections? The law has provided a cap on expenditure for a good reason. Its currently Rs 40 lakhs for Lok Sabha and 16 lakhs for Vidhan Sabha. This is the accountable part of the expenditure. Even if all of it is funded by the state, but what about the unaccounted part? That is used for bribing voters besides violating the expenditure ceiling to disturb the level playing field. How will state funding control the use of black money? Q I had heard that EC had started chasing and impounded large sums of cash, in the last elections? That is true. We have created an expenditure monitoring division – with detailed guidelines in place. Over 100 crores of rupees have been seized in the last two years. We have managed to put the fear of God into them. We have brought the problem somewhat in control, but how do we eliminate it? They have started other ingenious ways to flout the rules. Q And while this battle rages, political bashing will go on? Some cleansing is required, and the sooner the better. If the government and those in power do not, then the people will. I believe in the saying that ‘sarkar apne iqbal se chalti hai’ – governments run on the strength of their moral authority. When there is no moral authority, there would be no governments! Only chaos and disaster. Q How is the story going so far? From 124 politicians with a criminal record to 162, between this Parliament and the earlier one. The number has only grown. Therefore, it can be presumed that at least 162 votes will go against any bill to debar the tainted from contesting! But, as I said, let us at least bring up the bill. After all, we have not given up hope. There are some great leaders in the country. We have achieved our present greatness as a country on account of their contribution to public life, and to the country. I am confident of a great future. 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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economy & industry

aviation

“air asia will be a rational competitor”

CAPA India chief Kapil Kaul presents his take on the new equations emerging in Indian aviation business following green signal to FDI and Air Asia’s announcement to enter in the market... By navin berry

Q Looks like Air Asia India could become online from the middle of this year. That would be a sudden infusion of a new airline. What does this mean in terms of competition for Indigo and SpiceJet, the two notable low cost airlines? Or, for that matter, what would be the impact on full service carriers like Jet and Air India? Mid year launch looks aggressive and I don’t see a launch during the monsoons. It may be more practical and realistic by Q3 but subject to receiving all the necessary clearances from DGCA, which might be challenging. I don’t see any near term impact till Air Asia increases scale of operations. Q We hear they could be starting from Chennai, with just three to four aircrafts; what does it mean for competition in the short run, and medium run?

india debates 15-30 march 2013

Initially, expect Air Asia to concentrate on less competitive routes with potential to stimulate the market with aggressive low fares. We will see many innovations and different approach to marketing. Expect focus on building an advance purchase market strategically as it is critical for capitalization as well. In the short run, I think some of the Indian carriers will increase capacity out of Chennai before the Air Asia launch but Indian carriers will match every move especially in pricing. India doesn’t have a rational competition and pricing is often very disruptive. So, it will be very challenging for all of them. In the medium term, subject to a rational competitive behavior and resumption of growth, the market will absorb Air Asia’s operations as there is a huge market available but at the right price point. Air Asia will be aggressive but a rational competitor. They don’t enter markets to lose money but India has proved very


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economy & industry

DEFINE A ROAD MAP FOR AIR ASIA INDIA

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ith Air Asia tying up with TATA, one more corporate player will fly the Indian skies. And this should be good news for the aviation sector. There is room for more players and more competition. International assessments made suggest India needs 1000 aircrafts in the next few years. These wont come on the strength of just the existing airlines. Newspaper stories have highlighted that the new airline hopes to be flying by the middle of the year. Media is also hinting that not all should be expected to be smooth sailing - there are numerous clearances to be taken, and it cant be so quick! Are we just reading in between the lines and getting carried away? Are we just prone to apprehensions, in the belief that in India you can never expect such smooth entry? This sector

difficult for them earlier as well. Overall, Air Asia will do whatever it takes to have the lowest cost structure with focus on delivering higher productivity than current industry levels. Q Would you say that opening FDI in aviation policy has started showing positive results? Do you see the deal for Jet and Etihad happening soon? CAPA expected few deals especially from Middle East carriers and some South East Asian carriers and the direction of announcements is on expected lines. We expected LCC groups like Air Asia to set up a greenfield operations and not acquire existing carrier. Yes, expect the Jet- Etihad deal to be announced soon. I also expect GoAir and Spicejet also to get a strategic investor. We are moving in a strategic direction post FDI but the government must play the role of an enabler and remove all barriers to such deals. Foreign airlines investing in Indian carriers will be a game changer but government has to play a key role in facilitating such transactions. Q What does it mean for the consumer? Can we hope for cheaper fares? Given Air Asia’s track record, does it mean soon an

in particular has seen in the past, many successful efforts in rocking the boat for new entrants! Is that just as easy today, as it was, say ten years ago? Let us examine the true ground reality. We have an aviation policy in place. That same policy is in public domain - an airline can start with a minimum of five aircraft, so be it. If it defines the routes you must fly, so be it. If it mandates a minimum share / paid up capital, so be it. We not expected to bend any of these rules. But beyond this, beyond the commas and the full stops, we must let all the sentences flow smoothly, and in language that is understood by both the country and the world. This is a test case for good governance, a case study for the world to judge us - how serious are we about foreign investment in

They don’t enter markets to lose money but India has proved very difficult for them earlier as well. era of much cheaper fares? Yes, expect cheaper advance purchase fares. However, the current cost environment is challenging and will restrict a low fare play. But, Indian airlines have proved that selling below cost is a way of life and increased competition might be the trigger for a new fare war. I hope fares reflect costs and we don’t see a destructive pricing game. Government must rationalize ATF pricing and airlines must increase focus on productivity and build ancillary business aggressively to allow a true low fare regime to grow in India. Q And will these cheaper fares mean even less profits for Indian carriers, making them go down in overall profitability? Indian carriers don’t have the balance sheets for a price war but they continue to

aviation, and in uplifting the economy as a whole. Such airline entries are not meant to just augment tourism numbers - these are critical steps towards creating a viable aviation infrastructure in place - the first few steps towards creation of air transport for the growing economy. It is a test for a government that has pledged to give itself a new look. That of a government that is investorfriendly, a government that is serious about weeding out corruption in high places. A pro-reform government that is working overtime to get the required infrastructure in place in quick time. Inter-ministerial wrangles are for the PMO to sort out, not for the investor to get embroiled with. If we have an FDI ruling in place for the aviation sector, as we do, then we must act according to it. The Ministry’s real challenge is to come through as a true facilitator!

indulge in destructive pricing. Q4 results will prove that red ink has returned and largely due to a lethal low fare regime. Don’t think most of the Indian carriers are interested in profitability. We have a very large appetite to lose money and that is an unfortunate reality. Surprisingly, investors / bankers and other critical stake holders remain silent. By end of this fiscal year, the collective losses since 2007 will touch US$ 10 billion but nobody raises any alarm. Q How do you see the Tata Group getting involved with just 30% stake? I am surprised with Tata’s entry as till very recently, Ratan Tata himself had publicly announced that the group had no interest in aviation, as India has a very destructive competition. Also, I remain surprised with Tata’s playing a role of a junior partner and having a limited role. However, partnering Air Asia will allow them to understand how low cost airlines (businesses) work and deliver profitably. Learning for the group could be immense as Tata’s have achieved only modest success with their low cost portfolio, including products such as NANO and Ginger. Maybe, we could see this partnership in other areas as well. 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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life around us

advertising

Turning on the

heat !

india debates 15-30 march 2013

Condom advertising in mass media, particularly on television, is viewed as provocative by many. Is it primarily because these commercials focus more on pleasure and conveniently sweep the safety message under the carpet?

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life around us

By chetan sharma

A

wo m a n d re s s e d i n a bl a ck negligee enters her bedroom and squirms with pleasure while dreaming about walking through a waterfall of chocolate. This is not porn but a recent ad for a flavoured condom. Are explicit condom ads really necessary?

In India all things related to sex have and probably will for some time to come be consumed by controversy. Be it sex education, kissing in public or condom advertising, the moral police is forever awaiting something even slightly risqué to take to the streets and then television studios. Provocative condom advertising is a recent target . From the government run ‘Nirodh “ social ads to the Kamasutra ads starring Pooja Bedi and Marc Robinson in the 1990s to the more recent Manforce ads featuring Sunny Leone, the bubble of opposition is waiting to burst. First the basics. Why do people buy condoms? We all know that condoms do more than just prevent unwanted pregnancies. They also protect both partners from sexually-transmitted diseases. In terms of safety how do condoms stand in place with other methods of contraception? According to the WHO, the least effective contraceptive methods are spermicides, and the most effective are implants, female sterilisation, vasectomy and intrauterine devices. Male condoms fall somewhere in between. The WHO, UNAIDS and UNFPA position statement on condoms and HIV prevention further states, “The male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.” India has seen a 50% decline in the number of new HIV infections in the last decade.So condoms are a must. But what is it about condom advertising that gets people’s blood rushing (no pun intended)? Is it the fact that someone is actually willing to not just talk but directly or indirectly show “the act” that everyone is trying to hush up or are condom ads completely out of the line and nothing but provocative? Then,

Children may ask questions about the product and what it is used for. Is the solution that we curtail condom advertising?

do condom ads “need” to be provocative and explicit? Arguments in favour of “provocative” condom advertising start with the basics – a product to be used during sex is bound to be sexual in nature. It should get people to at least think if not talk about safe sex. The point then is do the ads focus on safe sex or pleasure? Either ways, the rules of the market positioning apply to condom advertising as well. Furthermore ,to control the ever increasing population and curb the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases, the government constantly promotes safe sex through ad campaigns. It even distributes free condoms through various channels. Given this, condom manufacturers need to differentiate themselves from a product that is readily available. Of the limited options available the best, they say, is to position their product as a means of increasing pleasure. This would explain the focus on sensuality of the Kamasutra ads (even in the 1990s), and the more recent aggressive ad campaign of SKORE c on do ms. Then , parent s a r e of t e n embarrassed when a condom ad comes on TV. Children may ask questions about the product and what it is used for. Is the answer to curtail condom advertising on TV? It may make better sense to educate and empower parents about how to speak to a child about safe sex. On the flip side, the ads themselves may act as a source of sex education, tilting the perception of young minds. Also there are enough channels spewing out alternate stuff with sexual leaning which could embarrass parents and influence the unsuspecting children .Item songs and item dances fill in where there is an apparent vacuum. If not , a simple three letter type on Google would throw open a world of fantasy. So, “aware” needs to replace “beware” in approaching the subject. Finally, any gynecologist will tell you that the “abortion” business has gone up multi-fold. This is not just the result of heightened sexual activity in the youth at an early age. It also points to the fact that they do not favour protection, but

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life around us

feminist groups raise their voice against the portrayal of women. They claim it shows women as a commodity. need to. This becomes accentuated for a country where more than 50% of the population is under 25. Interestingly, many health analysts see the need to promote sexual activity as a means of physical exercise something which the infotech age has curtailed. The basic argument against provocative

advertisements for condoms is that it should focus on the basic need for safe sex and restricted conception. Mere and blatant focus on pleasure, diverts the purpose and questions the intent . Then ,it encourages the desire to have sex amongst the youth Importantly, feminist groups raise their voice against the portrayal of women in condom ads. They claim it show women as a commodity, instead of an equal partner in the act, and that ads focus more on male pleasure rather on that of women. Female condoms are rarely advertised in India, if at all. If we are indeed a society that can handle suggestive ads, why can’t we adopt a product like female condoms without terming the buyers as promiscuous? The usage of the product, though still low, has been pushed by government agencies and civil society organisations working with sex workers. Finally, a WHO bulletin post a decade long survey clarifies that condom social marketing programmes definitely increase condom sales but not necessarily its use. Also , there is no evidence to suggest that sales of flavoured condoms have been very successful. India, the world’s second most populous country needs to promote contraception, big time. Rapid increase

Condom factoids from around the world

1 In the UK, condom ads were allowed to be aired on prime time starting September 2010. Earlier they could not be aired until after 9PM. The authorities took the step in response to the country’s high rate of teenage pregnancy.

perspectives Shivjeet Kullar, Creative Director, Noshe Group “Condom manufacturers decide whether to position their product for safe sex or for pleasure. The government already distributes condoms with a focus on safe sex. In order to differentiate their product as premium, manufacturers advertise condoms for lovemaking. It is a market-driven phenomenon.”

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india debates 15-30 march 2013

Dr. Mahinder C. Watsa Obstetrician and Sex educator “Provocative condom advertising draws attention to the fact that the product is available and needs to be used. In a country with a very low rate of condom adoption, this is indeed necessary.”

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Dr. Ranjana Kumari Director, Centre for Social Research “Reproductive rights of women in India are mostly non-existent, especially in rural areas. There is a huge taboo for women discussing and knowing their bodies. The adoption of female condoms has been slow due to morality issues attached to them. In a country where there is debate about sex education, messages about sexuality need to be given through informal mechanisms.”

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life around us

5 China only removed a ban on condom advertising (put in place in 1989 under regulations that prohibit “any products meant to cure sexual dysfunction or help improve people’s sex life.” in 2003, only after finally recognising the massive AIDS outbreak facing the country.

1

2

5 3

2 The first paid condom ad on a broadcast TV network in the USA did not appear until 1991 on Fox Television. 3 A few years back, a print ad for Durex’s super-thin condoms showed a girl with pleasant puzzlement on her face thinking “hmm…did he? didn’t he?” Needless to say it got feminists across India roaring; nothing pleasant about doubt they said.

The Raymond India website “The brand deliberately kept away from the conservative approach in which condoms were shown as being for married couples only. It used a bold and sensual advertising campaign to position itself as a pleasure enhancer with its byline “For the pleasure of making love”. The concept aimed to change the belief that condoms inhibit pleasure. With added features, variants and appeal KamaSutra was positioned as the brand for enhancing sexual pleasure instead of restricting it.”

,,

4 A controversial ad campaign by an Australian eatery Burger Urge saw the eating joint drop packs of condoms in people’s mailboxes in Brisbane saying, “Get intimate with our new premium beef.”

Vishal Vyas Senior Marketing Manager, SKORE Condoms on www.indiainfoline. com “Keeping in mind the changing trends in lifestyle, we have launched these youth condoms which characterize ‘adventurous encounters’. We are looking at marketing it in the most exciting and inventive means to strengthen its tagline: ‘SKORE condoms – there’s a lot to be won’. By positioning it as a stylish youth icon condom brand, we are very confident that this product will bring in responsible and sensual never before naughtiness into the pleasure world.”

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4

in live-in relationships, prostitution and sexual activity amongst teenagers simply magnifies the need for contraception as does the increase in sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS . Having said that ,to bombard a largely conservative society with explicitness, maybe unnecessary, even counter productive. People may even decide to close their minds further instead of appreciating the other point of view. Let’s remember we are talking about a country where female foeticide/ infanticide is a big problem, where child marriages are still prevalent and where a lot of women are completely unaware of their reproductive rights. Clear focus on education of sex and awareness of its safety, rather than pleasure seems to be the way forward. No harm adding a line “Condoms prevent diseases and unwanted pregnancies, not pleasure”. Any suggestions, Justice Verma? 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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life around us

1

President Pranab Mukherjee giving award to the mother of Delhi gangrape victim.

2

international women’s day

Celebrating,yes.

but what next? With India gaining in notoriety for atrocities against women, one is bound to ask if celebrations witnessed on international women’s Day amounted to anything more than tokenism? By ritwik sinha

I

f a picture is worth 1000 words, then this is it (see the accompanying picture of president Pranab Mukherjee giving Rani Laxmi Bhai award to the mother of Delhi gang-rape victim in a function on International Women’s Day in Delhi on 8th March). His eyes closed, and head bowed more than the usual as if he is seeking an apology in uttermost seriousness … At another function the same day, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had this to say, “Such incidents (rapes and crime against women) are happening all over the country. Our heads hang in shame because of these rapes and crimes against women.”

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day as set up by the United Nations was: “A promise is a promise — india debates 15-30 march 2013

time for action to end violence against women.” One wonders whether the theme was chosen keeping India in mind this time. The day panned out with an unusual fervor as reflected in announcements and new initiatives. And this is hardly surprising given the general pro-women administrative mood prevailing in the country after 16th December as reflected in P Chidambaram’s recent budget which offered a spate of goodies to the fair sex. Chidambaram’s promise of allwomen public sector bank was fulfilled in a different way with the unveiling of India’s first all-women post office in Delhi. “ This is first office in the country where all employees will be women. The government is looking into problem faced by woman and this is just a symbolic step,” Telecom and IT Minister Kapil

Sibal said. Uttar Pradesh government introduced a special bus for women to ferry between Noida to Greater Noida and a similar service was launched by the Odisha government for the route between Bhubaneshwar to Cuttak. Many celebrities especially from the new gen Bollywood club flooded the social media with ‘hum honge kamyab’ type messages and continuing with his uncanny knack of bringing in surprises, our own SRK announced that from now onwards the name of the female lead in all his movies will appear before him. The industry bodies too did not lag behind in expressing their resolve of supporting women. In a quick-fix survey, a chamber declared that majority of the members of India Inc. is willing to loose their purse strings to beef up the security environment for their


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life around us 1 The Union Minister Kapil Sibal being presented the MY STAMP Album at the launch of the India’s first ALL WOMEN post office, in New Delhi. 2 On Woman’s Day, Vidyut Jammwal,Chitranagada Singh,Malaika AroraKhan,Arbaaz Khan celebrate the real life soldiers who have always stood up for women 3 At another event, Delhi CM Sheila Dixit with Sunanda Pushkar, Sashi Tharoor and Kiran Walia

3 female staff. These are just a few instances of how International Women’s Day was played out this year. One may just debate: what is wrong in celebrating a cause? “ I tend to look at things positively rather than cynically. Ills against women are nothing new in India. But what’s that got to do with celebrating womanhood. We have grievances against our governments and politicians, but we still celebrate Republic Day. We as individuals need to understand that social issues and atrocities against women can’t be done away with by abstinence,” argued

filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (of ‘Rang De Basanti’ fame) while speaking to a publication. Its certainly not easy to puncture a hole in Mehra’s “abstinencenot- a- solution” theory. There could be no denying the fact that spotlight need to be turned on serious issues and a specific day celebrations can serve that purpose. The problem is: when more of the same keeps on repeating and there seems to be nothing to check it, then these celebrations appear to be meaningless. Rhetorics pushed from the top which can’t make any change on the ground. In the wake of public outcry as witnessed all across the country in later December and early January over that unfortunate incident on December 16th, one would imagine some steps would have been taken in Delhi/NCR region to ensure safety and security of women. But on 7th March, a day prior to International Women’s Day, over half a dozen cases of rape and sexual assaults were reported from the city and surrounding areas. It was as if perpetrators were mocking at the administration sending the message of being unstoppable. Interestingly, a television channel ran a sting operation on the same day interviewing mid-level police officials in three states on the hidden camera asking their opinion on rising cases of rape. And most of them had an

opinion which was utterly shocking in nature. “ It (rape) mostly happens with women of loose character. Women who move in tight jeans and influenced by the western culture,” was the refrain. Now how a mindset of this nature could be transformed by celebrating International Women’s Day is something which could be a big jig-saw puzzle. And it is when we confront these underlying disturbing trends that the tokenism of announcing a Nirbhaya fund, or opening an all-women post office, or dedicated bus services for them or devoting a dedicated day to celebrate womanhood get more pronounced. Couple it with these stark statistics and then again it would be difficult to puncture a hole in the tokenism theory. A senior government functionary recently stated that a staggering 24,000 cases of rapes and sexual harassment are pending in the countries’ courts. Add that to a larger number of cases which would have gone unreported because of social stigma reluctance and we have a ghastly portrayal of the Indian society. Not to forget, the dubious distinction of the country having the highest child mortality rate in the world with an estimated 1 million girls being killed in the womb every year. Now do we have a reason for any celebration, even a soft one?

perspectives Bina Kak Minister, Rajasthan Government, as quoted in a national daily

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Filmmaker as quoted in a national daily

The celebration is justified, given the fact that theUnited Nations has chosen this day to be celebrated with an agenda every year. For instance, the theme for International Women’s Day 2013 is ‘A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women’. On this day I would certainly like to review the various schemes of the Women & Child Development Department which is headed by me.

I tend to look at things positively rather than cynically. Ills against women are nothing new in India. But what’s that got to do with celebrating womanhood. We have grievances against our governments and politicians, but we still celebrate Republic Day. We as individuals need to understand that social issues and atrocities against women can’t be done away with by abstinence.

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15-30 march 2013 india debates


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life around us

the single girl

Where the mind is not without fear By shirin rai gupta T h e y ar e l ivewir e, br immin g wi th joy and youthful exuberance. They are promises of the future filled with dreams to define new boundaries. They have all the trappings to contribute meaningfully to the milieu they are part of. But unfortunately, today, they do not appear to have a “mind without fear” – something which Guru Ravindranath Tagore had defined as a necessary pre-condition to take a country on the path of greatness. The spate of violent incidents against women have undoubtedly bruised their psyche, too, putting them in an existential questioning as to why there are forces in the 21st century India that want to keep them confined to “narrow domestic walls.” They are mature enough india debates 15-30 march 2013

to understand that what is conveniently dubbed as law and order problem is a part of the larger malaise. That, of a mindset that thrives by subjugating the essence of womanhood – in varied forms, of course, ranging from extremely violent (like the one which scripted the tragic fate of Nirbhaya on 16th December) to the commonplace lecherous gesture of street-side Romeos. And everytime when it happens, their mind probably i s f i l l e d w i t h s o m e m o r e f e a r. T h e i m a g i n a t i o n o f Ta g o r e ’ s “ h e a v e n of freedom,” ends up just being an utopian idea. India Debates spoke with some students of a prestigious South Delhi college, chosen at random, to understand the young woman’s mind in today’s troubled times. Excerpts:


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life around us perspectives

Priyanjali Mitra

Age : 20 Student- BA Hons Sociology, LSR Father's occupation : Chartered Accountant Mother's occupation : School teacher

The recent rape case and the repeated sexual

assaults on women in my opinion may to a certain extent reflect a law and order problem but it is a largely a manifestation of the collective conscience gone wrong . More importantly it is about patriarchy .Patriarchy is what makes you ashamed, not happy when you have a period, because your traditions teach you that a menstruating body is a polluting body. Patriarchy is what teaches the male child that he has the liberty to do as he pleases, that the 'lakshman rekha ' exists only for women and that it is necessary to convert a 'no' into a 'yes' as far as women and their sexuality is concerned. It seeks control of your body, your mind, your speech, your behavior, even the ways in which you raise and lower your eyes. The fundamental cause of rape lies in the way we socialize our children-both girls and boys and till this is re-thought, status quo will be maintained if not worsen.

Mohita Gupta

Age : 21 Student/Profession : Research Trainee, European Commission Profession of Father : Indian Navy Profession of Mother : Kindergarten Teacher

Rape is not simply

about law and order, or about deranged individuals. Nor is the problem going to be solved by more laws, more police on our streets, CCTV cameras on our buses or stiffer sentences for rapists. The gang rapes that are occurring with alarming regularity must compel us to reflect upon who we are as a

society. It bothers me that every time I walk on the road in shorts/ skirt, I have men lecherously staring at me and raping me in their heads. There is only so much cops or the law and order can do. Practically speaking, you can t place a cop for every man in this country. Besides, what is the guarantee that the cops have a soul of gold! I have seen people all over Delhi protesting against the government for stronger policies and death penalty, but how many of those people can say that they have never looked at a women as a sexual object or molested one in their lifetime. And the irony is such that, after that entire ‘tamasha’, the rape count has almost doubled in the city. Rape needs to stop, not because the law says its wrong, but because we as human beings need to have some decency and respect for the fairer sex.

Richa Sharma

Age- 21 Student/ProfessionStudent, Political Science, Conflict Transformation & Peacebuilding at LSR Profession of FatherBusinessman Profession of MotherBusinesswoman

The problem with

the handling of these accounts of rapes or cases of sexual harassment is that it has been perceived, or rather portrayed to be a law and order problem. I find it highly reductionist to classify this as a problem of increasing frustration and stress among city men because that further objectifies women into being 'stress busters' and tools for deriving pleasure. These accounts reflect a deeply entrenched problem and not-sonew within the Indian society. Subjugation of women through various means has become commonplace and these regular cases of sexual assaults clearly point towards a lack of acceptance of women in the public sphere; so much so that a separate compartment had to be allocated to women in the Delhi metros in order to assure their safety. There exists an ever rising sense of insecurity among men as women have stepped beyond domestic boundaries with great confidence and dislodged conceptions of male superiority in these very arenas. What is needed is a psychological reform within the Indian society, especially in the understanding of the 'Indian masculinity'. At the same time, it would be wrong to dispel the law and order side of it and there is a need for better policing, for which, as the social activist Madhu Kishwar mentioned in one of her seminars at LSR, the police first 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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life around us perspectives needs to become “citizen-friendly” first if they have to become “gender-friendly.”

Kalyani Gandhi

Age: 20 years Profession: Student, BA Hons English LSR Father’s Name: Ram Gandhi Mother’s Name: Ashima Gandhi

Fear is

something that women in this city constantly live with. What you do, how you look, what clothes you wear, what time you’re out of the house, who you’re with is all subject to constant scrutiny and judgement by random strangers because apparently there’s nothing worse here than having a woman who is free to make choices regarding her own life. Honestly, why is it someone else’s business? I hate having to step out of the house knowing my parents are worried about me because in this city, in this country, anything can happen. Part of the problem is a weakness in law enforcement and policy making because there is absolutely no follow through. I also feel that there should be a programme for sensitising the police and staff in hospitals, the first people to come into contact with an assaulted person, as well as mandatory self-defence course in schools, colleges and community centres so that at least in the short term, women feel a greater sense of confidence and security. That being said, the root cause of these attacks is a basic misogyny in our society that cuts across class and geographical location and sadly, gender as well. This is what needs to be dealt with at every level possible. An apathetic government is a symptom of a diseased society and in return, their indifference doesn’t allow them to deal with the issues that are really important. . Basically, we need to respect individuals in society not because of their gender or despite of it but because that’s what should come naturally.

Devina Narang

Age: 20 Student: English Honors, LSR. Parents: Professionals

Whether rape

arises out of the frustration of city dwellers owing to inequality of wealth or out of the stress of the increasing influx of people into the cities leading to chaos and mayhem, I feel that implementation of new and strict india debates 15-30 march 2013

policies is the only solution to the looming issue of rape and sexual assault against women. In my opinion, death sentence to the violators would serve as the biggest possible warning to the public. People believe that it is imperative to make the assaulter suffer but that doesn’t serve to scare others from committing the crime themselves. So I believe that whether the cause is the way society is or lax policing, there’s only one way to fix the problem at hand and that is by enforcing stringent laws.

Somya Seth

Age: 20 Student, Eng Hons LSR Dad-Doctor Mum-Teacher

To place the blame

of the problem of rape and sexual assault entirely on ineffective policing is naïve. There is, of course, a dire need for responsible monitoring, safeguarding and enforcing of laws to protect women. However, we must consider that the issue at hand is much larger and is a deep seated one. Society as a whole needs to be sensitized to gender equality and notions of patriarchy need to be reexamined as men feel compelled to dominate and exert themselves due to societal pressure and the women are hence largely excluded and subverted. We must break free from gender stereotypes and strive for a society where men and women are not pressurized to satisfy a restricted perception of their gender. Apart from this it is vital that the perpetrators should not go unpunished and a sensitized, dependable and swift system of justice and law enforcement is a necessity and shall act as a definitive step towards curbing injustices against women.


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life around us

Neha Choudhary

Age: 22 years Student/ Profession: Student Father’s Profession: Selfemployed Businessman Mother’s Profession: Homemaker

Rape and

sexual assaults are not recent problems but have been around for decades. However, the recent 16th December event has led to fierce debates where some have blamed the weak city security while others have cited reasons like increasing stress in our social life. I personally believe that we cannot peg the root of the problem to any of these The cause for this can be traced to the socialization process. In deeply entrenched patriarchal values. Most of the Indian families bring up their children in such a manner that the power difference and hierarchy between males and females is made distinct. Violence against women (and other sexual minorities including the LGBT group) is nothing but a naked expression of this power. Like Mary Pipher says, “Young men need to be socialized in such a way that rape is as unthinkable to them as cannibalism.”

Shivani khare

Age- 21 Student- Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Journalism Hons, Third year Profession of Father-Doctor Profession of Mother- Doctor

The recent onslaught of media attention to rapes and sexual harassment in the country's capital has sparked off a much needed debate on addressing the issue and taking preventive measures. Rape has more to do with establishing power play more than anything else. A woman's body, in general, is perceived as something to be possessed and gained control over. With the increasing inequalities in society and frustrations, the easiest person to victimize is a woman to maintain the

patriarchal order. Coupled with the fact that the judicial system in our country is so lax and the mechanisms for redressal are redundant, it leaves free ground for people to take advantage of women. In such a scenario, gender sensitisation and awareness needs to be a part of the education system right from the very start along with changes to laws being brought around where required, but more importantly an implementation of existing laws. Measures like capital punishment et al serve no purpose in the long run as the mind set of the society still remains the same

Tejasvini Chander

Age 22 Student/Profession Make up Artist Profession of Father- Service Profession of Mother- Service

Rapists believe

that the woman’s body is a site of asserting their supremacy and establishing a power hierarchy. It might therefore be preposterous to assume that the act of rape offers a vent to the “increasing frustration” of city dwellers since in India rapes occur in cities as well as villages.It is not enough to view rape as a law and order problem, but also a social and psychological problem. Society constructs gender differences between men and women and expects men and women to behave differently, that is men are supposed to be aggressive and women meek. The male psyche, therefore, develops believing that men are superior to women, and women who transgress their boundaries or refuse to do what they say must be shown their ‘true place’, and the act of rape is just one of such methods. While the government and the police can definitely constitute and implement better laws for women in order to ensure their emancipation and ensure safety, it cannot, however, anticipate rape. It might be better, therefore, to broaden our minds out of the constrictions of a debate and think of solutions to such problems, few of which can be teaching young boys and girls in schools about gender equality through their syllabus, mothers teaching their sons how to respect women, training women in martial arts and having more female police officers at every district level in order to increase representation as well as employment. 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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life around us

sports

losing on glamour ground? IOC’s intent to drop wrestling from Olympics has come as a rude shock to many countries including India. Is the IOC putting the sport on the mat because of commercial reasons?

WRESTLING IS AN ANCIENT SPORT: AN ARTIST’S IMPRESSION ON A GRECIAN URN

india debates 15-30 march 2013

By NORRIS PRITAM

T

he proposed elimination of wrestling from Olympic movement has stirred a major global controversy. It has sparked off a row resulting in the unlikeliest of coalitions, with Russia, the United States and Iran joining forces to declare war on the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Wrestling was among the first sports in the ancient Games in 704 BC and later included at the start of the modern Olympics, in 1896. But the IOC executive board recommended dropping of wrestling last month in Lausanne, a sport which saw medalists from 29 of 71 participating nations in London last year. At the same meeting, it voted to keep the modern pentathlon. It is said that IOC Executive Board wanted to keep 26 as the maximum number for sport in the Olympic Games. But there’s nothing in the Olympic Charter stating what number of sports should be included in the Games. This magic number of twentysix that the IOC came up with is inexplicable, particularly seeing as how eight years ago they had decided that the number was, instead, twenty-eight. Then there are also other reasons which no one in IOC would like to talk about let alone confirm. By the nature of sport and its competition, wrestling does not boast of muchhigh-tech equipment or even saleable sport goods or product. This does not leave for scope for kickbacks or commission by manufacturers. Apart from an electronic score board there is nothing else on the arena when two top wrestlers fight for the Olympic gold. On the other hand, the game of modern pentathlon consists of pistol shooting, fencing, 200 meter freestyle swimming, equestrian show jumping, and a 3-KM cross-country run. In all of these events manufacturers would give their tight hand to be part of the Olympic Games with massive sales in the market on mind. For instance models of pistols used by the Olympic champions would be a dream sell for the gun manufacturers. Therefore it makes sense for them to keep the IOC executive board members happy who in turn oblige them. There have been global protests against the IOC decision. The Cold War may be long gone but the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, better known for throwing his weight around on the judo mat, has allied with the former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who himself had an 11-year career as a wrestler, in an attempt to put the arm lock on IOC President


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life around us

Jacques Rogge? They have Iran as an ally egging them on, supported by calls from the Indian and Turkish sports ministers and the president of Brazil in a remarkable `sporting’ protest movement against IOC. In India too, sports minister Jitender Singh has written letters to his counterparts in at least 25 countries, garnering support for wrestling. According to Jyoti Sharma, general secretary of All India Women’s Wrestling Association, ``IOC decision is really sad because now wrestling was catching up in India in a big way and parents were happily sending their daughters also in this game.’’ What might influence the IOC now is the fact that the sport has brought together arch foes America and Iran in the common cause, alongside Russia –a feat the United Nations can only dream of. Knowing IOC President Rogge’s passion for achieving such international unity through sport, wrestling’s cause may not be lost. The IOC executive board’s decision isn’t the end though. Wrestlers can appeal. There’s an IOC executive board meeting in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, where they will have to throw their hat into the ring with the seven other sports – baseball, softball, karate, roller sports, squash, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu – currently bidding for inclusion on the 2020 programme, in making presentations to the IOC. Following this, the Board will recommend three sports on

perspectives JITENDER SINGH (Sports Minister) The exclusion of wrestling from the Olympics will demoralize the sports persons and will deeply affect the sustenance of the game in the future. The decision of the Executive Board of IOC is most unfortunate and shocking to all the sports loving people in India. Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports will take up the issue with other nations where wrestling is a popular sport. The Ministry will also request IOC to reconsider its decision and retain wrestling in the category of core sports in Olympic Games. Ministry is hopeful that IOC Executive Board meeting at St. Petersburg in Russia in May and 12th IOC Session at Buenos Aires Argentina will decide to retain wrestling in core Olympic Games.

SUSHIL KUMAR: (Bronze medal in Beijing and silver medal in London Olympics) ``I don’t care how it will affect other countries in the world but India will be the biggest loser if wrestling is excluded from the Olympic Games. We had just started to build an image of a strong wrestling nation and we need all support to keep the sport in the Olympics. I was feeling sad when nobody supported wrestling’s cause. Former wrestlers are troubled by this move. I think more and more former wrestlers should come forward to build pressure on IOC. It is also sad to know that some top cricketers in India have come forward to support the inclusion of squash in the Olympic Games but not wrestling. Everyone loves wrestling, and squash as a sport is not so developed to win medals for the country. I don’t mind returning my Olympic medals to IOC if it helps in inclusion of the sport in the Olympics.’’

which the IOC General Assembly can vote in Buenos Aires in September. But the important question is why didn’t the sport of wrestling have sufficient representation before the secret vote in Lausanne? Many in the wrestling community blame

Sushil Kumar with Yogeshwar Dutt – Groping in the dark?

FILA, the world body governing the sport at international level. Bill Scherr, a former American wrestler who won a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics, says he had warned FILA that wrestling might be in trouble. ``But FILA didn’t do anything’’ Michael Novogratz, a New Yorker and former Princeton wrestler feels ``FILA just did not do a great job of selling the merits of the sport.” Whatever the faults of FILA may have been, it is also true that most IOC decisions of this nature depend on the revenue they generate for IOC. Till recently, reportedly corruption among IOC members also swung the balance either way. There has been talk of vested interest of IOC Executive Board member, Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. of Spain. The son of a former IOC president is also a vice president of the International Modern Pentathlon Union. In the international wrestling community, talk of his conflict of interests is understandably widespread. 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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life around us sports

present stalwarts had come out in the open (remember that ‘young legs’ and ‘old legs’ war of words) during the Australian tour early last year. But with two quick victories against a weak Aussies squad on the homeground after a prolonged spell of continuous drubbing, Dhoni is believed to have once again regained his assertive self. The real question which is being asked is why Sehwag was not given a much longer rope? If the current performance is the yardstock, then probably Harbhajan Singh too does not deserve a place in the national squad. "I am surprised about the fact that Sehwag has been dropped. Such a big decision can't happen without the captains consent. If a captain backs the likes of Laxman, Dravid, Sachin and Sehwag, then it becomes difficult for selectors to drop them. Dhoni definitely

unfair for Sehwag?

Sehwag’s expulsion from the national team, though not abjectly shocking given his present form, has raised the question if the captain and the selectors have denied longer rope to a very senior player? By ritwik sinha

H

e may not have been exactly adjudged as ‘God’ like his own role model Sachin Tendulkar, but the adjective of ‘Sultan’ explains his special positioning in the league of extraordinary cricketers of the present era. And yes, on his day, he has exhibited the capability to overshadow everyone including the God himself. In his career spanning over 13 years now, he has amassed nearly 17,000 runs at the international level including 38 centuries in both forms of the game (excluding T-20) and has a special distinction where no other Indian batting legend (Gavaskar, Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid) can match him – scoring two triple centuries. And when it comes to display the skills of devastation turning 11 opponents in mere ball boys, the only comparison which comes to the mind of critics is the great Viv Richards. So did he deserve to be shown the

doors the way it happened recently? If his current form is taken as the yardstick, then one could well argue why not? Barring a hundred in the first test against England in Ahmedabad in November, Sehwag hardly has any major achievement in recent times. That his form has deserted him big time was quite evident in the first two tests against the visiting Aussies. But the issue does not seem to be as simplistic – that of resting a player of his status and past achievements notwithstanding so that he can pick up his flair and bounce back. There is certainly more to it than meet the eyes with the moot point being – does this mean the endgame for the ‘Sultan of Multan?’ Famously called so after he had trounced Pakistani bowling attack in their own backyard by scoring a triple century in 2006. Though nobody is saying it directly, there are sufficient hints to suggest that Sehwag’s expulsion could probably have a lot to do with the bad blood he has shared with Indian captain Dhoni for quite some time. Fissures between two

Batting Performance Matches

Innings

N.O.

Runs

HS

Avg

S/R

100s

50s

Ct

ODI

251

245

9

8,273

219

35.06

104.34

15

38

93

Tests

104

180

6

8,586

319

49.34

82.23

23

32

91

Twenty20

19

18

-

394

68

21.89

145.39

-

2

2

IPL

66

66

4

1879

119

30.31

167.32

1

14

24

india debates 15-30 march 2013


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had a say on Sehwag's dropping," former Indian captain Saurav Ganguly told a private news channel in Kolkata and his statement amply highlights that Sehwag has been given a raw deal. After his removal from the national team with preference being shown to young guards like Murali Vijay, what really lies ahead for Sehwag? This is a critical question which everybody is asking and this to a certain extent validates the theory of endgame for him. If in the remaining two tests against Aussies, his replacements continue to fire against a weak Aussies bowling line-up, will Sehwag be given a chance to reclaim his position in the team? Away from the comforts of the turning tracks in the backyard where spinners are opening the account, the Indian batting strength would now be severely tested on the bouncy and seaming tracks of South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia over the next year and a half. The question here is: can we rely on the likes of Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan to take on the might of speedsters like Dale Steyn and Morkel? Keeping Sehwag out of the squad against fiery bowling attacks would compound the problems, many observers believe. Sehwag himself has vehemently denied

any plan to hang his boots anytime soon. And that has triggered the debate as how his future would shape up now that he is nearing 35. His colleague of the golden years Rahul Dravid believe the team management should look for a position for him in the middle order. “ If they are going to look ahead, I think there could be a realistic possibility of Sehwag coming into the middle order. You know if opportunities open up at some stage, maybe Sachin is going to move on, then I think Viru is the man with the experience to be able to come in and bat in the middle order. He has said in the past that he would like to, and that could be an option," Dravid told a cricket website recently. But there are others who believe that instead of focusing on all formats, Sehwag should rather align more with the quick-fix version of the game where he has shown unmatched expertise. Former Indian wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani though rubbishes this ‘goselective’ suggestion.“He still has cricket left in him. One good inning and he will be fit for all formats.” So present oddities notwithstanding, the game certainly seems to be far from over for one of the most prolific batsman in the Indian cricket history.

perspectives Saurav Ganguly, former India skipper : “I am surprised about the fact that Sehwag has been dropped. Such a big decision can’t happen without the captain’s consent. If a captain backs the likes of Laxman, Dravid, Sachin and Sehwag, then it becomes difficult for selectors to drop them. Dhoni definitely had a say on Sehwag’s dropping.” Rahul Dravid former India skipper : “ If they are going to look ahead, I think there could be a realistic possibility of Sehwag coming into the middle order. You know if opportunities open up at some stage, maybe Sachin is going to move on, then I think Viru is the man with the experience to be able to come in and bat in the middle order. He has said in the past that he would like to, and that could be an option.” Syed Kirmani former India wicketkeeper : “He still has cricket left in him. One good innings and he will be fit for all formats.”

Matthew Hayden, Former Australian batsman “Very sorry to hear that Virender Sehwag has been dropped for next test. He is in my top 4 entertaining batsmen to watch of all time.” 15-30 march 2013 india debates


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IMAGES OF THE FORTNIGHT

BoNDING WITh a friend The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, inspecting the guard of honour during his Ceremonial Reception on his arrival at Port Louis airport, Mauritius

lending support to a worthy cause

BJP Delhi Pradesh President Vijay Goel with the three leaders of the yamuna bachao Yatra Sh. Shri Jaikishan Dass, Pankaj Baba, President of Rashtriya Kisan Dal Bhanu Pratap Singh - he also accompanied them on the Padyatra.

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preparing for the big fight BJP leaders and CMs during a recent BJP National Council two day meeting in New Delhi

honouring a great poet Releasing a commemorative Ludhianvi, the president with kapil sibal and manish tewari

stamp on Shri Sahir

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IMAGES OF THE FORTNIGHT

it is time to polo Pranab Mukherjee, handing over the trophy to naveen jindal

In the memory of the Nawab Ending the Delhi Polo Spring season on a high, Seven Islands

hosted the final tournament of the season – the 106-year old RMRM Gold Vase – and took home top honours in the exhibition Seven Islands Pataudi Cup.

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a mirror image Delhi CM Shiela Dikshit appreciating her potrait during an Exhibition of Islamic Art & Calligraphy at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi.

from jail to ramp DG Tihar Prison,Vimla Mehra(L)

displays the creation of Tihar prison inmates during a Fashion Show organsied on the occassion of International Women’s day.

a tradition continues The International yoga festival held it’s annual edition in rishikesh in Uttrakhand. Enthusiasts from india and overseas participated.

15-30 march 2013 india debates


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Date of Publication: 15/03/2013

RNI No. DELENG/2013/48250

IMAGE OF THE FORTNIGHT

circuit becomes The street smart lawyer

Bollywood actor Arshad Warsi promoting his new release ‘’ Jolly LLB’’ on the streets of Delhi.

india debates 15-30 march 2013


India Debates March Issue