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VOL 2<ISSUE 08<OCTOBER , 2012

SHREE MAA PRAKASHAN PVT. LTD.

INSIDE

8 REFORMS COME WITH ANIMAL SPIRITS

Group Editor M.K. Tiwari Editor Vinod Varshney Executive Editor Dr. Bhagya Rajeshwari Ratna Assistant Editor Anjalika Rajlakshmi Campus Editor Adithi Sonali Cine Editor Meera Singh Special Correspondent A.K. Chaturvedi Regional Editor M.P. Aaditya Tewari Regional Editor C.G. Gopal Thawait

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World : Dirtiest poll campaign in the US history

Senior Graphic Designer Ashi Sinha

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Uttarakhand : Bahuguna's prestige at stake

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UP : Will 'Bhateeja' govt show something concrete?

Illustrator Vinay Vasu

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Haryana : Hooda has all the answers

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Himachal : Do or die battle for Virbhadra Singh

Regional Office Incharge Tamanna Faridi U.P.: B-121,122, 1st Floor, Prince Complex, Hazratganj, Lucknow-226001 Ph.: 0522-4003911 E-mail: lokayatlucknow@gmail.com

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Punjab : Opposition unity against SAD-BJP

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Rajasthan : Gehlot on a sticky wicket

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MP : Congress never gave patronage to corrupt: Digvijaya

M.P. : Paraspar Colony, Chunabhatti, Kolar Road, Bhopal-462003 Ph.: 0755-4030162 E-mail : lokayat01@gmail.com

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Interlinking of rivers victim of govt apathy

C.G. : Thawait Bhawan, Kankali Talab, Main Road, Raipur Ph.: 0771-4221188 E-mail: lokayat_rpr@yahoo.com

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Andhra : Telangana splits Congress

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Karnataka : Parties groping in the dark

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Kerala : Kerala politics in a turbulent phase

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Campus : First tribal university shapes up

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Science : Health courtesy friendly bacteria

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Health is wealth : Why suffer in old age!

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Sub Office Ram Bhawan, Manohar Cinema Parisar, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh Ph.: 07752-428835 E-mail: lokayat_bsp@yahoo.com Head Office A-124, Pkt-B, Mayur Vihar Phase-II, Delhi-110091 Ph.: 011-22723900, 32550442, 43062417, 43082859 Fax No.: 011-22723906 E-mail: lokayat01@gmail.com Subscription: For 3 year : Rs. 1,500.00 For 5 years : Rs. 2,500.00 For 10 years : Rs. 5,000.00 (Inclusive of postal charges) Website:

Delhi students' great shocker to BJP and CPM

Woo Gods and Muslims Modi style

Yamdoot behind sparkling lights

REGULARS < 05 WITH CANDOUR

< 66 REGIONAL FILMS

< 76 BUSINESS & ECONOMY

< 06 PUB TALK

< 70 BOLLYWOOD

< 77 BOOK

< 65 COOKERY

< 72 SPORT

< 78 EARTHY DREAMS

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Published, printed, edited & owned by M.K. Tiwari Published from A-124, Pocket-B, Mayur Vihar Phase-II, Delhi-91 Printed at Vrindaban Graphic, E-34, Sector-7, Noida (U.P.)


LETTERS

burning issues before the country. However, I find that some of the predictions on politics turned out incorrect. But this can be taken in a stride as after all your editorial team is sitting inside the minds of voters. Please see the magazine is also made available in my city. I hope it would be liked by intellectuals, judges and top bureaucracy here. Hari Krishna Gupta Civil Lines, Budaun (UP)

MID-TERM ELECTIONS! I don’t think the mid-term elections would throw a major change in the political spectrum. At best the BJP may get a few additional seats though the article in your magazine seems to say that even the BJP would not be able to increase its seats. To my mind this seems slightly unbelievable in the given political circumstances. But my point is different. Since the electoral battle is not going to make any big change, the exercise would be fruitless. Better course for the government would be to use the current turmoil as an opportunity to clean its messy stable. This would benefit the country also. The entire system of allocation of natural resources be made transparent. If this is done it would be a good national service. And the ruling party should behave like a ruling party--that means it should constantly improve the governance systems as and when the loopholes and weaknesses are pointed out whether the CAG or something else. Sacchidanand Mishra, Bhopal (MP)

YOUR PREDICTIONS TURN OUT WRONG! I do not find your magazine at any news-stall in my city—Budaun. I recently visited Indore and laid my hands on it finding it a new magazine. It turned out very graceful, its articles well-researched and readable. They certainly help understand the current

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IT WAS A POOR SHOW IN LONDON The poor show at the London Olympics will convince everybody about the abysmally low training our sport persons get before proceeding to the competitions. Compare the immaculate performance of the US and Chinese personnel. The grim truth is that we do not have enough sports facilities and competent coaches to train our boys and girls properly. First of all we have to address these problems. I have the following suggestions in this regard: Since the government alone cannot construct and maintain enough facilities, it will have to be a participatory effort. I feel that every four or five contiguous panchayats should join to construct a swimming pool and a stadium for the benefit of their young people. These panchayats should share 50 percent of the cost, the balance coming from the development and sports departments of the state. Thus the whole state can have several hundred stadia and swimming pools within the next three or four years to nurture a very vibrant sports culture here. MGNREGA and local sports clubs can make valuable contributions in this regard. There can be competing demands from the participating panchayats for locating the facilities in their area. These disputes can be resolved by locating the swimming pool and the stadium wherever possible, in the border areas of the panchayats or in panchayat which donates the land free

of cost. Availability of good water for the pool, proximity of power source, road etc. could be other considerations. The stadium and pool could be in adjacent panchayats. The local collector can play a major role in ironing out differences and ensuring maintenance of the facilities. Vatsala Kurup, Kochi (Kerala)

YES, THERE SHOULD BE NO QUOTA IN PROMOTIONS! Yes there should be no quota in promotions. It would spoil the country. The ideas expressed in Earthy Dreams by the editor Vinod Varshney are really sensible. I am shocked to see what has happened to the government. Has it no intention to keep the quality of administration of the highest quality? Already the best talents go to management and technology. The reservation in education is OK. Reservation at the first step of the ladder is OK. And why dalits are getting impatient? Even without the quota didn’t they get a Chief Justice of India from their class? In fact, there are so many judges in the higher judiciary from this class. Similarly, there are so many joint secretaries in the central government ministries from this class. It is a bad strategy of any political party to try to attract votes by such damaging tacts. If the Congress thinks it would increase its dalit votes, forget. Only casteist BSP would be able to increase its tentacles in other states too. Raghuveer Chowdhury, Rohtak (Haryana)

tters at E-mail your le ail.com, gm lokayat01@ tmail.com ho y@ vinodvarshne


WITH CANDOUR

BLARING OUT FALSEHOOD DOES NOT IMPROVE GOVERNANCE! urrent attitude of political parties is not in accordance with the national goal of developing country on the lines of secular democratic polity. Opposition party leaders’ antics make their conduct look funny as though politics is a road-side show of dancing monkeys and bears on the beats of a juggler’s tabor. Politicians who have been ousted from the seat of power hate to leave any opportunity to tear down the people who now occupying that seat. All kinds of euphemism, insinuations, and expletives too, are used to run them down. Had these people not encouraged extremism in the country, today they would not have been a discarded lot. It would be a better choice for them to examine their own conduct and behavior. Strange things are happening: the TMC leader is acting as a poisonous weed to destroy the same plant, from where she sprouted and grew. Her frenzied animosity has blinded her. Currently she looks so impatient for the mid-term poll, but she does not realise how she would find a way out on being hounded by Marxists. Weirder than Mamta is Mulayam, whose manipulation of the power calculus is unpredictable. If his math is ingrained with greed of ‘satta’, as many suspect in the political corridor, then who can stop the mid-term poll. Fate of Congress in these circumstances is unenviable. It has to trudge along the remaining term with the help of two made-in-UP crutches pulling in diametrically opposite directions. Nobody wants a mid-term poll except SP, TMC and some disgruntled elements in Congress. Mayawati may also not like to remain far behind in this grotesque game of destruction of the elected government. All these elements are frantically looking for their entry into greener pastures of ‘satta’. There is a turbulence of frenzy on measures of reforms. Comparison of the economic situation of 2012 is being made with that of 1991. But to make a fair comparison all the factors should be taken into account. There are many reasons of current economic decline, including the actitivities of certain NGOs which flourish on foreign aid. Then there are a few leaders of civil society who in order to create a halo for themselves resort to fasts and agitations. The crux of the matter is that the poor governance in implementation of various plans and policies leads to corruption. The political interference in administration also breeds corruption. The real solution to stem corruption lies in improving the quality of governance and check political interference. Stalling functioning of Parliament by raising slogans in the house and storming in the well does not stop corruption. It is rather a blot on our parliamentary democracy. We need to find out ways to discourage this habit of political parties for furthering their political game. Bringing back the black money is also being used to get political mileage. No doubt it needs to be brought back, but this alone would not give impetus to our failing economy. We have to activate and recharge the economy with bold new steps. Whether it is UPA or NDA—the focus should be on improving the quality of governance. Tendency of leveling false allegations and indulging in bitter criticism cannot do this. Selfless service oriented politics is needed for that. Quality in governance does not come just by blaring out untruths.<

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PUB-TALK

Isko Kahate hain asli political lingo utside Parliament there is no bar on such street lingo as there is no Speaker to disallow it. So politicos and public men relish trading it with their rivals. Let us sample a bit of that language that carries the smell and colour of the fish market. It was Digvijay Singh, the loquacious leader of the ruling Congress, who started the smutty exchange. He in fact triggered a full-blown war of scurrilous words between politicians of Bihar and the Thackerays of Maharashtra over the issue of Bihar migrants in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra. The former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh branded Thackerays as Bihari migrants themselves, who yet accused the modern migrants from Bihar for many of the problems of Maharashtra and wanted them to carry on their person entry permit to the city. To prove his point Singh flashed pages of a book, ‘Mazhi Jeevangatha’, the autobiography of Prabodhankar Thackeray, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s father. The book says that the Thackerays originally belonged to Magadh in Bihar. They migrated to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh and then to Pune in Maharashtra. Congress MP and erstwhile Shiv Sena soldier Sanjay Nirupam, a Kayastha like the Thackerays and once very close to the Bal Thackeray family, also confirmed this so-called historical account. It means that by abusing Bihari bhaiyyas the Thackerays are disputing and dishonouring their heritage when the country is celebrating all that are connected with our honoured past. Angry at the revelation, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray in his vitriolic best called Digvijay a ‘madman’ who ‘washes dishes for an Italian’. Uddhav tried to correct the available history and said the book talked of the origination of Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu, a scion of the Kayastha clan, and not about his (Thackeray) family. He, however, did concede that a Thackeray clan had originated from Bihar, but that was not his family! Not wanting to be left out Lalu Prasad Yadav joined the chorus terming the Thackerays as ‘infiltrators’ who quietly shifted their base from Bihar to MP and then to Maharashtra seeking greener pastures. And when the Thackeray patriarch Bala Saheb retorted in his Saamana article, the former Bihar chief minister went a step further and dubbed the old Thackeray as a ‘loafer’. Earlier, the incumbent Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and a few other leaders of his party termed the Thackerays as ‘badmaash’.<

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Corruption nahin karenge to khayenge kya! ith Anna Team’s campaign against corruption losing steam, an assortment of ‘specialists’ have taken centre stage, some justifying and others trivialising this canker on society. A few assert that corruption cannot be eradicated in India now when the country is in transition. According to such pundits, during transitional phase of the country’s economy, corruption is a natural phenomenon—rather inevitable. To bhaiya tolerate karo: corruption nahin ja sakta, kyon mahol kharab karte ho Anna ke chakkar mein. Such pedants predict that the malady will last another 15-20 years before fading out from India. Many may not be surprised to hear such profound insights from as eminent a person as Markandey Katju, renowned scholar, eminent ex- judge of the Supreme

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Court and extant Chairman of the Press Council of India. He certifies his analysis of corruption as scientific and rational, done with a cool mind. In a lecture on this issue he recited the famous lines of Josh Malihabadi who lampooned the thoughts of corrupt bureaucrats thus: Ham agar rishwat nahin lenge to khayenge kya. Describing corruption as a normal process in a period of transition he advised not to worry about it. One can

easily deduce from this that ‘Coalgate’ happened because it is the transition period when the business of plundering natural resources is shifting from the monopolistic public sector to the acquisitive private sector. A. Raja, Dayanidhi Maran, Kanimozhi, Kalmadi, et al. are transitional aberrations. No use blaming anybody. According to Justice Katju only when the country turns a fully industrial society like Europe and America will corruption vanish. To make his prognosis look authoritative he quoted from history to show that Great Britain and America too had rampant corruption in the early stages of industrialisation. The great judge’s eloquent defence of corruption excelled the best performance of Kapil Sibal, the five-star defence fielded by the Congress. <


PUB-TALK

Who says price rise is a bad thing? t is well said that one man’s food is another man’s poison. Some are mighty happy just debating corruption ad nauseam while others are keen on stalling Parliament every day. Some are gay making cartoons debasing national institutions while others get kicks in hauling up the cartoonist to the cooler. A few find nirvana in drinking so much that they end up in hospital, while some are as easily sanguine about undertaking indefinite fasts. Some are euphoric about black money—the more the merrier—while others spit fire against it. But no normal person can feel happy at the plight and sufferings of the poor. Wrong. There are those who get sadistic pleasure at watching them. Who does not know that it is the indigent who are hit by the price

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rise? But union minister Beni Prasad Verma is of a different mould. He declared the other day that he was happy with the rising food prices. ‘Dal, atta, chawal, sabzi have become expensive; I am happy at this as this is good for our farmers’, he told the media. And ‘we are all for the prosperity of farmers’, he spoke visibly thrilled. He was sore at the short-sighted media which made pointless hue and cry on price rise. SP leader Azam Khan, however, wanted the Congress high command to take notice of Beni’s (in)sensitive comments. Surprisingly Beni was not friendless in the party. Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid uvacha: “Beni is right; his comments should be seen in proper perspective.”<

Vote ke liye kuch bhi karega! ndian politicians are people who want power at any cost. They have long used handouts to gain support. But the lists of giveaways on offer are growing longer and far more impressive. And while it is illegal to trade gifts for votes, political parties are adamant that what they are guaranteeing are, in fact, welfare programs. Warring political parties have upped the ante, promising supporters significant government-financed freebies if victorious in elections. From bicycles to sarees, colour televisions to ceiling fans, computers to free cable connections, homes for slum dwellers to insurance programmes for

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fishermen, bus passes to blenders and grinders for housewives, necklaces to brides-to-be, etc. Gujarat's three-time chief minister Narendra Modi is one such politician who will go to any length to make sure of his and his party's victory in the forthcoming assembly elections. Even if that means pleasing the Muslim community by attending Iftar parties and even shedding his saffron persona to woo the community towards BJP. He even appointed S S Khandwavala as the state police chief, a first in Modi's regime. To win votes and retain power, Modi will do anything, even if it goes against his party's Hindutva principle!<

OCTOBER, 2012 LOKAYAT |

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COVER STORY

REFORMS COME WITH

It seems Manmohan Singh will have to fight real hard to get his reforms through. If his government falls in this effort, it will be a crying shame for Indian democracy because it means that a government can survive many scams but not any reform measure!

By Vinod Varshney

rime Minister Manmohan Singh suddenly showed high animal spirits and confidence in taking bold measures to arrest the

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downslide of the economy which marked only 5.2 percent growth in the first quarter of this fiscal. It had clocked an average of 8.2 percent during the last eight years. The rapidly rising deficit indicated not only that tax collection fell steeply but the expenditure and

borrowings increased. Through this process if the sovereign rating dropped, getting loan from any source would become difficult as happened in 1991. But ironically Manmohanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s action came after the BJP stalled the entire monsoon session of Parliament


COVER STORY

ANIMAL SPIRITS demanding his resignation for the Coalgate scam. A prominent American newspaper had stamped him a nonperformer rattling him more than anything else. By making surprise announcement of economic reforms, like hike in diesel price and FDI in multi-brand retail, civil aviation, power trade exchanges and broadcasting, he has magically changed the tone and tenor of political discussion in the country. The debate suddenly shifted from scam to reform.

Since pushing through a clutch of reforms and refusing to back down in the face of protests and political threats, Singh has infused confidence in the government which otherwise seemed hopelessly paralysed.

The reform agenda not only buoyed up business houses and stock markets, but also perked up the middle class and some sections of farmers. Another salutary effect was on the rupee’s value—the Standard and Poor’s gave India a ‘stable’ rating. The reforms already initiated definitely arrested the declining prospects of the Congress Party, the test of which will come soon during the elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. However, political analysts believe that PM may have taken a big gamble

Confusion in BJP

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here are differences in the BJP on the economic reforms announced by the Prime Minister. While the BJP intends to step up attack on the FDI in multi-brand retail and hike in diesel prices, its former minister Arun Shourie has chosen to shower praises on Manmohan Singh for these decisions. He termed the increase in diesel price as the ‘need of the hour’ and declared as ‘needless’ the hue and cry on FDI in multi-brand retail. Earlier he had publicly criticised the BJP for stalling Parliament on Coalgate. Ironically, both the BJP and the Congress have reversed their stands on these controversial issues on political expediency. While the Congress alleged that the BJP was in favour of FDI in retail when it was in power, BJP leader LK Advani reminded the Congress that it had opposed FDI when the NDA government wanted to introduce it. He quoted in his blog, “Dasmunshi had said that multi-national retailers are continuously putting pressure through bureaucrats on the government to take this antinational decision of allowing foreign direct investment in retail trade.” It was widely assumed during the NDA regime that it might allow FDI in retail. Vote bank politics perhaps deterred it and even now this compulsion continues. The BJP argues

that FDI will hurt small traders which form its sizeable vote bank. BJP president Nitin Gadkari even warned that it would scrap FDI if the party returned to power. Independent observers, however, feel that it would be practically impossible to undo it. The BJP meanwhile has spelt out its reasons for opposing FDI in multi-brand retail. It says by allowing it India would lose manufacturing jobs, as the international retailers would be procuring 70 percent of goods from abroad as per the conditions. The biggest beneficiary of the government move could be China where a lot of manufacturing reforms have taken place while this work in India is in the limbo. Besides, the move would not create more jobs, as claimed; rather it would only curtail it. Arun Jaitley of the BJP cites statistics that only 18 percent Indians are in structured job markets. Fifty one percent of India’s working population is dependent on self employment, like small grocery shops. The Congress is confident that the gamble will succeed as the urban middle class is largely in favour of FDI in retail as it will fetch them quality goods at cheaper rates; an enlightened section of farmers also support it as it would increase their income by eliminating middlemen.<

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COVER STORY from the Union Cabinet. Many of the opposition parties jointly organised a Bharat Bandh, which to the great relief to the prime minister, did not evoke much response.

Relief from outside supporters Dr Singh managed to defuse the crisis for the time being by ensuring the support of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)--they declared they would not topple the government on the excuse of keeping the communal forces out. Feeling confident from this assurance the PM has shown an uncharacteristic panache to continue with the reforms. Dr Singh, who has long been criticised for being media shy and disinclined to engage the public, has thrown the dice. Since pushing through a battery of reforms, and refusing to back down in the face of protests and political threats, Singh has infused fresh The PM told the nation confidence in the that even after the recent government which increase, prices of diesel and otherwise was Sonia Gandhi backs reforms LPG in India were lower than showing signs of initiative of Dr paralysis on the those in Bangladesh, Nepal, Manmohan Singh policy front. Sri Lanka and Pakistan. as almost all opposition parties have has walked out of To counter the sharpened their attacks on the the alliance with all its opposition propaganda, he government. One important ally, TMC, six ministers resigning addressed the nation and gave convincing arguments to support his reform measures. After voting him to power twice to protect the interests of aam aadmi, he cannot think of the death of Vilasrao Deshmukh. he much awaited big-ticket increasing their burden, neither can he These apart, according to sources, cabinet reshuffle is expected to ignore the national interest. He asserted changes in the top posts of Maharashtake place in the third week of that the long-term interests of the tra, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh October. Earlier it was planned in country are paramount in his calculus.

Cabinet expansion deferred

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September but developments in Maharashtra --the state deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar (NCP) suddenly resigned on corruption charge—intervened necessitating a postponement. The reshuffle is necessitated by the resignations of six ministers belonging to the Trinamool Congress, movement of Pranab Mukherjee to Rashtrapati Bhawan, exit of Virbhadra Singh, and

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are imperative as they are considered electoral liabilities. There is talk of External Affairs Minister SM Krishna being sent back to Karnataka where the Congress wants to take advantage of the public mood for a change. A discussion on cabinet reshuffle between Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi has already taken place.<

Money does not grow on trees He explained that his latest reforms would help economy grow rapidly and generate productive jobs for the youth. ‘We need to revive investor confidence domestically and globally.’ Countering opposition propaganda on diesel price hike, he said the country


COVER STORY imported 80 percent of oil, and oil prices in the world market had increased sharply in the past four years. ‘We did not pass on this price rise to you because we wanted to protect you from hardships as far as possible. As a result, the subsidy on petroleum products ballooned enormously. It was Rs 1 lakh 40 thousand crore last year. If we had not acted, it would have been over Rs 200,000 crore this year. Where would the money come from to meet this huge sum? Money does not grow on trees’, he said. It has to come from people themselves. ‘If we had not acted, it would have meant a higher fiscal deficit, which would lead to a further steep rise in prices and a loss of confidence in our economy. In such a situation prices of essential commodities would have risen faster. Both domestic as well as foreign investors would be reluctant to invest in our economy. Interest rates would rise. Our companies would not be able to borrow abroad. Unemployment would increase.’

Diesel still cheaper than neighbouring countries He reminded of 1991 when nobody was willing to lend us even small amounts. ‘We came out of that crisis by taking strong, resolute steps. You can see the positive results of those steps. We are not in that situation today, but we must act before people lose confidence in our economy. ‘We raised the price of diesel by just Rs 5 per litre instead of the Rs 17 that was needed to cut all losses on diesel. Much of diesel is used by big cars and SUVs owned by the rich, by factories and businesses. Should the government run large fiscal deficits to subsidise them? ‘We reduced taxes on petrol by Rs 5 per litre to prevent rise in petrol prices so that the crores who drive scooters and motorcycles are not hit. On LPG, we put a cap of 6 subsidised cylinders per year. Almost half of the people who need help the most; actually use only 6 cylinders or less. We have ensured that they are

SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav keen to emerge as the king maker after the next LS elections

Heyday for Mulayam Singh Yadav t is heyday for Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav as the UPA government will be relying more and more for its survival on his support from outside. In a characteristic political gimmickry he issued statements spewing fire against the Manmohan Singh government but would not pull the plug on it saying he could not allow communal forces to take over. Since he knows that Lok Sabha elections are not far away, he has started the process of selecting party candidates. Its first list of 50 would be out in October. UP has 80 seats in the lower house.

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Political observers see little likelihood of the SP withdrawing support to the UPA any time too soon. Moreover, the Manmohan Singh government will come into minority only when the BSP also withdraws support. Since the SP does not want to yield the entire opposition space to the BJP, it will continue to target the government on many issues including Coalgate. It has declared its intension to move a resolution against FDI in Parliament. The TMC’s Mamata Bannerjee quickly supported the move. Mamata also believes that the UPA government will not survive for long. In an interview to a prominent

OCTOBER, 2012 LOKAYAT |

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COVER STORY TV channel recently she predicted that elections would be held in 2013, soon after the government presented a populist budget. Some political pundits believe that more than Mulayam, stability of the UPA government will depend on the stand Mayawati will take on 9th October when her support to the Manmohan Singh government would be reviewed. It may, however, demand a price for support in the form of passing the Bill for reservations in promotion to SC/ST. But in view of the strong opposition of the SP on the issue, it looks unlikely that the government would be in a hurry to move the Bill. Meanwhile, Mulayam tactfully increased his stock by leading an eight-party combination of nonUPA and non-NDA members (CPI, CPM, RSP, Forward Block, Telugu Desam Party, Biju Janata Dal and the AIADMK) for a sit-in demonstration on the issue of Coalgate. This is seen as the first move to form a third front which can assume the kingmaker’s role after the Lok Sabha elections. Interestingly, LK Advani had said that both the BJP and the Congress might not have the numbers after the next elections. Keeping this possibility in mind the SP would like to continue good relations with the Congress as the third front may require its support to form a government. The previous experience of forming third Front governments with the support of the Congress led by HD Devegowda and Inder Kumar Gujral had been miserable. Some political analysts believe that third front days are gone and the country is heading towards two fronts, coalition systems. The Congress calculation is that voters may repeat what they did in 2009 when most opposition parties wanted to oust the Manmohan Singh government on the issue of Indo-US nuclear deal terming it anti-national.<

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not affected. We did not touch kerosene which is consumed by the poor.’ PM told the nation that even after the hike, the prices of diesel and LPG in India were lower than those in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Small traders will not be hurt by FDI in retail On foreign investments in retail trade, he asserted that it would not hurt small traders. Organised, modern retailing

Mamata Bannerjee finally withdrew TMC support from the UPA government

Reform measures < 14 percent hike in diesel prices < 51 percent foreign direct < < < <

investment in multi-brand retail 49 percent FDI in local airlines 49 percent FDI in power trading sector Increase from 49 to 74 percent FDI in broadcasting A big- ticket programme of disinvestment in PSUs

BSP supremo to take final call on support to the UPA government on 9th of October

was already present in our country and was growing. All major cities had large retail chains. FDI would benefit our farmers in a big way. ‘According to the regulations we have introduced, those who bring FDI will have to invest 50 percent of their money in building new warehouses, cold-storages, and modern transport systems. This will ensure that a third of our fruits and vegetables, which at present perish because of storage and transit losses, actually reach the consumer. Wastage will reduce,


COVER STORY farmers will get better prices, and the prices paid by consumers will go down. The growth of organised retail trade will also create millions of quality new jobs. ‘In 1991, when we opened India to foreign investments in manufacturing, many were worried. But today, Indian companies are competing effectively both at home and abroad, and they are investing around the world! More importantly, foreign companies are creating jobs for our youth -- in information technology, in steel, and in auto industry. I am sure this will happen

BJP president Nitin Gadkari allowed second consecutive term in the party wants to change image of the party

in retail trade as well.’ PM’s address to the nation evoked angry reaction from CPM leader Brinda Karat who said that money would grow on trees but only for corporate houses who were already plucking it from trees of favourable central policies. The million dollar question is whether Dr Singh could convert this late gamble on the economic front into a winning hand in the next general elections. The measures might seem good economics, but would they also be good politics?<

Indian retailing employs four crore people

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etailing in India constitutes a significant part -nearly 15 percent-- of its GDP. The $600 billion retail market makes it amongst the top five in the world. With rapid economic advances and increase in population, growth of the Indian retail market is the fastest in the world. India already has FDI in single brand retailing for some years. Indian companies in this sector of organised retailing came into existence in a big way during the last 6-7 years; yet Indian retail market as a whole is characterised by millions of small shops. Their number is around 14 million, i.e. 11 shops for every 1,000 people. Only 4 percent of these shops are larger than 500 sq ft in area. Logistics industry is closely linked with the retail trade and these two together employ about 40 million Indians. A country where manufacturing has not been given sufficient impetus to generate employment for the semi-skilled people as in China, most semi-skilled people here seek self-employment by starting small businesses. These retailers do not have large capital, technology or skilled manpower to modernise; thus dubious quality and high

prices are the norm. Much of the food is wasted as there is not enough cold storages despite the fact that FDI is permitted in this sector to the extent of 100 percent. Foreigners are not interested in this. They are interested only into capturing Indian market for selling their products. Wanting to refurbish its image as reformist, Manmohan Singh government notified FDI in multi-brand retail in right earnest with states being given the option to allow or deny the same in their cities. Now it is to be seen with what speed Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco, the world’s three largest retailers respectively of the US, France and the UK come to India. Initially they are likely to forge a tie-up with local business houses like Walmart has with Bharti. The government notification has allowed foreign super markets only in cities which have a population of more than 10 lakh according to 2011 census. There are only 56 such cities. Congressruled states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir have promptly given their nod for opening foreign super markets. Thus they can come only in 19 cities since 37 cities fall in states ruled by opposition parties.<

Treaty does not allow states to choose

I

ndia has bilateral investment agreements with 82 countries which say no conditions can be put on foreign investors. Thus India’s doors cannot be opened in some states and denied in others. The basic feature of these bilater-

al treaties is that it accords national treatment—not state level--to foreign investors. The effect of this provision is that India cannot put any condition on foreign investors which is not applicable to domestic investors..<

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NATION

INTERLINKING OF RIVERS: VICTIM

By Saroj Nagi

even months since the Supreme Court direction on inter-linking of the country’s rivers, the government has yet to constitute the panel proposed by it to look into the gamut of issues relating to the grand project that has two components: the Peninsular Rivers Development and the Himalayan Rivers Development. This dilly-

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dallying is despite the fact that the amicus curiae in the case can file a contempt of court petition if the Centre fails to act on the judicial directive. Instead, the government went back to the Court with a review petition after seeking advice from the law ministry. It argued before the Court that it could proceed with the project only if there was consensus among the states concerned. Also, it could not ride roughshod on people agitating over its deleterious social and environmental impact. There were also reservations about the directive on setting up a new high-

power committee to oversee the project when a technical body like the National Water Development Agency (NMDA) created in 1982 already existed. In fact, in May last a group of 11 eminent citizens filed a petition in the Supreme Court urging a review as the judgment was passed without hearing all stakeholders and taking into consideration all relevant 'literature' on the subject. The petitioners like Ramaswamy R Iyer and Bharat Jhunjhunwala claimed that the project would be harmful to the country. Even some states, like Kerala, were contemplating a review petition. Though the court order was ‘not applicable’ to Kerala, chief minister Oommen Chandy said in May that his


NATION

OF GOVERNMENT’S APATHY

The Supreme Court’s directive to the government in February 2012 to implement the project inter-linking rivers (ILR) has once again revived a long-standing debate on the issue. It has given a boost to proponents who see ILR as the panacea to the recurring problems of floods, droughts and power shortages, an encouragement to maximal utilisation of the country’s water assets and a huge push to agricultural production through expanding the acreage under irrigation.

government would consult legal experts and file a review petition, ‘if necessary.’ Mandarins in the Water Resources Ministry and its subordinate bodies are, however, happy on account of the fresh life given to ILR. Citing examples of existing inter-linking of rivers projects, A B Pandya, Director- General of NWDA, recently told a seminar that these ‘have been highly beneficial and have not resulted in any noticeable environmental damages.’ He also suggested rephrasing ‘inter-linking,’ as ‘inter- basin transfers’ to rid the project of its social and political overtones.

Vajpayee had turned it into one of his three priority areas

Former prime minister of India who had interlinking of river project as one of the three mega missions of his government

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NATION Though the proposal for inter-linking evokes sharp reactions ranging from passionate espousal to outright rejection, long-distance inter-basin transfer of water is nothing new to the world or to India where it has been practised for at least five centuries. Examples of such projects in the 19th and 20th centuries include, the Periyar, ParabmikulamAliyar, Kurnool-Cudappah canal and the Telugu Ganga projects in the South and the Indus basin, Rajasthan Canal and the Beas-Sutlej link in the north. Inter-linking became a major talking point in 1972 when Dr K L Rao proposed a 2,640 km mega GangaCauvery link to divert the Ganga floodwaters near Patna for about 150 days in a year to Cauvery in the South and a National Water Grid to give shape to the project. In 1974 Captain Dinshaw J Dastur improvised on the idea and proposed two canals for transferring waters from surplus to deficit areas -- a 4,200 km Himalayan Canal and a 9300 km ‘garland canal’ covering central and south India. Both proposals were rejected for being technically and economically unviable. In 1980, the ministry of irrigation-now the Ministry of Water Resources-framed the National Perspective Plan (NPP) envisaging transfer of water from surplus basins to deficit basins through two components--the Himalayan rivers development and the peninsular rivers development. In 1982 the NWDA was set up to prepare feasibility reports on all links. By 2000, it had identified 30 links--14 under the Himalayan component and 16 under the peninsular part. In 1999, a National Commission set up to review NWDA reports, however, saw no imperative need for massive water transfers in the peninsular component but said the Himalayan component should be gone into detail. But the idea got a big push when in his Independence Day speech in 2002, President A P J Abdul Kalam stressed the need to link rivers. A petition was

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SOCIAL ASPECTS OF INTER-

Union water resources minister Pawan Kumar Bansal

Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal spoke to Saroj Nagi on various aspects of the interlinking project. Excerpts from the interview:

No review, says the Supreme Court he Manmohan Singh government, which chose not to follow the idea of river-linking to check wastage of water, has been pushed into a corner by the Supreme Court on September 26 when it dismissed a petition seeking review of the court’s direction to implement the ambitious project in a time-bound manner. A bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia had on February 27 asked the government to set up a high-power committee of officials, experts and social activists to oversee and execute the massive plan. While declining to entertain the review petition filed by the Central Ground Water Authority, the apex court also refused permission to a group of eminent citizens to file a similar petition.<

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NATION

LINKING CANNOT BE IGNORED: BANSAL What does the government propose to do about the Supreme Court directive on interlinking of rivers? We respect every judicial pronouncement. Work on the project is already on though at a very slow pace. And the direction as such—howsoever well intentioned it may be—has its difficulties in implementation. The directions are such that chief secretaries and ministers of all the states involved directly or indirectly should also be associated with the committee to be formed with the Minister for Water Resources as its head. It looks fine but in implementation it is likely to create some practical difficulties. We already have the National Water Development Agency which was created in 1982 for this purpose. Of course, someone can say it has done nothing, so a committee is needed. But I do not know to what extent creation of another body will help. All that I can say is that we are sincere about inter-linking because there is merit in it. If we have to transfer water from surplus region to deficit region, we have to seek the cooperation of the states concerned. States from where water is to be taken should feel that they too stand to benefit from it. We have to work it out that way. The amicus curiae in the case could file a contempt of court petition if the government fails to deliver? It is for him to decide what his mandate is or to what extent he has to go. But we have identified 30 projects. Feasibility report has been prepared for 16. Of these, two have an international component. DPR has been prepared for one case only---that is, Ken- Betwa. Four projects have been identified for priority. Work on them is going on. Agreements have been signed between the states. Do you think it may be economically unviable? The economic viability of the project is just one issue. The social aspect is another. Even if the project is economically and technically viable, some may ask whether it is the right thing to do. People will question why they are being uprooted from a place where their ancestors have been living for centuries…..We cannot brush aside such issues.

filed before the Supreme Court to give substance to the idea and in October 2002, the apex court suggested that the government come out with a plan to link the major rivers by 2012. The NDA government decided to pursue the idea, with prime minister A B Vajpayee virtually turning ILR into one of his three priority areas, the other two being the golden quadrilateral highways project and building better relations with Pakistan. He constituted a Task Force on ILR under former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu in December

Suresh Prabhu the minister of environment and forest in the NDA government put a lot of efforts to move the project forward

Former president of India APJ Abdul Kalam is a great votary of the interlinking of river project

2002. The panel, which submitted its two reports in 2003 and 2004, estimated that the project costing over Rs 560,000 crore over the next five years could be completed by 2016. There was a change of regime as well as attitude in 2004. The UPA government, in its Common Minimum Programme, declared that the feasibility of the project would be comprehensively reassessed, and--in a gesture to mollify its DMK ally-promised to start with southern rivers. In 2009, the National Council of Applied Economics Research came out

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NATION with a study of the project costing Rs 444,331 crore at 2003-2004 prices but bestowing benefits like substantial increase in employment, household incomes, irrigation, agricultural growth and power availability, improvement in the quality of life in rural areas and reduction in floods and droughts. The turning point came in February 2012. In response to a PIL, the Supreme Court directed the government to implement the ILR project--a ruling that has stoked a major debate not only on the pros and cons of inter-linking of rivers but also on the larger question of separation of powers of the executive and the judiciary.

Water: a precious resource and a political weapon Water is a state subject and unless there is a broad agreement among riparian states, it would be difficult to give shape to the dream of creating a web of connected rivers for equitable distribution. Water is a politically sensitive and emotional issue as well with the states and they are reluctant to share the resource that spells life, prosperity and congenial environment to a population. The Sutlej-Yamuna link dispute between Punjab and Haryana, the Cauvery water-sharing controversy between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka or the Mullaperiyar dam faceoff between Tamil Nadu and Kerala are some examples of the kind of frenzied emotions river waters whip up. Things are likely to get more difficult with different parties ruling in different states and governments becoming more assertive about their resources and demand for greater autonomy. Not surprisingly, there have been intermittent demands to shift water from the state to the concurrent list to give the Centre a greater say in managing it. But it finds few takers as it would involve constitutional and legal implications vis-a-vis centre-state relations. The situation is no different when it comes to the international aspects of water sharing. Following the Supreme Court directive in February, a worried

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AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh and even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have warned about its social and environmental impact? Is it possible to proceed, given the divergent views in the Congress and the government? I have not discussed the issue with anyone…. But all that these leaders mean, I’m sure, is that there has to be a balanced approach. You just can’t ride rough-shod and declare that these are the river links that will be established come what may. Even in Ken-Betwa there is a major problem of submergence in the Panna wildlife sanctuary. So there are issues we have to deal with. …. Nevertheless, the fact remains that since we have the paradox of both droughts and floods hitting the country at the same time we have to do something about it like taking water from surplus areas to deficit areas. Presently water is not being utilized optimally. So why should not we do it in such a way that it takes care of droughts and floods? There is criticism that alternatives like water harvesting have not been adequately explored? Water harvesting, recharging ground water, digging wells in river bed and other options are actually minor compared to inter-linking of rivers. Also, they are not really alternatives to inter-linking. They are supplementary efforts and important components of water management. Inter-linking calls for making full use of the country’s water resources. India supports 17 percent of the world's population.

What will the interlinking of rivers do? <

< < < < < < <

Mitigate problems of floods and droughts -- reduce flood peaks by 20-30 percent in the GangaBrahmaputra region Irrigate an additional 35 million hectares through link networks and ground water recharge Provide potable water for rural and urban areas and water to industries Add 34,000 MW power through hydroelectric generation Help inland trade and navigation Upgrade ecology, increase forest cover from 13 to 33 percent Generate employment Facilitate national integration

Bangladesh voiced its apprehensions that any interlinking would affect the flow of the Ganga into its territory through different tributaries. Minister of Water Resources P K Bansal had to assure the neighbour that the government would only go by international conventions on water sharing. In fact, the government has not proceeded at all on the two Himalayan interlinks that have an international dimension.

Seeking cooperation and consensus Since states are often willing to waste their water rather than share it, there are fears that instead of reducing inter-state water disputes, the project would spawn new ones. Sample this: contrary to the assertions by NWDA and other studies, Orissa and Chhattisgarh say there is no surplus water in the Mahanadi basin. Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and


NATION But we have only 4 percent of the world's fresh water resources. And how much of this are we utilising? Of the 1,869 BCM water available only 1,123 BCM is utilisable. If we inter-link and complete the 30 projects we will be able to irrigate an additional 25 mha plus another 10 mha by recharging ground water, raise the ultimate irrigation potential from 140 mha to 175 mha in addition to generation of 34,000 MW of power. Intangible benefits are separate. With increasing trend of people hitting the streets on various perceived grievances, wouldn’t it be difficult to proceed with inter-linking? It may be (difficult) but you have to take all this into account. You have to convince them of the ultimate benefits, assure them of the alternatives we create for them—like compensation, rehabilitation or relocation. Can there be any international dimension to its implementation? Yes, the international angle is with regard to some Himalayan rivers. After the SC judgment, Bangladesh feared that if we inter-linked some of the rivers passing through Nepal we would interfere with the flow to lower riparian states. We had to assure them that we would go by the international conventions; we would not impound all the water flowing down. We cannot. We have prepared only a feasibility report so far. And that, covered only the Indian part, not the Nepal side.<

Chhattisgarh deny any surplus in Godavari. Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh say the same about the Ganga basin and Kerala, seen by many as a water surplus state, claims a deficit. This raises the larger question whether states are shying away from sharing or whether the survey findings have become outdated in the backdrop of climatic changes and the pressures of a growing population on natural resources.

What problems the interlinking would create? <

< <

Social and environmental costs There is a strong lobby of NGOs and environmentalists in the country which asserts that the gigantic project is ‘illconceived’, ‘unfeasible’, ‘economically unviable’ and ridden with ‘legal, procedural and statutory difficulties.’ It would cause ‘grave environmental and social disaster’ and compound rather than resolve existing problems; rivers

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necessitate heavy borrowing, push the country into debt and suck resources away from other sectors and programmes. spawn politician-contractor nexus and increase corruption submerge 8,000 sq. km of land, drown thousands of villages and towns, displace millions of people and swallow 50,000 ha of forests. alter river systems, create new drought regions, and destroy river life generate new inter-state and inter-nation conflicts

are vibrant, living entities and mixing them up would kill them, they say. Seven states have asked NDWA to carry out feasibility studies of 37 intra-state projects. It will have to deal with contentious issues like displacement, submergence, land acquisitions and R&R packages. It will have to make these a part of the planning process if they want people to accept the projects. It is estimated that over 40 million people---40% of them tribals---have already been displaced by large dams in the last six decades and less than half have been rehabilitated. ILR would submerge 8000 sq km of land and displace millions. The peninsular links alone would swamp 50,000 ha of forests. Alteration of the river systems and changing crop patterns could impact food security, create new drought areas, destroy river ecology and spread pollution. The dying Aral Sea (in Kazakhstan) is cited as an example of the unforeseen consequences of large water transfers. Some of these fears may be genuine, some exaggerated. But what is surprising is that the state and Central governments have not shown enough initiative to address these apprehensions or buttress the claimed benefits of ILR with substantive arguments, facts and figures. Many choose to dismiss the fears as a bogey. Equally surprising is that the ILR issue does not figure prominently in Parliament though it involves so many people, parties, and governments. Any debate is localized, either in the media or in seminar rooms.

Is there a middle ground? The two diametrically opposing viewpoints on ILR and its impact raise the question: is there room for a middle ground while looking for alternatives to solve the country’s water problem? India supports a population of 1.2 billion, which is around 17 per cent of the global population though it has only 4% of the world’s fresh water resources. Given the pressure of this disparity, it becomes imperative to make optimal use of water.<

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WORLD

Considered as of far-reaching consequences to the world, the US elections arrest attention world-wide. This time too is no exception but for the wrong reason: the poll campaign has been the dirtiest ever. Four-letter words are the norm rather than exceptions in public discourse! Upholders of the great American civilisation indeed!!

By Prof M R Dua

he tumultuous campaign for electing the 45th President of the United States of America was fast reaching its crescendo when suddenly it suffered a rude shock. On September 11, there was a serial terrorist attack on US missions in Cairo (Egypt), Benghazi (Libya), some other cities in West Asian countries, the UK, France, Pakistan and Australia sending shock waves across America.

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Huge Islamic crowds protesting against an offensive anti-Prophet Mohammad and anti-Islam film uploaded on YouTube, launched largescale armed attacks on U.S. embassies in 35 countries around the world. This transformed the American presidential campaign suddenly into a subdued affair. The attacks on embassies, it initially was feared, would adversely affect the electoral chances of Barrack Obama, but surprisingly nothing of that kind happened. The national issues relating to job creation, revival of economy, tax

cuts and healthcare etc. came back to centre-stage. As always, it is a straight contest between the candidates of the two main political parties, Barrack Hussein Obama of the Democratic Party and Willard Mitt Romney of the Republican Party. The incumbent president Obama has been leading in several opinion polls, 83 done in August alone, but the Republican Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, never far behind, is catching up fast. However, it looks next to impossible for him to make


WORLD

Indians are also showing deep interests ounting around three lakh in a population of 35 crore, Americans of Indian origin have traditionally voted Democrats for the White House. This time also they seem to follow the same line. According to a popular poll, more than 65 percent of IndianAmericans support Obama. Several eminent Indians like Deepak Chopra have donated funds to the Obama campaign. Some Indian-Americans have lent their support to Mitt Romney also. They include Florida-based Akshay Desai, Californian Yash Wadhwa and Dilip Palith, president of the Republican Indian Committee. The Obama’s foreign policy is Nearly a under severe attack during the election dozen Indiancampaign. He has been accused of not Americans are contesthaving a single ally in the Muslim world; Israel ing for the too is unhappy at Obama for not giving them Senate and his ear; more American and NATO soldiers are the House of Repredying in Afghanistan every passing day; no sentatives in concrete strategy for handling crises in Syria the current and Iran; China’s trade imbalance and elections, the two houses of currency manipulation by it are issues US parliament, that go unaddressed. jointly called the Congress.<

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up the lost ground because of his faltering and gaffe-laden campaign. There are at least three other candidates in the presidential fray. They are: Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico of the Libertarian Party who advocates abolition of income tax, withdrawal of American forces from all over the world, and leaving Israel to fight its own battle; Virgile Goode, nominee of the Constitution Party; and Mrs Roseanne Barr representing the Green Party.

In America, election for the Vice President also takes place simultaneously. Both the principal parties officially nominated their vicepresidential candidates at their national conventions held in August-September. The Republican Party’s 42-year-old Paul D. Ryan, member of the House of Representatives from the mid-western state of Wisconsin, and current chairman of the budget committee, will oppose the sitting Democrat Vice-President from Delaware state, 70-year-old Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

Politicisation of the killing of US ambassador was resented by Americans The attack which killed the US ambassador in the Benghazi consulate in Libya, John Christopher Stevens, and his three aides, became an issue of electoral crossfire. The US embassy building in Cairo was completely burnt down by protesters which shook the nation. The Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accused the Obama administration for providing scanty and

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WORLD skimpy security at these missions. But Romney was chastised for trying to score political points over a crisis involving the lives of American citizens in foreign lands. Romney realised that he had made a miscalculation and made amends by tendering an unqualified ‘apology’.

job trainings that would ensure they’re ready to succeed in the job market. We would be investing in the manufacturing and clean energy sectors that would be creating jobs for today and tomorrow.’

mismanaged Iraq occupation. Overall, U.S. foreign policy is in bad shape-without a single ally in West Asia or the rest of the Muslim world; Israel is unhappy; more American and NATO soldiers are dying in Afghanistan every Give me vote, I killed passing day; no concrete strategy for Osama! handling the crises in Syria and Iran, nor Listing Obama’s achievements in the in dealing with China’s trade imbalance Even four-letter words are first term, his camp said he sent navy and currency manipulation. bandied about SEALs to kill Osama bin Laden, Mitt Romney has been open in his With experience of covering several promised better future to the millions of criticisms of dole seekers who do not presidential poll campaigns behind, illegal aliens, mostly Hispanics, take personal responsibility and care for many a commentator stamps the 2012 supported Egypt’s uprising, organised their lives. He describes them as peoevent as ‘the dirtiest, sleaziest and support for Libyan rebels, imposed ple ‘dependent upon government, who slimiest in American history.’ Nasty, more sanctions on Syria and believe that they are victims and that the government has a Romney has been responsibility to care Three debates before the poll for them.’ He candidcritical of the Obama he most interesting aspect about the US poll is the presly says ‘they pay no administration for making idential debate. Three debates have been scheduled in income tax’, and American society dole-based three different cities in the country on October 3, 16 ‘so our message and dependent on government of low taxes doesand 22. One vice-presidential debate is also planned which help for so many things as will be on October 29. All the debates will be nationally telen’t connect… My though they are besotted, not job is not to worry vised. Normally, these debates go a long way in helping electorate to judge who they are going to vote on November 6.< self-respecting people of the about these people.’ So his ‘camrichest country in the paign is concentrating world. filthy and the foulest profanities were Iran, upped public opinion on 5 to 10 per cent of peoused-- even four-letter words were freely against Iran’s nuclear arsenal, ple at the centre,’ whom he bandied about in speeches and conducted drone attacks to describes as ‘thoughtful votstatements heaping scorn on each other’s kill rebel Talibans in ers.’ Despite massive parties, ideas and agendas. Pakistan, brought back Seeing mounting efforts, the US economy Election campaigns as usual have forces from Iraq and criticisms about shows no sign of speedy been highlighting the failings and shortwould soon withdraw such indiscrete recovery. So where is the comings in each other’s programmes American army from talks, he later ‘hope and change’ Obama for the next four years. President Afghanistan. admitted that his promised, Republicans ask. Obama’s main slogan is to carry Obama’s agenda statements probaThere are more than 23 ‘Forward’ the ‘Hope and Change’ for the next four years bly ‘lacked elemillion jobless still in programme that he had initiated in his hinges on providing gance’. Thanks to his America, they say. first term. Promises relating to jobaffordable healthcare for outspoken opinions, generation remained on top of his the seniors, higher education, Romney is widely considagenda. Recently, Romney sang the reduced government spending, cut in ered as a presidential candidate that same song: “You will have better federal budget deficit, reducing taxes on ‘doesn’t know the country he lives in. opportunity for job and higher middle classes further, increasing levies He doesn’t know the culture of the couneducation, if you elect Romney as on millionaires and billionaires and try.’ He has no sense of social compact. President,’ he told a group of young legalising same-sex marriages. He exhibits his contempt for the middle college graduates recently. Meanwhile, Romney has pointed classes, and it reinforces every negative Obama’s positive response to this out that Obama had not lived up to any view people have about Romney. was that ‘he’s laying the foundation for a of his promises already made under the It is, therefore, not surprising that long-term growth for this generation by slogan, ‘Hope and Change.’ Instead, when the Gallup poll conducted a survey expanding access to quality education there are more than 23 million jobless on September 21, 50 per cent Americans and affordable healthcare. For young Americans today, most of them living on said they trusted Obama; only 44 per people we shall invest in colleges and state doles, and food stamps. He also cent favoured Romney.<

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DELHI

PHOTO : PTI

DELHI STUDENTS GIVE A GREAT SHOCKER TO BJP AND CPM Most students’ unions are affiliated with one political party or the other. While they raise their education and facilities related issues during elections, they also blare out their parent parties’ political propaganda on numerous ongoing issues. The election results of students’ unions thus indicate which way the political wind is blowing. Recent election results of the Delhi University Students Union and Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union indicate that the political fortunes of the BJP and CPM are not that rosy as assumed. However they have given a shot in the arm for the Congress. By Dolon Roy

he results of the student elections in Delhi are never taken lightly as at times they are considered a run up to the assembly elections in reading the pulse of the common man and mainly the youth who form a large chunk of the electorate. If the recent DUSU election results are any guide then Sheila Dikshit may again romp home as the chief minister for the fourth time.

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The poll dates were the same for the elections of Delhi University Students Union and Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union but the accompanying politics were on a completely different plank and assumed different colours in the two campuses. The Congress backed National Students Union of India (NSUI) surprisingly wrested complete control by winning the Delhi University Student's Union (DUSU) bagging the top three seats in the union. For the last two terms BJP’s student body ABVP had been

winning. But at a time when the Centre was thought to have at the nadir of its popularity owing to the numerous scams, the Coalgate scandal and hefty increase in the diesel price by Rs 5 per litre, the student unions results tell different story. NSUI is quite enthused as the outfit could only win the president's post while all other posts were won by BJP affiliate ABVP in the 2011 elections. This time around NSUI's Arun Hooda, Varun Khatri and Varun Choudhury recorded impressive victory for the

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DELHI posts of President, Vice–President and Secretary over their BJP rivals. The victory of the NSUI was a whiff of major relief to the beleaguered UPA government. No surprise, it encouraged Manmohan Singh to push even more reforms. This victory has also been seen by many observers as a personal victory for Rahul Gandhi as he has been for quite some time doing a lot of efforts to energise party’s students’ and youth bodies. The party leaders took no time to claim that the victory of the NSUI in Delhi University is a clear indication that the youth has faith in the policies of Congress and in the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and youth leader Rahul Gandhi. The victory of NSUI candidates in DUSU elections augurs well for the

Students’ politics has given several well-known politicians to the country. Current leader of the opposition of the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, former union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, union minister Ajay Maken and former BJP union minister Vijay Goel are all DU products. CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, Polit bureau members Brinda Karat and Sitaram Yechury are JNU products.

election results at the JNU gave a strong rebuff to the politics of CPM. The JNU campus is known as a stronghold of the CPM-linked Student Federation of India and All India Students Association (AISA), which had come into existence as a countervailing force against the CPM. The president’s election here was won by the SFI-JNU, the rebel group formed by members who had been expelled for opposing its parent party CPM's decision to extend support Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for the post of president. V Lenin Kumar, the SFI-JNU candidate who bagged the post of president was a member expelled by the Delhi state committee of the SFI in July. Though AISA lost out the president's post to SFI-JNU, yet it still managed to

PHOTO : PTI

Congress party at a time when both Delhi government and the Congress–led UPA are under fire over corruption and rising inflation. Both Sonia Gandhi and chief minister Shiela Dikshit hailed NSUI win as a reflection of the people’s faith in Congress. The party did not miss out on the opportunity to project AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who is in charge of youth affairs in the party, as an emerging "icon". Shiela Dikshit with her sight on the forthcoming assembly elections and the debacle in the municipal polls still fresh in her mind tried to capitalise on the NSUI gains. However, political observers believe NSUI's advantage

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sprung from the fact that the whole Congress party threw its weight behind its student wing and pulled all stops in wooing students. Meanwhile, the state BJP distanced itself from ABVP’s poor performance in the polls. But it should be an eye opener for the BJP and an opportunity for some serious introspection. Many say the general perception among the students is that the BJP is not clean in the Coalgate affair and they also did not like the BJP strategy to stall the parliament for the full Monsoon session. Just as the Delhi University sort of gave its opinion on the politics of the national major opposition party BJP, the

hold a considerable hold over the campus. It may be recalled AISA also sprang up in opposition to the ideology of the CPM. The official SFI's worst ever performance in the university is a message to CPM and its student's wing that they need to introspect on their policies and ‘undemocratic’ way of functioning. On the national level, issues like displacement in Koodankulam due to a nuclear power plant, treatment of minorities, especially groups who migrated to the country after being driven out, are some of the issues which have caught their interest.<


UTTARAKHAND

TEHRI BY-POLL: CM’S PRESTIGE AT STAKE By Aaditya Tewari

he high-pitched by-election to the Tehri Lok Sabha seat has once again raised the temperature of the hilly state of Uttarakhand. Given the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal in the month of November and political uncertainties prevailing at the Centre, the by-poll has become all the more important, as a win or loss is sure to impact the morale of both the Congress and the BJP, and may also percolate down to the masses across the country in the event of a mid-term parliamentary poll. The Congress has fielded Saket, the elder son of the chief minister Vijay Bahuguna and the BJP has reposed faith in the royal family of Tehri. Maharani Mala Rajlakshmi Shah, the daughter-in-law of late Tehri king Manabendra Shah, has been made the party candidate. Manabendra represented the constituency in the Lok Sabha a record eight times from 1957 to 2007. But in 2007 and again in 2009, Vijay Bahuguna won this seat, who after being nominated as the chief minister had to vacate. The October 10 poll has become a personal prestige issue for Senior Bahuguna, forcing him to throw all his weight behind the candidate, his son Saket. If he wins, it will obviously bolster the position of the CM, but a loss would make him more vulnerable to the maneuvers of his adversary Harish Rawat. Thirty–eight–year–old Saket, an associate director of the Indiabulls group, had been a practicing lawyer in the Supreme Court from 1997 to 2006. In 2006, he joined Indiabulls group and headed the legal function in Indiabulls Real Estate Ltd from 20062009. From 2010, he has been heading the legal functions in Indiabulls Power Ltd, which is said to have massive economic interests in the state. This has given a good ground to the opposition to expose the chief minister’s design. Though, Saket has also actively campaigned whenever his father contested elections in the state, he is not a recognisable face in the state politics. Sources in the Congress say that both the union minister Harish Rawat and AICC general secretary and Uttarakhand in-charge Chaudhary Birendra Singh had opposed giving ticket to Saket, but senior Bahuguna with the support of some central leaders and state party chief Yashpal Arya finally prevailed over the high-command. The mood in the BJP is upbeat. It only recently brought Munna Singh Chauhan, who has good support in some pockets of the constituency back into the party fold. Munna polled over 70,000 votes in each of the three elections he contested from Tehri Lok Sabha seat and may prove to be a boon for the party.<

T PHOTO : PTI

Cornering of tickets by family members of the important leaders has become a trend in Indian politics. The Congress found no other in Uttarakhand than Saket, son of the chief minister Vijay Bahuguna. He was given ticket inspite of the opposition of several important leaders of Uttarakhand like Harish Rawat.

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UTTARAKHAND

Left parties flexing muscles ELECTORAL HISTORY OF ‘TEHRI GARHWAL’ CONSTITUENCY

fter remaining on the fringe for years, left parties in the state have sought clarifications from the 2009 Vijay Bahuguna 45.04 INC Jaspal Rana 35.98 BJP Vijay Bahuguna government over its relations with Indiabulls, a giant corporate 2004 Manabendra Shah 47.63 BJP Vijay Bahuguna 44.52 INC house with good presence in the state, and with which Saket, elder son of the CM and 1999 Manabendra Shah 43.01 BJP Vijay Bahuguna 39.75 INC a Congress candidate in the Tehri Lok Sabha seat by-poll, has been associated with Hira Singh 1998 Manabendra Shah 51.82 BJP 15.88 INC since 2006 as a senior director. Bisht Realising the importance of joining 1996 Manbender Shah 35.75 BJP Nav Prabhat 22.59 AIIC(T) hands together, left parties have now come out with some common agenda to expose 1991 Manabendra Shah 39.14 BJP Brahm Dutt 27.77 INC the anti-people character of the Bahuguna government. All three major communist Indramani 1989 Brahm Dutt 38.04 INC 35.08 IND parties–CPI, CPI and Communist Party Badoni (Marxist-Leninist)–which have scant fol1984 Brahm Dutt 63.58 INC Trepan Singh 19.74 LKD lowings here, in an effort to push themselves in the centre of the politics, are raisVidya Sagar 1980 Trepan Singh Negi 43.93 INC(I) 26.53 CPI ing issues like de-forestation, erection of Nautiyal big dams and big electricity projects, caus1977 Trepan Singh Negi 58.47 BLD Hira Singh Bist 29.07 INC ing earth-quakes, devastating floods and large displacement and migration of the people. Relegated to the fringe, they now want to turn the bipolar political characteristic of the state into multipolar one. Under the leadership of CPM state unit secretary Vijay Rawat, CPI national council member Samar Bhandar and CPI-ML standing committee member Raja Bahuguna, these parties are trying to cash in on the intense feeling of frustration among common people so that they could emerge as a political entity to reckon with in the next elections. They are especially critical of holding Tehri byelection at a time when people of Uttarkashi and Tehri have been devastated after the flash flood in which more than 30 people lost their lives and hundreds of families were uprooted and many residential buildings collapsed. They say the focus of the administration should have been on providing relief and rehabilitation to the disaster victims and repairing roads etc, on the contrary its main focus is on election related activities. The election could have waited as it can be held up to January next year, according to the law. The BJP won the Tehri-Garhwal constituency for the first time in 1991 when its candidate Manabendra Shah defeated Brahm Dutt, the two time winner of Congress. He continued to win here four more times in a row in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004. But in the last elections Vijay Bahuguna who had tasted defeat twice at the hands of Manabendra Shah in 1999 and 2004 won it finally, defeating the BJP candidate the sports hero Jaspal Rana who had won gold medals in Asian and Commonwealth Games for rapid fire pistol shooting. To the agony of the BJP, Jaspal Rana joined Congress in January this year. BJP perhaps had no powerful choice other than the daughter–in–law of Manabendra Shah for the byelection where the Congress has fielded Vijay Bahuguna’s son Saket. Vijay Bahuguna had defeated the BJP candidate in 2009 with a huge margin of 9 percent of votes polled. It would be interesting to see what voters decide in the byelection.< Year

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UTTAR PRADESH

WILL ‘BHATEEJA’ GOVERNMENT SHOW SOMETHING CONCRETE IN COMING MONTHS? No one publicly talks about the power struggle within the party but the fact remains that while Akhilesh was made the captain of the team guided by his father, others in the family have been trying to get a niche role for themselves. By Ratan Mani Lal

khilesh Yadav is a lucky young man. Born in a family of political heavyweights he had things going for him since his early days. His public school education and engineering degree from abroad notwithstanding, no one doubt-

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in the politically charged household to good use during the election campaign early this year. It was largely because of his efforts that the Samajwadi Party romped home with a thumping majority. And he was amply rewarded by his

Shri Shivpal Singh Yadav

ed that he would choose any career but politics. And indeed, he is today heading a majority government in UP where his father Mulayam Singh Yadav is a household name. The 39-year-old Akhilesh put everything he learnt while growing up

ed him over his team of ministers, bureaucrats, policy baggage and an attitude that went along with all this. The chaos displayed on March 15 when Akhilesh and his team took oath of office in Lucknow was probably a mere curtain-raiser to what was to follow. On September 15, the Akhilesh government completed six months in

Ram Gopal Yadav

AkhileshYadav

ecstatic father by gifting him the top post itself. Mulayam gave Akhilesh more than mere chief ministership – he also hand-

office but there was no sign of any exuberance that is so much a part of such occasions. There was no cakecutting or congratulatory sammelans and no decking-up of streets with festoons. One may be tempted to attribute this to a desire to appear less osten-

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UTTAR PRADESH tatious than the previous BSP regime which used every occasion to eulogise party supremo and chief minister Mayawati as the saviour of the people. But the suspicion that lingers in many people is that the Samajwadi Party government knew it had done nothing much to crow about.

What went wrong? The six months have been marked by a sudden and steady deterioration in law and order situation, policy flip-flops, unending spree of transfers of administrative and police officers, uncertain stand on issues of corruption, delay in taking important decisions, emergence of many power centres and general indifference of the bureaucracy towards ministers. There is yet to emerge a clear direction as to which way the government wants to go. This is quite unlike the previous regime which was clear from day one what her government wanted to achieve. The state has witnessed six communal clashes in places like Mathura, Faizabad, Pratapgarh, Bareilly, Ghaziabad and terrifying display of anarchy in Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad and Noida. The law and order situation may worsen further as the government is keen to allow students union elections in all universities and affiliated colleges. Already cities like Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Agra, etc. are reeling under lawlessness

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spurred by warring groups of students keen to get a foothold in the state’s politics. The public perception of Akhilesh being a good guy saddled with seniors he cannot command, has grown stronger. For Mulayam’s old colleagues, Akhilesh obviously remains a bhateejaa (nephew) and it is awkward for them to treat him as their leader, and for him to consider them as ministerial colleagues. The gulf between Akhilesh and his erstwhile well-wishers has also

Parties have been highly critical of the scoreboard. While Mayawati said the performance of the SP government deserved a big zero, the BJP faulted it with a general lack of direction. The Congress is yet to articulate.

grown. The techno-savvy, facebook-loving Akhilesh had gathered a team of sincere party workers, wellwishers and local leaders with different backgrounds during the poll campaign. Now, they do not have access to their Akhilesh! No one publicly talks about the power struggle within the party but the fact remains that while Akhilesh was made the captain of the team guided by his father, others in the family have been trying to get a niche role for themselves. The

power struggle involving SP national spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Ram Gopal Yadav, and senior minister Shivpal Singh Yadav has led to a virtual division of work and influence in the state. While Mulayam is reported to have tried many times to bring about a truce, the tension between the two remains palpable. Every morning, the queue of visitors and favour-seekers is much longer in front of the residence of Shivpal Singh Yadav and Raghuraj Pratap Singh, as compared to Akhilesh’s bungalow. The horde at the residence of Mulayam whenever he is in Lucknow completes the picture about who matters in the power structure. Policies in various departments, including agriculture, tourism and power, are still in the making. There appears no groundwork for achieving the ambitious 10 per cent growth. There has been no perceptible change on the industrial, power and administrative fronts. Although several top industrialists including Adi Godrej, Shiv Nadar, Bill Gates, Malvinder Mohan Singh, Lalit Khaitan and A M Naik, have met Akhilesh Yadav, big-ticket investments initiatives are yet to be seen. But Akhilesh rejected suggestions that he was not in complete control of the government. The mandatory publication brought out by the information department listing six months’ ‘achievements’ talked about

implementation of ‘many’ election promises. Political parties have been highly critical of the scoreboard. While Mayawati said the performance of the SP government deserved a big zero, the BJP

A great dilemma for the son!

< Whether he should go <

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for his father’s wisdom or invent his own How should he treat his ministers who are his father’s contemporaries Caught between two uncles, Ram Gopal Yadav and Shivpal Yadav, who are at each other’s throats, what could he do Being unfocussed, his energy is often wasted Prone to hasty decisions and quick retraction Ambivalence on the memorials and parks in Lucknow and Noida Nervousness in taking tough decisions relating to corruption cases

faulted it with a general lack of direction. The Congress is yet to articulate. As Mulayam plunges deeper into national politics sensing an opportunity to emerge as a king-maker, Akhilesh is trying to keep a balance between the old guard and people’s expectations. If governance is a casualty, one can always blame it on opportunistic opposition politics.<


HARYANA

HOODA HAS ALL THE ANSWERS Hooda riles at the opposition by saying that it demands his resignation thrice in a day. He has not only been able to steer clear of the threatening headwinds created by the opposition but also able to teach his opponents in the party a lesson or two.

Lokayat Correspondent

rom street protests over power-cut and land acquisition to Apna Ghar sex scandal, violence at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant, arrest of Haryana minister in Geetika Sharma suicide case and allegations of regional bias in development projects, the chief minister Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda has been weathering unsettling storm for quite some time. At every possible opportunity, the opposition and his detractors within the Congress had been gunning for

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Hooda’s scalp. But thanks to his management skill, the 65-year-old chief minister (CM) continues to thwart attempts to undermine his authority and more often than not silencing his critics with his smart moves. Following violence at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant and reports that the car manufacturer could shift base from Haryana to Gujarat, the opposition parties were all the time breathing down Hooda's neck. ‘When a state can't guarantee you safety, the best way out is to seek it elsewhere. I am afraid, Maruti might leave Haryana,’ former chief minister and Indian National Lok

Dal (INLD) chief Om Prakash Chautala had argued lambasting the state government for its failure to provide security even to industries. Hooda pressed all the resources at his command to reinstate confidence in the Maruti Suzuki management. Apart from forming a special team to investigate the case, eminent senior advocate KTS Tulsi was appointed as special prosecutor. The state government also assured dedicated security cover for the plant and its staff. As a result, the auto major could begin its operations within a month after the incident. Not only this Japan-

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HARYANA based Suzuki Motor Corp chairman Osamu Suzuki after a meeting with the Haryana CM, declared Haryana as his ‘first home’, thus ending all speculation that Maruti would shift its manufacturing from Haryana to Gujarat. Rather the company promised to invest more in Haryana and continue to keep the state as its base, thus silencing the opposition parties on the issue. ‘Most of the investment by Maruti in Haryana has been from 2005 onwards when Congress came to power,’ Hooda reminded opposition parties accusing them of ‘misleading people’ and ‘manufacturing lies’. This was end of it.

Agitation against the nuclear plant is over In Gorakhpur village in Fatehabad district of Haryana, farmers under the banner of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti agitated for nearly two years against setting up a nuclear power plant (NPP) there. Siding with farmers, the INLD and Kuldeep Bishnoi-led Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) warned against allowing the NPP ‘at any cost’. ‘If the government went ahead with its plan to set up the plant, it would have to do it over the dead bodies of INLD workers,’ Chautala had thundered on 13 May this year while addressing a rally of party workers at Fatehabad. Even former army chief Gen VK Singh had joined the protest and urged the state government to reconsider the project. But Hooda kept on stressing the importance of the plant to meet the energy needs of the state and accused the opposition of playing politics in the matter. And when the state government started distributing cheques for the compensation, farmers started dropping their opposition to the plant. Except four, all the farmers have accepted the compensation for their land and many of them are reportedly keen to buy land from the compensation money elsewhere at much cheaper rates. Hooda attributes the success of this land-acquisition to his farmer friendly policies which is based on taking farm-

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ers into confidence. ‘Being a son of a farmer, I know what it means to lose land,’ he says while ruling out farmers’ unrest in the state. Both the INLD and HJC had to eat an humble pie as Hooda accused them of instigating farmers not to give up their land. While, in Hooda’s words, the opposition demands his resignation ‘thrice a

demand to upgrade Maharshi Dayanand University’s Indira Gandhi Postgraduate Regional Centre at Meerpur, Rewari, into a full-fledged university. He was left stunned by Hooda’s move some time later when Haryana government cleared a proposal to set up a university in Gurgaon, a few kilometres from Rewari.

Hooda became chief minister for the first time in 2005 and managed to get a second consecutive term even though Congress failed to get clear majority in 2009 elections. He made it possible by winning over independents and engineering defections from the Haryana Janhit Congress. But for all this Hooda is being made to battle it out a lot more in this term. Sometimes it looks he is losing ground, but now he appears to have succeeded in weathering all the political troubles created by the opposition as well his detractors in the party.

day’, his detractors within the Congress also keep gunning him. The infighting within the Congress came to fore again in August as power minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav accused Hooda of bias against southern Haryana. He was joined in the act by another Congress stalwart, Rao Inderjit Singh, MP from Gurgaon, who too accused the chief minister of discrimination.

University to Gurgaon, not Rewari Capt Yadav went public with the criticism after Hooda ignored his

With this while the Gurgaon MP, Singh lost the ground to accuse the CM of regional bias, Capt Yadav demand for university in Rewari is also being countered by citing area’s closeness to the newly announced university. ‘We (Rewari) are situated at a stone’s throw from Gurgaon. It has of course angered Capt Yadav even more as he says the CM’s intention is not to grant us a university, but to further humiliate me by granting one in neighbouring district. ‘Even a dimwit will understand his intention behind this move’, rued the Captain.<


ODISHA

NAVEEN LEFT ALONE TO FEND HIMSELF On the issue of Coalgate the BJD government in Odisha is in the dock. Congress party did encash fully the opportunity to hold a massive protest rally on this issue against its tormentor Naveen Patnaik. Though BJD and BJP were together in the 20th September Bandh, but so far as Coalgate is concerned, Naveen has been left alone to defend himself….

By Ashok B Sharma

ith BJP reluctant to lend support to the ruling BJD, the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is left alone to face the challenge of the Congress party which has become proactive on the issue of Patnaik’s alleged involvement in the Coalgate. Though the ruling Congress party at the Centre has become the target in the Coalgate scam, the situation in Odisha is different. The senior BJP leader in the state,

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Bijay Mohapatra has rather made its intention clear by saying that the BJD government headed by Naveen Patnaik was not above suspicion. He firmly asserted that the state government followed no procedure while recommending to the Centre names of private companies for coal block allocations. Though there were 334 applications for coal blocks, the state government recommended only 52 cases. There was no process of verification by the state government or setting up of a screening committee to select the applicants before recommending. Mohapatra has also alleged that the

state government had recommended coal block allocation for Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) on February 2, 2009, a day before the Election Commission of India held a meeting of political parties before the general elections. Demanding a probe by CBI on the issue, the senior BJP leader said the state government also made recommendation in favour of Tatas for a coal block on July 24, 2008, He alleged that the state government has violated its own Industrial Policy Resolution. Mohapatra has thus given credence to the state Congress party’s allegations against Naveen. Naveen has shot back and promised to take ‘proper’ steps against companies if any corruption by them is detected in connection with coal block allotment. Though Naveen has announced that he will have no truck with the Congress and would not support the UPA, he has yet to find friends in the BJP. The chief minister had ditched the BJP in the last 2009 state Assembly elections – the party which was the alliance partner for 10 years. Though this was done at the instance of Naveen’s one time right hand man Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, the BJP has not forgotten the pains its suffered when its base in western Odisha was practically eroded. However, the September 20 Bandh was successful in the state where BJD worker had come together along with BJP and other non-Congress parties. It was only symbolic as it was directed against the Congress-led UPA coalition at the Centre. But the September 20 Bandh has not improved the relations between BJP and BJD. Congress party stands firm with a vengeance in its allegations against Naveen on Coalgate, despite its apology for the demonstrators beating up a lady cop on September 6.The ruling BJD has filed FIR against the AICC incharge for Odisha Jagdish Tytler for inciting violence in which 260 people including 60 police personnel were injured.<

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HIMACHAL

ITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S DO OR DIE BATTLE FOR

New Congress chief in Himachal Pradesh Vir Bhadra Singh trying hard to bring Congress back to power

The decision of the high command to make Virbhadra the state Congress president has impacted all and sundry in the party. His rallies across the state have received overwhelming response. But no one can say for certain that this would ensure victory at the hustings as cutthroat factionalism still continues in the party. 32

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By Jyoti Thakur

y getting himself appointed Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief ahead of Assembly elections, Virbhadra Singh has won a significant battle within the party. His rivals were hoping to get an upper hand in the affairs of the party by sidelining the fivetime Himachal Pradesh chief minister (Virbhadra). More so because the MP from Mandi constituency was recently forced to resign from the Union Cabinet following framing of charges against him and

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Vidya Stokes, despite being close to the high command, remains out of reckoning

his wife by the lower court in an old corruption case in the state. But having completed 50 years in politics earlier this year, the 78-year-old leader knew more than anyone else that he had to fix the leadership issue before the elections instead of waiting for their outcome. Not surprisingly, he had his way after a prolonged and bitter battle of nerves following which the Congress high command agreed to appoint him president of the state unit in place of his rival Kaul Singh Thakur. Though his main demand for installing him as the chief ministerial

candidate has not been met, he is doubtlessly in a position to call the shots and silence his detractors within the party as the party high commandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision was a clear admission of his mass-base and capacity to lead the party to power. Virbhadra can now ensure tickets for his loyalists and thus assure himself of their support for his candidature as the chief minister if the Congress wins enough seats to form the government. But before that happens Raja Saab, as he is popularly known in the state, has to face the challenge and win the elections. That makes the


HIMACHAL

VIRBHADRA SINGH coming poll a do-or-die political battle for him. He would have to fight a political battle within the party later. In 1993, he faced stiff competition from the high command’s favourite Sukh Ram but he managed to beat the latter in the number game by getting majority support in the Congress Legislature Party. In 2003 again, Vidya Stokes had the high command’s support, but Virbhadra again emerged winner, thanks to the support of majority of party MLAs. The challenge is stiffer this time due to acute factionalism which continues to haunt the party even after Virbhadra’s appointment as the president. He had promised to ‘take everybody along’ immediately after taking over as PCC chief for the fourth time. But with the shunting out of those close to Thakur from the state unit shortly after taking charge, he has invited open criticism from the former PCC chief. Thakur hit out at the new chief saying that it was unfortunate, he was using his powers not to strengthen the party but to weed out his detractors. This attitude, he cautioned, was bound to cause irreparable damage to the party.

reminding that he represents the Mandi parliamentary seat and Thakur is MLA of one assembly segment in it. How factionalism continues in the party can be seen from the fact that the first meeting called by the new PCC chief to chalk out strategy for the elections, was not attended by many of

How insidious factionalism continues within the party can be seen from the fact that the very first meeting called by the new PCC chief to chalk out strategy for the elections, was not attended by many of his detractors including Kaul Singh Thakur, outgoing president, former transport minister GS Bali, former Rajya Sabha member Viplove Thakur, AICC secretary Asha Kumari and Congress working committee member Dhani Ram Shandil.

Is this the time to raise the issue of regional imbalance? As both the CLP leader Stokes and Virbhadra are from Shimla district, the issue of regional imbalance in the party has been raised by Thakur who comes from Mandi, falling in the lower region of the state. Thakur’s camp is taking up his ouster as PCC chief as an insult to the lower region. Incidentally Sukh Ram who also comes from lower Himachal was denied the chance to become the chief minister. Virbhadra counters the charge by

Union Minister for Commerce Anand Sharma, who heads the manifesto committee, too did not attend the meeting. Downplaying the factionalism as something that exists in every political party across the country, Virbhadra admits that it has never been so strong in the hill state as to disrupt

Kaul Singh Thakur is sore at his removal from the presidentship of the party just few months before the elections

his detractors including Thakur, former transport minister GS Bali, former Rajya Sabha member Viplove Thakur, AICC secretary Asha Kumari and Congress working committee member Dhani Ram Shandil.

the functioning of the party. The veteran leader understands the need of putting his house in order to give the necessary momentum to party’s campaign and build confidence among party workers. He hopes to rein in the disgruntled party leaders with the help of the high command. He says that at least 99 per cent of party leaders will positively respond to his call for unity. And Raja Saab has already blown the bugle for what he calls ‘a decisive battle’ against the ‘most corrupt’ Bharatiya Janata Party government which has put ‘Himachal on sale’. The BJP has taken advantage of the infighting within the Congress and is preparing to take up the challenge. Virbhadra’s rallies across the state have received overwhelming response. But it will be interesting to see if this response is translated into votes and Congress sails through one more time under Raja Saab.<

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PUNJAB

AMARINDER SEEKS ‘OPPOSITION UNITY’ AGAINST SAD-BJP COMBINE Captain Amarinder Singh has initiated a move to unite all opposition parties in Punjab against the government on the issue of new taxes. There is a strong possibility that at least Manpreet Badal’s PPP may join hands with the Congress. If this happens it would become a formidable opposition force in the state. The ruling SAD-BJP combine is nervous at the prospect. By Lokayat Correspondent

ver since the recent Punjab Assembly elections, the Opposition parties have been no match for the Shiromani Akali Dal Bharatiya Janta Party combine. With no team spirit and rift within the main Opposition (Congress) widening over the leadership issue, the ruling combine was threatening to make it more humiliating and worse for the opposition in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But with the call for unity in the opposition ranks, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh, has caused much anxiety not only within the ruling combine but also amongst his rivals within the Congress who are waiting for his ouster following the debacle in the Assembly elections. As the Congress and the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) led by Manpreet Badal -- rebel nephew of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash

E Senior Congress leader in Punjab Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has termed the move of Cap Amarinder Singh as ill-timed.

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PUNJAB Singh Badal and former finance minister -- jointly polled more votes than the SAD-BJP in the Assembly elections, the coming together of these two Opposition parties can make it really difficult for the ruling combine in the next parliamentary polls which may happen even before they are due in 2014. In the 2012 Punjab Assembly elections, the Congress got 40.11 per cent votes, against the Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) 34.75 per cent and the BJP's 7.13 per cent. But the SAD-BJP edged past the Congress by 1.77 per cent votes that made all the difference between victory and defeat. The Akali DalBJP combine got 68 seats as against 46 by the Congress. Manpreet Badal’s PPP dented the Congress in a big way by bagging 5.17 per cent votes even though it failed to win a single seat despite having alliance with the CPI, CPM and SAD (Barnala). So, coming together of the Congress and the PPP has the potential to change the political calculus in Punjab. Amarinder appealed to opposition parties to join hands with the specific purpose of fighting the antipeople policies of the SADBJP government. The Congress leader is in touch with Opposition leaders belonging to the PPP, CPI and BSP. He thinks there is a ‘strong and genuine cause’ for all like-minded parties to come together.

Will Amarinder outwit his detractors? Amarinder’s move is aimed at outwitting both his detractors

Money does not grow on trees in Punjab too! unjab is one of the three debt-ridden states, the others being West Bengal and Kerala. Just as the Prime Minister in his address to the nation said, ‘ money does not grow on trees’ and people have to bear the burden of subsidies to the poor while defending the increase in diesel price, the Punjab government took recourse to this logic much before and levied fresh taxes to improve the state government finances. The state had been liberal in distributing freebies like free power for winning votes. But the state finances are in the dumps as a result as the subsidy bill for the current year-- Rs 5,700 crore-- indicates. Over 80 per cent of government revenue is consumed in salaries, pension and debt servicing. The government has launched austerity measures and banned purchases of new vehicles and cut ministers’ and chief parliamentary secretaries’ allowances by ten percent among other measures. But these save a meager Rs 250 crore only. As there is no possibility of the Punjab government getting a relief package from the Centre; even Mamata could not get it for West Bengal, it seems the government had no alternative other than taxing the rich in the state. So, the government levied a social infrastructure cess for health and education at a rate of one per cent on property transactions, besides raising the ceiling of registration fee from Rs 30,000 to Rs two lakh. Mutation fee for properties has also been increased. These proposals would fetch an additional revenue of Rs 480 crore from the real estate sector. The government has increased VAT, luxury and property taxes also. Luxury tax on hotels has been increased from 4 to 8 percent. For the Congress, especially Amarinder Singh, the new taxes have come as a godsend addition to their political armory as victims of the new taxes have become their new supporters.<

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within the Congress and the ruling SAD-BJP regime. Though the Congress chief had just before the January Assembly polls categorically ruled out an alliance with Manpreet, the shocking defeat had made him realise the necessity of having the PPP as an ally. Though Manpreet, who too is under pressure following exodus of senior PPP leaders, has shown no hurry to take the bait, statements from both sides indicate the Congress and the PPP are likely to become bedfellows soon. The SAD is showing signs of uneasiness at this development. However, its president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has termed both the leaders as spent forces, desperate to find a foothold in the state politics. The SAD secretary and spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema termed their proposed alliance as a ‘last ditch effort for political survival’. SAD’s MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal claims that the two can never win the trust of the people. Amarinder Singh’s initiative is also facing opposition from a section of leaders within the Congress. Senior party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal termed Captain's move as ill-timed. ‘Why is Amarinder subjecting a big party like the Congress, having 46 MLAs, to continued humiliation by cringing for support from small parties which did not have even a single MLA? He should first ensure unity within the party before striving for union with other parties,’ Bhattal said.<

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RAJASTHAN

JOSHI FIRM IN CREASE, GEHLOT

Road Transport and Highways Minister C.P. Joshi who has been given additional charge of Railway ministry.

By Abha Sharma

fter a blissful monsoon, though belated, Rajasthan BJP can no longer call chief minister Ashok Gehlot “akalpurush”, a name synonymous with drought in his tenure. Unlike his previous first term, hit by severe drought and starvation deaths in some tribal districts, rain gods have this time showered bounty on him., thus taking a sting out of opposition BJP’s monsoon

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politics. But alas, the blessed showers can hardly provide him any cover from the gradual unrest brewing up within the party organization. Unlike his maiden term as chief minister (1998-2003) marked by tough decisions, strict discipline and enthusiasm, his current second stint in power has only showed up a lackluster performance by his govt. For the first time, his personal image as “Mr Clean” has also got a setback due to charges of corruption. So much so that political circles are rife with the possibility of

change of guards in Rajasthan ahead of assembly polls scheduled in December 2013. In the last assembly election, he was really fortunate when all possible contenders for chief minister’s chair got eliminated for one reason or the other. In what could be seen as a wonderful stroke of luck for Gehlot, when the Congress party returned to power in Rajasthan, though with a reduced majority, the top position almost came to him on a platter. It became possible as Dr. C. P. Joshi lost assembly election


RAJASTHAN

ON A STICKY WICKET from his home constituency Nathdwara by just one vote. But Joshi’s loss in assembly soon led to his thumping victory in Lok Sabha, followed by a cabinet rank. His proximity with 10, Janpath has continued to grow stronger while Gehlot’s ‘jadu’ is on the wane. Though Joshi’s performance as panchayati raj minister was not quite impressive, luck seems to be favouring him on all counts. Soon after he narrowly missed the CM’s crown, he made his presence felt at the Rajasthan Cricket Association. If you can’t make it to the corridors of power, ruling the roost at the crease also has a potential value! It can be equally loaded as bouncers and googlies.

High Court retrieves honour back to Joshi Again, to Gehlot’s bad luck when the news reports were full of govt.’s failure in handling the havoc caused by recent heavy rains, good news came for Joshi with the Rajasthan High Court upholding his election petition. The verdict, obviously, sent waves of delight among Joshi supporters and has strengthened his claim for the top position. The court verdict also brings sympathy for him for being a victim of election malpractices and that if Gehlot is to be replaced mid-term, Joshi has a valid claim. Apart from Joshi’s rising success, Gehlot has many challenges ahead. He may have ignored the recent defeat of NSUI, the students’ outfit of Congress in most of the key university elections across Rajasthan; he can ill afford to neglect the angry sentiments of party workers. At a meeting held at the Pradesh Congress Committee in the end of August, party workers did not mince words to tell Gehlot, “if the affairs of state continue to remain like this, forget about returning to power, you will not even find workers at election booths.”

At the newly appointed block Congress committee chief’s conference party veterans had a word of caution for both Gehlot and PCC chief Dr Chandrabhan. They even went to the extent of saying, ‘karyakartaon ki sunwai nahin karne wala raj, kal jata ho, to jaye aaj! (Let the govt insensitive to party workers’ woes be doomed today itself, why to wait till tomorrow)

What the chief minister needs to do? The CM needs to first crack a whip against corrupt ministers and officials and later think of a possible win at the hustings, was the crux of each party

happy only by taking a dig at opposition BJP leader Vasundhara Raje’s continued absence from the state capital. On the other hand, Rajasthan slips to the 12th position as against its 6th position last year in CSO (Central Statistical Organisation) figures. It is feared the updated figures may further lower state’s graph on the development chart. Even if this is not an exact assessment of progress in the state, it is certainly a pointer worth paying attention to. Things are indeed getting difficult for Gehlot within and outside the party. While fingers are being pointed out not just by his

Organisation is not happy with the functioning of Gehlot government. Workers in the party are especially sore. Would there be a mid-term derailment for Gehlot owing to his declining popularity and poor administration?

workers’ sentiments. The chief minister’s apparent distance with PCC chief Dr. Chandrabhan also came to the fore during the recent visit of party chief Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Barmer. Dr. Chandrabhan was allowed to share the dais but not given an opportunity to speak on the occasion. The presence of Dr C P Joshi and union minister of state for communication and IT, Sachin Pilot on the occasion highlighted the importance of both the leaders and triggered possible assumptions about new responsibilities in the offing for them. Gehlot had taken up some stern measures in his first stint as chief minister, particularly, his tough stand against striking babus. But in his present avatar, he seems contented and

detractors but partymen as well, his style of functioning is under scanner. With the minority community also sore for last year’s Gopalgarh firing incident, Gehlot has a tough road ahead. On the other hand, Joshi’s stature is growing, thanks to the recent additional charge of railway portfolio. With Joshi’s rising graph in the union ministry, a Damocles’ sword hangs over Gehlot’s head. Now that Joshi gaining in stature and credibility, Gehlot may well try his best to avert a possible, mid-term derailment! If he manages to remain on the crease till next elections, he would still have a daunting task to arrest his eclipsing image, charisma and vote bank.<

| LOKAYAT OCTOBER, 2012

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MADHYA PRADESH

PARADOX OF PEACE By Chandrakant Naidu

eavy dose of irony marked Madhya Pradesh government’s new initiative at the world heritage site Sanchi, where it is setting up a university for studies in Buddhist and Indic knowledge. The new university, a Rs 300 crore project coming up on a 100 acre area, aims at promoting ‘peace and harmony’ through sharing of knowledge. The state is also looking at tapping Sanchi’s potential for tourism and cultural trade. The first to shatter the prospects of peace was chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s friend, MDMK leader, Vaiko. The self-proclaimed champion of Sri

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Lankan Tamils, threatened to hold a black flag demonstration to oppose Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa who along with Bhutan prime minister Jigme Yoser Thinley was invited to lay the foundation for the university. ‘Vaiko is a friend. We have worked together in the NDA,’ said Chouhan a day before Vaiko’s convoy of 21 buses, an ambulance, a truck with essentials and around a dozen cars — was stopped by police near Pandhurna on MPMaharashtra border. Asked why the ‘friend’ was not being allowed to come to Sanchi, Chouhan said he had to uphold ‘Rajdharma’ (a ruler’s duty). Tamil activists rattled the administration by streaming into the state through various points and modes of transport. Seven MDMK supporters reached as far as Vidisha, barely six kilometres from Sanchi, and some suspected activists reached Bhopal by air. Some were sporting T-shirts with images of late LTTE chief V Prabhakaran. Vaiko warned that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa being

POLITICIANS OF ALL HUES GRAB everal senior political leaders including chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his colleagues in the ministry are facing charges of misleading government agencies to illegally acquire prime properties in Madhya Pradesh. The revelation came after two retired IPS officers filed a petition in the state High Court challenging the government order of April 2007 that fixed a quota for MPs and MLAs in the premium housing projects of state capital Bhopal.

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Former state director general of Police Arun Gurtoo and his former colleague Upendra Varma drew the attention of the High Court towards the blatant violation of rules by the chief minister and other leaders. Politicians, cutting across party lines, are alleged to have duped the housing agencies by filing false information about their property in the state. The High Court bench at Jabalpur comprising Justice Sushil Harkauli and Justice Alok Aradhe has sought explanation from the leaders

who include members of parliament Sumitra Mahajan (BJP), Indore Devraj Singh (BSP), Rewa, Sandeep Dikshit (Congress) East Delhi. Information obtained through RTI revealed that almost all the ministers who purchased houses, owned houses in other parts of the state. The chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his colleagues furnished false information on oath. The chief minister himself owned a house in Vidisha town while his wife owned a flat in


MADHYA PRADESH

Bandhs deferred nterestingly the BJP exempted Bhopal division from the nation-wide bandh on September 20 in view of the VIP visit. The ‘postponed’ bandh was later observed on September 24. Even the opposition Congress which was to gherao the chief minister on September 20 against deteriorating law and order, corruption and illegal mining was persuaded into postponing the protest to October 4.

I welcomed during his arrival at Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopa

Photo: PTI

PROPERTY! Bhopal. But he withheld the information while purchasing a house from the Housing Board. The ministers gave different information in their affidavits submitted to the Housing Board and to the Election Commission while filing their nomination papers. Ms Sumitra Mahajan was allotted two flats in the same housing scheme which has just got underway. The former MLA from Vidisha has been allotted two houses in another scheme. Housing Board properties were meant for those who do not own houses in their

or in their spouses’ name anywhere in the state. The powers that be also ensured that 20 per cent of the houses built by the Housing Board are reserved for MPs and MLAs of the state. The others accused of having misled the agency include finance minister Raghavji, home minister Uma Shankar Gupta, animal husbandry minister Ajay Vishnoi, water resources minister Jayant Malaiya and minister of state for home Narayan Singh Kushwaha. The list also includes members of Parliament and assembly, who gave false information in

affidavits. Sandeep Dikshit, MP from Delhi and son of Delhi chief minister Shiela Dikshit, got a house despite being ineligible as he was not a domicile of the state. Rules provide for a maximum punishment of imprisonment up to seven years for the violations of the rules of the Housing Board.<

| LOKAYAT OCTOBER, 2012

39


MADHYA PRADESH

CONGRESS NEVER GAVE PATRONAGE

nce you came out against Thackeray brothers, dubbing them as Bihari with substantial facts and figures, your adversaries too have turned into your appreciators. Your TRP in Bihar jumped up overnight.

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I shall like to thank all those for this appreciation. At the same time I would like to remind my detractors that I never issue any statement without having substantial facts. I have all the

his party would lay ‘siege' to the prime minister's residence if Rajapaksa visits the country again. All commercial establishments near Sanchi were closed by authorities and as 5,000 security personnel were deployed on roads leading to Sanchi to ensure full security. All 11 trains scheduled to stop between Vidisha and Bhopal were thoroughly checked and some of them were not allowed to halt on the stretch.

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proof in support of what I said; I have also the book- ‘Prabodhankar Thackeray Samagra Wangmay’ with me. Prabodhankar Thackeray, father of Bal Thackeray had compiled it. The book clearly reveals the truth. What more do you want in support of my claim?

allocation. The party is being labeled with some or the other charges every day. What strategies is the party adopting to cope up with such accusations?

Through the duration of the function at Sanchi several neighbourhood villages spent hours in curfew-like situation. The Sri Lankan president was flown from Bhopal to Sanchi by helicopter while the Bhutanese prime minister was driven down to the venue as he was averse to flying. The Lankan president’s response to the protests, however, was in keeping with the spirit of peace professed at the function. ‘My journey to Sanchi, is pri-

marily an act of gratitude on behalf of the people of my country; I am here as a pilgrim, in veneration of sacred Sanchi, saluting and celebrating the glorious past of this region,’ the president added. In this context, it is our hope that the wisdom that will in time come from the work of the ‘University of Buddhist and Indic Studies’ becomes a beacon of light for our region as we battle against intolerance and hatred separatism and ethnic

Coal block allocations have been made as per the rules framed for the purpose. The observation of the CAG is startling. When no work has started in the coal blocks, how can there be any loss? People are already suffering with skyI must tell you that rules for aucrocketing prices of essential goods tion are different for different minand services. Still the governerals. Under the MMRD, there was ment has hiked the prices no rule for big minerals. of diesel. You being in Allocations have been the organisation, The Congress is according to the would you regisbeing slammed left and same rules that ter your protest right for coal blocks’ allocation. were in force to this move? Congress general secretary Digvijay during the NDA Government Singh asserts that recommendations of regime. has to work the state governments’ were given There is in the interprimacy while making allocations. If no scam est of the anything has gone wrong, the state in any country. governments can’t shun the responsibility allocation. Sometimes, as the real ownership of these coal-blocks considering lie with states only. Lokayat State govthe economic correspondent had an extensive talk ernments exigencies, on the current imbroglio with Singh, say that their government has the former chief minister of recommendato take certain Madhya Pradesh. A few tions were not tough decisions, excerpts: honoured. Does this which may not be of not mean that the the liking of the public. I Centre must own complete am sure, before raising the prices, responsibility for the mess without the prime minister must have taken all casting aspersion on state governaspects into serious consideration. ments? It appears Congress has gone on the There is not even an iota of truth in this back-foot on the issue of coal block entire theory of scam. If the govern-


MADHYA PRADESH

TO CORRUPT PEOPLE: ment had framed rules for 3G and 4G, could it not have outlined similar rules for other things? Since states have the ownership of the coal blocks and they receive royalty, they can’t get away from responsibilities. The UPA government is committed to the auctioning of the natural resources, thus, the whole fuss is pointless. Congress MPs are also facing charges. What would you say in this regard? We have always fought corruption tooth and nail. We have never given patronage to such elements. We fiercely acted against corrupt people. The CBI is probing into the case to see if there was any wrong-doing in the entire process. But the BJP says the CBI was entrusted with the investigation only after it vociferously demanded it. The government did nothing on its own. The BJP is in the habit of making false and baseless charges. It has been spreading rumours since 2009 on the issue of 2G spectrum and now it has started on coal blocks’ allocation. Similar charges were hurled on Bofors issue based on the report of the CAG, but nothing concrete came out of years of investigations. Do you think there would be proper investigation into the coal block allocation scam? And will the Congress act against its own leaders if found guilty?

The NDA government didn’t act against Bangaru Laxman, then president of the BJP, though there was evidence against him. But the Congress government has always acted against culprits. Congress government has acted against the 2G accused.

Banerjee withdrew support. On what issues you shall ask for vote in 2014 parliamentary elections in a situation when people are suffering from high prices of essential goods and services?

The UPA government has worked among the people. We have in reality worked on the ground. The UPA government will say to the people about developmental works that it has carried out On during its 10 years of asking about a rule. foreign newspaper

A foreign newspaper described the prime minister as a ‘tragic figure’. How do you react to that?

Such criticism carries no describing the prime minister In Madhya meaning. as a ‘tragic figure’, Digvijaya Pradesh, you All these Singh said—such criticisms carry are out of are motino meaning. ‘All these are power for last vated motivated rubbish, rather they 10 years, makrubbish, smack of some conspiracy. It is ing it tough for they routine for the media to level you to come smack of baseless charges against back. Will the some conthe government.’ Congress be able to spiracy. It is do the miracle? routine for the media to level State and central leaders of baseless charges against the Congress have consistently the government. been in touch with the people. We are working for the people and with the The UPA government is under conpeople. On the other hand, the BJP stant attack and its allies too appear to only made promises and did nothing be going against it. In such a situafor them. The BJP government in the tion, will the government complete its state is outright corrupt. Every day, a full term? new corruption case of one kind or the other surfaces... This time, people will Off course, the government will comcertainly give an opportunity to the plete its full term. The government still Congress. There is no doubt about it.< has the majority even after Mamta

prejudice, terrorism and violence; social inequality and exclusion. Another irony was the exclusion of Dalai Lama from the guest list. Sri Lanka’s equations with China were apparently the reason for the state government not to insist of Dalai Lama’s visit. The state government wanted to remain politically correct under the circumstances.<

| LOKAYAT OCTOBER, 2012

41


GUJARAT

By Anjalika Rajlakshmi

ill the Gods and Muslims come to the rescue of Narendra Modi during the coming assembly polls (which could be held as early as in November) as he faces a double-prong attack from the Congress and the newly-formed Gujarat Parivartan Party of Keshubhai Patel and Gordhan Zadaphia? Well, the chief minister thinks so. Modi has always been a devout of various Gods and Goddesses and fasts on all the nine days of Navratri even if he has a busy schedule. He fasts even during election campaigns. Therefore, it was no wonder that the chief minister decided to openly show his piety as he prepares for the big battle ahead. With a couple of months remaining for the polls, Modi has decided to seek the blessings of all the famous deities of Gujarat during his month-long Swami Vivekanand Yuva Vikas Yatra. He inaugurated the Yatra from Becharaji temple in the second week of September as the Goddess at Becharaji is his Kuldevi (family deity). The second leg of his Yatra began couple of days later from a small village, Unai, in Navsari district which has a famous goddess temple. Later, he visited the famous Goddess Ambaji temple in Danta (Banaskanta district). Last year, on his birthday (September 17), Modi had launched Sadbhavana Mission to woo Muslims

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WOO GODS AND MUSLIMS TO RETAIN POWER ! Ruling-BJP is trying to attract maximum Muslim votes by fielding minority candidates in the assembly electionsâ&#x20AC;Ś.after all electoral expediency is also a source of social justice and equity. and get rid of his image as virulent Hindutva's poster boy. It was announced immediately after the Supreme Court-appointed SIT gave him the so-called 'clean chit' on Zakia Jafri's plea to investigate the larger conspiracy behind the 2002 riots. But, his attempts for an image-makeover had started earlier, much to the chagrin of the Sangh Parivar. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders even called Modi Mahmud Ghazni after his government demolished illegal temple structures in the state. By the time he emerged as BJP's star campaigner in the 2009 general elections, he had already started to talk about 'better-off' condition of Muslims in Gujarat compared to other states. He publicly quoted from the Sachar Committee report to substantiate his

claims and also stress on Gujarat remaining riot-free since 2002.

BJP may field Muslim candidates this time BJP's defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls taught its leaders an important lesson that without the support of Muslims any party cannot dream of coming to power at the centre. No wonder, days after the UPA-2 took guard; Modi fielded nearly half a dozen Muslim candidates in the Junagadh civic polls for the first time. Soon after, he started meeting Muslim leaders in small groups. To make his message clearer, he appointed SS Khadwavala the state police chief, making him the first Muslim director general of police of Gujarat. Since then, he has met about half a dozen Muslim delegations to put


GUJARAT

Delimitation has changed the electoral profile of about 28 assembly constituencies with minority voters increasing substantially

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addressing a World Gujarati Conference ‘Chaalo Gujarat 2012’ held in New Jersey PHOTO : PTI

across one message: he means business and riots are a thing of the past. However, the efficacy of the message will now be decided by the voters. Narendra Modi may be forced to play the minority card in the forthcoming polls. These polls, first after the delimitation exercise, may see the saffron party fielding Muslim candidates as some of the constituencies, which were considered BJP strongholds, have become Muslimdominated. Delimitation has drastically changed the electoral profile of around 28 assembly constituencies in the state, with minority voters increasing substantially. Of these 28 assembly segments, nine constituencies, including Khadia and Sarkhej, which were considered strongholds of the saffron party, have now majority voters

belonging to the minority community. If the BJP fields Muslim candidates, it will be a first after the post-Godhra riots for which Modi is often blamed. Former DGP Shabbir S Khandwawala and former additional DGP Abullah Ibrahim Saiyed are among the prospective candidates. The ruling party did not field a single Muslim in the 2002 and 2007 polls. Even if Modi, the 62-year-old three-time CM, gets minority votes because of the so-called ‘good governance’ and development schemes undertaken by his government benefiting all communities, delimitation has certainly posed major challenges to the ruling party. Though the saffron party had fielded Muslim candidates in the municipal polls recently, the problem

with the BJP is that it does not have any ‘known faces’ from the minority community in its fold who can be fielded in the assembly elections. For Modi, a claimant for the Prime Minister’s post, the forthcoming polls are a do-or-die battle.

Congress' efforts to win over voters On the other hand, the Gujarat Congress is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to win over the people in the state ahead of the polls. Releasing a three-page document titled 'Gujarat Praja Vikas Darshan-2012', the state Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia announced sops for the unemployed youth, the IT sector, agriculture, handicrafts and tourism. Important thing is the Congress this time would not be contesting election on negative plank but on the promise of better and inclusive development of the state if the party is brought to power. The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee, in their Seventh Point on Youth and Employment stated that the Congress Government, if elected, will relax the age limit up to 35 years in government jobs, make 80 per cent employment to local residents mandatory by bringing new industrial policy, ensure the generation of 10 lakh new employment opportunities for youth, recruitment of 5 lakh youth under the Apprenticeship Act, Employment Parks in bigger towns for self-employment, 100 new ITIs, allotment of 500-100 yards plots in industrial estates for setting up small industries to the youth having acquired technical and professional qualifications and grant of subsidies to them. The Congress, which has been a beneficiary of the Muslim votes, is under pressure to field more Muslim candidates this time. Though state Congress leaders say winning seats would be the only criterion for allotting tickets, the party’s minority cell in the state is reported to have submitted a list of 14 Muslim candidates. In 2007, Congress fielded five Muslims and all of them won.< | LOKAYAT OCTOBER, 2012

43


ANDHRA PRADESH

Telangana issue has brought to the fore a clearcut division among T-Congress leaders

By S Santhanam

he pro-Telangana agitation took a violent turn on September 30 when thousands of protesters defied prohibitory orders and joined in the ‘Telangana March’. Some 25 police vehicles were reportedly damaged. Several political leaders including some Telangana Congress MPs were taken into custody when they tried to stage dharna in front of chief minister’s camp office. Telangana supporters clashed with security personnel. Violence was reported at Osmania University campus, Khairatabad and the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat area. The protesters pelted stones and tried to remove the barricades, which prompted the security personnel to lob tear gas shells. Telangana march has once again brought to the fore the clear-cut division among the T-Congress leaders on how to approach the separate state issue. While many Congress MLAs and ministers from the region stayed away from the event, only a few of them took a serious view of the ‘police highhandedness’, and threatened that they would quit their posts. Deputy chief minister Damodar Raja Narasimha and panchayati raj minister K. Jana Reddy said they will quit their posts if police repression against Tactivists continues. Several educational institutions in Telangana region, including in

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ANDHRA PRADESH Hyderabad, were closed on October 1 following a bandh call by proTelangana groups. But these agitations and protests seem to have had no effect on the authorities, either at the Centre or the state. No one seems to have a clue where the separate Telangana statehood issue is heading at the moment. It almost seemed that the pro-Telangana people were getting the right answer from politicians who matter when home minister P. Chidambaram's statement (on December 9, 2009) that the process for creation of Telangana would be initiated after a resolution in the Assembly, had raised their hopes. But the final decision has somehow eluded so far. With Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy categorically ruling out passing a resolution in the Assembly seeking creation of a separate Telangana, optimism expressed by various political groups on a solution in the near future has once again vanished.

TRS ready to merge with Congress if….! While TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao stayed put in New Delhi during the major part of September, apparently for deliberations with the Congress leaders regarding a favourable announcement by the month end, Union ministers Sushilkumar Shinde and Ghulam Nabi Azad categorically stated that nothing’s going to happen in the near future. The UPA regime may not have taken any decision on Telangana yet, but the high-level meeting convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to consider a merger offer by the KCR-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi had given a positive signal that the government could give up its hesitation on creation of new state and agree to bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. At a meeting with senior Congress leader Vyalar Ravi, TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao made a categorical offer to merge his party with the Congress if it agreed to create Telangana. Home minister Sushil

Telangana movement gathers steam as Telangana Joint Action Committee and Osmania varsity students organised a mammoth protest on Sept 30

Kumar Shinde is reported to have raised concerns about Naxal threat in a new state. The TRS countered this by saying that similar concerns were floated when Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were created but the two states have been dealing with the problem adeptly. Before the September 30 agitation, Telugu Desam Party had even given a hint that it was considering a plan to rewrite its opposition to the creation of Telangana, a move that would take out a big obstacle to a consensus on statehood and add urgency to the Congress’ brainstorming on what to do with its Andhra Pradesh conundrum ahead of the 2014 polls. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu indicated that his party now would not oppose creation of Telangana, and asked the UPA to spell out its own stand on the vexed issue. The TDP thus reversed its previous stand at the allparty meeting on Telangana in 2009: a maneuver prompted by the antiTelangana sentiments in coastal and Rayalaseema regions which was cited by Congress to defend its own backpedalling on its December 9, 2009 statement in which it had endorsed the statehood demand.

Many Congressmen threaten to leave Congress There is visible division among the Congressmen in the state over the

Telangana issue. Legislators and MPs from the coastal districts and Rayalaseema are threatening to resign if the state is bifurcated. A former minister said that in case a division of the state was inevitable, they would quit the Congress and float a new party in the name of former PM Indira Gandhi. He said there were two reasons for them to float a new outfit. “We have promised the electorate, and have been agitating for the past three years, to keep AP united. If the state is divided, there would be no meaning in continuing in the party. Secondly, Indira Gandhi was known to each and every person in the Seemandhra region as one who saved AP from being divided when the ‘Jai Telangana’ and ‘Jai Andhra’ movements came up in 1969 and 1972 respectively.” There is also a growing realisation that going with another promise of statehood for Telangana in the 2014 assembly elections will not pass muster with the electorate. Congress would have to take a call either way at the earliest. However, one is not sure whether the UPA government, embroiled in a controversy that has resulted in its very survival (thanks to Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress withdrawing support) will give the issue top priority that it deserves, under the present circumstances.<

| LOKAYAT OCTOBER, 2012

45


TAMILNADU

KUDANKULAM: ARREST THE HOOLIGANS, GET THE PEOPLE ON BOARD

Fukushima nuclear accident has energised NGOs who oppose nuclear power as their political mission. Many of their arguments are irrational; however, they have been successful to invoke fear in public who do not know about their agenda. In India it is easier to do this due to lack of understanding of the nuclear technology and various developments that have taken place to make reactors safer.

A prestigious N-power project ready to go on stream at Kudankulam, 10 km from Kanyakumari on the east coast, is sought to be scrapped by the very people who are to be the beneficiary. A sustained campaign has been going on for long against this Russian-assisted undertaking in which the central government has already sunk over Rs 20,000 crore. The massive plant will eventually have four units of 1,000 MW each; and it is the first one that is The villagers of Kudankulam, waiting for its initial load of fuel assembly. It was to be charged in December last, mostly illiterate fishermen, were but some villagers misguided by misinformed by scare-mongering ring certain NGOs having international leaders that the warm water pumped out links have been obstructing its work from the reactors would destroy fish in the through court cases, roadblocks, sea and thus their own livelihood would be satyagraha and so on. According jeopardised. What was more terrifying, in a to a Russian engineer at the site melt-down accident of the type happened a delay of each day would cause a loss of nearly Rs 100 in Japan, all men in Kanyakumari area crore! Yet the people are would be fried alive! The gullible unrelenting. fishermen were ready to fight for

their survival.

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TAMILNADU By Lokayat Correspondent

ntil a few days ago the agitation against the Russian nuclear plant at Kudankulam was fairly peaceful; about two months ago it had even been withdrawn following police action and arrest of the ring-leader S.P. Uday Kumar; but when it became known that the plant was about to be fuelled after receiving the green signal from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) as well as the Supreme Court, the villagers remounted their opposition. They barricaded access to the plant even as continuing gherao of the plant using women and children. The police tried all means to remove them, but when the crowd became extremely violent, they resorted to lathi-charge, teargassing and firing which claimed one life. Undaunted many of the villagers jumped into the sea and continued their agitation in the form of jal satyagraha --in neck-deep water. The central government and the Atomic Energy Commission had tried several times to educate and dissuade the misguided elements from the agitation but they would not be persuaded from the one-point agenda. Even the highly respected scientist like ex-President APJ Kalam who hails from an area nearby addressed the villagers’ concerns – safety of the plant—and tried to allay their fears. He explained to them various double-safety measures built into the

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sell the idea to the people before starting the project in their area. It was incumbent on the government to address their apprehensions, and ensure their acceptance. Secondly, the government is a prisoner of its old policy of secrecy in everything it does, which raises suspicion, whereas absolute transparency will win the people’s confidence hands down. Actually the secrecy in the case of N-energy is a hangover from the past when there was no distinction between civil and defence N-power plants. With the separation of these two categories following the civil nuclear agreement with the U.S., the civil N- plants came under the regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the secrecy cover became redundant. Thirdly, it is in the public domain that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Government should have Board had stipulated urgent addressed apprehensions implementation of certain safety Much of the problem is related to measures while giving permission for scientific illiteracy of the people for fuel loading. These have not been done which government does not do so far. The government has assured the anything. The result is advanced Supreme Court now that this would be science gets blocked successfully by done within two months. motivated NGOs. It was the duty of We have a long way to go on the the government to remove the shadow nuclear road. With the people with us of doubts on N-power. The this journey is difficult, without government alone is them it is impossible. responsible for Round up the fifth the current columnists by all Former scientist president state of means, but mistrust. take the APJ Abdul Kalam also explained to First, people on villagers various double-safety it did board.< measures built into the design of the plant not

design of the plant against accidents, earthquakes, tsunamis etc. They were also told that everything was being done as per the latest international safety standards taking into account even the lessons learnt from the Fukushima (Japan) accident, but the villagers would not budge from their maximalist position. The villagers, mostly illiterate fishermen, were misinformed by scaremongering ring leaders (with some hidden agenda?) that the warm water pumped out from the reactors would destroy fish in the sea and thus their own livelihood would be jeopardized. What was more terrifying, in a meltdown accident of the type happened in Japan, all men in Kanyakumari area would be fried alive! The gullible fishermen were ready to fight for their survival.

against accidents, earthquakes, tsunamis etc. They were also told that everything was being done as per the latest international safety standards taking into account even the lessons learnt from the Fukushima accident, but the indoctrinated villagers would not budge from their maximalist position.

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TAMILNADU

YAMDOOT BEHIND SPARKLING SIGHTS AND SOUNDS! By Lokayat Correspondent

he sparkling sights and sounds of Diwali thrill all of us. Apart from providing entertainment, there is a commercial side to it. For providing a fleeting pleasure to people, enormous funds are wastedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;literally burnt. A more serious drawback is that this playing with fire often claims several lives and maims much more either during manufacturing the items or while lighting them. As it happens often, innocent, indigent children and women are the victims. In this extremely hazardous work the dead is luckier than those survive death with maimed limbs, scarred and ulcerated bodies and permanent disability. They seldom receive any compensation from either respective companies or government or insurance companies, because most of them are unregistered (illegal) workers. The recent fireworks factory fire in Sivakasi, in southern Tamilnadu in which 39 lives, mostly women and children, were lost should be an eyeopener. If it were a rare occurrence it could pass. It is not. It is happening regularly, every few months with a huge toll of lives. There have been 11 accidents, big and small, in Sivakasi between July, 2005 and September, 2012. The point is, fireworks business

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brings fabulous profits, basically because it employs women and children at abysmally low wages. There is high risk but because somebody blinks, safety measures are observed mostly in their breach. Boys under 18 are not supposed to be employed in any industry, yet back door entry is common. There is a limit on the quantity of finished goods as well as chemicals for use that can be stored on the premises, but this remains only in the rule book.

that time, as per official sources. Diwali being so close work was on high gear and there could have been more workers for all we know. A preliminary inquiry shows that an accident of this magnitude was waiting to happen there. The factory had violated several safety regulations including Fire Services Rules and licensing conditions of the Petroleum Safety Organisation. Potassium chlorate is now banned in fireworks on account of its high explosive

Business of sparkling sights and sounds brings fabulous profits largely because it employs women and children at abysmally low wages. Safety rules are blatantly ignored resulting in serious accidents off and on.

For, Sivakasi is the biggest fireworks manufacturing centre in the country with over 700 units in the area alone. They meet nearly 90 percent of the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s demands. The unit which went up in a series of explosions on September 5 was the biggest of the lot. Three hundred people were working in 60 rooms at

power, but telltale evidence from the burnt site shows its use. Last year several factories were raided and penal actions taken: 29 units permanently closed, seven warehouses sealed and stocks worth several crore seized. A few of the proprietors were also arrested. But it seems to have had no impact.<


MAHARASHTRA

PAWARS FOLLOW THE THAKRE WAY Ajit Pawar appears to be in a mood of waging an all out war to seek supremacy in the party by his gimmick to resign from the deputy-chief minister’s post. He has played a big gamble. If he failed, then he will look isolated and ridiculous. Who would lead the NCP tomorrow—Ajit Pawar or Supriya Sule, the nephew and daughter of Sharad Pawar

By Kusum Varshney

s was expected Sharad Pawar finally reigned in his nephew Ajit Pawar and a vertical division of the party was averted, but the whole drama brought to the fore the widening rift between them and a succession war between Ajit and Supriya Sule, senior Pawar’s daughter and already a Lok Sabha MP. Ajit Pawar is the nephew of Sharad Pawar. ‘Dada’, as called by his supporters, Ajit may not have gathered that much courage to go Raj Thackeray’s way, but he has reasons to show to his uncle that he has become indispensable to the party and should be chosen as his political heir, which is otherwise assumed to be reserved for Pawar's daughter. But senior Pawar, a shrewd strategist and known as ‘Saheb’ among his

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supporters, finally had his way. Majority of MLAs of the party, especially young legislators pressed Ajit not to take back his resignation; Sharad Pawar never tried to persuade his nephew to do so. Instead, he told media once Ajit comes clean of the accusations after government places the white paper on the irrigation scams, he will be back in the government. A well placed source in the NCP, Ajit, who wanted to be the chief minister after 2014 state assembly elections, wanted his party to pull out of the government and provide external support to the Congress government in Maharashtra, a possibility Pawar publicly ruled out. According to the source senior Pawar earlier too wanted to cut his recalcitrant nephew, who scarcely consults his uncle in many matters, down to size, but fearing a split, he abstained. It is said, even in recent case

Ajit just informed his uncle about his decision, instead of seeking his advice. Amidst the crisis the perception is gaining ground that nomination of Sule as the president of Yashwantrao Chavan Pratisthan, a prestigious institution, was the trigger for this war of succession and made Ajit go all out against his uncle. Sources told junior Pawar’s detractors like Chhagan Bhujbal and Prafulla Patel also acted against him, fearing to become politically irrelevant once Ajit comes at the helm of affairs. Earlier, all other 19 NCP ministers in the government resigned thinking when senior Pawar is opting out of active politics, as he has already announced that he won’t fight 2014 parliamentary elections, going with Dada was the only way to remain in his good books and remain politically relevant, as most of them are handpicks of junior Pawar.<

Irrigation Scam needs to be probed any feel that the real reason behind the resignation Ajit Pawar was to put pressure on chief minister Prithviraj Chauhan who had indicated to go for a CBI inquiry into the alleged 72,000 crore irrigation scam, when Ajit Pawar headed the ministry for 10 long years from 1999 to 2009. Chavan’s clean up drive was also meant to unsettle the NCP when the government clarified that between 2000 and 2010, though Rs 42,000 crore were spent on irrigation projects but only 0.01 per cent additional land was brought under irrigation. Strangely Ajit took just three months to clear mega-projects worth Rs 32,000 crore, without the required approval from the governing council of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation.

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KARNATAKA

WITH POLLS ROUND THE CORNER, PARTIES GROPING IN THE DARK Groupism and in-fighting have forced leading political parties to redraw their strategy for the assembly elections which might be held earlier than scheduled

Mallikarjun Kharge blamed last assembly election defeat on the infighting within the party. He says this infighting continues even now.

Lingayat leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa met Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to impress upon him the need to placate Lingayat community by making him the state Congress president

By Dr Bhagya Rajeshwari Ratna

The ruling BJP and its main opponent, the Congress, are torn by infighting which will only intensify as factions battle to gain prominence in the organisation to grab maximum tickets for their members to fight the polls. On the face of it, the Congress should be able to recapture power it lost in 2004 - though it headed a coalition government with the Janata Dal-Secular in 2004-06. BJP's maiden rule in the state has been an unending story of scandals and scams. Realising that Karnataka is one state where the Congress has far better chances of

n Karnataka, the polls are due in May 2013, but all three parties vying for power in the state -- the BJP, the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular -- are gearing up for possible elections this year-end.

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coming to power, the party is pulling out all stops to gear up the cadre to accomplish the mission. However, state Congress leaders are not sure of the party being in a position to cash in on the opportunity because of lack of unity in the state unit. With most of the Congress leaders merely mouthing that the state unit is united to face the polls, union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has chosen to be blunt to drive home the bitter truth. Kharge recently conceded that infighting hit the party in the 2008 assembly elections. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our own party leaders worked against official candidates,'' he lamented. He should know as he was then the president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). The Congress won just 81 seats in the 225-member assembly, of which 224 are elected and one is nominated. The BJP won 110 seats and formed the government with the help of six independents. The JDS had bagged the remaining 27 seats. Playing the caste card, Lingayat leaders in the Congress want their own ilk to head the KPCC on the ground that this community, making about 17 percent of state's 65 million population, is largely backing the BJP because it is feeling neglected by the Congress. State party treasurer and veteran state Congress leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa, who is a Lingayat, has met Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to seek the KPCC chief's post for himself. The bait the Lingayat leaders have held out for the Congress leadership is that if Shivashankarappa helms the state unit the party will win 150 seats in the polls. Parameshwara, the present KPCC chief, is, like Kharge, a Dalit.

BJP too is a badly divided house The position of the ruling BJP is no better. Like the Congress, the BJP is a badly divided house with even the worst drought the state is facing in 40


KARNATAKA years being used by its leaders to score over rivals in the state unit. As many as three chief ministers in four years to rule Karnataka is hardly a model of stability. The BJP has to realise (if it hasn't so far) that there’s a huge difference between capturing office and actually running it successfully. This is perhaps the BJP’s singular failure in the state. The BJP's first chief minister in the state, B.S. Yeddyurappa, who quit last July over mining bribery charges, leads

Congress and BJP still favour playing the caste card, like in the past, to attract voters towards them

one group. The other is led by D.V. Sadananda Gowda who lost the chief ministership within a year of assuming it because of a rebellion by Yeddyurappa. Then, there are smaller groups owing allegiance to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, two deputy chief ministers, K.S. Eshwarappa and R. Ashoka, and another faction made up of legislators who were not made ministers. BJP leader L.K. Advani's honest assessment of his party's scandalous rule in Karnataka came as a bitter pill to swallow for many of his colleagues in the state. The former deputy prime minister acknowledged that the party had bungled the first opportunity it got in southern India to showcase its ability to provide good governance. In spite of the infighting and Yeddyurappa and around 20 others legislators, including some ministers, facing corruption cases, Eshwarappa,

Governor ready to become a jamadaar he Bangalore city corporation has woken up now and made waste segregation at source mandatory from October 1. This decision has come in the wake of a stern warning by the state Governor, H R Bhardwaj, who took a potshot at the city corporation for its gross negligence in clearing the piled up garbage. Mr Bhardwaj offered to clear the waste himself after his requests fell on deaf ears of the BJP-ruled civic body. He chided administrators that even if they didn’t do anything else at least The governor H R Bhardwaj who was so peeved at the they should remove garbage strewn all around in Bangalore that he declared he himself would go out to clean the garbage… the garbage. A national policy for solid waste management, framed by a Supreme Court appointed committee, has remained on paper. It is not just Bangalore but most Indian metros need proper and serious waste management panels.<

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who is also state BJP chief, claims the party will win 150 seats in the coming polls. He acknowledged that the party had committed a mistake by depending on caste and money power to form the government four years ago. He blamed these legislators for spreading factionalism in the state unit and said "if they do not correct themselves, they will not get tickets this time." The need to keep various factions happy has forced the party to form three groups to visit the drought-affected areas following Yeddyurappa's decision to go on such a tour last month. This

was seen by his rivals as a move to project himself as the sole leader of the party in the state. To counter the move, the party formed two more teams - one under Sadananda Gowda and the other under BJP general secretary and Bangalore South Lok Sabha member H.N. Ananth Kumar. The present chief minister, Jagadish Shettar has already proved that he’s a strong vote-getter and holds the Lingayat community together. That ultimately is what matters in electoral politics.<

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51


KERALA

KERALA POLITICS MAY ENTER A NEW TURBULENT PHASE Communalism flourishes when political forces to tackle communalism become feeble, it is not a law and order problem. But political parties are dysfunctional for want of people’s support or on account of internecine war. Kerala is a typical case of a political bankruptcy. Communal pressures are increasing there and the chief minister Oomen Chandy is succumbing to them.

Maha-Hindu venture in Kerala he initiative for the maha- ‘Hindu’ venture in Kerala is taken by Vellappally Natesan, a Machiavellian leader who is the general secretary of the massive SNDP Yogam that has its presence all over the state. Natesan has been in that hot seat for several years now and he brooks no challenge to his leadership. A few months ago Natesan got his son Tushar Vellappally installed as his virtual heirapparent and thus indicated his intention to keep the Yogam as his family’s pocket borough. The Sr. Vellappally is not a politician in the conventional sense but he does nothing other than politicking. He made his substantial pile from toddy (a liquor made from coconut tree) business. Though Narayana Guru had forbidden Ezhavas from making or drinking the liquor, Natesan who has earned the sobriquet ‘toddy king’, is unfazed about his business. To further his ambition he first thought of floating

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KERALA

By VSP Kurup

rime Minister Manmohan Singh has broken his long spell of silence to warn the people of the dangers posed by the hydra of communalism raising its ugly heads in some states. The appalling debris of parliamentary democracy weighing on his mind, but never mentioning the mushrooms of corruption or their causes, he chose to speak on communal fires being lit around the country, obviously hinting at the Bharatiya Janata Party. Addressing a conference of top police brass, he asked them to be vigilant against these disruptive forces getting active in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. It would be foolhardy to think so. For, communalism is not a law and order problem to leave to the police to deal with. It has growing political links and has to be fought politically. In fact, communalism raises its head when political forces get feeble. And only in a political vacuum can it flourish. It follows that by energising political parties alone can communal forces be kept in check. But in all the states mentioned by the PM most political

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parties are in a state of dysfunction either for want of people’s support or on account of internecine war. Kerala is a typical case of prevailing political bankruptcy. The CPI (M), leading the Left Democratic Front, is facing the most severe existential crisis in its history! Even as a running battle is going on between the CPI and the CPI (M) on the latter’s free use of murder as an easy way of dealing with dissidents and opponents, several top functionaries of the party are in jail or are facing imminent arrests on murder charges. Besides, the CPI (M) is riven by rampant factionalism, mistrust and personal rivalries. The Congress is in no better condition. Though it is supposed to be leading the ruling United Democratic Front, it is actually tailing it. Because six or seven Congress factions claim

Now the IUML is back with another demand: it wants some concessions to private school managements in the Muslimdominated Malappuram district. If the CM succumbs to the pressure again it will open the Pandora ’s Box for him.

top party offices, it is unable to hold overdue organisational elections for several months now. In the UDF minor constituents are calling the shots. The second biggest component wielding real power in the UDF is the Indian

a political wing to SNDP Yogam, but gave up the idea as it would not have the necessary mass appeal to take on the entrenched Congress and the mighty CPI (M). What was needed was a more broad-based, less partisan-looking outfit that would be invincible. It is to accomplish this plan that he seeks an alliance with the NSS of which present leadership, Natesan thinks, is weak and pliable. The NSS, of course, has been unhappy with the Congress-led UDF on account of its perceived neglect of the community. So, despite being suspicious of Natesan’s intentions, NSS General Secretary Sukumaran Nair responded positively to his advances. Fearing that the joint front should not gravitate towards the NSS, Natesan cleverly tried to bring in other Hindu communities to give the set up a pan-Hindu character. This plan has not taken off as yet.<

Union Muslim League (IUML). At the formation of the present ministry it bargained and got four important portfolios. Not content with the bonanza, it later extracted another ministerial position and gifted it to a wealthy CPI (M) traitor who joined the IUML. This yielding to communal pressure has not gone well with other coalition partners who themselves had many unfulfilled demands. For instance, the Kerala Congress (Mani group), which has been claiming in vain an extra ministerial berth, felt offended at the discrimination. Chief minister Oommen Chandy, surviving on wafer-thin majority in the Assembly—hence the ugly power play--, is helpless because the AICC has put a limit on the size of the cabinet. Now the IUML is back with another demand: it wants some concessions to private school managements in the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district. If the CM succumbs to the pressure again it will open the Pandora ’s Box for him. In fact, troubles have already started. Two major Hindu caste organizations— Nair Service Society (NSS) and Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam—have suddenly realised that despite constituting the large majority in the state, their needs and aspirations were being ignored by the UDF government. What was more galling, the Christians and Muslims were cornering all the goodies like quotas in jobs, real estate allotments, new professional colleges and so on. Since neither could alone influence the government, they thought of joining hands. Whether this third attempt at forming a Nair-Ezhava political front will fare better than the previous ones will be watched with much interest because some of their objectives have inherent seeds of conflict. Leaders on both sides are aware of these. Apparently some of these problems have been sorted out and a minimum programme agreed upon. If they are able to proceed smoothly, Kerala politics will be entering a new turbulent phase. <

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CAMPUS

FIRST TRIBAL UNIVERSITY

Founding vice chancellor of Indira Gandhi Tribal University, Prof CD Singh

By Umanath

ndira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak is the first tribal university in the country. This aims to provide avenues of higher education and research facility primarily to the tribal youth and bring them into the academic mainstream. In the current academic session the university has 789 tribal students (47.27%) out of the total 1669 students. This tribal strength is much higher than what the reservation policy of the state government wants to achieve. This shows that the university is immensely popular among tribals. The executive council of the university has recently resolved to provide for 50 percent reservation to tribals in admissions and appointments. The university started with both traditional and professional courses like BBA, BCA, Tourism, Journalism and Mass Communication etc. Its future plans are ambitious as it wants to start new courses like 5-Year integrated B.A.B.Ed., B.Sc.-B. Ed., 5-Year integrated LLB, Pharmacy, MBA, MCA, M.Sc. (Biotechnology) shortly. It wants to open a 500-bed hospital and tribal medical college also and the proposal for the same has been sent to the

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Late Arjun Singh who as the union HRD minister thought of opening a university for tribals

planning commission to include it in the 12th plan. The University also intends to start Agricultural Engineering course within next five years. The task of founding and shaping up the university

into a centre of higher learning that can also fulfill special needs of the tribal community of the country befell on the shoulders of Prof CD Singh, the founding vice chancellor.


CAMPUS

SHAPES UP Here are excerpts of a brief interview with him: Tribals have certain specific personality traits due to their different socio-economic-cultural background. How do you take care of their sensitivities and specific requirements? The tribal students are generally shy in nature. They hardly speak out their problems to anyone. Therefore, it becomes difficult to know and solve their problems. The university has constituted a preparatory faculty in view of their specific problems related to language skills, both English and Hindi, as well as of poor grasp of basic science so that they can cope with future burden of difficult courses. One major problem of the children of this area is that they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get good

their number is now increasing every year.

schooling; therefore the university on its own has planned to open a model school.

What are the enrolment and dropout rates of the tribals? The ratio of the tribal students is around 50 percent. The dropout rate is minimal, that is also because of some students getting admission to professional courses in other institutes. Are non-tribals also allowed to join the university?

The basic problem of providing higher education to tribal students is not an easy task as they have not been exposed to good schooling. Their language skill and grasp of science is poor. Special arrangements have been made to solve this problem.

Yes, non-tribals are also allowed to join the university as it is open to all classes, castes and creed. If I talk of this current session of 2012-13, 10.84 percent students belong to SC, 24.68 percent students belong to OBC and 17.08 percent students come from the general category. What special courses and curriculum do you have which a normal or general university doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have for tribals? The university since beginning had traditional, professional and vocational courses. The traditional courses were introduced to provide a platform to socio-economically backward students and to make them competent for various competitive exams for entry in jobs and higher studies. Side by side we have some job oriented professional courses. Now the university has a plan to start the vocational courses which will facilitate students in selfemployment. In the beginning, tribal students were few in professional courses, but it is heartening to note that

What about your expansion plans? You had planned to set up its offshoots in different regions or states having large tribal population, what is the progress on that front?

Already a regional campus at Imphal (Manipur) has been established in 2009. Two more regional campuses have been proposedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;one at Bhairabakunda of Assam and other at Chintapalli near Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. The Govt. of Odisha, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Maharashtra have submitted their proposals for opening of regional campuses. What else? Amarkantak being situated in the remote location medical facility is not available in the nearby and adjoining areas. Medical facilities can be availed only from as distant locations as Jabalpur, 250kms from here, Rewa, 270 kms, Ranchi, 580 kms and Bilaspur 140 kms. We have planned therefore to open a 500-bed hospital attached with a medical college that will not only provide much needed medical facilities but also improve the average life, which is at present around 55 years in this area. The curricula of tribal medical college will not only provide the education and practice of allopathic system but also cover traditional tribal medicines. How will you describe the progress

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CAMPUS hope that condition of the road will soon improve. Then medical facilities are not available. We also find that the students that come here havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t got good schooling. And finally, but not the least, there is a problem of residential facility for our own faculty members. Suitable residential facilities are not available at Amarkantak and nearby towns. Then how will you solve these problems?

There are infrastructure related problems in the areas which has bad roads and no transport facility. There is also total absence of medical facilities. Proper accommodation for staff also was not available. Every solution was provided by the university.

made so far? See from where we started. The classes of the university started at Kalyan Sewa Ashram and Trainingâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;Cumâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;Production Centre, Amarkantak. The university started promptly the construction of its own campus some two and half years ago and now all the classes are held in our own campus. The university has today 5 academic blocks with 26 class rooms, 8 laboratories, 3 computer laboratories, 1 language laboratory, 1 seminar hall, 1 enriched library, 2 hostels for boys and girls with the capacity of 200 each, canteen, space for a bank and postoffice. The construction of permanent building is in the process, 100 staff quarters of pre-fab structure are nearly complete and are ready for possession. The work on a six and a half km long boundary wall and 6-lane road has been completed.

were controversies due to bureaucratic delays and meddling of local politics. We overcame all hurdles, the government allotted 370 acres land for the university campus on February 26, 2010; later the land for link-road was also allotted to us. The Congress says that the university was conceptualised by Arjun Singh when he was the HRD minister at the centre, but now BJP wants to take full credit? Yes, it is true that university was established when Sh Arjun Singh was the HRD minister. The foundation stone of the university was laid by him on April 19, 2008 with an aim to provide new direction to the youth in tribal areas and extending opportunities of higher education to the students coming from various tribes. Any challenges?

Sir, sometime in 2008, you were asked-where you would stay in Amarkantak and your answer was -------a tent. Has that situation changed? Of course, I had said that I will stay in a tent if no residence will be available at Amarkantak. However, Nagar Panchayat, Amarkantak has provided me a bungalow, which was not in good condition. The university has renovated it into a good shape. There

Yes, various types of challenges. Transportation for the students is a big problem. Most of the students are local and from nearby regions, but there is no transportation facility available in the area. There is a problem of connecting roads. The university is situated on Podki-Pendra road, which is mostly broken and in a very bad shape. We are regularly approaching to the government of MP and Chhattisgarh to improve the road. I

We are trying our level best. The university has hired buses and transportation is provided free of cost to students from Amarkantak to the campus and back. Executive council has approved the running of buses from Pendra Road and Rajendragram on minimal fare. For getting roads repaired we have approached the governments of MP and Chhattisgarh; I hope that condition of roads will improve. We have appointed one doctor and support staff. We have planned to open a model school, which will cater to the needs of the students of the Amarkantak and nearby area. To provide residential accommodation to our staff we have constructed 100 quarters with pre-fab structures, construction is nearly complete and quarters are almost ready for possession. This is a new university--are students turning up in large numbers or seats remain vacant? Some seats do remain vacant. This is due to lack of hostel facility. So most of the students are only local, outstation candidates do not take admission due to lack of hostel facility. What about faculty? UGC has sanctioned a total of 198 teaching posts for Amarkantak and 30 posts for its regional campus and guided us to fill only 25 percent posts in the first phase and 40 percent in the second phase. We are keen to fill the vacant posts at the earliest and vacant posts have been advertised once again. At present the teacher-student ratio is 1:17.<

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CAMPUS

EDUCATION FACILITIES TO By Koomitara

o consolidate his Muslim votebank, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar now plans to appoint 27,000 Urdu teachers in primary schools of the state, in addition to the existing 23,663. Running his government in coalition with the BJP, Kumarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worry is how to attract minorities amidst fierce competition from the RJD, Congress and LJP. He has

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with the BJP and move on his own so as to register a strong presence in the 2014 parliamentary elections and keep his prospects strong for the prime ministership in the event of a fractious verdict. Nitish so far had his support base among the poorer Muslims and so-called mahadalits (the most deprived class among the poor), but majority of upper castes, who once backed him owing to their annoyance with Lalu Prasad Yadav, are now disillusioned

A vote bank can be created by doing sincere work for disadvantaged communities. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is trying this approach out by providing educational facilities to Muslims.

also a plan ready to go it alone in Bihar in case disagreement on Modi as prime minister leads to parting of ways. Political analysts believe that once Kumar is convinced that he has majority of Muslims by his side, which is not the case at present, he can dispense

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with him too and are in search of a new political ally. His repeated public utterances against Narendra Modi have no doubt endeared him to Muslims but this would be useless if he does not do something really visible and meaningful for the community. So, going for something tangible makes sense. The biggest problem of the Muslim community is illiteracy. The dropout rate among Muslim students is alarming; it can be reversed only by giving them education in their preferred language. Urdu is the second official language of the state; therefore it is only reasonable to have Urdu teachers on the lines of Hindi, English and Sanskrit teachers, especially in primary


CAMPUS

MUSLIMS IS BENIGN POLITICS Urdu is the second official language of the state; it is only fair, therefore, to have Urdu teachers on par with Hindi, English and Sanskrit teachers, especially in primary schools. The idea is to encourage Muslim students to go to general schools, as ultimately they have to compete with those coming from different backgrounds.

schools. The idea is to encourage Muslim students to go to general schools, as ultimately they have to compete with those coming from different backgrounds. In the past Nitish took several meaningful measures, like Mukhyamantri Alpasankhayak Rojgar Rin Yojana (loan scheme) and Mukhyamantri Alpasankhayak Shiksha Rin Yojana. The government also

started specialised schools—Talimi Markaj. Provision for modern education in madarsas and intensifying coaching facilities for minority students preparing for competitive exams have also drawn the community’s attention. The government has promised all possible help for the establishment of a special centre of Aligarh Muslim University in Kishanganj district, besides giving nod to provide land and

buildings to Maulana Mazharul Haque Arabic & Persian University. The state government has also decided to extend the ‘Hunar’, ‘Auzar’ and ‘Talimi Markaz’ (adult education centre) programmes to more areas. Last year, the government had decided to provide subsidy to 2,460 unrecognised madarsas and promised them recognition in a phased manner to make them eligible for government grants.<

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SCIENCE

FUTURE THERAPIES TO USE FRIENDLY BACTERIA By Bodhi Sri

ur perception about bacteria has changed in the light of recent research. Some of them cause countless diseases, while an equally large number build and sustain our health. In fact human health is dependent on trillions of bacteria that live in our body and work for us. There are over 100 trillions of them in our gut alone. Trillions live in our skin, mouth, lungs, genital tract and the many cavities of our body. Research in this area that started in 2005 is widening its scope as the realisation grows that body functions are not dependent on the 23,000 genes in our cells alone but also on three million genes that control the life of these microbes in our body. The discoveries related to microbes are going to change our perception of these bugs all together. So far these microscopic creatures had been considered enemies that made us sick and our efforts so far were to destroy them with weapons like antibiotics. But scientists now assume that to a large extent our health is dependent on these bacteria which prepare a congenial ecosystem in our body. Just as the genetic make of each person differs in many ways, the bacteria-based ecosystem of each individual is also different. Accordingly an insight into human health requires a fresh understanding of these genes also, not just the human genes. The 20th century gave us the concept of germ theory of diseases

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We are generally afraid of ‘bacteria’ but seldom aware that trillions of them live in our body and slave for us. Scientists are busy figuring out how much our health depends on them....

and scientists did discover numerous viruses, bacteria and parasites which caused a large number of diseases. They also spent a fortune in search of ways to kill them. The fear of microbes is so deep that doctors advise us to wash hands many times during the day with soap and clean water. Many fear to shake hands for fear of acquiring harmful bacteria from others. Thousands of products are advertised on the net promising to save you from various kinds of bacteria on your laptop and pillow. We see TV ads galore exhorting us to use certain brands of toothpaste and mouthwash –all feeding on this fear. But the new understanding of the bacterial synergy would totally change our perception and evolve new methods of dealing with diseases. Current scientific knowledge says bacteria can cause diseases under certain conditions; for example, the TB bacterium is always present in the air but only those who have very weak immunity get infected. Science has not only discovered antibiotics to kill bacteria but also vitamins and enzymes which build up resistance against bacterial attacks. Some of these chemicals are made by microbes in our body but often they need to be supplemented or the process has to be augmented to get the desired result. Scientists suspect that a disruption in the eco-system of bacteria, or ‘microbiome’, leads to health problems. Therefore, future therapies might revolve round strategies to maintain a balance of the microbiome or modify it to increase population of friendly bacteria.<

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HEALTH IS WEALTH

WHY SUFFER PAIN IN OLD AGE! TAKE MEASURES EARLY TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM OSTEOARTHRITIS By Neeta Jain

steoarthritis is the most common joint disorder, which develops due to aging and wear and tear on a joint. In most cases cartilage is affected. Cartilage is the firm, rubbery tissue that cushions the bones at the joints, and allows bones to glide over one another. If the cartilage breaks down and wears away, the bones rub together. This causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. In other cases bony spurs or extra bone may form around the joint, or the ligaments and muscles around the joint become weaker and stiffer. Although the Osteoarthritis is related to age, sometimes the symptoms appear early due to fractures or joint injuries. The statistics show that men and women are equally affected before the age of 55, but after this age, women are more prone. Being overweight increases the risk because extra weight causes more wear and tear. Jobs that involve kneeling or squatting for more than an hour a day put you at the highest risk. Jobs that involve lifting, climbing stairs, or walking also put you at risk. Playing sports that involve direct impact on the joint (such as football), twisting (such as basketball or soccer), or throwing also increase the risk of osteoarthritis. No blood tests are helpful in

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Pain in knees while walking or getting up is a common experience in old age. Sometimes you feel a knocking sound from your joints, be it your knee or shoulder. You are not able to lift your arm beyond a certain point? You suspect it to be a case of Arthritis. And you are right.

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Arthritis literally means â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;joint inflammationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. It can affect anyone at any age, including children. The incidence of arthritis increases with age, but nearly 3 out of 5 people with arthritis are under age 65.

diagnosing OA. An x-ray of affected joints will show a loss of the joint space.

Surgery to replace damaged joints Staying active and getting exercise helps maintain joint and overall movement. It is best to consult a doctor to recommend an appropriate home exercise routine. It is also recommended to apply heat and cold compresses alternatively. If your work is causing stress in certain joints, you may need to adjust your work area or change work tasks. Physical therapy can help improve muscle strength and the motion of stiff joints, as well as your sense of balance. Massage therapy may also help provide short-term pain relief. Make sure you work with an experienced massage therapist who understands how to work with sensitive joint areas.


HEALTH IS WEALTH

Severe cases of osteoarthritis might need surgery to replace or repair damaged joints. Surgical options include arthroscopic surgery to trim torn and damaged cartilage, changing the alignment of a bone to relieve stress on the bone or joint, surgical fusion of bones, usually in the spine or total or partial replacement of the damaged joint with an artificial joint, eg knee replacement, hip joint replacement etc.

Prevention possible It is wisely said that ‘prevention is better than cure’ and one has to start early. Detoxification, stress reduction and proper diet are all important. Eating a well balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids is recommended. It’s a good idea to increase complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Cold water fish apart pine-nuts (chilgoje), olive oil and flex seeds (Alsi ke beej) are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid saturated fats like ghee and transfats like hydrogenated ghee. Boron-rich foods include alfalfa, lettuce, peas, cabbage, apples, dates, prunes, raisins, almonds and hazelnuts are especially useful. The Rheumatoid Disease Foundation suggests the use of boron to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis. Boron apparently plays a role in the retention of calcium and also positively stimulates hormonal factors for both men and women, contributing to healthy bones. In a recent epidemiological study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism reports that antioxidants can reduce progression of osteoarthritis in the knees substantially. Vitamin C has been found most effective. It reduced cartilage loss, followed by beta carotene and vitamin E.

Calcium and Vitamin D also have a role

Osteoarthritis cannot be cured. It will most likely get worse over time. However, your osteoarthritis symptoms can be controlled. You can have surgery, but other treatments can improve your pain and make your life much better. Although these treatments cannot make the arthritis go away, they can often delay surgery.

avoided. Low vitamin D level is also a big reason for knee pain and difficulty in walking. Vitamin D promotes absorption of calcium and phosphorus required for bone strength, growth, and repair. Elderly are less efficient at producing vitamin D from sunlight and absorbing it from food. Requisite level of vitamin D gives muscle strength and physical function. The main function of Vitamin D is to maintain blood calcium in the normal range, largely by regulating intestinal absorption from the food we eat. The only natural food sources are cod liver oil and some fatty fish but unless you are eating them two or

Turmeric is universally accepted in India for muscle and ligament injury and is also found helpful in treating joint pains. A teaspoon of turmeric powder taken with a glass of milk is said to reduce the pain. Also soaked fenugreek seeds (methidana) taken early in the morning reduces inflammation and pain.

Calcium is essential for bone, joint, muscle and ligament health, while magnesium is necessary for calcium’s proper incorporation into bone, by preventing a buildup of calcium into soft tissues and joints. Most people though consume too much calcium and not enough magnesium. Therefore self medication is to be

three times a week, you are not getting enough vitamin D. In a country like India where people are mostly vegetarian, the deficiency is much higher. Also, though sun is abundant, a recent study shows that most Indians are vitamin D deficient, because of very less exposure to Sun.<

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COOKERY By Our Food Critic

ith heavy rains lashing Delhi last month and roads choked by traffic jams I decided to spend the weekend at home and go on a gastronomical tour. The name that came foremost to my mind was Hyderabad. The over 400 years old culinary history of Hyderabad is unmatched by any other state in India. Hyderabadi cuisine is a princely legacy of the Nizams of Hyderabad. The cuisine emphasises the use of ingredients that are carefully chosen and cooked to the right degree and time. The key flavours of coconut, tamarind, peanuts and sesame seeds are extensively used. Of all the Muslim cuisine, Hyderabadi is the only cuisine the sub continent can boast of a major vegetarian element. This has much to do with the local influence. So out of the huge list of vegetarian cuisine one dish that caught my attention was the famous Mirchi Ka Salan. So looking at the dull weather outside I thought of spicing up the Sunday by cooking this famous dish. This dish is easy to prepare and has a refreshingly pleasing taste. Nutritious and deeply satisfying, that is what Mirchi ka Salan is in nutshell. Moreover, it is easy to cook and takes little time which is suitable for our fast paced life style.

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MIRCHI KA SALAN

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INGREDIENTS

 Green chillies (large): 18-20;  Oil: 2tbsps( preferably mustard oil);  Onion: 1medium sized;  Ginger: 1 inch piece  Garlic: 6-8 cloves;  Curry leaves: 8-10;  Sesame seeds: 2tblsps;  Coriander seeds:1 tblsp,  Cumin seeds:1 tblsp,  Roasted peanut: 1/2 cup,  Red chillies whole: 2,  Mustard seeds: 1 tblsp;  Turmeric powder: 1 tblsp,  Tamarind pulp: 2 tblsp and salt to taste.

Method: Wash, wipe and slit green chillies lengthwise without cutting the chillies into two. Heat sufficient oil in kadai and deep fry the chillies for one minute. Remove on a paper towel and keep aside. Peel, wash and grate onion. Peel and wash ginger and garlic and roughly chop. Wash curry leaves and pat dry. Dry roast sesame seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Make a paste of roasted sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chillies, ginger and garlic. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, let it crackle and add curry leaves. Add grated onion. Saute until onion is light golden brown. Make sure to stir continuously. Add turmeric powder and mix well. Add masala paste and cook for three minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in one and a half cups of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for ten minutes. Add tamarind pulp (dissolved in half a cup of water, if it is too thick) Add fried green chillies and salt and cook on a low heat for a few minutes.<

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REGIONAL FILMS

RAKHEE IN A BENGALI FILM

he southern siren Shriya Saran has gone topless for the popular men’s magazine, Maxim. The glam doll is also seen sporting lingerie costumes. The pretty actress has supposedly taken this move to draw attention from the north, where the magazine is more famous. The actress also stars in Zilla Ghaziabad, which is awaiting its release. Presently the actress is busy shooting for her Tamil-Kannada bilingual Chandra, starring Ganesh Venkatraman, Prem Kumar, Sukanya, Vivek and Sumithra.<

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SHRIYA GOES STORY OF A WILD ELEPHANT yna fame Prabhu Solomon’s next film Kumki, starring Vikram Prabhu, Lakshmi Menon and Thambi Ramaiah is expected soon. But the question on everybody’s mind is not the release date, but what exactly is Kumki. Kumki is a well trained elephant that can lead wild elephants to do what the keeper wants them to do. Kumki elephants are not tame elephants. These elephants are used to train other wild elephants and keep them away from human settlements. This film is about the love story of a keeper of one such Kumki elephant.<

M autam Haldar introduced Vidya Balan in her first ever feature film Bhalo Theko. The film did not do well commercially but it was a lyrical, understated film that explored relationships in a different way. After a long hiatus filled with serious theatre, Haldar strikes back with Mukti which features Bollywood veteran Rakhee Gulzar in the main role. It is based on noted novelist Moti Nandy’s Bijolibalar Mukti. The name of the film has been abbreviated to Mukti. “The story is centered on Mukti, a Brahmin widow who is about 70 years old and enjoys a healthy rapport with people, especially women of varying ages within the neighbourhood,” said Rakhee.<

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REGIONAL FILMS

MANI RATNAM'S KADAL IS READY

TOPLESS

ani Ratnam is on the verge of wrapping up his upcoming romantic Tamil film, Kadal (ocean) starring Gautham Karthik and Thulasi Nair in the lead. It has taken the director just 70-odd days to complete the shoot for the film. The team has shot the film in the coastal areas of Manapad, Andaman and Kerala.

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The film also stars Arjun, Arvind Swamy, Lakshmi Manchu, Ponvannan, Pasupathy and Thambi Ramaiah in character roles. AR Rahman has already completed the songs for the film and under the cinematography of Rajiv Menon and editing of Sreekar Prasad the film is shaping up at a drastic pace.<

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INTERVIEW

AN ACTOR’S LIFE ISN’T JUST ABOUT GLAMOUR: VARUN DHAWAN Varun Dhawan, the second son of David Dhawan, who is making his debut with Karan Johar’s STUDENT OF THE YEAR lays bare his heart to Jyothi Venkatesh and vows that like his father, he also wants to be a self made man in Bollywood.

t 25, confident that he will sail through as an actor, Varun Dhawan, who bears a very striking resemblance to the popular Marathi star Aniket Vishwasrao, is practical to the core. When I met him for this interview at the office of Dharma

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Productions, at the outset, Varun confessed that it was always acting that he had craved for, having been brought up in a film family. “However, till I was trained in acting for two years from Barry John, when he shifted from New Delhi and set up his acting school in Mumbai, I did not know how difficult it would be as

an actor, because an actor’s life isn’t just about glamour.” Varun went through the grind by being part of several plays that Barry conducted as part of his acting curriculum. “Barry Sir knew that I wanted to act in films eventually and hence he encouraged me a lot to be well versed in not only acting but


INTERVIEW also dancing and body building by going to gym. I learnt street jazz from Shiamak Davar and dancing from Sanjay Yadav. It was sweet on the part of Prashant to offer me to teach me gym training, without taking even a paisa from me”. Why didn’t you prefer to be launched by your father David Dhawan? I ask him point blank and Varun is honest enough to confess that he did not want to work with his father, because he would not have been able to in that case to learn from him.

“My dad has to his credit as many as 40 films but unlike Karan Johar or Yashji who launch new faces, he hasn’t launched even one single new face. I am glad I am making my debut with Karan Johar’s film. Dad and Karan do not even know each other socially because both their schools of films are different. Dad was happy when I told him that I had joined Karan’s unit as an A.D” Varun is practical and insists that Cinema is no one’s birthright and he has come up his own way without piggybacking on his father’s brand name. I am proud of being the son of David Dhawan, who is a self made man. As his son, I can go to any

producer’s office, get a cup of coffee but I will not bag a film, just because I am his son”. After doing his Business Administration at Nottingham, Varun came to India, became an A.D and then started learning from Barry John and directed three short films. “I showed to Karan the short film ADRENCHROME, in which I had acted. He liked it and asked me to audition for STUDENT OF THE YEAR, which he was planning to direct himself. To prepare me and

Sidharth Malhotra, Karan even sent us to Pineapple School of Dancing in London. Varun plays the role of Rohan Nanda in STUDENT OF THE YEAR. “Rohan is rebellious. Ram Kapoor and his real life wife Gautami play my parents in the film. Rohan does exactly the opposite of what his father wants him to do, because he wants to start his own metallic band. The film is more about friendship and not at all a love triangle. Varun hates make up because

As the son of David Dhawan, I can go to any producer’s office, get a cup of coffee but I will not bag a film, just because I am his son.

though he is an actor, he finds the process very boring. “I feel that it is very taxing to portray and project emotions on the screen. I also feel that the working hours for an actor are crazy but then at the end of the day, I feel that acting is worth it”, he exults. Like his father and brother, Varun does not nurse any desire to turn a director of a feature film. Instead he asserts that in future he would like to direct short films and documentaries, because he feels that there is a lot of freedom in gorilla kind of shooting. Right now he is happy being directed by others but when he feels that he is at that level, he would like to mould actors, as a director.<

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BOLLYWOOD

FIRST LADY OF

INDIAN CINEMA By Suresh Uniyal

here was a time when cinema was considered an odious medium. People were not ready to allow their women folk to act in films. When Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, popularly known as Dada Saheb Phalke was in search of a heroine for his first film, Rajah Harischandra, the first full-length feature film of Indian Cinema, he could not find any. No woman would think of acting in a film. What to say of elite families, even a courtesan was not willing. When coming back, Phalke saw a young man Salunke with slender features and hands. Phalke offered him the role of heroine Taramati and he agreed to be part of the team. Later in one of Phalke’s films Lanka Dahan, Salunke played both, Rama and Sita. It was while making Phalke’s second film Bhasmasur Mohini when he was successful in getting a lady from elite society to play the heroine. She was Kamalabai Gokhale. According to film historian and critic Shriram Tamrakar, Kamalabai Gokhale was a talented actress. At the age of five she was on the stage as a child artiste. When she was 13, she was married to Raghunath Rao, her co-actor on stage. Unfortunately Raghunath Rao died when Kamalabai was only 24. She was the only earning member of the family. There was not much income from the theatre. Out of acute necessity she had to seek a job in films. It was a new medium. But because of the confidence she acquired on stage Dada Saheb Phalke was able to cast her not only as Mohini but also as Vishnu -- a double role. It was normal practice in Marathi Theatre. She had already played many male roles on stage. And that was how she became the First Lady of Indian Cinema. It was the year 1912. During the shooting, Phalke took care of everyone of the unit like a member of his family. Very soon Kamalabai was popular in the unit. Phalke treated her like his daughter. When the film was released, Phalke invited her to Bombay but she could not go. Her role was appreciated widely. After Bhasmasur Mohini, Kamalabai also had a role in Phalke’s next film Kalia Mardan. But after that she left films for theatre which was her first love. Two decades later she returned to silver screen and played an important role in Vishram Bedekar’s film Kangaal in 1938. Kamalabai had three sons, Lalji, Chandrakant and Suryakant. Chandrakant was a wellknown actor in Marathi Theatre. Chandrakant’s son Vikram Gokhale started as theatre actor and then joined films. Hindi film viewers might remember him as Ashwarya’s father in Vinod Chopra’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. He was a co-star of Amitabh Bachchan in Agnipath. Kamalabai spent her evening years in Pune. She received a national award for her role in a Marathi cinema. (Courtesy: Shriram Tamrakar’s recent book Beete kal ke Sitare).<

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HOLLYWOOD

SPIELBERG’S ANIMATED FILM ON

RAMAYANA

By Meera Singh

ndia's epics Ramayana and Mahabharata have been two of the most favourite subjects of film-makers worldwide.Several films in almost all languages have been made on the subjects in the past. Even the world famous American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur Steven Spielberg has been attracted towards the subject of Ramayana. He is presently working on an animated version of the Ramayana. To avoid any religious aggravation at the time of the release of Hollywood version of Ramayana, American Hindus have asked filmmaker Steven Spielberg and his partners at Dream Works to consult experts of the sacred Hindu epic to tell a correct story in the animated film. America's Hindu leaders are apprehensive that the Hollywood version of their ancient tale can create religious turmoil if the Hollywood project isn't handled correctly. “Ramayana is a highly revered scripture of Hinduism and the film should stay true to the story and the spirit of Ramayana. Insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes results in the pillaging of some serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols,” Hindu leader Rajan Zed. He added, “We would urge the filmmakers to be sensitive towards our faith and traditions and carefully handle Hindu concepts and terminology. If Dream Works Animation or their associates in this film needed any expertise on Hinduism related issues, I would gladly provide the resources.” In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as archetypes of modern Hollywood blockbuster film making. Spielberg won the Academy Award for Best Director for Schindler's List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). Three of Spielberg's films — Jaws (1975), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Jurassic Park (1993) — achieved box office records, each becoming the highest-grossing film made at the time.<

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71


SPORT

INDIAN CRICKET CHANGING GEAR Indian cricket has reached a crucial phase. After just a few months at the pinnacle its fortunes have plummeted, its hopes dimmed and the form of its batsmen suspect. What has really pushed India to such a sorry state of affairs?

By Ramu Sharma

ngland, the undisputed champion, brought India to its senses in the series on home soil last year and left it to Australia, struggling at No 2 spot, to drive home the last few nails in the coffin and bury and vapourise the sub-continental giants in no uncertain terms. India returned with the reputation of its stalwarts in doubt and its place in the hierarchy of Test playing countries in vacuum. Since then it has been trying to regain some of its lost ground but has not yet managed to fill in the huge empty space enveloping the team. The recent two-Test series against New Zealand only highlighted the yawning

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an Laxm VVS owed b o als efore out b d time n a e ag

gaps in practically every aspect of its make-up. What has really transpired to push India to such a sorry state of affairs? The answer is to be found in the state of mind of the team even before it went to England as the No 1 Test team. Call it over confidence or arrogance, but the whole team, nay even the Board of Control for Cricket in India had fallen into a state of anaemic inertia, fully given to past deeds on home soil and without a clue to the demands of

The players, including the seniors, were all bitten by the Indian Premier League bug and totally ignored the challenges to be faced in England to start with and Australia later.

Chates w Sauras ar Pujara fro m htra ab ly took over th e resp on an exte nt few sibility to expecte d.

international cricket. The players, including the seniors, were all bitten by the Indian Premier League bug and totally ignored the challenges to be faced in England to start with, and Australia later. The commitment to IPL was such that even injuries were overlooked. What happened in England and later Australia is now history. Indian reputation received a big jolt and the team was left to lick its wounds in the long, cricketless and empty months. Then came New Zealand and suddenly the whole world in India woke up to a frenzy of a new series, expectantly if also rightly, sensing easy verdicts against a visitor badly hit by injuries and retirements. It has a new crop of youngsters, not fully equipped to take on India on Indian soil. India from its side was wary of New Zealand if only because of the memory of its earlier visit where it had fully stretched a top strength Indian team. The problem with India was that


SPORT

taken li who has ty that Virat Koh ili b si n respo oulders over the sh e th ed on once rest . ar lk Tendu of Sachin

it was without two of its top batsmen, both bowing before father time. Rahul Dravid after his excellent showing in England had perhaps felt the weight of time on him during the Australia journey and had called an end to a glorious innings. VVS Laxman followed suit, though surprisingly left it till rather later, just before the team to play New Zealand was announced. Another hero bowed before age and time. And what a brilliant player and what an anti-climatic exit! Perhaps there was some other reason for his sudden retirement, something that may come out later in the year.

Finding replacement of Dravid and Laxman was not easy Filling in slots occupied by Dravid and Laxman was not only a difficult proposition but meant a whole set of new parts and a switch to fresh gears. The reason was that Dravid was more

Rahul D ravid aft er his ex England cellent s ha howing on him d d perhaps felt in th uring th e Austra e weight of tim called a e lia journ n end to ey and h a glorio ad us innin gs.

But things are slowly falling into place and the long winter months should provide India’s new face quite some polish to be effective in the long run.

often like an opener playing the role after Sehwag or Gambhir disappeared from the scene in quick time. It now happened that both Sehwag and Gambhir were found wanting of sorts. The pressure was on Chateswar Pujara from Saurashtra, who ably took over the responsibility to an extent few expected. He was simply outstanding.

But whatever gains accrued from his arrival on the scene was offset by the total lack of form from Sachin Tendulkar, the noblest and the greatest cricketer ever to play for India. Every hero tends to become a bore. Is Tendulkar reaching that stage or has he already been gripped by its foreclosure on his form even as he continues to tell the world that he is not retiring. He knows he is a master of the situation. He will quit when he will quit. The question is can he still continue to deliver. The three innings he played against New Zealand proclaimed that his determination to continue playing did not conform to his form. It is in this context one welcomes Virat Kohli who has quickly adjusted himself to conventional cricket and has virtually taken over the responsibility that once rested on the shoulders of Sachin Tendulkar. It is an onerous task but Kohli is a confident youngster and does not suffer from any complexes. All he needs is the trust and faith of his teammates and of course the captain. Here he is a bit lucky. Mohinder Singh Dhoni is a rare personality, a gutsy player and despite his obvious limitations a tremendous team man. He is a player who excels under pressure as he showed during the final match of the World Cup against Sri Lanka last year and again against New Zealand in the 2Test recently. He understands fully that team India has to be reconstructed and knows its strength and weaknesses. But to fill in the blanks he will need the support of the selectors and of course the commitment of the players, some of whom like Piyush Chawla and R Ashwin, had a good start to the season but require considerable maturing. And Dhoni and the selectors must also think hard on the medium pace weapon in India’s hand. Zaheer is injury prone and very selective while Umesh Yadav has a long way to go. But things are slowly falling into place and the long winter months should provide India’s new face quite some polish to be effective in the long run.<

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TOURISM

INDIA'S LAST VILLAGE AND LAST TEA SHOP You get a different feel and taste of tea here, when you realise this is the last tea shop of India. The border with Tibet is at a visible distance. This shop is in a village Mana more than 3 kilometers above sea level. Uttarakhand government has declared it as a tourist village and truly tourists now are visiting this farthest village of India in substantial numbers.

elcome to India's Last Tea Shop' says a name board, in almost all Indian languages, as one reaches the top of the steep mountain in Mana Village, about 2 km from Badrinath in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Mana Village, at 3118

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metres above sea level in the shadows of the holy town Badrinath, is the last Indian village, before the border with Tibet. Few visitors are able to climb the steep hill to reach here; naturally they are tired and want to take a few minutes’ rest. The tea shop owner greets his visitors with folded hands with the traditional humility, “Mujhe seva karne ka mauka deejiye,’’ he says with a smile. Who can decline this offer of having a cup of hot tea? “Agar bhookh lagee hai to maggi bana doon,’’ he asks a middle-aged couple who looked quite exhaust. The tea shop owner is not the only businessman in this small village, who looks forward to a large number of visitors in the few months that people manage to land here. One can see a number of Tibetan women selling woolen caps, sweaters and gloves en route to the top. The prices are nominal

and as the sky turned darker, a few visitors mostly in the 50-plus age group, purchase a few items of their choice. The Tibetans earn your respect with their humbleness and readiness to cooperate and provide whatever assistance one needs to find places of interest. Mana is a tiny hill village, which has just about 180 households and a population of meagre 300, but is rich in dazzling vistas. The intriguing history is scattered amongst its rustic lanes and idyllic slopes. So, one can breathe here sense of history along with the fresh and serene hilly air. People with either back or knee problems avoid visiting Mana and stay back at Badrinath while the more-fitter people venture out to explore the littleknown village. Although the place is very close to the holy shrine of Badri, the only way to reach and explore it is by foot.


TOURISM For a place so close to Badrinath, where pilgrims flock in hordes, Mana is completely a laid-back retreatâ&#x20AC;Śvery calm and quiet. What, however, attracts one is the traditional houses and the narrow roads that take you through the village. Its scenic beauty is soulsoothing. The village is dominated by seminomads who escaped from Tibet during the Chinese occupation and settled here. They are the last generation of Bhotia community of Mongolian tribes. Despite their background, the people of Mana Village strongly believe in Hindu culture and heritage. The villagers cultivate to grow vegetables and other edible stuff for self consumption. The Mana people are reputed for their weaving skills. The hand-woven shawls, carpets or durries and sweaters are a masterpiece in themselves. Mana is famous for its potato produce as well. When Badrinath temple opens in the month of May, after Akshaya Tritiya, the villagers live here for six months. The rest of the year, they live in Chamoli, 100 km away from Badrinath. There are a number of important and historical places to visit in this small hamlet. One can see the origin of Saraswati river, near Mana village. Saraswati river comes out and goes underground again as this river is not visible anywhere from source up to Allahabad Sangam in UP where it is said to merge into Ganga river along with Yamuna river. Very close to the visible river Saraswati, there is very small water stream said to be water from Mansarovar Lake in Tibet. The place is full of caves and it is believed that Vyas Muni composed the epic Mahabharata in one of the caves. Inside one cave, there is an idol of Vyas and a priest continuously recites the Mahabharata there. This cave is said to be over 5,000 years old. There is a Ganesh temple just a few metres below this cave. It is said that while Vyas narrated the Mahabharata, Ganesh wrote the epic. It is a belief that the Pandavas visited this place on their

way to Heaven after renouncing their kingdom. Another important place to visit in this quaint tiny hamlet is the Bhim Pul (Bhim Bridge). Legend says that Bhim (one of the five Pandava brothers) placed the rock to make way for Draupadi to cross the river during their Swargarohana. Another attraction is the Vasundhara Waterfalls which falls from

a height of 145 metres. Mana Village is now declared as a tourist village of Uttarakhand. A must visit place for its history and scenic beauty and for the simplicity of its inhabitants! After an hourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s stay at the village, which even has a small restaurant to refresh visitors with hot and cold drinks, one returns fully refreshed, both in body and soul!<

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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS WOULD TOTAL ONE BILLION THIS YEAR

Top tourist attracting Countries: Year 2011 France

: 7 crore 95 lakh

US

: 6 crore 23 lakh

China

: 5 crore 76 lakh

Spain

: 5 crore 67 lakh

Italy

: 4 crore 61 lakh

Turkey

: 2 crore 93 lakh

United Kingdom

: 2 crore 92 lakh

Germany

: 2crore 84 lakh

Malaysia

: 2 crore 47 lakh

Mexico

: 2 crore 34 lakh

Russia

: 2 crore 27 lakh

Hongkong (China)

: 2 crore 23 lakh

Thailand

: 1 crore 91 lakh

Saudi Arabia

: 1 crore 74 lakh

Canada

: 1 crore 60 lakh

Macao (China)

: 1 crore 29 lakh

Singapore

: 1 crore 04 lakh

South Korea

: 98 lakh

Egypt

: 95 lakh

Morocco

: 93 lakh

Emirates

: 81 lakh

Indonesia

: 76 lakh

India

: 63 lakh

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By Adithi Sonali

orld tourism day on 27th September was celebrated with special gifts to tourists world over. This was celebrated with enthusiasm as despite slow economic revival of the world, international tourism registered satisfactory growth. In the first half of 2012 it has set a new record with 467 million tourists crossing borders for leisure. It is estimated that the number of international tourists would reach to one billion this year. Last year the figure was 990 million; in which Indiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s share was just less than a million, 0.63 percent. Tourism, a 1.2 trillion dollar industry, is growing strongly amidst decline of other sectors. Tourism has grown in Asia and the Pacific by some 8 percent. Destinations in South Asia and South-East Asia both have shown even better growth of 9 percent. While growth in Central America was 7 percent, in South America it grew by 6 percent. In India the situation is far from happy. Claiming to have many features which should contribute continuous rise of tourist arrivals in India, including medical tourism, its share in the world tourism is abysmal. Even the goal to increase our share is poor--1 percent of the world by 2017. Tourism industry is a big foreign exchange earner, yet the government has not paid enough attention to make it globally competitive inspite of India really having some most beautiful places on the earth. This industry is beset by shortage of trained workers, poor quality accommodation, unclean rooms and food problems. Many places of tourist interest are not well-connected. And then there is a culture of fleecing the foreign tourists. Criminal elements make visits unsafe for women and elderly. Pollution is yet another cause of distraction. <

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BOOK

PAK INDIA CAN’T LIVE AS

FRIENDS

Title

Author Publisher Price

: Pakistan on the Brink--The future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan : Ahmed Rashid : Viking : $28.50, pp. 234.

By Our Literary Critic

hmed Rashid’s fourth book on Pakistan is indeed a worthy contribution in understanding current developments in the region, particularly after America’s intense involvement in resolving the Af-Pak tangle. The book provides a fairly deep insight on how the situation has been going out of control. Rashid admits that though the U.S. has all along been perennially surging its supply of men and material to bring about some kind of stability, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, its plans to end the conflict have not succeeded as they remained grossly mismanaged. He attempts to give a critical analysis of how Obama regime failed in finding workable solutions to basic issues afflicting Afghanistan, such as unemployment, illiteracy, disease and lack of basic infrastructure. He has also depicted how Pakistan has either sabotaged its attempt or asked for a price to see that US is allowed to succeed. Readers expected that the author will dwell upon how Pakistan could be extracted from its present ‘brink’, rather he goes amuck in attacking one and all, present and past leaders, how they failed in inculcating democratic traditions in the country which suffered from military dictatorship for over 30 long years out of its 65 years of independence. He also goes out to explain how Pakistan’s miseries doubled first by Bush’s and then by Obama’s steps to help Afghans by outreaching to them via Pakistan. Though America and NATO nations have put at stake more than 230,000 soldiers, and provided over $ 5 billion monetary assistance, the muddle has eluded solution and only seems getting complicated more and more. The book gives an impression of being a collection of nine essays mildly tinged with author’s vendetta against the rulers who threw him out of a senior teaching assignment at a university. He confuses the reader about who’s the main culprit of Pakistan’s crisis is. He delves more on telling how badly the US presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have mishandled the Pak-Afghan problem. He opines that good India-Pak relations are key to prosperity of both the nations, but they can’t live as friends due to fundamentalist policies dictated by irrepressible orthodox mullahas such as the Hafiz Saeeds and the Maulana Masoods who keep on fanning deep anti-India obsessions, emotions and sentiments among masses.<

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CAG is nobody’s munim! xpose of scam after scam, each one of multi- lakh crore dimension, has ostensibly created a turbid political atmosphere in the country. Acrimonious debates on these mounting cases of corruption within and without Parliament and their depth and sweep vitiating all levels of our public (and private) life have disturbed the common man. He is particularly confused at the cacophony of charges and counter- charges, not knowing who the villains are or how to hunt them down. Such a situation can spell doom to our democratic polity. A sense of frustration and cynicism hurts his psyche. If it is allowed to smoulder longer, it carries the risk of a massive explosion the likes of which we have just seen in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere. Luckily, people still have faith in our democratic institutions like, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Supreme Court, the Central Election Commission, the Central Vigilance Commission and the ever watchful Fourth Estate. We would have liked our parliamentarians carry themselves a lot more responsibly, the way the Constitution makers had intended, but ‘we the people’ have the power to ensure their total compliance. We should make judicious use of that power. Truly speaking, awareness of people of this power and the sterling quality of our institutions saved the country from going the tortuous way all its neighbours traversed. We should not allow anybody to grab that power from us, or trample on our great institutions. It would seem that the more we try to make the country’s governance efficient and transparent, the worse it becomes on account of money and muscle power, caste and communal considerations and immoral politics. It is a complex situation. The ongoing efforts by our constitutional institutions aided by the free media and civil society are our best guarantee against perverts denting our time-tested system. But we have to keep the vigil. The recent decision of the Supreme Court on the presidential reference on the issue of arbitrary sale v/s auction of natural resources has cleared much of the legal cobwebs and made the government fully accountable to its actions. The learned court has disabused the general impression that natural resources are something that ministers and MPs could gift to their relatives and friends. Each action of the government has to pass the test of common good. The spin doctors of the treasury benches are misreading the apex court’s ruling as a license to continue their wayward behavior. They are sadly mistaken. The Supreme Court has warned the mandarins of power in ringing tones that CAG has the unrestrained constitutional authority to examine their decisions and even policies. He is nobody’s ‘munim’.<

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e_magazine october 2012 lokayat