The Baum, Bailey, Harris Trio are seasoned performers. Jerome Harris, guitarist, attended New England Conservatory of Music after graduating from Harvard, and has toured with Sonny Rollins, Jack Dejohnette Hemphill and others. Jamie Baum, flutist and composer, is based in New York and has played with Paul Motian, Randy Brecker, Billy Hart, Mick Goodrick, and more. Sheryl Bailey, guitarist, attended the Berklee College of Music and contributed to the recording of six albums. She has toured in the U.S. and Europe, and teaches guitar. Louis Armstrong was a 20th-century jazz legend who grew up around legends like his own mentor W.C. Handy in New Orleans' Bourbon Street, the cradle of dixieland. A master band leader and trumpeter, his imaginative jazz vocabulary became classic. He helped internationalize jazz by his distinctive style and depth. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, creator of the Mohan Veena and a 1994 Grammy Award winner with Ry Cooder (for the album "A Meeting By the River"), has made a significant contribution to fusion with his amazing virtuosity. Besides designing his own veena, he has adapted and Indianized the Hawaiian guitar by reshaping it and adding 14 strings. He has performed around the world, has played with American blues singer Taj Mahal and dobro player Jerry Douglas and other international music masters.
SPAN Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill Arrives in India Tackling HIV/AIDS
Publisher James Callahan
The Quiet AIDS Crisis By Ian MacKinnon and Adam Piore
Editor-in-Chief John Burgess
AVERTing HIVjAIDS By Lea Terhune
Editor Lea Terhune
Partnerships in AIDS Vaccine Development
Associate Editor A. Venkara Narayana
By Dinesh C. Sharma
Copy Editor Dipesh K. Saraparhy
By Dipesh Satapathy
Editorial Assistant K. Muthukumar Art Director Suhas Nimbalkar Deputy Art Director Hemam Bharnagar Production/Circulation Manager Rakesh Agrawal Research
India's New HIV Diagnostics
The Final Freedom By Alan Wolfe
By Dipesh Satapathy
Changing Lives By Kumud Mohan
Preparing for Doha By Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
AIRC Documentation Services, American Information Resource Center
On The Lighter Side Horning In? By Steve Kemper
Front cover: An outreach worker from Delhibased NGO SPYM (Society for the Promotion of Youth and Masses) counsels truckers about safe sex, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases near the Delhi-Haryana border. Photo by Hemant Bhatnagar. See story on page 5. Note: SPAN does not accept unsolicited manuscripts and materials and does not assume responsibility for them. Query letters are accepted. Published by the Public Affairs Section, American Center, 24 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110001 (phone: 3316841), on behalf of the American Embassy, New Delhi. Printed at Thomson Press (India) Limited, Faridabad, Haryana. The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Government. No pari of this magazine may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Editor. For permission write to the Editor. Price of magazine, one year subscription (6 issues) Rs. 125; single copy, Rs. 30.
Building a Better Backbone By Neil Savage
India's Telecom Transformation By P. Balakrishna
The Next Generation of Optical Fibers By Philip Ball
One Smart Bookie By Jack El-Hai
Consular Focus By Ray Baca
round the world, autumn is a time for retrothe harvest has been gathered, winter approaches and, in India, some of the most important holidays of the year are celebrated. In this reflective season, SPAN offers some food for thought. first, our cover story: 2001 marks the 20th year since the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the resultant disease, acquired immuno deficiency syndrome (AIDS), were identified in the United States after a spate of gay men began exhibiting an unusual but similar array of symptoms. The syndrome led, inexorably, to a terrible death. Two decades and 22 million deaths later, the world knows that HIV/AIDS is a universal disease, one of the most pernicious in existence. It affects gays and heterosexuals, men and women, rich and poor alike, and it is incurable. Its advent has raised issues not limited to the scientific push to find a cure. Civil rights and social concerns challenge communities all over the world, particularly in places like Africa where people who run the country, teach in schools, care for the sick and generally prOVidethe backbone of society are dying of the disease. They leave thousands of orphans, many with AIDS, and a medical infrastructure that is breaking under the burden. "Tackling HIV/AIDS," our cover feature, looks at the status of the epidemic in India in "The Quiet AIDS Crisis," by Ian MacKinnon and Adam Piore; '!\VERTing AIDS" describes a new project in Maharashtra that has the Indian Government, state agencies, local NGOs and USAID joining hands to curtail the spread of this fast-moving and fatal disease. Finding a cure is a high priority, but scientists are also looking for effective prevention beyond safe sex and condoms. In "Partnerships in AIDS Vaccine Development," Dinesh C. Sharma reports on new research alliances between Indian and American laboratories to develop vaccines for HIV strains prevalent in the subcontinent. Screening for HIV is a vital component in AIDS prevention and control, but imported test kits are expensive. Now India has its own, indigenous products that will make HIV screening more accessible, as Dipesh Satapathy tells in "India's ew HIV Diagnostics." Satapathy also profiles, for "Spotlight," Dr. B.G. Matapurkar, who just won a U.S. patent on a technique related to his stem cell research on organ regeneration. The moral questions posed by the AIDS epidemic and genetic research have doubtless contributed to a new assessment of morality, which is the subject of "The final freedom," by Alan Wolfe. "Moral freedom involves the
sacred as well as the profane; it is freedom over the things that matter most," he writes. Charting this course may be the philosophical challenge of the 21 st century. Also in this issue we have the pleasure of introducing the new U.S. Ambassador to India, Robert D. Blackwill, who arrived on July 27th and has been hard at work ever since. Ambassador Blackwill, in addition to being a distinguished policy expert, is keen on cutting edge information technology. Integral to infotech is telecommunication, and several stories are devoted to that subject: "Building a Better Backbone," by Neil Savage, examines how telecom networks are coping with the surge in Internet growth; P. Balakrishna dissects India's remarkable progress from land lines to cellular networks to Internet providers in "India's Telecom Transformation;" and a dazzling new high-capacity optical fiber may revolutionize telecommunication, according to Philip Ball in "The Next Generation of Optical fibers." The economy is all-pervasive, be it in high finance, technology or your personal bank account. It can also be a casualty in crisis situations, like those generated in some countries by the AIDS pandemic. The upcoming World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Doha will address economic questions critical to a broad spectrum of countries. The meeting promises to be a contentious one. Pramit Pal Chaudhuri explores the issues that will exercise the minds of delegates at the November conclave in "Preparing for Doha." On the lighter side we have "Horning In," by Steve Kemper, about a conservation effort that is saving the endangered North American bighorn sheep. As with Indian wildlife, human habitation remains one of the biggest threats to these wild mountain climbers. "One Smart Bookie," by Jack EI-Hai, is the curious tale of a savant: a mentally disabled, elderly man whose extraordinary mathematical gift-which he employs for sports bookmakinghas put him in an unusual relationship with the law. Kumud Mohan reports on a program to bring vocational training to the disadvantaged in "Changing Lives." Deputy Consul General Ray Baca supplies a "Consular Focus" update. And an exhibition of Indian contemporary art in America is a smash success. All of us on the staff hope you enjoy this autumn cornucopia.
hen President George W. Bush appointed Robert D. Blackwill Ambassador to India in March, he said at the time, "Bob Blackwill understands the important place India holds in my foreign policy agenda, and he will be an outstanding American Ambassador to India. He will bring a wealth of expertise to the position." Fresh from a dozen years lecturing on foreign and defense policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School, Ambassador Blackwill is no stranger to diplomacy. In his statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 26 he summarized the highlights of his distinguished career: "I am honored to be here before you today, and to have been nominated by President George W. Bush to be American Ambassador to the Republic of India. Mr. Chairman; I have been outside of government for more than a decade teaching foreign and defense policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School. The students there are terrific. They are bright, determined, irreverent, and like all of you and myself, they are devoted to public service. During those rewarding years at Harvard, I recognized that while I described to my students as vividly as I could the stresses, strains and sometimes satisfaction of public policy practice, I always did so at the edge of the Charles River in a purely academic setting. If confirmed by the Senate, I will be back in the public policy arena again, as Senators are every day in this great deliberative body. I cannot tell you what a gratifYing prospect that is for me. I was a career Foreign Service Officer for 22 years and had extraordinary mentors along the way: Hal Sonnenfeldt and Henry Kissinger; Kingman Brewster and Anne Armstrong; Sam Lewis and Zbig Brezezinski; George Shultz and Brent Scowcroft; and President George Herbert
Walker Bush whom I watched masterfully manage the end of the Cold War, on Ronald Reagan's terms. Others were "Present At The Creation" of the Western response to Soviet aggression. Several generations later, I was present at the death of Soviet imperialism. That Bush Administration built on the efforts of every American President and every American Congress since Harry Truman to help free the captive nations of Europe. What an enormous privilege it was for me to be in government during that period and to playa small part in that massive resurgence of freedom.
During those years in govemment and through my teaching, articles and books while at Harvard, I have concentrated my intellectual and conceptual attention on the relationships between and among the great powers in the intemational system. If the Senate confirms me, I believe that this particular strategic preoccupation of mine will be intensely relevant to my new responsibilities regarding the conduct of the U.S.-India relationship. I can personally attest to the President's commitment to transform ties between the United States and India, both multi-ethnic democracies with federal systems of government. This central U.S. strategic objective was reflected in Governor Bush's 1999 speech at the Reagan Library in California, an event 1 attended with him. It was reinforced when Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh met with the President in the Oval Office in April, and reiterated in several exchanges between President Bush and Prime Minster Vajpayee. It will certainly be manifested when the President visits India in the not too distant future.
Robert D. Blackwill after his swearing-in ceremony with his wife, Wera Hildebrand, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice and Indian Ambassador to the United States of America, S. Lalit Mansingh.
As I have heard him put it, President Bush believes that the world can be made freer, more peaceful, and more prosperous if the United States and India cooperate more closely together over the long term. Vice President Cheney and Secretary Powell recently stressed the same point to me. If confirmed, I especially look forward to working with the Indian American community and U.S. business to promote this vision. And I will urge this Committee and other members of Congress to play their crucial role in transforming the U.S.-India relationship, to visit India regularly, and to receive your Indian counterparts here.
From my boyhood on the great plains, I brought back east more than thirty years ago the values of Kansas and its people: honesty; candor; compassion; hard work; a dogged stamina in the face of challenge and adversity; a sense of humor; a recognition of one's own limitations; and a deep and abiding love of country. If confirmed by the Senate, I will again be honored to serve the United States, to take these prairie values, these American values, with me to the Republic ofIndia." Responding to questions from committee chairman Senator Wellstone, then Ambassador-designate Blackwill expressed his thoughts on the sanctions in place against India and Pakistan: "My view is that sanctions have not worked as a strategy and that, at least as I see it-and I'll speak only regarding India-that we, of course, want India to take seriously our perspectives on the issue ofnon-proliferation and the future of weapons of mass destruction. In my opinion, the best way to accomplish that objective is to have a broad, comprehensive, robust relationship with India on many subjects. I think that if we are able to accomplish that, we will have Indian interlocutors who will take much more seriously what we have to say." Besides the future of nuclear weapons in the international system, Mr. Blackwill singled out three other major areas of concern and about which there needs to be "an intense dialog" between the United States and the Government of India. The second area he cites is economic/commercial. "We have a trade imbalance with India, but it seems to me that we should be doing much better working with India to promote this economic relationship. And that will take work on both sides. A third area is antiterrorism. It seems to me that India and the United States both face serious problems with respect to terrorism, sometimes from the same groups. And I would hope we can find more intensive ways to cooperate." The foulih area is the future relationship between India and Pakistan: "We, of course, are not going to mediate in this dispute between the two, but if we can be helpful and both sides want us to be helpful, then I think we should be. But, of course, in the end they're going to have to find the way to resolve this issue, hopefully peacefully between them." He concluded his testimony with the conviction, "There's an enormous promise in this relationship." Within days of his confirmation by the Senate, Ambassador Blackwill and his wife Wera Hildebrand, a linguistics scholar, were on the flight to New Delhi. "India was my first choice," he said after his arrival, having hit the ground running. His first stop on his first day in the office was the visa queue outside the Embassy, where he assured applicants the process would be streamlined. He is enthusiastic about being here, and he fully subscribes to President Bush's view that "the world can be made freer, more peaceful, and more prosperous if the United States and India cooperate more closely together over the long term." 0
Text by lAN MACKINNON and ADAM PIORE Photographs by SANTOSH VERMA
AIDS is not new to India. For many years the disease was confined mostly to drug users and prostitutes, which made it easier for the rest of the country to pretend it didn't exist. And with a raging tuberculosis epidemic and periodic outbreaks of the bubonic plague, there's been no shortage of health crises. But while
nobody was looking, AIDS crept into the general population. Currently 0.7 percent of all adults are thought to carry the virus; health officials consider I percent an epidemic. Now India is at a crossroads. Even the most favorable prospect is downright chilling. Public-health officials are happy to contemplate a mere sixfold increase in infections by 2004-about 20 million adults. The alternative is even grimmer. If infections are allowed to climb beyond 5 percent of the adult population, scientists believe the chances of keeping the disease from greatly accelerating, at the cost of millions of lives, would be slim. India, in other words, is teetering on the brink of becoming another sub-Saharan Africa. "It's like a fire," says Dr. Salim Habayeb, the World Bank's lead public-health specialist for South Asia. "In the beginning, it's easy to control because you can go to the source. We are trying to put out the fire before it is too late." But what if society keeps that source under wraps? India may be the land of the Kama Sutra, but sex is not a topic for pol ite conversation. Public-health officials have long despaired of this taboo because it makes the task of raising the public's awareness of sexually transmitted diseases all the more difficult. Some swimming-pool owners maintain separate hours for women and men. Marriages are often arranged. And sex education is virtually nonexistent. But in the big cities, in truck stops that dot the country and in towns where migrant laborers toil far away from their families, an underworld of illicit sex supports 2 million to 5 million prostitutes. Most Indians prefer to ignore it. So when the first AIDS case surfaced in Chennai in 1986, the government argued that AIDS was a Western disease that wouldn't affect their uniquely moral society. It was a big mistake. Insidiously, the disease spread into highrisk populations-prostitutes, IV drug users, patients with sexually transmitted diseases. It spread from brothel to brothel, through the blood supply and shared needles. It spread from the cities to the country. Eventually it spread to innocent women like Manisha Talwar. Her in-laws banished her and her two-year-old son to the streets after the death of her husband. She found out five months later that he had died of AIDS-and had passed it on to her and her son, Rajan (not their real names). The in-laws had hidden not only her husband's illness from her but also the results of her own blood test, which showed positive for HIY. "I felt as if a mountain had fallen on my shoulders," says the tiny, dark-eyed woman. "I cursed my husband. If he knew he had AIDS, he had no business ruining my life and his child's." There were warnings ofthe epidemic to come. In the region of Manipur on the Burmese border, the number of HIV-positive drug users rose from 5 percent to 50 percent during a two-year period in the late 1980s. "Back then 1 barely knew anything about HIV," says Tuanz, a former addict from the region who is HIVpositive. "By the time we knew about AIDS it was too late for precautions." In Mumbai, nearly 40 percent of the city's prostitutes were infected with the virus by 1991. In Tami I Nadu in 1992, tests revealed that only one quarter of blood supplies were tested for the virus, and that 15 percent of local cases reported were caused by contaminated blood.
e MORE THAN GNE SEXUAL PARTNER IS UN~ :.t.HGiIlJI':'lWRSW' t-GAlltS- AIDS ", •• 5'"
That year the government began accepting aid from abroad. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control helped design a program to combat the epidemic, and the World Bank contributed $85 million. The Indian Government began lobbying each of the country's 32 states and territories to participate. The efforts showed some modest gains. In the six years that followed, a national infrastructure of state-run cells sprang up to fight the disease out of virtually nothing. In provinces and territories around the country, local chapters of the newly established National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) set to work distributing kits to test donated blood. The popular practice of
Page 5: A bar in South India displays posters advocating the use of condoms for prevention of HIV transmission. Left: Writing a letter in Mumbai beneath posters urging safe sex practices: '路More than one sexual partner is unsafe. "
professional blood selling was banned and thousands of unregulated, privately run blood banks were shut down. Parliament passed legislation establishing standards for condom manufacturers.Thousands of public-health workers were trained to identify and spread the word on AIDS; 180 GOs received AIDS instruction. In some areas of the country today the problem seems almost on the verge of control. Awareness programs aimed at prostitutes in Calcutta's Sonagachi district in 1992 caused condom use to soar from virtually nil to 70 percent in two years. HIV infection among prostitutes topped out at only five percent. (By contrast, 70 percent of Mumbai's prostitutes are now HIV-
positive). Andhra Pradesh's Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has driven home the message by putting his imprimatur on a Chocolates and Condoms stand and giving every wedding couple a gift of condoms and AIDS prevention leaflets. But India is a vast, heterogeneous country, and much of this success is local. In the countryside, where 80 percent of Indians live, many still have not heard of AIDS. Part of the reason is India's culture of denial. While big cities, stricken with the epidem ic, worked furiously to stanch the spread, a third of India's provinces and territories chose to use only a tiny fraction-if any-of the money allocated by NACO. Another one third used scarcely more than 50 percent. Many people down-
A taxi sporting a condom ad parked in front of a Mumbai brothel where women await customers.
played the significance of the disease and even accused the World Bank of exaggerating the threat to justify its projects. Others went so far as to challenge the existence of AIDS. Even today some public officials still argue that measles, TB or hunger are more pressing problems. Meanwhile, more and more people contract HIV "I'm very worried and disillusioned," says Subhash Hira, a University of Texas professor and director of Mumbai-based AIDS Research and Control Centre. "State-level heads have no sense of urgency." The problem will soon become impossible to ignore, and not just in the big cities. Among women seeking neonatal care (generally considered the best indicator of infection among the general population), the proportion who carry HIV in some regions is already four percent. "They're on the edge of a pretty big disaster," says Michael Sweat, a professor of international health at Johns Hopkins Medical School. The World Bank and the Indian Government have already increased their efforts substantially. In 1999 India began the second phase of its program, tripling the budget to more than $300 million. In the second phase, public-health officials will open
hundreds of new clinics and will run TV and radio ads. The goal now is just to forestall the worst: to keep HIV from reaching 5 percent of India's adults. When sub-Saharan Africa reached this threshold, says the World Bank's Habayeb, the infection rate took off: the graph of new cases was "almost vertical." "When it exceeds 5 percent, you need not millions but billions," he says. "It's not that far to 20 percent. And the only way to stop it is to go on war footing." It's hard to imagine how the epidemic will be stopped with anything less. The obstacles are legion: illiteracy, poverty and a ruling class that has shown little interest in this disease of the poor. Immunologists point to places like Botswana, where AIDS deaths have created a shortage of teachers, decimated the service sector and shut down local economies. "Imagine if one in five people you know suddenly died," said Ken Mayer, a professor of medicine and community at Brown University who has studied AIDS in India. In Karnataka, locals have erected a shrine to India's only AIDS goddess"Aidsamma"-at a temple near Mysore. Let it not be India's only hope of staying off disaster." D About the Authors: Adam Piore is a general editor ofNewsweek and Ian MacKinnon is a Newsweek correspondent based in New Delhi.
AVERTing HN/AJpS A
IDS prevention is a high priority for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The 10-year, $10-million program in Tamil Nadu, begun in 1995 and spearheaded by AIDS Prevention and Control (APAC) in Chennai, was the first state-based HIV prevention program in India. It is funded by USAID through the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO). Annual behavioral surveys show that considerable strides have been made toward raising awareness about HIV transmission, sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention and condom use among target groups in Tamil Nadu (see SPAN NovemberlDecember 2000). Now a similar project, AVERT, has been launched in Maharashtra. Forty one and a half million dollars will be spent over seven years in a bilateral program, the largest AIDS prevention project sponsored by USAID anywhere in the world. Maharashtra has the largest number of people living with HIV in India, almost 50 percent of the reported cases in the country. Utilizing the lessons learned in Tamil Nadu, a comprehensive plan for reducing the transmission of HIV / AIDS in Maharashtra has been designed in collaboration with the Government of India, NACO, the state government and other bilateral donors. To achieve the goal, AVERT aims to increase availability and improve the quality of information, products and services that contribute to the reduction of HIV/AIDS transmission in Maharashtra; strengthen state and municipal capacity for HIV/AIDS prevention and control, including strategic planning, implementation of programs, monitoring and evaluation; and increase availability and use of epidemiological data for advocacy, strategy development and decisionmaking--data which will, in time, be generated within the project itself. Like the APAC program, upon which AVERT is modeled, USAID works with the state government, private health-care
At a Tughlaqabad truckstop drivers listen as a social worker tells them about HIVIAIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, instructing them how to prevent transmission. A growing number of groups are engaged in such outreach work, called intervention in NGOspeak. This Delhi-based NGO, SPYM (Society for the Promotion of Youth & Masses), distributes leaflets in English and Hindi outlining "the abc of AIDSISTD prevention: a, abstain; b, be faithfitl; c, condom use. " It also counsels against drug abuse, and organizes ji-ee clinics at the trucks top where people can consult a doctor about worrisome symptoms.
providers, community-based groups and NGOs to promote prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases through outreach programs. These programs target high-risk groups such as sex workers and their clients and migrant workers. "Issues in Maharashtra are different from Tamil Nadu and more complex. The sex industry is different," says Bethanne Moskov, team leader, infectious diseases, at USAID, New Delhi. She adds: "We want to go to the next level, with a multi-sector approach." Which means broader programs that encompass more of the community. Targeted intervention programs will be balanced with those promoting community awareness. Educating young people is part of it, as is sustainability. AIDS is a fatal, incurable disease, and the message must continue to go out. USAID has other initiatives related to HIV/AIDS prevention and control. One specifically aimed at children affected by AIDS involves development of community care centers for HIV positive children, drop-in centers and shelters for street children and education. Currently US AID-funded projects for children affected by AIDs are run by Salaam Baalak Trust and Project Concern International in New Delhi; Committed Communities Development Trust and Prerana in Mumbai; Community Health and Education Society in Chennai; and Society for Development Research and Training in Pondicherry. All these urban centers show a high rate of HIV infection. Activities are being expanded throughout India. Other initiatives include an HIV Business Coalition, a Ports Project and media sensitization. Another initiative raises awareness in men about their responsibilities in prevention. The Leadership and Investment in Fighting an Epidemic (LIFE) initiative is a $IOO-million program that supports prevention, care and treatment, care for children affected by AIDS and capacity and infrastructure development, including surveillance systems. -L.T.
Global research is accelerating, and India is in the thick of it cientists around the world are looking for answers: treatment, prevention, or cure for HI V/AIDS, an epidemic which today affects more than 36 million people around the world. Some 70 percent of the infected live in sub-Saharan Africa, but the numbers of AIDs cases are growing in South Asia. India alone accounts for more than 3.7 million, according to Joint United ations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and World Health Organization (WHO) statistics. The epidemic is spreading faster than anticipated, and 95 percent of new HIV infections now occur in developing countries-which makes these countries important sites for scientific research and development. India, with its already sophisticated pharmaceutical industry, was recently welcomed as a strong partner in this international war against HIV/AIDS. While the introduction of antiretroviral drugs in 1996 dramatically cut the death rate due to AIDS in developed countries, these drugs are palliative and not a cure. Prevention is much better. That is exactly the goal of scientists who are working overtime to develop an HIV /A IOS vaccine. However, global spending on developing an AIDS vaccine is about $300 million annually-just 10 percent of what Europe and the U.S. spend annually on drugs to treat HIV/AIDS. To change this skewed scenario, the Rockefeller Foundation launched a program in 1994 which was spun off two years later as the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (lAVI). It is being run as a "social venture capital" fund. Its major donors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Sloan Foundation and the Starr Foundation; the governments of the U.K., the U.S.,
the Netherlands, Canada and Ireland; and the World Bank. IAVl's mission is to accelerate development, manufacture and distribution of AIDS vaccines at affordable prices in developing countries. This will be achieved through partnerships between scientists, industry and the public sector. The goal is to develop about a dozen candidate vaccines, and get two or three ofthem into major clinical trials very soon. Strict observance of medical ethics is mandatory when a vaccine comes to hW11an,or even animal trials, and is of paramount concel11.In JanuaJy 2001, clinical trials began in Kenya to test IAVI's first AIDS vaccine. "An AIDS vaccine for the world's poorest countries is an international public good that isn't likely to happen without innovative public-private collaborations," says Seth Berkley, president and CEO of lAY!. International collaboration and partnership with industry is perhaps the only way a successful AIDS vaccine can be developed. "A safe and effective HIV vaccine will not come from one laboratory or even one country, but from the global effort currently underway in dozens of countries, involving hundreds of laboratories, each building on work that came before," feels Charles A. Gardner, science attache at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Already more than 60 HIV vaccine trials have taken place all over, more than half of them in the U.S. These were just the first steps on a long path toward an eventual vaccine. Now there is a need to test vaccines under different conditions, and especially wherever the incidence of disease is velY high. "This will require collaboration between high-tech laboratories in the U.S., Europe, India and elsewhere with clinicians and health workers in field sites in Asia and Afi路ica. If we want a vaccine that's safe and effective in India, it must eventually be tested in India," points out Gardner. It is in this context that the AIDS vaccine development projects of Indian laboratories, in partnership with U.S. companies and institutions, assume great significance. Indian scientists have been working on HIV for a few years now and have developed high degree of skill. lAVI has decided to build upon this work,
bring in industrial partners and develop vaccines in India. In March this year, IAVI signed an agreement with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to develop and evaluate one or more vaccines appropriate for use in India. The joint efforts will include collaborative research on different approaches to vaccines, building capacity to conduct vaccine testing, technology transfers and, eventually, clinical trials of jointly developed AIDS vaccines. Separately, IAVI has concluded a Vaccine Development Partnershi p that brings together researchers from India and Therion Biologics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, to build preventive AIDS vaccines designed specifically for India. IAVI will fund Therion to design, engineer, and manufacture a vaccine for HIV subtype C-the most prevalent strain of the virus in India. Most AIDS vaccines currently being developed are based on subtype B, which is the predominant strain in the U.S. and Europe. Therion will work closely with a team of Indian researchers from the National Institute for Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata. Together they will develop a preventive AIDS vaccine based on the Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) pox virus vector. Vijay Mehra, program director, applied vaccine research, IAVl, who did the ground work for the pm1nership with Indian institutions, says the first discussion with Indians started almost three years ago. The Indian research institutes were chosen on the basis of the work already done there. "NICED scientist Sekhar Chakrabat1i initiated the research on developing MVA for the del ivery of foreign antigens at NIH [National Institutes of Health] and has continued to work on that. Thus he was the most obvious choice for constructing the MVA-based vaccine in collaboration with Therion. Ramesh S. Paranjape of National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), Pune, is obtaining HIV isolates from recent seroconve11ers, characterizing the isolates, subcloning and sequencing the genes. NICED's Chakrabarti will bring these DNA clones to Therion for developing the HIV vaccine," Mehra said. The patinership hopes that, pending regulatory approval, the vaccine may be ready for human testing within two years. "Our goal is to support India in moving forward a number of candidates and to mobilize Indian scientists and institutions to join the global effort. And if appropriate, we will work with Indian vaccine manufacturers to assist with production of the vaccine for India and perhaps more broadly," said Berkley. "One critical issue is to assure whatever work goes on in India is built upon the state of the science globally-assuring that Indian scientists do not 'reinvent the wheel'," he added. If the vaccine is found to be promising in Phase I clinical trials, then technology for the production of vaccine will be transferred to an Indian manufacturer for Phase IIIIll trials. Berkley feels the partnership will benefit both sides. "Therion is a biotechnology research company. If there is an agreement between Therion, ICMR and IAVI, it should allow Therion to share in the learning involved in making a vaccine as well as the patents of any eventual vaccine. The agreement will be specific that the vaccine must be provided near cost price for developing
countries especially India (this is a standard provision in any venture into which IAVI puts any funding) but the vaccine may also be sold (or licensed to others to be sold) at a profit in industrialized countries. Therion will share in these profits." On the other hand, the partnership will boost India's vaccine research capabilities and vaccine manufacturing industry. Both should be heavily involved in the search for an HIV vaccine and the IAVI partnership will assist and complement existing national efforts. Another Indian partnership with an American company for developing an AIDS vaccine is in the making at the Depatiment of Biotechnology (DBT). In the past, DBT has sponsored several programs in relation to HIV/AIDS. Studies were sponsored to assess the genotype of HIV-I in circulation in the community. This was done to understand the type of strains HI V-I virus needed for development of AIDS vaccine. The study clearly indicated that HIV-I subtype C is the predominant type. A large number of HIV-I and 2 isolates have been well characterized and a repository has been established at NARI. It has also funded a program on developing HIV DNA candidate vaccines at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, the three ICMR institutes namely National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune; NARI and NICED, and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore. Now DBT is talking to an American company, Chiron Corporation, for a possible collaboration to develop an AIDS vaccine. Chiron, headqualiered in Emeryville, California, is a biotechnology company that has stakes in three global healthcare markets: biopharmaceuticals, blood testing and vaccines. "In order to move speedily so that an affordable vaccine is available, DBT is negotiating with Chiron for developing candidate AIDS vaccines. In addition to Indian institutes-AITMS and the National Institute of Inununology (NIT), Delhi, an Indian pharmaceutical firm may also be one ofthe partners in joint development of a candidate vaccine," says Y.K. Vinayak, adviser (medical) at DBT. The pminership with American research and vaccine manufacturing companies is going to be mutually beneficial. "Training of Indian scientists and transfer of the technologies to the Indian pharmaceutical companies would be an integral part ofthe collaboration if it will be agreed to," points out Vinayak. "Indian institutions will get an exposure to the advanced technologies developed by Chiron. We would like the vaccine to be produced in India, so that it can be provided at an affordable cost to the health-care system. This unique technology will then be available in the country, which could be utilized for developing other new vaccines or improve the existing vaccines." In both the vaccine development programs care is being taken to adequately address all ethical concerns relating to clinical trials. Both IAVI and ICMR have identified working groups who will cooperate in monitoring the program on a regular basis through project meetings and teleconferences. In addition, IAVI has qualierly meetings of a project management committee of outside experts, who review all vaccine development partnerships and advise on various aspects. Both the U.S. and India have well-established ethical guidelines
for research involving human subjects. The ethical guidelines prepared by the ICMR have been "deemed comparable" by the U.S. Depaliment of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Each U.S. institution is required to establish an ethical review committee, and has to get the same approved by the DHHS. "For a typical vaccine clinical trial, it can take eight to nine months to write, review, modifY,rewrite and remodifY the infonTIed consent fonTIs and research protocol so that it meets all the requirements. InfOlmed consent must be given in the participant's own language, and explained orally by a qualified professional," says Gardner, who worked as an assistant professor of health-care ethics at Howard University, Washington, D.C., before coming to New Delhi. lAYI is also working on the ethical issues. It has already initi-
A researcher of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, at work on afluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) that uses a beam aimed at a stream of cells to measure the number of cells infected with HIV
ated a dialogue with Indian NGOs and has commissioned the Social and Rural Research Institute, a unit of IMRB, a Delhibased market research firm, to conduct one-on-one interviews with a representative sample of a broad range ofNGO leaders on ethical and social issues. In early 2002, lAYl plans to have similar meetings with professional groups and elected representatives. Inputs from this exercise will go into preparing a document summarizing the social and individual implications of vaccine research and trials in India. The document will then be released to media and the public. "Some issues do pose a real challenge. For example, we must be absolutely sure that participation in clinical trials is truly informed and truly voluntary," says Berkley. While IAYI will bring in its international experience in this field from earlier trials in Africa, "at the end of the day, it is India who will assure that the appropriate ethical standards are in place," the lAYI chief added. 0 About the Author: Dinesh C. Sharma is a New Delhi-based Feelance science journalist.
India's New Diagnostics 1. XCyton sHIV Chex, made with technological help from Indian Institute of Science (JISc), Bangalore. 2. NEVA HIV kit marketed by Cadilla is based on technology from Delhi University South Campus. 3, 4, 5. HIV WBlot kit marketed by J Mitra & Company was developed by Cancer Research ~ Institute, Tata Memorial Center ~ in Mumbai. The 8 company also sells HIV TRI-DOT, a rapid test kit, and an ELISA kit called Microlisa HIV, developed in-house.
Indigenous research bears fruitas companies pick up HIVdiagnostic technologies roper diagnosis has always been a prerequisite for treating any disease. So is the case with AIDS (acquired immuno deficiency syndrome) that is threatening life and society in dozens of developing nations and spreading its tentacles across the globe with pounding impunity. But thanks to medical research, most known strains of the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) worldwide can now be detected. Since the detection of the first AIDS case in Chennai in 1986, India has been solely dependent on imported diagnostic kits until the mid-1990s. But these were expensive by Indian standards. The concern for cheaper indigenous kits and self-reliance prompted the Indian Department of Biotechnology (DBT) to initiate three independent projects in 1993-94 to develop HIV diagnostic kits. It was part of a special program to fund indigenous research in diagnostics, says Y.K. Vinayak, adviser (medical) in DBT. At present more than 20 multinational and Indian companies are marketing these kits. These include Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Transasia, Bayer Diagnostics, Quick Diagnostics, Rashmi Diagnostics, Glaxo (India) Limited and lnfar (India) Limited. HIV-l and HIV-2 are the two agents of AIDS, the former being the predominant. While HIV-l is divided into Group M (II subtypes A to K) and Group 0 (9 subtypes), HIV-2 has five subtypes (A to E). HIV-2 is principally found in West Africa but subsequently has been detected in
Europe, Central Africa, western United States, Canada, Brazil and India. Of the various subtypes of HIV-l, subtype C rules the roost in India, South Africa, Zambia and other central African countries. An infection is detected in two ways. Either the pathogen components are directly detected from any suitable tissue (generally blood, as it the easiest to probe) or from any measurable alteration in a biochemical trait as a result of body's response to the infection. The second approach is generally used for Most indigenous diagnosing HlY. kits work on the Proteins same basic ca lied principle-they ant i detect the presence bodies, of some or the most generated by the common body's antibodies present immune in serum. system in response to invading HIV, are identified. Antibodies reflect the activity of various pathogens and are present in blood as part of the serum, the clear light yellow part of blood that remains liquid when blood cells form a clot. Though it is possible to diagnose HIV infection by isolating the virus from a blood sample or by demonstrating the presence of viral antigens (substances that stimulate the body to produce antibodies) in blood, viral culture is expensive, not readily available and slow-it takes about a month to complete the viral culture test. More common are blood tests, which are relatively inexpensive, widely available, and accurate in detecting infection when used to screen patients and confirm diagnosis. Most indigenous kits work on the same basic principle-they detect the presence
of some or the most common antibodies present in serum. The end-point formats, sources of proteins, their sequences and methods of purification, however, vary. All the three DBT-sponsored kits have been developed and two of them commercialized. The one perfected by a team led by Vijay Chaudhury of Delhi University South Campus (DUSC) has a lot of molecular biology inputs. No special equipment is required for this screening test which takes three to five minutes to perform, says Chaudhury. His team joined together two genes, one from an antigen protein present on the surface of red blood cells, and the second from the HlV virus itself. The genetically-engineered stuff was put inside a bacterium that produced hundreds of copies, resulting in a watery material containing both the genes. The first gene joins with the antigen on red blood cells, while the second links with the antibodies produced against HIY. The net result is that the red blood cells clump together, which can be detected by the naked eye, indicating whether the blood is infected or not. The kit is free of any potentially infectious material and therefore is non-hazardous. It is a field-level rapid test, according to Bakulesh Khamar, director-research of Ahmedabad-based Cadila Pharmaceuticals Limited, which has commercialized the technology. It hit the market this August as NEVA HlV (naked eye visible agglutination assay) kit. Work on the Delhi University kit was started about five years ago and the technology was transferred to Cadila in February 1999. The company is now enhancing the product and its newer version will detect subtype "0," which is found in Africa and is yet to be detected in India, Cadila scientist R.Y. Bhatt said. NEVA HIV costs a mere Rs. 39 per test. The company plans to export the kit and is in the process of registering the product in various countries. The second kit originated at the National Institute of Immunology (NU) in Delhi. It is an ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) kit that uses synthetic peptides (small selective stretches of proteins) as representatives of viral
proteins as the major system components. It works by attaching HIV antigens to plastic well or beads. A sample of infect ed blood is added and excess proteins ar removed. A second antibody coupled t an enzyme is added followed by addition of a substance that causes the enzyme t react by forming a color, which is mea sured by an instrument called a spec trophotometer, explains Nil's Satish Gupta, whose team has developed the kit The kit was taken up for commercialization by Delhi-based ACE Diagnostics Limited in 1998, but unfortunately, th company closed down before the produc could reach the market. Now Biotech Consortium of India Limited (BCIL), DBT body that helps in commercializing biotechnology, is looking for another firm which can market the kit. Research for a third ELISA kit wa done at Indian Institute of Science (USc in Bangalore by a team led by P. Balaram The kit is manufactured and marketed b Bangalore-based XCyton Diagnostics Limited under the brand name HIV Chex and has been available since 1997. IIS helped optimize the commercially viable synthesis of HlV peptides, modify th peptides to improve yield and research the structural aspects of HIV-1 C pep tides, B.Y. Ravi Kumar, managing direc tor of XCyton, said. A group led by microbiologist Pradeep K. Seth at the All India Institute o Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi als came out with an enzyme immunoassay for screening those infected with HIVand HIV-2 in 1999 after four years o research, but it is yet to be marketed. If ELISA test results are reactive, th test is repeated on the same blood sample If the sample is repeatedly reactive, th results are confirmed using a Western Blot antibody screening test, discovered in 1979. It is more expensive, specific and can differentiate between HIV anti bodies and other antibodies that react t the ELISA, which cause positive result even when a person is not actually infect ed with HlY. The only indigenous Western Blot k has been developed at Cancer Research Institute (CRr) of Tata Memorial Center
Mumbai. Funded by the DBT, the kit uses virus proteins (viruses are grown in cell culture systems) separated on the basis of their molecular size and trapped on a synthetic membrane, which reacts with serum. All or some of the viral proteins show color development in the form of discreet bands on the white membrane background only if the serum is infected, said Robin Mukhopadhyay, CRI researcher, who developed the kit. The color forms due to strong binding of the antibodies present in the serum and the viral proteins. The kit is being marketed by Delhi-based J. Mitra & Company under the brand name HIV W.Blot. J. Mitra is also selling a rapid test kit called HIV TRI-DOT and an ELISA kit under the name Microlisa-HIV, both developed inhouse. J. Mitra's kits detect HIV-2 and both subgroup "0" and subgroup "c" of HIV-I, informed S Bhattacharya, manager-corporate in the company. All the indigenous kits have been independently assessed by various organizations that include the World Health Organization (WHO), Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, Institute ational AIDS Research (NARI), Pune, Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMC), Vellore, and National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Delhi, for their specificity and sensitivity which range from about 98 percent to 100 percent. Rapid tests cost between Rs. 40 and Rs. 100 per test. The price of screening ELISA tests varies from Rs. 30 to Rs. 100 per test. Confirmatory Western Blot test costs Rs. 700-1,500 per test. The kits by Cadila and XCyton are also procured by NACO for use in government hospitals and centers in the country. India and WHO accept positive results from three successive ELISA tests with different kits as "confirmed" as Western Blot tests are an expensive affair, says AIIMS' Seth. "Western Blot was considered for a long time as the gold standard, but not anymore. WHO, based on studies, says that three ELISA tests of different antigen type (or one could be a rapid test) can give results similar to result as Western Blot for diagnosis of HIV infec-
tion at a much lower cost. Hence, WHO recommends Western Blot only in situations where, based on the ELISA, the tests remain indeterminate or inconclusive," said Jai P. arain, WHO regional adviser on HIV/AIDS for Southeast Asia. A fresh step in this direction is a project initiated in January this year by Depaltment of Science and Technology (DST) under which the lawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) in Bangalore is working on developing an HIV antigen capture assay to identify the viral antigen-different from the other existing kits which identify antibodies. Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Limited (BBL), a co-partner, will fine tune and commercialize the technology. ut what would be this assay's advantages? A major shortcoming of antibody detection is that the human body needs weeks to months to react to HIV attack and develop antibodies. During this "window period" there are large quantities of virus and viral antigen in the body fluids but little antibody. Hence antigen detection during this early phase is more advantageous, explains Ranga Uday Kumar, the key JNCASR researcher involved. Detection of antibodies in the first 6-12 months in HIV infected infants is not reliable either as maternal antibodies interfere with the assay. This assay is as effective as other confirmatory tests used worldwide, says Uday Kumar, whose team is focusing on both HIV-I and HIV-2 strains. The HIV-I antigen capture assay was added as an interim measure by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 to HIV antibody testing to protect blood supply further until other tests became available to detect early HIV infection. The expensive assay has its drawbacks, however. Presence of viral antigen in body fluids is highly variable in individuals. So results can be unreliable. But where antibody assay fails, this is the best alternative. Moreover, this assay can be used to monitor the growth of the virus in labs and validate therapeutic strategies in clinics, thereby helping
fundamental and applied research, Uday Kumar notes. According to BCIL, about 2.1 million HIV diagnostic kits worth Rs. 115 million were sold in 1997-98 which increased by 80 percent to 3.85 million kits wOlth Rs. 290 million in the following fiscal year, probably because HIV screening in blood banks became mandatory. In 1999-2000, the sales increased marginally by about 20 percent to 4.7 million kits valued at Rs. 289 million (the decrease in value is attributed to a drop in the price of kits), three-fifths of which were rapid kits and the rest ELISA. An annual growth rate of 20 percent in the consumption of kits is expected over the next four years, says BCIL General Manager Purnima Sharma. National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) procures about 3.5 million ELISA kits, 0.85 million rapid kits and 7,000 Western Blot kits for its programs annually. Expelts say the indigenous HIV diagnostics kits can now cater to the country's demand and compete with imported kits. There are also kits manufactured by Indian companies with technology transferred from abroad. Morepen Laboratories of India and U.S. diagnostics firm Ameritek Inc. recently agreed to collaborate in making rapid diagnostics kits. Morepen plans to manufacture the kits from next January at its unit in Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh. Many foreign pharmaceutical companies are coming up with diagnostic products based on HIV isolates from specific Indian strains. For example, Princeton, New Jersey-based Premier Medical Corporation (PMC) announced a rapid test kit named BioSign HIVI-2 that is specially tailored for Indian conditions. The product has been introduced in India by the Mumbai-based subsidiary PMC Medical (India) Private Limited. The market for such kits is projected to increase with the exponential growth rate of HIV infection and more serious efforts to track and contain the epidemic. This is clearly reflected in a recent announcement by the Health Minister c.P. Thakur that HTV diagnostic centers will be set up in every district. D
The 19th century was about economic freedom.
The 20th century was about political freedom.
This century will be about people deciding for themselves what's moral and what's not.
houldI lie or tell the truth? Is my marriage vow binding? Ought I give in when temptation calls? To whom are my obligations strongest? To answer such questions, Americans have traditionally relied on time-tested moral rules, usually handed down by a supreme being, that command obedience and punish defiance. Now we live in an age of moral freedom, in which individuals are expected to determine for themselves what it means to lead a good and virtuous life. We decide what is right and wrong, not by bending our wills to authority, but by considering who we are, what others require and what consequences follow from acting one way rather than another. The United States has always experienced freedom, but only recently has it discovered moral fi-eedom. In the 19th century, principles of economic liberty were instrumental in creating a society in which the right to own property, to hire workers and to manufacture and dispose of goods was accepted as the most productive way for a society to create and distribute its wealth_ This was followed, in the 20th century, by the spread of political freedom. By century's end, the idea that people had a right to vote and to run for office-and that such a right could not be denied them on the basis of ownership of property, race or gender-had become so widely accepted that no society could be considered good unless its political system was organized along democratic lines. Although political freedoms are enOimously important, they are restricted to one sphere of human activity: obtaining and exercising political power. The same is true of economic freedom, which, by definition, is limited to such essential, but also essentially mundane, matters like the buying and selling of commodities. Moral freedom involves the sacred as well as the profane; it is freedom over the things that matter most The ultimate implication of the idea of moral free-
as they choose, especially when they choose what evangelicals consider sinful: homosexuality, for example, or premarital sex. Yet evangelicals are also people who often reject the religion of their upbringing, opt for start-up churches and prefer to home-school their children, giving them more in common than they realize with gays and lesbians who have redefined marriage and family and founded houses of worship that serve their own spiritual needs. Conservative millionaires may vote Republican because they believe America lost its Christian standards under Bill Clinton, but they probably obtained their millions living by rules of corporate loyalty, equity and honesty that Christians generations ago would have called sinful. Moral freedom is so radical an idea, so disturbing in its implications, that it has never had much currency among any but a few of the West's great moral theorists. Even those who made passionate arguments in defense of freedom in general did not extend their arguments to moral freedom. Indeed, the common position among most Western thinkers has been to argue the necessity for moral constraint as a precondition for freedom in all other aspects of life. This was most true of conservatives who justified the received authority of church, prince, law or nature. But it was also true of liberal thinkers like John Locke and Immanuel Kant, for whom liberty made sense only when shaped by pre-existing religious or ethical commandments. Timeless, transcendental, absolute-morality stood in the sharpest possible contrast to freedom, which was transient, inconsistent and dependent on mere circumstance. Even in America, despite the celebratory individualism of an Emerson or a Whitman, the idea of moral freedom made little sense until very recent times. When Franklin Roosevelt in 1941 announced the four freedoms-of
dom is fl6t that people are created jn the image of a higher
speech, ofwofship, fwm Want, from feai'-moral freedom
authority. It is that any fOlm of higher authority has to tailor its commandments to the needs of real people. It cannot be surprising that Americans made a best seller out of a bookactually three books---ealled Conversations With God. Even the most traditional Americans have been touched by the spread of moral freedom. Born-again Christians generally do not believe that people should be free to live
was not among them. When, in 1957, the U.S. Supreme Court finally got around to talking about sexual freedomcalling sex "a great and mysterious force in human life," which was "a subject of absorbing interest"-it did so in the context of upholding a conviction for violating obscenity laws. In the 1960s and 1970s, for the first time in American
history, a number of thinkers began to take the idea of moral freedom seriously, and enough people paid them attention to mount a significant challenge against moral authority. Reviewing the history of religion in America since the first Spanish and French settlements, the historian Sidney Ahlstrom concluded that "only in the 1960s would it become apparent that the Great Puritan Epoch in American history had come to an end." If nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come, the idea of moral freedom, when it finally came, was powerful enough, at least for a time, to sweep all before it. Because moral freedom is so new an idea, it inevitably arouses opposition. There is a widespread feeling that the legacy of the 1960s has been corrosive to the American social fabric. Disrespectful of established authority, cut off from tradition, unattached to family or faith, Americans, we have been repeatedly told, embraced moral freedom only to experience painful results. To discover whether such charges resonate among Americans themselves, I assembled a research team and spent the last couple of years talking with people from all walks of life about what it means to lead a good and Viliuous life. We concentrated on four virtues that have been praised by theologians and philosophers for their moral seriousness: honesty, loyalty, forgiveness and self-discipline. Are critics of our condition right to worry that we no longer believe in the old-fashioned virtues that once made us great? Or should we celebrate the arrival of moral freedom for the same reasons we have come to accept economic and political freedom: society is better off when people decide for themselves the right thing to do rather than have it decided for them by others? We need not, and should not, take the thoughts of ordinary Americans as the final word on our condition. But, as the reaction to recent events ranging from the school shootings in Santee, California, to the presidential pardons demonstrate, there is moral talk aplenty in America; if talk about morality were only a measure of morality, we would be hearing about a moral surplus, not a moral deficit. The least we can do, before we stand up to preach, is to listen to what Americans have to say. here's nothing like loading a few coffins," a retired Air Force officer told us of his service in Vietnam. "It turned my life around." ow working as a substitute teacher and occasional lecturer outside Dayton, Ohio, he worries that his country recently has become too soft and self-indulgent. "The wonderful thing about democracy and capitalism is that they lead to the good life, as Aristotle would want us to have it," he says. But the problem "is that we tend to lose focus on the virtues," the most important of which are "hard work, dedication and sacrifice." As much as this man's views resonate with ideas of America's decline from a more virtuous age, his defense of
self-discipline was decidedly uncommon among our respondents. "You can be disciplined in a bad way," said one woman in Tipton, Iowa. "You work 70, 80 hours a week, ignoring your family. I don't think that is a good self-discipline." Good self-discipline makes room for obligations to others. In a paradoxical way, it also involves obligations to the self. Many people told us that the person who indulges from time to time is more likely to be productive than the obsessive workaholic. St. Augustine wrote that it is always wrong to lie. But the people with whom we spoke believe that you are under a greater obligation to be honest to a friend than to a stranger-and that you are under no obligation at all to be honest to someone who is dishonest to you. Honesty is not a one-size-fits-all virtue. Many of the gay men with whom we spoke in San Francisco did not believe in loyalty to their sexual partners, but determined not to hide their sexual orientation, were among the most passionate believers in honesty. Other respondents felt that there are times when honesty can be a vice. "You know," said a San Francisco therapist, "people say terrible things and then they go, "Well, I was just being honest.' " In her view, a person of good character would rank sensitivity to others higher than honesty to them. Whatever the viliue, Americans will be more practical than principled. An engineer in Silicon Valley talked about the problem of marital loyalty as ifhe were tinkering with a stubborn software program: "Is it irretrievably broken or can you patch it up? Was there a basis for the marriage in the first place? Is there a basis for working together as part of a team to move ahead from where you are and ignore the past?" A divorced woman in Hartford believes in forgiveness, not out of a recognition that even sinners may nonetheless be good in the eyes of God, but "because when we don't forgive, it holds us back, it eats away at us." As they decide for themselves the best way to live, people can and do consult traditional sources of moral wisdom. Our respondents mentioned not only popular television programs and self-help books but also the example of Jesus Christ, philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Kant and William James, novelists like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen and Alexander Solzhenitsyn and theologians including Teilhard de Chardin and Rabbi Hillel. Still, listening to their reasoning gives a certain credibility to those who argue that contemporary Americans have too much freedom for their own good. Our respondents are guided by subjective feelings more than they are by appeals to rational, intellectual and objective conceptions of right and wrong. They do not think that viliue consists in subsuming their needs and desires to the authority of tradition. Indeed, some of them are not even sure that virtuous is what they want to be. Without firm moral instruction, Americans approach the viliues gingerly. They recognize their importance but reinvent their meaning to make sense of the situa-
There is a pretty clear distinction between moral choice and unboundedness. The former is something worth having. The latter, most respondents feel, is something worth avoiding.
pie with whom we spoke, the 1960s-understood as a political movement designed to challenge the status quo in favor of revolutionary transformations in lifestyle-barely exist. Even in San francisco, despite the fact that we asked people questions about the most morally contentious issues of the day, only a couple of our respondents reflected on what the tumultuous events of those years meant for them and for their country. The debate over the 1960s confuses two different phenomena. One is the freedom to choose how to live. The other is the freedom to consider oneself unbound by moral rules. The Americans with whom we have spoken make a pretty clear distinction between choice and unboundedness. The former, they usually insist, is something worth having. And the latter, most of them feel, is something worth avoiding. When Americans think of the kind of moral anarchy and irresponsibility that conservatives associate with the excesses of the 1960s, they do not think about their own lives but about the wild lives of Hollywood celebrities, the self-centered actions of corporations and the dishonesty exhibited by politicians. Moderate in economics and politics, our respondents are, for the most part, moderate in morality. The great bulk of them no longer adhere to traditional ideas about virtue and vice, but neither do they live as moral libertines. They do not take their marriage vows as binding under all circumstances and for all time, but they often approach the question of divorce in a morally serious way, reserving it as an option when the price of excessive loyalty is unwanted cruelty toward spouse or child. They are not as loyal as they once were in the workplace, but only after being provoked into that position by extensive, and often ruthless, disloyalty on the part of their employers. In their effort to find balance in all things, they forgive to get on with life but do not forget wrongs done to them and do not relativize away acts they consider evil.
T tions in which they find themselves. Just because Americans may be living "after vittue"-to use the evocative words of the moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre-does not, however, mean that they are living before vice. Both conservatives and liberals see a direct link between the 1960s and now. From the point of view of those aghast at what the 1960s have bequeathed us, one mistake-the wrong drug or, later, the wrong sex partnerand life itself could be threatened. from the point of view of those who embraced the social changes of that time, one too many concessions to established institutions of authority, and freedom itself could be sacrificed. Yet for the peo-
he concept of moral freedom corresponds to a deeply held populist suspicion of authority and a corresponding belief that people know their own best interest. Historically, populist impulses expressed themselves in politics; Americans distrusted elites, especially those whose power appeared to rest on breeding and connections, in favor of appeals to the common man. Now that same populist sensibility extends to all kinds ofinstitutions; if Americans have learned to obtain a second opinion concerning their medical condition, they are also likely to seek additional opinions concerning their moral condition. As radical an idea as this may seem to those once issued commands and expected to obey them, second-opinion morality seeks to work with, not against, the institutions that make social life possible. In an age of moral freedom, moral authority has to justify its claims to special insight. Religion offers the best
window into the ways such justifications are likely to take place. More and more Americans are redefining God to suit their own tastes and inclinations: Christian ministers who draw upon the Jewish tradition, Reform Jews seeking gender-inclusive language and Americans of all faiths who borrow from every religion and none simultaneously. Whatever emerges from the efforts on the parts of so many Americans to redefine their faith, it is unlikely to resemble Jonathan Edwards's Northampton, the urban parishes of 1950s Catholicism, the revival meetings of Billy Sunday or synagogue life on the Lower East Side. Yet the desire of so many Americans to have a greater say in the moral choices they make is anything but a bitter renunciation of religion. It is more likely to take the form of a prayer that someone in a position of religious authority will take them seriously as individuals with minds and desires of their own. Far from being secular humanists, Americans want faith and freedom simultaneously. That would seem like an odd combination to Europeans, for whom faith has often meant dogma and freedom has often meant dissent. But it suggests that in America, religious institutions will not break under the weight of moral freedom but bends, as many of them have bent already, to accommodate themselves to the freedom of moral choice to which Americans have increasingly grown accustomed. hat is true of religious institutions applies to other institutions like schools, if from the opposite direction. In the spirit of the 1960s, educational reformers began to advocate radical changes in education, proposing that schools should stop disciplining students, encourage free-form expression and individual creativity, de-emphasize honors classes and tracking and find new ways to teach such subjects as math and history. In extreme versions of educational reform, moral anarchy rather than moral freedom seemed to be the operating principle, as if schooling itself ought to be abolished. So powerful were the forces behind educational reform that in most established school districts, one version or another of educational reform produced schools that no longer resembled the strict, segregated, vocational and prayer-infused institutions ofthe 1950s. Americans today want second opinions about both what and how their children learn in schools. Resisting the influence of liberal school administrators with as much determination as they resist the messages of conservative religious moralists, those who support greater school choice through vouchers and charter schools see freedom of choice as a way of encouraging greater institutional responsibility. Those who continue to support public schooling often express a desire for higher standards and an insistence on the value of teaching character. If American schools move in a more "conservative" direction toward discipline, it will be for the same reasons that
churches move in a more "liberal" direction of therapeutic inclusion. After anarchy, moral freedom can be a requirement for re-establishing authority. In a time of moral freedom, no institution will be able to stick its head in the sand and pretend that the people who approach it for advice and guidance can be treated as supplicants. Morality has long been treated as if it were a fixed star, sitting there far removed from the earthly concerns of real people, meant to guide them to the true and the beautiful. In the contemporary world, however, people experience in their own lives many situations for which traditional conceptions of morality offer little guidance: what do you do when the pursuit of one virtue conflicts with another? How do you apply moral precepts to situations unforeseen by those religious and philosophical traditions developed for another time and place? Can seemingly unambiguous moral principles be capable of multifaceted interpretations? Faced with such real-world conflicts, many Americans will say, as did one of our respondents in San Antonio: "Somebody can't make you do something you don't want to do. You know, you draw your own guidelines." No matter how strong their religious and moral beliefs, nearly all people will encounter situations in which they will feel such a need to participate in interpreting, applying and sometimes redefining the rules meant to guide them. Are they somehow less moral if they do? Telling them that they are will cut no ice with a gay couple determined to legalize their union in an era of widespread heterosexual divorce, with women who find that a tooearly marriage stultifies their desire to become more autonomous later in life or with religious believers who find that the best way to express one's faith in God is to reject traditional denominations. Because we can never know what freedom will bring in its wake, defenders of social order have never been all that comfortable with any of the forms taken by freedom in the modern world. Economic freedom did not create a hopedfor society of independent yeomen but a regime of mass consumption. Political freedom did not result in active and enlightened civic participation but in voter apathy. In a similar way, moral freedom is highly unlikely to produce a nation of individuals exercising their autonomy with the serious and dispassionate judgment ofImmanuel Kant. Yet moral freedom is as inevitable as it is impossible. Critics of America's condition insist on the need to return to the morality of yesterday, but it may be better, given its inevitability, to think of moral freedom as a challenge to be met rather than as a condition to be cured. D About the Author: Alan Wolfe is the director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. His new book, Moral Freedom,from which this essay is adapted, was published by W W Norton in April this year.
Replacing Transplants Dr. Matapurkar gets a Us. patent for his new technique to regenerate organs from human adult stem cells
magine a day when one of your internal body organs fails and instead of going for a transplant you can grow one inside your body to replace the damaged one. That is exactly what 60-year-old Indian surgeon Dr. Balkrishna Ganpatrao Matapurkar dreams of after developing a novel surgical technique to regenerate organs and tissues. Matapurkar has researched for 25 years aiming to eliminate the need for organ transplants. Organ failure is a prime cause of death and often finding a perfect match for transplanting diseased organs is a complexjob. It is quite expensive and the rejection rate is very high. Matapurkar, who works in the Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) in New Delhi, has successfully used the technique to regenerate fallopian tubes, uterus and ureters in dogs and rhesus monkeys (which are physiologically close to humans). He has also used it to surgically treat 60 human patients with genitourinary and rectal fistula. The surgical procedure on humans has been included in the tenth edition of Maingot:S Abdominal Operations, Volume 1, published by Prentice-Hall International Inc. His work was granted a U.S. patent (No. 6227202) in May this year. It was filed in 1996. All body organs originate from three basic germ layers-ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm-formed during the development of embryo. These layers contain "stem cells" that are totipotent-they possess the intrinsic character of getting differentiated and multiplying for specific purpose, and can form all tissues and organs. The technique uses stem cells which are also found in some adult tissues but are pluripotent in nature-they can give rise to most body tissues, but not all. But how did the idea of regenerating
organs come to him? Matapurkar attributes that to nature. A gram seed when sown in a rocky terrain, germinates but does not yield fruit. But it does so when sown in an environment conducive to its growth. Primitive life and some lower animals like frogs and lizards have tissue regeneration capabilities and can regain lost parts of their body. In higher animals, however, this ability is absent or negligible. Yet, the entire human body develops from a single cell, i.e., the fertilized ovum, says Matapurkar. Matapurkar asserts that there is little possibility of biological rejection in his method as the body, which works as a factory, itself supplies the raw materials for the new organs to replace the diseased one. Further, the multiplication of stem cells occurs in all directions, so the healing or repair of tissues takes place in a vety short time span. While operating on patients with peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum, a membrane covering organs in the abdominal and pelvic region), he thought of the possibility of controlling and directing stem cells present there. Stem cells are extracted from the peritoneum and implanted at the site where the new organ is required. Local tissue organizers present in the region then induce differentiation of cells which proliferate into similar cells in the region. His work was difficult as people generally oppose ideas that challenge established practices. The surgeon first regenerated uretersthe tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder-in dogs and rhesus monkeys. In a subsequent set of experiments in dogs, he showed regeneration of fallopian tubes-ehannels carrying the ovum to the uterus. An uterus has also been regenerated in a dog. Matapurkar claims the regenerated organs are identical to the original and function normally. It takes about two-and-
a-half to three months for complete regeneration. Until now he has been successful in regenerating organs that have mesodetmal origin. Dispelling doubts on the high possibility of the regenerated tissues turning cancerous, he says: "The possibility of them [pluripotent stem cells] turning cancerous is more when they exist naturally in the abdominal cavity. As we are directing their growth, the probability of their growing abnormally is minimized." But further research is needed to overcome this risk, he cautions. Born in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, on August 28, 1941, Matapurkar graduated from the Gajara Raje Medical College there and did his masters in surgery from MAMC. His work has been published in leading medical journals including World Journal of Surgery, Hospi Medica, Annals of NrM York Academy of Sciences and Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. The United States recently allowed use of federal funds for research on existing human embryonic stem cells. The U.S. National Institutes of Health is already sponsoring research on human adult stem cells. Indian Department of Biotechnology has also launched three new programs on stem cell research this August. But it will be a long time before Matapurkar's apparently miraculous technique becomes acceptable as a popular treatment option. -D.S.
Changing Lives U.S.-based Perot Systems joins hands with Hindustan Computers Limited to help disadvantaged women, children and the disabled learn vocational skills.
United States-which has joined hands with A.V. Baliga Trust of New Delhi in its educational and empowerment program for young women from the weaker sections of society. Synergizing the established information technology capabilities of HCL with Perot Systems' strengths in business transformation and outsourcing methodologies, HPS is providing IT outsourcing and software development services. Perot Systems is a worldwide provider of information technology services and business solutions to a broad range of clients. It helps large multinational companies leverage their traditional strengths and technologies to take full advantage of e-business. In the last 12 months some 40 women in the 15-30 age group have received training in the photo-mechanical method of screen printing. Of these, 27 appeared for class 10th examination under the National Open School (a distance learning program run by the Government of India) this year. HPS Social Welfare Foundation (SWF) supports their education by supplying books and stationery, paying for their school fees and also :::;appointing teachers to help them prepare for examinations. ~ "These girls are quite capable now to take up jobs as helpers S! with established printers," pointed out their teacher, Gautam Chakravorty. "But all of them would rather study fuliher and earn side by side through their own cooperative business, "November 3, 2000. How can I ever forget the date when my Ramani, than take up jobs." Ramani, which started six months ago with small orders for family was displaced from our home at Gautampuri in New Delhi to a place on the outskirts of the city? A barren plot of land printing T-shirts and shopping bags, got a boost when HPS placed its order for greeting cards and visiting cards with them on the edge of nowhere was the awful alternative imposed upon us in place of what we'd always known as home. There was not at the beginning of this year. "We now have to help Ramani a tree or a shop or a road to be seen for miles. To reach the neardevelop regular marketing outlets," explained Rashmi Nigam, est bus stop, we had to walk for an hour. field executive with HPS-SWF. "Twenty-five kilometers away was the little room I'd come to Rather than dispense charity sporadically, HPS-SWF believes love as my alma mater. It used to be within walking distance of in making a sustainable difference to the lives of the economicalmy earlier home. But now the two-way bus trip alone would ly or otherwise disadvantaged. To attain this, it seeks partnerships cost Rs. 16. How on earth would I visit the 'school' daily? But I with organizations that share its vision of promoting a democratwas not going to give up." ic, secular, equitable, gender-sensitive and environment-respectNineteen-year-old Sunita-the eldest of two brothers and two ing society based on human dignity, freedom and justice. "In the beginning, Rashmi and I visit a slum cluster to assess sisters-had made up her mind: She would not submit to circumstances. She was not going to be palmed off in marriage simply to its needs," explained Deepti Goswami, another field executive reduce the number of mouths to be fed in her family. Sunita would with HPS-SWF. "If some voluntary organization is already workstudy and work and God willing, fend for her family too! ing there, we try to gauge its efficacy. If satisfied about the infraIn her grim determination, Sunita got the support of the HPS structure facilities, commitment and performance of the organiSocial Welfare Foundation, an offshoot of HCL Perot Systems zation, we put forward a proposal to our executive director, who (HPS)-a five-year-old, $80-million joint venture of Hindustan in turn refers it at his discretion to the board of directors." Computers Limited (HCL) of India and Perot Systems of the The board of directors is obviously quite sensitive and active. In
like cholera and hepatitis," explained Dr. Anupam Tyagi. just two years since its inception, HPS-SWF has established partnership with more than 30 organizations in the vicinity of the "Normally we are able to handle them quite successfully, but if HPS corporate offices at Delhi and Bangalore. These include they get out of hand-say, as from dehydration-we refer them Chetanalaya and Anchal (Delhi), National Association of Blind to hospitals nearby and follow their progress there." Our next destination was the Indira Camp at Kalyanvas in (Delhi and Kamataka chapters) and Maya (Bangalore), schools East Delhi. Here, Deepalaya, with its unique concept of "Social like the Delhi Public School, and Cambridge and Khaitan public Entrepreneurs," had fired the imagination of HPS-SWF. schools at Noida in Uttar Pradesh. Through these organizations "Our idea is to encourage locally available unemployed HPS-SWF reaches out to more than 20,000 children. youngsters to contribute toward social development while "Resource crunch of several types is faced by many NGOs with whom we work, and many of them tend to treat us getting the satisfaction of earning for themselves," explained K.C. Pant, senior program officer at Deepalaya, which reaches initially just as a funding organization," continued Deepti. "But we believe in a true partnership which goes beyond funding. In out to 35,000 children through 600 social entrepreneurs in a way we try to act as a resource network and data bank." various slums on the outskirts of Delhi. "We train our entrepre"All our partners are equally impOltant to us. We closely neurs and support them for a whole year by providing space monitor their work in different areas, and equipment (at Kalyanvas, with mostly with the idea of strengthening help from HPS-SWF) as also by their weaknesses and citing their sucmotivating the community through cesses to others. For instance, the experstreet plays and door-to-door couniment of Balsakhi (friend of the child) seling. You'll be surprised, people do by Pratham is really worth emulating." get convinced to pay for organized tuition of their children." Pratham, in Delhi, is part of a national network of organizations that provide We witnessed the rewarding sight pre-school and primary education to of little ones fortifying their fundanearly 100,000 underprivileged children mentals in science and mathematics in the age group of 3-11 years. Its ~ before tackling their holiday homeBalsakhi program consists of remedial ~ work. And from children and homeeducation for school dropouts as well as ยง work we moved to children and com:?' children who are in school but are not 52 puters-a major concern of HPS, learning. Young women entrepreneurs printing cards at the amongst the leading developers of Nazia, an eight-year-old, wasn't Ramani self-help group supported by HPS-SWF software equipment worldwide. "We'd like to do whatever little we interested in her studies, and would often play truant. A Balsakhi participant, whom she looked upon can to bridge the digital divide: to make sure that the enormous as a friendly senior and with whom she could communicate advantages of computer literacy are not denied to meritorious more easily than with stem teachers or her overworked parents, children of the socially or economically disadvantaged," said Vinod C. Khanna, HPS-SWF's executive director. became a sympathetic listener and facilitated a greater rapport between Nazia, her parents and teachers. Then followed an allIn preparation for the forthcoming Sixth International round flowering of the child. Abilympics at Amar Jyoti-its latest partner in welfare activiAs our car sped along in the searing heat, Deepti explained ties-HPS-SWF took responsibility for training and preparing that while education is the primary concern of HPS-SWF, it has participants for all the seven computer-related events. Abilympics, ventured into health schemes as well, since the family environan international event for the handicapped organized every four ment has a direct bearing on the well-being and performance years, promotes vocational skills of persons with a disability. of the child at school. Amar Jyoti was judged the foremost rehabilitation institution for We soon reached Chhalera Basti, an unauthorized settlement the disabled in Asia. of families of 2,500 beggars, vendors, hawkers and rickshaw Besides presenting two computers and promising to provide pullers. Obviously, their flimsy shanties made from sarkanda, special user-friendly transport for the disabled, HPS-SWF also offered cash incentives for outstanding performers in this field at or strands of dried grass, retrieved from the banks of the Yamuna river were no protection against the elements and the regional, national and international levels. India will host the would collapse with the first rains. Sixth International Abilympics at New Delhi in 2003. There was no electricity. Yet, the temperature was surprisingWith HPS-SWF support, disadvantaged people who would ly bearable inside the "out-patients clinic" which was run by otherwise be condemned to bleak lives by their poverty or Navjyoti Development Services, another NGO. HPS supported disability are looking at a brighter tomorrow. 0 them by paying for the medicines as also an honorarium to the visiting doctor who comes twice a week. About the Author: Kumud Mohan is a freelance writer based "During summer we get several cases of water-borne diseases in New Delhi.
Preparing lor On November 9th the fourth World Trade Organization ministerial conference will convene in Doha, Qatar. Delegates from governments and hundreds of NGOs around the world will discuss the multilateral trading system built over the past 50 years. But not everybody is happy. What does the meeting signify for international trading partners, developed and developing countries alike?
hen the administration of George W. Bush announced in May its support for a new round of world trade talks, economic diplomats around the world began mentally rolling up their shirtsleeves. Ever since the failure of the Seattle ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the election of a new administration, Washington had fought shy of endorsing such a round. The European Union (EU) had long been the most vigorous exponent of a new round of world trade talks, a successor to the Uruguay round of talks that had ended in 1994 and led to the creation of the WTO. Japan had also been calling for a new trade round. The United States was the only one of the biggest three trading nations to hold out. Washington's reluctance was not about a lack of commitment to free trade, either with the previous administration of Bill Clinton or President Bush's White House. Republicans are traditionally ideologically close to the concept of free trade. The present U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans told a Senate subcommittee last August that "trade is ultimately about freedom." He repeated President Bush's own assertion that trade was as much a "moral imperative" as it was an economic necessity. The initial hesitation of the Bush administration was born of Capitol Hill politics and divisions regarding the agenda of such a new round. Because of the complexity of international trade negotiationsthe draft treaty produced by the Uruguay round was 57,000 pages long-US. presidents require trade promotion authority from the US. Congress. As President Bush explained in a speech to a U.S.
farm organization in July, this authority, formerly known as fast track legislation, "gives me the ability to negotiate trade agreements on behalf of the American people, submit it to the Senate to be ratified, up or down." In other words, no amendments, just a Yes and No vote. Getting such authority is a formidable task of political lobbying, a task that the second-term Clinton administration for one failed to accomplish. It only pales in comparison to the difficulties of negotiating a trade round, a process that the WTO's 142 members can drag on for years. However, a number of factors came together to make the Bush administration decide to take the jump. One was a rising tide of new trade barriers that had arisen after the Uruguay round's completion that were squeezing US. exports. Another was the growing number of regional trade agreements that, because of the lack of trade promotion authority, the U.S. cannot be party to. As Evans pointed out in August last year, "There are over 130 preferential trade agreements in the world today. The U.S. belongs to only two." Bush had earlier warned, "Free trade agreements are being negotiated all over the world, and we're not party to them." Finally, there was the slowing down of the world economy. As Mike Moore, WTO director-general, said recently, "The U.S. economy, motor for the world economy, is stuttering. A recession in America could export trouble to the rest of the world. An upsurge in protectionism could make things much worse." The Bush administration has now stepped up diplomatic activity to try and secure support for a new WTO round. The goal is to come to some sort of a consensus on the issue in time for the fourth WTO ministerial conference that is to be held in Doha, Qatar, in November this year. Bush spoke of igniting "a new era of global economic growth through a world trading system that is dramatically more open and more free." The Group of Eight summit held in Genoa, Italy, in July endorsed a new round of trade talks soon after Bush made that speech.
BUill-in Agenda It is not that the Doha ministerial will be a talking shop if an agreement on a new round of talks is not fOlihcoming. The Uruguay round agreement left a lot of unfinished business, strings that were left to be tied up in future WTO meetings. The
Doha conference has a "built-in agenda" on two of the most controversial trade topics: services and agriculture. Under the Uruguay round agreement, WTO members were mandated to hold regular discussions on reviewing trade in agriculture and services. These two economic areas account for twothirds of the world's economic output. Talks in both areas were held throughout last year. At the end of March this year, the first phase of negotiations was completed. The WTO was then authorized to begin preparations for more detailed trade negotiations on these two trade sectors. Of these, nothing raises as many protests and arouses as much protectionism in international trade as agriculture. The United States, along with a number of agricultural-exporting nations ranging from Argentina to Australia, is at the forefront of freeing international trade in farm goods. Bush in July declared that "agriculture will be the cornerstone of our international trade negotiations." In saying that he was only echoing previous statements by Washington. In June last year, the U.S. Govemment had submitted a paper outlining the U.S. agricultural trade agenda to the WTO which had called for reductions in tariffs, quotas, domestic support and an abolition of export subsidies for agricultural products. A repOli by a Congressional Commission on 21st Century Production had endorsed this position. It called on the U.S. to take a single undertaking approach to trade talks. In other words, farm trade should be negotiated as a whole package and not by individual sectors-"nothing is agreed until everything is agreed." The stakes for the U.S. are considerable. As Mattie Sharpless, acting administrator of the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service, told a Senate subcommittee in August last year, "Dollar for dollar, we export more meat than steel, more corn than cosmetics, more wheat than coal, more bakery products than motorboats, and more fruits and vegetables than household appliances." U.S. agricultural exports totaled $53.5 billion in fiscal 1999. Over half the U.S. wheat crop is exported each year.
New Issues However, it became evident during the months that followed Seattle that a number of countries would find it difficult to make trade concessions in the sensitive area of agriculture without the ability to make trade gains in other economic areas. As Moore
explained in June, "Several countries have stated that they will not negotiate meaningfully on liberalizing agriculture unless they can open new markets for their exporters in other sectors at the same time. We need trade-offs that only a wider negotiating agenda can best provide." From this need, strongest with the European Union whose heavily-subsidized farm sector has the most to lose from free trade in agriculture, flowed the demand for a new trade round. Brussels had been pushing for an all-encompassing round of talks for the past few years because of a need to find means to compensate for what would have to be conceded in agriculture. Not all countries necessarily agreed with this point of view. The Clinton administration was willing to consider a new round, but one with only a handful items on the agenda like e-commerce, tariffs in a few industrial sectors like chemicals and further movement in services. Many developing countries like India argue that rich nations failed to open their market to their imports as was promised under the Uruguay round, or came up with new techniques to keep such exports out. This was especially true in areas like agriculture, textiles and leather where developing countries have a competitive advantage. They argue that until the earlier pledges are implemented, there can be no new round of trade talks. The Latin American countries, troubled by the fact that agricultural subsidies among wealthy countries have continued to rise despite the commitments of the Uruguay round, have tied a new round to an agreement on liberalizing agricultural trade. Some nations have been more forthright, placing their faith in a full round of talks. Beijing has endorsed a new round even before becoming a formal WTO member. The Southeast Asian countries have also supported a new round of trade talks. But what the run up to Doha has made obvious is that almost every country has some grouse with the various trade agreements managed by the WTO. As trade negotiations go best when there is more on the table to exchange, the idea that grouses can be exchanged for solutions is proving the primary motive force behind the call to go beyond the built-in agenda. The drawback is that with 142 members, trying to determine what exactly should be on the agenda of the new round is proving a difficult task. As Moore told WTO's general council in July, "The questions facing the ministers [at Doha] will be the same in Seattle: are they ready to launch a wider process of
negotiations-a new round, in fact-and if so what should its content be." A WTO report on the state of play regarding Doha in July, dubbed a "reality check" by Moore, warned that wide differences remained between the key trading nations and between the rich NOIth and the poor South.
Moving Closer Following the collapse of the Seattle summit, most WTO members are conscious of the need to be flexible and constructive in handling the thorny issues of international trade. The past few years, and the stiff resistance by some developing countries like India to a new round, has helped raise concerns about the developing world's ability to garner the benefits of WTO's trade-freeing activities. Discussions on the issue of implementing the market access clauses of the Uruguay round continue. The WTO report issued to its general council admitted implementation was a major hurdle toward a consensus on a new round. "Some headway has been made," it said. One consequence has been that developing countries concerns have found far greater play now than during the negotiations that led to the Uruguay round. The WTO established a mechanism to address implementation concerns in January this year. Moore admitted that while nothing had been put down on paper, "days and days" were being spent on discussing the issue. This summer saw both Washington and Brussels announce unilateral market concessions to least developed countries. The U.S. extended special trade concessions under its Generalized System of Preferences to sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. The European Union decided this summer to remove trade barriers to all products from the poorest countries under a program it called, "Everything But Anns." Rich countries like the U.S. have also provided technical assistance and funds to Third World countries to help them cope with the demands of the WTO and its often tortuous negotiations. Washington and Brussels jointly stated this summer that "We need to provide aid and other financial support to help developing countries build the capacity to take part in trade negotiations effectively and then follow through on agreements." The World Bank head, James Wolfensohn, recently urged the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, and his European counterpart, Pascal Lamy, to make the next round of global trade talks a "development round" in which special emphasis would be put on reducing the baITiers to the exports of poor countries. Tn doing so, Wolfensohn was echoing calls for a development round made by WTO director-general-designate, Supachai Panitchpakdi of Thailand, in November last year. Even more important are the differences over agenda that continue to exist between the U.S. and the European Union. Both, however, have shown signs of convergence in the past few
months. The main problem here is simply the sheer number of items to be placed on the agenda of a new round of trade talks. Tnthe past the EU demanded a king's banquet while the U.S. preferred a fast food combo. On July 17 the two issued a joint statement where they listed some points of agreement such as market access for non-farm products, transparency in government purchases of goods, in services in general and a strengthening of the WTO. A major dilution was the U.S. agreeing that it would "not stand in the way of a clearly defined and sensible negotiating approach on investment that garners widespread support among the other members and interested parties although we will not take on the role of an advocate." Putting a multilateral agreement on investment on the agenda has been a long-standing demand of the European Union.
Importance of Doha As the world's largest trading nation, the United States has no doubts as to the importance of trade to its economy. The U.S. economy has a 12.7 percent share of the world's total expotts in manufactured goods. Exports of goods and services combined represent 11 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product-a total of just over one trillion dollars in the year 2000. An estimated 12 million U.S. jobs are suppOlted by expOlts. Since the Uruguay round, India has also seen its expOlts and its foreign exchange reserves rise to the highest levels in 50 years. At the heart of all this is a rules-based, multilateral international trading system that keeps protectionism in check, keeps economic bullying to a minimum and ensures that mutually damaging trade wars do not break out. Underpinning this system is the WTO. Whenever protectionism statts to rise in the world, the credibility of the WTO and thus the multilateral trading system itself comes under threat. Moore has repeatedly pointed this out, stressing that this may be the most important reason that a new round of trade talks is necessary. "We cannot pretend that [Doha] can be merely a 'routine' ministerial meeting, at which ministers will discuss general economic trends and progress in the WTO's built-in agenda. The context in which ministers will meet ensures that a fundamental decision will be taken at Doha, whether positive or negative, which will have long-term implications for the future of this institution and the way we conduct our business." A WTO report issued this July put it even more bluntly. "Failure to reach consensus on a forward work program that would advance the objectives of the multilateral trading system, particularly in the light of the earlier failure at Seattle, would lead many to question the value ofthe WTO as a forum for negotiation. It would certainly condemn us to a long period of irrelevance, because it will not be any easier next year, or the year after." D About the Author: Pram it Pal Chaudhuri is an associate editor of The Hindustan Times in New Delhi.
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have stood, and from which had they made one false step the[y] must have been precipitated at least a 500 feet." Lewis noticed that Indians fashioned the sheep's horns into cups, spoons, platters and bows. (Wehausen has come across rock blinds along sheep trails in the Sierra, where Indians crouched, waiting for bighorn.) Native Americans had venerated bighorn in rituals and stories for centuries before the arrival of white men. There's a Kilawa tale from Baja California, in which the Creator builds the sky, but it keeps drooping, so he props it up with four bighorn on top offour mountains. To the peoples of the lower Colorado River, the stars of Orion's belt are known as Three Mountain Sheep. Indians carved and painted thousands of bighorn on cliff faces throughout the West, and some ritually cremated the sheep's bones to appease the animals' spirits. Several tribes associated the thick, curled horns with big winds and rains, and wouldn't bring them into their villages, stacking them near watering holes or ceremonial sites. Mountain sheep migrated to orth America from Eurasia over the Bering land bridge more than a half-million years ago. By Coronado's time, bighorn ranged throughout the western half of orth America, from Canada to Mexico, from snowy crags to desert ledges, wherever the landscape offered steep, open slopes. They once browsed river bluffs and foothills as well, but pressure from ranchers, miners and settlers confined them to the rugged terrain of mountains. In the mid-19th century, the sheep were hunted commercially; at least one menu from gold rush days listed bighorn as an entree. ythe late 1800s and early 1900s, rams were esteemed as trophy animals among big-game hunters, some of whom wrote popular accounts of their excursions. Literary naturalists also brought the sheep to the public's attention. Ernest Thompson Seton's Lives of the Hunted (1901) introduced many young readers to bighorn through the dramatic story of "Krag, the Kootenay Ram." John Muir devoted a chapter to bighorn in The
Mountains of California (1894), calling them "the bravest of all the Sierra mountaineers." After watching three sheep casually climb a steep, icy slope, Muir wrote, "This was the most startling feat of mountaineering I had ever witnessed, and, considering only the mechanics of the thing, my astonishment could hardly have been greater had they displayed wings and taken to flight." But during those same years, the bighorn was devastated by overgrazing, overhunting, epidemic diseases passed on by livestock (mainly domestic sheep) and habitat loss caused by roads, fences and towns. By the first decades of last century, the subspecies called Rocky
Mountain bighorn had been exterminated in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington, as well as most of Oregon. Another subspecies, the Badlands or Audubon's bighorn, was already extinct, and others were heading in the same direction. By 1960 the North American population had shrunk to about 23,000. Most of the survivors lived in small groups isolated by the fragmentation of their traditional ranges. At that point, science got interested. Biologists began studying the sheep in earnest, and major restoration programs were initiated in several states during the 1970s. Bighorn have been returned to many of their old haunts over the past 20 years, and some groups are pros-
pering. With an overall population now estimated at 70,000 in North America, the bighorn has become a conservation success story. (Another 100,000 to 130,000 thinhorn sheep--Dall's sheep and Stone's sheep-live in Alaska and western Canada.) The sheep have benefited from better science, better conservation and management practices, and the financial support of groups such as the Foundation for orth American Wild Sheep, which thus far has pledged $10 million for a project to restore up to 6,000 bighorn to prime habitat in Idaho's Hells Canyon. Yet uncertainties cloud this magnificent creature's future. Many herds remain small and vulnerable to catastropic die-
offs triggered by disease or weather. In 1995, for instance, an epidemic reduced Washington's Rocky Mountain sheep by more than half, to fewer than 200, and the herds in Idaho have plummeted. Colorado's sheep population has rebounded to about 7,000 in recent years, but the animals are scattered in 66 isolated herds. By comparison, Wyoming's 6,500 sheep make up just 15 herds. But even in that wide-open state, which has the country's smallest human population and its largest concentration of bighorn-about 700 in Whiskey Basin-the population has declined in the past decade by about 12 percent. Throughout the West, wild sheep are
Two rams clash horns in the Canadian Rockies. During the rut, when the opportunity to breed is at stake, it can take many hours before a violent contest such as this is settled.
feeling pressure from development and the presence, in some areas, of domestic sheep, plus predation by mountain lions and encroachment by forests. Bighorn like steep, open ground where their extraordinary agility and eyesight can protect them, but years of fire suppression have allowed trees to overgrow much of their former habitat. Many wildlife biologists are now calling for controlled burns to reestablish old territory and open up
traditional migratory routes. The ups and downs of bighorn conservation are starkly illustrated by the sheep Wehausen studies. As soon as I reached Bishop, he took me to Wheeler Ridge in the Sierra, to see what he calls "drive-up sheep"-bighorn visible from a country road. He looked at the immense, steep mountainside for a few minutes and then casually announced, "I see sheep." Despite his precise directions and my good binoculars, it took me a while to find them. They blended perfectly into the mottled landscape of gray rocks, dun ground and dusty bushes. It was a group of nine ewes accompanied by a few lambs "and one two-year-old male," added Wehausen, after studying the age rings on the latter's horns with a spotting scope. The sexes don't mingle much except at rutting time. Young males stay with the females for about two years, quickly developing their lifelong habits of strutting and butting. They then join a band of rams, where they are often butted, kicked and even mounted by older, stronger males. Young rams devote their lives to butting their way up the chain of dominance until the happy day when they too can bully other males and rut themselves silly. Among rams, hom size is all. It determines the only two things that matter to them-their rank in the hierarchy and their chances of mating. A well-fed young male can add 10 or 12 centimeters to its homs each year, a Rocky Mountain ram's may curl nearly a meter, and its skull, including horns, can weigh more than 15 kilograms. At mating time, rams chase females up and down the slopes or hang around the local watering hole to round them up. Older rams do everything possible to keep younger ones from breeding. And then there's the fighting. Rams joust most seriously during mating season-Wehausen listened to one contest that went on for 24 hours. "They pretend that they're feeding, but they're really watching each other," he says. "And then they'll suddenly turn and go at it. It's such a crack, like a rifle shot. You can hear it a long way." There is what appears to be an almost ritualistic aspect to these clashes. The rams rise up on their hind legs, then smash heads. Immediately afterward, they step back, freeze and, with heads raised at a slight angle, appraise each other's horns. By comparing the force of the impact with the size of his opponent's horns, a ram can get a pretty good idea of his own. That gives him some indication of whether he is evenly Above: A ewe drinks .Fom a swimming pool near Palm Desert. California. Left: A bighorn watches traffic .Fom a ledge over a highway in Boulder City, Nevada.
matched or in way over his head, so to speak. The fights can be vicious. Horns take such a beating that the tips are usually broken off, or "broomed." At the conclusion of the mating season, Wehausen has seen more than one ram with its face nearly skinned from getting hit so often by glancing horns. The strongest rams with the biggest horns tend to die sooner (at 7 to 11 years) than their less well endowed rivals~probably because they burn out from chasing females and fending off upstat1 males. The rams' parental involvement ends with the rut. Ewes drop their lambs in the spring. Within days, the young mountaineers learn to scamper up and down steep slopes. Gray foxes, bobcats and golden eagles are capable of taking a bighorn lamb; wolves, grizzlies and mountain lions have the strength and athleticism to kill big sheep. Wehausen has seen a mountain lion make a successful attack. "A once-in-alifetime opportunity," he says. At dusk in the SieITa, he heard small rocks falling and lifted his binoculars to see a group of panicked bighorn scrambling toward the mouth of a canyon. Behind them bounded a mountain lion. Most of the sheep climbed to safety higher on the canyon side, but one 55-kilogram ewe stopped on a narrow ledge. The lion pounced onto the ledge and balanced there just long enough to bite the ewe in the neck before its momentum carried them onto a sandy flat below, where the lion finished the kill. redators must work very hard to nail a bighorn. Even predators with rifles find the sheep eerily elusive. So do field biologists. While chugging behind Wehausen on sheep trails littered with scat, I often thought about a sentence from the 1916 journal of natural ist Charles Sheldon: " ...tracks were numerous but sheep were scarce." Wehausen says matter-of-factly, "They evaporate." He has suddenly lost them even from the vantage of a helicopter: "We'll turn around and they've just disappeared." Over the years, hunters~who sometimes pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a chance to bag a ram~have
fabricated some tall stories to explain how bighorn escaped them. One common tale claims that when the sheep get caught at the edge of a precipice, they dive off and land on their horn-encrusted heads, then trot off unharmed. John Muir dryly wondered how ewes survived this, with their small, spiky horns, and noted that even if a ram's skull didn't crack from such a fall, the rest of his bones would. Bighorn hearing is mediocre, but the sheep have several other things going for them. First, they live on the open perpendicular, which protects them against attack by most predators. They have a good sense of smell, and their eyesight is superb. It's hard to surprise them, especially if lambs are present or it is windy. Wind unnerves bighorn because when brush is moving, they cannot detect dangerous things prowling through it. Yet for all their skittishness, they are
Bighorn have disappearedjrom the arid land west of Death Valley where these Indian petroglyphs portray them. The drawings are Fom 500 to 1.000 years old.
sheep, and sometimes will domesticate to a degree. In his pioneering work, Mountain Sheep (1971), wildlife biologist Valerius Geist wrote that some bighorn got so used to him, they would rush up and put their noses into his pockets to lick the salt he carried as a treat. Wehausen has seen bighorn begging along the roads in Glacier and Banff ational Parks, and has a photograph of a panhandling sheep sticking its head inside his car window. There's an extreme example in Palm Springs, where the country-club ways of the endangered Peninsular bighorn sometimes prove fatal. Jim DeForge, a founder and the executive director of the Bighorn Institute in nearby Palm Desert, drove me
to a gated community of million-dollar mansions at the foot of a mountain. We immediately spotted six bighorn grazing on the manicured common. Four big rams came clopping down the street, heading for the same sweet green. DeForge groaned. "That's sad to us," he said. "That's not bighorn sheep. But most of these places are used as second homes, so they're often empty and the mountains are close behind for safety. The sheep say, 'Hey! Ice cream! Let's go down!'" DeForge has pictures of them drinking from swimming pools. But this paradise can be lethal. Because the irrigated lawns are always moist, disease-carrying insects and parasites flourish in them, debilitating many sheep. Oleander, popular among local landscapers, is toxic to browsing bighorn. Then there are the cars. As we drove, DeForge mentioned that seven bighorn had been killed on this short section of the main drag, and several others injured. Pressured on one side by mountain lions and on the other by a booming real estate market, these sheep are getting squeezed out. The population of Peninsular bighorn has dropped from I, I 70 in 1979 to about 335 now. Most of those live south of Palm Springs. Only 29 adults remain nearby in the northern part of the Santa Rosa Mountains.
hese sheep have been DeForge's life's work. Like Wehausen in the Sierra, he has watched in agony as their population has crashed. The Sierra Club petitioned for endangered status for them in 1991 but faced form idable opposition from developers. Though the sheep were finally declared endangered in 1998, not much has changed for them. The area has nearly 100 golf courses-more courses than sheep, DeForge likes to point out-but new ones are being proposed all the time. Developers routinely sue or threaten DeForge's small nonprofit group for pointing out that their projects will eradicate still more habitat. FOttunately for the sheep and DeForge, many local people like bighorn, or at least the idea of them. Walk into any souvenir shop and you'll find the sheep's image on T-shirts, mugs and golf balls. Bighorn
sculptures adorn city parks and expensive lawns. Rancho Mirage, an affluent area 18 kilometers southeast of Palm Springs, supports the Bighorn Institute financially, a policy that was challenged recently by developers but approved overwhelmingly by the town's residents. On the other hand, house lots in the area are selling for up to $2.5 million a hectare, and new golf-resort communities are creeping up the mountainsides. One developer bulldozed hundreds of acres of Palm Desert, named the community Bighorn and stationed a number of sheep statues at the entranceways. If development continues at its present pace, the only bighorn around will be statues. Aside from field research, DeForge's institute operates a captive-breeding facility that has released 77 bighorn into the surrounding mountains. For his part, Wehausen views captive-breeding as an option of the last resort. He believes the future of Sierra Nevada bighorn rests mainly on translocation, taking a number of sheep from one place where they are doing well and moving them to another place. He is also committed to controlling
mountain lion predation-a major undertaking, it turns out. Since last fall, three two-man teams have been working fulltime to identify and eliminate problem lions in sheep-recovery areas. Ultimately, a dozen or so cats will be radio-collared and monitored; any found killing sheep will be shot. Similar measures are being taken in several other Western states. The track record of bighorn restorations is spotty. Scientists from several state and federal agencies recently finished a sevenyear study in and near 15 national parks, and found that nearly 60 percent of the restorations failed-the sheep either declined or disappeared. "That's the lowest percentage among big ungulates, which are usually easy to trans locate," says Francis Singer, the study's principal investigator. When translocated populations crash, says the repott, the main culprits are overcrowding and the proximity of domestic sheep, which pass on lethal infections such as bronchopneumonia, usually through stray domestic sheep or roving bighorn rams, for whom any ewe will do. Such diseases can wipe out entire herds. But this hazard is waning along with the demise of the domestic sheep industry. In the late 1930s, 45 million sheep grazed the mountains of the West. Today there are only 4 million. Singer's study lists three requirements for successful restorations: a group of at least 25 sheep; a patch of suitable habitat big enough to sustain the herd's growth; a distance of at least 19 kilometers from domestic sheep. Wehausen knows as much about bighorn as anyone, yet he believes that much remains undiscovered or misunderstood. Even the taxonomy is unsettled. Biologists have assumed for decades that the species Ovis canadensis contains seven races ranging from Rocky Mountain sheep in Canada to deselt sheep in Baja California. But new genetic research by Wehausen and his colleague Rob Ramey may reduce the number of subspecies by half. Since the mid-1980s, Wehausen has been driving 500 kilometers to the Mojave every three weeks in spring, less often the rest of the year, to monitor herds on Old
Dad Mountain and in the Marble and Old Woman ranges. "To my knowledge," he says, "I am one of very few sheep researchers who have ever had the privilege of studying both high mountain and deseli bighorn." On one of his trips, we drove up a sandy track after dark and unrolled our sleeping bags beneath the big desert sky. The next morning we climbed into the Marbles, volcanic mountains colored red, gray and ocher, with splashes of black desert varnish. We followed thin trails made by bighorn over loose rocks, which clattered down the steep drop-offs. The footing was treacherous, and some of the scree slopes reduced me to all fours. It was April, usually the greenest time here, with new grass and tasty wildflowers everywhere, but nothing was blooming, nothing was green. Wehausen called it one of the worst droughts in 15 years. "There's less to eat for the ewes, less milk for the lambs," he said. "I expect very few lambs to survive until summer."
ehausen has noticed several behavioral differences between high mountain bighorn and desert sheep. ecessity drives desert bighorn to disperse more widely for forage. They spook easier, perhaps because few people enter these inhospitable mountains. Wehausen has found unexpected differences even within neighboring groups of desert sheep. Ewes from the Marbles have emigrated to other ranges; Old Dad ewes rarely stray. Most desert groups eventually visit the water tanks put up by wildlife officers, but one group in the Marbles doesn't drink at all, relying solely on the moisture within forage-for instance, the juicy insides of barrel cactus. Wehausen's assistant once saw two rams butting heads over an open one, alternately taking bites as their mouths passed back and forth over the pulp. He's also seen blood on barrel cacti and spines hanging from sheep's faces and horns. After several hours in the Marbles, Wehausen spotted a single ewe about 275 meters below us, already dashing away. "I have to go down and see if she left any
droppings," he said. As we walked, he had periodically scooped up the ubiquitous droppings and rubbed them between his thumb and forefinger, then put his nose into his cupped hand like a connoisseur of guurmet coffee. "Nuggets of information," he said, grinning. He was testing for freshness, as a clue to the sheep's movements. Down below, we found the ewe's scuff marks in the gravel slope, and a big pile offresh pellets. "This is gold!" gushed Wehausen. He carefully put them into a bag, which he would add to his collection of similar bags dating back to the 1970s. That's when he began analyzing fecal samples for their nitrogen content, which reflects the nutrition and digestibility of the sheep's diet. "I have the best collection in Olih America," he said. "It's so valuable." The reason: it's now possible to extract DNA from droppings. Wehausen and Ramey hope to identitY the genetic makeup of all the adults in his Sierra Nevada study areas and then sample the lambs every year to see how many rams, and which ones, are breeding. They'll be able to tell if inbreeding is becoming a problem, and if necessary they'll import a ram to spice up the gene pool. We scrabbled up and around. At every new vantage, Wehausen stopped to glass the rocky mountainside. After seven hours without glimpsing another sheep, he decided to call it a day, and we began to descend through a canyon. Of course that's when we saw a group of six on a ledge 200 meters above us. For 30 seconds they watched us watching them, the natural aristocrats of the heights, and then cantered single file around a bend. Wehausen climbed to see if they had left any gold in them thar hills. Waiting for him, I wondered: Doesn't it get tedious driving 950 kilometers every three weeks? Doesn't it get stale working on the same animal for 25 years? Wehausen said no. He doesn't tire of bighorn because something unusual always happens to lure him on, like that year's severe drought. He wants to see how it affects survivorship and reproduction-he wants the data. "I see people study something for three years and then draw conclusions,"
Wehausen explained, "but I could take any three years of my data and the conclusions from it would be incorrect or incomplete. We don't have many long-term data sets like mine. I've tried to build predictive models and not one has ever worked, because ecology is so complicated." The sheep keep surprising him. In the mid 1980s, all five Sierra Nevada herds abandoned their normal winter ranges at about 1,500 to 2, I00 meters and began wintering as high as 3,660 meters, apparently to escape mountain lions. The snows were deep, the forage poor. The change statiled Wehausen. According to the literature, bighorn were creatures of almost inflexible habit, and yet here were five independent populations responding quickly and radically to a new threat. Unfoliunately that change led to poorer nutrition, which caused the ewes to postpone lambing from late April to early June, so they could strengthen themselves first on spring forage. This delay meant one month's less nourishment before the lambs faced the Sierra winter. Add to that the poor forage on the higher winter ranges, and the result was a high mOliality rate for lambs. "I was watching my life's work being destroyed," said Wehausen, as we stood at the base of Wheeler Ridge in the Sierra, watching sheep. He was feeling a bit better about this particular herd at the moment. In 1999, for the first time since 1985, most of this group returned to its old winter range at 2,300 meters, where the forage is better. They returned again this year. In 1995 the herd was down to 18 sheep, but since then the mountain Iion population has been significantly reduced here. Wehausen figures there are more than 50 sheep now. "This group is our hope for the future," he says. The next day Wehausen took me to Tioga Pass, high in the Sierra. He spotted two rams silhouetted on a rugged ridge far above us. Lofty, regal, remote, they transformed the skyline, charging it with vitality and mystery. When they vanished, the landscape dimmed a little. 0 About the Author: Steve Kemper is a regular contributor to Smithsonian magazine.
Building a Better Backbone By NEIL SAVAGE Photographs courtesy CORNING INCORPORATED
Surging Internet growth has put pressure on telecom networks to keep up. Their most advanced R&D is going toward expanding the capacity for the long-haul cables that cross continents and dive under oceans.
Too bad we're in constant need of new miracles to keep up with the voracious network demands that this century is placing on these thin glass fibers. Fiber optics is, after all, a pre-Web technology; and much of the fiber that carries-in addition to telephone conversations-today's e-mail messages, music downloads and video streams was installed before most people were even aware of those media. What used to seem like a shameless waste of capacity now seems woefully inadequate. Our appetite for bandwidth is growing at an exponential rate, with no sign of slowing. Tracey Yanik, technical director at telecommunications consulting firm RHK, compares the Internet to Star Trek s voracious Borg: "Whatever bandwidth is made available, the Internet will swallow." Optical fiber made by Corning, Lucent Technologies and other giant telecom suppliers is found throughout the telecommunications system, connecting us when we browse our favorite Web sites or place calls to Tokyo. But much of the cutting-edge research being done today on fiber optics goes into improving the capacity of the system's "backbone": the fattest of the fat data pipes, which whip data across continents and connect urban centers. "Backbone" is a convenient metaphor-but it gives too neat a picture. A vertebrate organism has a single backbone, but the telecom system doesn't; no single company owns these highcapacity interurban cables, and no one organization makes sure they are up to the challenge of meeting worldwide bandwidth demands. In some cases telecommunications companies-the WorldComs and Sprints and AT&Ts of the world-will seek to cover high-traffic routes with their own cables, laying spaghettilike strands parallel to one another along highway and railroad rights-of-way, linking metropolitan loops across continents and oceans. In other cases, carriers lease optical-fiber cables from other carriers; indeed, some can'iers are solely in the business of leasing backbone capacity. All carriers, though, are faced with the same challenge: how to stay ahead of the bandwidth demand curve. Research at Corning and elsewhere shows that every improvement in performance comes at a price; building a better backbone seems to be a question of choosing just the right trade-offs.
Beefing Up Optics n a giant screen at the Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York, video images flash by-news footage of a war, an inauguration, a spaces hot, a game show-along with real-time projections of museumgoers staring up in wonder. The source of all these images? A strand of glass, thinner than a human hair, yet wide enough to carry more information than three million copper wires, the technology it replaced. Corning is justified in showing off its invention: optical-fiber technology ranks as one of the technological miracles of the 20th century.
The simplest solution for stiffening the backbone is simply to lay more cable. But that's also the most expensive alternative: as much as 40 percent of the cost of a fiber-optic system goes toward purchasing rights-of-way, getting permits and putting cable in the ground. (It's an old joke in telco companies that they'd gladly give up new technologies if someone would just show them how to dig a cheaper ditch.) Two other ways to increase capacity avoid digging up the streets, relying instead on state-of-the-art equipment installed in the telephone offices where the fiber-optic strands terminate. Engineers can develop methods to increase the number of channels of information each fiber-optic strand can carry. Or they can
Fiber blob at start of the draw manufacturing process. 2. A spray of optical fibers. 3. Layers of materials in the cable encase the optical fibers in the cente!: 4. Fiber winding via tractor assembly.
develop ways to make the data travel faster along each channel. Both approaches avoid the enOrmous cost of installing new lines. But each strategy is tricky, since making improvements in one area often causes problems in another. "There's a strong trade-off between distance and capacity," says Roe Hemenway, manager of network equipment research at Corning. "The further you go, the lower the capacity. We're being asked to put more capacity on the fiber, go longer distances, and do it with even higher quality." Hemenway works in the laboratory at Corning's Sullivan Park Research and Development Facility in upstate New York, where shelves hold rows of metal boxes, each one a laser that generates an infrared beam. The beams run through modulators and multiplexers, amplifiers and filters, traveling the same loop of fiberoptic cable over and over again to simulate distance, much like a digital race car on the information-superhighway version of a test track. At the end of the system a computer screen displays the number of errors produced during the run, and an oscilloscope shows graphically whether the signal came out sharp or bluny. The setup allows Corning engineers to test how each component affects signal transmission, and what a change in one does to the system as a whole. This approach is critical to fiber-optic design, because whatever solution evolves to make fiber optics more efficient is likely to include a number of technologies, each of which might affect the others. In the last six years, transmission speeds in the labs for the fastest fi bel' optics have quadrupled, and another fourfold
A work crew in thejield lays television cable. A high-capacity jiber optic cable is compared with conventional copper wire.
increase is expected this year. The most pressing question is whether, given all the trade-offs, the current rate of improvement can be maintained. "I could give you a macho answer that we're going to continue to improve fiber, but quite frankly, I don't know," says Joseph Antos, technology director for fiber development at Corning. "Every new invention [to increase capacity] gets harder and harder."
More Channels per Fiber Data travels along optical fiber through a series of light pulses from a laser, the offs and ons corresponding to the ones and zeroes of digital coding. Fiber-optic systems use the light spectrum that travels most efficiently through the glass, wavelengths between about 1,300 and 1,600 nanometers. Outside of these wavelengths light tends to be either absorbed and lost or stretched too far to make a usable signal. And of the available spectrum, most transmission takes place in what's called the "central band," between 1,530 and 1,565 nanometers. By breaking the signal into different wavelengths, as a prism separates the colors that make up white light, engineers can send more than one stream of light along a fiber at the same time. Early implementations divided the light into four or eight separate channels, with each fiber carrying about 10 gigabits-l 0 billion bits-per second. Today some systems can carry 80 channels in the central band, and are able to push more than a halftrillion bits per second down a single fiber. But there's a limit to how many channels can be squeezed into the central band. Like closely spaced stations on your car radio, channels that get too close cause interference. On the radio, you might be listening to All Things Considered and suddenly get the Backstreet Boys-or static. The same thing happens with optical signals. To reduce interference, current state-of-the-mt systems require a buffer zone of about 50 gigahertz (a measure of frequency of a billion cycles per second) between channels. As a result of these constraints, the central band is now essentially full, and engineers are looking to add channels by moving out of the central portion of the spectrum and into new territory.
Breaking New Ground In order to make new palts of the spectrum-outside the central band-usable, researchers must develop new versions of devices that help push signals along optical fibers. Take the amplifiers that help boost signals, which lose energy as they bounce back and forth between the walls of the core section of the fiber. To pump them back up, engineers might use devices known as erbium-doped-fiber amplifiers. These are essentially loops of fiber laced with the rare earth element erbium. A laser excites the erbium atoms, which transfer their energy to the optical signal passing through the amplifier, increasing the distance it can travel. Without amplification, high-speed signals wouldn't travel far enough to be useful. Recent developments make it possible for these amplifiers to
work in the longer-wavelength region of 1,570 to 1,625 nanometers, adding a new chunk of spectrum from which to carve additional data channels. Lucent Technologies, for example, has released a system that squeezes 80 channels into the central band and exploits erbium amplifiers to add another 80 channels in the long-wavelength region, doubling the capacity of each fiber. Every time a signal runs through an erbium amplifier, however, it picks up noise-elements that were not a part of the original signal. Over long-distance backbones where a signal needs to be boosted many times, fiber-optic systems must be strung with regenerators, devices that reconstruct signals that have traveled through so many amplifiers that they have degraded. Regenerators take a light signal, convert it to an electrical signal, and then produce a new light beam. A new technique called Raman amplification will allow a signal to be amplified without introducing noise-doing away with the need for regenerators and potentially creating a new way for engineers to increase capacity. Unlike erbium amplifiers, which only work at celtain wavelengths, Raman amplification holds the promise of making even more new channels available. A new company, Xtera, of Allen, Texas, is hoping to take advantage of Raman amplification to enable the long-range transmission of shorter wavelengths of light than current optical networks can support. "It's kind of a new twist on using Raman techniques," says Joe Oravetz, Xtera's product manager, who unveiled the company's first new product at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibit in March in Anaheim, California. But using the shorter-wavelength band is a decidedly longterm strategy, since it will require installation of new equipment at every point in the network. "Going into a new band, you have to replace all the components," says Vladimir KozlDv, an analyst at RHK. "You need new sources. You need new amplifiers. It could be very expensive."
Speeding Up Bits An alternative to adding channels is to make the data stream in each channel flow faster. Just as the modems in people's homes have gotten faster, transmitters in the backbone have increased their ability to pump data, from 100 million bits per second a decade ago to a state-of-the-art lObi IIion bits (10 gigabits) per second today. While AT&T issued a press release announcing the first 10gigabit-per-second coast-to-coast Internet protocol backbone in January, it's already old news: 40-gigabit-per-second systems have already been announced by Lucent Technologies, Fujitsu and NEC for sale later this year. The engineering feats involved in advances like these are tremendous: increasing the data rate required engineers to design lasers that can reliably flash on and off 40 billion times per second, and receivers that can pick out one flash from the next, when they're coming at that overwhelming rate. But the name of the game in the backbone remains trade-offs,
and speeding up transmission rates causes new complications: putting more bits per second into a fiber requires more power, and at higher powers, the interference between channels increases. Also, at these remarkable rates, tiny flaws in the glass itself start to interfere with the flow of data. Engineers going for speed must compensate for such effects by increasing the buffer zone of unused spectrum between channels: a 40-gigabit-per-second line speed, for example, may require buffers of 100 gigahertz between channels instead of 50 gigahettz. The math is still favorable: the fibers will deliver half the channels at four times the speed, doubling capacity. The stakes involved in improving transmission rates in the backbone, however, are so great that for every obstacle, there are teams of engineers working to overcome it. Scientists at NEC America's Public Networks Group are working on a way to squeeze channels together, even at high speeds, by taking advantage of the fact that light is polarized. Imagine moving a jump rope rapidly up and down to make waves, which move up toward the ceiling and down toward the floor. Such waves would be "vettically polarized." Now start moving the jump rope from side to side, so the waves move toward the walls. Yourjump rope has become horizontally polarized. The NEC approach divides a light beam into 160 channels, each 50 gigahertz apart, and gives neighboring channels different polarizations. Two channels with the same polarization are thus still 100 gigahertz apart. While channels next to one another are likely to interfere with one another when they have the same polarization, channels with different polarizations are not. Such an approach will boost total capacity per fiber to 6.4 trillion bits (6.4 terabits) per second and is projected to be available in two to three years. And improvements continue in labs worldwide. In March, researchers from the French company Alcatel, which develops fiber and components for both land-based and undersea optical systems, announced they'd developed a system reaching 10.2 terabits per second. Also in March, researchers at NEC announced an experiment in which they tweaked amplifiers to get access to a wider wavelength band, increasing transmission rates to 10.9 terabits per second.
Or Dig a Trench All of these technological developments, of course, face this challenge: how to continue to improve performance over lines that were typically designed, manufactured and installed many years earlier. The first fiber-optic lines in a public network were installed under downtown Chicago in 1977. Today, most of the world's long-distance traffic is canied by optical-fiber cablesmore than 370 million kilometers of the stuff, all of it designed before today's breakthroughs in the labs. Eventually there will be no avoiding the need to dig a new trench. Once the decision is made to lay new fiber, though, new possibilities to increase its capacity emerge. The fiber strands themselves have evolved to handle ever larger capacities. Today, the state-of-the-att is "nonzero-dispersion fiber," invented by Lucent
Technologies and sold by both Lucent and Corning. This version of fiber widens the area through which a signal travels, giving it more room to spread and reducing overlap. "If you have a water pipe and you want to put more water down it, one of the ways to do that is to widen the area of the pipe, and that's essentially what [this technology] does," says Corning's Antos. ext-generation optics technology may get rid of the glass altogether. Several research groups are working on building a fiber out of new materials known as "photonic-band-gap crystals." Such crystals have an atomic structure that makes it physically impossible for light to pass through or be absorbed, so light striking the inside of a fiber would bounce back into the core. Doug Allen, a research associate at Corning working on developing such a material, suggests that the core could be filled with air, or perhaps an inert gas. By eliminating glass and its distOtting effects, he says, "you can send more wavelengths without worrying about them interfering with one another." All these new developments have thrust research in the lab far beyond what's currently available in the ground. If the backbone were equipped only with developments being demonstrated in labs right now-able to carry 160 channels over each strand, at 40 gigabits per second-the bandwidth we currently use in a month could be c31Tied over our networks in less than a second. That's when far-flung ideas st31t to get real, fi'om holographic, 3-D videoconferences that mimic real life, to long-distance surgery, to instantaneous access to books stored at any library in the world. What remains to be solved, though, is the economics of such a network: when will it be cost-effective to put these developments in place? In something as vast as the public communications network, even small upgrades take decades to be universally deployed. Theodore Vail, first president of AT&T, succeeded in building the world's first state-of-the-art public network only by getting Congress to declare his company a natural monopoly. That's not going to happen this time. Raj Reddy, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and director of the High Speed Connectivity Consortium, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, nevertheless remains optimistic that a very high-bandwidth network is inevitable-that one day we'll have always-on, all-youcan-eat bandwidth, as easily accessible as the phone system is today. "It's definitely going to happen in 30 years," he says. "[But] what do we have to do, and what do we have to spend, to do it in five?" And that, in spite of the legions of fiber-optics engineers dedicated to discovering the technological miracles that will power our next-generation networks, is the question waiting to be answered. But given the remarkable spectrum of cutting-edge work being done on the backbone, it is undoubtedly there that capacity will continue to increase at the most rapid rate. 0 About the Author: Neil Savage is a Feelance writer based in Lowell, Massachusetts. He contributes to MIT Technology Review, Astronomy, The Scientist and the Discovery Channel.
Transformation Laying that cable hasn't been easy, but labyrinthine bureaucracy notwithstanding, India can boast of some remarkable successes
ver the last 10 years, India has slowly but surely, liberalized its telecom services market. The government's pathbreaking reforms have opened up, one after the other, all markets-cellular mobile, radio paging, fixed line, satellite and long distance services-to private players. For a country that has been noted for its slow moving and labyrinthine bureaucracy, the developments have been remarkable. Despite challenges in COUlts, opposition from powerful lobbies of private operators and well entrenched monopolies, the government has shown a sustained commitment to introducing competition and private investment in the sector. It has met WTO commitments and supported the reg-
ulator in moving to resolve the license fee problems (caused largely by overbidding by the private sector). The telecom department's operations have been corporatized and the regulatory framework clarified. Today India is one of the most deregulated telecom markets in the world and provides oppOltunities for both foreign operators and equipment suppliers. Till 1991, provision of all types of domestic telecom services was a monopoly of the Depaltment ofTelecommunications (DoT) while the state-owned Yidesh Sanchar igam Limited (YSNL) was the monopoly carrier of international traffic. DoT was, all in all, the policy maker, the service provider, the regulator and the licenser. In 1991, as palt of the new industrial
policy unveiled by Narasimha Rao-Ied Congress government,路 the DoT for the first time invited private pmticipation in telecom services. The process started with the tendering of licenses to provide cellular mobile service in the four metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. In October 1994, after a long drawn battle in the COUlts,eight cellular licenses-two in each city-were finally awarded. Among the winners were several American companies: Cellular Communications International (CCI), in joint venture with Sterling Computers, was awarded the lucrative license for Delhi; the three-way joint venture of Bell South, Millicom and Crompton Greaves won the license for Chennai. However, CCI renounced its
rights and walked out of the venture after pocketing a cool $40 million. In the next round of licensing, the government awarded cellular licenses for circles, which broadly correspond to states. Currently, there are a total of 42 networks with two private operators providing service in each of the four metro cities and 17 circles (with the exception of West Bengal where Reliance is the only service provider and Punjab and the Northeast where the second operators-Evergrowth and Hexacom respectively-are yet to start service). The two operators, after an initial skirmish, decided to collude and formed a cosy duopoly. The government has sought to COlTectthis by subjecting the duopolistic cellular services market to competition from the state-owned companies MTNL/ BS L (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) and a fOUlthprivate operator. After a slow and uncertain stalt, cellular services have taken off in India. Barely six years after they were introduced, the number of cellular phones has passed the 4 million mark. The four cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chelmai and Kolkata account for 1.57 million subscribers. During 2000, the number of cell phones doubled from 1.6 million to 3.2 million. In June this year, 200,000 new subscribers were added. The spurt in demand has been fueled by falling prices. When opening for business, cellular operators set high entry costs and prohibitively high air time rates of Rs. 16 per minute in an effort to recover the exorbitant license fees they had committed to pay to win the license. The cellular phone was promoted as a lifestyle product for the status-conscious user. Operators soon realized that this strategy was myopic and when the Indian Government very generously agreed to waive the license fees and replace it with a revenue share arrangement, the operators changed track. Faced with a stagnant market, the operators repositioned the cellular phone as a common utility product and through the use of prepaid cards and aggressive distribution attracted a whole new set of users. The cards made cellular phones affordable since subscribers no longer had to pay monthly rentals or security deposits. The
operators were helped by the government's reduction in customs duty from 25 percent to 5 percent. The no frills, valuefor-money cell phone that is preferred by the Indian consumer is now available at a price range of Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 6,000. Motorola, which had an early lead in the Indian market, has been overtaken by Nokia and Ericsson. Meanwhile, the cell ular industry is changing with deregulation and consolidation. Private operators with ambitions of becoming national-level operators have begun increasing their footprint through takeovers and bidding for new licenses. Two of the most aggressive players in this game are the Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti Enterprises, which is now backed by Singapore Telecom, and Hutchison Whampoa. However, it is the AT&T-led consortium that has emerged as the leading cellular operator in India, through a series of deft mergers and acquisitions. Birla AT&T-Tata is an equal partnership three-way venture formed last year by the merger of Birla AT&T, a 51:49 joint venture of the Aditya Birla Group and AT&T, with Tata Cellular. Subsequently, the merged entity bought over the entire stake in RPG Cellcom, which operated cellular services in Madhya Pradesh. In June this year, it announced a second merger-this time with the BPL group. The merged
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entity is now the biggest cellular operator with nearly a million subscribers and a footprint that covers Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh-all contiguous states. The merged entity, with over 24 percent of all subscribers will cover 38 percent of
the country's population. In order to complete the footprint in the entire southern and western palt of the country, the new joint venture has bid for fourth cellular licenses in Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi. An obvious target for takeover is the Sterling Infotech promoted Aircel in which the U.S.-based Century Telephone Enterprises has a 10 percent stake. The company, which provides cellular service in Tamil Nadu, got off to a blazing stmt. Its aggressive roll out and subscriber acquisition plan led to 50,000 subscribers in the first 14 months. It has kept up the scorching pace and has over 123,710 subscribers as on April 30 last.
Fixed Line Service It was us West which pioneered the entry offoreign firms into telecom services in India. Even before India had formally opened provision of fixed line service to private investors, US West made a bold and unsolicited proposal to the Indian Goveml11ent for setting up basic services in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Unfortunately, the proposal, which found support among the top echelons of the Indian Govemment, kicked up needless controversy and the bureaucracy torpedoed its implementation. Nonetheless, the proposal helped prise open the market. The National Telecom Policy, am10unced in May 1994, formally opened fixed basic services to private participation. The introduction of competition and the need for interconnection with the DoT and MTNL networks led to the fOlmation of the Telecom RegulatOly Authority of India (TRAI). Six private operators are currently providing fixed line services in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Among them is Hughes Tele.com, a joint venture of Hughes Electronics CorpOl'ation of the U.S., Altel! Corporation and the P.K. Mittal-controlled Ispat Group. Hughes Tele.com launched its service in November 1998 by setting up an exchange at Turbhe in Navi Mumbai and has been targeting the high usage business
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and commercial customers in the six areas it covers-Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nasik, Nagpur and Panaji. The company, which currently has over 82,000 subscribers, proposes to provide 300,000 connections over the next two years. It is building a data centric broadband network using a combination of optic fiber and
wireless technology. The broadband network, with a total investment of Rs. 36 billion, will provide high speed internet access, secured and managed virtual private networks (VPN) and other Web applications. The company has obtained an internet service license which will pave the way for offering high speed
Internet access to its subscribers. However, Hughes is finding the going tough against the well entrenched state owned operators-MTNL in Mumbai and BSNL in the rest of Maharashtra. The company reported a net loss of Rs. 2,088 million in 2000-01 on a turnover of Rs. 1,950 million.
Ravi Kailas, chairman and CEO, ZIP Global Network Limited.
Hughes is also the leading VSAT (very small apeliure tenninal) service provider. Hughes Escorts Communications, the joint venture of Hughes Network Systems and Escorts, operates 4,500 of the 14,000 terminals installed in the country. It began services in 1995 and has over 170 customers and 66 percent of market share. The company is also the first to get a Ku band license. (Until now India allowed VSAT service providers to use only the extended C band for communication purposes). Hughes Software, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hughes is a leading developer of telecom software. The most visible symbol of telecom reforms is the ubiquitous pay phone or PCO. The pay phone has allowed an ordinary Indian access to phones for long distance and even international calls. A U.S.invested company, ZIP Telecom, is the only multiple payphone service provider and it manages 13,000 franchised pay phones in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. "We believe that we are well positioned to capitalize on the oppoliunities presented by the opening up of the national long distance services to the private sector and new basic service operators on the horizon in India," says Ravi Kailas, chairman and CEO of ZIP Global Network whose key promoters include the New York-based Andersen Weinroth Capital Corp. and American Insurance Group.
Internet Telecom reforms in India are also evident in India's crowded Internet market. Ti II 1998, commercial Internet service in India was a monopoly of VSNL. However, following the report of a task force on information technology, the government opened Internet services to private companies. The Internet service provider (ISP) policy was a complete break from the past. The policy allows an unlimited number of players, asks for no entry or license fees and even allows setting up of international gateways. The government has since licensed over 437 companies and over 100 of these are in operation. While VSNL still leads in the number of subscribers (650,000), the private players which are growing much faster, are catching up. Sat yam [nfoway, India's first and largest private ISP, has garnered over 500,000 subscribers while Dishnet DSL has 240,000 and Bharti Internet over 200,000. Central to Dishnet's .strategy is the Digital
Subscriber Line (DSL) technology. It was the first to introduce DSL technology in the country with the support of U.S.-based Covad Communications, which holds 7 percent equity in the company. Louisianabased CenturyTel Inc. acquired 6.67 percent stake in Dishnet DSL for $22.9 million. Dishnet has rolled out DSL access in six cities-Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore and has around 10,000 subscribers. The target market for DSL services are the country's leading hotel chains, apart from hospitals, insurance companies, educational institutions and high-density residential areas. Dishnet has tied up with U.S.-based TyCom for an undersea cable project. Dishnet's proposed South East Asian Cable etwork (SEACN) is to be connected with TyCom's transpacific ring, which will allow seamless flow of traffic between Chennai and the U.S. TyCom's transpacific ring connects Guam, Japan and U.S. West Coast through Hawaii and is expected to commence operations by July 2002. The project will offer 7.68 terabytes bandwidth between Chennai and Singapore, and Chennai and Guam, when completed in May 2002 and January 2003 respectively. Considering that almost 80 percent of the traffic from Chennai is to the U.S. West Coast, the TyCom tie-up will help Dishnet provide broadband connectivity for all major countries in the world and the SEACN system offers the shortest route. The policy changes provide increased opportunities to equipment suppliers. Lucent Technologies in New Jersey, one of the world's largest equipment suppliers, has been among the more successful foreign telecom firms operating in India. Lucent Technologies has supplied over one million lines of telephone exchanges to the Indian network in the last five years. With an all-India strength of more than 800 employees, Lucent Technologies India Limited V!iay K. Gupta, Lucent Technologies India managing direcfOl:
builds modern telecommunication networks for service providers in India. It has a state-of-the-art switching factory in Bangalore. In partnership with the stateowned Indian Telephone Industries (ITI), it has won the $120-million contract to implement the GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) network for MTNL. Among the major contracts it has clinched from private operators is the $175-million contract from Hughes Tele.com to build a broadband telecom network in Maharashtra. "We chose Lucent Technologies because it has expertise and technology backing of Bell Labs, its research and development arm, and an excellent country team to enable us to provide value and quality to our customers," says Prakash C. Bajpai, president and CEO of Hughes Tele.com. Escotel has also chosen Lucent to expand and upgrade its cellular network in Kerala, western UP and Haryana. Lucent also won a contract worth $31.1 million to build a broadband network in Andhra
Pradesh for Tata Teleservices. Lucent has set up R&D centers at Pune and Bangalore. The Bangalore software center concentrates on technologies for wireless, switching, networking, multimedia and the Internet. American companies are the leading providers oflnternet infrastructure. Cisco, whose India operations started in 1995, dominates the market. Investments to date have been $75 million and it plans to invest $150 million more. Cisco sells and supports its networking products through leading systems integrators such as Compaq, CMC, Wipro Infotech and Tata Infotech.
Chipping Away at
Reforms India has entered a new stage in telecom reforms. The government's role has shifted from ownership and operations to policy making, regulation, and promoting
Cellular mobile services in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh Bell South and Millicom (49%)
Cellular services in Chennai
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competItIOn, efficiency, service quality and increased private sector participation. There is also growing recognition by the government that the best way to serve the interest of the consumer is to ensure competition in telecom services. "The principle underlying reforms is unrestricted entry and unlimited competition in all types of teJecom services," says Shyamal Ghosh, chairman of the Telecom Commission. Since the opening up ofInternet, the government has announced that it will allow unrestricted competition in all types of services (except cellular mobile where limitations of spectrum allow for only four licensees). However, the present government clearly does not favor the big bang approach to reforms or develop a longterm road map. Instead it prefers carrying out piecemeal and incremental reforms. The model makes reforms acceptable and manageable for the government even though it forces foreign investors to postpone investment decisions till the reforms are completed. "The Indian market is sizable but it is trapped in regulatory and policy challenges: there is a need for regulatory clarity and policy stability," says Virat Bhatia, country manager and managing director of AT&T India. The government's bit by bit approach is best illustrated by the way it has chipped away at VSNL's monopoly over international services. In October 1999, the government allowed private ISPs to set up gateways and connect directly to foreign satellites, thereby ending VSNL's monopoly over satellite gateways but not over landing stations for submarine cables. However, the ISPs demanded the right to connect to submarine cables. This was finally conceded in June last year and formal guidelines for setting up landing stations to connect to international submarines was issued in August last year. Thus VSNL's monopoly over international data services was effectively dismantled. Only its monopoly over international voice services remained. On the eve of Prime Minister Vajpayee's visit to the United States last year, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a decision to end this monopoly two years ahead of
schedule-April 2002 instead of2004. Foreign firms can look forward to further liberalization of policy on foreign direct investment, privatization of stateowned enterprises and new legislation on telecom services. "India's low level of tele-density for both fixed and cellular phones reflects the need for initiatives to attract the very large scale private investment required to meet the growing demand for telecommunication services," says Peter Smith, World Bank principal telecommunications specialist. The World Bank has provided a loan of $62 million to India as pati of the Telecommunications Sector Reform Technical Assistance Project. The project will help India modemize the government agencies responsible for the sector, strengthen their regulatory roles, and improve the management of radio frequency for radio stations, cellular phones, satellite communications, and long-distance telephone and data traffic and give the bank a role in telecom reforms in India. Foreign investment in telecom service ventures has been inhibited by the cap on foreign equity. Foreign direct investment is capped at 49 percent in basic, cellular, long distance, VSAT and global mobile personal communications services (GMPCS). The government has recently allowed 100 percent foreign equity in Intemet service, infrastructure providers providing dark fiber and in electronic mail and voice mail services subject to licensing requirements. Now there is a move to raise the equity cap in all other services to 74 percent. There also appears to be a remarkable governmental consensus on disinvestment, even if a political consensus has proved elusive. The government has decided that it is necessary to sell stakes to a strategic investor instead of selling shares in state-owned companies in driblets. The Government has already invited offers for the sale of 26 percent stake in VSNL to a strategic investor. Among the bidders is a consortium of Tycom, CenturyTel, Sterling and BPL. Next on the block is MTNL, the provider of fixed line service in Delhi and Mumbai. Perhaps the most far-reaching reform is the proposed Convergence Law. There is
growing recognition that the present 20-year service-based licenses-separate licenses are issued for cellular, fixed line, radio paging and long distance services and broadcasting-hinder convergence. The subgroup on convergence, headed by Fali S. Nariman, noted legal expert and member of Parliament, has prepared a draft Communications (Carriage and Content) Bill, 2000, that would replace the existing Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Wireless Act, 1933, the TRAI Act, 1997, the Cable TV etworks Regulation Act, 1995, and the Broadcasting Bill. Taking inspiration from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Act, the subgroup has proposed a classification of services which is technology-neutral and service-neutral and facilitates the maximum possible convergence of technology in utilization of infrastructure. Thus setting up the infrastructure and its use would not be linked to the provision of a particular service or a particular technology. Services could be provided using any facility or any technology. Accordingly, the report has recommended that licenses for four categories, including composite licenses for all or a combination of categories: • Network facilities: this includes ealih stations, fixed links and cables, pay phones, radio communication transmitters and links, satellite hubs, towers, poles, ducts and pits. • Network services: this includes bandwidth services, direct to home delivery services, local delivery services, cellular mobile services, customer access services and mobile satellite services. • Application of any network service: Packet switched telephone network, public cellular telephony services, Internet telephony, public payphone service and public switched data servIce. • Content application services: terrestrial broadcasting, terrestrial television broadcasting, satellite radio and television broadcasting among others. The licenses would be granted by the proposed Communications Commission of India, the super regulator for informa-
tion, entertainment and communications. The Communications Commission, which would subsume the existing TRAI and have sweeping powers, would also issue licences. At present, licenses are issued not by the regulator but by DoT. The new regulatory regime of unrestricted competition in all types of services, reasonable entry fee and 12 percent revenue sharing, opening up of domestic long distance in August 2000 and international long distance in 2002, and technology-neutral licenses finally allows private operators to set up world class communications network. The current size of the India's voice market -local, national and international long distance and mobileis approximately Rs. 350 billion. It is currently dominated by BSNL, MTNL and VSNL with the private sector confined mostly to mobile and Internet services. The voice market is expected to grow to Rs. 750 billion in the next three years and the data market is expected to contribute Rs. 250 billion. The deregulation of the telecom sector has galvanized India's largest and most dynamic Reliance group to announce plans to straddle the entire electronic voice, data and multimedia market and have a national footprint. Rei iance Infocom, a new company incorporated for its broadband foray, is building a nationwide all optic fiber, broadband, Internet protocol network to offer the complete bouquet of services-voice, data, imagein order to capture all possible revenue streams. It plans to set up its own international gateways, huge Internet data centers, with gigabit routers and thousands of servers hosting major rsps. The network will not be a backbone for its own services but carry other's traffic. Reliance plans to spend Rs. 250 billion over the next three to five years-an investment that dwarfs the cost of its giant refinery and is more than the combined investments of all the private players in cellular, fixed, VSAT and Internet services. D
About the Author: P Balakrishna is a freelance writer based in New Delhi who contributes to Economist Intelligence Unit and other publications.
industrial labs, including Corning and a handful of startups, are in hot pursuit of their own versions of photonic fibers. While it's too soon to predict which will prevail, rival approaches developed at the University of Bath and at MIT are already competing head-to-head to become the optical fiber of tomorrow. These effOlts may bear fruit just in time for the telecommunications industry. The huge expansion of long-distance optical data transmission in recent years, fed by the growth of the Internet and its bandwidth- ~ hogging applications, has led i researchers to find ways to ~ shoot more light and more com- u~
with optical fibers. An optical fiber can cany thousands of times more data than a copper cable: in principle, a single fiber can transmit up to 25 trillion bits per second. That's enough capacity to cany all the telephone conversations taking place at any instant in the United States-with room to spare. Small wonder that the worldwide web of infOlmation technology is being woven from light-bearing glass. In a conventional optical fiber, light is confined in a silica inner rod by a "cladding" of glass with a slightly different composition than that of the core. Typically, small amounts of germanium or phosphorus are added to the core (a process called "doping"), givplex signals through optical A cross section after the capillaries have been elongated. The ing it a different refractive index fibers. But many experts believe diameter a/the resultingjiber is 125 micrometers. from the cladding. Light striking that in the coming decades it the interface between core and will become impossible to squeeze any more performance out of cladding is reflected, so the signal bounces back and fOith and the current generation of glass fibers. Although it's difficult to remains within the core. Information is encoded in a series of predict exactly when the roadblock will be reached, Jim West, a pulses from electronically controlled lasers and fired down the scientist at Corning's research laboratories in New York, defifiber to a photodetector at the other end, which converts the signitely believes "we'll run into those limits." And that's when the nal back into electrical form for processing in a telephone, comnext generation of fiber optics will become crucial in feeding the puter or routing device. world's apparently endless appetite for bandwidth. Sounds great. So, where's the catch? It's a matter of limits. As communications networks get bigger, busier and more ambitious, the drawbacks of conventional glass fibers are becoming evident, and existing optical-fiber networks will eventually be unable to Although photonic fibers are a next-generation technology in cope. One factor that limits performance is the fading of the light 2001, the history of conveying voice data using light extends signal over distance. A certain amount of the light is "scatback more than a century. After inventing the telephone in J 876, tered"-impurities in the silica disrupt the transmission of some Alexander Graham Bell didn't rest on his laurels. In 1880 he of the signal-as it travels through the glass core; other light simshowed that Iight, rather than electricity, can carry a person's ply escapes from the fiber altogether, because the interface bewords to a distant ear. Bell's "photophone" used vibrating mir- tween glass core and cladding is not a perfect mirror. rors to transmit sound via sunlight. But it was an idea long before Unremedied, these losses would cripple long-distance fiberits time. Sending electrical signals down copper cables proved optic communications: eighty percent transmission over a kilomemuch more reliable, and the photophone was largely forgotten as ter would leave less than a ghost of a signal at the far end of a telephone lines enmeshed the world. transatlantic cable. The answer is to amplifY the light evelY 70 After eight decades of the supremacy of copper wire, the in- kilometers or so. But amplifiers are expensive, and they require their own power sources. Each amplifier typically adds a million vention of the ruby laser in 1960 put light back on the communications agenda. Here was a source bright enough to really put dollars to the price of a long-distance transmission jine. For a cable light to work. Just as the transistor ushered in the age of microthousands of kilometers long, that begins to add up to real money. electronics, the laser sparked the age of photonics. In 1970 And when an amplifier breaks down mid-Atlantic, there's no Corning proudly announced that it had sent a laser beam down a option but to send out a ship to dredge up the cable. "It costs a forglass fiber and recovered as much as one percent of the Iight at tune to fix them at the bottom of the ocean," says Bath's Russell. the other end, a kilometer away (today's glass fibers are so effiThis daunting economic reality is the spur for developing the cient that 80 percent of the light will survive that distance). By new generation of fibers. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based OmniGuide Communications, founded last year by several MIT the 1980s, telephone companies began replacing copper cables
orderly array of holes running parallel to the thread along its entire length; at the center is an empty core in which light can be nearly perfectly confined. To give some indication of the precision involved in making the fibers, if the long, parallel holes were the diameter of the Chunnel connecting England and France, the experimental fibers made at Bath would reach Jupiter. How does one drill such perfect tunnels through a glass strand thinner than a human hair? Fortunately, the holes don't have to be drilled at all. They are ingeniously constructed by drawing the glass fibers from a bundle of hollow capillary tubes. The tubes are packed together in a hexagonal array a few centimeters in width, and the bundle is heated to soften the glass. As the array is pulled out into a fine fiber, its cross section gets shrunk by a factor of a thousand or so but remains laced with holes. Initially, the Bath physicists made a light-conducting channel at the core of the fiber by substituting a solid glass rod for the central glass capillary. But still better than calTying the light in a solid core would be to send it through a hollow core-through air, with the very low losses and absence of distortion that entails. In collaboration with Douglas Allan, a researcher at Corning, the Bath team succeeded in achieving light confinement in a hollow-core photonic crystal fiber in 1999. Recently they have formed optical fibers many meters long out of their novel materials.
Taking on existing optical fibers will be a tall order. Conventional glass fibers have been optimized over several decades and are made using well-entrenched teclmology. In contrast, the new photonic fibers represent a manufacturing unknown. For one thing, their structure must be exact. "The existing [fabrication] systems are simply not up to it," admits Russell. Still, companies are lining up to meet the commercialization challenges. Fink says OmniGuide is working on a series of products based on differentlength fibers. Projects include the development of active fiber-based devices for optical switching, as well as the development of fibers for light transmission over 10 to 100 meters, which could be useful for tasks such as connecting servers over short distances. Long-haul fibers for telecom networks will have the biggest impact, says Fink, but these "will take a little time." Researchers from the Bath group have launched their own spinoff, BlazePhotonics, and have secured funding from venture capital firms in the United Kingdom and United States. In Denmark a company called Crystal Fibre, started by scientists at the Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby who were early collaborators with the Bath group, is making photonic fibers with a solid glass core. While its initial products might serve such purposes as confining light in high-precision lasers, no one is losing sight of the big prize. "Telecommunications is definitely the medium-term target," says CEO Michael Kjaer. Like the founders of Denmark's Crystal Fibre, scientists at Corning have worked closely with the Bath researchers in the past, but they are now racing to the marketplace on their own. Jim West reports the company can now make photonic fibers up to a hundred meters long. But he reserves judgment about whether the new materials will eventually transform the information superhighway. Conventional optical fibers, he points out, are a difficult act to top. "It's only when you st311working with the state-of-the-art versions that you realize how remarkable they are." Although sending light through air may solve many of the limitations of today's fibers, it poses its own problems. For one thing, the composition of air is not uniform; as a result, light may be transmitted differently in different parts of the world. "Air in the U.K. is very different from air in the Sahara," explains West. "It's a fascinating technology," says West of the new generation of photonic crystal fibers, "but there is a long way to go." Still, if these new materials eventually fulfill their potential of transforming long-distance transmission in the telecommunications industry, it will be ajourney well wOl1htaking. 0 About the Author: Philip Ball, a freelance science writer based in London, has written extensively for a number of publications, including Nature, New Scientist, The Financial Times, and The New York Times. He is also the author of H20 : A Biography of Water.
ONE SMART BOOKIE The story of a savant
MAX WEJSBERG:See, I don't have the education other people have. JUDGE:That's right, but you are better with numbers than I am.
WEISBERG: What? JUDGE:But you are better with numbers than I am. WEISBERG: Well, I try my best anyway. That is all I know, is numbers. I don't know the other stuff. -Ramsey County, Minnesota, District Court, April 19,2000 n the morning of February 5, 1999, agents from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety invited themselves into Max Weisberg's house, on Iglehart Avenue in St. Paul, showed a search warrant, and began picking the place apart. They found cash everywhere, including $7,028 in a garbage bag in a bedroom; $2,000 in a dresser drawer; $5,521 in the pockets of pants tossed across the dresser; $10,930 in two grocery bags; and $2,090 in a flannel jacket. They also discovered a skeleton key that opened a locked front-entry closet. The closet held an additional $37,420. The agents hauled away the money, a total of $126,989, along with notebooks containing gambling information, betting sheets, and scorebooks. Weisberg, then 75, did not read the receipt the agents left him. Written documents are difficult for him to understand. He cannot do his laundry or figure out his electric bill without help. One of the most celebrated sports bookmakers in the Midwest, he is mentally disabled, with an IQ that has at various times been measured in the mid-50s to the low 70s. Although Weisberg's speaking skills, as reflected in court records, appear roughly normal, he is not, in fact, an articulate speaker, and he has a sharply limited conversational range. But few people can approach Weisberg at calculating odds and handicapping games. A St. Paul pool-hall owner whose establishment regularly filled with bettors and bookies testified in court in 1990 that Weisberg has "probably the greatest gambling mind in the world." Weisberg is a man with savant syndrome-"someone who has
special abilities that stand in stark contrast to his overall handicap," according to Darold Treffert, a Wisconsin psychiatrist whose book Extraordinary People (2000) examines the cases of mentally disabled and autistic people with unusual talents. These savants, whose special abilities come in several varieties, usually excel in calendar calculating, music, art, or numerical ability. Weisberg is the only savant Treffert has ever heard of whose gift has run him afoul of the law. In repeated raids the police have seized betting records and about $700,000 from Weisberg's house and safe-deposit boxes. Three times in 1989-94 Weisberg faced felony charges of spolis bookmaking. The first time he pleaded guilty and received five years' probation. Since then judges, a jury, psychologists, and psychiatrists have determined that Weisberg is not responsible for his actions because his mental disability prevents him from distinguishing between right and wrong. Despite all the evidence of bookmaking seized in that 1999 raid, Weisberg faced no charges afterward. "It was a sure bet that we were going to lose if we charged him again," says Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County's chief prosecuting attorney. "He would obviously again raise a defense of mental disability. Based on his previous [psychological] examinations, I didn't see how to go against that." Law enforcement agents feel similarly stymied. Norm Pint, a special agent at the Department of Public Safety, says that his agency will no longer target Weisberg. "The courts have spoken," Pint says. "It would be foolish for us to pursue any investigation" of him. Weisberg remains free, a bookmaker with a license to take bets. LAWYER: Now, after they found that money, they found the money and took it from your house. Did they leave you at the house? WEISBERG: Yes, they did. LAWYER: What did you do next? WEISBERG: What could I do? I ate my supper. -Ramsey County District COllli, April 19,2000
eisberg lives in a corner-lot house that his parents bought half a century ago. He conducts his business in the kitchen, seated at a table that holds a TV set, usually tuned to a football or a basketball game; the day's sports pages; sheets of paper listing wagers in crooked columns; the remnants of meals past; and a battered telephone. The rest of the house is dark, even during the day, with only the glow of a space heater illuminating a bedroom. Bars cover the windows, and a stout two-by-four secures the back door. Most of the furnishings, decorations, and floor coverings remain as they were in the 1950s.
Ever since the death of his older brother, Solly, in 1998, Weisberg has lived here alone. "Solly was like my right arm," he says, in the thick and moist voice that signals his mental disability. His blue eyes and sagging face are composed now when he remembers his brother, but the loss of Solly depressed Weisberg for months. That face, along with Weisberg's waddling gait and the baggy pants that puddle at his feet, are well known to anyone who has spent much time in Minnesota's capital city during the past six decades. Weisberg began his working life in the 1930s, helping his father sell junk and vegetables door to door. Later he joined Solly in a newsstand at Seventh and Wabasha. Eventually (Continued on page 59)
ome of India's eminent contemporary artists were showcased at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York last May in an exhibition jointly presented by Saffronart and Pundole Art Gallery of Mumbai. Featured artists included Jogen Chowdhury, the late V.S. Gaitonde, Laxma Goud, M.F. Hussain, Krishen Khanna, Prabhakar Kolte, Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee, Ganesh Pyne, S.H. Raza and Laxman Shreshtha. The response of viewers was unexpectedly enthusiastic, according to Dadiba Pundole, owner of Pundole Art Gallery. He attributes this to India's changing image in the United States. "People take India a little more seriously," he says. "I don't think that the quality of art has changed, but people are more aware of India."
S.H. Raza Garbha Graha, 2001 Acrylic on canvas 152 x 152 ems.
Indeed they are, at least on the streets of New York. The number of New York galleries dealing exclusively with Indian and Indian diaspora art are on the increase. Chelsea and Soho are dotted with new galleries, mostly run by Indians settled in America: Sundaram Tagore, Arani and Mita Bose, Cristina and Mahesh Naithani, among others. The Internet is being vigorously utilized, as well, Saffron art being one of the leaders there. It operates a lively art clearinghouse online along with organizing realtime events. Here are a few paintings from the New York exhibition, courtesy of Pundole Art Gallery and Saffronart.
Tyeb Mehta Gesture III, 1977 Oil on canvas, 152 x 122 ems.
Ganesh Pyne Untitled Mix media on paper 33 x 28 ems.
V.S. Gaitonde Untitled, 1982 Oil on canvas, 142 x 99 ems.
Laxma Goud Untitled, 1999 Etching, 51 x 33 ems.
Streamlininl the Process I
t'sbeen more than two months since the American Consular Section in New Delhi started the courier passback service and already great strides have been made to reduce the waiting lines of visa applicants. At a time when non-immigrant visa applications have increased lndia-wide-about 20 percent annuConsular Section has reduced ally over the last four years-the the morning lines by about 40 percent and eliminated the afternoon lines altogether. This is due to a number of changes which
As his first order of business after arriving in India, Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill greets visa applicants waiting in the queue in front of the consular section. He assured them that the Us. Embassy is making every effort to eliminate the inconveniences. the Section has implemented. It has expanded the drop box criteria, focusing principally, but not entirely, on applicants who have had recent international travel to countries with visa requirements similar to the U.S. and to parents wishing to visit their children and grandchildren. To accommodate the increase in HI-B applicants, the drop box criteria has been broadened to include all applicants falling in this category, not only returning H I-B applicants as had been the practice in the past. Retul11ing student visa applicants also benefit from this service. To avoid young and school age children having to wait under the hot Delhi sun for their visa interview, the drop box criteria has been widened to include children age 16 and under; previously, only children age 14 and under could benefit from the program. At the other end of the age-spectrum, applicants age 60 and over, no matter what the purpose of their visit, are spared having to wait in line; this is in addition to those parents age 55 and above who are going to visit their children. And, for those drop box applicants who are required to be seen by an officer, they are given 2:00 appointments for any day of the week except Friday. They have direct access to the air-conditioned waiting room and are promptly seen by one of the officers. And non-immigrant visa applicants are not the only ones bene-
fitting from the Section's new provisions. Immigrant visa applicants who are required to return with additional documentation are given daily, mOl11ing appointments at 10:00 so that the consular officer and staff can concentrate on them. Previously, they had been asked to retum with the new immigrant visa applicants, delaying the time in which they could be seen. And, the "V" visa recipients-a new visa category consisting of dependents of lawful petmanent residents who have waited three years to join their principal relative in the States and petitions have been filed before December 20, 2000-get their visas delivered to them through the courier service. No waiting in line for them either. Immigrant visa applicants who qualify get their visas handed to them that very day. The Consular Section is very proud of this service. A brief word about afternoon lines. If someone had driven past the Consular Section in May around 4:00 in the aftel11oon, he or she would have seen literally hundreds of applicants waiting for several hours to pick up their passports and visas. If that person drives by today, he will not see anyone because all these applicants are now getting their visas mailed to them by the Consular Section's courier service. Those who had successful visa interviews and those using the drop box are served by this facility. Although applicants are told to plan for a turn around period of six to seven workdays, the fact is that applicants in the Delhi area are getting their visas within just a few days from the time they drop off their passport and applications. To ensure that the process continues to operate smoothly, senior staff members of the Consular Section visit the courier service regularly to answer any questions on visa processing. The Consular Section is not resting on its laurels. It will continue to improve upon what it believes, under any standard, is excellent service to the public, by looking for ways to further reduce the lines ofIndian citizens waiting for their visa interviews. This will 0 be the subject of future articles in this magazine. About the Author: Ray Baca is the deputy consul general at the Us. Embassy in New Delhi. Change in Visa Fee Reflecting the current exchange rate of rupee with dollar, the U.S. Embassy announced changes in the visa application and issuance fees for all categories effective August 1, 2001. The following is the new visa fee structure: Non-Immigrant Visa Application Fee Visa Issuance Fee Immigrant Visa Application Fee Issuance Fee Returning Residents Fee
Rs.2,160 Rs.3,600 Rs. 12,480 Rs. 3,120 Rs.2,400
ing the shot as to where you will live for 15 months. It Weisberg became a highly visible flower vendor whose stakeouts won't be me, it won't be anybody else, it will be yourself of prominent intersections and sales expeditions into bars earned making that decision. Do you understand me, sir? him the nickname "Maxie Flowers." Everyone, from bankers to cops to politicians, bought flowers from Weisberg. WEISBERG: Yes, I do. -Ramsey County District Court, Flower selling proved a great cover for taking bets. Weisberg attended school only through the fourth grade, but the streets November 16, 1989 gave him an education in gambling. In St. Paul's saloons and alleys, which had provided a haven for such crooks as John n1966 the police arrested Weisberg on suspicion of sports Dillinger and Ma Barker, Weisberg absorbed the fine points of bookmaking, but the charge was dropped. Seven years later bookmaking. A successful bookie weighs a team's strengths and he served four months at Sandstone Federal Prison after he weaknesses, judges the home-field advantage, and senses the was arrested in a gambling raid, and he paid several hundred dolenthusiasm of bettors, all with the aim of "setting the line." The lars in fines for two other gambling convictions. But his real ad"line"-the Vikings over the Giants by four points, for examthe point spread that the bookie believes will ventures with the law began on December 4, 1988, when police ple-establishes attract gamblers in equal numbers to each side of the bet. On officers made the first of many searches of Weisberg's house and safe-deposit boxes. Max and Solly lost $437,000 that day-the this delicate balance, divined by psychological as well as mathemost money seized in the St. Paul Police Department's history, matical art, the bookmaker's financial success hangs. Ron Rosenbaum is an attorney who frequently ran into Weisberg and according to the chief of police. Seven years later ajudge divided other bookies in St. Paul pool halls in the 1960s. Back before Las the money among the city, the police, and Weisberg's lawyers. In June of 1989 Weisberg pleaded Vegas odds makers supplied the whole guilty to the bookmaking charge stemcountry with computer-generated point ming from the previous year's raid. He spreads, Rosenbaum says, "Max was "Sure) everything I sqy was sentenced to five years' probation considered the best at setting the number." Working in his head, Weisberg and a stayed 15-month prison term. The will be true) )cause could perform the calculations necessary following year another police search to set odds on complex parlays and turned up $4,500 and more betting slips. I alwqys tell the truth) )) wagers based on the total number of This time Weisberg had a new lawyer, he once told a points opposing teams would score. Ron Meshbesher, who requested a jury Weisberg's slow speech becomes even trial and developed a new defense stratstartled court clerk who was more hesitant when he tries to explain egy: documenting his client's mental readministering the oath. how he arrives at his odds and point tardation. He presented evidence that spreads. "I look at a line and find this Weisberg had spent more than a year in a state institution for the retarded, where game five to six points off," he says. "[Other bookmakers] are mad at me because I look at a line and the staff measured his IQ at 55 and described his condition as don't see how the points they gave are right." He maintains that "mental deficiency: moron, cause undiagnosed." Kenneth Perkins, a psychologist, testified that Weisberg's general reasonhe works with only half a dozen customers now-guys whose ing and comprehension skills fell within the range of the menbets he has taken for decades, and whose fondness for him allows argued that Weisberg was them to forgive those occasions on which the legal forfeitures of tally retarded. Meshbesher incompetent to know right from wrong. He called Weisberg a money have kept him from paying off clients. "I don't want any Rain Man-like savant with a miraculous ability to make book. more [customers]," he says. "I don't take any more." The jury found that Weisberg had indeed taken bets on sporting Now Weisberg's legs are in a bad state, and he can no longer events, but it acquitted him of bookmaking on the grounds of go out and sell flowers. He awaits calls from his customers with mental deficiency. Probably no other bookmaker in American legreater eagerness than ever. It's not that he likes sports-he doesn't. "I get tired of watching all those millionaire owners and gal history has been acquitted on those grounds. Despite the acquittal, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office players," he says. Ifhe didn't have a financial stake in a game, "I wouldn't give a damn what they do." used the jury's finding that Weisberg had made book as evidence that he had violated the terms of his probation. After a lower court agreed, Meshbesher took the matter to the Minnesota Court JUDGE:Now, I want you to look me in the eyes, Mr. of Appeals, which determined that Weisberg had not violated his Weisberg, just so you understand and know this: Bookmaking is over unless you choose to go to prison for probation; but Weisberg had already served 20 days in the county 15 months. I don't think that our prison system is a place workhouse, a sentence that District COUliJudge Lawrence Cohen for a sweet and nice man like yourself, but that's where had shrewdly staggered to include the dates of the Super Bowl and the boys' state high school hockey and basketball tournayou will go. The first time you make book and you are ments. "There is no doubt in my mind that Max knew what he brought into court, Mr. Weisberg, you are the person call-
was doing, and that he knew it was wrong," says Cohen, who is now the chief judge on the county bench. "And he tried to do it in a secretive way, which indicated it was wrong." The county's continuing pursuit of an elderly and mentally disabled man outraged many in the Twin Cities, including Kenneth Perkins. Perkins had measured Weisberg's IQ in the low 70s but had found that Weisberg had remarkable numerical skills. "My position all along has been that Max was not competent or capable of understanding what was going on," Perkins says. "He firmly believed that he was doing absolutely nothing wrong. He believed that taking bets was just as legal as what goes on in Las Vegas or the Minnesota lottery." In Perkins's opinion, Weisberg should be left alone: "At what point do you get to harassing him? I don't feel he's hurting anybody, and considering who he is and his history, he's not a threat or a menace to society in any way." All was then quiet until October of 1993, when the police returned to Weisberg's house and took away $47,000 and the usual collection of betting slips and gambling records. Tried on bookmaking charges the following summer, Weisberg won another acquittal, this time from a district court judge. Meshbesher says that when he was celebrating this latest finding of mental deficiency with his client in a tavern, he said, "Max, you are the only bookie in the United States who has a free pass." Since then, despite the 1999 raid, Weisberg has not been charged with any crime. Although he acknowledges that much of the seized money came from gambling, he insists that he has done nothing wrong. "A bookmaker is someone who has 30 or 50 customers," he says. "I'm not bookmaking. I just want something going. If I turn the TV on, it gives me something to watch." Meshbesher, who has now been representing Weisberg for 12 years, smiles at the mention of his client's name. "I love the guy," he says. "I've made a few bucks on him too." "I don't think the law envisioned this," says Darold Treffert, the expert on savants. "It would need to be more creative to deal fairly with a circumstance like this."
LAWYER:What kinds of things do you not understand that other people do? WEISBERG: What is that, ma'am? LAWYER:You just said ...you don't understand those things that other people do. What do you mean? WEISBERG:That means I try my best to do everything I can and some things I understand and some things I don't understand. LAWYER:Okay. And are legal papers one thing that you have a hard time understanding? WEISBERG: Yeah, right. LAWYER: Okay. WEISBERG:If you didn't have the education, you probably would be the same way. -
Ramsey County District Court, April 19,2000
eople who knew Weisberg as a child recall a disheveled and awkward boy who habitually chewed on his shiti coilaI'. "Maxie always failed," says Leon Frankel, a classmate of Weisberg's at Franklin Elementary School in St. Paul. "They kept him behind in school-he was kind of dull." Poorly equipped for book learning, Weisberg left school and hustled candy bars, peanuts, newspapers, or whatever he could sell to earn some money for his family. Weisberg's sister, Helen Finesilver, remembers, "He had a habit of running away from home. He would ride freight trains, and when he was good and ready he would come home." In 1939 Weisberg, then 15, was committed to the Faribault School for the Feeble-Minded, a state institution in Faribault, Minnesota. For the next 15 months he desperately wanted to get out. He says he was frightened by the staff's threats to steri Iize him, and he escaped from the school. After that he stayed out of institutions, living with his parents and Solly, and he never even came close to marrying. "I didn't want nobody nagging me," he explains. Only since Solly's death has he lived alone. Today Weisberg lives off his Social Security checks and the< small sums he earns making book. He receives assistance and affection from an assortment of Good Samaritans, social workers, and friends who drive him around, clear his walk of snow, help him shop, and regularly check on him. "He can remember which 16 teams are playing over the weekend, where they're playing, and the odds on each game, but he cannot remember mo/ name," says Bettyann Pappenfus, a telecommunications analy who for two years has volunteered to clean Weisberg's house and. do his laundry. In April of last year a Ramsey County judge presided over what may have been Weisberg's final court appearance. At issue was what should be done with the $126,989 that the police had seized the year before from Weisberg's house. In the end $51,687 went to the Internal Revenue Service and a similar amount went to his lawyers. But for once a little bit returned tC: Weisberg-at least indirectly. In a moment of compassion the judge ordered that nearly $13,000 be spent to bring the electrical system of Weisberg's old house up to code and to add airconditioners. There he sits in the kitchen every day, dressed in layers, taking bets from his customers over the phone, and scrawling the wagers on yellow legal pads. His reputation for paying off is excellent-except after police raids. His payouts are 'fairer than the state lottery's. Most important to Weisberg, his honesty is rarely questioned. ("Sure, everything I say will be true, 'cause I always tell the truth," he once told a startled court clerk who was administering the oath.) For Weisberg, now 77, it is enough to run his business, live independently, and stay healthy. "My parents always told me, 'Your name is Weisberg, you can be a person 0 with dignity,'" he says.
About the Author: Jack El-Hai is a ji'eelance writer. He is currently working on a biography of Walter J Freeman, the pioneer of lobotomy, a treatment method for several psychiatric disorders.
April 13, 1909-July23,2001
robably her best-known story is "Why I"Live at the P.O.," which is often anthologized and familiar to American literature students. It so inspired software designer Steven Dorner that he named his e-mail program Eudora after her. She was Mississippi-bred and she translated the richness of that environment into stories that evoked the Old South ill their imagery and dialogue. But recognition came late in life, parily because she was viewed as a regional author. She eventually won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for her novel The Optimist's Daughter and received the National Book Critics Award, several O. Henry awards and the French Legion of Honor among other accolades. She once wrote that she "listened for stories" long before she wrote them: "Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole." Her writing retains a child1ike freshness. She lived and wrote in the same house in Jackson, Mississippi, most of her life. She never married. She said her passion was "not to point a finger in judgment, but to part a curtain, that invisible shadow that falls between people, the veil of indifference to each other's presence, each other's wonder, each other's human plight." Typical of her work is "The Worn Path," a delicately-wrought story of the trek of Phoenix Jackson, an elderly black woman, from her remote backwoods home into town to get medicine for a sickly grandson: "At the foot of this hill was a place where a log was laid across the creek. 'Now comes the trial,' said Phoenix. "Putting her right foot out, she mounted the log and shut . her eyes. Lifting her skirt, levelillg her cane fiercely before her, like a festival figure in some parade, she began to march across. Then she opened her eyes and she was safe on the other side. '''1 wasn't as old asI thought,' she said."
June 16, 1917-July 17,2001
rom a life as a self-described "doormat wife," Katherine Graham met3lDorphosed into one of the world's most powerful women-a designation she abhorred-as owner of The Washington Post and Newsweek Ambivalent about feminism, she nevertheless_became a standard bearer for a generation of women who struggled for a voice, illdependence and careers in a male-dominated world. Grah3lD made the leap from being a traditional, affluent post-war housewife to a successful, late 20th century New Woman. ~fter the suicide of her husband Philip, she took over his publishing empire and turned the Post, then a so-so daily, into the chief rival of The New York Times. To editors, she was the dre3lD publisher who was willing to take risks. She did not interfere with an important story, even if some of her friends were the targets. By letting Post editor Benjamin Bradlee publish the Pentagon Papers, which detailed the U.S. Government's secret involvement in the Vietn3lD War, and giving reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein the go-ahead to expose Watergate in the early 1970s, she brought down a President. "She used to give us tips and then defend us when her friends got mad," Bradlee reminisced. Graham was probably the only person who could ask the identity of "Deep Throat," the Watergate background source, and get a straight answer. She did ask Woodward once, but before he could reply she said, "No, don't tell me. I don't want to carry that burden." She was the first woman admitted to the board of The Associated Press. Her candid memoir, Personal History, became a best-seller. Much beloved, she has been eulogized by people as diverse as Henry Kissinger, Oscar de la Renta, Arthur Schelsinger, Jr., Queen Noor, Nancy Reagan, Vernon Jordan and Bill Gates, all of whom were friends. Newsweek editor-in-chiefRichard M. Smith summed up her integrity: "She understood that good journalism got lmder people's skins-and that such was the price of seeking truth and speaking truth."
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