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Vol. 77 No 7

OCTOBER 2013

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THE RADICAL HUMANIST (Since April 1949) Formerly : Independent India (April 1937- March 1949)

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M. N. Roy Founder Editor


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This Month's Contributors

REKHA S. Editor (page 2)

SANDEEP PANDEY

UDAY DANDAVATE

From Lucknow, U.P., India

From San Francisco, U.S.A.

(Page 3)

(Page 5)

KULDIP NAYAR

K.S. CHALAM

From New Delhi, India (Page 9)

From Hyderabad, A.P., India (Page 15)

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www.theradicalhumanist.com

The Radical Humanist Vol. 77 Number 7 October 2013

Contents

Monthly journal of the Indian Renaissance Institute Devoted to the development of the Renaissance Movement; and for promotion of human rights, scientific-temper, rational thinking and a humanist view of life. Founder Editor: M.N. Roy Editor: Dr. Rekha Saraswat Contributory Editors: Prof. A.F. Salahuddin Ahmed, Dr. R.M. Pal, Professor Rama Kundu Publisher: Mr. N.D. Pancholi Printer: Mr. N.D. Pancholi Send articles to: Dr. Rekha Saraswat, C-8, Defence Colony, Meerut, 250001, U.P., India, Ph. 91-121-2620690, 09719333011 E-mail articles at: rheditor@gmail.com Send Subscription / Donation Cheques in favour of The Radical Humanist to: Mr. Narottam Vyas (Advocate), Chamber Number 111 (Near Post Office), Supreme Court of India, New Delhi, 110001, India n.vyas@snr.net.in Ph. 91-11-22712434, 91-11-23782836, 09811944600

Please Note: Authors will bear sole accountability for corroborating the facts that they give in their write-ups. Neither IRI / the Publisher nor the Editor of this journal will be responsible for testing the validity and authenticity of statements & information cited by the authors. Also, sometimes some articles published in this journal may carry opinions not similar to the Radical Humanist philosophy; but they would be entertained here if the need is felt to

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1. From the Editor’s Desk: The Citizen's Expectations from the State —Rekha Saraswat 2 2. Guests’ Section: What Are U.S. Compulsions To Attack Syria? —Sandeep Pandey 3 3. Current Affairs’ Section: A Provocation For The Youth; Why Secularism? Delhi Elections can change the course of national politics; Voice of Conscience —Uday Dandavate 5 The Problem of Kashmir; Is India’s story over? Idea of India at peril; Aberrations in the Army —Kuldip Nayar 9 Spiritual Unity among Telugu People — K.S. Chalam 15 4. IRI / IRHA Members’ Section: Have We Failed? —Jawahar Lal Jasthi 17 5. Professors' & Research Scholars' Section: Freedom from Violence: A Basic Human Right —Vijay Pdt. Jashwal 19 The Worth and Weight of a Vote —Ritvik Mangesh Kulkarni 23 6. Film & Book Review Section: Free Tilly! —Donald R. Prothero 31 From Lal Salaam to Red Blooms — Dipavali Sen 33 7. Humanist News: 36


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OCTOBER 2013 majority would intimidate the minorities in the name of Republic’s unlimited powers. James Madison was very vocal about this fear of minorities being oppressed and marginalized if power was concentrated at the top. To confirm this check upon the powers that would be it was felt that a written contract was a must. Although they had a parentage of the British unwritten Constitution they realized that a written constitution that sets the rules for governance between the people and their elected representatives was very much needed now to check the unlimited ruling rights of a vast and huge nation’s government at the top in the Centre. Thomas Paine had already asserted that an unwritten constitution would not be a constitution at all under the new circumstances. And so, the fourth principle a ‘Written Constitution’ was enlisted by the delegates of the Constitutional Convention and that it could only be altered by a pre-decided amendment process. The fifth and the final principle upon which all the fifty five delegates agreed, after arguing and discussing for four months, was the ‘right of the citizen’ to own his ‘private property’. Even if a man had no property he did have the right to build, accumulate and own it later on. The founders of the Constitution agreed with Adam Smith that controls by the government on the private property of an individual were equivalent to its control on his liberty. How so ever much, some of us may criticize the U.S. foreign policies but it has passed the test of truthfully applying these principles in its internal behavioral politics in the past 226 years ever since they were agreed upon in 1787 Constitutional Convention. Was it the honesty of the subsequent U.S. Governments or the democratic maturity of its citizens that kept their rights intact? This is a question which needs further investigation.

From the Editor's Desk: The Citizen’s Expectations from the State

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hen the American Constitution was being formed the fifty five delegates of its Constitutional Convention decided upon five nascent values which were to become the core principles of future governments. They called them the First Principles or the Founding Principles of the U.S. Constitution. The first one was about every citizen’s equal and inherent right to Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness. It categorically declared that these rights were neither bestowed upon the citizens by the state nor did the Government have the power to snatch them away because they were endowed to the citizens directly by the Creator. No human power would take them away. It read “Rights come from God, not government.” By saying this they were probably, not going back to the ‘Dark (Middle) Ages’ but were trying to make it amply clear that there was to be no contradiction on this one fact that an individual’s right to Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness was above all forms of man-made laws. The second aspect on which the founders of the American Constitution were unequivocally sure was that the American people would have the final say in deciding about who would own political power and how he would use and apply it upon the people to administer their affairs because the principle read that “All political power emanates from the people.” This naturally meant that any Government or State that was not able to ensure the citizens’ happiness and safety had to be removed from power immediately. And that the Central and state assemblies should be re-constructed because they held the authority to form laws only as long as the people were benefitted from them. This principle again restricted the State and the Government from misusing power against the interests of the citizens. This also meant that the people and not the Legislatures were the ultimate authority to endorse the Constitution if any changes to its basic tenets were to be proposed. Delegate William Paterson, author of the New Jersey Plan had specified that ‘the mighty hands’ of the people would delineate the Constitution. But the founders of the constitution were very sure that ‘the people’ were to be differentiated from ‘the mob’ and therefore, the two parts of republic at the Centre would mutually check and balance each other’s use of governing power. Also that the States would keep an eye over the Centre lest it overpowers them for which they were to have their own Constitutions to run their daily affairs. The third principal read “Limited representative republic” so that no ethnic, racial, religious or wealthy

We, in India, are in the making of a new Government in the Centre, the next year and in some states in a few months. Our immediate concern now should be to put the manifestos of all the contesting parties’ to a litmus test of honesty on the basis of these basic principles and values of democracy: viz. do they support the rule of law (where no one is above law including its creators), a limited government (which decentralizes its authority to the last unit, the village panchayat), a federal structure of the government (where Centre does not dictate and monopolize the states), equality before law (where all citizens are equal before law) and a majority rule (where the minority does not lose its basic human rights in the name of majority rule)? But have Indian citizens matured enough in the past 66 years of independence to see through their manifestos to make a right choice? A very doubtful question it is!!—Rekha S.

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Guests' Section:

What Are U.S. Compulsions To Attack Syria? — Sandeep Pandey US President Barack Obama was Theawarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy, cooperation between people, for promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and a new climate in international relations, especially in reaching out to Muslim world and for his support to using established international bodies such as UN to pursue foreign policy goals. Four years is too short a time for a person described above to undergo complete transformation. One important reason why people of US elected him in the first place was because they had become tired of war policy of George Bush. They wanted peace. Barack Obama won approval of US people because he announced withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He was seen as a man who would bring peace. And indeed he tried to reach out to the Muslim world. But why is the same Obama now targeting a Muslim country and willing to ignore the UN decision making process like his predecessor? Even his reason to attack is so similar to that of Bush. Bush misinformed the world about presence of nuclear weapons in Iraq inspite of contrary reports from UN inspectors who went inside Iraq and IAEA. Now Obama wants the world to believe that Syrian government has used chemical weapons without waiting for confirmation from UN inspectors who have been sent to Syria. There are reports to the contrary that it is the rebels who have used chemical weapons supplied by outsiders. And US is definitely supporting the fight of rebels. US wants to use the excuse of usage of chemical weapons in Syria to launch a military offensive. But the real objective is to bring about a regime 3

change. However, the Syrian President Bashar-Al-Assad is holding on for longer than the US had expected. The impending US attack without a UN Security Council resolution would be illegal and morally indefensible. It'll be a demonstration of US authoritarianism and contempt for global opinion. The country which has yet to apologise for 1945 mass killings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki has apparently taken a position against weapons of mass destruction. US continues to possess the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan has shown that even if weapons of mass destruction are not used there is heavy civilian casualty, which the US likes to call 'collateral' damage. The 'Cost of War project' of Brown University and Watson Institute estimates that out of 1,76,000-1,89,000 people killed in Iraq, 1,34,000 were civilians. In contrast, the number of US soldiers killed was roughly only 4,500. So, even if US didn't use any weapons of mass destruction can there be any denying the fact that there was mass killing by US forces. The question that needs to be asked is what right US has got to take unilateral action against countries possessing weapons of mass destruction? The Israeli testing of missiles in the midst of tension in West Asia is provocative, to say the least. Inspite of Obama paying a lip service to the cause of Palestine, the US policy continues to protect the interests of Israeli state. US and western forces have no right to meddle in the affairs of West Asia. The countries in this region should be given a chance to resolve their outstanding issues through dialogue. Or, it must be left to the people of these countries to decide what kind of rulers they would like to have. The revolution in a number of Arab countries has demonstrated that even people can bring about regime change if the government becomes unpopular. When people will be behind the regime change true democracy will prevail but if the regime change is artificially brought about by the US there would be no guarantee of the sustainability of the government as these


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governments will be perceived by people as puppets. In any case, Palestine must first be established as an independent country and Israel must be restrained. Why does the biggest champion of democracy not respect the wishes of people of Palestine? It also recently allowed the democratically elected government in Egypt to fall to a military coup. Who would believe now that the US doesn't have double standards? However, one must realise the US compulsions for going to war. The economy not very long back was in doldrums. The banks in a country which is the biggest champion of free market had to be bailed out by the government, which is unheard of. It is no secret that the health of military-industrial complex in the US is directly related to that of the economy. Hence, the best way to boost US economy would be to cater to the military-industrial complex. When war would be fought weapons manufacturing will receive a fillip. Moreover, the Iraq war has shown that there are rebuilding contracts up for grab after devastation of enemy country. The reconstruction economy is equally big. The US economy will be thankful to any President who'll bring war. Barack Obama would not like to go down in history as a President who didn't do enough to help the economy. Where there is no war, one will have to be created.

It is bad luck for Bashar-Al-Assad that it is now his turn to be targeted. It doesn't matter to the US that the rebels Al-Nusra may have links to Al-Qaeda, which till the last US war not very long back was its enemy number one. Can the US be so short sighted? [Sandeep Pandey is an alumnus of Syracuse University & University of California, Berkeley. He has taught at IIT, Kanpur, founded a registered organization named Asha Trust which has several centres /chapters across India. His team has launched a people’s group named Asha Parivar in 2008 that focuses on strengthening democracy at the grassroots. He leads National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the largest network of grassroots people’s movements in India. He was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2002 for the emergent leadership category. He has served as an adviser to CABE. His idea of education is based on empowerment by imbibing the spirit of cooperation instead of competition. Currently he is working as a Visiting Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at IIT, Gandhinagar. He has been involved in numerous struggles from workers’ rights, communal harmony to nuclear non-proliferation in order to protest the injustices to the underprivileged people. Ashaashram@yahoo.com]

Letter to the Editor: Some Reminiscences of a Veteran Radical Humanist— Our past fathers, were trade unionists. They were from the dock-workers, mathadi workers, transport workers. my father was the earliest founder of the dock, etc all workers. (History of strikes in india roy-ist group). fsuimumbai 1 is a union for seafarers. I have just now helped them solve a problem in setting up a free-hospital for seafarers and offshore workers, which in turn is run by "Orbit" and it is situated at Bhivandi. I have also provided a pathologist Dr. Rashmin Jain for our Bandra Diagnostic Center. They need a link up sooner or later. So you are now in the know about the roy-ist movement by Madam Maniben Kara, Mr. V B Karnik, And Dr. M R Shetty of the royist group. Mr. Prabhu Desai was one of the oldest Radical and until recently the trade union head for the dock workers that also included Mr. Rao, Mr. Murthy and others. If you see the front office display at the MUI SEAFARERS UNION OFFICE AT BALARD ESTATE then you will alight into a new world of old Royists . Ands they make us proud .—Vijay Shetty, vijayshetty.india@gmail.com

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inspiring progressive thinking within our little areas of influence? If we can address some of these provocations, we For The Youth may prepare ourselves to find a direction for the future that is not swayed by the rhetoric of — Uday Dandavate opportunistic leaders.

Current Affairs' Section:

A Provocation

am writing these heartfelt musings only because you, the youth of India, do not let the burden of history constrain your dreams for the future. Some people may call your mindset naivete, but I call it innocent dreaming. I would rather let innocent dreams define the future of India than malicious wisdom that is dividing us, turning us into cynics and making us choose from discredited choices. I would rather fall forward in pursuit of innocent dreams, than fall in the trap of preconceived notions that make us hate each other. Here are my provocations for the youth of India: 1. Do we help India become a nation of expanding opportunities for everyone who dares to dream, or remain a pool of limited resources that we fight over? 2. Do we want our sense of identity to be defined by our religion, caste and language or by our ability to be recognized worldwide as a community of people who are recognized for our distinctive contribution to the world? 3. Do we buy into the idea of development that is based on mindless encroachment on natural resources for consumption and displacement of indigenous people who claim to stay in harmony with nature, or are we willing to experiment with new models of development that are based on respect for sustainable living? 4. Do we see cultural plurality of India as an impediment or a resource for progress? 5. Does modernity mean consumerism or responsible living? 6. Do we seek solutions for our problems in a single leader or are we prepared to take responsibility for

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Why Secularism? leadership of the RSS has consistently Theundermined the concept of secularism. They have introduced into political discourse phrases such as “pseudo secularism”, “appeasement of minorities (Muslims)” and more recently, “Love Jihad” to deliberately build a loyal constituency amongst Hindu majority for achieving their ultimate objective of turning India into a homogenous society. Unfortunately for the RSS, secularism is a part of the basic structure of Indian constitution and it cannot ever be changed through an amendment, even if BJP assumes power with 2/3rd majority. In 1973, thirteen judges of the Supreme Court, including then Chief Justice Sikri, who heard arguments in Kesavananda Bharati v. The State of Kerala the court held, by a margin of 7-6 that although no part of the constitution, including fundamental rights, was beyond the amending power of Parliament the “basic structure of the Constitution could not be abrogated even by a constitutional amendment”. Chief Justice Sikri, writing for the majority, indicated that the basic structure consists of the supremacy of the constitution; a republican and democratic form of government; the secular character of the Constitution; maintenance of the separation of powers; the federal character of the Constitution. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of the BJP, has championed the concept of a Hindu Rashtra for the past sixty plus years. It is important to realize that they can implement their vision only through subversion of India’s constitution. To appreciate why secularism is a part of the basic structure of Indian


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a Narendra Dabholkar. After damning secularism for years, Mr. L.K. Advani discovered the value in the idea of secularism when he termed Mohmad Ali Jinah a secular leader during his visit to Karachi in 2005. The RSS organization made Mr. Advani pay for his reconciliatory tone towards a sworn enemy of the proponents of Hindu Rashtra by forcing him to resign as a President of the BJP after his comment in Karachi. Mr. Narendra Modi, too discovered the value in the idea of secularism when at his recent rally in Rewari he called Indian Army the most secular entity. It would be amusing to watch Mr. Modi resolve the paradox between his agenda for inciting Hindu nationalism and the need for reaching out to the minorities. During the election campaign we will be hearing new interpretations of secularism from a man who is applauded by his supporters for having put fear of god in the minds of minority community. I hope that the electorate of India will not be swayed by the campaign rhetoric against secularism. I also hope that the youth of India will appreciate that India can become a modern and prosperous country only if we stand by those who are trying to bring about social reforms within their communities. In closing I quote Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of Turkey, a country known worldwide as a nation of Muslim majority committed to secular and modern way of life. He championed political, economic, and cultural reforms, seeking to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, secular, and democratic nation-state. He said, “My people are going to learn the principles of democracy the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go. Let them worship as they will, every man can follow his own conscience provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him act against the liberty of his fellow men.” There is much to be learned from the history of this Muslim majority nation, which embarked on a path of modernization by committing to the principle of secularism.

constitution, it is important to understand the concept of secularism. Secularism is a principle that involves two basic propositions. The first is the strict separation of the state from religious institutions. The second is that people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law. Contrary to common misperception, secularism does not deny individual citizens the right to practice their religion, rather it provides both believers and non believers the freedom of pursuing their thought and conscience, insofar as it does not impinge disproportionately on the rights and freedoms of others. Opponents of secularism often equate secular minded people with atheists. Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. Secularism simply provides a framework for a democratic society, where government must ensure equitable distribution of resources. The principle of secularism endows in the state the power and the responsibility to protect human rights of its citizens, regardless of their faith. As India goes to elect its new parliament in less than a year, it is important to understand that the principle of secularism is critical for maintaining stability of our intercultural society and for providing security to our intercultural communities. Secular framework of the constitution will only ensure empowering of India’s diverse population with education, employment, and justice so that full potential of our population could be cultivated and harnessed. The blame for undermining of secularism does not fall entirely in the lap of the RSS or BJP. Vote bank politics has historically got in the way of social reforms. Politicians of all hues have taken advantage of the sense of insecurity and injustice amongst the minorities. Politicians lack courage to stand behind social reformers in different communities who have fought against injustice and superstitions inherent within their own religion. Politicians have courted orthodoxy rather than reformers. They have failed miserably in protecting a Shah Bano or a Rup Kanwar; a Hamid Dalwai, a Asghar Ali Engineer or

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Delhi Elections can change the course of national politics Elections to Delhi Assembly Forthcoming bear as much importance as the elections to the Gujarat Assembly after the Nav Nirman Movement in 1974, which ultimately resulted in defeat of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s government and emergence of the Janata Party. Though the issues in the Delhi election are local they bear consequences for the next General Elections in India. In Delhi the Aam Adami Party is taking on both the Congress Party of India and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The importance of this election should be seen in the background of recent upsurge of mass support to Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption, from which emerged the idea of forming the Aam Adami Party. Anna himself has dissociated himself from the AAP’s chosen path of forming a political party for an immediate, direct fight against the corrupt political parties, and has instead focused on fighting the current corrupt system through mobilization of grass root level leadership with a long-term vision. Anna’s dissociation from AAP does not take away the importance of people’s frustration with existing political parties and confusion about who to vote in the next elections. The BJP is trying to capitalize on people’s utter disenchantment with the misrule and corruption of the Congress party government by providing the option of “Hindu Nationalism” under the leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi. The Congress party, on the other hand, is trying desperately to polarize the contest by posing itself as the only secular alternative to the communal BJP. As a counter to Corporate India’s open support to Mr. Narendra Modi, the Congress party is rushing through a series of legislations and ordinances that are being touted as its commitment to the poor of India.

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Unfortunately for both the Congress party and the BJP, if recent electoral verdicts are an indication, Indian voters are beginning to apply their own mind while voting as opposed to being swayed by campaign rhetoric. Record of State level governance has carried significant influence on voting patterns during recent national elections. If this pattern is a pointer to the evolution of India’s democracy, then the Delhi Elections provide an opportunity for India’s citizens to vote for a candidate of their choice, driven by their conscience, as opposed to voting for paving the way for Mr. Modi or Mr. Rahul Gandhi. In the current situation, the Aam Adami Party provides an opportunity for Delhi’s citizens to give new direction to India’s politics. If you are searching for an alternative beyond the Congress party and the BJP, please vote for Aam Adami Party. Your vote can galvanize a new hope for India to find a new grass root level leadership even for short term, while Anna Hazare and his team continue their efforts with a long term focus.

Voice of Conscience us face it. India has caught election Letfever. No matter what our leaders say or promise publicly, no matter which decisions are taken by the central or state governments for the welfare of different interest groups, no matter which event triggers communal frenzy and disturbs social harmony, it would not be difficult to trace all these random occurrences to just one truth- that someone somewhere is manipulating public perceptions for electoral benefit. The Congress party and the BJP have already started house cleaning. Dr. Manmohan singh and Shri Lal Krishna Advani have been marked "discontinued". Marketing strategies are being crafted to provide an exit for these two gentlemen who have served their respective ideologies with utmost dedication for years. New mannequins are being installed in the show window and new


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marketing campaigns being designed and pilot tested to assess public response before launching massive advertising blitz. Large-scale government contracts are being dished out to collect kickbacks that will fund all the massive rallies, advertising campaigns and charter flights for candidates who want to represent the poor Indians in the Parliament. Indian voters are faced with a marketing blitzkrieg that will blind their eyes and benumb their independent thinking. Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi do not seem to impress with their actions, rhetoric or election eve drama. I am more comforted by the tremendous response received by Anna Hazare’s movement or spontaneous protests that took in the streets to demand punishment to the perpetrators of rape are an indication of people’s disenchantment with current state of affairs. India needs to stay focused and not look for heroes or magicians who can solve our problems. Instead we need true public servants who will guard the interest of ordinary people against the

manipulations of the vested interests. I am very sure that for this vision to materialize it is going to take much longer than the year 2014. In a true democracy voters should elect their representative based on each candidate’s long-term record of public service, his/her ideas for the future and a pattern of past behaviors that reveal his/her values and beliefs. Let us hope that the voters of India will not let their judgment be swayed by the manipulations of the established politicians. I earnestly hope that people will stay the course and listen only to the voice of their conscience. [Uday Dandavate studies people, cultures and trends worldwide and inspires people centered innovation strategies. He heads a design research consulting firm, SonicRim in U.S.A. He writes and speaks on topics related to people centered design and innovation in international journals and conferences. uday@sonicrim.com]

Important Announcement For the Members of Indian Renaissance Institute, (IRI) The biennial conference of Indian Renaissance Institute, (IRI), will be held on Saturday & Sunday – 30th November & Ist December 2013 at Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi. The timings will be between 10 a.m to 5.00 p.m on both days. Agenda of the conference will be sent by post and uploaded on the RH webportal shortly. This notice is being sent in advance to enable the members to make arrangements for their travel to & fro Delhi. Those who require accommodation may inform the undersigned before 10th October 2013 to reserve their beds in advance. The charges of the accommodation will be around Rs. 250/- per bed per day. You are requested to make it convenient to attend the conference. —N.D. Pancholi, Secretary, IRI (M): 9811099532; Ph: 0120-2648691, ndpancholi44@gmail.com

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The Problem of Kashmir —Kuldip Nayar ubin Mehta, before leaving for Srinagar to conduct his orchestra, said: “There will be no violence.” German Ambassador Michael Steiner, who facilitated the concert, said at Srinagar that the world was watching Kashmir. Both observations have a ring of truth. The success of concert has proved that. If New Delhi has been able to put across a message, the Hurriyat leaders have to blame themselves. They, also known as the separatists, unnecessarily made the concert an issue by playing up their boycott. If they had ignored the event, it would have passed without much notice. This was not the first concert. The late Jagajit Singh gave a gazal programme in the heart of Srinagar. A band from Pakistan played at Srinagar the other day. New Delhi was wise enough to treat it as a routine matter and gave the musicians visas. Nobody took any notice of it. The media too paid no heed. The Hurriyat, still equivocal about its demand for azaadi, voiced no protest against the Pakistan band. This only underlined the impression that the Hurriyat tended to tilt towards Pakistan. The Hurriyat is a divided house. Some, led by Syed Shah Gillani, want the state to ‘join’ Pakistan. And the others, led by Yasin Malik, demand azaadi. Then there are those who are confused. Not long ago, when most Kashmiris, alienated from India as they are, favoured the integration with Pakistan, the Kashmiris would have voted for Pakistan if there had been a plebiscite. Today, a preponderant majority of Kashmiris, want azaadi. Yasin Malik has been able to veer them round from being pro-Pakistan elements to making them accept the demand for an independent, sovereign state. Yet what the Hurriyat does not realize is that azaadi is an ideal, not a feasible proposition. When the British left India in August 1947, they gave the princely states an option to stay independently and they did not want to join either India or Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh, the then Jammu and Kashmir

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ruler, declared that he would stay independent. The land-locked state had to have the support of both India and Pakistan for access to the outside world. He did not want to depend on one. With the Muslims in a majority in J and K, Pakistan expected its accession. When it did not take place, Pakistan sent its irregulars, backed by the regular troops. The Maharaja sought the help of India which insisted on the accession before sending its troops. He had to sign the Instrument of Accession Act. The task of the Hurriyat is more difficult than that of the Maharaja. The two parts of the states are against azaadi. Jammu, the Hindu majority part, would like to join India. The Buddhist majority Ladakh, the other part, wants to be a union territory of India. Therefore the demand for azaadi is essentially that of the valley which has nearly 98 percent of Muslims. When India is in the midst of endeavour for polarization and when a political party is playing a Hindu card, it is difficult to imagine that the ruling Congress or any other political party, including the Communists, would support the Hurriyat. Even otherwise, all political parties are opposed to the demand for independence, although some may go to the farthest in giving powers to the state. After 66 years of partition, the wounds inflicted because of the division have not healed yet. How does the Hurriyat expect the people in India to reconcile to another partition, however genuine and strong are the sentiments of the Kashmiris? If partition is again on the basis of religion, the secular state may not survive as it is. True, the 15 crore Muslims in India are equal citizens and they cannot be treated as hostages. But the valley’s secession may have such repercussions which are dreadful to imagine. The Constitution, guaranteeing equality to all Indian citizens, may be of no avail. India and Pakistan have fought two regular wars on Kashmir, apart from a mini misadventure in Kargil. The valley continues to remains part of the Jammu and Kashmir state. Several thousand Kashmiris have died for the cause of azaadi. For India, they were insurgents. They were crushed by the security


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forces which too lost thousands. Even now some militants from across the border attack some places but are rebuffed. For example, on the day of Zubin Mehta’s concert, a post of Central Reserve Police Force in the southern Kashmir was targeted with rockets. There was a hartal at Srinagar. But this exercise has been gone over by many a time before. Yet both countries signed an agreement in 1972 at Shimla to end hostilities. They pledged to sort out their disputes, including Kashmir, through bilateral talks. This has held the ground for the last 31 years. A few meetings between the two countries have been held since. By all means they should hold further talks on Kashmir. But they cannot fructify unless one of them changes its stance. New Delhi considers Kashmir as its integral part and Pakistan would like to have the valley to merge with it. The Hurriyat continues to expect a solution which does not seem possible. Six decades have gone by. There is yet nothing on the horizon. International opinion is mute and it has left the matter for the two countries to settle. The Hurriyat has to introspect and change its tactics. It has to prove that it counts. It should capture the state assembly if the Kashmiris are with it. It can have its own chief minister who could forcefully articulate the demand for azaadi. But does it have the following? It is easy to gather the crowd but difficult to convert it into votes. The Hurriyat, it seems, is riding too many horses at the same time. It wants to mean everything to everybody in the valley. And then it wants Jammu and Ladakh to stay with the valley. If it wants a sway over the entire state, it should win over Jammu and Ladakh which oppose the Hurriyat tooth and nail. To represent Kashmir, it has to have Jammu and Ladakh with it. Then the Azad Kashmir under Pakistan would also listen to the Hurriyat. The valley by itself has a weak case.

Is India’s story over? India is an economic mess is known That all over the world. What is not yet public is that the malaise was because of the now proved wrong decisions which President Pranab

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Mukherejee took when he was Union Finance Minister from January 2009 to mid-2012 and when Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was heading the ministry nearly till the end of 2008 and before. The former and current Ministers of Finance Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and Sri. Chidambaram should tell why they took the steps which disturbed the rhythm of progress. Because of lack of transparency in the affairs of government, only a handful of people know about the blunders committed. One of the decisions taken by Mr. Mukherjee was to impose the Rs. 1200-crore tax with retrospective effect on a foreign mobile company. After having lost the case in the Supreme Court on September 8, 2010, the government promulgated an ordinance before amending the Finance Act 2012. The retrospective clause in the act has scared away foreign investment which India badly needs. A bagful of concessions has not brought the Walmart yet to the Indian soil. Foreign investors have withdrawn a large sum of money which they had invested. In a few weeks, as much $ 200 billion has reportedly gone out. The outflow has not stopped yet. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not anticipate the repercussions. In fact, after seeing this mess having been created in 2008, the Prime Minister should have taken over the finance ministry himself because of his expertise in economic matters. Although, his own record as Coal Minister does not hold promise but the Prime Minister would have done better in finance. India should have been exporting coal, as it did, instead of importing it. Manmohan Singh may not be personally responsible for the corruption in the allotment of coal blocks. But the bungling runs into thousands of crores of rupees. The full story may not yet come out because some files are missing. The government has admitted this before the Supreme Court. The government uses the word “so-called files”. According to CBI as many as 157 files are missing. The missing files reportedly have some letters and noting on the allotment of coal blocks. The Prime minister cannot absolve himself of the responsibility that he was not the custodian


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of the files. He was in charge of the coal portfolio. A top CBI official, who is probing into the scandal, has said that there may be a need to “examine” Prime Minister, who was in charge of the ministry from 2006 to 2009. Could the Prime Minister have connived at what the ministry had been doing because his personal integrity is beyond reproach? The Prime Minister could have done something to bring the culprits to book but he could not because he is politically weak. His other fault was that he depended too much on Mr. Mukherejee and put him as the chairman of several committees of Group of Ministers, entrusted with the task of finding solutions to intractable problems. Unfortunately,the latter had no time for his own ministry and the situation began deteriorating. The crisis has been aggravated by the galloping inflation (10 per cent). An average person whose income has remained what it was even as his expense has gone up because of the ever-increasing price of essential commodities his cost of living would have been still higher if the government was not subsiding petrol, diesel, cooking gas and the like. According to IMF, the 20 per cent at the top in India enjoys more subsidies than the 20 per cent below. The elite are too powerful to be touched. Top business houses finance many MPs who see to it that no harm comes to their houses. Lok Sabha elections are due in 10 months’ time. On an average, a Lok Sabha seat requires an expenditure of Rs. 10 crore. The political parties are already in touch with the business houses for funds. How can they challenge them for their malpractices? This is confirmed by the unanimity of all parties in staving off the Chief Information Commissioner’s ruling that the RTI (right to information) will be applicable to the working of political parties. Yet the immediate problem is how to get over the present financial crisis. The Prime Minister has himself admitted in Parliament that “the country is facing a difficult time”. It can justifiably be argued that the bungling is because of the government. There is no governance, no leadership and no guidance. I do not know what reforms the Prime 11

Minister has in mind. He has to reformulate economic policies so that there are employment opportunities, essential goods are cheap and the growth rate, now back to the Hindu growth rate of 4 per cent in the ’50s and ’60s, picks up. Manufacturing is stuck at a mere 3 per cent and a bit of increase is not even a flash in the pan. I wish there had been fresh elections, as I had argued three months ago. The uncertainty which puts off investors would have been over by now and the people would also have settled down to a new elected government. But MPs of most political parties, particularly those of the Congress, want to enjoy the full tenure of five years. Many of them know that they may not be reelected. The anxiety over political scene is casting a shadow on the future. Unless there is a sweep by one party, which does not seem likely, the next government will also be a coalition. It may not be in a position to take hard decisions which India needs to overcome the deepening crisis. That the political parties should have the consensus on basics goes without saying. But this may not be possible before elections. But that is what the country needs whether it happens now or later. May be, I am on the wrong track. Probably, the story of India looks like over, at least for years to come.

Idea of India at peril chief minister Narendra Modi, the Gujarat prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has asked the Jamaat-Ulma Hind, representing the Muslims, to list four or five steps he should announce to win their confidence. The Jamaat has rightly pointed out that it was for Modi to think how to win the trust of Muslims. One thing Modi could do straightaway is to apologize for the 2002 riots in the state, reportedly blessed by him after the burning of some Hindu pilgrims in a train compartment at Godhara, not far from Ahmedabad. There is enough evidence to confirm that he convened a meeting of top officials to plan and execute an exercise to kill the Muslims. Hiren Pandey, a minister in Modi’s


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cabinet, had admitted after having participated in the riots that they were preplanned and that the police were asked not to interfere. He was murdered and till today the murderer has not been brought to book. And only recently has a top police officer confessed in a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that Modi used him to stage the false encounter. In his first speech after the nomination, Modi talked about a range of issues—ties with neighbouring countries, terrorism and defence. But he did not utter a word about Muzzafarnagar’s communal riots. The city, only two hours’ drive from Delhi, witnessed the killing of 50 persons and the exodus of nearly 40,000 people—Hindus and Muslims, who have lived together for centuries. Indeed, this is the result of Modi-type of politics of polarization which has challenged India’s credentials of secularism. Modi is a 'Hindutava poster-boy', as the media describes him. After 66 years of independence, the two communities tend to jump at each other’s throat on the call of religious leaders or politicians in that garb. The nation has to introspect why the people play into their hands and why it has failed to establish a secular polity. Modi does not care about India’s ethos of pluralism. He has played the Hindu card because he believes that secularism does not sit well in a Hindu-majority country. If he has learned the lesson after the Gujarat riots, as he claims, there is no indication of that. He compared the other day the victims in the Gujarat riots as the puppies which get crushed under a speeding car. The RSS, which has nurtured Modi, believes that it wants the next election to be fought on the plank of “minority aggressiveness.” It is misinterpreting the minorities’ articulation for their identity. Even if there is aggressiveness, it can be tackled. But the majority’s aggressiveness can turn into fascism. This is what happened in Germany where the Nazis took over and Hitler emerged on the scene. It is unfortunate that the BJP has selected Modi, knowing too well that the party was defeated in 2004 and 2009 elections because of its communal agenda. Even Atal Behari Vajpayee’s liberal image 12

could not wear off the stigma of parochialism the party has. By and large, India is a tolerant society. The people do not mix religion with politics. The BJP has neither understood them, nor their aspirations. The idea of India is based on the country’s diversity. What has happened at Muzzafarnagar is a challenge to the very idea. Once again the BJP has poured oil on the fuel through a fake video. Refugees from the villages of Muzaffarnagar riots between the Hindu Jats and Muslims say that they were attacked by the outsiders. I am reminded that after the partition we too were forced to quit our homes by the outsiders. Our Muslim friends gave us shelter and provided us with rations for a month before we left Sialkot. The victims of Muzzafarnagar complain bitterly that neighbours watched the mayhem but did not come to their rescue to stop the killing and destruction. The kinship dries up when rioting takes place. The Muzzafarnagar happenings are disconcerting because the communal virus has spread to the rural areas. The administration always fails because it has got politicized and awaits word from the ruling party. Officials did not take action fearing repercussions. The police are contaminated and tilt towards the Hindus. What happened in Muzaffarnagar, according to the reports in the media, was an instigated riot, suggesting a conspiracy on the part of the BJP. A Muslim youth was killed for eve-teasing. In retaliation, two Hindu Jat boys were lynched. And then all the hell broke. Leaders, both from the Hindu and Muslim communities, delivered inflammatory speeches. The BJP further fanned the fire by releasing a fake video, showing the use of violence somewhere else to ‘prove’ the atrocities against the Hindus. A Muslim cleric led a mob after the prayers on Friday. And, as the state Governor has said in a report to the Centre, the administration has become more effete than the ruling Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and it wanted to exploit the situation. But it was confused. The BJP played a major role in polluting the atmosphere through yatras for building a Ram temple at the site where


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the Babri Masjid stood before its destruction. The RSS sees its chance in the next elections. It is doing everything possible to destroy the ethos of national struggle to establish a democratic, secular state. Modi’s projection, once the RSS pracharak and an authoritarian by nature, fits into the agenda for a Hindu Rashtra. I sympathize with L.K.Advani. I have seen how defeated he was towards end of 1979 when the Janata Party ousted him for refusing to sever links with the RSS. Instead, he founded in 1980 the BJP and made Atal Behari Vajpayee, who too had been thrown out, as president. Today once again, Advani is forlorn and lonely. Again, the RSS is responsible for his isolation. It has fielded Modi for the prime minister’s office. Advani has not liked the manner in which the RSS has imposed Modi on the BJP. Apparently, the RSS feels that if somebody who meets the ideological stance of a Hindu Rashtra, it will be Modi, not Advani who over the years has shed bigotry and regards Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, as secular.

Aberrations in the Army have been getting calls from the Pakistan Imedia to inquire whether the army stalled the government from certain decisions or forced it to take some without its willingness. Their concern is understandable because the army is the boss in Pakistan and even Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who said the elected government would be superior, has to clear the agenda of close India-Pakistan relations with his army chief General Parvez Kayani. I have assured the Pakistan media that the situation in India is like the one prevailing in advanced countries in the West where voters are the arbiters. However, I can recall one example of the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act which can kill anyone on suspicion without being arraigned. The government was inclined to modify the act after a commission’s recommendations. But the army had its way and the act stays without any amendment. Except for this, I have found the Indian army obedient to the elected government. It

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may be a cliché but the army is apolitical and takes pride in eschewing politics. There may be discussions in messes or canteens of the armed forces on the present conditions obtaining the country. But they are healthy and nothing beyond the ventilation of disgust. This is not even a case of Bonapartism. I know of a few aberrations on the part of certain army chiefs who have gone beyond the ambit of authority. But there is no instance of defiance. When General K.S. Thimmaiah, a popular army chief, submitted his resignation to the dismay of public, it was against the functioning of the then Defence Minister Krishna Menon. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru intervened and made Thimmaiah to take back his resignation. Menon stayed on at the Defence Ministry and Thimmaiah retired after completing his term. General K. Sundarji went beyond his authority during the military exercises (brass tacks). He went into the disputed territory under China and into Pakistan. Islamabad was so disturbed that it sent its foreign secretary Abdul Sattar to New Delhi. Sundarji was pulled up. However, he continued to be the army chief until his retirement. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw was popular among the people, particularly after the victory in the Bangladesh war. Even the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was suspicious. He made it clear when he met her that he was proud to head such armed force which did not interfere in political affairs. “You do your job and allow me to do mine,” he was supposed to have told Indira Gandhi. The latest example, somewhat disturbing, is that of General V.K. Singh who retired recently as the army chief. He shared dais with the controversial Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi. I wish V.K. Singh had waited a bit longer before jumping into politics. There is no harm in generals joining politics. The greatest democracy of America has examples of top military chiefs like Douglas MacArthur and Dwight D. Eisenhower running for presidential election and winning the coveted position. But both of them did not rush to the election platform from the theatre of war. They contested only after decent


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intervals. The main allegation against V.K. Singh is that he set up a unit, Technical Support Division, to snoop on the government at Srinagar and used secret funds to topple it. In an interview to a television network, he has gone further to say that the army has been financing since independence ministers in the Jammu and Kashmir government to maintain “peace and stability” in the state. The allegation of snooping against the elected government at Srinagar is a serious one. The ruling National Conference is justified in demanding a probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge. The centre is in the dock as far as V.K. Singh’s admission that the military has financed all ministers at Srinagar. Let the Omar Abdullah government explain whether the charge is correct. Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister, is so disturbed that he has demanded a CBI probe immediately. The constitution by V.K. Singh of a special cell for special purposes has also to be looked into. The defence ministry has issued a statement to assure that the matter is being pursued for “further action.” V.K. Singh was said to have been upset by the leakage of report against him by top army officials. The report is not yet in the public domain. But the charges are too serious to be left at that. The revelations make a mockery of the army’s function in a democratic polity. Covert operations are conducted all over the world. They should never see the light of the day and the officials engaged in them should keep quiet till their death and not even mention them in their memoires. The military also needs to revise its rules of retirement so that the former chiefs of the three services—army, air force and navy—are not able to join a political party for a decade after their retirement. Being in command they are bound to have earned enough fame to influence the voters. All this darkens the image of the army. However, V.K. Singh is not the entire army. He is a maverick. He has criticized even the Supreme Court for having rejected his claim to continue one year more in service because of his birth certificate was “incorrect.” When he had made no effort to 14

have the “mistake” rectified during his entire career, he had no right to do so after occupying the position of the chief of army staff. V.K. Singh is all politics. Even his body language says so. What he has said speaks volumes of affairs between the government and the army. The self-righteousness of V.K. Singh is not understandable. Why did he not stand up and stop the financing on Kashmir? Instead, he accelerated the process. He says that Omar Abdullah has “an agenda.” What is it and what did V.K. Singh do to stop it? To topple an elected government is no solution. His own credibility is in doubt. His association with Anna Hazare at present should be taken with a pinch of salt. [Kuldip Nayar is a veteran Indian journalist, syndicated columnist, human right activist and author, noted for his long career as a left-wing political commentator. He was in IFS, a diplomat and also nominated as a Rajya Sabha MP in 1997. He is also a human right activist and a peace activist. He was a member of India's delegation to the United Nations in 1996. He was appointed High Commissioner to Great Britain in 1990 and nominated to the upper house of Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha in August 1997. He writes columns and op-eds for over 80 newspapers in 14 languages including The Daily Star, The Sunday Guardian, The News (Pakistan), Express Tribune (Pakistan), Dawn (Pakistan). Every year since 2000, Nayar has been leading peace activists to light candles on the Independence days of Pakistan and India (14/15 August) at the Attari-Wagah India-Pakistan border near Amritsar. He has been working to free Indian prisoners in Pakistan and Pakistani prisoners in India, who have completed their sentences, but have not been set free. He has also authored 15 books, including “Beyond the Lines”, “Distant Neighbours: A Tale of the Subcontinent”, “India after Nehru”, “Wall at Wagah, India-Pakistan Relationship”, “The Judgement”, “The Martyr”, “Scoop” and “India House” kuldipnayar09@gmail.com.]


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Spiritual Unity among Telugu People — K.S. Chalam as a transcendental dimension Spirituality of human experience is precursor of organised religion. It was recorded or carried on as an oral tradition in different societies till very recently. However, there are still groups and individuals who consider their understanding of spirituality is superior over others. On the other hand, the concept of spirit is used in ordinary parlance to signify the essence of thought or metaphysically refer to soul, occult experience etc. Keeping the spirit of the matter, I wanted to cultivate the concept of Telugu spirituality and mooted the idea with a friend. He immediately retorted saying that I am not qualified to do so as I am a teetotaller and do not believe in spirits. There is no harm in hypothesising that Telugus are the original people of India and in all probability due to its vastness (from Brahui Sindhu -Ganges and Kaveri), the language might be the proto-Dravidian language (linguists may differ). A hypothetical statement is precondition for any enquiry on scientific basis to falsify. The above is only a protocol statement that can be revised once proved contrary based on facts and evidence. But, it is unusual to find that every dominant caste in the state claims (in their caste chronicles) that they have migrated from somewhere in the North or Rajasthan or UP or extreme South and none from the Telugu soil. It seems the stigma is carried from generation to generation and at the time of outmigration, this character unconsciously dent the youngsters to be comfortable in the foreign language rather than in Telugu. The recent upsurge of so called Telugu cultural extravaganza can be contrasted with the Bengal or Tamil or Sindhi assemblages which are more secular and essentially distinct culture specific. For, the present geographical location of Telugu state is unique in the entire country perhaps indicating the ubiquitous nature of a vast Telugu land unlike our brethren 15

who have limited territory. It is our narrow mind -set that limited our immensity by withdrawing from our claims over our expansive Telugu history and culture beyond the borders of our country in the past and also in the contemporary world. However, it is time that an effort must be made to bring the distinctive Telugu culture as a universal category and not to be bothered about narrow specifics. This may be possible by attempting to bring out the spiritual unity among the Telugu people. We have witnessed the spirit (religious) recently in the queues before temples in all parts of the state; seeking blessings (same gods) to keep the state united or bifurcated. Different tongues close to Telugu are spoken in the East from Gangetic plains, Tamralipti, Mahanadi, Khandamal and in other places that have not been studied so far according to Balasubrhamanyam (Odissa civil servant). It may be due to the prejudice of some scholars/pundits that Telugu does not exist beyond Godavari (restricting it to three districts). It is surmised that the aliens after reaching Ganga found that it was formidable to cross Dandaka where most of the so called Dravidian languages were spoken (currently practise). They have approached the South through the East Coast crossing Mahendragiri and built Arasavilli in Srikakulam district (2nd century BCE and rebuilt by DevendraVarma), the first Sun temple to record their entry in to dakshinapath . The lord Narasimha of Simhachalam ( much senior to Tirupati) later crossed Godavari and entered Dhramapuri in Telangana and helped the cult of Yadagiri(place) . Without entering in to the controversy of how Vaishnavism became popular in the South through Telugu country, one could see the contribution of Telugu Alwars , pundits and poets influencing the religious world view of common man. The transition from Buddhism to Vaishnavism (marginalising Shaivism) seemed to be total by the time KrishnaDevaraya ushered in Telugu (Tulu) land. The elite of the Telugus with the support of the British India officers have established systematic and uniform methods of worship (with


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compromises between pancharatra and vaikhanasa) in all parts of the state. Bhadrachalam built by Kancharla Gopanna in 1630 AD was regularised by the Muslim Tanisha later. Similarly, all the regions of Telugu country were brought under the sway of Sri Venkateswara or his modern avatars in different forms. In fact, Maharashtrians used to jeer the Telugu folk converting Saibu (Muslim) as Saibaba in Shiridi and his avatar as Satya SaiBaba is also a creative skill of our own people. It is said that the astute Malayalee found the popularity of our lord Venkateswara attracting more devotees and Anantpadmanabha becoming obsolete initiated Ayyappa to get more Telugu biddas around. We have now branches in Delhi, Mumbai and places wherever our Telugus moved out. Thus, Telugu culture and pride are intimately twined with our spirituality or patronage of a particular branch of dominant Hindu faith. The Muslim and Christian minority communities are internally differentiated, but externally appear to be identical in the Telugu land. There are different categories of heretics from the time of Ajvikas, Tantriks, Lokayatas etc who seemed to have lost their support- base. The materialist world view popularised by the left is uniformly spread in the state. The rationalist movement in Andhra spread during the time of Tripuraneni, Gora, Royists and Lohiates is now taken a backseat due to the younger generation evincing more interest in dollars than in Telugu identity. It is noted with dismay that none of the prominent leaders in the state condemned the heinous murder of the Rationalist movement leader Dr Dhabolkar in Maharastra. It shows that Andhra and Telugu people are not interested in mundane issues but only in spiritual activities like chardham yatra etc. The spirituality thus obtained appears to be very constricted compared to the size of the Telugu speakers in the world. What is projected and explained here is only of the elite and the literate who have traditions of going to temple or places of worship at regular intervals. But, majority of the non-traditional communities like the Adivasis who gather at Sammakka and 16

Saralamma(mostly Telugu speakers) once in two or three years is equal to the total number of devotees attended at (with all the comforts of travel, accommodation etc) our national deity in a year. Interestingly, there is a parallel system of spirituality among the ordinary people called as little tradition (mischievously by the missionaries with the support of local clerics) that is uniform and universal in all parts of Telugu country. They are the local or village deities as Gangamma in Rayalaseema, Mysamma, Yellamma, Pochamma in Telangana, Pydithalli, Neelamani, Nookalu in North Andhra, Durga, Kanyakaparameswari in coastal Andhra. Remarkably, there seems to be no competition among the peoples’ Godesses and do not bother about huge and elaborate rituals and are happy with the local low caste person officiating as a Priest till it gets sufficient income to attract others. This is unique to Telugu people and seems to be not found in our neighbouring states where VeeraShivism, Muruga and Subrahamnyam cults adopted to the dominant faith. We have been as a particular language speakers with uniform culture remained uninterrupted and enriched our common traditions of spirituality. The exuberance of Telugu spirituality endured similar rituals and practices all over with marginal differences. Interestingly, there are around 500 temples (mostly Vaishnava and no village deities) in USA with Telugu speaking Tamilians or Tamil speaking Telugus conducting rituals. Thus, we have our Telugu pride carried far and wide through the notion of spiritual unity. Is Telugu spirituality not adequate to fix all the Telugu speakers under one shade of unity with administrative diversity? [Prof K.S.Chalam, former Member, UPSC, New Delhi, former VC, Dravidian University, Kuppam, A.P., first founder director of the Academic Staff College, Andhra University, is the pioneer of the Academic Staff College Scheme. He has been actively involved in teachers’ movements, secular and rationalist activities and was the National Secretary, Amnesty International during 1984-85. chalamkurmana@gmail.com]


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IRI / IRHA Members' Section:

Have We Failed? —Jawaharlal Jasthi we failed. It may be difficult Yes,for Iusthink to admit. But the failure is staring in our face. M.N. Roy started the Radical Democratic Party and wound it up after six years realizing the drawbacks of the party system and damage it could do to the body politic. All the hazards of the party politics is now manifest in the most glaring way than predicted by Roy. Parties have proved that they consist of gangs of career politicians. When you plan a career in politics, naturally the party is the stepping stone to climb the ladder. To catch power, either by hook or by crook, is the only purpose and the end justifies the means. Perhaps there is no other country where there are so many political parties as in India. If any person in any party is disgruntled, he does not hesitate to come out and declare a party of his own. Yes, it is his own party and there are people waiting for an opportunity to join the new party as it gives an advantage to be a founder member. The criteria for recognition as a party are so poor and false that they can demand recognition as a matter of right than of compliance with regulations. The Election Commission cannot say ‘no’. After all, the criteria are developed by the politicians themselves. That leader might be a rowdy history-sheeter or might be in jail for some offence. It does not matter. Or perhaps it is better if the leader has such a history. It is only such tough people that could survive the heat of politics and help their supporters to survive as well. It is better if the leader is corrupt as the followers could expect a share, however meager it may be. It is an open knowledge that every party has its criminals in the legislature.

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It is true that everybody is innocent until he is proved otherwise. It is a good principle of jurisprudence. But to arrive at final judgment takes a few years. Even then, he will be disqualified to take place in a legislature only if he is convicted for imprisonment for a period of not less than two years. And the judgment shall not take effect if he goes for appeal until it is finally disposed. What kind of legislations do we have? There are many stages in the criminal law to prove a crime. First Information Report (FIR) is filed with the court when there is a prima facie case. It means the police are so confident that the evidence they have is enough to prove the crime. But it is not accepted as a cause to disqualify the person from holding public office. Because it is possible that the court may find the evidence not enough to punish the culprit and he may be let free. In the presence of such a possibility, it will be unfair to damage the (golden) political career of a colleague in the party. It does not matter if the institution is damaged with his presence, but his name must be protected. What happens if he is proved innocent? He does not loose. Many careers are open to him. But if the institution is damaged, it is a loss for ever. What is important – political career of an individual or survival of an institution? By asking the person to leave his membership in the legislature after the FIR is filed against him, he is not being branded as an offender. He is only told to keep aside until the case is finalized to help the institution maintain its image with the public and command respect it deserves. But none of the parties agreed to that proposal as if there are no candidates available to fill the vacancy. When the Court suggested it, all parties joined hands to oppose it. The parties do not want anybody to know how they conduct themselves and keep their organisations opaque. When the Chief Information Commissioner told that the political parties are subject to the Right To Information Act, an amendment is immediately brought to plug the hole


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in the Act. No delay is allowed in it. The persons elected act as representatives of the party and not of the people who voted them to the place. It is accepted as a legitimate argument since they contested as representatives of the parties and not as independent individuals. The height of this hypocrisy is reached when the legislators from Andhra area were asked to express themselves against division of the state. Every one of them, without exception declared that they will be bound by the decision of the High Command of the party. When the High Command declared division of the state, there was a burst of volcano against division and all those representatives turned hostile to the party itself as they have realized that they will not be able to win the next election as members of that party. They did not have the sensitivity to ascertain the opinion of the people on a problem and if they have, they did not have the courage to convey the same to the party honestly. They were under the impression that the name of the party will help them win the election and acceptance by people was taken for granted. The party connection is considered so sacred that even when the leader, like the Chief Minister, was proved corrupt and many cases were filed naming him in the FIR, the party felt it necessary to protect him as it would damage the image of the party if he was acknowledged as a culprit. So, still they flatter him as a model leader. Money is squandered on vote catching schemes without any regard to the economic effect. Such popular schemes are advertised widely at heavy cost with photos of leaders of the party. Once in power, there are many ways of taking and giving benefits to followers. Advertisement is one such way. The Chief Minister of a state is to be named in the FIR on this account. One justification for the parties in politics is that they have different policies and solutions for the problems of the people. But now, there is nothing to choose between the parties except the freebees that they want to distribute if they come to power. They claim it their right and

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there is no law which insists that the means of financing the same shall be indicated whenever a scheme is proposed. If such a condition is there, there would not have been any possibility to make such offers to the public to get votes at the expense of public money. Thus, it can be seen that all the political parties stand discredited and the time is ripe for suggesting party-less politics. But nobody talks of it. The pity is even the agitations that started as movements are getting themselves converted into political parties rather than fighting based on their ideology. The Aam Aadmy Party is an example. It started as a movement and caught the imagination of the public and was about to succeed. But the followers wore the garb of party against the will of the original leader. Anna Hazare, in spite of all his sincerity, could not prevent it. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, the Lok Satta Party started as a movement to get clean government. But it got converted into a political party at some stage. If you suggest party-less politics to anybody, there is a derisive laughter and dismissed as an easy-chair philosophy and not pragmatic. The expenditure involved in fighting elections is shown as the biggest hurdle and we reached a stage where nobody is convinced that election can be fought with less money. We have reached a point of no return in that regard. There is no possibility of making any radical changes in the thinking of the people, leave alone the making of any legislation. Is there a way out? Is it our failure or that of the philosophy itself? It is high time that we have some introspection on this and come out with an explanation or a confession. [Mr. Jawahar Lal Jasthi has been associated with the Radical Humanist and the Rationalist Movement since his college days. Mr Jasthi has contributed articles in Telugu and English. His unpublished book Oh My God is based on the futile search for God in the annals of science. jjasthi@yahoo.com]


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Research Section:

Scholar's

&

OCTOBER 2013

Students'

Freedom from Violence: A Basic Human Right (Feminist Perspective) —Vijay Jashwal Abstract: “Every 3rd minute a case of violence against women is registered in India. Every day 50 cases of dowry related violence are reported. Every 29th minute a woman was raped in 2011 and it was 54 minutes in 2002. The worst is this horrifying list in which Madhya Pardesh has had 3406, West Bengal had 2236 and Uttar Pradesh had 2042 cases of rape reported in 2011”. This is the reality of shining India which is recognizedand as one of the best democratic countries in the world. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer has said that human rights are given in the form of fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution and these have been recognised and integrated in Indian culture since Vedic times. It means that their sources are found in ancient civilization where others' rights were respected and all were entitled to exercise their rights. Violence is pervasive in human nature and this has been experienced since civilization began. The point of differences in violence is only the form and victim of it. It has been proven that laws in themselves are not adequate enough to remove the evil of violence. Anyone, like anyone’s mother, sister, brother, or close kin and kith can be badly victimized by the perpetrator unless children are humanized before they come out to face the world. It is necessary to socialize our children in ways that they learn to respect the dignity of others. Today’s feminists are complaining about the visible form of violence like beating, rape, kidnapping and against so many other forms of violence but they fail to understand

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the hidden fact that these symptoms are associated with the upbringing of the boys and men in their own homes. Is there something not wrong with our way of socializing or schooling our own beloved children? World communities are sincerely and continuously talking about making a violence-free world where the society, family, community, school and all the other groups may live in peace and human dignity but the results are not satisfactory. This is because our approach towards this problem is misguided. The psychological aspects of violence have been forgotten and their impact is seen through the entire life of the victim as well as the victimizer. It is serious threat to institutionalize the democracy in the country. Feminist should look for new approach to diagnosis the root cause of violence. Feminism is all about securing the rights of women, it doesn’t mean to deny the rights of men so we all together co-operate for making realization of free from violence as basic human rights for every citizens at any cost. The New York Times in its editorial said, “Rape in the World’s Largest Democracy, has threatened all the democratic countries and has challenged their historical legacy of being best among worst systems of governance.” Nepal, where cultural differences and sympathy towards women are supportive for the prevalence of violence, has reshaped its own existence. An instance has proven that, many century ago violence were occurring to create threat to the others but today it has became fashion for the perpetrator. A recent news in the Gang Rape in Delhi had once again ashamed the democracy and crossed the limitation of tolerance. A global poll has been made by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June came up with report in India like “the worst place to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.” The situation of Nepal is not that much satisfactory at all. Likewise, a UN report last year said India was the world’s most dangerous country in which to be born a girl as almost twice as many girls die between the ages of one and five as boys.


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Governments in South Asia need to address gender-based violence seriously. South Asia must work to change a culture in which women are routinely devalued. It is said that the police don’t investigate such cases carefully due to political pressure. Issues such as rape, dowry-related death and female infanticide have rarely entered mainstream political discourse in South Asia. Governments, civil society organizations and the world community must promote respect for internationally recognized principles, norms and standards of human rights in the context of the rights of women and children. Free from violence is basic rights for every human beings by virtue of their status. It is natural rights where life of everyone must be secured. Writing of John Locke in the Western world had talked since long time ago about the protection of life, liberty and property. Indian Constitution in its article 21 has secured the Right to life as fundamental rights and non-derogable in nature even in times of emergency declared. Violence no matter smaller in form or big form directly posed question over the dignity of human beings. Our pseudo cultural traits are also determining factor for the prevalence of violence such as being subordinate to husband as wife and many others. This is the world where we live where women are taken as comfort means, commodities, inferior, and means of pleasure for others. In WWII many girls from the Japan were took for the sexual pleasure to the allied camps and since those time the concept of comfort girl took place. Even in the developed nation, violence is there. Finally, freedom from violence is the basic human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and many others international legislation and also in national legislation. It must be realized by the people and should implement well. Genderization of Sex and Leading Towards Violence: The practice of difference between man and woman is ‘largely founded’ on “genderization of 20

sex. Gender refers to the social differences between males and females that are learned, and though deeply rooted in every culture, are changeable over time, and have wide variations both within and between cultures. “Gender” determines the roles, responsibilities, opportunities, privileges, expectations, and limitations for males and for females in any culture. Gender-base Violence (GBV) is an umbrella term for any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will, and that is based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between males and females. Gender based violence (GBV), often termed Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG), is violence targeted at individuals or groups on the basis of their gender. While research suggests that a significant proportion of women worldwide will at some point in their lives experience GBV, the extent to which men and boys are affected is unknown. GBV is often divided into two interlinked categories, interpersonal and structural/institutional violence. The bitter reality of today’s 21 century or modern world is that large portion/number of women and girls are the victims of violence in their own home, by own family members which are morally considered to be their closest and reliable kin. In a country like Nepal where the level of awareness level is bit low then the estimated still number of people take the matter related with domestic or Gender Based Violence (GBV) is family affairs which leads to the underreporting of the violence to the authorize persons. The status of women in a society has a complex interaction with violence. In places where women have a low status, men are less violent because women do not challenge their authority. In societies where women already have high status, their status protects them from violence. It is in societies where women’s status is in transition from low to high, that the risk of GBV is high. In Nepal, women have enough power to challenge the authority of men but not enough status to stop violence. Stastictis Of Gender Based Violence in South Asian Countries:


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Gender based violence is a pervasive phenomenon across South Asia, with huge human, economic and societal consequences. There has been a culture of silence at all levels from the policy makers to the women victims themselves and this must change. Gender-based violence has been rising in this part of the world even though its governments are signatories to various international legal instruments to protect women’s rights and eliminate all kinds of discrimination. According to UN Women, five (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) out of the nine South Asian countries have legislation against sexual harassment. Only Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka have laws prohibiting domestic violence. However, women in this region still suffer different forms of violence as the laws are not being enforced. In India, rape cases have increased roughly by 25 percent in six years. New Delhi recorded 572 rapes in 2011. The number of reported rapes increased from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011. According to the Telegraph, 35,565 women and girls were kidnapped, 42,968 were molested, 8,570 were sexually harassed and 99,135 suffered cruelty at the hands of their husbands or relatives during that year. Moreover, there were 8,618 “dowry deaths” in which brides were murdered by their husbands or in-laws. According to a report of the Pakistan National Commission on the Status of Women, 8,539 women became victims of violence in Pakistan in 2011, up by 6.74 percent from 2010. Some forms of violence have shown a notable increase, for example, sexual assault jumped 48.65 per cent, acid throwing 37.5 percent, honor killing 26.57 percent and domestic violence 25.51 percent. In Bangladesh, an Ain-O-Salish Kendra (ASK) report shows that at least 1,008 women were raped in 2012, among which 98 were later killed. Quoting police data, ipnews.net has reported that cases of dowry-related violence in Bangladesh increased to 4,563 in the first nine months of 2012 from 2,981 in 2004. Bangladesh witnessed 2,868 recorded rape cases as of August 2012 compared to 2,901 cases in 21

2004. The situation of women in Nepal is not much different. According to the data compiled by the Women Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), 152 women have been killed as of November 2012. There were 211 rapes and 12 suicides while 75 women were accused of being a witch. Moreover, 12 women were murdered in the 16 days of the campaign against gender violence. WOREC stated that at least 88 women suffered from different forms of violence in December alone. The “Occupy Baluwatar” protest movement is going on against the robbery and rape of “Sita Rai” and the burning alive of women by family members. Relevant International And National Laws: United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993) defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”. Similarly, the CEDAW ensures equality between men and women and that all forms of discrimination against women should be eliminated and Nepal has shown its full commitment to obey it. As expressed in paragraph 117 of the Beijing Platform of Action (UN Action, 1996) , “the fear of violence, including harassment is a permanent constraint on the mobility of women and limits their access to resource and basic activities. It results in high social, health and economic costs to the individual and society and is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared to men.” The World Bank estimates (2003) that rape and domestic violence incidents compounds for five percent of the healthy life lost to women aged from 15-44 years in developing countries. The Population Report (1999) reveals that worldwide at least one woman in every three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Nepal has enacted and


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implemented the Domestic Violence Act 2009 and Domestic Violence Regulation 2010. There are various laws formulated to curb violence against women in Nepal. To name some of them— there is Interim Constitution of Nepal 2063; the country Code 2020; Domestic Violence Crime and Punishment Act 2066 and Regulation 2068. Despite having a long list of legislation and regulation, the situation of free violence is not satisfactory and they are not able to work well.

There are several international conventions and resolutions that stipulate the protection and promotion of women’s political participation. Some of the relevant ones are: The preamble of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) states about the necessity of women participation in the development activities. General recommendation No 23 made by the CEDAW Committee explains that there shouldn’t be any such hurdle for the enjoyment of any benefit to the women. The CEDAW Committee also states that there must be application of principle of equality in the participation. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 calls on the concerned authority to take proper measures related to the gender perspective. The Beijing Platform for Action 1995 states the empowerment of women must be the key goal of the government. It is critical that international standards and human rights laws are taken into consideration when developing and implementing the Constituent Assembly. Conclusion: Through the initiation of youth in the GBV some of the problem related to it will definitely solve. Proper awareness campaigns and also training to the victims must be promulgated as soon as possible. Even the law is not strong enough to overcome the mentality of questioning women’s claims. The mentality to see women only as sex symbols and objects has been a hindrance to providing justice to the victims. Courts need to establish a fast track system to deliver justice to victims without delay. Non-violent men have a role

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to play in helping to prevent violence against women, and shaping respectful, gender-equitable attitudes and behavior among their peers. Education and awareness programmes need to be launched from the central to the local levels. Improvement and implementation of existing legislation is strongly required. Political leaders and parties are often accused of disregarding the rule of law. Following are some of the ideas which can be implemented well through the well participation of youth to end the Gender Based Violence: · Creating a sense of awareness among the family. · Talking with the friends and others about the end of violence. · Tackling various forms of violence prevelant in the society. · Complaining to the police personal to end it. · Showing your activeness to end it. · Making a 'defender group' for its elimination. These ideas have been implemented by various countries to solve the problems of GBV. GBV is not an individual problem but a social problem where all the members of society have equal level of responsibility and obligation to speak up on these issues. The youth activeness in the Delhi gang Rape case has shaken the world community once again about the hidden force of youth to fight with the social evil such as GBV. [Vijay Jayshwal has recently been elected as

Secretary of SOCH Youth in Nepal and also working as young human rights activist in association with Amnesty International Nepal and also student of LL.B final year at Kathmandu School of Law. This paper was presented in the International Seminar on Human Rights in R.G. (P.G.) College, Meerut, U.P., India on 30.7.13 vijayjayshwal@yahoo.com]


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The Worth and Weight of Vote: An Indian Perspective —Ritvik Mangesh Kulkarni Introduction: The ancient Greeks have earned a unique place in human history on account of their sterling contribution to political theory and practice. Political participation was seen as the telos of the Greek citizenry. This was particularly true of democratic Athens where the citizens used to jointly formulate and implement public policy. But humanity has travelled far since then, and the direct participation of an entire adult population in political affairs is not feasible, especially in a humongous country like India. Along the way, institutional mechanisms have been developed, which enable democratically elected representatives to reflect and translate the will of the people into laws and policies. India is a democratic republic governed by the people’s representatives and the right to vote is guaranteed by the Constitution. According to Article 326 of the Constitution, this right is available to all adult citizens (barring a few exceptions) and is meant to encourage the citizenry to engage in maximum political participation. Such a right along with a strong watchdog like the Election Commission of India is the key to free and fair elections. But despite the best intentions of the Founding Fathers and the mechanisms they created, the representative character of electoral outcomes in India has almost always been open to criticism. The focus of this paper is on the normative aspects of such criticism and on possible structural reforms to make our democratic system truly and meaningfully representative. In a report commissioned by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, two Canadian election officers suggest that the key test of the fairness of elections is whether ‘the will of a majority of the voters is expressed freely, clearly, knowledgeably

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and in secret’. The question remains as to whether the will of the people is represented adequately at all. There are two main systems of representation, the Majoritarian and the Proportional System. Since independence Indians have been electing their representatives using the First-Past-the-Post method of the plurality system, in which the candidate who secures the maximum votes gets elected to office. She may or (in most cases) may not enjoy a clear popular majority. This means that the will of the electorate is not adequately represented in the legislature and the government. The plurality system may not be the ideal form representation for a country like India. Generally in countries which have adopted this system, there is a two-party competition in elections, and one can therefore argue that plurality trumps majority for the purpose of representation. But this can only ensure legitimacy for the winning party in numerical terms, not in the quality of representation. In India, a country having a plethora of political parties, this system would lack legitimacy in most respects. A possibility then arises for the need to shift to a more proportional form of representation in the Lok Sabha. The probability of a vote cast to hold some weight in such a system has been proven empirically to be much more than in those which have experienced the vagaries of the winner-takes-all system. Along with this there is an increased representation for minority groups and interests as well. Hence it would be a worthwhile endeavor to consider the structural change from the plurality system to a proportional one for the popular representation. Democratic Elections: Representation and its Role: Democracy is inherently a form of majority rule by the people. But what constitutes a majority has been a controversial issue throughout the history of democracy. In ancient Athens only about a quarter of the population was eligible to participate in politics. Similar was the situation in medieval Europe where power was vested only in the privileged groups like the nobility and the clergy. Thus, women and the working class lacked


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representation. By the mid-twentieth century, most democracies in the world guaranteed universal adult franchise and virtually all citizens acquired the right to vote. This has been possible due to the growing acceptance of values such as equality and human rights. Democracy and elections have provided institutional mechanisms to bring these ideals into practice. The former nurtures human equality as a matter of principle. The latter is the means to achieve democracy as it ensures representation of the popular will in the government of a country. Periodic free and fair elections make it possible to hold the representatives accountable to their mandate, which strengthens the democratic foundation of government. In medieval Tamil Nadu, palm leaves were used for village assembly elections. The leaves, with the candidates’ names written on them, were put inside a mud pot for counting. This was known as the Kudavolai system. But barring a few exceptions like this, democracy as a form of rule was very rare in pre-modern India. While the western world was developing democratic ideals, India became a British colony. The leaders of independent India decided that it would be a democratic republic, an ideal that was later incorporated in the Constitution which acknowledged the necessity and benefits of ensuring free and fair elections. So essential is the free and fair nature of elections to Indian democracy that it has been held as one of the basic features of the Constitution. The right to vote is guaranteed under article 326 of the Constitution. Because of the high importance given to the institution of elections, it can be held at par with a fundamental right. This entails that all citizens have an equal right to vote, and that their vote is equally decisive. It also implies that the voice of each voter should be represented equally in the Parliament. But this does not happen in practice as the current electoral system (First Past the Post) has many shortcomings and does not serve the best interests of the voters who are inadequately represented by the elected candidates. Before we move on to the 24

practicalities of representation in different electoral systems, it would be pertinent to take a look at some theories of political representation. Representation in common parlance would mean to re-present something, like a painting representing specific objects or persons. But in Political Science, representation has a different meaning. It often implies a principal-agent relationship between the voter and her representative. Historically, literature on this topic has focused on whether representatives perform the role of trustees or delegates. Trustees are those representatives who act on their own will, believing that it would be in the interest of the represented. This has been famously argued by Edmund Burke, whereas James Madison has argued in favor of the delegated form of representation where the representatives merely act on the preferences expressed by the represented. These forms are conflicting in nature and entail different expectations from their representatives. Hannah Pitkin argues that one must not disregard the paradoxical nature of this arrangement, and safeguard the autonomy of both stakeholders. She discusses four forms of representation; formalistic, descriptive, symbolic and substantive. A brief overview of two of these is presented belowFormalistic Representation: Formalistic representation has two dimensions: authorization and accountability. Authorization is the means by which the representative obtains her official position. Accountability stems from the power of the represented to punish the representative if the latter’s decisions are in conflict with the popular will. It is enforced through mechanisms such as ‘recall’, which is a vote to remove a representative from office. Substantive Representation: Substantive representation essentially deals with the activity of the representatives. It focuses on the extent to which their acts and decisions are in the best interests of the electorate. It defines the principal-agent relationship and tries to establish the legitimacy of the representatives, by assessing


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the outcome of the policy adopted and implemented by them. If it is in the best interests of the people and if public opinion endorses it then the agent can be said to be adequately representing the principal In many democratic states, a huge gap divides the privileged and the rest. The elites are enjoying economic, social and political advantages. Thus in a country like India, the entire adult population has the right to vote, and hence in principle the right to have a say in the decision making process. But it is quite obvious that the political class does not represent the will of the masses, but instead acts in favor of the elites. In such a situation, it is to guarantee genuine autonomy and power to the ordinary voter. I believe that the delegated form of representation can facilitate this by compelling the representatives to rise above narrow self interest and cater to the preferences of the public at large. Electoral Systems: A Comparative Analysis: Around 114 countries in the world have adopted the plurality system of parliamentary democracy. 75 countries have adopted the proportional system and another 22 use semi-proportional system. Among these, 7 countries including Germany and New Zealand use the Multi-Member Proportional method. When classified by population size, the dominance of plurality-majority systems becomes even more pronounced as these collectively represent 2.44 billion people. The Proportional Representation systems constitute three-quarters of all electoral systems in Western Europe. A brief overview of various electoral systems is offered below and an attempt is made to identify the electoral system that would be ideal for the Indian Democracy. An electoral system is basically that process which determines the translation of votes into seats. The electoral formulas applied to translate the votes into seats can be divided into three main types, Majoritarian, Proportional and the Mixed. Majoritarian formulas consisting of the plurality system and the alternative voting

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systems: In these systems, a candidate is declared a winner if she either secures a plurality of votes (most votes), or a majority of votes (more than half). These systems have been employed in several countries in the world including the United States of America, India and the United Kingdom for elections to the lower house of the legislative bodies. Dating back to the 12th century, it is the oldest and the simplest type of electoral systems. The system which requires a mere plurality of votes for a candidate to be declared the winner of a seat prioritizes the stability of governance over the quality of representation, especially that of the minority. This is achieved by creating a “manufactured majority� by exaggerating the share of seats for the leading party. Each voter has one vote using which candidates are elected from single-member constituencies. There is no minimum number or percentage of votes needed to get elected to office. The party which has the most number of elected candidates is invited to form the government. Proportional Representation (PR): In the commonly used List PR system, a political party presents a list of its candidates to be voted into office. The emphasis is on the representation of the minorities instead of merely forming a government through a simple majority. Such systems require the electorate to be divided into multi-member constituencies. Most commonly adopted in Europe, it can be found in countries like Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. The lists presented may be open, as in case of the Netherlands, where the voter gets a choice between candidates, or closed lists in which the candidates have been ranked by the political party and the voter casts the ballot for a party. Parties have to secure a minimum number of seats to get elected. Various electoral formulae applied to determine proportionality of the votes to the seats. Mixed Systems: The Additional Member System is a combination of the plurality and proportional forms of representation. It tries to combine the best of both worlds by taking the positive aspects of the


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FPTP and the PR systems. This is a fairly new system in the world and has been adopted by countries like Germany, Bolivia, Mexico and New Zealand in the lower house of their legislature. Instead of the conventional one vote, the voter casts two distinct votes; one for the representative from the constituency and another for the political party lists. If this were implemented in India for the Lok Sabha elections, the voter would have two votes in hand; one of which she would cast for the candidate standing for elections from her constituency (the usual system in India) and another to vote for a political party at the national level. What this essentially does is that after the election of the candidates from their constituencies if at all there is an imbalance in the number of seats secured, then the following vote helps to bring in some amount of proportionality to the legislature. Proportional Representation/ First-Past-the-Post System: There has been a long-standing debate as to the ideal electoral system for a democracy. The two main contenders for that position are the Proportional Representation and the Plurality system of representation. A majority of democratic countries have been using the plurality method for elections. It has a number of advantages as it is fairly simple and conducive to governmental stability. Voters get a clear cut choice between two major parties and keeps away small third parties which hold extremist views. It also tries to avoid the possibility of a more unstable coalition government. But in a country like India where there are several political parties contesting the national elections, despite the plurality system there are coalition governments and lack of stability at the cost of all those votes which turned out to be indecisive. There have been instances where either newly formed democracies (like South Africa) have adopted proportional representation or existing democracies (like New Zealand) have shifted to proportional (or in most cases) to mixed forms of representation. This has happened mainly because of the drawbacks of the winner-takes-all system. This system is based on a plurality of votes 26

and disregards the need for a majority. The winning party even with less than half the votes secures more than half of the seats in the lower house of the Parliament. The parties which represent the cultural, religious and ethnic minorities of a nation are denied their fair share in the legislature. The government so formed by the winning party will also have the least members voicing the interests of minority groups. This will tilt the national policy in favor of the majority and will eventually disregard the minority. In India where the plurality method is applied, and where women make up for nearly half the electorate, they occupy a mere 11 percent of the seats in the current Lok Sabha. We can see from this fact the massive under-representation of women as it falls considerably short of the global standard of 30 percent set in the UNDP (Commission on the Status of Women) at the Beijing Conference in 1995. In addition to this defect, a huge number of votes are wasted and the voice of a large percentage of the population goes unheard. This happens because when government is formed by the winning party which secured a plurality number of votes in the elections, is devoid of the representation of all those people who voted for the candidates who just narrowly lost and together all the losing candidates make a considerable amount of majority as against the winning candidate. When people realize that their vote has an extremely low or no decisive value, they will no longer have faith in the system of elections. As the main objective of elections is to fairly represent the interests of the voter, such a system will lose its democratic character. Proportional representation involves the election of candidates from multi-member constituencies through the list system. The constituencies in such a system are larger than those in the plurality system and each constituency elects more than one candidate. Each political party releases a list of candidates and voters have to choose among the party lists. The direct effect of this system is that it introduces a sense of competition among the members of one party. Such an increase in healthy


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competition will enhance the chances of better accountability to the people during and after elections. In the current system where only one candidate is elected from one constituency, the burden and responsibility of the entire campaign is laid upon her. Even though in most cases the political party will also chip in and help her out, she still has to shoulder most of the electoral responsibilities. No matter how hard she works, there are limitations on the extent to which she can be successful in these endeavors. But a number of candidates were running for elections on behalf of each party, these responsibilities would be divided amongst them. Each candidate would get to choose which of the areas she has to deal with and would dispose of the task with increased efficiency. More candidates would try their best to secure votes from each voter and her voice would reach out to all of them raising the probability that it would end up being heard by those in power. Voters will realize that not only has the value of their vote increased but also that after the vote that their interests will be better served. Candidates who are members of the same party have to contest within the ideological limitations placed upon them by their political party without compromising on the fundamental values of the party. Therefore at the end of the day, the people who will benefit the most are the voters and the political parties; it is a win-win scenario. In this system, the number of seats secured by a party is directly proportional to the number of votes it secures. In a legislature with 200 seats, if a party secures 30 percent of the total votes, it will secure 60 seats. This helps the minority parties to squeeze their way into the legislature and exercise a greater power to bargain for those they represent. This works in favor for ethnic minorities, religious minorities, economically backward groups, and women. The parties so elected would try to advance the interests of these minorities in the matters of public policy, benefitting these previously neglected groups. When a person votes for a list, there are very high chances that the vote so cast holds a decisive value. The voter can see that the 27

vote she has cast has had a meaningful contribution to make in choosing the leaders of her country and feels a sense of empowerment. The Current Indian Scenario: In India, a majority of the voters place their faith in the institution of democracy. They believe strongly that democracy is the ideal form of government and elections are the right way to choose their leaders. Yet, they have always been dissatisfied with the functioning of democratic institutions in the country. To illustrate, in 1996, around 63 percent of the electorate believed that representatives did not pay attention to or care about what the voters thought or wanted; whereas only about 22 percent thought otherwise. In addition to this, only about 31 percent of the people felt that their relations with the government were cordial. It can be inferred therefore that many a party and its leaders are being tolerated by the people only because of their faith in the democratic system. Until recently Indian voters used to seek affiliation with their representatives primarily on the basis of factors such as caste or language. To a certain extent ideological affinity was also taken into account while voting for a candidate. But lately the concept of representation has changed. The middle class voters, whose numbers and political weight have gradually increased, now attach greater importance to the caliber and performance of their representatives. They try to see whether the latter actually respect their preferences and safeguard their interests. This shift accords with Pitkin’s notion of substantive representation mentioned earlier. More than how the representatives resemble them, the emphasis has shifted to how far the policy implemented is in favor of the electorate. The voters demand more accountability from the politicians and more transparency in the functioning of the government. Even though the British granted independence to India in 1947, they left behind a colonial legacy. Many features of British government were retained in independent India. An import one among these was the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy based on the first-past-the-post


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electoral system. The Constituent Assembly comprising a number of eminent jurists, lawyers, constitutional experts and political thinkers deliberated for three years and debated the issue of which electoral system would be ideal for the newly born Indian democracy. But at that point of time it was important to guarantee the formation of a united and stable government as a developing nation could not afford fragmented legislatures. Hence the first-past-the-post system was duly adopted. In India representation has a geographical and demographic basis. The entire country is divided in 543 single-member constituencies and each of them is represented by one member in the Lok Sabha. The General Elections happen every five years and the party or coalition securing a majority of seats in the Lok Sabha forms the government. Till 1977, the Congress occupied a dominant position in successive elections and formed a majority government at the federal level and in most states, leading to political stability in the country. But after 1977, Congress lost its monopoly and since 1996, all the federal governments have been coalition governments. They have been characterized by a good deal of infighting and two of them could not complete their respective terms. The first-past-the-post electoral system could never do justice to the diversity of Indian society, and it can no longer ensure the formation of a stable and efficient government. The time has come to consider the desirability of switching over to a different electoral system. The Case for Proportional Representation: The question of electoral reform in India has been frequently debated in public forums since Independence. Due to a large number of problems, both structural and procedural, there have been many suggestions for changing the electoral system so as to plug all the loopholes in it. The need for a drastic change has been felt even more keenly in the last two decades which have witnessed the advent of unstable, cacophonous governments and an unprecedented rise in corruption. In 1974, on behalf of the Citizens of Democracy, Jayaprakash 28

Narayan appointed a six-member committee headed by Justice V. M. Tarkunde, to study and report on a scheme for electoral reforms. The committee favoured the imparting of proportionality to the way votes are translated into seats. Some of its relevant recommendations are presented below. When no candidate secures an absolute majority of the votes polled, the seat for that constituency will not be filled from this direct election. Before the day of polling, each recognized party will be asked to submit a list of its candidates in order of preference state-wise for the Lok Sabha, which would be publicized in advance of polling. After polling, all seats not filled by direct election will be distributed State-wise (in case of Parliament) among the various parties in such a manner that the total number of seats they get in the Lok Sabha are in proportion to the valid votes they secured. This will be done by declaring elected as many members from the top of each party list as will result, in the total strength of each party (including directly elected members as well as those elected from the lists) being roughly proportionate to the votes polled by each party, including those polled by the successful candidates. This was essentially a proposal to adopt a slightly modified German system of proportional representation. The only difference being the Indian voter would still have one vote each; whereas the Germans had two votes, one for the single member constituency and another for the party list. It was also supported by S. L Shakdher, the then Chief Election Commissioner of India. But despite these recommendations, it was never finally adopted. The need of the hour is not a just a stable and efficient government, but also an accountable legislature and fair representation for all. It is my belief that all these objectives can be achieved by shifting to a proportional form of representation. The example of New Zealand is highly relevant to Indian democracy from a historical as well structural standpoint. A lot can be learned from New Zealand’s eschewal of the first-past-the-post system in favor of


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Multi-Member Proportionality (MMP) System. But it is not only the change in electoral system that India can learn from; it can also learn from those mechanisms which served as a platform to consider the change in the first place. The referendums that were held over a period of time had a major role to play in the transition. They established a meaningful rapport between the government and the people and showed that the former actually valued the opinion of the larger public. Such a mechanism has almost never been employed in India and is needed to bring about a better democracy. Due to the similarities between the democratic systems of New Zealand and India, the process to initiate the transition should also be similar. I acknowledge the fact that there are significant dissimilarities between the two countries in terms of the size and population of each, and this makes a huge difference when public administration and policy are concerned. It is extremely difficult to manage elections in a country which is around 12 times larger than New Zealand. But despite the colossal size and population of the country, the fact remains that since Independence, the General Elections have been regularly held at periodic intervals.15 It is quite possible for India to hold a referendum on the desirability of adopting a proportional form of representation. The proposal to hold a referendum must be deliberated in and endorsed by the Parliament if it is to gain legitimacy. If the Members of Parliament agree on the need for such a referendum, the government should ask the Election Commission of India to report on the question of a suitable change in the country’s electoral system. Meanwhile, a concerted campaign should be launched to generate an informed public opinion on the issue. This can be done by educating the electorate about the comparative merits and modalities of various electoral systems. For example, a citizen should know that in case the MMP system is adopted, instead of the conventional one vote, the voter will have an additional vote. The adoption of a pure PR system would require massive changes in the 29

current electoral infrastructure. Hence it would be more convenient for India to shift to a mixed form of representation. There will be two votes for each citizen of the country and the legislature will be divided into two parts. Half of the seats will be secured by those candidates who win in their respective constituencies and another half will be allotted on the basis of the votes that the party lists receive. While retaining single-member constituencies, this change would introduce another geographical mode of representation in the electoral process. Each party would draw a list of its candidates and compete at the State level. So in case the candidates of a minority party do not get through the first round of FPTP, there are increased chances that the party will secure representation through the PR route. There are currently 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, one for each constituency in India. If MMP were adopted, there would be a need to create a ratio between those seats which will be filled by candidates who get a majority in single-member constituencies and those assigned to the top candidates from the party lists. The Tarkunde Committee had recommended this system. It gave two alternatives. The first of these was in keeping with the German method. The number of seats in the Bundestag is divided into two halves: 328 seats are for the single member constituencies and 328 for the party lists. The other alternative proposed by the Committee was to change the ratio from 1/2:1/2 to 2/3:1/3. This way two thirds of the seats will be filled by the usual method and a third of the seats through the party list method. Such a method can be applied to the Lok Sabha. An argument raised against proportional representation is that it leads to unstable coalition governments.16 However, most of the countries which have adopted a proportional system have had fairly stable coalition governments. In any case, India is used to coalition politics by now. Further, considering the inevitability of a coalition in a PR system, the majority parties would pay more attention to the preferences of the minorities. In the current system of FPTP this is not possible


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because only one candidate gets elected to the legislature from one constituency. But in PR the party chooses to release a list of its candidates for elections. Making optimum use of this feature they will try to accommodate multiple candidates in such a way that maximum representation is provided to all groups. For example in a list of five candidates, there can be two Hindus, one Muslim, one representing the backward classes and another from a linguistic minority, and at least two of them could be women. Only the Parliament can initiate a process of structural transition in the electoral domain. This will be possible only if there is a strong public opinion in its favor and/or there are significant parties which believe that they will benefit from such a change. During all these years, both the people and the parties seem to have made their peace with the current system of elections. But the ongoing popular clamor for a more representative, cleaner, accountable and efficient government points to the possibility and necessity of putting electoral reform on the Republic’s agenda. Conclusion: We have considered the strengths and pitfalls of the two most commonly used systems of representation. Upon comparison we have found that in India, a proportional form of representation would fare better than the current system of FPTP. This is mainly because the former ensures that the

number of seats won by a political party is proportional to the number of votes it has secured. In MMP, the voters have a wider range of choice as they get to choose and rank in order of preference. Each voter is given two different votes for a candidate from a single member constituency and for a political party at the regional level. This in many ways empowers the voter and puts her in a better position to bargain with the political parties. Minority groups and women will gain from MMP as there are greater chances of their grievances to be heard and redressed at the national level. The fact remains that there is no means to determine the ‘best’ (read foolproof) electoral system. In a developing country like India the political scenario is far from consistent, and to make a radical change in the electoral system would be a bold step for the young democracy. The benefits of the PR system, especially its MMP variant, outweigh those of the current system, but the performance of this system can be truly judged only after it has been put into practice but given a fair chance, would require a great deal of motivation on the part of our people and effort on the part of our leaders. [Ritvik Mangesh Kulkarni is pursuing L.L.B at I. L. S. Law College, Pune and a Diploma Course in Intellectual Property Laws at the Symbiosis Law School. rmkulkarni.ils@gmail.com]

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Book & Film Review Section: 1) Film Review:

Free Tilly! —Donald R. Prothero very year, millions of people visit marine theme parks, especially those run by the giant SeaWorld Corporation, including three in the U.S. in San Diego, San Antonio, and Orlando. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars not only in admissions and rides, but also food, merchandise, parking and many other expenses. My own family used to have an annual pass to SeaWorld San Diego, because we visited so frequently. The centerpiece of each visit was the killer whale (or orca) show, where “Shamu” (a role played by many different whales) goes through its tricks, splashes the audience, and astonishes us with its apparent “tameness” despite their scary size. But after watching Blackfish, I can no longer stand to go there. I cannot imagine watching the killer whale show ever again. Blackfish is a gripping documentary film that follows a series of recent events concerning the abuse of orcas in captivity, especially as they have long been used in shows. First released at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013, since July it has gone into wider release in large cities with movie houses that specialize in indie, foreign, and documentary films. It has received universal rave reviews, and rated a 98% “Fresh” ranking on the RottenTomatoes.com movie site. Unlike some exposés, this movie (“blackfish” is the name that First Nations people gave to orcas) obtained an incredible amount of information and access, and interviews nearly all the people close to the story (including a number of former SeaWorld trainers who quit when they could no longer live with themselves). Through the details provided by these many trainers and other witnesses, the film shows in gut-wrenching and painful detail how inhumane it is to keep a huge marine predator that is adapted

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to large complex social groups, and capable of swimming in packs hundreds of miles each day, and confining them for decades among other hostile whales in something that feels like a bathtub. The movie begins with a teaser about the tragic death of senior SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau on February 24, 2010, when she was performing with a 12,000-pound, 23-foot-long bull orca named Tilikum (“Tilly” to the trainers). It then jumps back in time to 1983, interviewing the man who captured Tilikum by tearing him away from his mother as a young calf in Iceland, killing many other whales in the pod, and covering up the crime. The film then traces Tilikum’s history: first, in a poorly run facility called SeaLand in Victoria, B.C. where he was brutalized by the older whales, confined to a very small pool, and eventually killed a trainer. When that incident caused SeaLand to close in 1992, Tilikum was sold to SeaWorld, where he became the star of the Orlando park. None of the staff knew of Tilikum’s traumatized past or his previous killing, and he became a regular in more and more shows as trainers took greater and greater risks. Yet the film documents many close calls where trainers nearly died, but the incidents were all covered up. In 1999, Tilikum killed a man who had hid after park closing, and apparently tried to get too close to the whale during the night (he was allegedly not detected, even though they have security cameras everywhere). His body was found naked and maimed, floating atop Tilikum, the next morning. Interspersed with the story of Tilikum are interesting interviews with marine biologists about orcas in the wild, describing their incredibly complex social structure, with a wide range of vocalizations that can be rightfully called “different languages.” Again and again, the movie demonstrates not only how intelligent these creatures are, but also how they are tightly bonded to their family units in the pod. The offspring never leave their mothers for their entire lives—unless death or a marine park separates them. Although


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SeaWorld is the primary focus of the story, the film takes a brief tour to another similar park in the Canary Islands west of Spain, where a marine park abused its animals, and eventually an orca killed a trainer. The film then concludes with the details of the death of Dawn Brancheau, and shows that Tilikum without provocation suddenly dragged her to her death, and then ate her. (You see a lot of gut-wrenching footage, but no actual killings or maimings). This incident led to an OSHA investigation, with SeaWorld trying to escape liability by blaming it on “trainer error”, even though the video footage of the incident, the eyewitnesses, and the trainers who knew her, clearly demonstrate that she did nothing wrong. OSHA ruled against SeaWorld, and concluded that orcas were too dangerous to be handled this way. SeaWorld employees now must keep barriers between themselves and the whales at all times, and no longer enter the water with them. But there is a much larger issue here. At one time, we thought of orcas as frightening, terrible “killer whales” and they were the subject of numerous low-budget exploitation films. Now we understand that they are as intelligent, or more intelligent, than any other wild animal, with complex social behaviors and tight mother-offspring bonds—yet we treat them as “dumb fish” to be cooped up in tiny pools, and moved around from park to park, disrupting their family bonds that are seldom broken in the wild. Clearly, it makes no sense to put humans in harm’s way, because these creatures are always “wild animals” that could turn on you and kill you in a few seconds. (Just ask Siegfried and Roy). But the film makes it clear that keeping them in these inhumane conditions is incredibly cruel and traumatic for them, and there is no real justification for it. They are not threatened in the wild, so (unlike some endangered animals in zoos) the marine parks are not protecting them from extinction. Nor does the “educational value” of letting a few people see them close-up justify the inhumanity of their confinement for decades. Some would argue that 32

SeaWorld could build them bigger pools to swim in, although this is ludicrous when you realize they swim hundreds of miles a day in the wild. And what has SeaWorld been building instead? Roller coasters! So why does SeaWorld do it, and why did they try to blame the victim whenever tragedy occurs? As you might expect, it’s all about money. Not only are the orca shows the biggest draws in SeaWorld (generating revenue not only with their shows, but especially with all the merchandise), but Tilikum in particular is valuable as a stud. His sperm is worth thousands of dollars, and consequently he is the father of a large number of the whales currently in the collections. (We even get to see how they stimulate the semen out of a bull orca in graphic detail). Clearly, SeaWorld views the orca show as critical to their entire business model. No wonder they refused to cooperate with the filmmakers. When they did respond to the film shortly before its release, their PR statement mostly misrepresented what the film actually says, or repeated the false claim that Dawn Brancheau was to blame for having a ponytail that the whale could grab (clearly debunked by the actual video footage). Corporations clearly want to protect themselves, but you emerge from the film disgusted with SeaWorld’s well-documented pattern of covering up dozens of dangerous incidents and close calls, and trying to play down or cover up the deaths that Tilikum alone caused—or blame the victim after she is dead and cannot defend herself. The ancient Romans enjoyed brutality, watching gladiators fight to death in their arenas, and lions eat Christians. Animals of every kind were forced to fight and kill each other—all for entertainment. A few centuries ago, bear baiting was considered fun and acceptable as a sport. Bull fighting, dog fighting, and cock fighting are still found around the world, although they are illegal in most of the developed countries. We look on these practices and cannot imagine how people could derive enjoyment out of such horrendous treatment of animals. Perhaps some day soon, we’ll look back and have the same attitude toward depriving and


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torturing orcas, and keeping them in prison for our own enjoyment as well. After all, most research on chimps is over or nearly phased out. Sometimes we do make progress. Film Review URL: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/13-09-11/#Ske pticality [Dr. Donald R. Prothero was Professor of Geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He earned M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in geological sciences from Columbia University in 1982, and a B.A. in geology and biology (highest honors, Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of California, Riverside. He is currently the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 32 books and over 250 scientific papers, including five leading geology textbooks and five trade books as well as edited symposium volumes and other technical works. He is on the editorial board of Skeptic magazine, and in the past has served as an associate or technical editor for Geology, Paleobiology and Journal of Paleontology. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the Linnaean Society of London, and has also received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Science Foundation. He has served as the President and Vice President of the Pacific Section of SEPM (Society of Sedimentary Geology), and five years as the Program Chair for the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. In 1991, he received the Schuchert Award of the Paleontological Society for the outstanding paleontologist under the age of 40. He has also been featured on several television documentaries, including episodes of Paleoworld (BBC), Prehistoric Monsters Revealed (History Channel), Entelodon and Hyaenodon (National Geographic Channel) and Walking with Prehistoric Beasts (BBC). His website is: www.donaldprothero.com. Check out Donald Prothero’s page at Shop Skeptic].

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2) Book Review:

From Lal Salaam to Red Blooms —By Dipavali Sen [BOOK: Red Blooms in the Forest, Nilima Sinha, Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2013, paperback, pp 243, price Rs 350.] n evocative name and a sensitive treatment have been given to the Naxalite movement in this novel by Nilima Sinha. To treat this particular theme still requires a lot of daring as well as delicacy. The author had shown both and treated difficult issues with literary charm. Nilima Sinha has carved out a niche for herself in children’s literature, having several prizes to her credit and international acclaim as well. Through her long association with the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (A.W.I.C.), she has encouraged children’s literature in India to grow. The most interesting aspect of her contribution to children’s literature in India is that she has written about the plight of forced child labour, e.g., in her book S.O.S. from Muniya. Widely traveled, with intimate acquaintance with life in and around Jharkhand, she has direct knowledge of the matter. She knows as well as loves the heartland of India. It is from that informed sympathy that this book, Red Blooms in the Forest, has emerged. It is another of the fine productions of Niyogi Books, a relatively young and unknown publishing house with coffee-table books and autobiographies to its credit. The cover design (by Shashi Bhushan Prasad) captures the theme very well. The language is sweet, the style simple. Books on similar themes are usually rife with curses and slang and `bad language’. It is a relief to find that this book is not. References to the sunset, the shadows, the peal of temple bells and so on, creates an atmosphere of peace and beauty through which, of course, gunshots ring out. In the book, Champa, a teenager from a village near the saal forests of Jharkhand gets caught up in

A


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whorl of Naxalite insurgence. The opening of the book is poignant, when hungry and hunted ‘jungle folk’ in khaki clothes barge into her hut and demand the pet goat to be cooked for them, especially hurting the sensitivities of Champa’s younger brother Gopu. Champa’s Babuji is picked up by the police. Her traumatic visit to the muffasil police station is described with realism but without crudity. Later, to get her father out of police custody, Champa goes into the jungle and ties up with Vijay, one of the Maovadis. He takes her to Commander Bhaskar, a physics teacher from Andhra Pradesh, then “known as a hotbed of Maoist activity”( p 59). He had joined the Maoists to avenge his sister’s humiliation and death. Now he was in charge of a militant group of young men and women in this jungle. Disillusioned with the police, Champa joins the Maoist rebels. Without making it heavy stuff, the author mentions Marxist and Maoist literature being read by the members of the group. “The annihilation of class enemies, with extreme violence if need be, was the goal of all groups, who were committed to Mao’s strategy of `protracted armed struggle’, leading to the seizure of power. In great excitement Vijay read the document, ‘Hold High the Bright Red Banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism’, along with other papers that were outlined by the Central Committee of the Maoists, and dreamt of a bright future for the people once they were in power. The thought of having a Communist Liberated Zone covering the entire stretch of territory from Nepal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Odisha, down to Andhra Pradesh, under the revolutionary rule of the Naxalites was a dream that elated.” (pp 78-79) Champa too begins to feel the elation. She also feels an attraction for Vikas that is more than comradeship. Her feeling is not unreciprocated either. At this point, a youth named Manas Gupta, a product of IIT and Harvard, enters the novel. The Naxalites in the jungle kidnap him. He tried to make his escape but gets shot in the leg, and so re-captured. At this `action’ Chandra feels an unquiet in her mind. She realizes that over the 34

month she has spent here, she had become “a slave for life” (p 108). In spite of his leg-injury, Manas remains spirited and questions Vijay and others about their activities and attitudes. He is made to contact his people through the mobile phone and Champa is moved by his emotions as he does so. Sudhir, an enthusiastic member of the group, gets shot by the police and she had further doubts about the violent ways of this life. Manas ticks to his stand – violence is not the solution – democracy is (p174). As his parents do not respond to the ransom call for him, the group wonders if they should kill him off or go on trying to brainwash him. Commander Bhaskar offers him his life if he joined the group with his technical expertise. But Manas angrily refuses to “join that … killer of men” (p 217). Exasperated, Comrade Bhaskar orders Vijay to “punish” Manas by chopping off his limbs one by one and then slitting his throat. But just then there begins a planned helicopter attack by the police. As everyone runs helter-skelter, Champa sets Manas free and even shows him an “escape route” (p 227). When Vijay comes to fulfill the `Cammander’s orders’, he finds the prisoner gone. Champa tries to turn Vijay back from following the Commander’s path. Vijay is tender but firm. They part ways, Vijay going towards the jungle and Maoist action, Champa towards the village and self-improvement. “Manas was right”, feels Champa. “Violence could not be the solution. People like her must be strong enough to care for themselves. Strength came from education. Somehow, some day, she would grab their education, not just for herself but for her little brother as well.”(p 240) Back with his people, Manas too decides, not to go back to the US but to dedicate himself to the cause of India, like his kidnappers had done, but in a different way, that of providing free education to those who cannot afford it (p 242). All in all, it is a book to pick up and read through, and then wonder about the red blooms that are still blooming in the forest, and getting crushed all the time by the heavy boots of the government and the


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police. Even as we sip our coke, and watch television, some Champa somewhere is rebelling and some Sudhir is laying down his life. Nilima Sinha’s book is about the young, the blooms of today and tomorrow. Reading it, I was transported to my youth which has been spent largely in West Bengal when, in the late nineteen-sixties and early seventies, the Naxalite movement was live and vibrant before being ruthlessly crushed by the government. Though set in a different State and later times, this novel brought back memories of those days when everyday some red bloom was

shed on Kolkata streets. It is thus a book for the young, the blooms that are not yet shed. [Ms. Dipavali Sen, from Delhi School of Economics and Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (Pune)has taught at Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan. She teaches at Sri Guru Gobind Singh College of Commerce, Delhi University. She is a prolific writer and has written creative pieces and articles for children as well as adults, both in English and Bengali. dipavali@gmail.com]

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II

Humanist News Section:

I Combating Superstition and Blind Faith Pope Francis: It's OK Not to Believe in God if Meeting in memory of Dr. Narender Dhabolkar: You Have Clean Conscience: The cowardly and brutal killing of the noted rationalist and anti-superstition activist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar at Pune on 20th August 2013 by some unknown persons has shocked all those who are devoted to the eradication of the twin-evils of superstition & blind faith from the society. It is obvious that this brutal killing is the handiwork of those regressive forces which are opposed to rational thinking and scientific temper and who are flourishing by exploiting people on the basis of superstition and blind faith. As said by M.N. Roy “Fatalism and blind faith have killed in the bulk of Indian people the incentive for knowledge and progress” and therefore combating superstition & blind faith is a historical necessity. Indian Renaissance Institute organized a meeting on 12th Sept. 2013 at Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi to condole the brutal killing of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar and to discuss the ways and means to promote and strengthen movement against superstition and blind faith. N.D. Pancholi, Secretary of Indian Renaissance Institute, gave a brief introduction about the life and work of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar. He said that removal of superstition and blind faith was one of the basic task for achieving social and economic progress of the Indian people and Dr. Dabholkar had devoted his life to this basic need. In fact, unless blind faith and superstition are not removed, Indian would not be able to achieve development. Shri Vinod Jain, President of Indian Radical News URL: Humanist Association, gave historical description http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Pope-Fra of valiant fighters like Socrates, Galelio and others ncis-atheist-conscience/2013/09/12/id/525304?n who had to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their s_mail_uid=64245873&ns_mail_job=1537335_ beliefs which went counter to the prevalent 09122013&promo_code=14DAC-1 superstitions and blind faith. But for their sacrifice © 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved. mankind would not have seen the progress of ideas and science which we see today. It's not belief in God that counts, but a clean conscience that determines who gets to heaven, Pope Francis tells atheists in a letter written to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. The 2,500-word letter was a response to questions asked by the paper's co-founder and former editor, Eugenio Scalfari, over the summer about whether God forgives those who don't believe in him, The Independent of London reported. "You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don't believe and who don't seek the faith," the Pope wrote. "Given — and this is the fundamental thing — that God's mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart, the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience." "There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one's conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one's mind about what is good and evil," he added. According to The Independent, Scalfari appreciated the papal comments, saying they were "further evidence of his ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialogue with all." This isn't the first time Pope Francis has offered an olive branch to atheists. In May, he told a Catholic who asked if Jesus had redeemed atheists that the unbelievers should "just do good, and we'll find a meeting point."

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Shri Atul Wadera, Supreme Court Advocate warned that such incidents would continue to happen unless concrete steps were taken at the grass roots level. “We have to acknowledge that there are certain deformities in our system. The two armed bikers who shot down the 68 year old man acted as cowards. No arrests have been made because some groups have influence at the higher level.” Shri Narottam Vyas, Treasurer of Indian Renaissance Institute and a Supreme Court Advocate, said since malaise was so deep rooted in every religion, the only solution was achieving 100% literacy. Shri Sumit Chakravarty, Editor Mainstream, said that specific instances of prevailing superstitions and blind faith like ‘Sati-Pratha’ and ‘Melas’ (Fairs) to observe their memories should be investigated and recorded so that campaigns may be undertaken to eradicate them. Shri Premnathan, Associate Professor in Deptt of Languages, Delhi University endorsed the view expressed by Shri Narottam Vyas and said that educational systems in our country required a lot of changes with the objective that promotion of rationality and scientific temper was the basic aim and spirit of enquiry should be inculcated among our youth. Lively discussion followed and it was resolved that Indian Renaissance Institute would devise ways and means to undertake and promote the campaigns against the superstitions and blind faith. Shri B.D. Sharma, President of Indian Renaissance Institute, who presided over the meeting in his concluding remarks, said that sacrifice of Shri Dabholkar should make all progressive persons and groups to redouble their efforts to fight against this evil. He hoped that all those organizations and persons who believed in the values for which Dr. Dabholkar lived and died would come closer and fight in a united manner to achieve our objectives. The meeting observed two minutes silence in memory of Dr. Dabholkar. 37

III Mohan Singh (4th March, 1945-22nd September, 2013) passed away. Samajwadi Party General Secretary and Rajya Sabha member Mohan Singh, passed away at AIIMS on 22nd September, 2013 in New Delhi after a prolonged battle with blood cancer. Mohan Singh, 68, was admitted to AIIMS on September 18.He is survived by his wife Urmila and two daughters. Son of Shri Mahendra Pratap Singh and Smt. Surya Jyoti Kumari, Mohan Singh was born on 4th March, 1945, at Deoria. He was married to Smt. Urmila Singh on 6th July, 1969.His romance with socialist movement started at very young age with the guidance of his uncle late Shri Ugrasen, who was elected to UP Vidhan Sabah several times as Socialist party candidate and later to sixth Lok Sabha as Janata Party nominee. Mohan Singh was also inspired by Great Socialist leader Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, Rajnarain and Madhu Limaye. Mohan Singh, educated at Allahabad University, Allahabad and did M.A.As a student he took keen interest in debate competitions. He was President, Allahabad University Students` Union, 1968-69. He was imprisoned several times while taking part in student agitation, 1966, occupying Anand Bhavan, Allahabad and also in an agitation launched by Socialist party on the language issue along with Shri Rajnarain.He was also Jailed along with Shri Madhu Limaye for participating in Satyagraha in 1973.He was detained for 20 months during Emergency for taking part in Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement. He took part in Socialist Youth Conference at Brussels in 1974 and also visited several other countries like Belgium, Germany, Holland, Thailand, U.K., U.S.A. He was General Secretary, All India Samajvadi Yuvjan Sabha, 1973-74. Joint Secretary, Socialist Party, Uttar Pradesh, 1973-74.General Secretary Uttar Pradesh Janata Party, 1977-79.Member Uttar Pradesh Assembly, 1977-85.Minister of State, Government of Uttar Pradesh. Chief whip, Lok Dal


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Legislature Party,1980-85. Member Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council, 1990-91.Elected to the tenth Lok Sabha, 1991-96.Deputy Chief Whip, Janata Dal Parliamentary Party,1991-94.Joined Samata Party, Chief Whip Samata Party, 1994-96.Re-elected to 12th Lok Sabha, 1998-99.Re-elected to 14th Lok Sabha (3rd term)in 2004 and was Member, National Executive Samajwadi Party and elected to Rajya Sabha in 2010. He was awarded the Best Parliamentarian award in 2008. He was committed to socialist ideology and socialist cause for his life time. He was thinker and writer and wrote hundreds of articles and many books. Some of his books are (i) Yaadain Aur Batain; ( ii) Bharatiya Samvidhan Ke Nirman Mein Nehru (in Hindi); (iii ) Dr. Ambedkar - A

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Multifaceted Personality; (iv) History of Socialist Movement ; and (v) Freedom Movement and Socialist Contribution. "After the demise of Janeshwar Mishra and Brij Bhushan Tiwari, the demise of Mohan Singh is a setback for the socialist movement. He was a man of principles and his death has left a void in the Samajwadi Party," said SP Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, UP Assembly Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey, LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan, JDU President Sharad Yadav and General Secretary KC Tyagi MP, NCP Leader and Rajya Sabha member Prof. D P Tripathi and several other party leaders have condoled his death. —Report sent by Qurban Ali


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THE RADICAL HUMANIST

OCTOBER 2013

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THE RADICAL HUMANIST

OCTOBER 2013

This Month's Contributors

DIPAVALI SEN From Gurgaon, Haryana (page 33)

DONALD R. PROTHERO

JAWAHARLAL JASTHI

From California, United States (Page 31)

From Hyderabad, A.P., India (Page 17)

VIJAY JASHWAL

RITVIK KULKARNI

From Kathmandu,Nepal (Page 19)

From Pune, Maharashtra, India

(Page 23)


Post Office Regd. No. Meerut-146-2012-2014 RNI No. 43049/85 To be posted on 10th of every month At H.P.O. Meerut Cantt. RENAISSANCE PUBLISHERS PRIVATE LIMITED 15, Bankim Chatterjee Street (2nd floor), Kolkata: 700 073, Mobile: 9831261725 NEW FROM RENAISSANCE By SIBNARAYAN RAY Between Renaissance and Revolution-Selected Essays: Vol. I- H.C.350.00 In Freedom’s Quest: A Study of the Life and Works of M.N. Roy: Vol.Ill H.C.250.00 Against the Current - H.C.350.00 By M.N. ROY Science and Superstition - H.C.125.00 AWAITED OUTSTANDING PUBLICATIONS By RABINDRANATH TAGORE & M.N. ROY Nationalism - H.C.150.00 By M.N. ROY The Intellectual Roots of Modern Civilization - H.C.150.00 The Russian Revolution - P.B.140.00 The Tragedy of Communism - H.C.180.00 From the Communist Manifesto - P.B.100.00 To Radical Humanism - H.C.140.00 Humanism, Revivalism and the Indian Heritage - P.B. 140.00 By SIVANATH SASTRI A History of The Renaissance in Bengal —Ramtanu Lahiri: Brahman & Reformer H.C.180.00 By SIBNARAYAN RAY Gandhi, Gandhism and Our Times (Edited) - H.C.200.00 The Mask and The Face (Jointly Edited with Marian Maddern) - H.C.200.00 Sane Voices for a Disoriented Generation (Edited) - P.B. 140.00 From the Broken Nest to Visvabharati - P.B.120.00 The Spirit of the Renaissance - P.B.150.00 Ripeness is All - P.B. 125.00 By ELLEN ROY From the Absurdity to Creative Rationalism - P.B. 90.00 By V. M. TARKUNDE Voice of A Great Sentinel - H.C.175.00 By SWARAJ SENGUPTA Reflections - H.C 150.00 Science, Society and Secular Humanism - H.C. 125.00 By DEBALINA BANDOPADHYAY The Woman-Question and Victorian Novel - H.C. 150.00

Published and printed by Mr. N.D. Pancholi on behalf of Indian Renaissance Institute at S-1 Plot 617 Shalimar Garden Extension I, Sahibabad, Ghaziabad-201005 Printed by Nageen Prakashan Pvt. Ltd., W. K. Road, Meerut, 250002 Editor-Dr. Rekha Saraswat, C-8, Defence Colony, Meerut, 250001

Editor: Rekha Saraswat  

Publisher: Indian Renaissance Institute, (IRI) New Delhi

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