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EDITORIAL

Small power projects

An imaginative proposal has been floated by the Minister for Higher Education for conducting a survey for the feasibility of harnessing waters of nullahs and streams in Jammu region in order to produce electricity from small hydro power projects for local consumption with less cost of production. It is now an admitted fact that there is the State has no shortcut to the solution of power shortage. Demand is heavy and supply is not likely to increase in future in commensurate with the demand. There have been serious flaws in the entire policy of power generation in our state despite the fact that the state is rich in power resources. Perhaps there is now realization among the authorities that dreaming of big hydro power projects should be replaced by more practicable and realistic schemes with quicker results. Our mega power projects have remained elusive for a number or reasons. If the completion of a mega power projects procrastinates, the cost of production increases manifold. Without denying their utility in case these projects were completed on time,........more

The Pride of Jammu

Any holy shrine, more so the celebrated Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine perched at a height of over 5000 feet from sea level at Trikuta peaks in the Pir Panchal range is the pride of entire nation. But Jammu, in particular, occupies the pride of place in this context; it hosts millions of pilgrims to the holy shrine from all the four corners of the country and abroad. This year, so far, the number of pilgrims has been 69.35 lakh which is 10 lakh more than for the same period last year. According to an estimate of the functionaries of the holy shrine the . ........more

Pakistan's Eid gift to Beijing

By K.N. Pandita

China's Asian client-state Pakistan is faced with unprecedented ire from Chinese authorities for giving room to terrorists on her soil and then exporting it to Xinjiang, or Eastern Turkistan, contiguous to PoK territory. China's official media on Tuesday prominently highlighted Kashghar government's statement indicting Pakistan-trained militants in violence in the city, . .. .. . ...more

Reorganisation of animal sector

By Tahir Khatana

Much has been written and spent on developing animal sector of Jammu and Kashmir. A state which was exporting live animals and animal products just six decades back when it acceded to India and governed in a democratic way is a net importer now. The decay in the affairs of animal sector has resulted into a vicious cycle of destruction of our exclusive animal heritage not found any where in the world. We have the best Pashmina . . . ... ...more

Failed by our politicians

On The spot
By Tavleen Singh

Now that Anna Hazare’s supporters have disappeared from the streets of Delhi serious political analysis of the Anna effect is beginning to happen in political circles. Still reeling from the Ramlila reality show we were subjected to after the government made the inexplicable mistake of arresting Anna politicians in this city are now beginning to question what happened and why. The thing that puzzles most analysts more than any other is why . . ...more

EDITORIAL

Small power projects

An imaginative proposal has been floated by the Minister for Higher Education for conducting a survey for the feasibility of harnessing waters of nullahs and streams in Jammu region in order to produce electricity from small hydro power projects for local consumption with less cost of production. It is now an admitted fact that there is the State has no shortcut to the solution of power shortage. Demand is heavy and supply is not likely to increase in future in commensurate with the demand. There have been serious flaws in the entire policy of power generation in our state despite the fact that the state is rich in power resources. Perhaps there is now realization among the authorities that dreaming of big hydro power projects should be replaced by more practicable and realistic schemes with quicker results. Our mega power projects have remained elusive for a number or reasons. If the completion of a mega power projects procrastinates, the cost of production increases manifold. Without denying their utility in case these projects were completed on time, we need to diversify our search for meeting power requirements of the State. Since it is the policy of the government to bring electricity to each and every home in the State, one can visualize the quantum of power that is needed to meet this target.
Alternatives have to be looked into and complementary schemes have to be undertaken. It is good that a cabinet rank minister has called a meeting of senior officials of Power Development Department and senior officers concerned and placed the proposal before them for consideration. He wants a survey to be conducted about the feasibility of harnessing the water of nullahs to produce electricity for local consumption which would reduce the load on main power supplying channels. It will be reminded that some of the European countries like Netherlands have successfully tried the windmills for generating power. The US has also imitated the plan in some of its states like California where windmills have been set up and power generated. We don't have strong and permanent winds as Netherlands have but we have the alterntive source of energey that is water. If the study of harnessing the available water is conducted with all earnestness, which we hope will be the case, then the State government can take a decision to do the experiment with generating power through small hydro power stations. If the scheme is declared feasible, it would help reduce power deficit to considerable extent. In case the experiment succeeds, it can be expanded to cover large rural areas of both Kashmir and Jammu regions, at least the hilly regions. There is urgency in pushing the survey through. Power deficit is a big roadblock in the quest for industrialization of the State. Unless we have assured supply of power, no industry can grow and develop into a viable project. And unless we have industries, poverty, unemployment and economic debility cannot be overcome. It is something like vicious circles. Authorities should have taken up the case of small hydro power stations much early. Nevertheless believing that it is never too late to mend, the initiative should be welcomed with the hope that the experts will be able to give teeth to the proposal.

The Pride of Jammu

Any holy shrine, more so the celebrated Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine perched at a height of over 5000 feet from sea level at Trikuta peaks in the Pir Panchal range is the pride of entire nation. But Jammu, in particular, occupies the pride of place in this context; it hosts millions of pilgrims to the holy shrine from all the four corners of the country and abroad. This year, so far, the number of pilgrims has been 69.35 lakh which is 10 lakh more than for the same period last year. According to an estimate of the functionaries of the holy shrine the number is likely to reach ten million next year. Taken over in 1986, when the number of pilgrims was bare 14 lakh, it has swelled to over seven million in 2011 ending August. Only recently the Silver Jubilee of taking over of the Shrine was celebrated and the Governor, who is the Chairman of MVDSB also, made a pilgrimage on the occasion to be with the devotees.
Rapid increase in the number of pilgrims reflects the faith and devotion of millions of Indians in the divine powers that protect the land and its people. Hindsight shows that the Shrine Board has made a number of improvements and provided more facilities to the devotees. Its phenomenal growth has been of much importance to Jammu region in more than one way. The influx of such a large number of pilgrims naturally generates Jammu economy at a much faster speed. The winter capital has to gear up to meet the requirements of pilgrims in regard to hotel accommodation, food outlets, transport, healthcare, sanitation etc. As the number will be increasing month after month and year after year, we hope that both the Shrine Board and the government will gear up to meet the requirements of the pilgrims in good time.
It needs to be stressed that Katra, the base-town wherefrom pilgrimage begins is too small with very limited infrastructure to cope with the rush of pilgrims in all seasons of the year. There is tremendous pressure on Katra, and it is rather disquieting that authorities are not paying adequate attention to the development of Katra town. We would suggest that in view of the great increase in the number of pilgrims and the future prospect of the shrine in its totality, the Government and the Shrine Board will have to draw a master plan for all round development of Katra so as to cope with the rush it will be meeting day after day. It will need big investment but before that a well-conceived development and expansion plan for Katra has to be chalked out. Another aspect of great increase of pilgrims to the holy shrine is the pressure on rail and road transport. Jammu railway station is dismally inadequate to cope with the rush. A master plan for expansion and streamlining of Jammu railway station is of urgent need. Likewise total reformation of bus service is called for. The present location of the bus stand is a big handicap for the city of Jammu as it chokes the highway and creates traffic jams. A new and spacious bus stand commensurate with the traffic needs of entire Jammu region has to be identified and developed. Pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine has many dimensions and these shall have to be taken care of without delay.

Pakistan's Eid gift to Beijing

By K.N. Pandita

China's Asian client-state Pakistan is faced with unprecedented ire from Chinese authorities for giving room to terrorists on her soil and then exporting it to Xinjiang, or Eastern Turkistan, contiguous to PoK territory. China's official media on Tuesday prominently highlighted Kashghar government's statement indicting Pakistan-trained militants in violence in the city, while demanding stern action to deal with terrorism.
Commentators say this is the first time that Beijing has formally named Pakistan as source of terrorist organizations with agenda to export religion-based terror to Muslim dominated regions.
Xinjiang shares a border with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK); China blames the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for fomenting trouble in the province. This organization is based in Germany.
An English Chinese newspaper carried the editorial from a Kashghar newspaper blaming that ETIM activist were receiving training in terrorist camps in Pakistan and then infiltrating into Xinjinag clandestinely obviously after crossing the eastern border of Xinjiang with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir territory. Beijing issued a strong warning to Pakistan to stop training of ETTM.
Given the agenda of Pakistan-based but US banned Theo-fascist organizations, there is every likelihood that incursions of these terrorists and their affiliates will increase in days to come, not only in selected towns of Xinjiang but also in almost all parts of Xinjiang. The Pakistan-based Islamist organizations claim they have a strong reason to instigate the Uighur Sunnis of Xinjinag. Drastic demographic change in which the Uighur Muslims have been outnumbered by Hans Chinese is the major irritant. Moreover making the Uighur Muslim community compatible with Communist life style in Xinjiang also adds fuel to fire.
It appears that China is taking a strong notice of Pakistan giving freedom to its home-bred terror to expand fangs in China's eastern province where it has openly said the Uighurs are receptive to subterfuge.
When clashes occurred in Khotan and elsewhere a month back, Chinese President had called President Asif Ali Zardari and alerted him against the elements of ETIM who, he emphasized, be not given any quarter in Pakistan.
This seems to have upset Pakistan civilian government. In a unique move, the Pakistani President, accompanied by the Prime Minister of Pok and the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, and additionally by his son and daughter, paid a visit to Urumqi, the capital of the disturbed province of Xinjiang. He prayed in a mosque in Urumqi on the day of Eid. This has been considered as Eid gift of Pakistan to China.
Before we proceed to unravel the purpose of this mysterious visit and especially the composition of the high powered delegation, let us remind our readers that China has been eyeing space in the Gilgit-Baltistan region under illegal occupation of Pakistan. Building of Karakorum Highway over tortuous Karakorum Mountains, indeed a marvel of engineering, was the first indication how seriously Beijing considered the region to her strategy in the Eastern province. Pakistan has already ceded over five thousand square kilometers of Siachen area to China to facilitate connectivity to Tibet.
Early this year reports came in that China had sent more than 17,000 troops of PLA into Gilgit-Baltistan. China and Pakistan both publicized it as workers engaged in infrastructure building in the region. Of course, Beijing did give out some of the main plans of providing infrastructure in the area.
But observers have not minced words in explaining that China has been converting the Karakorum Highway into a strategic link and dotting it with missile bases aimed at Indian strategic installations and right up to the Gulf area where the western countries have significant naval presence.
Neither the administration of Gilgit-Baltistan area nor of PoK has issued a word of protest against the inroads of Chinese troops into their territory. Obviously, China wants to have a strong role in Afghan crisis and the connectivity gives her the facility to monitor the situation in Af-Pak region from very close quarters.
There has not been any direct reaction either from Washington or from Moscow to this strategic move of China in the foothills of the Karakorum, the Pamirs and the Hindu Kush. The US is bogged with inconclusive war in Afghanistan, and Moscow studies the situation by juxtaposing it to what is obtainable in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, two countries contiguous to Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Reverting to Pak President's visit to Urumqi, this is the first time that a Pakistani President has visited the place which has caused much irritation between his country and its bosses in Beijing.
More significant are two things; one is that the President is accompanied by the PM of PoK and the CM of Gilgit-Baltistan. This is something very interesting as none of them visited the region earlier in their official capacity.
The PoK Prime Minister has been given a proper visa by the Chinese and not a visa on a separate sheet of paper as they are doing with Kashmiris. This means that Beijing has formally recognized PoK as part of Pakistan and not a separate entity. This de-recognizes PoK's claim that the struggle in Kashmir Valley is for independence of entire pre-1947 State. At the same time it not only neutralizes but makes the Kashmir valley so - called freedom movement meaningless and irrelevant. Chinese visa to PoK Prime Minster is forthright acceptance of division of J&K along the LoC which was the real purport of Shimla Agreement.
Carrying the PM of PoK and the CM of Gilgit-Baltistan with him to Xinjiang and offering a prayer in an Urumqi mosque reflects a shrewd and double- edged move by the Pakistan President. It means to assure the Chinese authorities that the heads of the government of the region wherefrom they suspect ETIM training and infiltration are committed to curb these anti-China activities. In other words the President wanted the Chinese authorities to elicit an undertaking from both that they would ensure no violation of Chinese territories and no fomenting of communal and ethnic disturbances in Xinjiang is allowed to flourish on their native soil.
Secondly, this is an indirect hint to the Uighur Muslims of Xinjinag that Pakistan is not unconcerned about their problems and plight like demographic change, suppression of freedom of faith, discrimination and other debilities. It depends on how the Chinese take the visit in its totality.
However, in conclusion one or two inferences merit clarification. By the gimmicks of Pak President's visit in accompaniment of two henchmen is not going to be taken very seriously by the Chinese. Beijing knows the limitations of the Government in Islamabad and Beijing also knows the prime motivators behind the terrorist groups in Pakistan like LeT or JM or TTP. At the same time Beijing knows or should know that these ultras are not going to show any relent in their mission of fomenting widespread disturbance in Xinjiang on religious count and thus pave the way for what they visualize the Caliphate from the Dardanelles to the Straits of Malacca. Beijing will have to re-think her entire relationship with Pakistan.

Reorganisation of animal sector

By Tahir Khatana

Much has been written and spent on developing animal sector of Jammu and Kashmir. A state which was exporting live animals and animal products just six decades back when it acceded to India and governed in a democratic way is a net importer now. The decay in the affairs of animal sector has resulted into a vicious cycle of destruction of our exclusive animal heritage not found any where in the world. We have the best Pashmina producing goat, bakerwali dog, a prolific disease resistant Poonchi sheep and huge population of native buffaloes and cattle. Apart from it we have skilled communities exclusively engaged in livestock rearing like the pastoralists, bakwerwals/gujjars, paharies, chopans, gaddies and changthangies. Livestock rearing has the economic linkages to poor unprivileged communities, landless, marginal, small farmers and social groups. There are huge stakes involved in production of animals and animal products as per a surveys conducted recently there are more than 80 % people rear animals in the state and more and more unemployed educated young people and corporate houses are interested in indulging in animal husbandry - to open more and more animal farms - the government on the other hand has discussed the issue on the floor of the assembly for the last two years to give inputs and tax concessions to boost this vital sector of economy contributing 11% of the GDP.
Unfortunately, the things haven't moved an inch and the rot which was set in the 60 is going on unabated. The Animal Husbandry department was bifurcated and an independent functional Sheep Husbandry department in the 60's was created and funded liberally. This proved counterproductive to the interests of animal farming communities of the state and the production is declining day by day.
Department of Sheep Husbandry started breeding projects predominantly for sheep and started with wool projects by importing exotic Merino breed from abroad and this policy too failed. The deficiency in meet production is met with huge import of live sheep and goats from all over north India involving Rs. 2000 crores annually. The policy went astray as it was imposed on the farmers who were more interested in breeding goat. The very survival of exotic fragile breed of Australia and European goat was not taken into account and this breed couldn't survive in harsh environmental temperatures of the State. With massive import of S/G breeds also came the dangerous diseases which took their toll on a massive scale and now the conditions are so worse that our own magnificent breed and sheep and goats are threatened and need conservation by breeding them in specialised farms under close control of scientists.
The flaws were deliberately allowed to ripe to harvest corruption in the two departments and no policy was devised to stem the rot. The degradation of forests and pastures coupled with rise of human population and climate change has pushed this sector in a blind alley. Now, the Wool Board has collapsed and its employees have been deputed to other departments to draw their pays as no wool is available to sustain the activity. The same is the story of Milk federation and slaughter houses. There is a nexus of retail and wholesale Kothidars in the business of Sheep import and sale of retail meat in the state with political patronage and lucrative business interest in whole of the business. The Idgha slaughter house situated on the outskirts of the Srinagar city was not allowed to function by the vested interests and the machinery worth corers of rupees has gone waste. The apathy of the Government in this vital sector gave an opportunity to the corrupt officers to get massive commissions in purchase of medicine, equipment, feed and fodder and transfer of Government official and their attachment from one place to another. The whole show of the sector is run by medicine and meat mafia. Now, things can't move to the right directions and people who don't fit in this unholy nexus are removed or transferred to insignificant posts within few months.
The practice of community farming is existent here from ancient times in shape of chopans of Kashmir valley and ajaries or bakerwals but, due to decreasing profits and increasing fodder prices have forced these communities to switch to other activities. A multi crore project to breed a meat producing Sheep varsity Dorper was started few years back at Jammu by advanced embryo transfer technology but serious corruption charges are being investigated by allotting this project to a Canadian firm through an Indian front man. All the schemes conceived by the government in animal sector have been tried but failed miserably. The way out is the - reorganisation of this sector on scientific ways by merging the two departments into a single unit of Animal Husbandry department and relocating the overlapping dispensaries and VAS offices to uncovered areas of the state, covering each panchyat by a trained veterinary doctor to streamline the administration and scientific breeding and treatment of farm animals, doing away with medicine purchases by the department and instead providing tax free quality drugs through community medicine outlets in each panchayat to remove the medicine supplier mafia, removing middleman in procuring and sale of milk and meat through self help groups and cooperatives, commissioning of slaughter houses in all the municipalities and corporations, managing wool board and government farms on private public partnership basis.
Animal sector is a vital engine of growth in the economy of Jammu and Kashmir and needs priority review by the government. A sub committee of cabinet is needed for the reorganisation and revamping the sector in a time bound manner. The local communities to monitor the attendance and social auditing of the animal sector with strict government control on day to day basis has to be initiated to regain the lost glory of the sector and to provide employment to the unemployed.

Failed by our politicians

On The spot
By Tavleen Singh
Now that Anna Hazare’s supporters have disappeared from the streets of Delhi serious political analysis of the Anna effect is beginning to happen in political circles. Still reeling from the Ramlila reality show we were subjected to after the government made the inexplicable mistake of arresting Anna politicians in this city are now beginning to question what happened and why. The thing that puzzles most analysts more than any other is why a government that has some of the most intelligent, educated ministers in it should have behaved like a bunch of amateurs facing the first political crisis of their lives. The question is not easy to answer but I am going to give it my best shot.
To do this we need for a moment to go back to 2009 when after the Congress Party won more seats in the Lok Sabha than it has done in twenty years it triumphantly formed a coalition government, known popularly as UPA-2, without the encumbrance of needing the support of a powerful group of Marxist MPs. In its first incarnation in government please remember that the United Progressive Alliance was so dependent on the support of these Marxist MPs that it could not move without their permission. The Marxist support became so tyrannical that when they threatened to pull the government down over the Prime Minister’s decision to go ahead with a civilian nuclear deal with the United States he stood his ground. This moment could be described as Dr. Manmohan Singh’s finest as prime minister and in the eyes of many Indian voters it was the prime minister’s image that played an important role in how they voted in 2009. Sadly, the Congress Party’s in-house analysts did not see things this way and convinced the party’s royal family that it was their ‘charisma’ and their good works for the poor (read NREGA) that had won them the most seats the party has won since that election in the summer of 1991 when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated.
Sonia Gandhi believed them and after the victory of 2009 concentrated on preparing her son to take up his inheritance. Rahul Gandhi was everywhere and the media followed slavishly in his wake documenting the nights he spent in the humble huts of Dalits, his speeches to University students in different cities and the many populist excursions he made on the spur of the moment. Sometimes into the wilds without his security and sometimes doing normal, urban things like hopping on to a local train in Mumbai. These escapades always made front page news and Rahul was, without question, the Darling of the Indian media.
While all this was going on the prime minister retired quietly into the background making it abundantly clear that he did not even have the right to appoint his own ministers and officers. His ministers flaunted their allegiance to 10 Janpath and the prime minister’s role in running the government continued to diminish. Until last November’s election in Bihar. In this most crucial of assembly elections not only did the Gandhi family’s charisma fail miserably but in the constituencies that Rahul visited personally most Congress candidates lost their deposits.
This humiliating defeat coincided with the Commonwealth Games scandal and the 2G scandal and Rahul’s leadership was seen to be less than adequate. But, not nearly as bad as it has been in the face of Anna’s accidental, urban revolution. When he finally spoke in the Lok Sabha, at the height of the Ramlila maidan reality show, he read from an uninspiring speech that sounded as if it had been written for him by his college tutor. Grandiose phrases were used to conceal content so banal that gloom quickly spread through the ranks of the Congress Party and the consensus was ‘Pappu fail ho gaya’. This phrase was the most popular on the city’s grapevine provoking laughter in drawing rooms and such deepening gloom in political circles that by the time I sat down to write this the political bazaar was rife with rumours of the government’s demise. One of the people who passed the rumour on to me said, ‘Nobody wants an election so its more than likely that a new government will be formed out of the present Lok Sabha.’ When I checked this out with a BJP friend the reaction was surprise but this is because our leading opposition party is, if anything, in worse shape than Congress.
It is on account of this that a party filled with some of the most corrupt politicians in the land is backing fully an anti-corruption law that is dangerously totalitarian. Anna’s team seeks powers to police, investigate, tap telephones, seize property and punish. These powers are based on the assumption that the thousands (between 20,000 and 50,000) of officials who will be needed to man the vast machinery that the Lokpal will create will all be angels. During the course of the debate in the Lok Sabha it would have been interesting to hear someone point out that if all officials and politicians in India were deemed to be corrupt by definition then where were the Lokpal’s officials going to come from. Another planet? Unfortunately, the only purpose of the debate seemed to be to come up with a temporary solution that would persuade Anna to end his hunger strike which by then was on its twelfth day.
Anna’s team members, meanwhile, now spend their time flaunting their new celebrity and behaving as if they were the only moral and ethical people in India. The only person who has dared puncture their smug bubble is their fellow traveler, Arundhati Roy, who declared on CNN-IBN last week that the NGOs run by Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi received huge funds from abroad. She went further and pronounced that Anna Hazare had only been used by his team and that he was an ‘empty vessel’. Wow. In the more than twenty years that I have known Arundhati I have never agreed with anything she has ever said, written or supported. This time I do. Even though I do not see Anna’s movement from her leftist viewpoint. Anna is no leader but has managed to become one because our political parties at the moment are filled with heirs and courtiers rather than real politicians. The only good thing that may come out of Anna’s movement is that our political class wakes up to its dismal situation.



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