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EDITORIAL

AFSPA rigmarole

For some time, MLAs in opposition have been raising hue and cry for withdrawing AFSPA. Separatist groups strongly support the demand. They are prompted by militant leadership which presumably has come under pressure of security forces destroying their dens and hideouts where they dump arms and ammunition in large quantity to continue armed insurgency and disruption of law and order in the state. Political parties that want withdrawal of AFSPA actually want to score a point in winning the favour of sections of population. Amusingly, of late, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has also joined the tantrum and has even moved officially to break the deadlock. The issue of AFSPA has been made controversial and complicated because there is clash of views on the subject. The NC leadership as well as the party in opposition and its allies look at political nuances of the demand while the Army and security forces differ from it because they look at it from security point of view. The clash of views has deepened, and more recently the Home Minister has come out with a statement that unless the State government clarifies its position on the Disturbed Areas Act, AFSPA will not be withdrawn unilaterally. Thus as far as the position of the Union Home Ministry on the issue is concerned, it has made it clear that not AFSPA but the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) is the key to disabling AFSPA. The question of reforming AFSPA is not a Kashmir-related issue. However, the case merits close examination.
"Because of continued abetment and support from across the border to the militants it was felt that additional measures are taken to curb the militancy effectively and in a shortest possible time. In these circumstances
........more

Anna's anti-corruption movement
Expression of public courage

Men, Matters & Memories
By ML Kotru

The first round of the battle has undoubtedly gone to Anna Hazare, the septuagenarian, the former Army truck driver-turned social activist, for whom the fortnight he spent at Tihar Jail and later, amidst mass adulation of the rarest type seen at Ramlila ground in Delhi, his declared objective to call the corrupt to order. From Patwari .. .. . ...more

Four pillars of must function in harmony

By Brij Bhardwaj

The crisis created by the fast by Anna Hazare in support of early enactment of the Lokpal bill to check corruption may be over, with, the bill having been sent to the Standing Committee of parliament before being given final shape for endorsement by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, but the main cause for concern, that is, double digit inflation and slowing down of growth will continue to give sleepless nights . . . . ... ...more

Dangers to global growth

By Dr Satish Misra

Newly appointed Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde issued a warning on Saturday (August 27) to global policy makers that the global economy was in "a dangerous new phase".
The world is in turmoil. In Afghanistan, war is continuing. Entire Afro-Arab world is struggling to carve out a new world for itself with thousands fighting .
...more

EDITORIAL

AFSPA rigmarole

For some time, MLAs in opposition have been raising hue and cry for withdrawing AFSPA. Separatist groups strongly support the demand. They are prompted by militant leadership which presumably has come under pressure of security forces destroying their dens and hideouts where they dump arms and ammunition in large quantity to continue armed insurgency and disruption of law and order in the state. Political parties that want withdrawal of AFSPA actually want to score a point in winning the favour of sections of population. Amusingly, of late, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has also joined the tantrum and has even moved officially to break the deadlock. The issue of AFSPA has been made controversial and complicated because there is clash of views on the subject. The NC leadership as well as the party in opposition and its allies look at political nuances of the demand while the Army and security forces differ from it because they look at it from security point of view. The clash of views has deepened, and more recently the Home Minister has come out with a statement that unless the State government clarifies its position on the Disturbed Areas Act, AFSPA will not be withdrawn unilaterally. Thus as far as the position of the Union Home Ministry on the issue is concerned, it has made it clear that not AFSPA but the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) is the key to disabling AFSPA. The question of reforming AFSPA is not a Kashmir-related issue. However, the case merits close examination.
"Because of continued abetment and support from across the border to the militants it was felt that additional measures are taken to curb the militancy effectively and in a shortest possible time. In these circumstances the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, 1990 (Governor's Act No. 12 of 1990) was enacted, The actions taken under the Act have shown considerable improvement but the circumstances and the conditions due to which the law was enacted continue to be the same." This is the preamble of the Act. The fundamental question is this: have the circumstances and conditions owing to which the law was enacted changed or continue to be the same?" It was desired to determine an answer to this question that the Chief Minster constituted a committee in 2010 to address the issue and report. The Committee held two meetings so far. But the reaction of the army and the security forces is already known to all including the Government. During the meeting, Lt Gen Husnain pointed out that militancy was still a threat perception in the state and that there should be no dilution of the AFSPA in any of the areas in the Kashmir Valley, reported The Hindu. Apart from that the Defence Ministry has raised objection to the lifting of the controversial AFSPA, saying infiltration attempts were still continuing and terrorists could not be given any "opportunity to succeed" there. "Militancy has come down substantially but at the same time our feedback is not giving us comfort. Attempts for infiltration are still continuing... We cannot take any step that will give an opportunity for militants to succeed there," Defence Minister A K Antony had told reporters in New Delhi.
This is the ground situation in Kashmir. We have noted that for last three months or more, reports from reliable sources speak of nearly 3,000 well- armed terrorists waiting in the wings along LoC to infiltrate into our side of the line. A number of these attempts have been foiled by the Army but there is no relent from the other side. The recent incident of infiltration attempt in Gurez is still fresh with us and the killing of 13 terrorists in one strike shows that the terrorists are determined in pursuing their mission. Add to it the bold threats issued by Pakistan -based LeT chief of waging a jihad in Kashmir and Islamabad unable to contain his vitriolic.
There is also a legal aspect of the question of lifting DAA. It was the President of India who issued a Proclamation on the 8th July 1990 under Article 356 of the Constitution, in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir declaring inter alias that the powers of the Legislature of the State shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament. Parliament has, under Article 357(1)(a) of the Constitution, now conferred on the President, the powers of the Legislature of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to make the laws vide the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature (Delegation of Powers) Act, 1992 (21 of 1992). In this background it is only the President of India who can order lifting of DAA and not the State Government. The State Government can, at best, recommend to the President the areas in J&K where the application of Disturbed Areas Act is no more needed. With the lifting of DAA in such areas or the entire J&K State, the AFSPA loses its force and the army can be partially or fully withdrawn from that area. DAA essentially gives three main powers to the police/security forces and these are: (a) Power to fire upon persons contravening certain orders. (b) Powers to destroy arms dump, fortified positions, etc. and (c) Protection of persons acting under Section 4 against prosecution. Now if the State Government is convinced that these powers should no more be exercised by the security forces, it is free to make such recommendations to the President. The onus rests with the State Government. This should clear the position of the Army, and the people in general in Kashmir, including the vociferous political chapters and government quarters, have to be clear in their minds what they are asking for and with what consequences. It is one thing to play the card of politics but another thing to understand and react to the ground reality in Kashmir. The Government is bearing enormous expenditures on providing security to the political leaders and other important social figures who are asking for withdrawal of AFSPA. The Union Home Ministry would be very happy if the state exchequer was saved the huge expenditure on account of providing them security. Once the DDA is lifted, AFSPA stands withdrawn and so does the security to the politicians and others.

Anna's anti-corruption movement
Expression of public courage

Men, Matters & Memories
By ML Kotru

The first round of the battle has undoubtedly gone to Anna Hazare, the septuagenarian, the former Army truck driver-turned social activist, for whom the fortnight he spent at Tihar Jail and later, amidst mass adulation of the rarest type seen at Ramlila ground in Delhi, his declared objective to call the corrupt to order. From Patwari (the lowest minion of the revenue department who touches the lives of the peasant and prince alike all over the land) to Prime Minister everyone, said Anna, is to be accountable to the Lok Pal, man or woman, responsible only to himself and the Constitution as he settles down to tell the corrupt from among the several million men and women working the government departments.
High voltage drama unfolded for two weeks as Hazare settled down to the business of starving himself to death, if necessary, with thousands of citizens in attendance, not to mention a few men and women who became his virtual shadows the days he spent fasting. Not a day passed without the doctors, with an eye-and-half settled on the hordes of electronic media, who had chosen to convert the fast, into a virtual carnival, a non-stop drama bringing to your drawing room giving every detail about Hazare's deteriorating health. Dr. Trehan of Gurgaon's Medicity, ensured that the tests, for the main, were held in full public view, before he took to the mike to tell the waiting multitude of how Anna Hazare was doing. Not to be outdone the media had its own men pronouncing opinions on the medical bulletins and not just that; how long would Anna survive if his voice was not heard? And young people waving the tricolour from the podium, two youths from a band among them constantly keeping up a pseudo religious chant of Gandhian vintage. There were film actors, film singers, assorted self-seekers, all of them in attendance. Some where so theatrical that they allowed themselves to swept away to unburden themselves of chats and songs denigrating the houses of Parliament and men and women who are supposed to be doing the nation's business. So much so that questions came to be raised about some of the cheer-leaders probably being drunk. Corruption - the fight against it, to be precise - we have been told in the past by one of Indira Gandhi's Law Ministers was nothing new, everyone was corrupt. Not just that corruption was a universal phenomenon.
I liked a poser by a Mumbai activist and one-time journalist who argued (where else but on at a TV show) that everyone talked of corruption but without reminding the viewers of the axiomatic saying that 'power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely and if you get to see who wielded power irresponsibly you didn't have to go beyond the limits of Ramlila ground. Only two entities the over enthusiastic TV crews and Hazare and his three or four handless. In the instant case it seemed to me that television wielded more power than Hazare himself. 24/7 the channels just wouldn't let you have even a short peek at what the rest of the world was doing. Whether Qaddafi had been ousted, whether Syrian President was still holding out, or, for that matter Obama's travails in search of solution to his country's dwindling fortunes etc. There was this channel which has the distinction of having helms man who presides over all the talkathons, conscious obviously that he knew best and who would not allow on his panel to finish in case the panelist did not fall in line with his interpretation. "I am afraid you are wrong, unconvincing - you have no respect for the man who is fasting and might even die." Day after day, night after night the man unfailingly brought together an array of men only to brow beat those who disagreed with him. He even did away with his obsession for Breaking News" replacing it with Breaking Now, the allusion being to his channel's name.
The all consuming obsession with Anna's Jan Lokpal Bill would not permit the TV networks to tell us why, they felt, the CBI, CVC and Lok Ayuktas were not working, nor would they ask who would do the leg work for the Lok Pal once he or she was appointed. In crucial situation one would have expected the channels to discuss, not 24/7, how a Lok pal of Hazare's dreams or Aruna Roy's or even the government's was to be appointed. Instead instant polls were being conducted whether viewers supported Anna or not.
Frankly there was no need for such polls, for the answer was known all the time. Instead the channels took to phone-back to tell us now and again which way the country was going.
The day before Anna decided to call off his fast I was flabbergasted to find Justice Hegde, a former Judge of the Supreme Court and former Lok Ayukta of Karnataka, who virtually sealed former Chief Minister Yeddyurappa's fate over the Bellary mess and other scams, begging of a TV anchor calling from Delhi to tell him about the latest Ramlila ground. Poor Justice Hegde was heading a massive pro-Anna meeting in Bangalore and hearing all kinds of stories. The anchor did oblige him by giving some positive news. But Hegde was disappointed that as a major activist, who had openly supported Anna was being kept out of the loop by the henchmen surrounding the fasting Anna. Hedge was infuriated by the henchmen's tirade against Parliament, which according to the former Supreme Court Judge epitamised the democratic character of the nation. "It's the most important Constitutional instrument, how can we bring it ill-repute. We are expected to debate/discuss issues in Parliament not ram them through. Indira Gandhi too realized at great cost to her image that brow-beating Parliament or judiciary was not the way out. In the instant case Swami Agnivesh, one of the original Team Anna men, had to admit to his great dismay, the wrong signals anti-parliament tirade by some team members was sending out to the nation. We have to discuss the issue with the self-same Parliament tomorrow how can were denigrated it just prior to that.
I have nothing against Arvind Kejriwal or Kiran Bedi of the Team Anna but both seemed throughout August as angry individuals only too willing to be swayed by the presence in front of them of thousands or Anna supporters at Ramlila grounds. Om puri, the very fine Bollywood actor, appeared to have been totally brainwashed by the Anna men when he took to the mike and belched forth a vituperative diatribe against the government, the Parliament and the MPs. "the Ardha Sathya" man was absolutely out of his depth as he addressed the Ramlila Ground crowd. Mr. Puri somehow seemed to have mistaken the Ramlila Ground platform for one his film sets. That's the most charitable view one can take of his ugly outburst. It sounded as amateurish as Manish Tiwary's unfounded allegations against Anna who according to the Congress MP was corrupt from top to toe. It's time someone tell Mr. Tiwari that good looks and facility with words does not make for a sound argument. These are scoring points which please your headmaster at school. He did later say in Parliament that he regretted, to make such an outrageous allegations against Anna Hazare. Tiwary who considers himself a rise and shine boy of the Congress Party did finally offer a handsome apology but it was too late. Regardless of anything that might have been said to the contrary the fact remains that the Anna movement has been one of the most impressive expressions of public outrage over corruption, in the Government from gram Panchayats upwards to the highest echelons of Governance. One can only hope that the Parliamentary Standing Committee does an honest and sincere job by marrying the best of the three drafts - Anna's, Roy's and the government's to produce a good Lok Pal Bill which creates of conditions in which the corrupt are easily identifiable and punishable with greater speed. The Lok Pal bill incidentally has been hanging fire in Parliament for four decades and more. Anna Hazare has given a strong enough push for it to be finally adopted - and in quick time too. So far as the government's handling of the crisis once in broke out I am convinced that to face such situations a country needs a Prime Minister his or her own MAN. I am reminded of the great Indian editor Frank Moraes's celebrated comment that Indira Gandhi seemed to be the only MAN in her cabinet.

Four pillars of must function in harmony

By Brij Bhardwaj

The crisis created by the fast by Anna Hazare in support of early enactment of the Lokpal bill to check corruption may be over, with, the bill having been sent to the Standing Committee of parliament before being given final shape for endorsement by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, but the main cause for concern, that is, double digit inflation and slowing down of growth will continue to give sleepless nights to UPA leadership.
The main reason for the support that was generated for the Civil Society movement against corruption was a general feeling of uneasiness and disgust in the society over the fact that while the public at large was suffering because of high inflation particularly of food items a few were making huge gains through various scams that have surfaced with a regularity unheard of in the past. At the same time, one also saw a slowdown of economic growth which is leading to shrinkage of jobs and opportunities for the middle class which had benefitted from the liberalisation of economy and was the main supporter of UPA and Dr Manmohan Singh in the last elections.
The UPA leadership seriously needs to introspect why the middle class which had made it possible for them to sweep all metro cities in the last elections has become so disillusioned with them in a short period to now join hands with Civil Society and play a leading role in the agitation against them. The disappointment has not happened overnight but is a result of total inability on the part of the UPA Government to tackle issues like corruption in their ranks, high rate of inflation and at the same time slowing down of the economy.
Agreed India continues to grow at around 7.5 per cent but it is the slowest rate of growth during the last three years. This is happening when the economies of Europe and USA are either shrinking or registering marginal growth of one or two per cent. Such a performance would have been creditable but for the fact that the nation is seriously concerned at the manner in which public money is being looted by leaders in power. It is no consolation to public in general that not only leaders of the parties in power are involved in these scams but also leaders of political parties in opposition.
The result has been that no political party in opposition has been able to occupy the space vacated by the UPA. On the other hand, a general disillusionment with all political parties is growing among the general public which in turn is shaking their faith in institutions like Parliament and State legislatures. The members of parliament and leaders of political parties may be worried over the fact when judiciary day in and day out find faults with the executive and speaks in a derogatory manner about the political leaders.
At the same the time general public is refusing to support the elected leaders or come out in their defence when they are being criticised or humiliated by leaders of civil society or pulled up by the judiciary as they feel that these leaders are no more worthy of their support or confidence. Such a state of affairs could be a source of worry for all who care for a democratic form of Government which is based on parliamentary system
Democratic form of Government is based on electoral system in which persons elected by majority form the Government. It would be a sad day when unelected members of society belonging to judiciary or civil society gain predominance and elected members are subjected to ridicule or loose respect and support of public in general. Agreed Parliament has to reflect will of the people, but that will can only be determined through a process of democratic elections.
One may concede that the process of elections could be reformed or improved through electoral reforms so that role of money power and muscle power is reduced. But there is no better system in sight except election of public representatives through general franchise. Civil society and judiciary have a role in a democratic system but their role is limited. Judiciary can interpret laws, but can not undertake functions of executive. More so there are blacksheep even among the judiciary so judicial activism beyond a point will not be acceptable. Civil society can only advise, but not frame laws which is the function of Parliament.
Any attempt by any pillar of democracy including the media to try to unsurp the functions of other wings will only undermine the system and make its working difficult. A country gets the systems it deserves which is a reflection of society in general. What India needs is harmony at this stage and not a conflict between four pillars of society that is civil society, media, judiciary and executive working under political leadership. (NPA)

Dangers to global growth

By Dr Satish Misra

Newly appointed Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde issued a warning on Saturday (August 27) to global policy makers that the global economy was in "a dangerous new phase".
The world is in turmoil. In Afghanistan, war is continuing. Entire Afro-Arab world is struggling to carve out a new world for itself with thousands fighting a battle for change. The Europe is caught in deep financial crisis and the US is faced with both political as well as economic uncertainty.
India too is being affected with the negative world trend as latest GDP figures strongly suggest. The UPA is in a serious dilemma as the combination of monetary and fiscal policies have failed to curb inflation but have indeed impacted negatively the overall economic growth.
Political instability has further confounded the economic confusion. Already world and domestic markets are highly volatile and growth figures are indicating a slowdown. Commodity prices including that of the oil are fluctuating sharply. That is why in absence of any concerted action, the world may slip back to another cycle of recession.
Speaking to top officials and leading economists from around the world, Lagarde said "stakes are clear; we risk seeing the fragile recovery derailed. So we must act now".
Obviously, the warning is serious. She has urged the policy makers rather the political class to pursue urgent action, including forcing European banks to bulk up their capital, to prevent a descent into renewed world recession.
Two years after the end of the worst financial meltdown, growth in the United States and Europe is spluttering as government debt burdens surge, the IMF chief said. The confidence is shaken and that is why borrowing costs are rising as lenders are hesitant to extend any but the shortest maturity funds in the fear of bank's exposure to shaky euro zone sovereign debts, Lagarde pointed out.
The impending economic crisis is largely the result of bitter fight within the political class who as policy makers are loath to take decisions and indulge in blame game in the hope of either retaining the political power or reclaiming it.
The root of the present crisis lies on both sides of Atlantic. In Europe, narrow nationalistic considerations are making European leaders fight over who should finance the raging sovereign debt crisis and thus endangering the common future.
The US debt crisis witnessed a classic battle of brinkmanship in which Republicans and Democrats damaged their respective political credibility before agreeing to raise the debt limit without agreeing on a course of action to address basic issues which were confronting the American economy.
With the US presidential election only months away, the two political parties are presently engaged in scoring debating points and are in no position to agree on a common approach rather a middle path to boost growth which can create jobs for the American people.
Not only in advanced rather developed economies, the political class is at loss to put their act together to agree on an action plan to put their national economies on the growth path but this malaise is equally hurting the developing nations where political rivalries often enough are preventing a wholesome fight.
Lagarde has suggested for a "mandatory substantial recapitalization through private channels if possible, but otherwise through some form of public funding. She has called for a Europe wide funding such as the European Financial Stability Facility and at the same time has also warned advanced economies from tightening their belts so fast that it imperils recovery.
"Put simply, macroeconomic policies must support growth", she observed. Earlier, the IMF chief had stressed the same point in her telephonic conversation with US President Barack Obama. The White House concurred with her saying that policies were needed which can spur job creation.
She also said that monetary policy must remain flexible as risk of recession outweighs the risk of inflation. The central banks must remain ready to jump back into unconventional policy actions if needed, Lagarde pointed out.
In the backdrop of the emerging threat to the global economic situation, the IMF chief has rightly asked the Group of 20 (G-20) nations to use the forthcoming two days meeting in Cannes, France, on November 3-4, to address the global economy woes in a convincing fashion and to push reforms in the global economic structures.
Apart from the need to further democratise global financial institutions, the G-20 must work on a plan to stabilize commodity prices particularly the oil prices which at present is crucial to economic growth.
In words of European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet "the need to safeguard price stability" was "a foundation for healthy growth". "It is something we consider absolutely essential for confidence", he stressed.
The need of the hour is to have a joint action plan in which those who have contributed willingly and whole heartedly for the revival of the global economy. The tendency to make a fast buck needs to be controlled and greed is required to be curbed. The crisis of one region or one country should not be seen as an opportunity for the other as danger of the recession is common to all. (NPA)



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