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EDITORIAL

Where is accountability?

We are not sure whether the anti-corruption movement led by civil society stalwart Anna Hazare has had any impact on the administration or the civil society in our state. Apparently, we don't find any unusual movement anywhere within the realm of state administration that would account for an impact. Or is it that the coalition is in power and everything is right with the people?
State Roads and Buildings Department never had very clean reputation. Even the ministers holding the charge of the department were not reported to be above board. But now the Chief Minister is its boss. It should be possible for him to stem the tide of malpractices heaped over this crucial department. The damage caused to recently constructed two vital vented causeways due to one heavy rainfall of the monsoon has raised many questions about the functioning of the Roads and Buildings Department. With a combined length of over 250 meters, one vented causeway is connecting twin pilgrimage spots
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Fake currency notes

It is many years that circulation of fake currency notes especially of five hundred has come to light. In the beginning sleuths believed that there were home-grown anti social elements engaged in forging fake currency notes. But deeper enquiry into the case revealed the link between the terrorists from across the line and their local moles. Then it dawned upon police as well as enforcement department authorities that it could be a larger network with activists on either side of the border. Police also apprehended some persons coming as visitors to India from Pakistan carrying with them wads of fake Indian currency notes. The purpose was .....more

Legislators versus Law

By B L Saraf

To conceive a situation where the legislators are pitted against the law is , surely, not a pleasant prospect . It will be the height of incongruity where the creator is seen unabashedly disowning his own creation . But then we are living in a very complex world where contradictions rule supreme . So , any thing is possible - criminals making the law and the honest facing the criminal charges . Oddness has become order of the day . .. . ...more

Where does the civil society stand?

By Lalit Sethi

How does the civil society move ahead of the present moment? How does it make its presence felt? Is it at a crossroads? Is there a political dimension to it? Do some or a number of people have political ambitions? Are they denying it honestly or hiding them?. ...more

Nature's way of democracy

By O. P. Sharma Vidyarthi IFS

Human being is considered as most intelligent and highly evolved species .He has mastered extraordinary control over other species existing on this earth. His progress in various fronts of development is awesome, he has set foot on moon, he has cracked human genome, engineered genetically modified organisms , revolutionized information technology , and put his footprints every sphere of life .
Despite all these achievements ,man could not control his greed and remained selfish throughout .In contrast to wild creatures which remained confined .. .
...more

EDITORIAL

Where is accountability?

We are not sure whether the anti-corruption movement led by civil society stalwart Anna Hazare has had any impact on the administration or the civil society in our state. Apparently, we don't find any unusual movement anywhere within the realm of state administration that would account for an impact. Or is it that the coalition is in power and everything is right with the people?
State Roads and Buildings Department never had very clean reputation. Even the ministers holding the charge of the department were not reported to be above board. But now the Chief Minister is its boss. It should be possible for him to stem the tide of malpractices heaped over this crucial department. The damage caused to recently constructed two vital vented causeways due to one heavy rainfall of the monsoon has raised many questions about the functioning of the Roads and Buildings Department. With a combined length of over 250 meters, one vented causeway is connecting twin pilgrimage spots of Utterbehni and Purmandal in Samba district while as another one is linking Bandhu Rakh with Bishnah in Jammu district. Both the vented causeways, which were constructed in the recent past at a collective cost of over Rs 2.50 crore, could not withstand the first heavy rainfall of the monsoon on August 11, 2011 and suffered damages to such an extent that the administration had to declare them out of bound for the public. This is a glaring example of inefficiency and corruption on the part of the government functionaries who manned this project. What has followed is the classical laconic approach, a time consuming process in which inquiry becomes hazy and manipulations shelve the case. Appointment of a retired Chief Engineer to conduct an inquiry into the happening is all right, and he may even try to present an unbiased report, but the real question is of fixing responsibility of the mishap and taking punitive action against the defaulters. Is the Chief Minister inclined to hold a person or persons responsible and then punish the culprits? As the portfolio of this department is in his charge, it should be possible for him to take corrective decision and implement it forthwith. Charity should begin from home.
This is not the only instance that has come to our notice. The alleged substandard work of Kishtwar Municipal Committee (KMC) got exposed when rain water Saturday night entered residential areas in many wards of the town and damaged lanes and drains. Department of Housing and Urban Development through KMC, under City Development Program, executed the works of lying tiles and covering drains at a cost of 1.25 cr. Though the contractor was to use 4 kg pressure pipes, only 2 to 2.5 kg pressure pipes had allegedly been used while executing the work in all the 13 wards of KMC. While the cost of 4 kg pressure pipe was about Rs 2,500 that of 2 to 2.5 kg was between Rs 1,250 to 1,400. The money was alleged to have been drawn against the laying of 4 kg pressure pipes, according to official sources. Also, substandard material was used in executing the works. Using sub standard material for construction, poor skill and haphazard management and delay in procurement of essential material, all combine to help corrupt officials enjoy a field day. This endemic corrupt practice cannot be arrested unless there is strict accountability. The government is empowered to call the concerned officials to explain why a bridge, a culvert, a causeway, a flyover or any other construction should give in within few months of construction. Once, the responsibility is fixed and punishment given in accordance with aw, it will go a long way in preventing recurrence of such incidents. People in the State have high expectations from the Chief Minster to be able to deliver the goods because he has proved himself above board and that is what makes him popular with the masses of people.

Fake currency notes

It is many years that circulation of fake currency notes especially of five hundred has come to light. In the beginning sleuths believed that there were home-grown anti social elements engaged in forging fake currency notes. But deeper enquiry into the case revealed the link between the terrorists from across the line and their local moles. Then it dawned upon police as well as enforcement department authorities that it could be a larger network with activists on either side of the border. Police also apprehended some persons coming as visitors to India from Pakistan carrying with them wads of fake Indian currency notes. The purpose was to wreck the Indian financial market and thus create economic problem for India.
Recent revelations made by some militants arrested by the security forces are startling. They have said that the Government of Pakistan has set up fake Indian currency manufacturing unit somewhere in Peshawar. The reports categorically accuse ISI of sponsoring the fake currency unit because the type of paper used in manufacturing the fake notes is thin and expensive and only a government could manage it. Fake notes have already caused us much loss in financial and economic terms. Besides, it is an international heinous crime to tamper with the currency of a sovereign country. It would be in fitness of things if New Delhi lodges a strong protest with the Pakistan government, and at the same time take up the issue with the International Court in The Hague and also with the UN Security Council. At the same time, India could make an air surveillance to ascertain where the alleged factory in situated in Peshawar. It has to be remembered that ISI has tried to derail Indian economy in a number of ways in the past. The Mumbai Stock Exchange was once destroyed as part of her anti-Indian economic campaign. Fortunately the Reserve Bank of India has awoken to the threat at proper time and has taken some preventive measures to check the inflow of fake currency notes but more is needed to be done.

Legislators versus Law

By B L Saraf

To conceive a situation where the legislators are pitted against the law is , surely, not a pleasant prospect . It will be the height of incongruity where the creator is seen unabashedly disowning his own creation . But then we are living in a very complex world where contradictions rule supreme . So , any thing is possible - criminals making the law and the honest facing the criminal charges . Oddness has become order of the day . The case in point is the role of our honorable legislators on the recent Anna Hazare movement to have a strong watchman on the erring politicians and the public functionaries ; and their behavior on the death sentence awarded by the Apex Court to some convicts .The whole Indian political class ranging from the extreme right to the extreme left - centre including -ganged up against Anna Hazare , alleging that he was bent upon to demolish the parliamentary form of democracy . That his Jana Lok Pal movement was a camouflage for the substitution of mobocracy for the democracy . Each political party and every politician went hammer and tongs against his campaign for a clean and honest governance. They had no courage to confront him on the merits of the issue , but went on to malign him on totally extraneous and flimsy considerations .
See the other face of the law makers .The Tamil Nadu Assembly a few days ago adopted a unanimous resolution asking the President to reconsider the mercy petition of the three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case . Moving the resolution , Chief Minister Jayalalithaa appealed to the President to commute the death sentence of Muragan , Santham and Perarivalan into life imprisonment . She said that the people of the state were ' saddened ' by the fact that the death sentence to the accused was to be executed soon . Reacting to the resolution , the union law minister Salman Khurshid said that the resolution would be considered at the appropriate level . Back home ,Chief Minister Ommar Abdullah raked up the issue of equating the case of Rajiv Gandhi's assassins with that of Afzal Guru . He remarked on the TN Assembly resolution that a similar move of the J & K Assembly on Afzal Guru would not have been taken lightly and the response wouldn't have been muted . The statement is heavily loaded and needs to be examined in a proper context . Not to be left behind , the Punjab government and nearly all the Punjab politicians are up against the death penalty awarded to Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar , facing gallows for 1993 bomb attack on MS Bitta - the then president of the youth Congress and others , wherein number of innocent persons lost their lives . Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has written to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention in securing clemency for Bhullar .
Speaking mainly from a legal perspective , though not overlooking the political angle to the issue , such developments would set a ominous trend, with the state Assemblies concerned passing similar resolutions . It amounts to passing a vote of no-confidence in the law , brought on the statute book by the very legislative bodies. Most certainly , it won't be a good thing for the rule of law , which is the hallmark of a democratic set up of the governance . There can be an honest debate on the efficacy of death penalty being a deterrent for the prospective criminal , particularly in the cases which have political consequences ingrained in them . At times clemency proves more effective than putting a convict on the cross . In this view of the matter some may find merit in the statements of the three Chief Ministers mentioned herein , when they speak about the sentiments of the respective populace on the issue . But can they , as the elected law makers , afford to canvass a point which essentially militates against the letter and the spirit of the law , of which they have been the makers -most particularly when it has had the imprimatur of the highest court of the land ? When they take up selective cases for leniency , their motives become suspect . Please note , all the three CMs speak purely from the regional considerations , with an eye on the respective vote banks ; meaning thereby that the petty political calculations weigh more heavily with them than the word of the written law .Why blame these three only. See how West Bengal CM, Mommota Banerji , ordered her MPs in the Rajaya Shaba to abstain from voting in the impeachment process of a fellow Bengali Judge of the Calcutta High Court . That shows how concerned our legislators are for the Parliament and the Democracy ?
For Omar Abdullah it would be better if he doesn't make it a provocative issue with the national and state opposition parties . His tweet has started to raise questions on the legality of the order of conviction of Guru . Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP is reported to have said that there was hardly any substantial evidence against Guru to warrant his conviction . Mirwaiz Umar Farooq f eels that injustice has been done to him . Well , after the Apex Court has settled the issue of conviction it would not be proper for any one to question it . Moreover, these statements are bound to evoke a strong reaction from this side of the Banihaal tunnel . Thus blurring the real issue . The chief Minister should well avoid an occasion for disruption of the regional and social harmony . Yes , he as an administrative head of the state has a duty to ensure lasting peace and tranquility in the state . He may well give vent to the general public mood on the issue . But that has to be on the relevant considerations , germane to the conditions available in the state . Why raise passions on the irrelevant analogies ? Afzal Guru's case for mercy may or may not have the merit . Surely ,there can be two opinions about it . But why make it dependent on what happens to other similarly sentenced convicts . Omar Abdullah can't be precluded from raising them at the forum concerned , in a most dispassionate way and without drawing parallels from else where . No two situations compare well with each other . Till then , let Omar use his minor blogging site for ameliorating the miserable plight of his subjects and avoid making comments which he has to withdraw later on .
[The author is Principal District & Sessions Judge (RETD)]

Where does the civil society stand?

By Lalit Sethi

How does the civil society move ahead of the present moment? How does it make its presence felt? Is it at a crossroads? Is there a political dimension to it? Do some or a number of people have political ambitions? Are they denying it honestly or hiding them? Will these ambitions manifest themselves at the appropriate time or when the time is ripe? Right now, is it time to gloat over some kind of a success? But perhaps a bigger battle lies ahead. Who will galvanize the next protest and how will they be sustained with crowds as large as the ones from mid-August to the near end of the month? Will the young people respond in the same measure?
Has there been a victory in spite of the India Gate celebrations in New Delhi and the euphoria generated at Ramlila Maidan on Sunday, August 28? Is it a new August Kranti or revolution going by the August 15 date of Indian Independence? That was neither Kranti nor revolution. Anna Hazare has discounted the talk of victory; half a victory, he insists. A long battle lies ahead even as the 74-year-old rests in hospital and hopes to be out soon and recover from his fast somewhere outside. Parliament may have adopted a resolution by voice vote. Will it be translated into a law or a Bill that the civil society desires? Or will it be a half measure?
Anna Hazare is quite obviously not interested in words like civil society that the sophisticated elements use in western style. He might be called a crusader and his word for it would be "andolan"-a movement. He would like to test the waters or the ground by going on a countrywide tour of India to assess the mood of the people at first hand, perhaps in a small way like Mahatma Gandhi did when he returned from South Africa in a very early decade of the 20th century, but he refuses to be called a new Gandhi even as words like India's second Independence movement are being invoked.
How long will the new laws on Lokpal and Lokayuktas in the States take to be brought on the Statute book? There are Lokayuktas in19 of the 28 States and seven Union territories, but almost all of them are said to be ineffective, except the sole example of Karnataka where a Chief Minister has had to resign after years of work. Is that sole achievement good enough? There have to be judicial reforms and new systems and procedures to ensure that the Lokpal and the Lokayukta model works? Is it feasible in the present dimension? Is it possible to change the hearts and minds of well-entrenched people in positions of power and authority regardless of their political and professional persuasions? Is the Indian ethos of "chalta hai" style so deeply ingrained that almost nothing can uproot it? Will a citizens' charter be of help?
There are indeed big signboards outside a few offices telling the people about their rights to certain services and informing that if anyone in an official capacity demands a bribe, he should be reported to a certain vigilance officer. But procedures require that a certain service is available rapidly if speed money is paid. That is not considered a bribe. There are facilitators of all kinds outside offices, who get things done for a service fee. Many people are willing to pay it rather than going on endless rounds. Then there are lobbyists at various levels, whose fees range from fairly big to huge amounts and lobbying is legal because it is an American system. What is good in America is good for an emerging country like India if it has to be liberated and globalized in economic terms.
The Right to Information Act is believed to have ushered in a new environment in government offices to enable the people to access information about their rights to public service. There are information officers in every office and there are Information Commissioners at the top level to invoke the right if not available at the lower level? But the set-up is so overworked that even as a large majority of people would not know how to use it. Of course, the civil society is expected to help out the poor people with their grievances, but the civil society has its own limitations of manpower and capacity to help people. If indeed, the right to information and vigilance was effective, where would there be need for a movement like Anna Hazare's? It would be redundant.
The political dimension and business dimension of civil society cannot be overlooked. Without it at times, it may not be able to mobilize resources. It is known that business entities promote them through dummies to engage in public interest litigation to keep rivals at bay or frustrate competition. Certain political outfits try to cash in on the groundswell of public discontent. Did this happen in the most recent case of Anna Hazare movement? Did some organizations see an opportunity if the government of the day was in a corner, if not in deep trouble, in the face of protests, widespread and substantial?
The saffron parent organization was believed to have sensed such an opportunity, but was it really able to send volunteers to join the protests? There is no evidence to suggest this because the largely middle class look of protesters suggested that the twittering classes spontaneously entered the movement, besides the mobile short messages or what are called the SMSs, even though farmers from neighbouring States besides Ralegan Siddhi, Anna Hazare's village moved in. How much enthusiasm was triggered by TV new channels and print media?
The Government was active at many points to allow the protest after the reported fiasco of Anna Hazare's arrest on August 16 and remand to judicial custody in Tihar.
When the tempers were running high, Arun Jaitley, leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said at the start that even though he did not agree with the draft of the civil society Jan Lokpal Bill, he would concede their right to protest. That was quite a clincher.
Towards the end when Anna Hazare asked the BJP to clarify its stand on the Jan Lokpal Bill, the party president, Mr. Nitin Gadkari, came out in full support. The resolution that was finally adopted by voice vote had to be fine-tuned with skilful inputs from Mr. Jaitley. (NPA)

Nature's way of democracy

By O. P. Sharma Vidyarthi IFS

Human being is considered as most intelligent and highly evolved species .He has mastered extraordinary control over other species existing on this earth. His progress in various fronts of development is awesome, he has set foot on moon, he has cracked human genome, engineered genetically modified organisms , revolutionized information technology , and put his footprints every sphere of life .
Despite all these achievements ,man could not control his greed and remained selfish throughout .In contrast to wild creatures which remained confined to need based survival instinct , man nurtured greed and remained selfish throughout recorded history . He did good innovations as well but could not wash his hands of greed and as a result he plundered nature ,exploited poor and downtrodden ,played mischief ,prioritized material gains and patronized corruption in almost all the spheres of development.
Democracy wherever and whatever form exists,is not based on ideals in practice,rules and regulations are violated in broad day light , honesty and sincerity of purpose gets bogged down in materialistic greed and monetary progress,there are vested considerations at the level of discharge of justice,equality of justice is eluding each one of us unlike wild denizens who are on the age old path of existence as designed by almighty god and seldom resort to undemocratic way of existence.
In today's world, democracy has not been able to check corruption whcich has become more rampant in modern times . The corruption has flourished at all levels of governance ,it has taken deep roots at a faster pace and the moral values have taken back seat in the society. Over the years, man has turned more and more materialistic, he has focused more and more on individual progress and materialistic prosperity. By and by corruption has entered into man's psyche and system has stopped criticizing such people who were earlier looked down upon and not tolerated . Corrupt people has outnumbered honest in all the spheres of life including pious professions like education ,health ,and trend of wanton loot has continued unhindered ,Laws and law implementing agencies have struggled through quagmire of corruption and at occasions have succumbed to the vested allurements andin most cases,it is evident that they have become party to the designs and motives of corrupt bureaucrats, politicians, police officers and others.
Scourge of corruption has percolated down to all levels of functioning ,all institutions, all public servants and common man is helpless before the unscrupulous, dishonest mafia who is hell bent to distort all the rules and regulations and allure all those who are supposed to enforce anti corruption laws in the country . Now we have reached at such a stage where corruption has become a frightening monster challenging all those who dare to raise voice against corruption, The example of large scale bungling in organization of Commonwealth Games in the country is an eye opener , it proves our commitment for more corruption and not to weed-out corruption and such corrupt individuals have no shame in refuting the charges leveled against till they are handcuffed under pressure of the media and society .Unless ,we overhaul our educational system and devise means to inflict exemplary punishment to offenders , connect corruption with religious ethos and preachings and reward honest people for their selfless contribution and moral virtues , nothing can be expected of feeble fight against all powerful and omnipotent corruption .It is not easy to find honest persons in the history like Lal Bahadur Shastri who being a Prime Minister of India never thought of misusing power to his advantage and remained unscrupously honest despite of his high position .We need to inculcate such virtues and values within each Indian citizens before it is too late .Latest initiative by a NGO of Hyderabad in floating zero currency campaign and an individual like Anna Hazare for drafting Lokpal Bill need to be appreciated and widely supported to have desirable purging of the society in getting rid of corruption. Latest protest against corruption led by social activist Anna Hazare is an eye opener , 13 days fast proved a turning point in galvanizing mass support for eradication of corruption from the society by adopting and implementing a strong Lok Pal Bill by the Parliament. Anna team comprising of Arvind Kejriwal ( Ex IRS Officer and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee),Kiran Bedi ( First lady IPS Officer and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee ),Prashant Bhushan (Lawyer and strong supporter of clean Judiciary ) , Manish Sisodia ( RTI Activist ) provided the needed support to the cause.
Man has to turn towards nature and its wild creatures in imbibing the ideals of need based democracy and shun the greed based undemocratic materialistic approach . By spoiling nature and its life support systems , man is digging his own grave without realizing that earth and its processes all coexist and are intricately connected with eachother , harm at one level is going to harm various other levels in the harmony of nature. James Lovelock 's Gaia theory highlights this interdependence of nature and signals warning to human beings to mend his ways if future survival is to be sustained on this earth .This cannot be accomplished in the prevalent atmosphere of materialistic greed and early we get rid of corruption menace, better it is for our collective survival .Let us not eat to the vitals of our interdependent cosmos where all energy is constant and running not only through our bodies but also through various other systems in the delicately balanced biosphere of nature.
Nature's way of democracy teaches interconnectedness with fellow companions ,it nurtures need based existence exemplifying no to exploitation of under-prievelged , discrimination of poor and downtrodden ,rampant corruption at all levels and greed based democratic setup . Let us go back to nature to learns ideals of true democracy.



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