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EDITORIAL

Jammu-Sialkot handshake

Prior to 1947, road and rail link existed between Jammu and Sialkot. Along the 38 kilometre (24 miles) narrow gauge rail track, Jammu (present Vikram Chowk), Miran Sahib, R.S.Pora, Suchet Garh and Sialkot were the railway stations. Remains of discarded railway track are still visible in trickles but disused R.S.Pora railway station can still be identified where refugees from PoK have now made their settlement called Patri. Long drawn and persistent interaction between the leadership in two neighbouring countries ultimately focused on the importance of opening roads for movement of men and material as the primary component of confidence building measure. Opening of Uri--Muzaffarabad and Poonch - Rawlakot routes along LoC have not been a negative experience. Opening the routes was to help people reunite to their kith and kin. There are many in Jammu city alone who have relatives in Sialkot and they have long been asking for . . . ...more

Pinching Swiss neutrality

Reports of some Indian milliners misusing Switzerland's bank protection laws, have clandestinely deposited billions of dollars in different Swiss banks, safe from the reach of Indian income tax and enforcement agencies. In yet another 'expose', IAC leader Arvind Kejriwal has claimed that a senior Congress leader gave him a list of Indians who have accounts in the Geneva branch of HSBC Bank where they have deposited unaccounted money routed out of India illegally through hawala channels. At a press conference Kejriwal said that a CD containing names of 700 individuals, who had account in the HSBC . . ..more

The war that did not take place

M.J.Akbar

If by any mistake Democrats had publicized widely why I, if perchance an
American citizen, would have voted for Barack Obama, his tight victory might just have become that much more tense. .
...more

'Corporate Social Responsibility'

B L Razdan

"Your contribution from the cover price of HT has made it possible for 2574 children to go to school", announces a newspaper. "5 paise out of every rupee that you spend on buying any . . ,..more

Politics of 'anti-India' rhetoric!

TALES OF TRAVESTY
DR. JITENDRA SINGH

It has become almost of a fashion and infact unique of its kind seen only in this part of the country. Particularly among certain sections of society in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. At the drop of hat, you raise an anti-India or a pro-Pakistan slogan and get your work done. ,,,..more

Practice error: She is dead

Dr. Sheikh M Ashraf

In the wee hours, we heard she has finished her life along with her two kids. An esteemed and well experienced anesthesiologist of a well reputed institution. She was suspended then terminated from the profession she loved the most, and had worked so hard to serve those who are in intense ,,..more

EDITORIAL

Jammu-Sialkot handshake

Prior to 1947, road and rail link existed between Jammu and Sialkot. Along the 38 kilometre (24 miles) narrow gauge rail track, Jammu (present Vikram Chowk), Miran Sahib, R.S.Pora, Suchet Garh and Sialkot were the railway stations. Remains of discarded railway track are still visible in trickles but disused R.S.Pora railway station can still be identified where refugees from PoK have now made their settlement called Patri. Long drawn and persistent interaction between the leadership in two neighbouring countries ultimately focused on the importance of opening roads for movement of men and material as the primary component of confidence building measure. Opening of Uri--Muzaffarabad and Poonch - Rawlakot routes along LoC have not been a negative experience. Opening the routes was to help people reunite to their kith and kin. There are many in Jammu city alone who have relatives in Sialkot and they have long been asking for this route to be opened. The working group constituted by the government had also made recommendation of opening Jammu-Sialkot link.
In the longer scheme of things bilateral relations have to be expanded and made brisk. This cannot happen unless people travel, meet, exchange ideas and carry impressions to share them with others as well. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah would be taking up the matter of opening Jammu--Sialkot link with the Central Government. He has a cogent point to make while proposing opening of this link. It has the potential of bringing huge economic benefits to the entire State, especially Jammu region, which brings us to the second advantage. While Kashmiri businessmen and the Kashmir Chambers of Commerce and Industry are focusing on trade in terms of apples and carpets, Jammu can deal in several other items like rice, tyres, automobile parts, herbal plants, timber and tea. Thus the two regions will be complementing - and not competing with - each other. Over the years, Jammu has grown horizontally as an economic hub, with its eco-industrial centres in Bari Brahamana and Vijaypur expanding at a brisk pace. Opening of the Jammu-Sialkot road will work towards consolidation of this expansion. With Pakistan expected to upgrade the Sialkot-Lahore road to six lanes, goods from Jammu could reach Lahore within two hours. Opening the Jammu-Sialkot road, as also the Kargil-Skardu road will put the two regions at par with the Valley. For many years, political leaders in Jammu and Ladakh have rightly been criticising New Delhi and Srinagar for restricting the human and economic components of cross-LoC interactions to Kashmir alone. But apart from regional perceptions, the most significant and positive result of moving a step along promotion of greater cross international mobility would be that opening the Jammu-Sialkot road will help take Indo-Pak relations to the next level. Whatever the political status of this section - International Border or working boundary - there is no justification to keep Jammu region out of it, especially if India and Pakistan could open road and rail links from Rajasthan to the Valley. In fact, as a commentator once observed and very rightly, India should also work towards opening the rail link from Sialkot to Jammu. If there can be a 'Thar Express' along the Munabao-Khokhrapar sector and a 'Samjhauta Express' between Delhi and Lahore, why not a 'Chenab Express' from Jammu to Sialkot?
One should appreciate Chief Minister's vision of India and Pakistan moving towards friendly relations by taking small steps in the beginning. Important matters like banking facilities for LoC trade and enhancing the list of tradable items have already been taken up with the Union Government. The process of expanding trade relations is underway but the two countries need to explore all avenues of enhancing bilateral relations and constructing bridges of understanding. There are international pressures also that would goad them into upgrading bilateral trade relations.
Once the valley is connected by railway with Jammu, it is bound to give big boost to the economy of the State especially Kashmir region. Its industrialization will gain momentum and the markets in Sialkot and other cities in Pakistan would open up for Kashmir apple, handicrafts and other products. The good news is that the State government will be providing incentives to the industrialists and also small scale entrepreneurs to establish industries in the State which will generate employment for the people. In this context also, opening of more links with the world outside the State is a welcome step. Jammu has the requisite potential for developing industries and we should never forget that Jammu has vast hinterland of Rajouri and Poonch districts that need to be brought on State's railway map. Industrialization endeavour has to be carried to these and other districts also. Finally, Chief Minister's vision of the State with extended internal and external links, with balanced and equitable industrialization and with the upgrading of all-round developmental infrastructure make him a source of hope and inspiration for his State.

Pinching Swiss neutrality

Reports of some Indian milliners misusing Switzerland's bank protection laws, have clandestinely deposited billions of dollars in different Swiss banks, safe from the reach of Indian income tax and enforcement agencies. In yet another 'expose', IAC leader Arvind Kejriwal has claimed that a senior Congress leader gave him a list of Indians who have accounts in the Geneva branch of HSBC Bank where they have deposited unaccounted money routed out of India illegally through hawala channels. At a press conference Kejriwal said that a CD containing names of 700 individuals, who had account in the HSBC bank as of December 2006, was handed over to the India government by France. Mr Kejriwal claimed CBI Director A P Singh had said black money worth more than 25 lakh crore was stashed abroad by Indians. Swiss neutrality pinches our country.
Nobody can endorse the veracity of these claims but what is rumoured creates many doubts in the mind of ordinary Indians especially when those supposed to protect the law and the constitution are allegedly involved in illegal deposits abroad. As such it is the responsibility of the Central government to explain to the public what the real picture about the rumour is. People of India have a right to know where their money is gone.

The war that did not take place

M.J.Akbar

If by any mistake Democrats had publicized widely why I, if perchance an
American citizen, would have voted for Barack Obama, his tight victory might just have become that much more tense. Nothing that Obama did, and he did more than he is given credit for, matched, as far as West and South Asia are concerned, the one thing he refused to do: go to war with Iran under pressure from hawks in Washington and hunter-falcons in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. His cool deflection of warmongers in the heat of elections was quintessential leadership.
He outmanoeuvred one of the wiliest politicians in the world, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He watched without a flicker of an eyelid as Netanyahu exploited his special cache in American politics, and snubbed him as no ally had ever dared to do. Obama was quiet when Netanyahu and Washington's legislature staged political drama to upstage the White House; Netanyahu virtually accused him of appeasing a nuclear Iran and was drowned in applause. Implicit in this game was an insinuation, never voiced of course, that Obama was secretly pro-Iran. Mitt Romney played this gallery; and Netanyahu's judgement became so heady that he brazenly invested in a Romney victory.
Obama understood the risks, but did not flinch. Jewish support for him slipped from an overwhelming 78% in 2008, to 69%. To the credit of American Jews, by far the greater majority backed their President's moderation against the provocations of warmongers. Netanyahu upped his gamble by ordering a silly attack on a Sudan factory, on the pretext that it was building Iranian missiles, as if Sudan was capable of doing so even if it wanted to.
Action, but no reaction. Obama finessed each challenge with the ease of a master strategist, and kept the world safe from a conflagration that would have made Iraq seem like a sideshow.
This was neither appeasement nor weakness; this was judgement. Obama has not become soft on Iran. He will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power under his watch. But he will not send American troops to premature war just because Netanyahu wants one. Obama is neither goose nor duckling. He is not a pacifist, as Pakistan has discovered. But for him, war is a last option, not a first strike. Such conviction requires more courage than George Bush and Mitt Romney, both of whom escaped the warfront in Vietnam through humbug: Romney became a teenage preacher for his church in the rather charming city of Paris; there is no record of how many Frenchmen he converted to Mormonism.
Ironically, this clarity was missing in Obama's domestic policy. When he did initiate significant change, whether on women's rights, same sex marriage or health care, he preferred to temper his rhetoric, as if he was not certain about how many votes this would cost on election day. This is why Obama was so limp in the first debate with Mitt Romney; he thought he could fudge his way with silence and a pleasant nod. Those who believed in him were shocked at the sight of a leader who did not seem to believe in himself. In 2008 candidate Obama invested in change because he saw that America was changing; four years in office put so much dust in his eyes that he could no longer see how much America had changed.
In 2004 the war-tarred George Bush managed to squeak past John Kerry because he mobilised the anti-gay vote. In 2012, America got its first lesbian Senator Tammy Baldwin defeated the heavyweight Republican, Governor Tommy Thomson, in Wisconsin. In Missouri, Claire McCaskill punctured Republican Todd Akin, who had the temerity to say that a woman's body could in some mysterious way prevent pregnancy after "legitimate rape".
This was also probably the first time in public discourse that rape had been segmented as legitimate and illegitimate. Indiana's incumbent Republican Richard Mourdock, went a step further; he thought that pregnancy after rape was "God's will". God told him it wasn't. He lost his seat. In Massachusetts, the former Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren recaptured an old Democratic stronghold, Ted Kennedy's seat, on a feminist platform that was remarkable for its straight talk.
The old language is dead. American liberals have recaptured the mind, and they are not going to surrender their nation in a hurry. A self-confident woman has taken her place at the high table of power, and the new majority is being structured in alliance with the Obama man. Mitt Romney is the last candidate of an age that has been defeated.
This will have, inevitably, implications for foreign policy as well. Iran will be wise to use the opportunity for dialogue, and seek ways towards a guarantee of non-intervention, its primary concern, and a Palestinian state, its parallel demand. An optimist would call both inevitable; I shall limit myself to saying only that both are possible.

Makes way for progress-centric change

Dharmendra Nath

With another election season upon us our thoughts turn to assessing the public mind and mood. Due to major societal changes having taken place this time it might not be a replay of events. So far the poverty issue has been dominant. It may no longer be. What moves the public today are actions and decisions which enable or disable us for a better future.
At the time of Independence our literacy rate was 17% and life expectancy 32.5 years. Presently, our literacy rate is over 65% and life expectancy over 65 years. Foodgrain production which was 50 million tonnes is now nearly 250. This upswing in agricultural productivity is reflected in the farmers' life style and agricultural land prices.
Even discounting for inflation, the jump in agricultural land prices from a few hundred Rupees an acre to lakhs of Rupees is significant. Plainly, anyone holding any land is a Lakhpati. Along-side the industrial and service sector growth has risen more.
Recall, at the start of the planning era in the 50's poverty was so widespread, that Ram Manohar Lohia asked: Who benefits from Five Year Plans? He wanted the focus to be on poverty and expected the Plans to do some thing.
In the last 60 years the country had seen only 1% per annum growth. In its wake P C Mahalanobis pioneered a study which found that nearly 40% of rural and nearly 50% of urban people were poor. Subsequently Dandekar and Rath worked on the concept of Poverty Line and over the years their idea became the sacred bedrock of our planning process.
With poor agricultural productivity as a result of poor agricultural investment compounded by vagaries of monsoons, while agriculture was the main stay of our economy there was absence of any institutional social security measures.
Years later, when the situation still did not change despite our socialist efforts like abolishing the ex-rulers privy purses, it seemed to confer on some totally unearned economic benefits in a surrounding sea of poverty.
Undeniably, Indira Gandhi created political capital out of it. Her catchy slogan 'Garibi Hatao' led to her tremendous popularity wherein she swept the polls. Yet we continued downhill and in 1991 had to mortgage our gold to Bank of England.
Nowadays the economic landscape is vastly changed. This is due to a cumulative effect of social, economic and political progress made over the post-liberalization years in early nineties. As in the national consciousness, poverty concerns are getting dislodged by emerging middle class worries.
The rising demand for readymade food, washed and cut vegetables, furniture, furnishings, designer clothes, jewellery, automobiles, household gadgets etc is a strong indication of the emerging trend. Think. Among our representatives more than 50% are crorepatis and our foreign exchange reserves are nearly $300 billion.
Importantly, India is approaching a watershed with the prospect of prosperity, not poverty. Said Mukesh Ambani recently, "Earlier rhetoric was about a glorious past, today's is about a glorious future." Politics like other sectors has to recognize this change.
The archetypal Indian today is no longer a poor rural villager in loin cloth but an upwardly mobile urban middle class worker who perhaps has a car, a motorcycle, mobile phone and laptop. The bullock cart has receded to the background.
Besides, there are visual signs of poverty reduction, fewer pavement dwellers, less littering and street vending. Their place has been taken by middle class icons, like IBM and Coca Cola which are back with a bang.
Coupled with social security measures including employment guarantee schemes, the phenomenon of extreme poverty has reduced. Our last famine was in 1943. After that there have been only degrees of scarcity which the country has taken in its stride.
According to various calculations the poverty ratio itself has declined from 40% to 30% of a growing population, an addition of 20-25 crores to the middle class rank which indirectly quantifies the poverty constituency loss.
Issues of food, clothing and shelter might remain on the margins yet the poor's sights are higher. They too are fired by middle-class ambitions and nurse similar desires: Employment, bijli, sadak and paani not roti and kapada.
Their primary concerns are corruption; communalism and crime which stand hinder their progress. If these issues are tackled, the people think they would be able to help themselves. Particularly, corruption which is no longer viewed as an ethical issue but a roadblock.
Bluntly, people are seeking answers to a set of different questions relating to their upwardly mobile needs. Thereby, implying that the poverty card has played itself out.
Notably, playing on poverty frustrations is not going to help anyone electorally. Nor will token breaking bread with the deprived achieve that end. Grain at Rs 2-3 a kg too has limited appeal.
Nowadays, the aam aadmi wants unshackling of the economy and the wherewithal of progress. Forget the ex-rulers privy purses sum of a few crores, we are in an age of lakhs of crores Rupees, both legal and illegal.
Consequently, not only is the preoccupations and concerns of this age different but the attitude of the people towards the Government has changed. People no longer consider the Government as their 'mai baap' but look at it as a responsible service provider from whom they expect responsible conduct and accountability.
Clearly, our politicians and bureaucrats have to realize this change. In this age of Right to Information, the civil society is asking critical questions on matters of public interest. Underscoring, a restructuring of people's relationship with the State which calls for a different kind of political response. Whereby, the electoral fight is going to be for middle class votes over prosperity concerns. This also spells a renewal of our democracy.
In sum, as the complexion of the electorate changes so also will the nature of our elected representatives need to change. Sooner or later we will see among our rulers' people of different persuasion capable of answering new-age questions. Thereby, ushering India from poverty-based vote bank politics in to an era of progress-centred change. (INFA)

Politics of 'anti-India' rhetoric!

TALES OF TRAVESTY
DR. JITENDRA SINGH

It has become almost of a fashion and infact unique of its kind seen only in this part of the country. Particularly among certain sections of society in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. At the drop of hat, you raise an anti-India or a pro-Pakistan slogan and get your work done. The work could be anything...ranging from as minor as seeking release of a delayed salary to as major as seeking release of a deternue convicted for a proven offence. In addition, anti-India rhetoric also comes handy to express resentment against the State establishement or some times even a certain individual state official as for example many a time, particularly in the winter capital of Srinagar, if there happens to be a case of grudge or grievance against the office boss, the subordinate staff may readily come out on the office lawns and start shouting "Pakistan Zindabad."
This is perhaps the only example in the world where one can abuse the sovereignity of republic-state and get away with it. While in any other nation-state of the world, such a conduct could invite severe reprimand, here it not only goes scot free but often carries the prospect of being rewarded by one means or the other. In other words, does it suffice to say that in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, there is an official premium on anti-India rhetoric, anti-India slogan and anti-India activism.
The liberals may however argue it out in a different vein citing Plato's adage that when legitimate outlets of democracy are stifled, the illegitimate outlets open up and this anti-India activism could also partly if not wholly be justified as a voice of dissent borne out of failure to find gratification through democratic channels. But then, the question is, if that be so, why this phenomenon typical only to the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir and not witnessed in other Indian States like Bihar and Orissa which suffer from worst plight and in certain ways....worst exploitation of the lower strata.
Another interesting feature of this anti-India rhetoric culture in the State of Jammu and Kashmir is that over the years it has got institutionalised as a viable "school of politics." If you are an anti-India politician active in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, there is every likelihood that the State Government as well as the Union Home Ministry would recommend for you a 'Z' security cover, arrange a free official accomodation for you, pay for your medical treatment expenses in the best hospitals of Delhi or Mumbai, issue you a senior citizen's concessional air travel card if you happen to fall in that age group and deliver your monthly pension on time at your doorstep if ever in the past you had been a legislator..by design or default.
Last but not the least..since the word "rhetoric" in English language carries the connotation of a discourse which is often less real than being absolutely real,. the question is what is the evidence of conviction behind this anti-India rhetoric? For example, will those who hurl the slogan of "Pakistan Zindabad" at the drop of hat be ready to leave India and make Pakistan their home? Will those who call themselves "freedom fighters" for liberation of Kashmir be ready to refuse personal security cover and financial largesses from Govt of India and thus follow the example of Mahatma Gandhi, the world's most successful freedom fighter in recent centuries?
In a nutshell, be that as it be, the common man has begun to increasingly realise that this politics of anti-India rhetoric may bring a fortune for its protagonists but will hardly change the fortunes of an "Aam Kashmiri." Umapathy poetically hits out at the futility of such rhetoric "Bahut Sunee Hain Aapki Takreeren Maulana, Badli Nahin Hai Apni Taqdeer Maulana!"

Practice error: She is dead

Dr. Sheikh M Ashraf

In the wee hours, we heard she has finished her life along with her two kids. An esteemed and well experienced anesthesiologist of a well reputed institution. She was suspended then terminated from the profession she loved the most, and had worked so hard to serve those who are in intense pain. She was fired when reports fixed anesthesiologists error for the patient's death; she was taking care for so long. This patient had malignancy and has had complication for which he was advised operation. While on operation table surgeon experienced torrential and uncontrollable bleed and asked anesthesiologist to go for more relaxations of the body parts so that bleeding vessel could be identified and ligated, for which unintended biphasic block locked this complicated and obese patient, and eventually this patient could not come out of it. With so much of experience, and had worked with so great surgeons, no one could have thought, she will commit suicide and will kill her two kids as well.
Me as a doctor feel very sad and bad for the patient, and his family and friends, who died of unintended medical error, simultaneously it gives me a lot of pain to reverberate how she could have felt lonely, while facing termination of service and an act that actually was for the life saving turned to life ending procedure. We have all made mistakes, most of them small and inconsequential to the patient's health, but sometimes the mistakes are serious. Most of the time, our errors do not amount to much because the hospitals where we work have put in place systems of checks and balances to be sure serious mistakes don't slip through. But even when your mistake is caught and a potential crisis averted, you are left with the knowledge that you almost harmed a patient you were trying to protect
In another experience, one of the patient who had congenital malformation and had hematological malignancy, was admitted in hospital for chemotherapy, for which intravenous chemotherapy were ordered. Patient was given routine treatment, but developed septicemia because of his congenital immune compromised state and chemotherapy, for which another intravenous line was mandatory. While the incharge nurse gave the prescribed dose, inadvertently drug went into the artery, and patient developed lifelong complication. She had probably administered right dose of the drug in to the right vein hundreds of times in her career, but this time a catastrophic error. Doctors and pharmacists who are all trying to do such a good job, but there are times when we do not, and then we have to live forever after with the knowledge and the consequences of our own failures, and sometimes other people, like the poor parents of that patient, have to live with the consequences of our failures too.
Why these inadvertently medical errors? Probably hospital and practice error rates go up when medicos and paramedics work more than required hours of work in non-relaxed fashion where sustained attention and complex mental processing is a prerequisite, viz-a-viz the physical efforts. Nevertheless no medical professional should think him/herself super-person and all knowing while discharging the delicate and most important duty where somebody's life is on stake. Thirdly a crosscheck system should be in place for all life changing procedures, where it is made doubly sure of the safety of patient and professional. Fourthly medical professionals should be scheduled to work as per medical rules, neither the way dictator boss's wish, nor the way their selfish interests fulfill, as either way leads to hell an intellectual self-flagellation.
The author is consultant of Pediatrics DH Handwara



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