Lokpal Bill and Constitutional Status!

Lokpal Bill has been passed by the parliament yesterday but the ruling UPA has failed to get the constitutional status for the same. For last 24 hours we have been hearing views and counter views on how UPA failed to fulfil the dreams of its “Yuvraj” and BJP led NDA has asked resignation of the government. But you must be wondering, what exactly we mean by “Constitutional Status.” I did some research on this topic and have following points as a ready reference. Constitution Amendment Bills have to be passed in each House of Parliament by a special majority ie. by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the House “present and voting”.
CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT BILLS (http://164.100.47.132/LssNew/abstract/constitution_amendment_bills.htm)
Bills seeking to amend the Constitution are of three types:—
(1)   Bills that are passed by Parliament by simple majority;
(2)   Bills that have to be passed by Parliament by the special majority prescribed in article 368(2) of the Constitution; and
(3)   Bills that have to be passed by Parliament by the special majority as aforesaid and also to be ratified by not less than one-half of the State Legislatures.
Bills that are not deemed as Constitution Amendment Bills
2. Bills for amendment of the following provisions of the Constitution are passed by both Houses of Parliament by a simple majority of members present and voting :
(a)   admission or establishment of new States, formation of new States, and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States (articles 2, 3 and 4);
(b)   creation or abolition of Legislative Councils in the States (article 169);
(c)    administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes (para 7 of the Fifth Schedule); and
(d)   administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram (para 21 of the Sixth Schedule).
3.  These Bills are not deemed as Constitution Amendment Bills under article 368 of the Constitution and, therefore, these are not called by the title ‘Constitution Amendment Bills’.
4.  Though normal legislative procedure holds good in respect of these Bills, Bills providing for matters in sub paras (a) and (b) above, in addition, require respectively the recommendation of the President for introduction and the prior adoption of necessary resolution by the State Legislative Assembly concerned.
5.  Such Bills are presented to the President for his assent under article 111 of the Constitution.
Constitution Amendment Bills
6.  Bills seeking to amend all other provisions of the Constitution including those enumerated in the proviso to article 368(2) are called by the title ‘Constitution Amendment Bills’. These Bills can be introduced in either House of Parliament. If sponsored by a Private Member, the Bill has to be examined in the first instance and recommended for introduction by the Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions before it is included for introduction in the List of Business. Motions for introduction of the Bills are decided by simple majority.
7.   Constitution Amendment Bills are not treated as Money Bills or Financial Bills. Accordingly, President’s recommendation under articles 117 and 274 of the Constitution in regard to these Bills is not asked for. However, if the recommendation is communicated by the Minister, it is published in the Bill or in the Bulletin, as the case may be, for information of members.
[Constitution Amendment Bills are governed by article 368 of the Constitution and Rules 155—159 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
We all have some knowledge about the bill that has been passed by the Parliament. There is no denying that there are some weak points within the bill and few amendments were required to be carried out to make Lokpal more effective and strong. If that could have been done then giving constitutional status would have made some sense. But with this type of toothless Lokpal, not giving constitutional status allows state government to have their own Lokayukts and Lokpals with greater powers.  There was no point in giving a constitutional status to a “weak” Lokpal. This version of the Lokpal bill did not even get the “ayes” of 50% of the total strength of Lok Sabha. This rhetorical bluff of “opposition not supporting” is getting nauseating to hear.
What is interesting to note is that UPA has blamed opposition for the bill not getting constitutional status. But is that really the case is? The Constitution amendment bill (116th Amendment), 2011 was put up for vote. 251 members voted for it. The official strength of the ruling coalition is 277. After some complicated mathematical operations, we see that 26 members of the ruling coalition were missing (in which there were congress MPs too!). This government could not get the minimum required support for passing this bill, and yet is going on the overdrive to blame the BJP for “not wanting a strong Lokpal”. They are against this version of the Lokpal. If Congress really wanted to get the constitutional rights for the bill then why couldn’t it ensure the attendance of all its MPs on such a crucial day? Congress has tabled and passed the bill in LS despite stiff opposition just to show off that how committed they are towards Lokpal. But then everyone knows that the govt does not enjoy majority in Rajya Sabha. Then how could they expect that the bill will be passed as per their wishes and be given constitutional status? And if it doesn’t happen then blame the opposition for all the mishap!!
The bill could have been discussed and if greater flexibility could have been shown by the government and opposition along with civil society we could have got a better Lokpal. I sincerely hope that all this does not leads to death of Lokpal bill. It will all depend on how government stands when the bill is tabled in RS tomorrow. As of now it seems to be moving towards a deadlock.
However, the Bill is far from becoming an Act yet. For, mustering a simple majority for the Bill in the Rajya Sabha will be very difficult for the UPA, which is in a minority of 94, whereas a simple majority requires 123 votes. Its only hope lies in persuading a sufficiently large number of Rajya Sabha members from non-NDA parties like the Samajwadi Party and the BSP to either vote for the Bill or abstain. Thus, it is possible that the Rajya Sabha may pass a version of the Bill that includes some or all of the amendments moved by the BJP and the others. In that case, the Bill will be go back to the Lok Sabha. If the Lok Sabha does not accept these amendments – as it didn’t the first time around – there will be a deadlock, which will have to be resolved through a joint session of both Houses. And that could postpone the actual enactment of the Bill to February 2012. (DNA)

Population Policy: Urgent need of hour

Every year India adds to its population, the population of countries such as Cameroon (14.7 mn), Kazakhstan (15.4 mn), Madagascar (15.1mn) and Netherlands (15.8mn). UN demographers estimate that by the year 2016, India will have more people than in Europe and in the next 3 decades we will overtake China as most populous nation.

You will be surprised to know that India was the first nation to have a population policy but the policy has not achieved the target it was supposed to. It is very important to rework on the policy to control the population. The uncontrollable population is the root cause of various problems engulfing our nation. There is problem of water, power, housing, diminishing forest area, global warming, depleting natural resources, healthcare, unemployment etc. Let me try to explain you how the population is hampering the infrastructure development of our country.

1. Imagine that the government plans to open a new University in region X for Y students. By the time University gets functional after few years, we have (Y+Z) students but the seats available are Y only. Thus Z numbers of students fail to get seat despite scoring high percentage of marks.

2. Government plans a bridge/fly over for A Vehicles to reduce traffic. By the time the bridge is ready, we have (A+B) vehicles on street ready to use the bridge. Result, the problem of congestion continues.

3. The population is constantly increasing but the available natural resources are limited. So this leads to scarcity.

4. The production of wheat in our country has stagnated for last 4-5 years but the population has not. Hence their is more demand but the supply remains same. Result- Impending wheat crisis.

5. The ratio of increase in population and creation of job is not linear. Hence there is rising rate of unemployment.

If I try to imagine a step further. Then with growing population and limited resources, a tension will creep in various states of India. Already, we have seen similar cases in Maharashtra and Karnataka. The states having large number of jobs will be forced to have reservation for locals. There will be laws to prohibit influx of population from other states. This will lead to chaos among people from other states. We will be pushed on the verge of civil war where there will be fight over food and water. We will never be able to beat poverty.

Today also, if you compare American or European poverty line, you will find that 85 per cent Indians are living below poverty line as per American or European standards of Germany and America. With this population growth rate we will never be able to achieve the vision of being a developed nation.

So what is the solution?

The solutions lie in reworking the policies and motivating people to have smaller family. There is need to have more awareness among masses. The literacy rate should be improved. Moreover, if our government seriously tries to solve the problem then it must ensure better standard of living for the current population. The religious leaders should also ask the people to focus on better living than bigger family.

Few more ways can be:

1. A candidate can not contest election if he has more than two children.

2. Tax benefits

3. Poor families who agree to have two kids only should be given some special incentive in form of ration or job.

4. Reservation benefit should be given to only those families who have only two kids.

These are my suggestions. Proper policies on this regard can be framed and we must be able to evolve something.

But will it happen?

It can happen only if the political parties are determined enough to implement the policies stringently. As of now, I cannot look at any party, which will be interested in this. But I want to make one point very clear that a democracy won’t be able to survive the large population. There will be total discord and anarchy if this growth is not controlled.

Unsung Heroes: Ordinary People with Extraordinary Courage!

These days if you will observe, you will notice that you are hearing news of rampant corruption and malpractices going on which undoubtedly is suffocating the system. Every day you hear new news which makes you feel sad about sorry state of the country and we blame it on our politicians, bureaucrats, etc. But do you ever wonder that despite all this how come our system is surviving?

Real-HeroesNo, you would have not.

The fact is there are few people still existing who are doing their duties in a manner in which it should be done. If not for people like these the system would have eventually collapsed. Unfortunately, these people are not in limelight because they are silently doing their good job and holding the system together. You will find such people in every organization and department both in govt and pvt sector. Be it Satendra Dubey or S Manjunath or SSP Arun Kumar, everyday these real unsung heroes are facing all odds to keep nation moving. You won’t be able to imagine the sacrifices which is being made by them on borders and inside the main land. Lt Archit Verdia, Lt Navdeep, Lt Sushil Khajuria, Tukaram Omble and the list is endless who have laid down their life for the well being of the people. With them their family also suffers but then there has to be someone who feels not like remaining 99.5% of the population.

It is a fact that only 1 out of 100 dares to challenge the system, not bogged down the odds, fearlessly discharging the duties and serve the people. Rest all tend to adjust with the situation and do lip service during tea time by blaming and suggesting but not doing. But this is how a society is and this is main reason that people who do good work without becoming the part of wrong system are tagged as “fools”. But the one who do it don’t care as they know that their conscience is clean and what they are doing is in best interest of society and nation.

During 26/11 we had lakhs of citizen on street demanding change in the system but when the day of VOTING came they were enjoying the holiday. Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime and the day we understand this we will be able to come up with the possible solution to the problems we are facing now. We need to get out of our comfort zone. A nation is as good as its people and thus I consider myself lucky to have people in my country who are facing danger for my survival. But my endeavor does not ends there and I will ensure that I take considerable steps in nation building.

I salute all the unsung heroes and their families for struggle they have gone through in making nation a better place. Their loss is irreparable but we will always remain indebted to them.

Reforming Education Part 4: Single Entrance Examination for admission

In current scenario if you want to get admission to various colleges/universities then you might have to appear in many entrance examinations. Let us say that you want to get into an engineering college then you will write many entrance exam for various colleges. The autonomous colleges/deemed universities conduct their own exam. This is perhaps only the money making exercise as the cost of form is around thousand rupees. This in turn not adds pressure on students but also financial burden.

The best way out should be that their should be only one entrance exam per course. Eg: one for Engg, one for medical, one for law, etc. Consider that a student wants to get into engineering after 12th. Then there should be single entrance for admission into all engineering colleges in India and the syllabus of this entrance should be based on class 12th. The marks scored in this entrance should be the sole qualifying criteria for admission into all colleges. This will reduce the reliance on coaching institutes and also save on the time for many students who drop year or two to get into best college. If the syllabus is made common then the playing field is also made level for students belonging to various section of the society.

The government has intended of making common entrance examination from the year 2013 onwards.

If it is implemented in the best spirit then it will be a step towards reforming our education system.

Reforming Education Part 3: Teachers and Shortage

We have observed and known that our teachers are paid meagre compensation. This is one of the reasons for not getting talent to train the future generation of the country. It is not that we don’t have talent. We have few best brains teaching world in few of the best Universities across the world. We have failed miserably in retaining the talent which can redefine our nation. We make lot of fuss of having biggest pools of doctors and engineers but equal fuss should also be of not being able to train this pool by the best brains. The meagre salary which we pay to our teachers from primary to higher education leads to brain drain and private teachings. This is one of the reasons of the boom of coaching institutes.

This is worrying trend because the advantage which we have in terms of youth may become our biggest disadvantage if our students fail on bigger stage or lose out to other students of the world. Quantity and quality of highly specialized human resources determine their competence in the global market.

  • Why is that we don’t have any Nobel prize after CV Raman?
  • Why is that our best institutes fail to deliver world class researches and papers?
  • Why is that there has been perhaps no reckonable contribution from our country in any stream of education in past 3-4 decades?

The simple reason is that our students don’t get requisite guidance and support which is quintessential for them to do research and other things. India needs to wake and pump in funds to retain the best talent in teaching and creating world class infrastructure.

An idea of having Indian Teaching Services (ITS) on similar lines of IAS/IPS is also worth giving a thought. If we can have ITS on similar lines of civil services then we can attract best brains and teach them to deliver a punch to growth of the country. This also can solve the case of paying low salary to our teachers. The idea may appear naive but if worked out properly is very much possible and can set a trend of attracting and retaining the talent to our educational institution. It may take some time to give results but we should make a start at the earliest. This can also be one of the solutions to the problem of having uneven teacher student ratio in our colleges. The shortfall of teachers can also be countered by investing more money into education. The biggest challenge faced by higher educational institutions in India is the acute shortage of qualified and competent faculties. “Lamenting the shortage of high quality faculty for prestigious management and technical educational institutions in the country, a mechanism should be devised to enrol and retain quality faculty by providing them more incentives and research facilities. (N R Narayana Murthy).” The returns of the educational investment are may be late but it is cute and best for the nation building process and personal development also.

I would like to end with a line by MK Gandhi-

“Hesitating to act because the whole vision may not be achieved or others do not share it is an attitude that only hinders the progress.”

Reforming Education Part 1: Food for Thought on Teachers Day!

Marva Collins once said, “Don’t try to fix the students, fix ourselves first.  The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior.  When our students fail, we, as teachers, too, have failed.”

Teachers_PrayerThe parallel and commercial education in the form of tuitions and coaching has made deep inroads in our education system and is really detrimental for the future of the youth and nation. I still remember my school and engineering days when we use to rely heavily on the coaching given by some renowned teachers from various colleges as private tuitions for which they charged a handsome amount. The attendance at school and college was merely for fun and getting admit card to sit in examination. The professors and teachers were also aware of this attitude of students and they will also teach during lectures for the sake of it. Very few teachers showed the interest in making their students learn.

This is where a student coming from a economically backward section looses out and eventually hampering his growth as an individual and professionally. Moreover, majority of the students who go to private classes also succeed by rote learning and not understanding of the concepts. Due to this reason majority of our graduates are considered unemployable by the industry. The practical application of the concepts has taken a back stage and the success merely depends on the “guess papers”. Even Narayan Murthy has said that IITs are no longer the quality institutions they were in the 60s and 70s. Stating that the IITs and IIMs have had very few world-class researches coming out of them in the decade gone by, he said, “In 2004, China produced 2,652 PhDs in computer science and in that year the figure was 24 in our country. Attributing the drop in the high standards of IITs to the boom in the number of coaching classes for joint entrance examinations, he said, “Today, students prepare hard for a year solving sample questions for IIT-JEE. One of these samples matches in the entrance examination and they crack the test.”

This is perhaps the biggest drawback of this commercial education where education has become a business and is looked upon as a “golden egg laying hen”. Historically imparting education was considered as most pious and noble profession, but over the period, this system too has got influenced by commercialization and now teaching is no longer a profession of dedication and devotion towards building better people and country; it is all about money and status.

At this point, I would like to ask the teachers,

  • Is it correct on their part morally? I believe that most of the teachers choose this profession because teachers hold the candle of enlightenment, knowledge and prosperity. And if the money lures you away from your duty then the very meaning of word teacher diminishes.
  • Why is it that a teacher who takes so much effort and pain in private classes doesn’t show that much interest while delivering lecture in colleges and schools?
  • Isn’t a failure on your part if a student has to join private classes to succeed?
  • As a morally responsible teacher, aren’t you playing with future of our nation for the sake of money?

My respected teachers whatever India will be in the next generation will depend upon what you do to your students today in the classrooms!!!!

Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s visit to K. J. Somaiya college of Engineering

Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam – the ex-president of India, will grace the closing ceremony of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of K. J. Somaiya College of Engineering (KJSCE) on the 26th September, 2009. KJSCE is an institute that has transformed learning into an art; and technology into a culture. There couldn’t have been a better occasion for Dr. Kalam’s visit than the completion of twenty five glorious years of the college. Young engineers at KJSCE will be displaying their innovative projects on this occasion. Definitely, it will be a Techno – exhibition to watch out for! Dr. Kalam’s interaction with the young minds will provide them with insights and unleash their potential which will help them flourish and reach greater heights.

A major highlight of the year was the accreditation of all the five courses in the college by the National Board of Accreditation. The college also acquired permanent affiliation to the University of Mumbai in the silver jubilee year. Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, the ex – Director General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), at the opening ceremony of the 25th year of KJSCE on 12th September, 2008 emphasized the fact that technology is in concurrence with society and humanitarian causes. He echoed the theme of the college for the 25th year – The Human Face of Technology; sensitizing the budding engineers with their environment and urging them to take technology to the masses; an idea reflected every October at Abhiyantriki, the technical festival of KJSCE. Last October had robots abound, classrooms turned into gaming arenas, debates on nuclear technology over canteen tables and project intricacies as the latest gossip! The silver jubilee year has lent a golden sheen to the students’ technical abilities at KJSCE. It would be interesting to hear Dr.Kalam’s views on the theme during the 25th year closing ceremony celebrations.

Prakalp, the platform for young technicians of Mumbai, saw engineers competing and innovating on their pet fields in form of futuristic project models. The National conference on ‘Emerging Trends on Computers, Communication and Information Technology’ conducted in March 2009, jointly by the Information Technology, Computer Engineering department together with IEEE Bombay Section, IETE Mumbai Centre, ISTE KJSCE Chapter, CSI Mumbai Chapter and University of Mumbai definitely set the ball rolling. It saw some of the best ideas come up. It was followed by another National Conference on ‘Global Challenges for Deemed universities in Indian Education by 2020’ on 4th April 2009.

Adding a feather to the cap was the Orion Racing India -a team of engineers from KJSCE. The team is into automobile design and fabrication for the past three years. Orion Racing India is the most successful Indian team to participate in an international engineering design event. Orion Racing India participates in Formula Student Germany, an international car designing event held at the Hockenheim ring, a renowned Formula 1 racing circuit.

Symphony, the annual cultural festival was literally a ‘symphony’ of different elements-of culture, of young enthusiasm, of budding talent; each lending its own individualistic beat. With seventy-five institutes from all over Mumbai getting in above five thousand students, the celebrations scaled new heights.

Well, if technology is human, then culture is the force that binds it into a society. At Somaiya, traditions which are both centuries old or young are cherished. At ‘Garba Nite’, Somaiyaites donned their traditional outfits, picked up their dance sticks and threw in some traditional beats on the dance floor. If Garba had Somaiya on its feet, then the Dahi Handi celebrations had its own pomp and fervor.

The 25th year closing ceremony of KJSCE, blessed by the presence of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam will surely be an event to look out for.

Why India is Clueless about China

A prosperous, militarily strong China cannot but be a threat to its neighbours, especially if there are no constraints on the exercise of Chinese power, notes Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

The latest round of the unending and fruitless India-China talks on territorial disputes was a fresh reminder of the eroding utility of this process. It is approaching nearly three decades since China and India began these negotiations.

In this period, the world has changed fundamentally. Indeed, with its rapidly accumulating military and economic power, China itself has emerged as a great power in the making, with Washington’s Asia policy now manifestly Sino-centric. Not only has India allowed its military and nuclear asymmetry with China to grow, but also New Delhi’s room for diplomatic maneuver is shrinking. As the just retired Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, has put it plainly, the power ‘gap between the two is just too wide to bridge and getting wider by the day.’

Of course, power asymmetry in inter-State relations does not mean the weaker side must bend to the dictates of the stronger or seek to propitiate it. Wise strategy, coupled with good diplomacy, is the art of offsetting or neutralising military or economic power imbalance with another state. But as Admiral Mehta warned, ‘China is in the process of consolidating its comprehensive national power and creating formidable military capabilities. Once it is done, China is likely to be more assertive on its claims, especially in the immediate neighbourhood.’

It is thus obvious that the longer the process of border-related talks continues without yielding tangible results, the greater the space Beijing will have to mount strategic pressure on India and the greater its leverage in the negotiations.

After all, China already holds the military advantage on the ground. Its forces control the heights along the long 4,057-kilometre Himalayan frontier, with the Indian troops perched largely on the lower levels.

Furthermore, by building new railroads, airports and highways in Tibet, China is now in a position to rapidly move additional forces to the border to potentially strike at India at a time of its choosing.

Diplomatically, China is a contented party, having occupied what it wanted — the Aksai Chin plateau, which is almost the size of Switzerland and provides the only accessible Tibet-Xinjiang route through the Karakoram passes of the Kunlun Mountains. Yet it chooses to press claims on additional Indian territories as part of a grand strategy to gain leverage in bilateral relations and, more importantly, to keep India under military and diplomatic pressure.

At the core of its strategy is an apparent resolve to indefinitely hold off on a border settlement with India through an overt refusal to accept the territorial status quo.

In not hiding its intent to further redraw the Himalayan frontiers, Beijing only helps highlight the futility of the ongoing process of political negotiations. After all, the territorial status quo can be changed not through political talks but by further military conquest.

Yet, paradoxically, the political process remains important for Beijing to provide the façade of engagement behind which to seek India’s containment.

Keeping India engaged in endless talks is a key Chinese objective so that Beijing can continue its work on changing the Himalayan balance decisively in its favour through a greater build-up of military power and logistical capabilities.

That is why China has sought to shield the negotiating process from the perceptible hardening of its stance towards New Delhi and the vituperative attacks against India in its State-run media. Add to the picture the aggressive patrolling of the Himalayan frontier by the People’s Liberation Army and the growing Chinese incursions across the line of control.

Let’s be clear: Chinese negotiating tactics have shifted markedly over the decades. Beijing originally floated the swap idea — giving up its claims in India’s northeast in return for Indian acceptance of the Chinese control over a part of Ladakh — to legalise its occupation of Aksai Chin. It then sang the mantra of putting the territorial disputes on the backburner so that the two countries could concentrate on building close, mutually beneficial relations.

But in more recent years, in keeping with its rising strength, China has escalated border tensions and military incursions while assertively laying claim to Arunachal Pradesh.

According to a recent report in Ming Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper with close ties to the establishment in Beijing, China is seeking ‘just’ 28 per cent of Arunachal. That means an area nearly the size of Taiwan.

In that light, can the Sino-Indian border talks be kept going indefinitely? Consider two important facts:

First, the present border negotiations have been going on continuously since 1981, making them already the longest and the most-barren process between any two countries in modern history. The record includes eight rounds of senior-level talks between 1981 and 1987, 14 Joint Working Group meetings between 1988 and 2002, and 13 rounds of talks between the designated Special Representatives since 2003.

It seems the only progress in this process is that India’s choice of words in public is now the same as China’s. ‘Both countries have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of this issue,’ Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told Parliament on July 31. ‘The matter, of course, is complex and requires time and lots of patience.’

It was as if the Chinese foreign minister was speaking. Isn’t it odd for India — the country at the receiving end of growing Chinese bellicosity — to plead for more time and patience after nearly three decades of negotiations?

Second, the authoritative People’s Daily — the Communist Party mouthpiece that reflects official thinking — made it clear in a June 11, 2009 editorial: ‘China won’t make any compromises in its border disputes with India.’ That reflects the Chinese position in the negotiations. But when Beijing is advertising its uncompromising stance, doesn’t New Delhi get the message?

The recent essay posted on a Chinese quasi-official Web site that called for India to be broken into 20 to 30 sovereign States cannot obscure an important fact: Dismember India is a project China launched in the Mao years when it trained and armed Naga and Mizo guerrillas. In initiating its proxy war against India, Pakistan merely took a leaf out of the Chinese book.

Today, China’s muscle-flexing along the Himalayas cannot be ignored. After all, even when China was poor and backward, it employed brute force to annex Xinjiang (1949) and Tibet (1950), to raid South Korea (1950), to invade India (1962), to initiate a border conflict with the Soviet Union through a military ambush (1969) and to attack Vietnam (1979).

A prosperous, militarily strong China cannot but be a threat to its neighbours, especially if there are no constraints on the exercise of Chinese power.

So, the key question is: What does India gain by staying put in an interminably barren negotiating process with China? By persisting with this process, isn’t India aiding the Chinese engagement-with-containment strategy by providing Beijing the cover it needs?

While Beijing’s strategy and tactics are apparent, India has had difficulty to define a game plan and resolutely pursue clearly laid-out objectives. Still, staying put in a barren process cannot be an end in itself for India.

India indeed has retreated to an increasingly defensive position territorially, with the spotlight now on China’s Tibet-linked claim to Arunachal Pradesh than on Tibet’s status itself.

Now you know why Beijing invested so much political capital over the years in getting India to gradually accept Tibet as part of the territory of the People’s Republic. Its success on that score has helped narrow the dispute to what it claims. That neatly meshes with China’s long-standing negotiating stance.

What it occupies is Chinese territory, and what it claims must be on the table to be settled on the basis of give-and-take — or as it puts it in reasonably sounding terms, on the basis of ‘mutual accommodation and mutual understanding.’

As a result, India has been left in the unenviable position of having to fend off Chinese territorial demands. In fact, history is in danger of repeating itself as India gets sucked into a 1950s-style trap. The issue then was Aksai Chin; the issue now is Arunachal.

But rather than put the focus on the source of China’s claim — Tibet — and Beijing’s attempt to territorially enlarge its Tibet annexation to what it calls ‘southern Tibet,’ India is willing to be taken ad infinitum around the mulberry bush.

Just because New Delhi has accepted Tibet to be part of China should not prevent it from gently shining a spotlight on Tibet as the lingering core issue.

Yet India’s long record of political diffidence only emboldens Beijing. India accepted the Chinese annexation of Tibet and surrendered its own British-inherited extraterritorial rights over Tibet on a silver platter without asking for anything in return. Now, China wants India to display the same ‘amicable spirit’ and hand over to it at least the Tawang valley.

Take the period since the border talks were ‘elevated’ to the level of special representatives in 2003. India first got into an extended exercise with Beijing to define general principles to govern a border settlement, despite China’s egregious record of flouting the Panchsheel principles and committing naked aggression in 1962. But no sooner had the border-related principles been unveiled in 2005 with fanfare than Beijing jettisoned the do-not-disturb-the-settled-populations principle to buttress its claim to Arunachal.

Yet, as the most-recent round of recent talks highlighted, India has agreed to let the negotiations go off at a tangent by broadening them into a diffused strategic dialogue — to the delight of Beijing. The process now has become a means for the two sides to discuss ‘the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest.’

This not only opens yet another chapter in an increasingly directionless process, but also lets China condition a border settlement to the achievement of greater Sino-Indian strategic congruence. Worse still, New Delhi is to observe 2010 — the 60th anniversary of China becoming India’s neighbour by gobbling up Tibet — as the ‘Year of Friendship with China’ in India.

Brahma Chellaney

Sorce: REDIFF

 

The Deadly Indian Roads!

WORLD HEALTH Organisation has revealed in its first ever Global Status Report on Road Safety that more people die in road accidents in India than anywhere else in the world. This has given a dubious distinction for the country.

The report says that in India 13 people die every hour in road accidents. These figures are also backed by the records of National Crime Bureau. It says that in 2007, 1.14 lakh people in India lost their lives in road mishaps. Road deaths in India registered a sharp 6.1 per cent rise between 2006 and 2007. These are the registered cases. The numbers could significantly increase considering the number of cases that go unregistered. 50 per cent of the deaths include pedestrians, cyclists and bikers. The maximum number of casualty is reported from Andhra Pradesh followed by Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The reasons for such figures are also not very difficult to figure out. Most of the deaths can be attributed to speeding, not following traffic rules, no helmets, seat belts and child restraints in vehicles. An increase in average speed is directly related to both the likelihood of a crash occurring and to the severity of crash consequences. Moreover, the traffic management in most of the cities does not function at all. The citizens should also be blamed who hardly follow any rules while driving. They can easily get away by paying paltry sums in case of any traffic law being broken. The law in itself is also not strict to keep checks on the vehicle movements. We don’t have scientific traffic engineering which forms the basis of road safety improvement practiced in the United States and United Kingdom since 1930s.

It is quite ironical that in our country 30 deaths from swine flu has made headlines but the 13 deaths per hour on road hardly find mention in the news. It is very important to set the traffic management right with the latest technologies. The drivers should also take all precautions. These road fatalities can become an ‘epidemic’ and will be the world’s fifth biggest killer by 2030.

Swine Flu panic in India!

Last week, I returned from a week long vacation with my family to Mumbai, away from work pressure. Instead of cherishing the memories of a week long break I was quarreling within with “Emotional Flu”. Yes, I was down with fever and did have a travel history but were those symptoms enough to prove I had contacted Swine Flu. For my family they were more than enough to arrive at a conclusion that I had to visit the government hospital for screening.

My mother went a step ahead to buy the masks for family. And yes masks were distributed according to the need as enough N95 were not available for our joint family. My cousin who is four and I get N95’s, the only two masks which she managed to buy in black from the chemist. My pregnant Bhabhi and grand mom get a three layered mask which she managed to buy from other chemist and the rest of the members manage with masks bought at the traffic signal when my mom waited there for lights to turn green. But is my family to be blamed for there over precautious behavior? I believe they reacted in a very normal way considering the hype of “The Swine Flu” that was created by all forms of media. Any parent or in that matter any human would react this way if they see a new “Breaking News” every ten minutes on the news channels.

I wonder why the media doesn’t make 572 deaths a day due to normal flu, and large number of deaths due to Tuberculosis, Malaria, Dengue and other diseases an equally important “Breaking News”. Why doesn’t our Health minister call an urgent meeting to discuss diseases like malaria which takes a huge toll of human lives too? May be malaria patients can wait for some time longer as most of them are neither NRI’s nor they belong to elite group who can afford a vacation abroad. With Swine Flu thoughts occupying my house and slowly spreading to my neighborhood I called up my very good friend and a doctor by profession asking him how would I discriminate whether its “The Swine Flu” or normal flu. He explained to me that the Swine Flu symptoms could be towards pneumonia side and with just fever and normal cold like symptoms I should not conclude that I have contacted it. He told me to wait till two days and take normal medicines prescribed to treat normal flu as going to the hospital at the shot to screen myself would be more dangerous. There were chances I would catch the virus if I wouldn’t have till then. Luckily my phone was on loudspeaker then so my parents got some gyaan too. Two days from the whole panicky episode I have normal body temperature and am all energetically penning my experiences of the false panic we underwent. But this whole episode, taught us to stay composed as fright created was spreading faster than the Flu itself. We did not give in to false media panicky and heard the doctor treating Swine Flu, which I feel proved a boon to us.

I urge the media to give neutral reactions to the issue and not to blow the matter out of proportion as not everybody would be as lucky as I to get a doctor friend nor would every parent wait for two days as my parents did on the doctor’s advice. And for the rest of you Swine flu is not that a dreaded disease and has a death rate of seven in thousands much less compared to Normal flu, Malaria and Tuberculosis. Also the Swine flu deaths recorded so far have not been only because of the H1N1 virus but due to some other complications intermingling too. So just take normal precautions like washing your hands, drinking plenty of water, exercising and you should be away from the virus.

And my dear elected government, there was no point keeping the theatres, schools and colleges shut as this was more of emotional response from your side than on medical grounds. Your decision of shutting of schools did no good to millions of children as they enjoyed days off from school playing in the societies, as my cousin did and the college going crowd enjoyed shopping and hanging out as they had all the time in the world. Did it actually act as the isolation you had thought of? We just need better medical facilities to treat the pandemic and more awareness regarding it. Try spreading the correct word in your families, societies and we shall be better able to fight the H1N1 virus.
Prevention is better but panic is not!