Speaker Chatterjee says it all

chatterjeeParliament and pandemonium are inseparable. Noises and adjournments are common in the highest of Indian public representatives. What was unseen and unheard till yesterday – Speaker wishing all the MPs to lose in the upcoming parliamentary elections. He has been pushed to the periphery of frustration.

 

 Somnath Chatterjee, known for his “headmasterly” approach as Lok Sabha Speaker, was at his harshest best on Thursday, telling a section of MPs that they did not deserve a “single paisa” of public money and that he wished they were defeated in the coming elections

Chatterjee’s outburst came as question hour was plunged into chaos by vociferous MPs across party lines demanding a hearing on diverse issues. Failing to persuade them to relent, he cursed, “I hope that all of you are defeated in the election. All of you should be defeated in the election… I hope you are identified by people.” He had to adjourn the question hour moments later.

Later in the session, he threw up his hands, saying Parliament should be adjourned sine die to save people’s money. “You do not deserve one paisa out of public money.”

While disruption of proceedings has been the flashpoint between the Chair and the MPs during the entire 14th Lok Sabha, often leading to unprecedented barbs and some real pearls from an angry Chatterjee, Thursday’s drama appeared to have breached his known tolerance threshold, crucially when the Lok Sabha is meeting for one last time and the 10-term MP from West Bengal would be quitting politics for good.

On Thursday, MPs were more keen to make political points with their constituencies ahead of polls — BSP on the SC/ST reservation Bill, Dravidian outfits on the Tamil issue, TDP on the Satyam scam against Andhra Pradesh government.

As they did not heed the Speaker, Chatterjee appeared to have used the “pox on you” rebuke to try scaring the usually superstitious tribe into retreat. “I hope the people will give their verdict properly. You have to be taught a lesson.” But, all to no avail.

Over around five years as arbiter, the Speaker’s admonition of disrupting MPs has been quite a sight, training the observers’ focus more sharply on wastage of time due to adjournments and unapproved interventions.

The political parties have not really agreed to the Speaker’s wishes that rules be respected and that the question hour be spared, but Chatterjee has waged a relentless battle to impose discipline.

Though popular as an MP, Chatterjee has evoked strong emotions from different corners in the House after occupying the Chair. The lowest point in Chair-MP skirmishes came in August 2005 when Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee flung papers at him, accusing him of being biased against the opposition. The BJP and NDA also charged him with bias on various occasions. The Left MPs who had supported him during his confrontation with BJP, turned the `bias’ charge back on him after he defied the leadership diktat to oppose the nuclear deal.

The defiance, however, have not stopped Chatterjee from venting his frustration, right from his unprecedented remark: “I am ashamed to be sitting here as the Speaker.”

Since then, he has admonished rowdy MPs with observations like “bring a no-confidence motion against me if you want” while he has dotted his moments of anger with a resigned “the chair has lost its prestige” remark.

On Thursday, Chatterjee said, “You are insulting the people of this country. You are not helping your cause… You are burying democracy in this country. You have already done it. Nobody bothers,” before he signed off, “I express my greatest condemnation… of your conduct. You have taken the people for a ride and you are insulting the people of this country by your abominable behaviour.”

 

 

Enough is enough

Time lost lowing to interruptions in the Lok Sabha

Session        Actual          Time lost                      Time lost

                  Sitting        because of interruption      as % of actual time of sitting

                  (hr:min)        (hr:min)                      

I                13.41              10.32                             77%

II              92.29               47.16                             51%

III           103.21               06.41                               6%

1V           212.22               37.99                            18%

V             158.48               10.21                             7%

VI            118.49              27.33                            23%

VII          194.55               35.42                            18%

VIII         124.04               70.13                            55%

IX            117.13               25.34                            22%

X              127.04               70.13                           55%

XI            64.24                  42.07                          65%

XII           91.07                  20.36                          23%

XIII         162.09                 28.30                          18%

XIV          96.15                  15.13                           16%

 

Times of India, 20.2.2009, p.19

 

This downslide of parliamentary output is disturbing to the public welfare watchers. The parliamentarians should understand their status and power before indulging in disturbing the work of the House. With such a casual approach to the governance through inadequate debates sounds death bell to the parliamentary culture.

         

 

 

 

Railway Stations as Classrooms

railwaysThe Indian railways has more than 1.5 lakh hecactre of land throughout the country. It is present in every corner of the nation. Taking advantage of the pan Indian strategic presence of the railways, IGNOU has entered into an understanding for establishing its long distance classrooms. It sounds great. But the implementation should be done with minimal problems.

According to the Hindustan Times, 20.2.2009, p.,

The next time you see people rushing towards a railway station, many of them may not be catching a train. They could be distance-learning students unwilling to bunk classes.

In association with the government-owned Railtel Corporation of India Ltd, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has decided to set up study centres at 3,000 railway stations.

IGNOU will utilise Railtel’s high-speed optical fibre cable (OFC) network to provide educational content. At these virtual colleges, students will interact with teachers through  the university’s distance learning modules and online tests.

“We had a meeting with Railtel  where both IGNOU and Railtel decided to go ahead with the project,” said Professor V N Rajasekharan Pillai, vice chancellor, IGNOU. “Hopefully by June 2009, our study centres will be ready at many railway stations.”

The idea is to take IGNOU to the interiors of the country. “We are looking at setting up study centres at railway stations in rural areas, apart from tier II and tier III cities.”

Railtel, which has laid about 30,000 km of OFC network, is equally enthusiastic. “We have offered land, bandwidth and data centres to IGNOU,” said Railtel managing director SK Vasistha.

Costly Justice in Delhi

Indian courts are notorious for prolonging the legal battles. People who filled petitions in their young age of 30 are not alive today to hear the final pronouncement. It takes decades for the courts to arrive at a conclusion. By the time court decides the petitioner is not alive. Due to this inordinate delay few people have faith in the judiciary. Rape, murder, property misappropriation or arson not many people would like to lodge a police complaint and seek judicial recourse. They know very well the petitioner will be harassed endlessly without any justice coming in his or her life time. The immediate help for any justice to the crime committed is underworld and criminal gangs. The instant revenge and justice are vented by these gangsters who are fully time involved in killing. If the situation is allowed to continue the judicial and police systems will lose its relevance permanently.

 

According to The Times of India report (11.2.2009, p.1 & 7), 3,32,141 cases came up before the Delhi High Court in 2007-08. Each of these cases received five minutes of hearing (4 minutes, 55 seconds to be precise) and each minute of the court’s time cost a staggering Rs.6,327 to the state exchequer. Even adjournements without hearing don’t come cheap. All listed cases cost the court Rs.1,300 (on average), even if many got adjourned. The report released by Chief Justice A.P. Shah, claims HC disposed of 56,612 cases, including 47,017 filled in that year alone.

 

While clearing 56,612 cases, Delhi High Court worked with 32 judges, much below its sanctioned strength of 48, Chief Justice A.P. Shah said. While pointing to the “Crushing load” on the courts, the Chief Justice said at present rate of disposal, it would take 466 years for the high court to clear its backlog of cases entirely. He, however said “we have been able to reduce the cases of arrears from 79,818 in 2007 to 74,599 in 2008”.

 

The report adds that the rate of disposal of criminal cases in the year worked out to be 0.5 case per day. While such “working ours” analyses are done every year for bodies like Parliament and state legislatures, this is perhaps the first time a judicial body has come up with its figure.

 

Case study

No of cases listed before HC 332,141

Total expenditure incurred Rs. 42,45,47,490

No of cases dealt on a single day 64

Total number of working days 213

Time available for one hearing 4 min 55 sec

Cost incurred for one minute of a hearing 6,327

Average number of benches during ’07-08 24(8 division & 16 single)

 

The time and money spent have been worked out excluding “matters handled during  summer vacation (June) and on three working Saturdays during 2007-08”. In order to calculate the time judges gave for each hearing. HC factored in the total number of cases dealt by judges. Sitting as a single bench or division bench, in a day (64 cases on average) with the total time available for them to hold court (315 minutes).

 

The total expenditure incurred by the court last year was Rs.42.45 crore for 213 working days. “the average cost of listing each case before a judge worked out to Rs.1,297 and the average court expenditure per minute by the court was Rs.6,327 or Rs.19,93,180 for each working days.

 

The judiciary must ensure justice is dispensed atleast during the life time of the petitioner if not immediately. With multiple options available for reformation, courts should not delay further. Immediately it should implement all the suggested reforms. Decentralising and expanding the judiciary are two crucial steps. Above all the top leadership should have the requisite will to cleanse the system and make it functional.

 

 

Regional Educational Imbalance

higher-education

The southern and western states are in the forefront of educational development in India. Now it is reaching such a flashpoint that higher educational institutes are popping up everywhere. Is this going to create heavy migration of students?

 

 

Hemali Chhapla writes in The Times of India “A common wisecrack among engineering aspirants in Andra Pradesh is that every second building in the state is an engineering college. It may cease to be a joke when institutes dishing out management and engineering degrees start mushrooming all over the country.

 

Global depression may have taken the wind out of campus placements but the rush for starting professional institutions is at an all time high. Data from the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) shows that the dash to start professional colleges is more pronounced when it comes to engineering and management as compared to other streams like pharmacy, hotel management and catering technology or architecture.

 

AICTE has received 886 applications for starting engineering colleges and 1,084 applications for new anagement institutes. Fie states – Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, Maharastra, Karnataka and Kerala – account for 69% of engineering graduates , implying that they also have most of India’s engineering colleges 

 

Rush year

States                  Engineering                     MBA

                            Existing   Fresh               Existing      Fresh

Maharashtra         239         85                     216             160

MP                       161         50                       63               80

Tamil Nadu         352         144                   158                41

AP                       527         176                   255              209

UP                       241         83                    213              214

Haryana               116         38                       66                47

Across India      2388        886                  1516            1084

 

Source: AICTE. Fresh applications are for colleges from academic year 2009-10

 

Five Indian sties – Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala – account for almost 69% of the country’s engineering graduates, implying that these states also have most of India’s engineering colleges.

 

This year, too, most applications for starting new institutes have come from these states, making educationists worry about a high regional imbalance creepin in; states like UP, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Orissa together account for a measly 14% of Indian’s technological colleges.

 

Colleges that receive a nod by June 30 will be allowed to start classes this academic year itself; so officials expect even more applications to pour in.

 

Several academicians feel quality is losing out in the race to expand seats. “Can the country boast of even 100 engineering colleges that impart cutting-edge education?” asked a principal of Pune engineering college.

“So what is the point in a thousand new colleges every year? He asked. Part of the problem lies in the fact that most trusts running professional colleges are backed by politicians who pay little attention to quality, he added.

 

But the AICTE feels that meeting the massive demand for professional education is imperative. Twenty years ago, merely one per cent of a aspiring engineers got a seat.

Now nearly 70% manage to find a place, note AICTE officials, “It may come as a surprise but very few engineering seats wee left vacant last year”. AICTE chairman R.A.Yadav told TOI. “There is also a yawning gap between management aspirants and the number of seats in Indian B-schools.

 

“But how many management schools boast of full campus placement? And are even 30% of MBA institutes accredited by the NBA (National Board of Accreditation) asked an IIM-Bangalore faculty member.

 

Increasing the existing number of professional colleges is a must. In a view of the galloping population and raising educational aspirations of people more availability of higher educational institutes are must. But not by compromising the quality of the education offered. 

Monitoring University Teachers

universityUniversity teachers are well protected in every aspect after the 6th Pay Commission hikes. Without any demands on performance the pay commission had increased their salaries many times. Now comes the government rider for performance. Seethalakshmi writes in The Times of India (182.2009.p.17) performance appraisal of professors and college principals? If the University Grants Commission (UGC) has its way, for the first time, lakhs of professors and principals in the 400-odd universities across the country will face evaluation. The UGC proposal includes compulsory stay on campus for five hours every day, 30 weeks of actual teaching (six working days), minimum six hours research per week and performance assessment. The vacation period too has been cut from 10 weeks a year to eight weeks. The UGC’s draft notification on ‘revision of pay scales, minimum qualifications for appointment of teachers in universities/colleges and other measures for maintenance of standards 2009’stipuates that everyone – from associate professors to principals – in all colleges/universities will come under the newly introduced Performace Apraisal Scoring System (PASS) and Academic Performance Indicator (API), UGC sources said the regulation would be finalized in March after receiving feedback from universities and teacher associations. Simply put, they will be evaluated on various criteria. For instance, a professor who excels in developing new technologies for teaching and satisfies the required number of hours for teaching will get 150 points, while 200 points has been earmarked for student mentoring, professional activities (being a member of board or committee) will earn him/her 50 points. And then there are points for familiarity with up-to-date teaching material too. To ensure that the best get into teaching, direct recruitment will be only through merit and the vice-chancellors themselves will head selection committees. On its part, the UGC will draw up a national subject expert bank and colleges/universities must include the expert while appointing a professor. “The idea is not aimed at policing the education system but to bring in quality in our higher education system. Universities can develop a weightage formula. But UGC will seek a compliance report every year from the universities on the performance. We have sought feedback from the stakeholders, “UGC sources told TOI. Predictably, university teachers are not happy, with UGC diktat. Said B.G. Bhaskara, treasurer of FEDCUTA in Karnaaka. “There are too many conditions, especially for recruitments at the college level. They are not practical. Some measures like performance indicators are needed but why is the teaching community targeted? Didn’t state and central government employees too benefit from the 6th Central Pay Commission?” Generally the government jobs are considered to be easy going ones. Without work and productivity government staff can expect to get their pay every month. With such a heavy hike in their salaries it is anticipated from them to give better results. Otherwise even public sympathy for the government staff will get eroded. Then all the strikes and demands for better pay packages and benefits will go unnoticed. For everyone’s benefit now the public servants in teaching should start delivering. No excuse of underpay and lack of government attention to their welfare should be given.

Relationships in Recession

relationshipMoney matters in human relationships. Few can be exceptions to this universal practice. The global economic melt down tests the love capacity of people. When the money flow is affected, jobs are cut and purchasing power is down, one can feel the heat in day to day lives. Not only his smile is missing but the real charm of life is gone. The person is pushed to the extreme of frustration. He feels empty without income and enough money to spend. Suddenly all his friends are deserting and girl friend dumped him. Love is boiling in the extreme financial climate. Very few candlelight dinners, spa tours, beach swims and exotic vacations. Romantic relationships are getting dumped and switched for the lack of money.

In another case wife is distancing and children are not taking his words seriously. Is this universal or India specific? In comparison to the western nations, India may be better off in this matter. With the strong support of family and fair saving culture, there is an insulation for men during the time of recession. Women tend to keep safety valves. Beyond these savings and safety valves some people are prone to the break offs. This is due the fragile nature of relationships. Where there is a strong human bondage, no money flow would not affect the relationship much.

When the job was there men did not have time now the reverse is happening. Time spending is not sufficient. Money is required to keep women and time happy. How can time fly without giving money punch to it? In a matter of months there is an upside down of situations. From time short to money short corporate men lives are undergoing massive changes. If the saving and alternative sources of income are there human relationship suffer less.

Anjali Kaur (23) says “Chemistry with my boyfriend topsy turved after the recession news broke. He was fired from his job. I tried analyzing from all angles. There is no point in keeping the relation alive. How far I can go with him without money”.

Aparajita Mukherjee writes in Times of India (7.2.2009, p.10) “And these power women aren’t concerned about society’s opinions on their decisions. They have a very clear idea of what they want from their relationships in the long term, ali points out, “I can’t take a man with no job to my parents and ask them to be proud of my decision, na!” Kanak also agrees, saying “Like I said, it’s important that I lead a good life. I’m making the best decision for my future and even my parents would advise me against continuing a relationship with a man who is unable of giving me the standard of life I’m used to. So I don’t care about the gold-digger tag, really!”

Fast-track relationships have a short shelf-life according to this power-woman. “Life is too short and I want to lead a good life, I have to make sure I have a partner who gives me that,” says Kanak. Charu Parashar, a designer, who’s happily married. In her perspective, “the disposable income in the hands of youngsters these days has increased and they believe in instant gratification. These days, if a woman is suddenly faced with no additional resources at her disposal, which she counts as important for fulfilling of her needs, then she makes a quick exit.”
It is nothing but natural to have such money based relationship when basic social norms were abandoned for instant happiness. Where there is no ethics human relationship are bound to fail. The current recession should bring back human instincts and ensure a strong family bondage and genuine human love. Money is required for living but it should not be a pre condition for any human relationships. There are innumerable incidents where husband and wife struggled to built their relationship and family. Who can wait? is the common question in today’s world. Remember! Relationship can be sustained only through sacrifices.

Glamour & Ladies in IPL

glamourDiamond shining, Gucci flashing Bollywood heroines walked with pomp and show into the Indian Premier Leauge (IPL) auction venue. Preity Zinta, Juhi Chawla and Shilpa Shetty are the star attractions in Goa. Along with the beauty ladies industrialists paraded their wealth. Blackberrys, Bentleys, Mercs and no doubt unstoppable flow of money brought IPL once again into the limelight. In this game war superstition was not staying back. Preity Zinta wore her lucky red every time she came to the bidding process. Raj Kundra sponsored his girl friend Shilpa the bid amount as valentine’s day gift. All those entered for auction were cross fingered and waiting for the luck at the end.

Defeating the popular expectation that this year 20-20 cricket show’s player hunting auction will be a flop, IPL surpassed last year’s target. In a single day it made $ 8 million worth business. Cash strap King Fisher chairman Vijay Mallaya paid $1.55m for Kevin Pietersen. This selective showering of money by Mallaya mocks his claim that King Fisher is seriously crushed by recession.

Team Chennai
Adrew Flintoff (1.55m)
Thilan Thushara (1,40,000)
George Bailey (50,000)

Bangalore Royal Challengers
Kevin Pietersen (1.55m)
Jesse Ryder (160,000)

Mumbai Indians
J.P. Duminy (950,000)
Kyle Mills (1,50,000)
Mohd Ashraful (75,000)

Kolkata Knight Riders
M. Mortaza (600,000)

Team Jaipur
Shaun Tait (375,000)
T Henderson (650,000)

Delhi Daredevils
Owalis Shah (275,000)
P. Colingwood (275,000)

Team Mohali
Ravi Bopara (450,000)
Jerome Taylor (150,000)

Team Hyderabad
Fidel Edwards (150,000)
Dwayne Smith (150,000)
All figures in US$

The spenders
Rajasthan $1.25m out of $1.87m
Chennai $1.6m out of $2m
Mumbai $1.17m out of $1.76m
Kolkata 650,000 out of $1.21m
Punjab 600,000 out of $1.4m
Hyderabad 250,000 out of $1.9m
Delhi 550,000 out of $1.45m

In the last one year of its origin IPL has glamourised and totally commercialized cricketing in the country. Adding entertainment to the game the league is spinning dollars in revenue. One has to wait and watch how far it is going to improve the cricket quality and inspire youth of India become best cricketers. IPL should focus its attention in other games to make India a formidable player in the world.

School Fees Soaring

feesPrivate schools want freedom in deciding fees. It should be given if there is sincerity in delivering services to the public. But most of the schools are money milking machines. The over commercialization of education leaves less to desire. Human capital is the biggest source for the success of economy and society. It should be developed without compromising. Any efforts by private or public to water down the quality of education and making education unreachable for the average India should be ended immediately. It seems all the noise by the private schools about the government interference in fee decision is farce.

 

Manas Pratim Gohain writes in The Times of India (9.2.2009 p.2) “Schools have created a hue and cry about the “meager” fee hike of up to Rs.500 hike allowed by the government to raise teacher’s salary in line with the 6th Pay Commission proposals. But tuition fees is not the only source of income for schools – it accounts for only 35% roughly of the total expenditure that a parent incurs in sending his child to a reasonably good private school. The rest – around 65% – of school’s earning comes from transportation, uniforms, books, student welfare fund, club activities, annual day, excursions and development fund among others.

 

When schools determined to take their appeal for revising the hike to courts, parents are spending sleepless nights. A parent who pays tuition fee of more than Rs.2000 per month ends up paying approximately Rs.90.500 annually for transportation, school uniforms and other dresses for different fests and events organized by the school. “There are schools which charge even half yearly fees which are over and above the tuition and admission fees. We spend around Rs.1.80 lakh annually on my two kids. My husband is the only earning member and now we will have to shell out Rs.12,000 extra annually for my two kids as their tuition fee will go up Rs.500 per month,” said Monika Sharma from R.K Puram.

 

However schools find the government approved hike inadequate. The School Action Committee (SAC) has been meeting to discuss on fee hike of private schools in the capital on fee hike of private schools in the capital and the challenges ahead. S.K. Bhattacharya, Chairman, SAC, said: “We are going to appeal for a reconsideration on the hike. Otherwise how will the schools pay the salary of the teachers as per the 6th Pay Commission recommendation?”

 

Shomie Das the former headmaster of Doon School says that setting up a first-rate non-residential private school spread over a minimum of 5 acres of land for about 2,000 students would cost about Rs.30-35 crore.

 

“The construction cost, including the land, will lead to expenses of about Rs.25 crore. This is assuming the different buildings such as classrooms, auditoriums, and swimming pool are built over a total area of 200,000  square feet,” says Das who has helped set up 50 schools, including heritage (Kolkata) and Sanskriti (Delhi) in the past few decades.

 

Item                                    Annual Payment (in Rs)

Tuition fee                          6,000 -36,000

Transportation                    4,800 –36,000

(School’s own transportation)

School Uniforms                3,000-4,000

Blazers*                                   700-1,500

Books*                                3,000-4,000

Building Fund                         500-1,500

Annual day                              200-500

Excursion/tours                       300-500

Development Fund                  500-1,000

Pupil/student Fund                   500,1,000

Half-yearly charge                   500-1,000

Ticket Selling                           500-1,000

(Given to students for selling)

Club activities                          500-3,000

Festival                                     200-500

 

Total 21,200-90,500

*Shops owned or set up by schools

The list is indicative

 

Expensive Affair

Non-residential pvt school                                                                      

 

  • Cost of setting up a school spread over 5 acres of land for about 2,000 students Rs.30-35 crore
  • Construction cost of different buildings Rs.25 crore (assuming total area is about 2 lakh sq.feet)
  • Staff salaries are 70% of operational cost
  • Teacher-student ratio 1:15 to 1:20

 

Residential school

Setting up a school over a minimum area of 20 acres Rs.75-100 crore

Construction cost Rs.50-60 crore plus the cost of land

Site development cost Rs.2-3 crore

Sports equipment, fittings Rs.5 crore

Staff salaries are 50% of operational cost

Catering expenses 30-40%

Teacher-student ratio 1:12

 

Keeping the crucial necessity of education for the overall development of the society, private school managements should fix their fees. Over ambition in making profit from the schools by taxing parents will lead to the large scale migration of private school students to government schools. This may create chaos and permanent deterioration of private schools financially. Better they act after analyzing the negative consequences of fee hike rather than blank demand for fee hike.

 

 

   

Jail Nuclear Peddle Khan

aq-khanAbdul Qadeer Khan the well-know nuclear secrets peddler of Pakistan is totally free now. After five years of house arrest under the pressure from USA administration, then President Prevez Mushraff kept him inside. Khan seems to have sold nuclear bomb components and its formula to Iran, North Korea and other rogue states. He also had clandestine relations with the top leadership of Al Qaeda. No one knows the logic behind the release of notorious nuclear proliferators. It sounds death bells to the south Asian security in particular and world in general. A.Q. Khan should be tried by the international court and punished for the violation of international order on nuclear weapons. K. Subrahmanyam writes in The Times of India (9.2.2009, p.16) “Khan was a nuclear spy who was able to obtain the centrifuge technology and the list of contractors from Dutch facilities and transfer them to Pakistan. According to the former Dutch prime minister, Rudd Lubbers, Khan was detained twice by Dutch authorities, once in the 1970s and again in the 1980s. On both occasions he was let off after the CIA intervened. In late 1980s, Richard Barlow, a assembled its nuclear weapon in transgression of the Pressler Amendment. At that stage, Pakistan was not taken to task but instead Barlow was punished for a wrong analysis; he had to fight for two decades to clear his name. The connection between Khan and the CIA is a mystery just as the American permissiveness about China conducting a nuclear test on behalf of Pakistan on May 26, 1990. This has now been confirmed by Thomas Reed and Danny Stillman of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in a recent book. In the 1950s, Ethel and Julius Roosenberg were executed for their help to the Soviet Union in the development of nuclear weapons. Alan Nunn May and Klaus Fuchs were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for what would today be called nuclear proliferation activity. They all acted out of ideological allegiances just as Khan claimed that his proliferation was to Islamic states out of good faith. Khan’s case is unique in that he had played an active role both in inward proliferation into Pakistan and outward proliferation from Pakistan. Khan being freed under an agreement with the Zardari government raises several issues. Benazir Bhutto in an interview in the US before her return to Pakistan had promised that if she became prime minister she would permit both Washington and the International Atomic Energy Agency to have access to Khan. In an interview she had disclosed details about the Pakistani nuclear enrichment technology exchange with North Korean missile technology. Now Benazir’s husband, as president of Pakistan has entered into an agreement to set Khan free. Given the past American tolerance of Pakistani proliferation and Khan’s activities, is the Obama administration a party to the present arrangement previous US administrations were? What kind of message will this send to Iran and other countries? Asif Zardari and General Ashfaq Kayani were in a position to continue the Musharraf-Bush humanitarian and health grounds. But they have choosen to free him on the basis of a mutual agreement which blows up the credibility of the earlier arrangement by indicating that Khan has things to disclose which could embarrass Pakistan. In a sense, Khan emerges as a hero whose proliferation was sanctioned. This is a defiance of the international community by Pakistan. It will mean that Khan cannot be blamed since he acted with the approval of past Pakistani regimes and the world is in no position to pressure the present Pakistani government as the international community needs their help. The way in which the Khan case is going to be handled will give a clear indication of whether the civilian government in Pakistan wants to break with the past. The chances are the Zardari government will opt for continuing past policies as it have done in respect of permissiveness towards jihadis. The timing of this agreement and the court order is also significant. It comes in the wake of nuclear saber-rattling by sections of Pakistanis following the 26/11 Mumbai attack. It also comes on the eve of the visit of US special envoy, Richard Holbrooke, to Pakistan. Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal had been the subject of wide coverage in the US media in recent weeks. This may be Pakistan’s way of reminding the international community, ahead of the donor nations’ meeting, that it cannot be allowed to fail and that Islamabad is capable of taking a defiant stand. The US is in a position similar to early 1980s. It was prepared to sacrifice its non proliferation policy to enlist Pakistani support for the mujahideen campaign against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Now it may have to sacrifice its missile defence and NATO expansion policies to have logistics facilities via Russia and Central Asia to deal with the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The slap in the face for Americans implied in freeing Khan via a secret agreement makes it all the more imperative for US to make every effort to secure the Russian and Central Asian routes to complete their task in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. Under these circumstances it is not advisable to let A.Q. Khan roam freely. The deadly network of Al Qaeda, ISI, A.Q. Khan and the nuclear black marketers can damage the world peace. The window dressing to Khan issue does not augur well. All the governments especially USA, India and Pakistan should end his hidden death blow permanently.

Chander Mohan – Latest Marriage Convert

chand-mohanRulers leaving their throne to live with beloved are part of the historical folklore. In the recent times only Chander Mohan the former Haryana deputy Chief Minister did the age-old act. For the sake of his extra legal love – Anuradha Bali, Mohan deserted his first wife Seema and children. More than a month he disappeared from his government duty and family responsibility. It seems that Chande Mohan and Anuradha converted into Islam. Thus they got a new identity – Chand Mohammad and Fiza. In the dargah town of Ajmer both of them got married according to the Islamic customs. Islam provides such liberty to divorce the first wife and get married ample number of times. This kind of act was staged by Dharmendra and Hemamalini and Kishore Kumar and Madhubala.

 

Generally the extra lovemaking Hindus uses the Islamic provision to legitimize their illegal affair. According to the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 bigamy is strictly prohibited for Hindus. When people started using Islam, Supreme Court stepped in and made it illegal. In the Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India it was made clear that any asylum in the Islamic provision is considered void. The apex court rejected the marriage and made it illegal. Under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code if the second marriage is void which is not the case under Muslim personal law.

 

Article 44 was sought by the Supreme Court from the government for implementation that wants to make a uniform civil code. But Article 44 is non justiciable directive principle of Stae policy and it is datable whether the court can direct the government to implement it.

 

Sudhanshu Rajan writes in the Hindustan Times (5.2..2009, p.9), “Men take refuge in such loopholes, causing cruelty to their first wives – in this case both wives – only because India lacks a common civil code. We are a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, and International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1979. India is under a legal obligation to ensure gender equality but it has hardly taken any steps to comply. It accepted the prevalence of discrimination against women under various personal laws of different communities before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in 2000. The committee noted India’s failure and had warned that “the government’s policy of non-interference perpetuates sexual stereotypes, son preference and discrimination against women.’

 

When the SC directed the government in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan to make a law to stop the sexual harassment of women at work places, it ruled that the provisions of the Constitution have to be interpreted as informed by CEDAW. The SC has been emphasizing the need for a uniform civil code since the 1985 Shah Bano case when it lamented that Article 44 has remained “a dead letter”. But in the Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group case, the court held that the removal of gender discrimination in personal laws fell in the domain of State policies in which the court could not interfere.

 

The first major step towards enforcing a uniform civil code was taken when the Hindu Code Bill was enacted, engendering the Hindu marriage Act of 1956, and Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act of 1956. These acts did away with the prevailing personal laws among Hindus, which permitted men to keep more than one wife, denied women the right to divorce and rights over their ancestral property. Making bigamy an illegal and bequeathing the right of divorce to wives was revolutionary, since a Hindu marriage was considered sacrament.

 

More than laws there should be social rules and customs which motivates individuals not to do injustice to their fellow beings. Gender discrimination is socially evolved and patronized by the male mindset. Any number of laws will not be deterrent to anti-women thinking. It should be ended at the earliest to give meaning to the techno civilization. 

 

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