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Mumbai Bomb Blasts:WILL GOVERNMENT ACT TOUGH? by Bobby Srinivas,27 July 2006 Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 27 July 2006

Mumbai Bomb Blasts

WILL GOVERNMENT ACT TOUGH?

By Bobby Srinivas

The recent devastating Mumbai commuter train bomb blasts have utterly shaken the nation.  Though Mumbaikars have taken such upheavals in their stride, many questions and doubts have arisen. Newspapers and media continue with the news story and speculations of those responsible for this crime.  The first impulse, whether justified or not, was to suspect our neighbours, i.e., the military dictatorship having a hand in such dastardly acts. Kargil intrusion, attack on Parliament, the Kandahar Indian Airlines hijack are just a few reminders for this suspicion.

A redeeming feature is the popular Indian perception that the people of Pakistan do not subscribe to such hostile acts.  The recent people-to-people contacts have demonstrated the fund of goodwill on both sides.  So when Pakistan is mentioned it means the Establishment or the military junta. 

A question arises: Is our Government willing and able to act tough?  We know the US administration’s tough retaliation after they experienced 9/11.  We know how Israel as an island in a sea of hostility, with its tough posture, is able to protect its citizens.  Though these may not be profound examples for us to follow or be able to follow, it is still open to debate if succeeding governments have taken note of the continuous signals of hostility that we have received during the past several decades and acted upon them. 

The general perception in India is that it is inconceivable that an Indian can dare to do subversive activities or to start explosions in a Pakistan city.  It is also a general perception that Pakistan through its ISI starts such subversive activity with aplomb in India and gets away with it.  The world community (read America and Britain) is aware of the ISI activity of pushing terrorists into India particularly in Kashmir. They have kept silent and looked the other way as it had helped them, America and Britain, albeit vicariously in their geopolitical scheming. 

Until recently these Big Boys would not even adequately condemn such terrorist activities.  Only after 9/11 when Pakistan with American arm twisting agreed to a U-turn vis-à-vis the Taliban in Afghanistan that Pakistan establishment agreed to ‘condemn’ terrorist activities except in Kashmir which they continue to term as ‘fight for freedom!’  For these crocodile tears American President Bush sent Pakistan a cheque for a million dollars ‘as aid.’

The perpetrators of terrorism in India find a safe haven in Pakistan!  It is believed that Dawood Ebrahim author of the 1993 Bombay blasts is safely ensconced in Karachi though Pakistan authorities stoutly deny his presence there and pretend total ignorance of Ebrahim’s stay in Pakistan. His daughter is married to a Pakistan Cricket celebrity’s son.  At the fabulous reception Pakistan leaders wisely stayed away.  If they had participated they would have exposed themselves as supporting Dawood’s criminal activities in India and also admitting his presence in Pakistan!  Ebrahim must have been there in disguise! Former Chief Vigilance Commissioner N.Vittal traces the 1993 Bombay blasts to corruption in various government enforcement agencies that allowed such large quantities of RDX to be brought freely into the city.

In January1971 when an Indian Airlines Fokker Friendship plane, on its flight from Jammu to Delhi, was hijacked to Lahore, the then Pakistan Prime Minister Bhutto received the hijackers as heroes.  Though the passengers were given safe transit and allowed to travel by road to India, the hijacked plane was set ablaze.  It was reported that, after the hijacked plane landed in Lahore, the ISI had handed over to the hijackers enough explosives for this purpose.  The scene of the aircraft in flames was nationally televised in Pakistan as though this was a great heroic and victorious achievement!  This was perhaps the ‘last straw’ for Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the subsequent fast moving events leading to break-up of Pakistan.  Bangladesh was born.  The comical part of the episode was that Pakistan claimed the hijack was staged by India as a ploy to discredit Pakistan!

The 1999 Indian Airlines flight 814 from Katmandu was hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan, when to India’s great shame our then Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh took terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh lodged in Srinagar jail to Kandahar to get our Indian passengers held as hostages to be released.  These terrorists gleefully went from Kandahar to Pakistan where they were warmly welcomed. They restarted their nefarious activities and returned several times with more terrorists.  It is reported Omar Sheikh was responsible for murder of the kidnapped American journalist Daniel Pearl. 

When the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee went to Lahore on his peace mission to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, General Musharraf as army chief refused to attend the function as according to protocol he would have had to salute the visiting Indian prime minister!  

There are other stories of Pakistan authorities warmly welcoming those individuals who caused terror and mayhem in India.  There was this Kassim Rizvi, chief of the Razakar hoodlums in Nizam’s Hyderabad in the late 1940s.  He was a law unto himself and a terror during the tumultuous days following Independence.  He used terror in trying to prevent Hyderabad’s accession to India.  During the 1948 Police Action, Rizvi was captured but was smuggled out to Pakistan through corruption in our bureaucratic ranks. He was warmly welcomed in Pakistan and well rehabilitated. 

Mir Laik Ali was Nizam’s Prime Minister prior to the Police Action in 1948.  He stalled all negotiations for Nizam,s accession to India and surreptitiously transferred 200 million rupees (of those days) of Hyderabad government’s cash balance in a British bank to Pakistan.  This enabled Pakistan to buy arms to attack India, in Kashmir after the State had acceded to India.  After the Police Action Laik Ali was under house arrest, but managed to escape with his family, servants and pets to Pakistan!  He got an immediate high-ranking employment with Pakistan government as adviser to Defense Ministry.  He lived in constant fear while traveling abroad, of being captured by Indian authorities to face criminal charges in India.  Once traveling from Karachi to London Laik Ali wanted an assurance from the aircraft pilot that the flight was in the correct direction to London and not going to Delhi!

In the present instance of Mumbai bomb blasts, General Musharraf has stoutly denied any Pakistan hand.  In fact, his reaction to Indian suspicion has been rather sober.  How much of this denial can be relied upon.  He himself has been a victim of a murderous attempt on his life.  A doubt arises if he can contain the terrorist activities emanating from his territory even if he is serious and not merely pretending to please the American administration. 

Given the above anecdotes and incidents, it would appear Pakistan has created over the decades a Frankenstein monster through their Hate India agenda.  How will they now subdue this monster?  If President Musharraf had the courage, earnestness and ability to reverse Pakistan’s Taliban policy, he can likewise reverse their India policy to one of genuine friendship.  One of the earnest things to do will be to remove any suspicion of terrorist training camps on their soil and completely stop all anti-India programmes and propaganda.---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

State of Polity:THIRD FRONT POT BOILING, by T.D. Jagadesan, Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 20 July 2006

State of Polity

THIRD FRONT POT BOILING

By T.D. Jagadesan

There is a visible churning amongst the regional parties with the leaders sensing a space for a third alternative. The Left parties are in the middle of the effort, with CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat convinced about the need for a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative at the Centre. This is the real shift in Indian polity since the UPA Government took over.

The 75th birth day celebrations of former Prime Minister V.P. Singh was a major political event in the Union Capital as, for one, it clearly demonstrated the willingness of some regional parties to come together on the same platform and renew long broken contacts.

The function at his residence, for instance, was attended by the Nationalist Congress Party and the Lok Janshakti Party from the UPA, along with the Left parties whose members were present in full strength. The subsequent dinner hosted for Singh by the UPA ally and Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, was attended by the Congress as well, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh witnessing the cutting of the cake. But while the RJD was present, Mulayam Singh Yadav and his party stayed away, leading to large-scale speculation that the Jan Morcha and the new allies might keep the UP Chieftain out.

This is unlikely, and for some, it might just constitute a degree of wishful thinking.  The Third Front pot is now on the fire and after it boils over, the residue will be the real substance and the nucleus of the third alternative.  Karat has shown more wisdom than many others by meeting Mulayam Singh and making it clear that the Left and the Samajwadi Party, along with others’ of course, had begun the process of bringing a third alternative together.

It is true that the antics of some of the top leaders of the Samajwadi Party invite disdain, in the urban centres of power.  But it is also true that today in UP, the most aggressive campaign for secularism is carried out by the Samajwadi workers, whose names are not known and whose faces are not familiar to political watchers in Delhi, but who really are the backbone of the Party.

Except for a couple of Muslim clerics, the Party is representative of the caste and religious character of UP; it has a strong organization, and the workers are still committed to countering the communal forces, despite regular reports of a “Secret Understanding” between Mulayam Singh and the BJP.  The CPM leader, Harkishan Singh Surjeet had told the media recently that it was easy to drop Mulayam Singh, but it would be very foolish to do so as this one action would break a party.

The Jan Morcha has the goodwill at the ground level.  But in a closely contested election it is not just the goodwill that counts but the ability to mop it up in the form of votes.  The Morcha does not have the organization as yet and will have too many foes to contend with on the ground to be able to get the much-needed head start.  V.P. Singh has been campaigning vigorously for the farmers in UP, and it is a constituency that has responded warmly to this initiative.  But whether the farmers will vote along caste lines will determine the success of this strategy.

It is an accepted fact that there will be no third alternative without the Left parties which will have to play the role of a catalyst to bring it together.  Karat has made it known openly that the process is on, and the effort of his party along with others in the Left Front will be to work with the regional parties for a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative.

The tentative moves to bring together political groups on issues have met with some good results.  In the last round of Assembly elections, the Left was able to contest elections in Assam, for instance, with the NCP and the Samajwadi Party and a section of the AGP on board.  In the protest against the fuel hike, it was again able to bring the Samajwadi Party and others together.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo Chandrababu Naidu has announced his decision to part ways with the BJP.  The AIADMK is making the right noises as well, with Jayalalitha immediately applauding the CPM General Secretary’s call for a third alternative.

It is true that to some extent the players are the same and politics does not have a retirement age.  It can only be hoped that they all learn from their mistakes.  The third front in the form of the National Front, and again the United Front suffered from an overflow of egos leading to constant bickering and factionalism.  It was also under tremendous attack from the more organized, and the more powerful Congress and the BJP with most of the regional leaders at the time having little experience of national politics.

This is no longer the case, and since the collapse of the United Front, most of them have gained experience by working in coalitions, led by the BJP and now by the Congress. This has been sufficient to make them get back together again for a third alternative, and the political situation is now fluid with amoeba-like movements that will eventually consolidate into an acceptable whole.

It is important, however, for the players to be cautious and not be in a tearing hurry to cobble together something that will not last the test of time. At the same time, it is imperative that patience is not extolled as a virtue as delays will take away the space that is currently available for a third formation.

A common minimum programme, an understanding over the Prime Ministerial candidate or at least certain guidelines to make the choice easier as and when the time comes, a willingness to give and not jut to take are some of the basics that have to be settled before the Left and other parties take the plunge.

To conclude, by the time this appears in print it is possible that the political parties and their leaders may change sides or shades for better or perhaps for the worse.  As the saying goes in politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies. What counts most is the exigencies of the day facing them. What a fall!---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

 

Health For All:TOWARDS INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY, T.D. Jagadesan,13 July 2006 Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 13 July 2006

  Health For All

TOWARDS INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY

By T.D. Jagadesan

Social services are important component of public sector outlays on account of their role in human resource development and in raising the quality of life of the deprived sections of the society. This has necessarily to be assigned a key role in any development strategy, particularly in a country with a large population.  The most important factors which lead to human resource development are health, education, nutrition, sanitation, hygiene, social welfare, improved socio-economic opportunity with regard to under-privileged sections of the society. 

In developing countries like India where a large segment of the population is poor, there is need for multi-pronged, multi-sectoral attack on the above issues, as the bulk of the population cannot afford to buy the services at market prices. There is the added problem that such services may not be made available at all by the private sector in many areas.

In the social services, health is of paramount importance as a national asset and basis to sustain as well as stimulate optimum levels of efficiency. Health is a pre-requisite for increasing productivity.  Health has a significant impact on income levels as well. Thus, health of the people is an index of prosperity and well-being of a nation.

Majority of the people in India live on rural areas.  They are poorly-served and at best receive only rudimentary healthcare. According to the latest report of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) 2005, three out of every thousand rural household do not get enough to eat and the average annual consumer expenditure for 50 per cent of the population is less  than Rs.470.

Further, Global Monitoring Report on basic healthcare and education produced by the IMF and World Bank states that India will achieve the Millennium Development Goal of having the number of people under the poverty line within the next decade.  But several states will not be able to make the grade for making available basic health care and education.

The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), launched by the UPA Government at the Centre on 12 April last with objectives to provide integrated comprehensive and effective primary healthcare to the unprivileged and vulnerable sections of the society, especially women and children, by improving access, availability and quality of public health services.

The key strategies of the mission include, ensuring intra and inter sectoral convergence, strengthening public health infrastructure, increasing community participation, creating a village level cadre of health workers, fostering public-private partnerships, emphasizing quality services and enhanced programme management inputs.

The plan of action of the Rural Health Mission also aims at reducing regional health imbalance in health outcomes by relating health to determinants of good health. Further the Mission aims at increasing the outreach of the health system from the sub-centre level to village level by providing a trained and Accredited Social Health Activist per thousand population as in Anganwadi set-up. The present system of health planning and management is uniform for state level.

The Government has taken timely note of India’s abysmally poor health indicators.  The NRHM objectives indicate the motivation on the part of Government to correct the rural-urban, inter-state and gender inequalities in health as a priority.  The United Nations Human Development Report (UNHDR) 2005 states that India does well on economic growth but fares poorly on human development.

High infant and maternal mortality rate, skewed sex ratio, rising rural unemployment and stagnating agricultural wages are some areas of grave concern.  Economic growth is meaningless without proportional social development.  Most of the Government operated rural health sub-centres, primary health centres and Anganwadi centres are on the verge of collapse.

The flagship schemes for social sectors would largely benefit rural development.  The provision for the National Rural Health Mission has been increased to Rs.8,207 crore from Rs.6,553 crore in the previous year.  But a close look at the schemes, however, gives the impression that most of them are repackaged version of ongoing schemes.

The success of the schemes would depend on qualitative difference in the delivery system at operational level. More funds for education, health nutrition and safe drinking water may not necessarily mean more education, more health, more nutrition and better safe drinking water.  What matters is how the money is spent prudently.

The National Rural Health Mission’s objective empowering local communities for public health by devising specific health plans for each village through village health committees of panchayats is sound.  However, transformation of village communities requires true public participation and state-community linkages because village communities are divided on traditional hierarchies of caste, creed and gender. Only a functional civil society can ensure equal rights for women and children.

The NRHM strategy integrates health with sanitation and hygiene, nutrition and safe drinking water. A holistic approach to integrate education and family planning with the Mission will yield more substantial result, according to health pundits and eggheads of Yojana Bhawan.

The National Health Mission’s strategy includes the Community Health Volunteers (CHVs), Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), AND Anganwadi Workers (ANWs) have a focal role to play as the front line team since they are ideally positioned to create forums at the community levels and activate local resources groups to ensue community participation;. 

Further, it is most important to strengthen the capacities of these functionaries responsible for the services delivery system; delivery of an integrated package of services to vulnerable groups have been cited as the hallmark of various programme as of the ICDS programme, but unfortunately at the field level, this basic tenet has been translated into practice only to a limited extent.

The importance of community participation forms the cornerstone of the concept of primary healthcare of achieve the goal of “Health for All”. For the success of the programme it is essential to encourage and ensure full community participation by effective propagation of relevant information through which individuals, families and community can assume responsibility for their health and well being.

Regular interactive sessions with mothers, parents group, old age persons added by audio-visual demonstration along with household contact and monitoring development of local resource groups etc., as observers feel, should be incorporated. Scrutiny of various health programmes shows that partnership and network initiative alone can ensure lasting impacts with focus on communities, especially the deprived sections of society.

Given the clarity of perspectives regarding monitoring and executing with greater involvement of community participation at grassroot level, may positively alter the scenario of rural India in our life time.---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

 

Pre-Poll Challenges:FARMERS’ PLIGHT MAIN ISSUE IN PUNJAB,by Sanjeev Gaur Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 5 July 2005

Pre-Poll Challenges

FARMERS’ PLIGHT MAIN ISSUE IN PUNJAB

By Sanjeev Gaur

Punjab, the land of rivers and saints will go to the Assembly polls early next year. All said and done, it is not going to be easy for either the ruling Congress, led by Captain Amarinder Singh, to have another term, nor can it be smooth return to power by the Akali Dal, led by Mr. Parkash Singh Badal. Reason? Despite his honesty, sincerity and, above all, genuine effort to achieve the universally acknowledged goal of sustainable social, economic, cultural and spiritual growth of the State, even close friends of the Chief Minister say in private that despite rich in natural resources, Punjab continues to be infected with plenty of problems.

Political thinkers are of the opinion that rural indebtedness is going to be the main issue in the forthcoming polls in Punjab. The farmers of the State are known to be among the best in the world, along with the farmers of Cuba, excelling in the cultivation of sugarcane. They excel in the cultivation of wheat, vegetables, particularly potatoes, tomatoes, onions and even cotton, besides all kinds of fruits, from mangoes to grapes. By nature, every Punjab farmer is hard-working, like farmers all over the world, liberal and loves Bhangra, the main folk dance of the boarder State.

The revival of cultural activity, particularly the promotion of Bhangra and Gidha in schools and colleges as well as in various universities of the State is a positive indication to achieve the goal of an over-all sustainable growth of the State. There is one school of thought, headed by a former newspaper editor and eminent columnist. He is strongly of the opinion that the main challenge before Punjab is not social or even economic but cultural.  During the peak of violence in the State with militants on one side and security forces, mainly the Punjab Police on the other, he wrote in-depth lead article in the prestigious and popular weekly of Mumbai under the title: “Where has the song and drama gone” with a colourful picture of jovial and jubilant Bhangra players. 

There is no denying the fact that despite being excellent forms of folk dances, Bhangra and Gidha for whatever reasons have failed to attract even the youth of Punjab over the years.  Unfortunately, the Punjabi youth like the youth of the country, has been attracted more by the Western culture and hence is keen on learning ball-room dances.  The need of the hour is to introduce Bhangra and Gidha as a compulsory subject for at least one year in the fifth standard and then as an optional subject like NCC and Sanskrit in college.

Amritsar, the holy city, is also the cradle or the nursery of Bhangra.  The Northern Railway Workshop there can take pride in having produced many internationally- renowned Bhangra players, as well as Volleyball players besides, of course, manufacturing wagons and spare parts of engines of high quality. Gentleman broadcaster-turned-actor late Balraj Sahni during his annual visits to Punjab would never miss to meet the Bhangra dancers of the Railway workshop and also invite them to be his guests in Bombay whenever they could make it to the country’s film land.

Guru Nanak Dev University has also produced a number of excellent Bhangra dancers since 1969. The University can think over starting a diploma and also a degree in studying the art and science of Bhangra and Gidha.

For the past nearly four years, Punjab has also been witnessing a kind of spiritual revival reflected in the traditional as well as high profile style of celebrating the birth-day anniversaries of the great Gurus as well as those of other respected saints like Maharishi Balmiki and Sant Kabir.  Again it is a healthy development. 

Now whatever the worshippers of Karl Marx and Mao may say to belittle religion, the reality is that religion is a way of life for every human being. Yes, forms of religion are different and still basically the essence of all religions is the same, stressing on doing one’s work or duty with love and concentration.  Whether they like it or not, the pseudo-communists have misinterpreted and off and on even distorted religion to serve their ends.

Punjab is the land or the birth place of both Hinduism as well Sikh religion. Two main holy books of Hindus – Ramayana and Mahabharat --- were written in Punjab.  Similarly, Adi Guru Granth Sahab was also written and compiled by the great Gurus in the land of rivers only.

Meanwhile, both the ruling Congress party, led by Captain Amarinder Singh and the Akali Dal, headed by Mr. Parkash Singh have already started blowing their bugles to catch the attention of the general public in view of the coming Assembly polls.  So far, by and large the pre-poll electioneering has been sober. All said and done, both Captain Amarinder Singh and Mr. Badal have been known all over the country among most seasoned and cultural politicians.  Interestingly, while in politics, they are rivals, socially their families remain close.

Besides cultural and spiritual development, Captain Amarinder Singh has been focusing his energy in improving irrigation and power in the State during his present term as Chief Minister.  Unlike other States, water and electricity are not in short supply at least in urban Punjab. Yes, in the countryside people, particularly during the summers, do suffer for want to inadequate electricity supply.

The main criticism of the Amarinder Singh-led Congress Government has been that school education and rural health have received virtually no attention during the past over four years. Both the schools as well as hospitals and dispensaries in the villages are not in good shape in the sense of poor maintenance and thousands of vacancies of teachers as well as medical fraternity lying vacant. The critics of the Government are of the opinion that education and health have been receiving little attention, causing plenty of serious problems like unemployment.---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

 

Implement The Commitment: DELAY IN Communal Violence Bill, by Dr. Syed Ali Mujtaba,29 June 2006 Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 29 June 2006

 Implement The Commitment

DELAY IN Communal Violence Bill

By Dr. Syed Ali Mujtaba

The Communal Violence Bill announced by the UPA Government soon after coming to power in May 2004, seems to be gathering dust. The Government seems to have more reasons to pilot the Office of Profit and the Reservation bills than make efforts to stop the cancerous growth of communalism in the country. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Shivraj Patil both made separate statements in Parliament on the communal situation in the country and took credit of keeping it under check. However, both maintained a stoic silence over the timeframe for tabling the Communal Violence Bill in Parliament.

Meantime, two communal riots, one in Aligarh (UP) in April last and the other in Vadodra (Gujarat) in May, reiterated the necessity of the bill. The bill is supposed to give powers to the Union Government to intervene in the wake of a breakdown of the communal situation. As of now, the Centre cannot interfere in the affairs of the States and can only appeal it to control the situation. 

Take the Aligarh incident, where once again the dispute centred on places of worship. Every year the matter comes to boil there during Hindu festivals with Muslims objecting to the use of the blaring loudspeakers in the temple that disturbs their prayers in the adjacent mosque. As in the past, the tension this time too was building up for some time and exploded with instances of stone throwing, looting and arson. This was retaliated through police firing, killing eight people.

The Minorities Commission’s fact-finding team found that the police did not comply with the rulebook and fired above the waist as all the shots hit the victims directly on the upper parts of the body, suggesting its intention was to kill.

The IG Police (Kanpur range) who headed the Departmental inquiry reportedly calls it a case of police high-handedness in his report. He says, sufficient evidence is there to prove that the situation could have been brought under control without the police firing, if the administration acted with a little intelligence and responsibility.

Aligarh echoed in Vadodara a month later where five people were killed in the police firing. Here again the issue centred on a religious structure claimed as encroachment on road by the Vadodra Municipal Corporation, even though, the first survey carried out in 1912 by the then ruler of Baroda, Sayajirao Maharaj mention that the Muslim shrine was in existence for at least 200 years and its daily light (diya) and expenditure were borne by the Hindus.

Unless motives are attributed to its act, it does not stand to reason why the Vadodra Corporation paid scant regard to the ancient place of worship and showed unnecessary haste in its demolition. The shrine was termed as ‘mini Babari masjid’ and was a target of attack at every communal riot that took place in the city since 1969.

Muslim residents of the area that resisted the demolition were hit with police bullets leaving five of them dead and scores injured. A day after the demolition, a Muslim youth was burnt alive in his car by a fanatical Hindu mob. 

The Supreme Court injunction ordered swift action by the Union Government to control the situation; otherwise the Vadodra incident had all the trappings of the post-Godhra communal genocide of 2002. 

Both in Aligarh and Vadodra, it is ominous that the fatalities could have been avoided if the local administration tactfully handled the situation.

A cursory look at the history of the communal riots in the country suggests that Aligarh and Vadodra are not isolated events but part of the larger picture of the communal programme that is being carried out intermittently.

Riots after riots have similar story to tell. The communal violence invariably flares up around religious centres; the State administration allows it to escalate. The extremists then go on the prowl, unleashing an orgy of death and mayhem in connivance with the local administration. When enough damage is done and media pressure becomes unmanageable, the authorities put their act together to control the situation.

The naked vote bank politics of consolidating the vote of the majority at the expense of destruction of the minority is the pet theme for the last sixty years or so in India. This is a tried and tested formula in Indian politics to first create a sharp division in the society and then ride on the insecurity wave to romp home to power. The Congress or the BJP both are two sides of the same coin, so goes the saying. 

Since communalism is one of the many tools on which politics centres in India, no political party wants to get this eliminated altogether. Some may talk about its banishment from the society but those who see it as a holy cow of the electoral politics, want the communal pot to be kept boiling.

It was a revolutionary call of many sorts when the UPA Government announced that it was going to bring the communal Violence Bill to stop the repeat of Gujarat. The promise held credibility because the Left which is supporting the Government too showed keenness to put a lid over this recurring crime. However, the UPA Government having completed two years in office but still not keen on bringing the Communal Violence Bill, give rise to the suspicion that it may be another case of an empty promise made for electoral gains.

However, if the Government sources are to be believed, it is not the real case. The Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Home Ministry is currently discussing the Bill. The discussions are centering around two contentious issues; can a communal situation in a state be dealt with by the Central Government without encroaching upon the state’s rights of maintaining law and order? Second, can the deployment of Central forces be done independently or at the request of the State Government and, in any case, can such forces act independently or act under the command of the State Government?

Notwithstanding the rights of the States to be encroached upon, the fact remains that in the name of State autonomy and exclusive right over 'law and order', the Central Government cannot remain a spectator to the instances of communal violence taking place in a State.

Irrespective, of the delay in the Bill, the Central Government should immediately bring out a statutory order that it would have the exclusive right to intervene in the event of communal situation, and punish those who have been behind this heinous crime.  It is time for the UPA Government to implement the promises made. Further waste of time would be an invitation to another Aligarh or Vadodra to take place. ---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

 

 

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