Archive for June, 2009

Chidambaram no moral legitimacy to exhort on Dharma

Chidambaram as Home Minister made his first visit to Orissa-Kandhamal last week. Chidambaram was all ears, assurances and solace .It is praise worthy for the Home Minister to be patient and listen to the grievances. What is shocking is that Chidambaram and the Congress are selective when they extend their solace and assurances. ‘Build your churches, and practice your dharma”, he exhorted those who are still in the refugee camps some 1500 persons. He further assured them when some of the refugees complained of the RSS and the Balrang Dal, ‘the guilty will be prosecuted and punished. All those who have indulged in this ghastly crime will be prosecuted and punished”. What has the Congress to say when it comes to 300,000 Kashmiri Pundits who are displaced and have become refugees in their own country? Will Chidambaram extend the same assurance and solace and see that they are allowed to return and build their temples and practice their dharma? So is this solace and assurance reserved only for Minority victims. Every single Indian life is unique and precious-but as per the perception of the Congress-the worth of an Indian life is qualified by the religion. Chidambaram must first practise his dharma. He cannot be anti-constitutional when he uses his authority and as a minister discriminates .Even in Kandhamal he did not have the human courtesy to express regret at the cause which triggered off the riots; the brutal massacre of 85 year old Swami Laxmananada Saraswati who had feared danger to his life and sought police protection. Chidambaram’s blatant discrimination is not only anti constitutional but also against all norms of Dharma – his Karma baggage is getting heavier. It is against all humanism and morality to discriminate when it comes to lives and suffering. Chidambaram has no moral legitimacy to talk of dharma when he has none. Every religion holds the moral code that one has to repent and perform reparation for the sins committed. The blood soaked hands of the Congress cannot be washed an cleansed easily unless it goes through this repentance and reparation. Chidambaram and his leader Mrs Sonia Gandhi should know this.
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,

June 30, 2009 at 11:35 am Leave a comment

School system need to be revolutionized

One must certainly admire Kabil Sibal for even daring to have a 100 –day plan to revolutionize the education system. But has Sibal bitten more than he can chew? Has he done his homework? Has he any idea of what the school systems in the States are? Has he envisaged the systems that are prevailing at the University level in the States? But above all has he forgotten the basic federalism which as a Minister he is bound by. Education is a State subject and he cannot encroach into education without causing friction between States and the Centre. As the Union Minister for Education he surely can advise the State governments draw up guidelines and create an atmosphere for greater interaction and co-operation. Towards the creation of mutual co-operation and understand and trust to go towards a common goal for making school education more relevant, less traumatized. Instead of making pompous statements he should have called the States for a discussion and had consultations within a frame work of time and areas.

Kapil Sibal should look at the hard reality of school education which he thinks can be revolutionized within 100 days? Why the 10th standard exams have become a cause for so much anguish? Can you remove the anguish without removing the cause and the cause is not the exams of the 10th Standard. It is like throwing the baby with the bathwater. A benchmark assessment is necessary but it cannot be at one point and at one shot. But Kapil Sibal’s solution seems to be worse than the problem. Calling for  a uniform national assessment is worse and will lead to more trauma. It does not yield to regional variations, it is more stressful and becomes like other  national competitive exams (like the IAS,IPS !)Even for other competitive exams the States have their own Public Service Commissions. That being the case the Minister cannot think of a national exam for the school level. Apart from the exams the whole range of inputs should come under scrutiny at the State levels like curriculum, teaching methods, teacher-student ratio, syllabi, infrastructure, learning climate, motivation to learn, a reward system all these have to be looked into. The very marking system makes no sense. A student with a difference of one mark can make the rank. How can one be so accurate in awarding marks especially when it comes to humanities? Testing need not be at the end of a ten year period-it could be an aggregate of three  year performance from the 8th to the 10th Standard. but let us look at the ground reality-the variety of schools systems, the different types of managements, the unjust learning climate-the creation of negative learning in some schools, the disparities embedded, the creation of a caste system within the education system, the poor have the poor schools and the rich have the rich schools. The unjustly oriented education which makes it extremely difficult for fair competition and the corruption which means that a certificate is available for money!

Above all the commercialization of education from the kindergarden to the Centers of Excellence All these may be the reality in education in all the States but I would like to specific Tamilnadu because I am familiar with it . The schools are either Matriculation or Higher Secondary. The Matriculation has only English Medium while the Higher Secondary some are English medium and the majority Tamil medium. There is always a rush to English medium schools. The government expects at least a 80 percent pass –so there is the tendency to evaluate very leniently. Even students who are unable to write a paragraph correctly will pass. Now comes the different Managements- Government aided Minority schools, Private aided Schools, Self financing schools, and government schools. In the city of chennai the Government schools some come under the Local Body-Like the Corporation schools and some come directly under the State Government. As though this is not confusing enough in the rural areas the schools are managed by the Panchayats /Blocks and State government private aided schools and Self Financing schools.

Will it be possible for Kabil Sibal at least to level the ground within each State and bring in some uniformity for fair play? The demand of English medium Minority managed schools is more in demand. All the top officers of the government and the corporate world-the rich and the powerful opt for Minority aided schools. This has its own adverse effect. If the government is unable to run its schools well then why is it wasting the people’s money in running schools which are unfit for their own children and grandchildren? Starting from the Chief Minister all the powerful politicians and police officers, the IAS and IPS officers has their children, and grandchildren in the Minority managed English medium schools. The result is that no worth while trouble is taken to upgrade the government schools and Corporation schools-be it the teaching, and/ or the physical conditions of the schools. The teachers are used for government tasks like census enumeration, and government propaganda of FP. etc.

Right in the city of Chennai there are Corporation schools with no drinking water and toilet facilities and no play ground. Who are the children who attend these schools? What kind of learning takes place? The children in these schools have  no teaching aids-not even a chalk board-no proper classrooms and benches but  must sit for the same exams and must compete with the rest who have all the formal and the informal education and educational aids and facilities. If within the city of Chennai this is the state of affairs one can imagine the rural areas. And remember Tamilnadu is much better off than States like AP, Orissa, Bihar, et al. There are schools where the teachers simply mark the attendance even when the students are absent-boost the strength of the school so that she/he survives. I have visited a Corporation school in the city of Chennai where marks were credited without exams. It is not that those in the field of education are unaware of these but what reforms have been undertaken to make the schools a great social leveler and give the children an equal opportunity to social mobility? We demand that Education be a Fundamental Right –but what kind of education? .No wonder the children prefer to be on the streets than shut in a suffocating system.

If the Government cannot run its schools it would be better then the government leaves it to private bodies. The government must justify the expenditure on education and state why its schools are not preferred by its own Government employees. Is the government abetting the elite schools for the rich and the powerful and creating a sub standard learning system for the poor? So right from school level there is a divide. But the monies are from the common man. All the teachers of the aided schools-Minority and Private are paid by the government. So the tax –payers’ monies go towards creating an unjust system for the children. From the school level onwards then the divide places hurdles for fair competition and for identification of talents. This extends upwards right to the so called centers of Excellence.

It is then of utmost importance for the Minister for Education Kapil Sibal to extend his thinking right from the beginning-the cause of trauma-which  starts from the unjustly oriented school system, the inequalities that it abets and the negation of Equality –a Fundamental Right. Without setting this right to make Education a Fundamental Right serves no purpose; for we are pushing the poor children to experience not just trauma but force them within a Divide and experience injustice right through their schooling. The minister should initiate discussions with the State governments to revolutionize the whole school system .When things are set in the right perspective then not only will the trauma disappear but our children will have an enriching growing/learning experience.

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,

June 28, 2009 at 2:42 pm 3 comments

The UNCIRF and its invasiveness-anti national

The UPA government’s unprecedented step of inviting the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (UNCIRF) to visit Gujarat and Orissa is not only disturbing but also portents greater harm to harmony and unity of the country.  It exposes the country to international policing which has its ramification on areas of the violations of the integrity and sovereignty of the nation. Today it can be a Commission why not later an army? It can be for the purpose of protection the minorities. The basic premise is the same.

Hypothetically let’s imagine that the Commission faults the government of both the States on their failure to protect the minorities.  Should Naveen Patnaik and Narendra Modi appear before this Commission and plead guilty-or plead innocent and with all humility accept the penalty it will impose. Can there be a greater insult to democracy and to the sovereignty of this country. It is invasion-be it territorial, social or  religious- no matter which area invasiveness of any kind cannot be accept by any norm. What then is the role of the Congress led UPA government? Does it not stand indicted for its impotency to curb violence? It cannot abdicate its responsibility and obligation to protect the minorities and rein in the State governments. Hence if this is logically followed then accused no one is the Congress –Manmohan Singh-proof of his political weakness. Which country would tolerate such invasion and interference in its internal affairs? Are we bonded to the USA and its various organizations? No patriotic Indian irrespective of religion would accept the policing of this nation by outside agencies.

Can the CBCI and the INDIAN Churches which objected to such invasiveness 9 years ago now make a U-turn? In the course of five years what has been the persecution witnessed in India.  The Brahmin Pundits killed in hundreds and chased away from J& K under ethnic cleansing has not raised the international community’s concern. The rape of the five nuns in Junabha after wrong reporting was set right when the nuns themselves gave interviews and said that it had nothing to do with religion. In fact those involved were converted tribals . In Orissa the massacre of Swami Lakshmananda and his disciples led to a clash in which not only Christians were victims but also Hindus were killed. The infamous  Gujarat riots are being tried by the SIT. But the earlier versions and the gory stories of brutality and rape and massacres made by the activist Teesta Setalvad were found be faked, cooked up, witnesses and their statements doctored- hence the Supreme Court rejected the bundle of lies.

Against this backdrop the Congress allowing the UNCIRF to enquire into the violence against the minorities is political in intend and has everything to do to further divide the people on religious grounds. Will the UNCIRF be allowed to enter Pakistan or any Islamic country where there is discrimination against the minorities?

The Congress and the Christian churches seem to conspire against the Hindus. This is evident when one looks at the pre-election scenario. In April the Catholic Bishops  Conference of India (CBCI) issued ‘Ten Commandments list of dos and don’ts for the Catholics to follow. But it did not indicate which party to vote for. This was followed by a number of churches scripting prayers for the ‘flock’ which was couched in appeals to God to bring in a party which will allow religious freedom. and uphold the same guaranteed in the Constitution. Across India the whole Christian community was galvanized by such covert campaigning. Then in Karnatake a priest had the audacity to openly tell the ‘flock’ not to vote for the BJP. Joining hands with the Muslim leaders the Catholic leaders also issued fatwa-overtly and covertly compelling the ‘flock’ to vote for the Congress. The Election Commission is unmindful of this religious-politics mix and this  blatant communalism. Only when Advani appeals to the Hindu religious leaders the EC becomes alert and people like John Dayal makes it a case for condemnation. He did not hesitate to assert that the Churches do not give any directives nor interfere in the freedom of the Christians to vote for the party of their choice. It is only when the Hindu organizations and BJP politicians appeal to the people the ire of the EC is provoked. Then the media will come out with
its secular advocacy and condemn the communalism of the BJP  and its allies

The churches double speak has exposed its ulterior motive-9 years ago (Sept 2000)when the CBCI had described as  “unwarranted” the proposed hearing on religious freedom in India by the UNCIRF and distanced itself from John Dayal by stating that he was attending it in  his individual capacity. It is relevant to recall what the Christian MPs felt then. They acknowledged the need to curb the influence of fundamentalists over the community and the Church. By disposing before the US panel Dayal has given the Hindu extremist groups valid reason to doubt the integrity of the community and ‘we could just be inviting Hindu extremist backlash’ rued Patty Ripple Kyndiah-who further added that the antics of John Dayal is against national interests. Former Speaker P.A Sagma endorsed the views of  Kyndiah, ‘This is our internal problem. We are capable of solving it’.

What has changed in the last nine years? The number of churches built has increased more than a hundred fold. Christians institutions are given all the financial assistance, Christians have occupied hundreds and hundreds of acres of  promboke land on which they quickly put up a shack and a cross-for further putting up pucca buildings both commercial and religious-this enables them to occupy land, acquire assets-evade tax and even electricity charges. It would be of national interest to make a survey and find out the status of the Churches property wise and cash wise.
The fact that when in so called Christian countries churches are closing down herein India churches are annually increasing in number. Even in Italy the churches are empty but here the churches are full every Sundays and the pulpit is used even against the government but goes unchallenged.

From a poor country like ours money flows to Rome-from congregations working for the poor and the  destitute in India money flows to Vatican. Are these signs of a persecuted church? The flow of money to churches and church allied ‘development organizations have trebled during the last five years. The government of India has these on its record. Is this a sign of a church that is under duress and its people victims of rape and atrocities?  Why then should money from here go to Rome/Vatican? The  Cross is not a sign to camouflage lies and cover truth. The church by its anti national stand is crucifying Truth. Jesus was faithful to his Jewish traditions and to insult that he was crucified naked on the cross (no loin cloth) so the bible states. Why should a people who proclaim that they stand for His values become anti-national and betray their own country and country men? Are non minorities not raped, butchered, victimized in this country? To whom do they appeal? They do not run to international lobbies. This is a sad commentary on the Christian community and its loyalties. One is first an Indian then a Christian-for one cannot change one’s nationality but can change ones religion. The CBCI and the laity leaders cannot do greater harm to the community than participate in the UNCIRF sittings. In fact they should have protested against this unprecedented move of the Congress under Mrs Sonia Gandhi. The Christian community cannot be mortgaged for her ulterior political motives. Religion is an emotive issue and once the people are permanently divided-the national unity will be a thing of the past and at the drop of a hat the country will erupt into a civil war.

Every communal riot if  objectively analyzed was a backlash and the poor people irrespective of religion were the victims. The power games  of the powerful have torn nations apart by war followed by famines leading to a total destruction and subjugation a people. The interference into our internal affairs must be seen on a larger scale frame earlier experience-present position with a projection on the future. Invasiveness of any kind in the affairs of a  sovereign country means two things-the supervisory role of the invasive country/organization and the subjective, subservient level of the interfered country. We have a democracy and a Constitution which has stood us well. Except for some aberrations brought by vest interest politicians the people have always been able to overcome this and to set the tone and tenure for harmonious unity. This is the only country in the world which has opened its arms to all religions and all people and thus became the cradle of world religions. The fringe Christian churches have been  misusing the Freedom of Religion proselytizing, and poaching on other churches creating social tensions. One is not judged by one’s religion but will be judged in the measure of love one has lived with and the Truth one has upheld.

PS-Would the Church permit the UNCIRF to visit the convents which have reported rapes, sexual violations, murders and oppression of women (nuns).

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,

June 22, 2009 at 9:51 am 5 comments

Evangelists of capitalism: Is compassion compatible?

My rejoinder to the idea of “Compassionate Capitalism” as articulated in the following article by Infosys Founder Narayanamurthy

Smart sound bytes -‘compassionate capitalism’as I understand  is yet another word coined by the capitalists to justify their assets and illgotton wealth-at the same time to project themselves as saviors of the down trodden. You cannot be both.For one thing the kind of wealth and assests that are owned by MPs/film and media persons,industralists et al  are introducing us to whole new world of deception. Take the Reliance for example the skyscraper  complex is a mini city by itself. This in contrast to the ever spreading slums of Mumbai is an expose to the social sins of the rich-the captialists. To give themselves an acceptance and a social absolution now they parade themselves as saviors of the downtrodden.  Is it not a paradox that the poorest countries of the world have the richest of the world.

I am trying to decode this ‘compassionate captialism.. Can it be-trying to eat the cake and have it- or is it sanctifying the crumbs that fall from the table of the rich and the mighty or allowing wilfully a few more crumbs to fall and watching it with campaissonate eyes and hearts full of love for the poor when they pick up these and hungrily globble them. Does that quieten the conscience of the capitalists or does it give them a benelovence and a social standing as the doers of good-the great social workers. But when the poor hardly have a primary health centre and when there is one it is ill equipped these campassionate captialists fly abroad for their medical ailments- and holiday in the Alps and global resorts. To come back and start throwing a few more crumbs.  It brings the picture of the pigeons being fed in front of the Gateway of India  by tourists.  New coined words do not make substance. Incompatible are the two-compassion and capitalism. You cannot have both and certainly not rolled into one.

If you are truely a compassionate person you will not be a capitalist. This because as I understand  there should be the basis of any model of development- Justice-and jUSTICE cannot and will not co-exist with captialism. The scenario is a repeat of the Evangelists who alight from their posh vehicles to preach to the poor-how blessed they are in poverty-distribute a bread r a couple of rotis and then get into their vehicles and rush to the nearest five star hotels to meet their funding agencies and produce proof of their mass congregations-listening in empty stomachs to the green pastures promised in the next world.  Now we have the capitalists garbing themselves as evangelists and the hungry people will swallow anything-no wonder they are kept in hunger for then there is no power to discern-no strength even to comprehend-the gullible people look with awe at these great compassionate captialists/evangelists and go into a trance. That is the sign that they are inbibed with the spirit of God…so starvation and empty stomachs are fertile grounds for the capitalists and for their compassion display.

Another category added to the religious captialist-evangelists. How long are we going to fool the people and ourselves. How long are we going to quieten our consciences and how long are we going to display hell as heaven  The sooner we discard this mirage and shed the mask and be truthful to uphold justice then only Justice will remain and the rest will fall.Into that meaningful state let my country and my country men awake.

Dr.Mrs Hilda Raja,

June 21, 2009 at 3:34 pm 1 comment

Ministry for Minority-Majority Affairs!

According to Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, “Quota for Muslims is a double edged sword”. He instead wants affirmative action to inject an ability to compete . Surely there is no debate on this perception.  But the point underlying is reservation is at times termed: ‘affirmative action’, and at times ‘positive discrimination’.  So by juggling with words and terms one can make even the ‘affirmative action’ more an academic discussion.  The very setting up of a ministry for Minority affairs is a clear discrimination because it is based on a variable which by itself does not indicate poverty or any disadvantage. To set things right then the Minority Affairs Ministry must justify its existence and validate its functioning by making it Constitutional.

First the Congress must amend the Constitution to use religious variable for identification of a people for any action-be it affirmative, or positive discrimination! Any discrimination or affirmative action based on religion is unconstitutional.  Second the Congress must desist from projecting itself as ‘secular’.  Poverty groups need to be targeted-there is no second opinion.  There is logic in what the Minister stated but be it numerical quota or affirmative action the whole perception must change from identifying the beneficiaries with a religious yardstick.  There are no two opinions that poverty groups must be targeted but how does one net the poverty groups- not by religion.  Call the poverty alleviation with any terminology the crux of the problem is the approach to this should no way denote a particular religious community.  No secular government can be so blatant in its strategy to alleviate poverty.
It is also presumptuous to bring in Sachar report.  The survey of Sachar was biased right from the beginning.  The Universe spread was already pre-determined on religion and the selection of the Sample did not follow any scientific methodology. Even the findings seem to be predetermined. One will find what one wants to find. With such a biased entry point the survey was what it was meant to be. So to base all actions-affirmative or double edged strategies on this flawed survey is not logical.
Salman Khurshid has a very valid reason to oppose reservation.  As Andre Beteille in his ‘Break the Quota Routine’ (TOI-18th June) has stated, ‘It cannot be said that quotas for the SCs and STs have brought no benefits to the wider society. They played a useful role in the colonial period and also in the early decades of Independence. But as the scope expanded after 1980, their social costs began to outweigh their social benefits”.  To some extent this is true.  But when it comes to social benefits the social costs outweighing cannot be a reason to argue against the quota.  The quota – or the reservation started in education was faulty and not implemented in the right spirit. Many exploited the quota, non- SCs, non- STs were able to take advantage by getting false certificates from the thasildhar.  The SCs and STs had not climbed the education ladder to make use of the quota in the Higher Education. The concentration should have been at the school level.  Again it was the already educated and the rich who made use of the quota system. Education had not found placed in  the priority list of the  SCs and STs when survival needs were not met.  Then of course quota became a vote catching slogan.  As years rolled on Backward classes clamored for the quota-and concomitantly the ‘jatis’ categorized under the BCs kept expanding. In Tamilnadu almost every caste came under the nomenclature of Backward Castes-the Vanniyars. Only the Brahmins and the Saiva Pillais were forward castes.  The development cake thus had to be sliced into little bits!

The Christian SCs assumed a new terminology – dalits they too demanded to be included in the SC list.  The demand had a justification because on the basis of religion one cannot extend or deny Reservation.  Caste is a factor inherent and one cannot change the caste into which one is born which is not true when it comes to religion.  The Christian dalits went to Court in the “The Susai versus Union of India” case- the then Chief Justice Bhagawati asserted that the Christian SCs (dalits) had not provided sufficient proof that they are educationally backward and suffer from discrimination.  He called for data to substantiate their case.  It was also held that once the SC becomes a Christian he/she suffers no discrimination.  This is not true because discrimination is deep rooted and is blatantly practised in all the Christian churches from the womb to the tomb.

A very valid argument against Reservation is the dependence syndrome it creates.  Even after 62 years of Independence if the Quotas both in education, employment and other areas have not provided the necessary social upliftment and leveled the social imbalances, then it has to be taken that the policy is a failure.  Reservation was never intended to be a permanent solution.  But it seems that we are going to live with Reservation permanently.  It is here that Salman Khurshid’s rejection of reservation-quotas must be appreciated and must be supported.  Its expansion will reach out to employment, armed forces etc. This will only widen the gap between religious groups. Where is the cementing factor of the nation of Indians?

  • First- religion cannot be an identifying factor to extend any poverty alleviation schemes,
  • second- it will reinforce the communalization of the nation,
  • third- it will be against the basic tenets of secularism.
  • Fourth it is anti-Constitutional because of its discrimination on the basis of religion.

On these four grounds the quotas on the basis of religion need to be rejected.  To extent this thinking logically then one would question the setting up of a ministry for Minority Affairs.  The Ministry is against the spirit of the Constitution. All ministries can be given special instructions and directions on ‘inclusive development’ and rigorous monitoring can be undertaken to see that all the programs of all the ministries have their focus on the poor. But to have one ministry exclusively for the Minorities raises the question what are the priorities of the other ministries and what is the thrust of the whole governance. Is it again tokenism and vote bank politics that is coloring the perception of the government and flawing its whole approach to poverty alleviation? Can social imbalances be leveled out by such biased approach? Can secularism flourish? It will then be logical for the demand of a Ministry for Majority Affairs in the near future. Can the Constitution become a vibrant testimony of a people as a nation?

Dr.Mrs Hilda Raja,

June 17, 2009 at 4:23 pm 4 comments


These days one dreads opening the daily newspapers because the headlines splashed across the pages makes one hang one’s head in shame. Our so called leaders-elected to represent the people make these headlines-sample this of June 8th, ‘Governor tells CBI to prosecute Pinarayi, ‘NCP MP held in Congress leader’s murder case. ‘Valley on boil, Centre, Sonia rush emissaries’.   As though this is not enough another daily-(June 8th) gives, ‘Is Ketan Desai king of capitation fee? ‘NCP MP booked for twin murders, ‘Indian Student’s car torched in Melbourne’, ‘UK poison plot against Asians busted’.

It is depressing that political leaders, former ministers, MPs, top professions like Medical Council of India Chairperson-Dr Ketan Deasi, are involved in murder, fraud and embezzlement. This makes a sad commentary on the kind of leadership we put up, the kind of political leaders we elect and the system not geared to keep these men out of the top positions. The first thing which comes to my mind is the President must show her concern by sending in an advisory note to the Parliament to suspend the MPs who are involved in murder and other heinous crimes till they are cleared. Being an MP gives an undue advantage to them and makes the cops a bit reluctant to treat them as common criminals. Similarly also the chairperson of the MCI must be suspended for a fair enquiry. Men/women men caught in heinous crimes must be divested of their positions and must face the police investigations without any advantage of their positions. They must be suspended and their positions kept in abeyance to ensure a fair trial. This is the least we can expect. It is time we have an active President to put up such a proposal to the Parliament. Can we expect the Parliament to take up the issue in earnest? Will the Parliament work against vested interest and stand by the oath that each MP took on assumption of office that without fear or favor he/she will uphold the Constitution and discharge his/her responsibility. Or will this be just a ritual performed without any meaning?

If the Kerala governor can overrule the Kerala cabinet and give sanction to the CBI to prosecute CPM politburo Pinarayi Vijyan then surely it is appropriate for the President to take stock of the nexus between crimes, corruption and politicians and act. Otherwise doubts may creep up that had it been a Congress member would the Governor resort to such an action? After all Raj Bhavans have become the rehabilitation centers for aged, infirm, and loyal politicians who hold allegiance to the Congress(read Mrs Sonia Gandhi). This is not to decry what the Kerala governor did but to request that the net be spread without political bias and some statutory backing given for such actions.

The need to divest these who are netted from their positions is important if law must take its logical course. Otherwise it will be like Shibu Soren’s case who booked for murder was continuing as a Cabinet minister and went underground with the PM unable to trace his own minister. Another area which made headlines-that the Valley is burning. The cause which triggered this was the rape of two innocent women who went to work in the orchard. The tardy, slow work of the cops-the time lag etc do not speak well.

A young CM at the helm of affairs –youth power has not changed things as far as security for women are concerned. Rape of women seems to be daily news. But it is only when a nun is raped will the country sit up and all hell breaks loose. Nun or non- nun women are at the receiving end. New Delhi with a woman as the CM is said to be the most unsafe place for women in India. Against this background one must view the reservation of women in Parliament which gets a top priority on the agenda of the government. By and large rape and its daily occurrence in some part of India is taken coolly…with the whole country maintaining an ominous silelce – Should only the rape of a nun evoke outrage, condemnation and make international bodies indict India, even provoke the EU to put in its pressure on the PM? In this context the question of reservation for empowerment of women need to be carefully studied. It should go beyond slogans and tokenism and studied whether it will reflect the empowerment of women by and large or will it make women the proxy of powerful men.

There is some substance in the objections raised by Sharad Yadav against the reservation for women in Parliament. One must be careful not to make it again pro-women and anti- women divide for vote bank politics. Please do not make women barters right from the home to the Parliament. Today Parliament seems to represent the ‘elite’, the creamy layer of society. Does democracy flow down to the people? I remember Rajiv Gandhi’s famous statement ‘We will give power to the people. The upside down perception! In a democracy power flows from the people. Will giving a 33 percent reservation to women mean empowerment of the women? Why the 33percent? Is it like subsidy given for an IRDP beneficiary for a pumpset or a melch animal? Does it reflect the process which facilitated women to climb up the ladder to power? It is tokenism.

We had a woman Prime Minister-and is it not revealing that the most under developed countries of Asian had women PMs while the most developed countries did not. India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philipines et al. What was the position of women then and even now in these countries when compared to the developed countries? Did it change the ground realities? We have today two constitutional posts headed by women-the President, and the Speaker (time to congratulate ourselves) and an extra constitutional post held by Mrs Sonia Gandhi. This post with no constitutional sanction seems to be more powerful than the former two and even the PM’s post. What does it indicate? Women’s power or a woman’s power? Does it undermine democracy or does it reinforce democratic norms and values?

So we do not raise our eyebrows when we read that Mrs Sonia Gandhi rush emissaries to the Valley. Her capacity as the President of the Congress party and an MP does not empower her to rush emissaries to the Valley. That apart we have 49 women MPs in the present Parliament. A profile of these women would make interesting reading it reinforces the patriarchy centric pattern. Except Mamta Banerjee, who fought her way through to rise to power but look at the hurdles she had to overcome. It was not smooth sailing for her as say Mrs Sonia Gandhi who eased her way to power just on the basis of a name , and on the strength of her being the bahu of Indira Gandhi and more than that being the widow of Rajiv Gandhi who was assassinated. So Sharad Yadav and those who are opposing the reservation for women has some substance and it is necessary to dispassionately debate and discuss the issue.

Why had the Congress party, and the other political parties who are votaries of the Reservation for women not give at least 10 percent of the party tickets to women to contest? Reservation of any sort has not proved beneficial-it has only created more backwardness and swept the problem under the carpet. This is true as far as the reservation in education and employment etc. Here again the creamy layers siphoned off the benefits. The same is going to happen for the Reservation of women in Parliament. The elite, so called ‘liberated’ women will corner the seats and it will be a simulated empowerment of women. It will create a mirage of empowerment while the common women at the ground level will continue to be oppressed, victimized and discriminated. Even the methodology of women’s representation is flawed-the rotation method, the reservation of constituencies etc. There is need for the government to discuss all this thread bare before putting such an issue on its agenda.

Another area of concern flashed across the papers is the attack on Indian students in Melbourne and the UK poison plot against Asians .There is a growing fear that not only India but Indians outside the country have become soft targets. Will this government prove by its action that it is capable of taking strong action? Let it stop talking and face the challenge by concrete action. The jumbo ministry which has been put in place should be accountable and put the country and its interest before self and vested interests. Expectations are high and with its numbers above the minimum the Congress should prove that it will delivery. I hope the newspapers will bring us more hopeful news of a government set to work and work in earnest and make our mornings brighter!

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja, Vadodara

June 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm Leave a comment

26/11 – Amusing for Chidambaram

Advani demands probe of the 26/11 Mumbai attack and the UPA government rejects it.The government had already termed it a war against India and this is indicated  in the FIR of Kasab that he wagged a war against India. Now when Advani demands a probe on this invasion of India the Home Minister Chidambaram not only rejects it but is amused by such a statement. Chidambaram forgets that the 26/11 attack was the worst terrorists attack in history. The simple fact that it took 5 full hours to decide to send the National Security Guards exposes the utter failure of the Home Ministry to take quick decisions.

And in the meantime lives were snuffed out-This is amusing to Chidambaram and he compares this to Kandahar hijacking incident. The Congress is stuck with Kandahar incident –there is some sort of fixation problem the Congress suffers from. When it has no valid answers then it falls back on Kandahar.This is amusing because there is no comparison between the demolition of the economic capital-the ravaging of a heritage icon,the killings of hundreds of people- and the demands the hijackers made to release a plane load of passengers. The decision was taken at an all party meeting and now after almost 8 years the Congress like a broken record goes on repeating – kandahar..Kandahar.

It is not only amusing but shocking that Chidambaram finds a six month a logical gap to refuse the probe .But finds it relevant to mention Kandahar after a lapse of 8 years. Similarly the Gujarat riots and the Godhra carnage after nearly 8 years it is relevant to order probes. It is not the time period which makes probes relevant and necessary but when lapses are revealed then it is of prime import for the Government to find out why those lapses occurred and how to rectify them.

Chidambaran forgets that his first task after having taken charge from the ever grooming Shivaraj Patel was to apologize to the people of Mumbai that there has been a failure on the part of the government. What was this failure-the people have a right to know. Was it systems failure and/ or human failure or both a total callousness to the intelligence inputs? Were these this set right? He has read all the reports and is satisfied. It is the duty and obligation of Chidambaram to then order the probe to establish that everything was fine. The records and the intelligences inputs were not for Chidambaram’s personal private study. The study inputs must be revealed and what steps were taken for the present and past to avoid failures of both systems and human has the must be clearly enunciated.

The people have been affected and let the nation how why it took five hours for the Centre to take a decision to send the National security Guards by which time the massacre at the CST was over. The Home and the Defense Secretaries were out of the capital. On duty or on holidaying god alone knows. Instead of a crisis management group taking stock of the situation and putting a plan within minutes there seem to have been a panic with officers running hither and thither and landing up at the PM’ residence. What comes through is the utter inability to cope with a crisis situation at the highest level of national security. The total failure to set in a fine tuned coordination in action, the lack of preparedness-while Mumbai was painted red with the blood of innocent people. It is not an amusing matter when the whole systems plus human failure are being unloaded down the national screen by the Indian Express-it is shocking to say the least and Chidambaram is amused at the demand for a probe.

A responsive and responsible government would have on its own ordered the probe so that such mistakes would be avoided in future-not the Congress which has it fixation at Kandahar. Two mistakes will not make a right and those who have been voted to power’s main task is not to evade its own responsibility by pointing at the mistakes of a previous BJP regime.  But to set things right and right the wrongs. So let not the people hear any more of the mistakes committed by the BJP during its tenure. It was taught a bitter lesson for its mistakes and now the Congress by its arrogance is also asking for a bitter lesson. One should think that Chidambaram had learned his lessons the hard way-not to provoke the people and not to wriggle out of responsibility by making irresponsible statements and say that the Opposition leader’s statements are amusing. The statements of Chidambaram are not amusing but are provocative and irresponsible.

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,

June 6, 2009 at 6:39 am 1 comment

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