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Arun Shourie on Policy



Things work at two levels in India, that of paper and that of fact. On paper, for instance, we have section 167 of the Indian Penal Code under which a public servant is to be hauled up for preparing a false document... more




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Within five days of Kamla being purchased and brought to Delhi three of us filed a writ in the Supreme Court informing the Hon'ble Court what we had learnt about the trade in women in the Morena and Dholpur regions and praying for relief of several kinds... more




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A case in which the English version of a major book by a renowned Muslim scholar, the fourth Rector of one of the greatest centers of Islamic learning in India, listing some of the mosques, including the Babri Masjid, which were built on the sites and foundations of temples, using their stones and structures, is found to have the tell-tale passages censored out... more




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"The Congress is like Ravana," The Hindustan Times of 2 September, 1999, reported Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi saying, "and they have unleashed Sonia, the Surpnakha (Ravana's sister who was humiliated by Lakshman) on the country." That in a box-item at the very top of page 1, under the heading, "Below the belt." The source? The Asian Age, reported The Hindustan Times... more

 

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The Premise of democratic governance is that the people will decide. But what will be the character of the decisions they will take when instead of being informed, inspired, when necessary enraged to act on issues, they are distracted and merely entertained?.... more


 

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At first, the demand-cum-assurance was, "If you can bring any proof showing a temple had been demolished to construct the mosque, we will ourselves demolish the mosque". A host of documents -- reports of the Archaeological Survey of India going back to 1891, Gazetteers going back to 1854. Survey reports going back to 1838 were produced which stated unambiguously that a Ram temple had been demolished to construct the mosque"... more

 

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May I begin with a few passages from my book 'A Secular Agenda'? It was sent to the press in late September and comes out later this week. A chapter, "No time to relent", which concludes the section on Kashmir notes... more

 

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But have we no rights to proclaim our faith, to preach Gospel? You are the editor of such a large news-paper. You express your views on issues. Do we not have the same right? It was Bishop George Anathil, of Indore, the Chairman of the Commission for Proclamation of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India... more

 

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Dainik Jagran is today among the largest newspapers in our country. Amar Ujala is also a substantial paper. Addressing a public meeting on October 12, UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav denounced the two papers, "Halla Bol", he exhorted his followers, "Commence the storming". Why read them, he told them, you don't have to even see them. No one present had any doubt what they meant: Don't let them be seen, that is what it meant... more

 

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'Muslims all over the world including those of India were hopefully looking up to Pakistan for help and guidance... The Pakistani debacle of 1971 had caused immense grief to Indian Muslims.' The speaker? Maulana Abul Hassan ALi Nadvi, otherwise known as Ali Mian, whom the press always refers to as the widely respected scholar and moderate Muslim leader... more

 

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But in looking at the ritual, at the idol, at the concept, why not start with the opposite assumption? Why start by assuming that they are empty, that they are the remnants of superstition? They had occurred to, they had been devised by seers, by persons of great insight... more

 

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'It is a miracle... can be likened to the building of the Gothic cathedrals of Europe... There is no doubt that London has acquired a significant new building of traditional Indian beauty and interest... We can be grateful that this has happened in a part of London that needed transforming'... more

 

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The super-speciality hospital which Satya Sai Baba has set up in Putaparti, the water schemes which have been inaugurated in Anantpur district to mark his 70th birthday will, of course, make the difference between life and death to vast numbers. The other point about projects undertaken at the direction of these teachers is their managerial excellence. The projects are invariably completed on schedule: it took just three years from the permission being granted for the temple in London to its being opened for worship..... more

 

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In holding that not all references to religion in election speeches necessarily amount to corrupt electoral practices; that it is the soliciting of votes on the ground of the religion of the candidate or that of his opponent which is a corrupt electoral practice; that statements made by others do not have the same effect as those made by a candidate himself -- in all this, as we saw, the Supreme Court has merely reiterated what the the law itself says and what the Supreme Court has itself held on previous occasions. What then accounted for the fury of the secularists ?... more

 

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The so-called secular parties -- that is, all fifteen of them, including the Muslim League -- are continuing to insist that they shall vote out the BJP Government on the 31st. Assume that they do, and assume that a Government headed by Deve Gowda assumes office... The situation now is different, they say; for one thing there are those experiences to warn the secular parties and leaders, they say; moreover, this time the leaders of "the forces of social change" are very conscious of the historic responsibility that rests on their shoulders, they say.... more

 

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Some months ago an official of the United States state department met me through a common scholar friend... Last week the same scholar friend sent me an account which that officer had written and circulated about the way India, in particular Hindus, are again being portrayed in the USA. The note deserves to be read in full, so what follows is the verbatim text of his note... more

 

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All sorts of lessons are being propounded from the events of fifty years ago. But, as usual, political correctness is keeping commentators from facing up to the fundamental lesson. The fundamental premises on which the country was partitioned were that (i) religion defines nationhood; (ii) though they do not have a common language, though they are separated by a thousand miles, the Muslims of East and West India are a nation because of their common adherence to Islam; (iii) moreover, Muslims are a separate nation from the rest who inhabit the sub-continent; (iv) they can never get justice in a united India for they will be swamped by the Hindu majority; (v) once they are given a country of their own, prosperity, justice, fraternity and all else will flow automatically; (vi) as Islam is a religion of tolerance, brotherhood and equality, as it places human dignity above all, people of all beliefs, creeds, races, languages will enjoy equal rights, and live in liberty and fraternity.... more

 


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Will a government which hasn't been there all along, finally go? Will its departure lead to elections or will it be replaced by a new government which will be there no more than the one which was never there and has at last gone? In a word, the first feature of what was happening was that everything could happen... more

 

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In the beginning was a foreigner. He founded the Congress. Then, no one did anything till the Nehru-Nehru (Father and Son) Family stepped forth. They firmly stamped the history of India with the twin features that characterise it in the first half of the 20th century: everything they did was a sacrifice, no one else made any sacrifices.... more

 

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"But What was the immediate threat?," ask the pundits. "Why now?," they demand. I K Gujral adds the considerable weight of having been Prime Minister to the argument: as one who had access to secret information as Prime Minister, he tells Parliament, I say that when I left office there was no threat that warranted the explosions... more

 

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Remember that incident in April 1996, about the ring magnets? "Baseless", the Chinese thundered. When they could not deny the sale any longer, they acknowledged the shipment but insisted that the ring magnets were for hold your breath - windshield wipers for cars... more

 

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We are so dazzled by reports of the strides China has made in enlarging its economy that we do not notice that one of the principal uses to which it is putting its new wealth is to multiply its military strength. Pick up any book or analysis about security developments in the Pacific region or in Asia, and the facts it sets out about China are bound to startle... more

 

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"Rational vs. National," screams the headline of the new pall-bearer of secularism, the magazine Outlook. "Tampering with history," proclaims the old pall- bearer, The Hindu. Having been educated by The Hindu that the "nodal ministry" for the matter is the Ministry of Human Resource Development, I ring up the Secretary of that Ministry. Has the Memorandum of Association of the ICHR been changed?, I ask. No, he says. It has not been changed, he says... more

 

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Answer by the Ministry for Human Resources Development to Unstarred Question number 3466 in the Rajya Sabha : "Professor Bipin Chandra was sanctioned a sum of Rs. 75,000/- during 1987-88 for the assignment entitled 'A History of Indian National Congress'. A sum of Rs. 57,500/- has been released to him till 23.6.1989. The remaining balance of Rs. 17,500/- is yet to be released because a formal manuscript in this regard is yet to be received... more

 

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Worse, even after a decade of killing by Pakistan armed terrorists, voices are still raised that hide Pakistan deeds under dust: An ex-editor is forever narrating the sweet words he exchanged on his most recent trip to Pakistan, how person like him had built a small lobby in Pakistan for peace with India; another editor proclaims that Nawaz Sharif should be given the Nobel Prize for Peace, so hard is he trying for peace in the face of such enormous difficulties... And they have an audience! for we just do not face the fact that Pakistan is working to a clear, indeed, to a singular aim - and that is to break India... more

 

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"Death is just an insignificant word for them," begins the report in The News of 28 November, 1997 on the annual gathering of the Mujahidin-e-Taiba. "Killing those who do not share their set of Islamic values is the only reality. The congregation was flooded with thousands of people with these beliefs..." ... more

 

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As we have seen, the explicit part of the Circular issued by the West Bengal Government in 1989 in effect was that there must be no negative reference to Islamic rule in India. Although these were the very things which contemporary Islamic writers celebrated, there must be absolutely no reference to the destruction of the temples by Muslim rulers, to the forcible conversion of Hindus, to the numerous other restrictions which were placed on the Hindu population... more

 

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Writes Tasneem Ahmad, "I express my profound sense of gratitude, very personal regards and respects to Professor Irfan Habib, who encouraged and guided me at every stage of the work. In spite of his very pressing engagements and pre-occupation, he ungrudgingly spared his valuable time to examine with care every intricate problem, arising out [sic.] during the course of work." When the entire manuscript has been lifted word for word from the work of Dr. Parmatma Saran... more

 

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The pattern of these textbooks thus is set in stone : concoct a picture of pre-Islamic society of Indian history as a period riddled by discord, tensions, inequity and oppression -- evidence or no evidence; on the other side, concoct a picture of the Islamic period as one in which a "composite culture" flowered, one in which, in spite of the errors of few who acted out of normal, non-religious motives, there was peace and harmony -- evidence or no evidence... more

 

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"I shall travel back with him," says Nawaz Sharif one day on taking the bus to Delhi with the Indian Prime Minister. "We will solve half the problems on the way back." Four days have not passed, and Pakistan observes "Solidarity-with-Kashmir Day." All the usual venom is spewed forth again. What is one to make of these signals... more

 

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"You have said that this is a historic visit, that this is a defining moment in the history of South Asia, but what is the substance in these declarations?," asked the correspondent at the joint press conference of the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers in Lahore -- the usual European or American correspondent, with the usual condescension and derision... more

 

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"Why do you keep doing this?", I keep asking. Another press conference has been held, another statement reprimanding Government has been issued, another "massive demonstration" protesting against the Government's "failure to extricate India from the clutches of the WTO" has been announced. The difference is that in the public eye the organizations for which they speak, issue statements, announce morchas and the rest, are part of the same parivar as the Government... more

 

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Throughout last week one thing seemed completely uncertain: whether the Government at the Centre would survive. Throughout last week one thing seemed just as certain: that in Bihar, Laloo Yadav's Government would return. I think it inadvisable to peg the dismissal of a Government on a single massacre: when things have reached the condition they have in Bihar, in many other parts of the country, a few score can be killed at any time, anywhere. The test ought to be the general condition... more

 

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The Church had but to get established and it became obsessed with numbers -- with the number of souls it had, to use the term so favoured by churchmen, "harvested" for Jesus. Numbers remain its singular obsession today. The impulse is not just its own history in this regard. The impulse is not just its character -- it is, after all, primarily an organization, and therefore like all organizations it is obsessed with its market-share... more

 

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"The mandate is for a coalition government", the pundits declared in 1996. "Coalition governments have worked for decades in Europe. Why will they not work in India?", they demanded. The obvious answer was that Indian politicians are not European politicians. That at every turn the outcome will be in the hands of persons who have no scruple, no ideology, no idea, no shame. But this was rejected as carping, as specious pleading on behalf of communal and fascist forces. Several coalitions later, how does that rationalisation of 1996 look? So, the first lesson is for analysts: Do not contrive rationalisations... more

 

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Even so deplorable and uncalled-for a crisis has yielded some good. At long last, the real Sonia Gandhi has stepped forth: and shown that she is just another politician, that the image which had been so assiduously projected -- the shy, reticent lady, concerned only with the security of her children, a lady who hates politics, who shuns power -- was just nail-polish. Her ambition, her readiness to use all means for acquiring office, her willingness to twist and turn -- "A minority government of the Congress, take it or leave it" one day, the magnanimous openness to a coalition the next, and the Papal, "No, we are not ready to pardon," the third -- were all put on display... more

 

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Hostilities have but to commence and a rash of strategists erupts: indeed, it seems that everyone, except the ones actually running it, knows how to run the war. Just as suddenly, intelligence agencies start planting stories: every agency, it seems, knew what was going to happen, every agency sent warnings, but every other agency scuppered its reports; every paper, every commentator suddenly seems to know what which top-secret agency has told Government... more

 

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To attribute the occupation by Pakistanis of such extended stretches in Kargil to "an intelligence failure" is too facile. It is an evasion -- an evasion of the basic cause, an evasion of responsibility... more

 

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"India has massacred 60,000 Kashmiris, but the people of Kashmir will never rest till they have won freedom;" "India has deployed 700,000 soldiers in the Valley, and yet the Kashmiri mujahidin are inflicting heavy losses on them every day;" -- such "facts" are repeated ad nauseum in Pakistani papers. We tend to dismiss such assertions as the usual lies. Public Opinion Trends, are so inured to these concoctions that they excise them from their reports! In fact, the concoctions deserve attention... more

 

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India's size has become "an unmanageable liability," writes an analyst in Pakistan's Frontier Post of June 9. "As a result, nearly one-third of its 25 states are at war, where military troops are routinely called out to keep peace." The cause for this is largely "India's exclusionary political, religious and social order that is heavily biased against non-Hindu minorities," he says. This from an analyst whose own country is being torn apart by killings of Shias by Sunnis, of Sindhis and Mohajirs by Punjabis, by tensions between Baluchis, Pakhtuns and Punjabis... more

 

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"The secret of success is sincerity," reads The Cynic's Lexicon, "Once you can fake that, you've got it made." How hard Sonia Gandhi is trying to reach success by that route. A flood in Assam? Visit the area. Have yourself photographed. Pronounce: Government's relief measures are wholly inadequate. An earthquake in Kumaon? Visit the area. Have yourself photographed. Pronounce: Government's relief measures are wholly inadequate. Cyclone somewhere? Visit the area. Have yourself photographed. Pronounce: Government's relief measures are wholly inadequate. Fighting in Kargil? Visit hospitals at a safe distance. Have yourself photographed with injured soldiers. Pronounce... more

 

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The war in Kargil has ignited an intense reaction across the country. War does. War that results from aggression by the other does even more. This time round two factors have caused the reaction to be even more intense. There is the element of betrayal: India had extended the hand of trust and friendship; Pakistan, it now turns out, merely pretended to reciprocate. And then there is the effect of television. This is the first war which has been brought into our living rooms: we see the extreme conditions in which our soldiers are defending our country, we see the majesty and beauty of our sacred mountains which the enemy has violated, we see the bodies arrive, we see and hear the valour of the bereaved parents and wives... more

 

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Aap log jis jazbe aur walwalese Jihad karten hain, vo Bharati kutton, muaf kijiye, faujiyon ko apni bandookein uthane ka mauka bhi nahin milta''- the passion and fervour with which you wage Jihad does not leave the opportunity for these Bharati dogs, pardon us, these Bharati militarymen to even pick up their rifles. ''Agar aap isi tareh Bharati faujiyon ko makhi macchar ki tareh jahanum ki vaadiyon mein dhakelte rahe, to ankareeb Bharat ka koi bhi kutta muazarat fauji Kashmir ka rukh nahin karega''- if you continue to push them into hell in this way, like flies and mosquitoes, no Indian dog, begging you pardon, no Indian militaryman will dare look towards Kashmir... Serious analysis in Khabarein, a leading paper of Lahore, of 10 July, 1999...  more


 

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"A thousand Pakistani militants have entered the Baramula and Poonch sectors of Kashmir" -- that was the lead story on the 9 p. m. news bulletin of a leading TV channel on 27 July. I was properly alarmed. And so I was even more surprised when the next morning not one paper carried anything about fresh infiltration. But it might have been a scoop of the TV channel, I thought. And was therefore triply surprised to see that the TV channel itself had no follow-up on the story the next day. The story vanished as swiftly as the terrorists... more

 

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The day I entered Indiraji's household I became an Indian, the rest is just technical -- that is Sonia Gandhi's latest explanation for not having acquired Indian citizenship till fourteen years after her marriage to Rajiv Gandhi. Sonia married Rajiv on 25 February, 1968. Under section 5(c) of the Indian Citizenship Act she became eligible to register herself as a citizen of India on 25 February, 1973. She chose to continue as a citizen of Italy. She applied for Indian citizenship only ten years later, on 7 April, 1983... more

 

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"Congress insists PM ignored I-B reports on Kargil," ran the six column heading of The Indian Express on 16 September. Other papers too gave much prominence to the allegation. This time the Congress spokesman had used as his peg a front-page story in The Tribune of that morning about a "strategy backgrounder" which the paper said the Army had prepared and circulated... more

 

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"Not one paisa has been taken from the Trust," declared the Congress spokesman with a show of righteous indignation. He was declaiming on the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. But the charge had been altogether different -- that the Trust had been a Government-trust, that it had received Rs. 134 crores of Government money and 23 acres of invaluable land, that it had been converted into a private Trust by fraud, that the conversion had been sanctified by collusion between a trustee and the President of the Trust, Sonia Gandhi. Not one of these facts had been disputed by the Congress... more

 

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As Mr I K Gujral proceeded with his "Gujral Doctrine," a friend in RAW said, "He will rue it by September." As we returned from Lahore, he said, "When Pakistan goes so far out to seem friendly, it is planning something big." As Nawaz Sharif kept bringing one institution after another under his heel -- he enacted a version of our anti-defection law which made legislators his bonded men: they stand disqualified the moment they defy the party whip on any matter; he had the President resign; he removed the Chief Justice; he did away with the Council for Defence and National Security thereby curtailing the Army's role; he put a pious cipher into the presidency -- my friend said, "He will go on rushing forward till he bangs his head into a brick wall. It is his nature... more

 

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That an area as large as Bihar should sink into quicksand is alarming enough by itself. But one of our problems is that collapse in Bihar no longer shakes us: "O, that is Bihar," we shrug... more

 

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"The secret of success is sincerity," reads The Cynic's Lexicon, "Once you can fake that, you've got it made." How hard Sonia Gandhi is trying to reach success by that route. A flood in Assam? Visit the area. Have yourself photographed. Pronounce: Government's relief measures are wholly inadequate. An earthquake in Kumaon? Visit the area. Have yourself photographed. Pronounce: Government's relief measures are wholly inadequate. Cyclone somewhere? Visit the area. Have yourself photographed. Pronounce: Government's relief measures are wholly inadequate. Fighting in Kargil? Visit hospitals at a safe distance. Have yourself photographed with injured soldiers. Pronounce... more

 

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The provisions of TADA were much more stringent than those of the new Ordinance. The constitutionality of those provisions, of TADA itself had been challenged in the courts. The Supreme Court specifically upheld TADA, and declared its provisions -the much more stringent provisions - to be in accord with the Constitution. While I happen to be in Government, my assessment for Parliament is the opposite one to that of the critics: the Ordinance bends too far back to accommodate human rightists, and that includes some impractical judgments too - like that of the Supreme Court in D. K. Basu v. State of West Bengal... more

 

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From our experience over the last 20 years the following emerge as self-evident axioms. The technology of inflicting large-scale violence is becoming easier to obtain, and - per quotient of lethality - less and less expensive. This in turn yields three lemmas. The target country has to be equipped to counter the entire spectrum of violence: to take the current examples from the United States-from aircraft being used as missiles to anthrax; It is almost impossible in an open society to block a determined lot from acquiring the technology they want by blocking the technology itself-the only practical way is to be a leap ahead of the technology the terrorist acquires... more

 

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'A State that's patronising terrorists should wake up to the consequences; in any case its immediate neighbours must'. Corresponding to the four ''don'ts'' are six ''do's'': Believe what the ideologues and organisations of the terrorists say. The one thing for which ideologues and organisations can be credited is that they are absolutely explicit about their aims and objectives. The fault - the fatal fault - is that of liberal societies: to this day they continue to shut their eyes to what these organisations proclaim to be their aim: domination, conquest, conversion of the ''land of war'' into the ''land of peace,'' that is the land which is at peace because it is under their heel - exactly as they had shut their eyes to Hitler in the 1930s and to Stalin later. Read their press, reflect over their books and pamphlets, and act in time - that is, before they have wreaked the havoc they proclaim they will... more

 

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"The mandate (which the Act imposes upon the Central Government),'' the Supreme Court said in its 1994 judgement on the Ayodhya case, ''is that in managing the property so vested in the Central Government, the Central Government or the authorised person shall ensure maintenance of the status quo (and here the Court quoted merely reproduced - for the second time within ten lines - the words in the Act itself) in the area on which the structure (including the premises of the inner and outer courtyards of such structure), commonly known as the Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid, stood.'... more

 

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What is the VHP? Whom does it represent? What is its locus standi?, the Supreme Court asked the other day - and it seemed to have done so in a tone that triggered much delight among secularists. The Bench did not ask, as the Constitution Bench had not asked, ''Who is Mohammed Aslam, alias 'Bhure'? Whom does he represent? What is his locus standi?'' It did not ask, ''What is the Babri Masjid Action Committee? Whom does it represent? What is its locus standi?'' It did not ask, ''What is the 'All India Muslim Law Board'? Whom does it represent? What is its locus standi?'' How is it that doubt assailed it only in regard to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad? ... more

 

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In the sense American intellectual activity has been built on foundations. Agar aap koi bhi ek American scholar ko dekhen, he is one of the great psychologists today. They work the most on the physiology of the mind on consciousness. If you read any book of his, in its first five pages aap yeh dekhiye ki woh kin-kin ko acknowledge karte hain. The unknown foundations and it has been one of the great omissions of the Indian tax system that we have not allowed, not made it profitable for business houses and other people to set up foundations for intellectual activity. I also feel in the sense that we underestimate, what Ramswarup Ji used to call, the seed value of ideas... more

 

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You couldn't have asked me to deliver this lecture because of my experience in Disinvestment! And I have no access to classified information on security affairs. Therefore, for myself alone, and based solely on my own study-much of it of the writings of experts like you! And I do hope that what I say will not now trigger some more ''Diary Items''-that it is because the Defence Minister is speaking on Disinvestment that the Disinvestment Minister has chosen to speak on Defence... more

 

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Every country works solely for its own interests. There's little use in invoking justice, morality or law: indeed, doing so can be counter-productive-by sticking to ideals, so to say, we cleared the way for China in Myanmar. If I could I would burn into the consciousness of every policy-maker in India the conversations between Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, Chou En-lai, Huang Hua. Every country works solely for its own interests as perceived by it at that time: this may not accord with our interests, or with our perception of what is in the interest of even that country itself. for eg: US aid to Pakistan in the wake of 9/11... more

 

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"Now, Sir," the member said, "we have inherited a tradition. People always keep saying to me : 'Oh, you are the maker of the Constitution. 'My answer is I was a hack. What I was asked to do, I did much against my will." He ridiculed the "notions of democracy" the country had acquired because of its hatred of the British, like the notion that to leave any discretionary powers with the Governor is undemocratic. "We have inherited the idea that the Governor must have no power at all, that he must be a rubber-stamp," the member explained. "If a minister, however scoundrelly he may be, if he puts up a proposal before the Governor, he has to ditto it. That is the kind of conception about democracy which we have developed in this country," he continued. The member? B.R. Ambedkar, of course. The occasion ? The debate in the Council of States, as the Rajya Sabha was then known, on 2 September, 1953, regarding the Bill for establishing the state of Andhra... more

 

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"Give me some time and we will get over all these troubles" that was the prime minister speaking during the Charar-e-Sharief debate in the Rajya Sabha. But had he not had time since February when the mercenaries were spotted in the town? Indeed, having put the country through abject humiliation at Hazratbal in October 1993, had he not had a year and a half's time to prepare for the next siege? And in the Hazratbal case also, the first report about terrorists moving to usurp the place was given to the government in July... more

 

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"This is an old charge which keeps surfacing now and then," wrote one of those "eminent historians", K. N. Panikkar, in an vituperative response to an article of mine - - the charge that close to two crores had been spent on the "Towards Freedom" project of the Indian Council of Historical Project, and little had been achieved. "About a year back the historians had then clarified through a public statement, that they have not drawn any money from the ICHR and that they worked for five years purely in an honorary capacity. When he gets the information, I would normally expect Shourie to tender a public apology. But given the intellectual honesty and cultural level reflected in his article, I do not think it would be forthcoming. The alternative of suing for defamation the likes of Shourie is below one's dignity. But I do expect at least the ministry to make a public statement. Strong stuff, and definitive, one would think. It turns out that on 17 July, 1998, in answer to a question tabled in the Rajya Sabha, the Ministry stated that only one part of the project has been completed and published since the original volume of Dr. P. N. Chopra. This is the volume -- in three parts -- by Dr. Partha Sarthi Gupta covering 1943-44. In answer to another question, the Ministry has reported that "After publication of the Volume he was paid an honorarium of Rs. 25,000/- in September, 1997." ... more

 

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The US campaign of bombing erstwhile Taliban positions in Afghanistan had not been on for 10 days, and our experts began pronouncing it a failure: "Osama bin Laden is still at large, the Taliban have just dispersed into the hills, the Northern Alliance is stuck where it was, Bush's Grand Alliance is coming apart... The winter is about to set in," they said. "The Afghan is a hardy fighter, they said. He will just tie an onion and a roti (bread), fling his blanket over his shoulder, and disappear into the nearest mountain; and these American GIs - they cannot fight without their Coca Colas, their hot meals... Just look at them on TV - they are loaded with so much equipment, they have difficulty just walking. These jokers are going to fight the Taliban? Secure on the mountaintop, the Taliban Jehadi will pick them one by one as they try to clamber up the mountain. Remember Kargil? These slopes in the Afghan mountains are even steeper than the ones our soldiers had to scale."... more

 

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"Dear Arun", writes Mr. Som Benegal, the sharpest of pins to many a baloon, "Why do you always equate the Urdu press with Muslims? I write a 600 word editorial every single day in TEJ which is in Urdu - and which is neither Muslim, nor communal in any way. (I hope I am not pseudo-secular!) There are other Urdu papers which are not Muslim; indeed some are very, very anti-Muslim. May be sometimes you should also read some voices of 'sanity' (or pseudo- sanity!)"... more

 

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The problem that illicit small arms and light weapons constitute is well known. During the past decade. these weapons have been the weapons of choice in 46 out of 49 major conflicts. They have claimed on an average, 300,000 lives. 90 percent of those killed have been civilians, and 80 percent of the killed have been women and children... more


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