Frontline Magzine Nov 2011

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NOVEMBER 4, 2011


                      COMMUNALISM RUDRAPUR
                                                  INDIA’S NATIONAL MAGAZINE

                                                NOBEL PRIZE MEDICINE

Justice, at last 32   Khaki & saffron 41        Immunity unravelled 109

              Little to choose

   Scandals and organisational tussles tarnish the ruling Congress’
    image. The Bharatiya Janata Party, beset by similar problems,
        is in no position to emerge as a credible alternative.
                     VOLUME 28    NUMBER 22   OCTOBER 22 - NOVEMBER 4, 2011         ISSN 0970-1710   WWW.FRONTLINE.IN

West Bengal:
                                       C O V ER S T O RY   Emerging crisis                                Bhaskar Ghose:
                                                                                                          The basic structure                               85
Mamata vs Maoists                30    With a scam-hit government and a faction-                          R.K. Raghavan:
Tamil Nadu:                            ridden main opposition groping for direc-                          Question of ethics                           105
Justice for Vachathi             32                                                                       Jayati Ghosh:
Red badge of courage             34    tion, the polity presents a poignant picture. 4                    Misleading picture                           107

Rudrapur riots:                                                                                           UP D A TE
Khaki and saffron                41                                                                       Putin’s Eurasia plan                              60
WOR L D A F F A I R S                                                                                     B OOKS                                            72
“Occupy” Wall Street             44
U.S. & Pakistan:                                                                                          LE TTE R S                                   134
Feuding allies                   47
Karzai in India                  50
Day of reckoning                 53
Anwar al-Awlaki:
Death by drone                   57

Bees and beetles                 61

Amar Kant and
Srilal Shukla:                                             RELA T ED S TOR I E S
Moral historians                 87
Chandrashekar Kambar:                  Interview:                         Yatra politics 19
Modern myth-maker                90    Oscar Fernandes 6                  Interview:
                                       UPA coming adrift 9                Nirmala Sitharaman 20
Adaptive optics:                       Congress & DMK:                    Interview:
For a true picture               92    Grin and bear it 10                Sharad Yadav 22
                                       West Bengal:                       Gujarat:
                                       Unequal alliance 14                Modi makeover 24
Steve Jobs:
The genius of Apple              98    2G spectrum:                       Karnataka:
Jagjit Singh:                          Shifting spotlight 16              Power and pelf 28
Timeless music               102                                                                          On the Cover
                                                                                                          Congress leaders (top row, from left):
NOBE L P R I Z E                       T H E S T A T ES                                                   Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul
Medicine:                              It has been a long and difficult                                    Gandhi and P. Chidambaram.
Immunity unravelled          109       road to justice for the tribal                                     BJP leaders (bottom row, from left): Na-
Physics:                                                                                                  rendra Modi, L.K. Advani, Nitin Gadkari
                                       people of Vachathi village in                                      and B.S. Yeddyurappa.
Chasing supernovae           113       Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri
                                       district. 32                                                       COVER DESIGN: U. UDAYA SHANKAR
TOWA R D S T O M O R R O W -                                                                              Published by N. RAM, Kasturi Buildings,
                                       C O M M U N A LI S M
M A NA G E M E N T S T UD I E S                                                                           859 & 860, Anna Salai, Chennai-600 002 and

Moulding managers             118      Rudrapur, an industrial town                                       Printed by P. Ranga Reddy at Kala Jyothi
                                       in Uttarakhand, witnesses                                          Process Private Limited, Survey No. 185,

FOCU S: V I G YA N PR A S A R          large-scale rioting and                                            Kondapur, Ranga Reddy District-500 133,

Science for all            126         clashes of a communal                                              Andhra Pradesh on behalf of Kasturi & Sons Ltd.,
                                                                                                          Chennai-600 002.
Access to science          128         nature. 41
Reaching out               130                                                                            EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: N. RAM (Editor responsible

Popularising chemistry     132         N O B EL P RI Z E                                                  for selection of news under the PRB Act). All
                                                                                                          rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or
Science for women          132         The Prize in Medicine has gone
                                                                                                          in part without written permission is prohibited.
                                       to three scientists who found
COL U M N                              out the key mechanisms                                             e-mail:

C.P. Chandrasekhar:                    underlying the activation of the                                   Frontline is not responsible for the content of
Financial crisis 2.0             38    immune system. 109                                                 external Internet sites.

                                                            F R O N T L I N E   3
Cover Story                                                                                          NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Little to choose
       With a scam-hit government and a faction-ridden main opposition groping for
       direction, the polity presents a poignant picture. B Y V E N K I T E S H R A M A K R I S H N A N

Heading a troubled alliance, the                                   itself as legal arguments in the Supreme Court for in
                                                                   camera trial in the 2G spectrum case – considered to
ruling Congress has often looked                                   be the biggest corruption scam in the country – on
                                                                   the plea that public trial in the case was “destabilis-
leaderless. The BJP, handicapped by                                ing the system”. This when the government’s image-
                                                                   rebuilding exercise apparently hinges on showing
its own corruption scandals and                                    greater commitment to transparency in governance.
                                                                       A similar dichotomy is present in the opposition
beset by factionalism, has failed to                               campaign too. A major charge raised by Advani dur-
                                                                   ing his yatra relates to the flight of Indian capital
impress in the opposition.                                         through illegal and illicit financial streams. To but-
                                                                   tress his argument, the veteran leader has often
            IN what could well be termed a rare political          quoted the report of Global Financial Integrity
       quirk, the state of affairs in the ruling Congress and      (GFI), the renowned international advocacy group.
       the principal opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party,       Quoting from the GFI report, Advani has pointed
       fits the same description: desperately seeking direc-        out repeatedly that India lost $213 billion between
       tion in an atmosphere marred by unparalleled politi-        1948 and 2008 through illicit financial flows or ille-
       cal challenges, intra-organisational tussles and            gal capital flight. He also quoted GFI’s conclusion
       consequent confusion. There is a high level of activity     that these illicit financial flows were generally the
       on both sides and in different forums, including            product of corruption, bribery and kickbacks, crimi-
       public spaces, the executive and the judiciary, but its     nal activities, and efforts to hide wealth from the
       impact in the immediate and possibly medium term            country’s tax authorities. But, even while stating this
       is likely to be more confusion.                             Advani has kept silent about one aspect of the GFI
            Thus, in the BJP one witnesses veteran leader          report: the finding that this illegal process gathered
       and former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Ad-            greater momentum after India opened up its econo-
       vani embarking on yet another rath yatra, with the          my in 1991 and that 68 per cent of the total illegal
       professed objective of raising awareness about the          siphoning off of money from India since Independ-
       need to cleanse public life. However, the vast major-       ence happened after 1991. In other words, the contri-
       ity of supporters of the BJP and the Rashtriya              bution made by the liberalisation of the economy to
       Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)-led Sangh Parivar per-              the deepening and strengthening of corrupt practic-
       ceive it as a manoeuvre in organisational one-up-           es is glossed over conveniently in what is called a
       manship to re-emphasise his credentials as a prime          nationwide anti-corruption drive.
       ministerial candidate.                                          The reasons for such silence are obvious. Both
            In the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance        the BJP and the Congress are votaries of the same
       (UPA), the leadership, including Prime Minister             economic policy, which promotes liberalisation and
       Manmohan Singh, has repeatedly asserted its com-            triggers the accentuation of corruption and other
       mitment to make amends for the corruption and               illegal dealings in governance. Along with the politi-
       illegal actions of the UPA’s constituents at various        cal confusion, internal tussles and frenzied activity,
       junctures during its seven-year rule. At the same           the affinity and adherence to liberalisation is also
       time, it has advanced the argument, among others,           shared by the Congress and the BJP.
       that the continued imprisonment of industrialists               Evidently, the lack of clarity about actions on the
       arrested in corruption cases works against the ob-          political and organisational fronts, along with the
       jective of attracting greater investment in key sectors     consequent pulls and pressures, portends an emerg-
       such as infrastructure.                                     ing crisis for both the ruling dispensation and the
            On the government side, the activity manifested        principal opposition.

                                               4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

between                                                                                                       The travails of the government re-
                                                                                                          volve essentially around four factors.
                                                                                                          First, the seemingly never-ending ex-
                                                                                                          poses of corruption scandals and the
                                                                                                          political twists and turns these gener-
                                                                                                          ate; second, the clumsy handling of
                                                                                                          both the corruption scams and the civil
                                                                                                          society-driven movement against cor-
                                                                                                          ruption; third, the tussles that have
                                                                                                          broken out within the Union Cabinet
                                                                                                          on these and other issues; and fourth,
                                                                                                          the absence of a creative and compe-
                                                                                                          tent political leadership to address
                                                                                                          these challenges.
                                                                                                              In normal circumstances, the cu-
                                                                                                          mulative impact of these factors would
                                                                                                          be enough to tilt the balance of power
                                                                                                          in favour of the opposition. But the
                                                                                                          plight of the BJP is such that it has
                                                                                                          failed to capitalise on this situation,
                                                                                                          though from time to time it has given
                                                                                                          the impression of fulfilling the role of
                                                                                                          the main opposition. The reasons that
                                                                                                          have held it down are similar to those
                                                                                                          the Congress faces, and range from the
                                                                                                          lack of a cohesive and creative lead-
                                                                                                          ership to intra-party personality tus-
                                                                                                          sles and corruption scandals involving
                                                                                                          BJP-run State governments.
                                                                                                              The troubles of the Union govern-
                                                                                                          ment are for the most part linked to the
                                                                                                          exposes of corruption in the allocation
                                                                                                          of 2G spectrum. The political twists
                                                                                                          and turns following every expose have
                                                                                                          been such that the culpability of sever-
                                                                                                          al senior leaders is under considera-
                                                                                                          tion. Preliminary investigations have
                                                                                                          been carried out into allegations made
                                                                                                          against Home Minister P. Chidamba-
                                                                                                          ram pertaining to the time when he
                                                                                                          was the Finance Minister. There are
                                                                                  MANVENDER VASHIST/PTI

                                                                                                          also demands that the involvement of
                                                                                                          Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and
                                                                                                          the current Finance Minister, Pranab
                                                                                                          Kumar Mukherjee, among others, be
                                                                                                          looked into.
                                                                                                              The clumsy handling of the cor-
BJP L E AD E R L . K . Advani addressing party supporters during his Jan Chetna                           ruption scams in court and in terms of
Yatra at Maihar in Madhya Pradesh on October 14.                                                          engaging civil society has been show-

                                                   F R O N T L I N E   5
                                                                                                                        NOVEMBER 4, 2011

  ‘Quality of life has gone up’
  Interview with Oscar Fernandes, AICC general secretary. B Y P U R N I M A S . T R I P A T H I
  CONGRESS president Sonia Gand-               National Advisory                                       distribution meeting for
  hi’s long absence from the country for       Council meetings and                                    the U.P. Assembly elec-
  medical reasons and her apparent             her interventions in                                    tions. Even on October
  lack of intervention in crucial issues       crucial issues are few                                  2, she could have kept
  before and after her illness have            and far between. Is                                     away, but the day being
  fuelled speculation about an immi-           this an indication of an                                such a holy day for us,
  nent leadership change in the party.         imminent change of                                      she attended the func-
  Senior leader Oscar Fernandes, who           leadership in the                                       tion. She is meeting all

                                                                                                    K. BHAGYA PRAKASH
  is a party general secretary and is con-     party? Is Rahul Gandhi                                  party       functionaries
  sidered close to the Congress presi-         about to step into her                                  since her return. Her
  dent, does not rule out a change of          shoes?                                                  health is not a factor in
  leadership before the next general               Rahul Gandhi is a                                   the leadership issue.
  election. In a conversation with Fron-       leader in his own right
                                                                           OS CA R FE R N AN D E S :
  tline, he said Rahul Gandhi was al-          and it is for him to de-                                Why is the impression
                                                                           "THE UPA government
  ready a leader in his own right and it       cide at what time he                                    gaining ground that the
                                                                           is giving money to States government is not
  was for him to decide when he wanted         wants to play what role.
                                                                           like never before."         pursuing policies for
  to take over. He, however, reiterated        That decision has to be
  that Sonia Gandhi was fully fit and           his and his alone and he only will         the aam admi?
  actively participating in all party ac-      decide the timing. As for Mrs Gand-            This is political vendetta by the
  tivities.    Excerpts      from      the     hi’s health, despite her health prob- opposition parties. They are trying to
  conversation:                                lems she is fully active in party work. blur whatever good work the govern-
                                               Even before she went away she was ment is doing. Besides, in the federal
  The Congress president has not been
                                               discharging all her responsibilities. structure that we have, the imple-
  seen to be fully active for a long
                                               Immediately after her return, she at- mentation is to be done by the States.
  time. She has not been present at
                                               tended the second phase of the ticket And there are States that have not

cased in the demand for in camera            gress president Sonia Gandhi and the       taking remedial measures. In the
trial in the 2G scam and in Union Min-       Prime Minister have struck body            words of an outspoken south Indian
ister Salman Khurshid’s argument             blows to Chidambaram’s political           Congress leader, Manmohan Singh’s
that investments will not go up if in-       credibility. There are also indications    studied inaction “only helped reinforce
dustrialists are put in jail on corrup-      that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.          the public perception that he heads the
tion charges.                                Jayalalithaa is gearing up to increase     most corrupt government India has
    What is more worrying for the            Chidambaram’s        discomfiture      by   seen in decades and that instead of
UPA is the traction the exposes have         bringing up the controversy surround-      leading the nation he has allowed him-
got from the actions of different sec-       ing his election to the Lok Sabha,         self to be guided by those who have no
tions of the government. A case in           which is the subject of an election pet-   understanding of politics”.
point is the March 25 note prepared by       ition in the Madras High Court, alleg-         The leader added that this partic-
the Finance Ministry, which virtually        ing fraud, by his rival candidate of the   ular development strengthened the
held Chidambaram responsible for the         All India Anna Dravida Munnetra            case of those who had suggested, albeit
huge loss to the exchequer in 2G spec-       Kazhagam (AIADMK).                         in private Congress forums, the re-
trum allocation. The note and the con-           Several Congress leaders them-         placement of Manmohan Singh as
troversy it generated rendered the           selves point out that contexts that sug-   Prime Minister.
Union government largely dysfunc-            gest tussles between Ministers can be          It finally required the intervention
tional for about eight days.                 overcome only by a strong political        of Sonia Gandhi, who was recuperat-
    At the level of the individual, the      leadership. When the Pranab-Chi-           ing after a medical procedure abroad,
contents in the Finance Ministry note        dambaram face-off erupted, the min-        to broker peace between the Ministers.
and the September 27 letter of clar-         isterial leadership, particularly the      But there are suggestions that the
ification by Pranab Mukherjee to Con-         Prime Minister, was found wanting in       truce is a fragile one. There are suffi-

                                                        6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

even revised their BPL [below pover-       the last few years. Almost everyone          Of late, there has been an
ty line] list for years, hence many        has a mobile phone these days and            impression of a lack of coordination
poor people are deprived of the bene-      most households have a TV and a              between the government and the
fits they are entitled to. The UPA gov-     fridge, things that were considered a        party. This was visible during the
ernment is giving money to States          luxury not too long ago.                     Anna campaign in August.
like never before. Even a tiny State                                                        Not true at all. The government
like Arunachal Pradesh recently got        On the issue of corruption and black         has its own role and the party has its
Rs.24,000 crore for various pro-peo-       money, the government has come               own role. As and when the party feels
ple programmes.                            under attack for not doing much, and         the need, it discusses with the govern-
                                           its sincerity in fighting corruption          ment if something more needs to be
But the fact remains that food             has been questioned. The perception          done somewhere. The government
inflation is at an all-time high and        is that whatever has been done is            never goes against the party. There is
the government does not seem to be         because of public pressure.                  perfect coordination. But yes, the
doing anything about it?                        The government had initiated the        party has the mandate to deal with
    True, food inflation is high and it     Lokpal Bill even before Anna Hazare          framing policies that directly benefit
is hitting the poor badly. But this is     came on the scene. The Congress              people. We have to frame policies
also a fact that over 60-70 per cent of    president had chalked out a five-             that provide employment to people
our population is dependent on agri-       point agenda to fight corruption at           and contribute to wealth generation.
culture, and the procurement price of      the plenary session in January this          The government has to ensure that
almost all farm produce has doubled        year and the government is following         the policy direction being provided by
since the NDA government’s time.           that agenda.                                 the party is followed.
The farmers’ purchasing power has               But as far as drafting laws is con-
gone up. Non-farm labourers are            cerned, there are legal and constitu-        But with the government facing the
earning a minimum of Rs.135 a day          tional issues to be dealt with and that      charge of inaction and inefficiency on
under the NREGA [National Rural            can’t be done in a hurry. As for the         all major fronts, how does the party
Employment          Guarantee      Act]    black money issue, now that Mr Ad-           plan to deal with this?
scheme. This increased influx of            vani is taking out the yatra, he should          These are nothing but minor tsu-
money has pushed up prices. But we         tell us what his government did about        namis and typhoons. We will deal ap-
also have to acknowledge that the          this issue in the seven years that they      propriately with them at the right
quality of life has certainly gone up in   were in power.                               time. There is nothing to worry.

                                                                                                            cient indications that close associates
                                                                                                            of Pranab Mukherjee still comment
                                                                                                            that he was pressured to distance him-
                                                                                                            self from the controversial note and
                                                                                                            that the distancing did not represent
                                                                                                            his real position. This atmosphere of
                                                                                                            skulduggery also points to the lead-
                                                                                                            ership deficiency in the party.
                                                                                                                According to a number of Congress
                                                                                                            party activists, Rahul Gandhi’s failure
                                                                                                            to emerge as a worthwhile politician
                                                                                                            has been most disappointing. Said a
                                                                                                            former Congress Minister of Uttar
                                                                                                            Pradesh: “What Rahul Gandhi has re-
                                                                                                            peatedly shown is that he can come up
                                                                                      SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

                                                                                                            with the odd dramatic initiative or
                                                                                                            two, but at no point of time has he been
                                                                                                            able to assert his credentials as a big-
                                                                                                            game player like his predecessors in
                                                                                                            the Nehru-Gandhi family, including
P R IM E M I N I S T E R MA N M O H A N Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi                           his mother. His inability to articulate
during the swearing-in of new Ministers at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in July.                                  his views and tendency to say the

                                                       F R O N T L I N E   7
                                                                                                                             NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                         ferred to this through his comment
                                                                                                         exhorting the party’s rank and file to
                                                                                                         “bomb the headquarters, and clean up
                                                                                                         everybody from the top”. It was after a
                                                                                                         series of events, including Shourie’s ex-
                                                                                                         hortation, that the RSS moved in to
                                                                                                         appoint Gadkari, with whom the
                                                                                                         Sangh Parivar leadership has strong
                                                                                                         connections, as party president. But as
                                                                                                         is evident from the recent develop-
                                                                                                         ments, including Modi’s fast and Ad-
                                                                                                         vani’s yatra, Gadkari’s appointment by
                                                                                                         itself has not had a salutary effect in

                                                                                       AJIT SOLANKI/AP
                                                                                                         controlling the power games in the
                                                                                                             “When Gadkari was appointed,”
A DVA N I W I T H G UJ A RA T Chief Minister Narendra Modi (left) in Ahmedabad                           pointed out the Uttar Pradesh-based
on September 17 during the first day of Modi’s three-day “sadbhavna                                       activist, “the RSS admitted that there
mission” fast.                                                                                           was a crisis, and that there was a need
                                                                                                         for a disciplined leadership, but we are
wrong things at the most inopportune         in the Union government. Advani’s                           yet to see the emergence of the desired
moment have forced senior leaders to         Jan Chetna Yatra was essentially an                         kind of disciplined leadership. And it is
come to his rescue, and this does not        effort to overcome this handicap. But                       this absence, more than anything else,
augur well for the party.”                   the manner in which it is progressing                       that prevents us from playing the role
     The senior activist pointed out that    promises no such gain.                                      of an effective principal opposition.”
at the level of the organisation, too, the        The BJP’s efficiency as a political                         Put simply, the state of play be-
Congress was only a shadow of its past.      organisation is compromised more se-                        tween the Congress and the BJP has
“Gone are the days when there were           riously than the Congress’ by the in-                       practically turned on its head the con-
mass leaders at the district and State       ternecine warfare among senior                              ventional political wisdom on the bal-
levels who supplemented the efforts of       leaders and their factions. To start                        ance of power between the ruling
State and Central leaders. Naturally,        with, there is the present tussle be-                       dispensation and the opposition. The
we have a situation where many of the        tween Advani and Gujarat Chief Min-                         situation where a crisis in the ruling
smaller parties in the UPA treat us as a     ister Modi over being the party’s prime                     dispensation tilting the balance in fa-
second-class party,” he said.                ministerial candidate. Then there is                        vour of the opposition or a weak oppo-
     This multidimensional crisis in the     the long-standing jousting between                          sition benefitting the ruling party is
Union government and the ruling par-         Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposi-                        not replicated here in true form.
ty ought to have spurred the opposi-         tion in the Lok Sabha, and Arun Jait-                           Amidst this fluid situation, several
tion to concerted political action that      ley, Leader of the Opposition in the                        players on both sides are thinking in
would have brought decisive political        Rajya Sabha, for greater control in po-                     terms of a course correction that in-
gains. But whenever the BJP leader-          litical and organisational terms.                           volves shuffling around the existing
ship has sought to work towards this,             Leaders like former Madhya Pra-                        power centres and projecting new
skeletons have invariably tumbled out        desh Chief Minister Uma Bharati and                         leaders for important positions. Thus,
of its own cupboards. The forced re-         Sanjay Joshi, who were once expelled                        the names of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira
moval of two Chief Ministers – B.S.          from the party but were brought back                        Kumar and Defence Minister A.K. An-
Yeddyurappa in Karnataka and Ra-             by the current president, Nitin Gad-                        tony are circulating in Congress circles
mesh Pokhriyal in Uttarakhand – is a         kari, had once contributed in a big way                     as possible replacements for Manmo-
case in point.                               to the internal tussles but are now ap-                     han Singh. In the Sangh Parivar, the
     Both were removed following alle-       parently disciplined. As a senior Sangh                     name of Gadkari himself is doing the
gations of corruption. While Yeddyu-         Parivar activist from Uttar Pradesh                         rounds as a possible alternative prime
rappa was removed after an                   pointed out, there is no guarantee that                     ministerial candidate. It is all well for
indictment by the Karnataka Lokay-           these tempestuous leaders will remain                       sections on both sides to do this kind of
ukta, Pokhriyal was shown the door           quiet for long.                                             contemplation, but implementing it
after allegations against him within              Cumulatively, what these show is                       will be a different ball game altogether.
the party rose to a crescendo. These         that the BJP lacks an authoritative and                     That could well trigger new crises
evictions seriously hampered the BJP         cohesive central leadership. Former                         within both parties and the alliances
in its campaign to highlight corruption      BJP Minister Arun Shourie had re-                           they head.

                                                       8   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011
                                                                                             Cover Story

Coming adrift
           The UPA’s poor responses to scams and its mismanagement of policy issues that
           affect the people directly reveal a serious leadership crisis. B Y P U R N I M A S . T R I P A T H I

Inaction and inefficiency are only                                   handling the affairs of the Congress and the govern-
                                                                    ment led by it seem to be oblivious to the problems.
part of the crisis. Ministers and                                   Rather, they appear nonchalant, believing that the
                                                                    Congress will tide over the crises and that the TINA
alliance partners work at cross                                     (there is no other alternative) factor will keep it
                                                                    going. But this may not always work as is becoming
purposes. The cohesiveness of                                       evident with each passing day. People’s restlessness
                                                                    and anger are becoming visible. This was apparent
UPA-II as an alliance itself is                                     when a section of the population came out on the
                                                                    streets in support of the social activist Anna Hazare’s
in doubt.                                                           anti-corruption movement and his demand for a Jan
                                                                    Lokpal Bill. This mass anguish over the state of
               THE United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which         affairs should have been an eye-opener to the gov-
           was re-elected to power in 2009 with a bigger man-       ernment.
           date than in 2004, was probably lulled into such a           UPA-II has received the maximum flak on the
           false sense of security that it sleepwalked through      issue of corruption. The general perception is that
           half its second tenure even as crisis after crisis       senior Congress leaders were indifferent even as
           gripped the nation.                                      huge amounts were being allegedly swindled in the
               What is surprising is that those in charge of        allocation of 2G spectrum or in the conduct of the

                                                                                                                              S.R. RAGHUNATHAN

           UPA C H A I R P ERS O N A N D Congress president Sonia Gandhi with DMK leader M. Karunanidhi at an
           election rally in Chennai in April.

                                                F R O N T L I N E   9
                                                                                                         NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Grin and bear it
IT is a curious kind of divorce pro-
ceedings that are under way between
the Congress and the Dravida Mun-
netra Kazhagam (DMK). Relations
between the two constituents of the
United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
have remained strained since No-
vember 2010 when Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh made Communi-
cations and Information Technology
Minister A. Raja of the DMK resign
from the Union Cabinet in the wake
of the 2G spectrum scam. A further
downturn in the ties happened when
Kanimozhi, the DMK’s Rajya Sabha
member and daughter of party presi-
dent M. Karunanidhi, was arrested
on May 20 for her alleged role in the
2G spectrum scandal and remanded
in judicial custody in Tihar jail. On
July 7, the DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran
resigned as Union Textiles Minister
for his alleged involvement in the 2G

spectrum issue when he was Commu-
nications and Information Technol-
ogy Minister in the previous UPA           D M K M P D AYAN I D HI Maran (left) and Kalanidhi Maran, his brother and
regime.                                    Sun TV managing director. The CBI raided their premises in connection
    The nominal relationship that ex-      with the 2G spectrum scam.
isted between the DMK and the Con-
gress worsened further when the            with the Congress at the Centre stems      in the 2G spectrum allocation and the
Central Bureau of Investigation            from the fear that Karunanidhi’s son       allegations levelled against Dayanid-
(CBI) searched the residences of           and Union Chemicals Minister M.K.          hi by the former Aircel owner, C. Siva-
Dayanidhi Maran and Kalanidhi Ma-          Alagiri will become vulnerable to the      sankaran. The CBI had questioned
ran, his elder brother and Sun Net-        onslaught of the ruling All India An-      Kalanidhi on September 12 on the
work managing director, and Sun            na Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam               same issue.
TV’s offices, in Chennai on October         (AIADMK) in the State if the DMK               Explaining why the DMK had de-
11. The searches relating to the 2G        pulls out of the UPA government. Be-       cided to go it alone in the local body
issue were in connection with a case       sides, the DMK does not want to an-        elections, Karunanidhi said the party
arising out of the Aircel-Maxis deal.      tagonise      the    Congress      until   had formed an alliance with the Con-
Dayanidhi and Kalanidhi are the sons       Kanimozhi gets bail.                       gress for the Lok Sabha elections [in
of the late Murasoli Maran, a former           The DMK’s strategy became evi-         2004 and 2009] to enable the estab-
Union Minister and a nephew of             dent when Karunanidhi announced            lishment of “a progressive govern-
Karunanidhi.                               on September 14 that the party would       ment” at the Centre and the alliance
    Finding itself in an unenviable        go it alone in the local body elections,   continued for the Assembly elections
position, the DMK has evolved a            which were slated to be held on Octo-      of 2011 to form “a democratic govern-
strategy of staying with the alliance at   ber 17 and 19. On that day CBI officers     ment” in the State. Besides, he was
the Centre but ending the partner-         had questioned Dayanidhi for about         keen that “communal” and anti-hu-
ship with the Congress in Tamil Na-        five hours in New Delhi on the Aircel-      manitarian power centres should not
du. The compulsion to hold hands           Maxis deal, the alleged irregularities     gain strength. “Since the local body

                                                   1 0   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                       Commonwealth           Games      (CWG).
                                                                                       Though the government tried to coun-
elections will not be fought on politi-    Sonia Gandhi is unhappy with Raja’s         ter this impression by pointing out
cal and ideological basis but on issues    demand in the trial court that Prime        that those facing corruption charges
such as civic infrastructure, educa-       Minister Manmohan Singh and                 were in prison and legal proceedings
tion and medical facilities, the DMK       Union Home Minister P. Chidamba-            were on in the cases, the fact remains
took a considered decision not to          ram be made witnesses in the 2G             that no high-profile Congress Minis-
forge an alliance. But the party will      case. Raja had claimed that Manmo-          ter, without whose knowledge scams
have electoral alliances for the Lok       han Singh was aware of the fixing of         of such huge proportions would not
Sabha and Assembly elections,” he          prices for spectrum allocation. Sonia       have happened, is in the dock.
said.                                      Gandhi is reported to have expressed             Instead of answering questions,
    The DMK’s decision had an un-          her displeasure to T.R. Baalu, the          the political managers of the UPA have
expected effect. The Congress re-          DMK’s parliamentary party leader,           gone on the offensive. For instance, the
mained silent on its support to the        when he met her on September 23.            credibility of the Comptroller and Au-
DMK candidate, K.N. Nehru, for the         Besides, she did not give a direct reply    ditor General, Vinod Rai, was doubt-
byelection to the Tiruchi West As-         to Baalu when he told her that Karu-        ed. The constitutional body envisaged
sembly constituency, which was held        nanidhi was keen on meeting her fol-        to audit the government’s accounts
on October 13. The DMK paid the            lowing her return from the United           embarrassed the UPA first by reveal-
Congress back in the same coin. Its        States after undergoing medical             ing the irregularities in the allocation
cadre did not campaign for the Con-        treatment there.                            of 2G licences and the conduct of the
gress candidate, A.K.T. Aroumou-               If the DMK is in a quandary             CWG and then citing instances of fi-
gam, in the Assembly byelection in         about ending its relationship with the      nancial wrongdoings and over-expen-
the Indira Nagar constituency in Pu-       Congress, the latter is in a bind too. It   diture by the Congress-led Delhi
ducherry.                                  needs the support of the 18 DMK             government in the case of CWG-relat-
    In a significant development, for-      MPs to stay in power. “We have other        ed projects. Senior Congress function-
mer State Congress president K.V.          problems. We have to settle the Te-         aries raised questions about the
Thangkabalu announced on October           lengana issue. The Congress MPs             objectivity of Vinod Rai’s assessment
12 that the Congress would contest         from the Telangana region are keen          and pointed to his proximity to the
the Lok Sabha and Assembly elec-           that the Speaker accept their resigna-      opposition Bharatiya Janata Party
tions in the State alone as in the local   tions. And then there is Anna Ha-           (BJP). “But by pointing fingers at the
body elections. He told reporters that     zare’s anti-corruption movement to          CAG, the Congress cannot wish away
the long-cherished desire of Congress      tackle,” a Congress leader said. For        the taint its own Ministers have at-
workers in the State that the party        now it is grin and bear it for the DMK      tracted,” says Subramanian Swamy,
should contest alone had been ful-         and the Congress.                           the main petitioner in the Supreme
filled now. Thangkabalu said: “We               Meanwhile, the political situa-         Court in the 2G scam case.
forged alliances with the regional         tion in Tamil Nadu has taken an in-              Another issue in focus is the de-
parties to block communal parties          teresting turn, with the AIADMK             mand to bring back black money
from coming to power. Henceforth,          and the DMK totally isolated. They          stashed away in foreign tax havens.
the Congress will contest all elections    have no major political partners for        According to conservative estimates,
alone. We did not contest the Tiruchi      the panchayat elections. The Com-           this is roughly over $500 billion. The
West byelection because we wanted          munist Party of India (Marxist), the        government has been seen as dragging
to respect alliance dharma. Congress       Communist Party of India, the Desi-         its feet on the issue, and whatever little
workers know whom to vote for              ya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam                is happening in this regard is because
there.”                                    (DMDK) headed by Vijayakant, the            of the activism of the Supreme Court,
    It is not clear whether the Con-       Puthiya Tamizhagam and the Ma-              which is pursuing the case on a pet-
gress high command had permitted           nitha Neya Makkal Katchi have               ition filed by the senior lawyer Ram
Thangkabalu to make such a state-          walked out of the AIADMK-led alli-          Jethmalani, former Lok Sabha Secre-
ment. Informed political observers         ance, which was cemented for the As-        tary-General Subhash Kashyap and
said Thangkabalu, who was per-             sembly elections held in April.             former Punjab Police chief K.P.S. Gill,
ceived to have a soft corner for the       Similarly, the Pattali Makkal Katchi        among others. All that the government
DMK, would not have been so out-           (PMK) and the Viduthalai Siruthai-          has done so far is to talk of signing
spoken without the approval of the         gal Katchi (Dalit Panthers) have            international treaties for exchange of
high command.                              withdrawn from the DMK-led alli-            information with tax-haven countries.
    The DMK is worried that Con-           ance.                                       Despite having the necessary tools at
gress president and UPA chairperson                            T.S. Subramanian        its disposal, it has neither disclosed the
                                                                                       names of people who have stashed

                                                       F R O N T L I N E   1 1
                                                                                                           NOVEMBER 4, 2011

away illegal money abroad nor made          ernised, why foreign direct investment     port states that there is a shortage of
an attempt to bring back the money.         in infrastructure is not happening as      five lakh schoolteachers. Besides, the
    However, senior Congress leaders        much as it should,” asked Congress         States are not happy with the proposed
do not agree with this perception. “It is   spokesman Manish Tiwari. Besides,          65:35 ratio of funding and want the
wrong to say that the government is         the States were also to blame, he said.    Centre to take a bigger financial share.
not acting on corruption or on the is-      “The Centre has a limited role to play     “We are aware of the problems in the
sue of black money. If this was true        in controlling prices in States owing to   implementation of the RTE, and a
how, come so many people are in jail        the federal structure of the polity.”      standing committee is soon going to
on corruption charges? This is an op-            Another major point of concern is     look into the issue,” Oscar Fernandes
position vendetta to blur whatever we       the UPA’s inability to come up with        said.
are doing. But we will deal with these      laws that would change the quality of           Yet another piece of legislation,
issues appropriately at the right time.     life of people – policy initiatives that   which had the potential to bring about
On the issue of black money, now that       got top slots in its agenda for govern-    revolutionary changes but has failed so
L.K. Advani is going on a ‘Jan Chetna       ance. For instance, there is no indica-    far to make any impact, is the Forest
Yatra’, he should tell the people what      tion of the Food Security Bill, which      Rights Act. The Act, which was passed
his government did when it was in           has been in the making for long, be-       in 2006 and was notified in 2008, re-
power for seven years,” senior Con-         coming a reality. Similarly, the Com-      mains essentially on paper, and even in
gress leader Oscar Fernandes said,          munal Violence Bill and the Land           States where it has been implemented,
countering the charges of inaction and      Acquisition and Relief and Rehabil-        it has been inadequate. According to a
inertia on these issues. On the issue of    itation Bill, which are expected to have   committee formed by the Ministry of
corruption, he said the government          far-reaching consequences, are stuck       Environment and Forests and the
had initiated the Lokpal Bill even be-      in the mire of parliamentary proce-        Ministry of Tribal Affairs, in cases
fore Anna Hazare had come on the            dures.                                     where the Act has been implemented,
scene. “But there are legal and consti-                                                over 65 per cent of the claims have
tutional issues to handle, and such cru-
cial pieces of legislation cannot be        Instead of                                 been rejected; those that have been
                                                                                       accepted are below par; community
drafted in a rush,” he said, justifying
the delay in framing the legislation.       answering                                  rights, a major part of forest-dwellers’
                                                                                       culture, have not been entertained;
    Price rise, especially in the case of
food items, is another crisis facing        questions,                                 and those whose claims have been re-
                                                                                       jected have no mechanism to go in for
UPA-II. Food inflation has been in
double digits over the past two years,      UPA’s political                            appeal as they have been given nothing
                                                                                       in writing.
and the government is not seen to be
doing much to contain it. In this case      managers have                                   Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore
                                                                                       Chandra Deo, who assumed charge of
too, the tendency in the Congress is to
blame its allies or the global economic     gone on the                                the Ministry recently, said he was
                                                                                       aware of the inadequacies in the im-
crisis. According to senior Congress
leaders, the political dynamics of coali-   offensive.                                 plementation of the Act and would
                                                                                       take corrective steps soon. But the fact
tion politics have made it difficult for                                                remains that an Act that had tremen-
the party to interfere effectively in ma-       Even those Bills that were enacted     dous political potential for the Con-
naging the food economy. “I am not          during UPA-I and UPA-II have not           gress, since traditionally the tribal
trying to blame a party or an individual    been effective on the ground. The          people have been Congress supporters,
[Nationalist Congress Party leader          much-acclaimed Right to Education          has been allowed to remain ineffective.
Sharad Pawar, in this case, who is the      (RTE) Bill is a case in point. Though it        The crisis in the UPA is not only
Food and Civil Supplies Minister], but      became an Act more than a year ago,        about inaction and inefficiency, it is
the fact remains that high inflation is a    free education for every child in the      also about Ministers and allies work-
major fallout of mismanagement of           6-14 age group, which this legislation     ing at cross purposes. The public spat
the food economy. We have to ensure         guarantees, remains a pipe dream. Ac-      between Home Minister P. Chidamba-
that hoarding is not happening, that        cording to a status report by the Hu-      ram and Finance Minister Pranab
delivery linkages are in place, that        man Resource Development Ministry,         Mukherjee is a case in point. Spy bugs
proper procurement and distribution         only 10 of the 28 States have notified      and cameras were discovered in the
systems are in place, that paddy does       rules for the implementation of the        Finance Minister’s chamber and the
not rot in the open for lack of storage     Act. The ones that have notified the        Home Ministry’s hand was suspected
space. But none of this is happening. I     rules are finding it difficult to imple-     in it. Shortly afterwards, in response to
would like to know why the Food Cor-        ment them for the lack of either           a Right to Information query, a Fi-
poration of India has not been mod-         trained teachers or resources. The re-     nance Ministry note surfaced disclos-

                                                      1 2   F R O N T L I N E
                                                                                                                                NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Unequal alliance
THE ruling Trinamool Congress-                                                                            using the names of its affiliate orga-
Congress coalition in West Bengal is                                                                      nisations. This has been a point of
an alliance that began on an acrimo-                                                                      considerable irritation to Congress
nious note. Forged out of political                                                                       workers. “There is no justification for
necessity, it continues, notwith-                                                                         adopting names such as Trinamool
standing bickering, distrust and re-                                                                      Chhatra Parishad, Trinamool Yuva
sentment. The apparent rapport at                                                                         Congress, even Trinamool INTUC.
the top level of the two parties is not                                                                   This shows either a lack of ideas or
reflected in the relationship among                                                                        an attempt to project itself as the
the grass-roots workers. Behind the                                                                       Congress party,” a senior Congress

                                                                                      SUBHAV SHUKLA/PTI
facade of an alliance there is a fierce                                                                    leader said. Sources in the Trina-
struggle to gain political space, and                                                                     mool maintain that this complaint
leaders of both parties admit this.                                                                       only betrays the Congress’ fear of be-
    “A contest for organisational                                                                         ing swallowed by its alliance partner.
base and expansion, between the           S O N I A GA N DHI W I TH                                            A large section of the Congress
Congress and the Trinamool, is in         Mamata Banerjee in May 2011.                                    insists that the Trinamool was suc-
the making, and macro aspects of                                                                          cessful in defeating the Left Front in
cooperation and coordination, vital       He contested, nonetheless, as an in-                            the Assembly elections this year only
for both the parties at present, are      dependent candidate and lost.                                   because it entered into an electoral
not getting reflected at the grass-        Thereafter, he left the Congress to                             understanding with the Congress. In
roots and micro-levels. It is unfortu-    join the Trinamool. “I joined the Tri-                          spite of this, the Congress has been
nate but inevitable,” Pradesh Con-        namool to seek respect. I could not                             denied its rightful share of the politi-
gress general secretary Om Prakash        get it in the Congress,” he said. Politi-                       cal largesse, they complain. “A party
Mishra told Frontline. The inevita-       cal observers, however, attribute an                            which could not muster more than
bility of it lies in the fact that ever   opportunistic motive behind his de-                             25 per cent of the votes when it allied
since Mamata Banerjee broke away          cision to defect.                                               with the BJP became a major force in
from the Congress and formed the               The Congress leadership believes                           alliance with the Congress,” a State-
Trinamool Congress in 1998, the           that the trend is now being reversed.                           level Congress leader pointed out.
party’s vote bank has mostly consist-     In the past two months, several Con-                                 The Trinamool leadership, how-
ed of what it took away from the          gress workers who had joined the                                ever, dismisses such claims. “The re-
parent party. And ever since, the         Trinamool returned to the party.                                ality is that the Congress has no
Pradesh Congress has been making a        This development was prominent                                  existence in West Bengal. In fact it
big effort to win it back.                particularly in South 24 Paraganas                              won 42 seats only because it allied
    Apart from the political battle       and South Dinajpur districts. Party                             itself with us,” Trinamool leader and
that often takes a vicious turn, scars    workers in both the regions admit                               West Bengal Minister for Public
of old enmity refuse to heal. The         that this is not indicative of a change                         Health Engineering Subrata Muk-
forging of an alliance has done little    in the mindset of the voters, who                               herjee said. The Trinamool Congress
to straighten out the differences.        continue to be firmly behind the Tri-                            is the single largest party in the State
    One of the many causes of ten-        namool. “It means that the down-                                with, a strength of 185 in the 294-
sion between the two parties is the       ward slide of the Congress’ fortunes                            member Assembly. With a tally of 18
continuous exodus of leaders and          is over, and whether the Trinamool                              Lok Sabha seats, it is the second-
workers from the Congress to the          likes it or not, the Congress will now                          largest constituent in the UPA.
Trinamool. This attrition seems to        grow at the cost of the Trinamool,” a                           These are two facts that the Trina-
have continued even after the alli-       senior party leader said.                                       mool never tires of reminding the
ance was formed. The most telling              While the Congress has been an-                            Congress. “They will not be able to do
feature of this trend is the case of      gry with the Trinamool for eroding                              anything to us in West Bengal, but if
Ram Pyare Ram, the six-time Con-          its support base and weaning away                               we decide to be difficult then the
gress Member of the Legislative As-       its cadre, its major grievance is that                          Congress at the Centre will be in a
sembly, who, at the insistence of the     the breakaway party is allegedly try-                           whole lot of trouble,” Subrata Muk-
Trinamool, was denied the ticket to       ing to take over its identity com-                              herjee pointed out.
contest in the Assembly elections.        pletely by appending its name or                                      Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay

                                                    1 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

ing that the Home Minister, who held         eep Dikshit, Member of Parliament            han Singh has on many occasions ex-
the Finance portfolio before Mukher-         and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila              pressed his helplessness, saying that he
jee, was a party to the decision to not      Dikshit’s son, and Union Minister Vi-        did not have a “magic wand” to solve
auction 2G spectrum. This damning            lasrao Desmukh to diffuse the crisis         the problems of corruption or infla-
disclosure put the credibility of Chi-       and persuade Anna Hazare to break            tion. It is speculated that Sonia Gand-
dambaram in doubt. It took UPA               his fast before things totally spun out      hi, whose interventions in many
chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s interven-         of control.                                  crucial issues have been minimal in the
tion to end the wrangling between the            The cohesiveness of UPA-II as an         past few months, is taking a back seat
two Ministers.                               alliance, too, is in doubt. Allies such as   in order to effect a leadership change
    At times, the Congress seemed to         the DMK, the Trinamool Congress              in the party and bring Rahul Gandhi to
be working at cross purposes with the        and the NCP are known to be unhappy          centre stage. Her appearances at the
government. This was evident during          with the government. The DMK has             National Advisory Council (NAC),
the     anti-corruption      movement        been close to pulling out of the coali-      which piloted UPA-I’s policy initia-
launched by Anna Hazare. The gov-            tion in the wake of the 2G scam arrests,     tives, have declined. As a result the
ernment initially sought to handle the       and the NCP is not happy with the            NAC’s efficacy has also diminished as
issue with an iron fist and arrested          Congress’ attack on Sharad Pawar over        it has failed to make the government
Hazare. Congress general secretary           the price rise issue. The Trinamool          accept its recommendations.
Rahul Gandhi’s direct intervention re-       Congress too has its grudges. Its supre-         Senior Congress leaders have dis-
sulted in his release from Tihar jail, but   mo Mamata Banerjee put the Prime             missed theories about Sonia Gandhi’s
the political mismanagement by the           Minister in an embarrassing situation        diminished role in policy interven-
party and the government continued           recently by refusing to accompany him        tions. But the BJP has probably sensed
even afterwards. Ministers Kapil Sibal       on his visit to Dhaka.                       an opportunity in this. That is why
and Chidambaram, who were hand-                  Can the Centre hold the weight of        Advani is harping on midterm elec-
ling the issue, were replaced by Sand-       these issues or will it break? Manmo-        tions.

                                                       F R O N T L I N E   1 5
Cover Story                                                                                           NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Shifting spotlight
       P. Chidambaram’s role in the pricing of 2G spectrum when he was Finance
       Minister in 2008 comes under scrutiny in the Supreme Court. B Y V . V E N K A T E S A N

Both spectrum pricing and sale of                                   an activist using the Right to Information (RTI) Act,
                                                                    was signed by Dr P.G.S. Rao, Deputy Director, In-
licence were part of the CBI’s FIR.                                 frastructure and Investment Division, and sent to
                                                                    Ms. Vini Mahajan, Joint Secretary, PMO. The O.M.
Therefore, the Centre for Public                                    carried a copy of the basic facts on the allocation and
                                                                    pricing of 2G spectrum with a specific noting that it
Interest Litigation argued, the CBI                                 had been seen by Finance Minister Pranab Mukher-
                                                                    jee. The O.M. caused acute embarrassment to the
had given a clean chit to                                           Congress and led to a retraction from Mukherjee –
                                                                    that he had not endorsed the inferences in it – in an
Chidambaram without even                                            attempt to remove the perception of a rift between
                                                                    him and Chidambaram.
investigating the evidence.                                             The O.M. became the basis for a fresh plea in the
                                                                    Supreme Court for a probe against Chidambaram.
           ON October 10, the Supreme Court Bench of                    The facts stated in the O.M. (without taking into
       Justices G.S. Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly,                account the inferences) reveal that Finance Ministry
       which is monitoring the Central Bureau of Investiga-         officials had pointed out repeatedly that spectrum
       tion’s probe into the irregularities in the allocation of    allocation could not be determined on the basis of
       2G spectrum and grant of licences, reserved its or-          the entry fee of 2001 and that it should be done
       ders on the plea for a probe into the role of Home           through a market-discovered price.
       Minister P. Chidambaram in the issue. The CBI did                Another issue was whether Chidambaram was
       not name Chidambaram in its charge sheet filed                correct in sending a secret note to the Prime Minister
       before the Special Judge, O.P. Saini, in the trial           on January 15, 2008, wherein he recommended an
       court. It sought to charge 17 of the accused with            auction-based mechanism for future allocation of
       criminal breach of trust, and the Special Judge is           spectrum, while treating the past allocations made
       close to framing the charges against them after hear-        by Raja as a closed chapter. Chidambaram admitted
       ing defence counsel at length.                               in the same note that spectrum was a scarce resource
           The Bench heard two applications seeking a               and the price should be determined on scarcity value
       probe against Chidambaram, who was the Union                 and efficiency of usage. He further concluded that
       Finance Minister in 2007-08. The Centre for Public           the “most transparent method of allocating spec-
       Interest Litigation (CPIL), represented by senior ad-        trum would be through auction and that the method
       vocate Prashant Bhushan, and Janata Party leader             of auction would face least legal challenge…”.
       Subramanian Swamy had filed the applications.                     The CPIL’s submissions in the Supreme Court
       Both alleged a conspiracy between Chidambaram                stated: “Despite Chidambaram recognising the
       and A. Raja, the then Telecom Minister, before the           above facts, he did not stand by his own Finance
       Letters of Intent (LoI) and the licences were issued         Secretary and Additional Secretary who had fought a
       to ineligible firms in January 2008. The crucial ques-        valiant battle all the way till January 9, 2008. He
       tion is whether Chidambaram knew beforehand of               chose to raise his voice only five days after the scam
       Raja’s design to issue 122 LoIs without following the        had been perpetrated.”
       policy of auction. Raja’s action, on January 10, 2008,
       allegedly caused a huge loss to the exchequer.               THE MEMORANDUM
           Subramanian Swamy had filed with his applica-             The O.M. reveals that the then Finance Secretary D.
       tion an Office Memorandum (O.M.), issued by the               Subbarao (now Governor, Reserve Bank of India)
       Finance Ministry on March 25, 2011. This note,               had “suggested to go for auction for initial spectrum
       procured from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) by            of 4.4 MHz in early February 2008”. But the Depart-

                                               1 6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

ment of Telecommunications (DoT)              trum usage charges) since there was        been revealed by other contemporane-
was not keen to do so because, it said,       consensus at the levels of the Ministers   ous documents. The CPIL’s rejoinder
that would disturb the level playing          concerned that spectrum beyond the         submissions on October 10, made in
field and that the then LoI holders,           “start-up” levels only should be           response to the CBI’s reply in the Su-
who had already paid the entry fee,           charged.                                   preme Court, argued that since the Fi-
were likely to go to court.                       For 2G scam-trackers, the O.M.         nance Ministry cannot be overruled by
    The O.M. points out that there was        has to be read in two ways. One is to      a line Ministry (in this case, the Tele-
a way out by invoking Clause 5.1 of the       read it literally, and accept the facts    com Ministry), it was impossible for
UAS (Unified Access Service) licence,          therein as incontrovertible. The resul-    Raja to move ahead without the con-
which, inter alia, provides for mod-          tant political crisis in the ruling Con-   currence of the then Finance Minister,
ification of the terms and conditions of       gress was tentatively resolved with        Chidambaram.
the licence at any time if in the opinion     Pranab Mukherjee issuing a statement           On January 9, 2008, Additional
of the licensor “it is necessary and ex-      to suggest that he did not suspect that    Secretary (Economic Affairs) Sindush-
pedient to do so in the public interest       Chidambaram could have stopped the         ree Khullar put up a comprehensive
or in the interest of the security of state   scam from unravelling. Mukherjee           concept paper on telecom policy to
or for the proper conduct of the tele-        said the O.M. was based on facts and       Chidambaram, in which she referred
graphs”. The O.M. said the DoT could          was made after inter-ministerial con-      to the exchange of letters between the
have invoked this clause to cancel the        sultations. It was an inter-ministerial    Finance Ministry and the DoT on No-
licences in case the Finance Ministry         background paper that was sent to the      vember 22 and November 29, 2007. It
had stuck to the stand of auctioning          PMO. “Apart from the factual back-         specifically recommended multiple
4.4 MHz spectrum. “Perhaps some liti-         ground, the paper contains certain in-     options for pricing spectrum through a
gations would have arisen as a conse-         ferences and interpretations which do      market-based determination even in
quence”, as the O.M. put it.                  not reflect my views,” Mukherjee            the absence of an auction. Chidamba-
    The O.M. also mentions that while         stated, seemingly satisfying Chidam-       ram did not enforce this methodology,
the UAS licences were signed between          baram, in order to achieve a truce of      which could have met the condition of
February 27 and March 7, 2008, spec-          sorts.                                     market valuation and still complied
trum allocation started only in April             The other way of reading the O.M.      with the government’s claim of follow-
2008, almost four months after the            is to identify the real participants and   ing a first-come, first-served (FCFS)
LoIs were issued. However, these were         understand their omissions and com-        policy, the CPIL claimed.
not charged (beyond the normal spec-          missions in the context of what has            The CPIL interpreted Paragraph

                                                                                                                                    RAJEEV BHATT

M A R C H 2 009, N E W D E L H I : External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Communications Minister A. Raja, Home
Minister P. Chidambaram and Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

                                                        F R O N T L I N E   1 7
                                                                                                         NOVEMBER 4, 2011

13 of the O.M. as follows: “On April 21,   2008), Mr. Chidambaram chose to            Chidambaram did no such thing and
2008, Chidambaram sent a non-paper         side with Mr. Raja on the issue of pric-   ignored what he had already forecast.
to Raja conveying the in-principle de-     ing,” the CPIL said.                       Instead, he ignored the illegally mod-
cision on the agreement that spectrum          Chidambaram met Raja on Janu-          ified M&A guidelines of April 22,
can be priced only beyond 4.4 MHz.         ary 30, 2008 – 20 days after the issue     2008, and later approved the Swan
The pricing of spectrum beyond con-        of the LoIs, but before the licences or    and Unitech equity infusions, which,
tracted amount was also a part of the      spectrum had been allocated. The           according to the CAG, indicate a mas-
same recommendations by the TRAI           minutes of this meeting have been filed     sive loss to the exchequer,” the CPIL
[Telecom Regulatory Authority of In-       by Subramanian Swamy in his appli-         alleged.
dia]. He found it okay to go against the   cation. Chidambaram forecast the               The CAG concluded in its report
TRAI recommendations beyond con-           scam accurately in that meeting, sug-      dated November 16, 2010, that the
tracted amount, but not up to con-         gests the CPIL. In this meeting, in        high value paid by Telenor was pri-
tracted amount (which is what the          which both the Finance Secretary and       marily for spectrum and not for other
Finance Secretary wanted to do). The       the Telecom Secretary were present,        inputs claimed to have been infused by
TRAI’s recommendations, dated Au-          Chidambaram emphasised that the al-        Unitech. “Such large equity infusion by
gust 28, 2007, did not distinguish be-     lotment of licences and allocation of      investors was a price they paid for 2G
tween 2G spectrum till and beyond          spectrum must be based on solid, legal     spectrum which was allocated to Unit-
contracted amount.                         grounds. Both Chidambaram and Raja         ech, a company with no experience in
    “It cannot be Mr. Chidambaram’s        agreed that consolidation of the num-      telecommunications sector, at a thro-
case that he was forced to follow          ber of operators per circle should hap-    waway price by DoT. The value which
TRAI’s recommendations on DoT’s            pen in a healthy way without any           should have accrued to the public ex-
advice till 4.4 MHz. If Chidambaram        rent-seeking.                              chequer went as a favour to the new
could have taken this stance for auc-          Raja announced modified M&A             licensees in form of huge capital in-
tioning spectrum beyond contracted         (Mergers and Acquisitions) guidelines      fusion for enriching their business,”
amount, then he could have taken this      on April 22, 2008, even before the         the CAG noted.
exact same stance (consistent with his     spectrum allocation began. This was            Both the issue of spectrum pricing
Ministry officials) till the contracted     seen to be in violation of the TRAI Act.   and sale of licence were part of the
amount and prevented the scam.”            He modified the TRAI recommenda-            CBI’s first information report. There-
    The CPIL claims to have exposed        tion of August 28, 2007, that any pro-     fore, the CPIL argued, the CBI had
another inconsistency. The non-paper       posal for mergers and acquisitions         given a clean chit to Chidambaram,
was dated April 21, 2008. On April 24,     should not be entertained until rollout    ignoring the overwhelming evidence
2008, the Finance Ministry aban-           obligations were met. The CPIL al-         without even investigating the same.
doned the 4.4 MHz mark and instead         leged that by virtue of this illegal ac-       On October 10, during the hearing
agreed to price spectrum beyond 6.2        tion, Raja violated the decision he        of the 2G case before the Supreme
MHz. The implication is that the addi-     reached with Chidambaram to ensure         Court, both the CBI and the govern-
tional 1.8 MHz of spectrum when mul-       safeguards      against     rent-seeking   ment opposed the CPIL’s and Subra-
tiplied by 279 UASL/CMTS (cellular         through spectrum-trading owing to          manian Swamy’s pleas for a probe into
mobile telephone service) licences         M&A. Chidambaram, it alleged, did          Chidambaram’s omissions and com-
equals 502 MHz of 2G spectrum. At          not raise any objection to the mod-        missions. Their reasons were that the
3G rates, the Comptroller and Auditor      ification of the TRAI recommendation        facts cited by the CPIL and Swamy
General (CAG) estimated the value of       and the violation of the minutes of the    were incomplete and investigation on
this spectrum at approximately             January 30, 2008, meeting.                 the basis of such facts might destabil-
Rs.63,000      crore.     Chidambaram          The CPIL claimed that it was on        ise the system. The government crit-
agreed to change his stance from 4.4       record that Chidambaram had ap-            icised the Supreme Court’s so-called
MHz to 6.2 MHz within three days           proved the deals between Swan and          power to continue monitoring the case
and forced an additional loss on the       Etisalat and between Unitech and Te-       as it is the Special Judge who has to
exchequer, argues the CPIL.                lenor. “If Chidambaram had enforced        examine the evidence against a person
    The O.M. also reveals that as Fi-      the agreement he had reached with          not named as an accused in the final
nance Secretary, Subbarao had opined       Raja with regard to the rent accrued to    charge sheet (in this case Chidamba-
to the DoT that “auctioning was legally    the government and the premium             ram). The CBI also opposed the CPIL’s
possible for initial allotment of spec-    from such spectrum trading, then even      plea to appoint two independent per-
trum beyond 4.4 MHz”. The DoT op-          at this late stage, the scam could have    sons to assist the court to monitor the
posed this view. “Despite the fact that    been partially prevented by ensuring       CBI investigation. The Bench’s final
F.S. had taken such a strong view,         that windfall gains were accrued to the    orders will show how the court resolv-
which had been recorded in the DoT’s       public exchequer and not to compa-         es the seemingly intractable positions
approach paper (dated February 8,          nies such as Swan and Unitech, etc.        of the parties before it.

                                                     1 8   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011
                                                                                                    Cover Story

Yatra politics
                 Advani’s rath yatra against corruption turns out to be an exercise to project him
                 as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. B Y V E N K I T E S H R A M A K R I S H N A N

That Nitish Kumar flagged off the                                           professed central theme or subsidiary slogans of the
                                                                           yatra. According to the formal pronouncements of
yatra sent out the message that it is                                      the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the objective of the
                                                                           Jan Chetna Yatra is to “mobilise public opinion
Advani, and not Narendra Modi,                                             against corruption of present [United Progressive
                                                                           Alliance] government and put the BJP agenda of
who is acceptable to the Janata Dal                                        good governance and clean politics before the peo-
                                                                           ple”. While this theme is aired at all the events relat-
(United), a major ally of the BJP in                                       ing to the campaign, the yatra’s larger political
                                                                           message came out loud and clear at its very com-
the National Democratic Alliance.                                          mencement when Bihar Chief Minister and Janata
                                                                           Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar flagged it off.
                    THE 40-day Jan Chetna Yatra led by former                  The choice of Nitish Kumar as the “inaugurator”
                 Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani must             impacted both the larger polity and the internal
                 rank as one of the most unique political campaigns in     dynamics of the BJP in multiple ways. Primarily, at
                 contemporary Indian politics. The principal mess-         the level of the larger polity it stated that Advani was
                 age of the campaign has nothing to do with the            the most acceptable leader from the saffron party to

                                                                                                                                      MANVENDER VASHIST/PTI

              Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and other BJP leaders with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at a public
L .K. A DV A N I ,
meeting before the start of the Jan Chetna Yatra at Chapra in Bihar on October 11.

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   1 9
                                                                                                                         NOVEMBER 4, 2011

  ‘Yatra to highlight corruption and
  Interview with BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman. B Y P U R N I M A S . T R I P A T H I

  EVEN as L.K. Advani’s yatra rattles         corruption and the                                                     that person would turn
  on, the Bharatiya Janata Party is be-       UPA government’s in-                                                   around and say, why
  sieged by reports of differences be-        action on the issue of                                                 should I rule myself
  tween him and Narendra Modi, both           black money and to fo-                                                 out? But if you black
  of whom are said to be contenders for       cus attention on clean                                                 out the other 99 times
  the Prime Minister’s post. BJP spo-         governance. As far as                                                  and just project that
  kesperson Nirmala Sitharaman dis-           the projection of any-                                                 one-time reply, that
  misses these reports as media               body as the BJP’s                                                      does not become the
  speculation and claims that the yatra       prime ministerial can-                                                 party line. This issue is
  is only aimed at highlighting corrup-       didate is concerned, it                                                to be decided by the
  tion and the United Progressive Alli-       is the party’s call solely,                                            party, at the right time.

                                                                                                      RAJEEV BHATT
  ance’s inaction on the issue of black       and the party will de-
  money. Excerpts from a conversation         cide closer to the elec-                                   How far are the
  with Frontline:                             tion who is to be                                          reports about
                                              projected,       whether  N I R M ALA S I THA R AM A N : differences between
  There have been reports in the              anybody should be pro-    “ W HAT has the UPA              Advani and Modi true?
  media about Advani’s yatra being an         jected at all and so      done about black                 Advani was to start his
  effort to project himself as the BJP’s      forth.                    money?”                          yatra from Gujarat,
  prime ministerial candidate. That                                                                      but he shifted it to
  too, without the party’s concurrence.       But Advani, while speaking to a news Bihar. Now even as Advani’s yatra is
  How far is this impression true?            channel, has asked why should he           on, Modi has announced yet another
      It is absolutely wrong to say that      rule himself out of the race. Does         fast. Is competitive politics played
  the purpose of the yatra is to project      that not mean that he considers            between the two?
  either Advani, or anybody else for that     himself in the race?                           All these reports of differences be-
  matter, as the prime ministerial can-           Frankly speaking, if you keep ask- tween the two leaders are totally false;
  didate. The one and only purpose of         ing someone the same question day in there is no truth in them at all. This
  the yatra is to highlight the issue of      and day out, maybe once in 100 times, has been made clear by both of them

its biggest and long-standing ally in       not sustainable. The BJP was com-           corruption as a whole and not against
the National Democratic Alliance            pelled to remove, in the last three         any political party. “The ultimate aim
(NDA). Consequently, it also sent out a     months, two of its Chief Ministers –        of this movement is to transform socie-
message to the hierarchy of the BJP as      B.S. Yeddyurappa in Karnataka and           ty, not just change government,” he
well as the larger Hindutva combine,        Ramesh Pokhriyal in Uttarakhand –           said in response to the Frontline query.
the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh             amidst corruption charges raised by             Despite such assertions, what
(RSS)-led Sangh Parivar, that Advani’s      different segments of society, includ-      Frontline could see in the yatra’s
candidature for the Prime Minister’s        ing probity-watch institutions. Many        course was that the so-called anti-cor-
position could not be negated against       other BJP leaders, including those not      ruption message was not really garner-
the background of such acceptance           in offices of power, are facing one crim-    ing support or gathering momentum.
with the principal ally. More specifi-       inal allegation or the other. Indeed, in    In fact, at many places people even
cally, the message targeted Gujarat         this context there is a stream of public    questioned the opulence of the yatra’s
Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who,          opinion which holds that the yatra is       arrangements. At Koilwar in Bhojpur
too, had indicated his desire to build      incongruous. Frontline raised this          district of Bihar, Frontline came across
up a national profile through a “sadb-       point with Advani on the second day of      a group of self-professed supporters of
havna” (goodwill) fast in September.        the yatra and he responded by stating       the NDA who questioned the lavish-
    This not-so-subtle political-orga-      that Yeddyurappa was removed as             ness associated with the yatra. “Why
nisational message has greater signif-      Chief Minister as soon as the Lokayuk-      should a people’s leader travel in a
icance because, in many ways, the           ta report indicting him was filed and        state-of-the-art rath escorted by nearly
professed central theme of the yatra is     that the Jan Chetna Yatra was against       100 vehicles in his cavalcade? If he

                                                       2 0   F R O N T L I N E
 NOVEMBER 4, 2011

UPA inaction’
 in no uncertain terms. There is no
 rivalry between them either. As for          “Reports of                                 Taxation Avoidance Agreements,
                                                                                          which can facilitate action, have come
 Modi’s fast, it was announced on Sep-
 tember 19, the day he broke his three-       differences                                 post-NDA, specifically after 2006. So
                                                                                          it is wrong to say that we did nothing.
 day fast, that as part of his forth-
 coming sadbhavna mission, he would           between Advani                                   Besides, the global meltdown cre-
                                                                                          ated an international environment
 observe a day’s fast in each district of
 Gujarat, and the fast which was de-          and Modi are                                where it became easier for govern-
                                                                                          ments to put pressure on tax haven
 clared yesterday [on October 13] is
 part of the sadbhavna mission pro-           not true.”                                  countries or foreign banks to part
                                                                                          with information. In 2009, by when
 gramme. His first fast will be in Dwa-                                                    these tools had become available to
 raka, so it is not as if Modi announced      take away from the credibility of the       us, we made this a part of our national
 his fast only yesterday.                     yatra?                                      election campaign and we also set up
 Advani is undertaking the yatra to           The Congress party says that before         a task force to study the quantum of
 highlight the issue of corruption. Is it     Advani starts pointing fingers at the        this black money. Many recommen-
 not true that BJP governments in             Congress government, he should tell         dations of this task force are being
 several States are facing corruption         the nation what his government did          used by the UPA government as well.
 charges and not enough is being              to get this money back during the           So it is wrong to say that the NDA
 done about it? Is this not taking away       seven years that it was in power.           government did not do anything to
 from the credibility of his yatra?               The Congress starts talking like        get the black money back.
     If you are referring to Karnataka,       this when it is cornered. Congress              But what has the UPA govern-
 immediately after the Lokayukta re-          leaders should know, and that is a          ment done despite all these resources
 port, the party took action, removed         matter of record for anyone to check,       that are available to it? Instead of
 those found guilty; even the Chief           that until 2006 the international en-       disclosing the names of those who
 Minister had to go. We even put Min-         vironment was not conducive to tak-         have black money in foreign banks,
 isters in jail. BJP president Nitin          ing action on this issue. The United        the Finance Minister addressed a
 Gadkari is on record as having said          Nations Convention against Corrup-          press conference in late January and
 that if there is more evidence, more         tion and measures like Tax Informa-         only talked about procedures. Where
 action will be taken. So why should it       tion Exchange Agreements or Double          is the action?

 really wants to give out the message of      cluding its starting point at Sitap          by BJP supporters, received Advani’s
 probity in public life, should it also not   Diara, the birthplace of the late social-    rath as it entered the temple town of
 encompass austerity in politics?             ist leader Jayaprakash Narayan, the          Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on the third
 Should he not be travelling in a normal      crowd had greater praise for Nitish          day of the yatra. Once again, the in-
 vehicle and without all this show? Ad-       Kumar. The success of almost all the         tended projection of Advani as the
 vani is talking about the billions of        meetings in terms of crowds has been         prime ministerial candidate was quite
 rupees of black money stashed away in        analysed by a number of observers as         clear in the rhetoric. Uma Bharati as-
 foreign banks. He has even demanded          having to do with a Nitish Kumar ef-         serted that whoever had taken a yatra
 a White Paper from the Central gov-          fect rather than the slogans of the ya-      through the holy town of Varanasi
 ernment on this. But why is he not           tra.                                         would certainly become Prime Minis-
 explaining the expenses incurred on               In a sense, this analysis was borne     ter and lead the nation. The sloganeer-
 such a huge show of vehicles?” asked         out in the first few meetings in Uttar        ing of the crowds also underwent a
 Rajiv Pratap Singh, a dhaba owner,           Pradesh, which paled in comparison           change here. Unlike in the previous
 who sat among this group.                    with the meetings in Bihar. While the        two days in Bihar, there were now
     Interestingly, Singh and friends         last meeting at Ramgarh in Bihar drew        shrill shouts of “Jai Shri Ram” and
 were part of a group consisting of both      a 30,000-strong crowd, the next              “Har Har Mahadeo”.
 BJP and JD(U) workers who had turn-          morning’s meeting, at Varanasi, hard-            Indeed, Uma Bharati insisted that
 ed out to cheer the yatra. Across the        ly had an attendance of 5,000 people.        the “Jai Shri Ram” chants were not
 two-day trip in Bihar, the yatra attract-         Former Madhya Pradesh Chief             loud enough and exhorted the cadre to
 ed large crowds. In most places, in-         Minister Uma Bharati, accompanied            shout with greater vigour. Senior BJP

                                                        F R O N T L I N E   2 1
                                                                                                                          NOVEMBER 4, 2011

   ‘Did we not accept Advani in 2009?’
   Interview with Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav. B Y P U R N I M A S . T R I P A T H I
   NATIONAL Democratic Alliance               But would you accept                                                  have that privilege? Why
   (NDA) convener and Janata Dal(U)           either Advani or Modi                                                 can you or Nitish Kumar
   president Sharad Yadav rules out pro-      as the prime                                                          not be the NDA’s prime
   jecting Bihar Chief Minister Nitish        ministerial nominee?                                                  ministerial candidate?
   Kumar as the prime ministerial can-        During the Bihar                                                           Is our party big
   didate of the alliance. He also rub-       Assembly elections,                                                   enough to aspire for the
   bishes media speculation about a           Nitish Kumar did not                                                  Prime Minister’s post?
   tussle in the Bharatiya Janata Party       allow Modi to                                                         We don’t have the
   (BJP) over this issue, saying the          campaign in Bihar.                                                    strength. As for Nitish
   NDA’s prime ministerial candidate is                                                                             Kumar, it is wrong to
   chosen by consensus, and no single             Nitish Kumar nev-                                                 project him as the Prime
   party can impose its choice on the         er said he would not al-                                              Minister. He himself has

                                                                                                     RAJEEV BHATT
   alliance. Excerpts from a conversa-        low Narendra Modi to                                                  ruled it out, so that ques-
   tion with Frontline:                       campaign. As for ac-                                                  tion does not even arise.
                                              cepting either Advani                                                 It is immaterial what the
   In the wake of L.K. Advani’s rath          or Modi, did we not ac- S HA R AD YAD AV: “ W E                       media speculate.
   yatra, there is speculation in the         cept Advani in 2009?     are ready for midterm
   media that he is projecting himself                                                                   Why is it that the NDA
   as the BJP’s prime ministerial             But Nitish Kumar                                           has not been able to
   candidate against the majority view        spoke openly against the use of his         corner the UPA government on the
   in the party, which favours Narendra       photo with Modi during the                  issue of corruption? Why has that
   Modi. What is your take on this?           campaign.                                   role been usurped by Anna Hazare?
       Where has the BJP said that Ad-           Yes, but his objection was only              It is wrong to say that the NDA
   vani should not be the prime minis-        about the use of the photo and the          has not cornered the UPA govern-
   terial candidate, or where has it said     publicity for the aid being given to        ment on the issue of corruption. Even
   that Narendra Modi is its choice?          Bihar.                                      before Anna Hazare started his cam-
       Just because the media are spec-                                                   paign, we had organised a complete
                                              Why should the BJP always project
   ulating, it cannot be dubbed as the                                                    Bharat bandh. Twenty-seven people
                                              its candidate as the prime ministerial
   party’s viewpoint. We will comment                                                     are still in jail. Both inside Parliament
                                              candidate? Don’t you think other NDA
   when the BJP officially makes its                                                       and outside, the entire opposition has
                                              partners, like your party, should also
   choice known.                                                                          been raising the issue forcefully. It

leaders Kalraj Mishra and Murli Ma-          so the lead campaigner and his associ-      from the government. On the third day
nohar Joshi asserted that one should         ates have to keep on generating new         came the assertion of the party’s Hin-
“never forget Mahadev [Siva], Ram            headlines to sustain public and media       dutva credentials, though the rhetoric
and Bharat Mata” in battles, personal        attention. In the Jan Chetna Yatra’s        came not from Advani but from his
or political. Clearly, there was an effort   case, the first day’s spin was on the        party colleagues. As the yatra pro-
to underscore the Hindutva dimen-            contrast between the political and in-      gresses, more such themes and subsid-
sion of the BJP’s larger political ideol-    dividual personalities of Nitish Kumar      iary slogans will emerge steadily.
ogy.                                         and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu            There is, however, little doubt that
    In fact, this fits in with the com-       Prasad Yadav: how one Bihar Chief           the principal message of the yatra is
mon formula used in long-distance            Minister (Lalu) had arrested Advani         focussed on the greater acceptance
campaign shows such as rath yatras.          and how the other was flagging him off       Advani enjoys, compared with Modi,
The common formula is fundamental-           on an important political mission.          with the BJP’s principal ally. Accord-
ly twofold. The central theme of the             The second day witnessed Advani’s       ing to Sangh Parivar insiders, this
campaign needs to be highlighted con-        presentation on the flight of Indian         message has accentuated the problems
stantly, but mere repetition leads to a      capital through the black money route       of the Hindutva combine in several
waning of interest among the public,         and the demand for a White Paper            ways.

                                                      2 2   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                              even sent him a clear message prohib-      position from the BJP’s allies and po-
                                              iting his re-entry into this sphere. Ad-   tential allies weighs against Modi.
was because of our forceful inter-            vani has thrown a challenge to the RSS         These factors are not unknown to
vention that people became aware              top brass, too,” said a senior Sangh       the RSS. Still, when Advani an-
of the scams. The issue had already           Parivar activist from Bihar.               nounced his yatra, the RSS leadership
gripped people’s imagination when                  The central plank of Modi and his     called him over to its headquarters in
Anna Hazare came on the scene                 supporters has been to project the Guj-    Nagpur, apparently to give the mess-
and got the benefit.                           arat Chief Minister as a leader who        age that he should not aim for the
                                              created a new, progress-oriented           Prime Minister’s post. For the record,
Do you think that with Anna                   State, creating a model that is waiting    Advani said after this meeting, on Sep-
hijacking the corruption agenda,              to be replicated at the national level.    tember 21, that he was not in the race
your fight against corruption has              This group has tried to underplay Mo-      for the Prime Minister’s position. “I
been weakened?                                di’s association with the 2002 anti-       have got so much from the party and
    No, not at all. People’s move-            Muslim carnage. Yet, the ghosts of that    the country ever since I started work-
ments actually complement politi-             pogrom keep coming back to haunt           ing in politics after being inspired by
cal movements. Any campaign                   Modi. The unambiguous message              Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and it is
keeps the issue alive, it keeps people        from each of these episodes has been       much more than the Prime Minister’s
aware. So there is nothing wrong              that Modi and his party will find it        post,” he said.
with such movements.                          impossible to live down the carnage,           However, through the first leg of
                                              however much they may try.                 the yatra he has more or less refused to
Do you agree with the perception                   References to the carnage have        engage with questions on the subject.
that the government is doddering              come up most forcefully when Modi          In Patna, he said at a press conference
under its own weight and midterm              and his supporters have sought to ad-      that a decision on the Prime Minister
elections are imminent?                       vance the “development man” image.         was taken by the parliamentary party
    Looks like it. We are ready for           The BJP’s National Executive in Patna      after the Lok Sabha elections.
that.                                         in June 2010 is a case in point. A num-        According to a senior leader from
                                              ber of his close supporters had ear-       Bihar, the RSS top brass was clear that
But the NDA does not look as                  marked this conclave as the starting       Advani’s candidature should not get
strong as it was a few years ago?             point of an aggressive campaign to         primacy. “This despite the fact that
    Yes, the NDA has got weakened.            project him as the prime ministerial       many in the RSS leadership do not like
Many parties have left us. Our num-           candidate of the NDA. Advertisements       Modi’s style of functioning. In fact, the
ber has gone down substantially.              were placed in several newspapers in       RSS view was that Advani should at
But we are talking to many people             Bihar extolling Modi’s governance          best play the role of a mentor to some
and in a month’s time, some things            skills and personal virtues. These         younger leader, not necessarily Naren-
will become clear. At this moment I           hailed him as a model administrator        dra Modi.”
cannot disclose whom we are talk-             whose record in Gujarat was worthy of          But that is not how Advani himself
ing to as this might create problems          emulation in Bihar and the rest of the     perceives the contemporary political
for them.                                     country. The message was: here is your     situation. Many in the Sangh Parivar
                                              future Prime Minister. But Nitish Ku-      are apprehensive as to what turn the
                                              mar objected to this and even can-         tussle between Advani and Modi will
     To start with, it has significantly set   celled a dinner he had arranged for        take in the days to come. The leader
back Modi’s plans to emerge at the            BJP leaders.                               from Bihar jocularly added that in a
national level. The move also causes               Clearly, Modi’s candidature will      sense the party’s leadership had even
problems for the RSS’ larger plans in         not be endorsed by the JD(U). Poten-       maligned the “Indian tradition” that
relation to the BJP. “Modi’s name has         tial BJP allies such as N. Chandrababu     the party proudly speaks of: “Accord-
been popping in and out of the head-          Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party            ing to Indian tradition, fasting and pil-
lines for the last eight years as a poten-    (TDP) may also not like it because of      grimage yatras are pious activities that
tial Prime Minister. And, of course, he       the Muslim support base they have.         denote sacrifice of material allure-
knows that if he does not make an             However, the potential ally All India      ments leading to a higher spiritual life.
effort for 2014, he will fall way back in     Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam             But in our party, which claims to be the
the race for the top post. Advani has         (AIADMK) seems inclined to give him        political force in India with the great-
not made it to the top in all these years.    wholehearted support. AIADMK lead-         est adherence to Indian tradition and
In fact, after the 2009 electoral drub-       er and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.        even the spiritual way of life, fasting
bing it was generally believed that the       Jayalalithaa had sent emissaries to        and yatras have literally become tools
veteran would not come into the arena         Modi’s fast with her best wishes. Still    for capturing the highest material al-
again. In fact, the RSS top brass had         the net balance of support versus op-      lurement of all, namely power.”

                                                        F R O N T L I N E   2 3
                  Cover Story                                                                                                      NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                  Modi makeover
                                  Narendra Modi tries to appease Muslims by trying to dissociate himself from the
                                  2002 riots, with an eye on the 2012 Assembly elections. B Y A N U P A M A K A T A K A M

                  C H IE F M I N I S T E R N AREN D RA   Modi interacts with Muslims during the first day of his "sadbhavna" fast in
                  Ahmedabad on September 17.

                  The “sadbhavna” fast and the open                                                 THIS year marks a decade of Narendra Modi’s
                                                                                                rule in Gujarat. Many people consider him the most
                                                                                                successful Chief Minister the State has seen, but
                  letter to the “six crore people of                                            there are others who say that he is also the most
                                                                                                dangerous one. The year 2012 looms large for the
                  Gujarat”, in which he talked about                                            Chief Minister as the State will go to the polls then to
                                                                                                elect a new Assembly.
                  the curse of communalism, appear                                                  Modi will have to win this election to play a
                                                                                                bigger role in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the
                  to be a move to erase the brash                                               national level. Analysts believe a victory will give him
                                                                                                the ticket to the national stage when the general
                  image he once seemed to have.                                                 election takes place in 2014. In all likelihood, Modi

                                                                           2 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

will pull off another victory in the State   ber 30 on some flimsy charges. Modi         ers or, in other words, to be indifferent
election, but it will be important to see    had probably not anticipated its rever-    to the violence that would unfold.
whether his magic will work for the          berations. A few months ago, the           Bhatt claimed he was “personally” pre-
BJP in the general election.                 ghosts of 2002 came back to haunt          sent when Modi issued these orders.
    Modi has already launched his            Modi when Bhatt and another IPS of-        According to Bhatt, he “directed” se-
election campaign. His strategy ap-          ficer, Rahul Sharma, implicated sever-      nior police officers to “allow Hindus to
pears a little unclear and even con-         al important Gujarat politicians,          vent their ire on Muslims” in the after-
fused at present. However, political         including Modi, in the 2002 riots,         math of the burning of the Sabarmati
analysts say he will do whatever it          which resulted in the death of hun-        Express at Godhra. Three days before
takes to win the election. For instance,     dreds of Muslims.                          his arrest, Bhatt filed an affidavit in the
he has distanced himself from his                In April, Bhatt filed an affidavit in    Gujarat High Court stating that he had
trusted weapon – communal politics.          the Supreme Court stating that at an       documentary evidence of the role of
But the wily politician, they say, will      official meeting on February 27, 2002,      top government functionaries in the
definitely have an ace up his sleeve.         that is, the day before the communal       killing of former Home Minister Ha-
The “sadbhavna” (goodwill) fast he un-       carnage began, the Chief Minister had      ren Pandya in 2003.
dertook recently was just one of his         ordered officials to go slow on the riot-        Rahul Sharma, who was in charge
masterful poll tactics.
    Modi is in a tough spot and knows
his future will be bleak unless he sorts
out the mess he finds himself in. To
begin with, the various cases relating
to the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, which
implicate him, are in their final stages
of resolution. The judgments in these
cases could make or break his career.
Modi has made a valiant attempt to
distance himself from the riots but is
unable to shake off the responsibility
for them.
    Additionally, he had a run-in with
the Governor, Kamla Beniwal, when
she decided to constitute a State Lo-
kayukta (ombudsman). Modi claimed
that the Governor was executing the
plans set by the Congress. The Justice
Nanavati-Shah Commission report on
the riots is still to come out, and Modi
fears his complicity in the riots may be
exposed once it is submitted. Further-
more, the voice of dissent in Gujarat,
which had been suppressed for many
years, seems to be rising. It is not just
the minorities or Modi-bashers who
are speaking out, but even communi-
ties that have been faithful to him are
voicing their concern about whether
his brand of politics and administra-
tion is good for the State.
    “But Modi is a skilled and seasoned
politician. If anyone can get out of a
hole, it is him,” said an academic from
a well-known institute in Ahmedabad.
    Another case that is beginning to

take political overtones is the arrest of
the suspended Indian Police Service          T H E S U S P EN D ED I P S officer Sanjeev Bhatt being produced in a court in
(IPS) officer Sanjeev Bhatt on Septem-        Ahmedabad on October 1. He was arrested on September 30.

                                                       F R O N T L I N E   2 5
                                                                                                              NOVEMBER 4, 2011

of the control room during the riots,                                                    State and promised more such fasts
claimed that he had plausible evidence       Modi’s public                               across the State. An observer said,
indicating that every senior BJP leader                                                  “Modi is trying to unveil a new Modi.
and some police officials knew exactly        relations have                              He wants to be seen as compassionate,
where the violence was taking place                                                      moderate, liberal, democratic and sec-
but had orders not to interfere with the     been successful                             ular. The fast was supposed to do that.
rioters. The data he has collected ap-                                                   Unfortunately for him, it came across
parently shatter the theory that the         as Gujarat has                              as a farce.”
riots were a spontaneous reaction to                                                          On the first day of the fast, he wrote
the Godhra train burning incident.           acquired an                                 an open letter to the “six crore people
The data could provide clinching evi-                                                    of Gujarat”. He published this as a full-
dence to nail the perpetrators of the        image of                                    page advertisement in local newspa-
2002 riots, sources say.                                                                 pers. In the letter, he said: “As Chief
     The Gandhinagar police arrested         progress.                                   Minister of the State, the pain of each
Bhatt on charges that he forced a po-                                                    and every citizen is my own pain. En-
lice constable, K.D. Panth, to sign a        led by Teesta Setalvad, have been de-       suring justice to all is the duty of the
“false” affidavit that corroborated the       manding that Modi be charged and            State.” He also talked about the curse
former’s claim that he had attended a        held culpable for the riots. They want-     of communalism, which hindered
high-level meeting called by Modi in         ed a first information report (FIR) fil-     peace and progress. Finally, he
2002. The arrest of the senior IPS offi-      ed against the Chief Minister. On           thanked those who pointed out his
cer with an unblemished record raised        September 13, the Supreme Court,            mistakes, adding that just like anybody
eyebrows. There is an outpouring of          which is monitoring 10 post-Godhra          he too was not perfect.
support for Bhatt in the State. In an        riots cases, referred the Gulberg Socie-         What he hoped to achieve with the
unprecedented move, 35 police offi-           ty case back to the trial court in Ah-      fast and the letter is not clear, but he is
cers associated with the Gujarat IPS         medabad for a decision.                     a master strategist. The Chief Minister
Officers Association challenged the ar-           The court passed the order on a         realises that he has to appease sections
rest, calling it a witch-hunt. They          petition by Zakia Jafri alleging that       he once despised openly. Yet, he also
claimed that the officer was being vic-       Modi and 62 government officials had         needs to keep the fundamentalists on
timised – an accusation that Modi            refused to take action to contain the       his side. Clearly, he has a plan. The fast
should be quite used to by now.              State-wide riots. In March 2010, Modi       and the letter appear to be a move to
     Bhatt has not yet been granted bail.    was summoned for questioning by the         erase the brash, aggressive, macho im-
Activists, including the dancer Mallika      Special Investigation Team (SIT), ap-       age he once seemed to enjoy. Whether
Sarabhai (also a victim of Modi’s vin-       pointed by the Supreme Court to probe       his loyal constituents will be convinced
dictiveness), have been fighting for his      the riots, in connection with a com-        with his new look is definitely a risk he
release. They say the cases of Bhatt and     plaint by Zakia Jafri. It was the first      is taking. Is he trying to win the hearts
Sharma may prove to be Modi’s neme-          time in the history of the country that a   of secularists and fundamentalists?
sis. He may not be able to get out of        Chief Minister was questioned on a               “He will win the election but per-
these unscarred. “Modi’s script is now       crime of this nature. Zakia Jafri is        haps not with the margin he did the
well known. But we have to challenge         ready for a long legal battle, and if the   last time,” says Achyut Yagnik of the
these witch-hunts. This is a democrat-       case goes in her favour, it could effec-    Centre for Social Knowledge and Ac-
ic country. He cannot be permitted to        tively ruin the Chief Minister’s politi-    tion in Ahmedabad. “Modi has defi-
operate like this. Try as he might, he       cal career.                                 nitely begun his propaganda. The
cannot suppress the truth,” says Malli-                                                  sadbhavna fast, the letter, the efforts to
ka Sarabhai.                                 UNCHARACTERISTIC                            appease the minority, are all focussed
     Another person who has taken on         Political observers feel Modi is on a       on next year’s election.”
Modi is Zakia Jafri, the widow of Eh-        mission to change his image. While it            Significant changes have taken
san Jafri, the slain Congress Member         is obvious that he is desperately trying    place in Gujarat, and so he may not be
of Parliament. She has been fighting a        to distance himself from the 2002           able to sweep the election, says Yagnik,
relentless battle to nail the culprits be-   riots, it is becoming more and more         who is a well-known commentator on
hind the massacre of her husband by a        clear that the Chief Minister wants to      Gujarat. Modi has serious contenders
mob that attacked the Gulberg Hous-          appease the minority community. Re-         with Congress leaders Arun Modhwa-
ing Society on February 28, 2002. Six-       cently, Modi made two uncharacter-          dia, Shaktisinh Gohil and Shankersinh
ty-eight others were killed along with       istic moves. Soon after the Supreme         Vaghela coming together on a com-
Jafri.                                       Court’s ruling in the Jafri case, he un-    mon platform. The State Congress,
     The Jafri family, along with the        dertook the sadbhavna fast to show his      which was an apology for an opposi-
Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP)         gratitude towards the people of the         tion until recently, was a fractured

                                                       2 6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                              successful as Gujarat has definitely ac-
                                                                                              quired an image of progress.
                                                                                                  Whether Modi is really responsible
                                                                                              for Gujarat’s success is debatable, says
                                                                                              Dipankar Gupta, an eminent sociol-
                                                                                              ogist who has written extensively on
                                                                                              Gujarat. In a recent report, Gupta says
                                                                                              the Congress has let Modi take all the
                                                                                              credit for Gujarat’s progress. He says
                                                                                              the Congress’ strategy is all wrong. In-
                                                                                              stead of showcasing its past achieve-
                                                                                              ments, the party is trying to nail him as
                                                                                              a communalist and fundamentalist.
                                                                                              And it is getting nowhere with that
                                                                                                  Dipankar Gupta says, “In 1991, a
                                                                                              full 10 years before Modi arrived, as
                                                                                              many as 17,940 out of 18,028 villages
                                                                                              had already been electrified. The Ukai
                                                                                              plant, which uses washed coal to gen-
                                                                                              erate power, was set up before Modi
                                                                                              came to power. The asphalting of 87.5
                                                                                              per cent of Gujarat’s roads also had
                                                                                              happened before his tenure began. In
                                                                                              1980-81, Gujarat’s share in manufac-
                                                                                              turing at the national level was only

Z AKIA JA F R I , T H E widow of former Congress Member of Parliament
                                                                                              16.29 per cent, but by 2000-01 it rose
Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the Gulberg Society massacre in 2002. She has                  to an impressive percentage. Not sur-
been fighting a relentless battle to nail the culprits.                                        prising then that between 1994 and
                                                                                              2001, well before Modi’s tenure, the
unit. These leaders seem to be making           Yagnik says that “nonetheless the             State domestic product grew at 10-13
an effort at a cohesiveness that will       BJP has realised they need him. Guj-              per cent, way higher than the all-India
threaten Modi’s future. Moreover,           arat sends 25 seats to the Lok Sabha,             average.”
Modi’s supporters and foot soldiers         and Modi is their prime fund-raiser                   In addition, Gujarat, since the
from the Sangh Parivar affiliates – the      due to his popularity with industri-              1990s, has been producing 78 per cent
Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang          alists.” Although he is positioning him-          of the country’s salt, 98 per cent of soda
Dal, the Durga Vahini and even the          self as prime ministerial material, it is         ash and 26 per cent of pharmaceutical
Bharatiya Kisan Sangh – are distanc-        unlikely that he can pip stalwarts such           products. Following Chief Minister
ing themselves from him.                    as Sushma Swaraj to the post. Addi-               Chimanbhai Patel’s intervention in
    “Actually, this is part of Modi’s im-   tionally, Yagnik says, while the Guj-             1993, port traffic in the State jumped
age makeover. He is making it clear         arati middle class has accepted him, he           from a mere 3.18 million tonnes in
that the Hindutva agenda is not the         is not sure whether the larger Indian             1981 to 86.17 million tonnes in 2001.
only thing about him. He is trying to       middle class is ready for him.                    In the same period, Gujarat’s share of
pose as a different person than he was                                                        national port traffic increased from
10 years ago. This is not going down        MODI’S TRUMP CARD                                 45.36 per cent to above 76 per cent and
well with the saffron brigade,” says        Modi’s trump card in recent years has             has stayed at that point ever since. Mo-
Yagnik.                                     been his determined effort to make                di’s 10-year rule has not made that
    Another significant development          Gujarat an industrial hub. He has laid            percentage grow.
in recent months, which is not going        out the red carpet for Indian conglom-                If there was ever a person who
well for Modi, Yagnik says, is that the     erates such as the Tatas and Reliance.            reaped what somebody else had sown,
Gujarati media, particularly the lan-       Reportedly, the auto major Suzuki is              then that was Modi, the sociologist
guage newspapers Sandesh and Guj-           also setting up a massive plant in the            said.
arat Samachar, which were once his          State. He claims that the entire State is             So, where is the Modi “magic”? The
supporters, have become critical of         electrified and connectivity and infras-           coming months will certainly show
him. “Essentially this has created          tructure have improved. His public re-            whether the BJP leader will be able to
cracks in his image.”                       lations efforts have been quite                   cast a spell on voters.

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   2 7
Cover Story                                                                                           NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Power and pelf
        The BJP’s image has taken a beating in Karnataka, with many of its senior
        leaders facing corruption charges. B Y R A V I S H A R M A           IN BANGALORE

                                                                    from corruption, nepotism and misuse of office for
The party’s woes began after the                                    personal gain to criminal trespass and misconduct
                                                                    causing loss to the exchequer, forgery and stashing
May 2008 Assembly elections when                                    away of black money in tax havens abroad.
                                                                        In August, a Bangalore city court issued sum-
it fell tantalisingly short of a simple                             mons to Yeddyurappa in connection with 16 cases of
                                                                    corruption. His two sons, one of whom is a BJP
majority and had to lure legislators                                Member of Parliament, have been asked to appear
                                                                    before the court in connection with illegal land deals.
from the opposition to rustle up                                    The same court sent former Minister Katta Sub-
                                                                    ramanya Naidu to judicial custody on charges of
a working majority.                                                 irregularities in the payment of compensation for
             IN power for over 40 months and surviving more         land acquired by the Karnataka Industrial Areas
        on a wing and a prayer, rather than because of politi-      Development Board. His son, Katta Jagadish, a Bru-
        cal astuteness, good governance or administrative           hat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike councillor, was
        acumen. This could very well sum up the status of the       also sent to judicial custody after his bail plea was
        Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka.                  rejected. Jagadish had been arrested in October last
             The factor that helped the party hold on to its        year for allegedly bribing a witness in the case, but
        only government in the south is its victory in all but      was later bailed out.
        one of the byelections to the State Assembly held               Another BJP Minister, C.P. Yogeshwar, is in
        over the past three years, aided by the non-function-       trouble with the Serious Fraud Investigation Office
        al, disjointed and sterile performance of the opposi-       (SIFO) of the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs,
        tion parties. A senior Minister said: “Lady Luck has        which has accused him of corporate fraud, criminal
        certainly smiled on us every time we came up against        conspiracy, forgery and cheating. It has recommend-
        a problem and it looked like we might be losing our         ed criminal prosecution. The SIFO had been in-
        government.”                                                vestigating      complaints     against       Megacity
             Political victory in the south had always been an      (Bangalore) Developers and Builders Limited, of
        avowed goal of the BJP ever since it was carved out of      which Yogeshwar is the managing director. Calls for
        the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. That wish came             his resignation are getting louder.
        true in May 2008 when the Karnataka electorate                  The first week of September saw the party’s al-
        catapulted the saffron party to power, relegating           ready badly dented image take another beating, with
        both the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) to           the arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation
        the status of minor players. But victory at the hust-       (CBI) of former Tourism Minister Gali Janardhana
        ings and the rise to power brought with it a fair share     Reddy, one of the three influential Reddy brothers of
        of troubles for the BJP.                                    Bellary. The mining businesses of the brothers –
             Its administration has been lacklustre and its         Janardhana Reddy, G. Karunakara Reddy and G.
        handling of key issues such as the power crisis and         Somashekhara Reddy – and their confidant, B. Srira-
        development of infrastructure poor. Faction fights,          mulu, who have wielded considerable influence in
        jockeying for political positions and, worse, the igno-     the State party ever since they became part of BJP
        miny of being forced to jettison its Chief Minister         leader Sushma Swaraj’s campaign team when she
        B.S. Yeddyurappa in July after he was indicted by the       contested the Lok Sabha byelection from Bellary
        Karnataka Lokayukta in the illegal mining scam,             against Congress president Sonia Gandhi in 1999,
        have upset the “party with a difference”. The Lokay-        are all under scrutiny by the CBI.
        ukta, N. Santhosh Hegde, indicted several seasoned              Recent investigations have revealed that a num-
        and influential BJP politicians on charges ranging           ber of politicians (including some senior BJP lead-

                                               2 8   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                                                  V. SREENIVASA MURTHY
(FR OM RI G H T ) MI N I S T E R for Panchayati Raj Jagadish Shettar, Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, BJP State
president K.S. Eshwarappa and former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa at the party office on September 14.
ers) in cahoots with private builders      tion expenses of a number of               rounded more by legal experts than by
and housing societies flouted rules, ac-    legislators, wanted to rule the roost.     party leaders.
quired prime land including agricultu-     Yeddyurappa just about rode that               Said a senior Minister: “The cen-
ral land, and defrauded genuine            storm out. But at every step of the way    tral leadership looked the other way
members of residential sites, all for      he had to contend with his bete noire,     when Yeddyurappa was the Chief Min-
personal considerations. The housing       BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar,        ister and took no action despite a num-
sites imbroglio has already taken its      who, as party insiders aver, would love    ber of complaints against his style of
toll, with the BJP government’s nomi-      to lead the party.                         functioning. Now it has become more
nee for the post of Lokayukta, Justice         The political tug-of-war between       proactive.”
Shivraj Patil (who faced allegations       the two was all too evident during the         According to K.S. Eshwarappa,
that he and his wife owned three sites     acrimonious run-up to the secret bal-      president of the BJP State unit, the
in Bangalore in violation of rules),       lot that decided who would succeed         high command has discussed and re-
stepping down from his post hardly a       Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister. While       solved issues between the various lead-
month after assuming charge.               the Yeddyurappa camp put up D.V.           ers and made it clear that “there is no
     The BJP’s woes can be traced to the   Sadananda Gowda (who was elected           question of any single leader, rather all
May 2008 Assembly elections when it        later), the Ananth Kumar faction’s         leaders are equal”.
fell tantalisingly short of a simple ma-   nominee was the Minister for Rural             Senior Ministers told Frontline
jority and had to lure legislators from    Development and Panchayati Raj, Ja-        that Cabinet meetings, which were
the opposition to rustle up a working      gadish Shettar. Insiders said that al-     hitherto “ritualistic or cursory, are now
majority. Through “Operation Lotus”,       though the proxy skirmishes between        more involved, lively and detailed in
the BJP was able to woo members of         these two leaders for control of the       nature”, and that the feeling among
other parties and boost its strength in    party were still on, “reality would make   legislators was that the “Chief Minister
the Assembly, but it found itself sad-     them see reason and call a truce”.         is applying his mind and taking sincere
dled with legislators not in tune with         Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda,        steps at restoring the image of the par-
its ideology or hierarchy and seeking      whose style of functioning, utterances,    ty in Karnataka”.
ministerial positions. Much to the irri-   body language and response to review           Leaders in private confessed that
tation of party loyalists, these new en-   meetings have been remarkably re-          Yeddyurappa’s legal predicament and
trants were obliged. This disconnect,      freshing compared with that of his         the Bellary mining barons’ tribulations
according to many party men, resulted      predecessor, is walking a tightrope be-    were in many ways “a blessing in dis-
in unease at the grass roots.              tween Yeddyurappa and Ananth Ku-           guise for the party”. With both these
     The party’s tenure in power has       mar. He has been frequently meeting        groups preoccupied with these, Sada-
also been marked by internal clashes.      Ananth Kumar in a bid to smoothen          nanda Gowda is allowed to chart his
Initially it was the Bellary mining bar-   ties. Yeddyurappa, who is facing a         own course and “hopefully clean up the
ons who, having bankrolled the elec-       number of court cases, is today sur-       image of the party”.

                                                     F R O N T L I N E   2 9
the states                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Mamata vs Maoists
       West Bengal: Mamata Banerjee and the Maoists head for a confrontation as the
       security forces resume operations in Jangalmahal. B Y S U H R I D S A N K A R C H A T T O P A D H Y A Y

The Maoists have set two conditions                                 gan operations for area domination in Pashchim
                                                                    Medinipur district, the CPI(Maoist) State secretary,
for coming to the negotiating                                       Akash, issued a statement, signed jointly with the
                                                                    two interlocutors, on October 4 offering a month-
table: withdrawal of security                                       long ceasefire provided the State government sus-
                                                                    pended all operations and disarmed political groups
forces and unconditional                                            allegedly organising violent resistance against the
                                                                    rebels. The Maoists also indicated that they would
release of all political prisoners.                                 form their own group of interlocutors to talk to the
                                                                    government. As of October 10, there was no official
            IT appears that the honeymoon is finally over            response to this from the State government.
       and the gloves are off as West Bengal Chief Minister              As the State government geared up to intensify
       Mamata Banerjee and the banned Communist Party               the anti-Maoist operations, the rebels lobbed the ball
       of India (Maoist) shed niceties in favour of harsh and       back into the government’s court, issuing a state-
       threatening language. The Trinamool Congress’ re-            ment saying that joint forces operations and peace
       lations with the CPI(Maoists) began to sour soon             talks were incompatible.
       after it assumed power in May. The Maoists were                   After about five months of peace in Jangalmahal,
       clearly annoyed with Mamata’s ambivalence on her             during which period the Trinamool Congress as-
       pre-election promise of releasing all political prison-      sumed power after defeating the Communist Party
       ers and withdrawing the joint forces of the Central          of India (Marxist)-led Left Front in the Assembly
       and State governments from the Jangalmahal re-               elections, the Maoists announced their return to
       gion, the Maoist belt in the forested area along the         armed rebellion by resuming their programme of
       borders of Pashchim Medinipur, Bankura and Puru-             killing. The first victim was a CPI(M) worker of
       lia districts. Matters began heading for the inevitable      Pashchim Medinipur who was shot dead on August
       face-off when, prompted by the killing of three Tri-         22. Three days later, a Trinamool Congress worker
       namool activists allegedly by the Maoists in the tribal      from the same district was killed, as if to remind
       region, Mamata Banerjee resumed operations by the            Mamata Banerjee that she had not kept her election
       joint forces against the left-wing extremists.               promise. The killing of the Trinamool activist
            It has become clear that neither her initiatives for    prompted Mamata to respond with strong words.
       social and economic uplift of the tribal people in the       “The Maoists are killing civilians. This politics of
       Maoist belt nor the rehabilitation package an-               murder has to stop. No one has the right to murder,”
       nounced for the Maoists who wish to surrender has            she said. Her tone became stiffer following the kill-
       succeeded in curbing the extremist movement. The             ing on September 20 and 21 of two more Trinamool
       Maoists rejected repeated invitations by the State           workers who were apparently encouraging the local
       government for talks and set two conditions for com-         people to resist the Maoists. “Killings and negotia-
       ing to the negotiating table: withdrawal of the secu-        tions cannot take place together. You will have to
       rity forces and unconditional release of all political       decide your way out,” she said. Likening the Maoists
       prisoners.                                                   to “thieves”, “robbers” and “cowards”, she challenged
            As the talks with the rebels got deadlocked and a       them to try and stop the development process in
       confrontation appeared imminent, the Chief Minis-            Jangalmahal.
       ter continued to keep her hopes pinned on the in-                 For Mamata, the latest Maoist action was an
       terlocutors, Sujato Bhadra and Chhoton Das (both             awakening to a reality that she had found convenient
       social activists), negotiating with the Maoists to           to deny while in the opposition. When her party was
       achieve a breakthrough. Just as the joint forces be-         in the opposition, and the Maoist movement in the

                                               3 0   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                             young people and re-establish their
                                                                                             control in the region, as they did dur-
                                                                                             ing the pre-election days, before they
                                                                                             were driven out of their strongholds,”
                                                                                             Praveen Tripathi, Superintendent of
                                                                                             Police, Pashchim Medinipur, told
                                                                                                  According to police and political
                                                                                             sources in the region, the Maoists have
                                                                                             not yet come close to regaining the
                                                                                             ground they had lost before the As-
                                                                                             sembly elections, and with the joint
                                                                                             forces intensifying their operations,
                                                                                             they are bound to lose whatever little
                                                                                             they may have gained in the past few
                                                                                             months. “Our past experience shows
                                                                                             that this [the ceasefire offer] is a typ-
                                                                                             ical Maoist strategy to gain time. One
                                                                                             month of ceasefire will be further ex-
                                                                                             tended, if they agree for talks, to anoth-
                                                                                             er couple of months. In this period,

JOINT FO R C E S PE R S O N N EL and local residents stand near the body of a                even if they keep their militant activ-
Trinamool Congress activist who was allegedly killed by Maoists at Jhargram                  ities in suspension, they will undoubt-
in Pashchim Medinipur district on September 20.                                              edly continue with their revolutionary
                                                                                             politics, which involves meeting the
State was at its peak and Left support-     she may denounce them now, the                   masses and recruiting people, which is
ers and workers were its main targets,      Maoists will not let Mamata forget               an integral part of protracted ‘people’s
she refused to acknowledge the Maoist       that it is because of them that she got          war’,” a senior intelligence source told
violence in Jangalmahal. In fact, she       the political upper hand in Jangalma-            Frontline.
dismissed the deaths occurring then as      hal. Now her people will experience                   It is significant that the Maoists
factional killings. Today the Chief         what we have been going through                  did not mention their two demands in
Minister turns a deaf ear to the            since 2008,” a Left source in Pashchim           the signed statement. According to po-
Maoists’ demand and has forgotten           Medinipur told Frontline.                        litical observers, this may indicate the
her assurance to them that the joint            In fact, before the April-May As-            possibility of a dialogue in the near
operations in the region would be           sembly elections, the extremists’ sway           future when these demands can be
called off. But she had staged a rally in   in the Jangalmahal area had dimin-               brought up. Another point that re-
Jangalmahal in August 2010 to de-           ished considerably chiefly because of             mains unclear regarding the ceasefire
mand the withdrawal of the joint            the stiff resistance put up by the local         offer is whether it had the approval of
forces.                                     population and the operations con-               the group’s central leadership.
    As Mamata Banerjee’s political          ducted by the police and the security                 “The silence of the top Maoist lead-
fortunes started soaring following her      forces. Although they did occasionally           ers on this issue also casts doubt on its
resounding victory in the Lok Sabha         strike at various places in the region,          genuineness,” said a senior police
elections in 2009, she started to dis-      the activities of the Maoists were               source. But the main reason why there
sociate herself gradually from Maoist       mainly confined to the hills of Purulia           is so much scepticism about the offer of
politics and from the People’s Com-         district. However, police sources said           ceasefire is that if the Maoists actually
mittee against Police Atrocities            that the Maoists had been making use             believe that the issues can be settled
(PCPA), a Maoist front organisation         of the period since the elections, when          through the socially accepted channels
that claims to be democratic but main-      peace prevailed in the area, to regroup          of negotiations, then it can only mean
tains an armed militia. In February         and strengthen their organisational              that they have started discarding their
2009, she even shared the dais with         base, particularly in places where they          ideology. “Their recent activities in
Chhatradhar Mahato, the then con-           had lost ground.                                 West Bengal and other affected States
vener of the PCPA, and extended une-            In fact, since early August, State-          clearly indicate to the contrary. So it
quivocal support to his cause, but after    level Maoist leaders have been seen to           would be an unwise decision to sus-
his arrest in September that year she       be mingling with the local population.           pend the operations against them, as it
made no mention of him either at            “We have definite information that the            is evidently a tactical ploy,” a police
press conferences or at rallies. “Even if   Maoists are trying to regroup, recruit           source said.

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   3 1
The States/Tamil Nadu                                                                                  NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Justice for Vachathi
       It has been a long and difficult road to justice for the tribal residents of this
       village in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district. B Y S . D O R A I R A J              IN VACHATHI

However, one major issue has                                        their homes and livelihoods destroyed in that attack,
                                                                    it has been a long and difficult road to justice. (In-
escaped everyone’s notice: the nexus                                cidentally, one of the 18 rape victims of that attack
                                                                    has been fielded as a candidate in the village pan-
between the politically influential                                  chayat election in October.) But on September 29,
                                                                    there were crackers and processions and offerings to
sandalwood smugglers and the                                        the gods at local temples as the designated trial court
                                                                    sentenced all the 215 surviving persons of the 269
officials who are bent on shifting the                               accused in the case. Among the accused are 126
                                                                    forest personnel, 84 police personnel and five reve-
blame to innocent villagers.                                        nue personnel. The jail terms for various offences
                                                                    range from one year to 10 years of rigorous
           The injustice done to the tribal people of India is a    imprisonment.
       shameful chapter in our country’s history. The trib-             Seventeen persons, all of them belonging to the
       als were called ‘rakshas’ (demons), ‘asuras’, and what       Forest Department, have been convicted of rape un-
       not. They were slaughtered in large numbers, and the         der Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and
       survivors and their descendants were degraded, hu-           sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment,
       miliated, and all kinds of atrocities inflicted on them       with a fine of Rs.2,000 each. Under Section 357 (1)
       for centuries. They were deprived of their lands, and        (b) of the Criminal Procedure Code (payment of
       pushed into forests and hills where they eke out a           compensation for any loss or injury), the 18 rape
       miserable existence of poverty, illiteracy, disease, etc.    victims are entitled to a compensation of Rs.15,000
       And now efforts are being made by some people to             each from the fine after the time limit set for appeal is
       deprive them even of their forest and hill land where        over. Twelve of these 17 persons have also been
       they are living, and the forest produce on which they        sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years
       survive.                                                     under Section 3 (2) (v) of the Scheduled Castes and
           – Justice Markadey Katju and Justice Gyan Sud-           Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,
       ha Misra in the Supreme Court judgment of January            1989. The remaining 198 accused have been convict-
       5, 2011, in Kailas and Others versus State of                ed under different Sections of the IPC and the SC and
       Maharashtra.                                                 ST (PA) Act and sentenced to jail terms ranging from
           VACHATHI, a remote village in the foothills of           one year to three years, besides being slapped with
       Sitheri mountain in Dharmapuri district of Tamil             fines.
       Nadu, about 350 kilometres from Chennai, hit na-                 Among those found guilty by Principal District
       tional headlines weeks after a team of personnel             and Sessions Judge S. Kumaraguru are four Indian
       belonging to the Forest, Police and Revenue Depart-          Forest Service (IFS) officers. Of them, the first ac-
       ments launched a savage attack                                                     cused, M. Harikrishnan, for-
       on the village’s Malayalee                                                         mer        Principal        Chief
       Scheduled Tribe population on                                                      Conservator of Forests, has
       the pretext of busting a sandal-                                                   been awarded a three-year
       wood smuggling racket, on June                                                     prison term under Section 201
       20, 199. (“Vachathi’s shame”,                                                      of the IPC (causing disappear-
       Frontline, August 28, 1992).                                                       ance of evidence or giving false
           For the residents of Va-                                                       information to screen the of-
       chathi, who suffered beatings,                                                     fender) and another three
       rape, molestation and other                                                        years of rigorous imprison-
       kinds of humiliation and had                                                       ment, and fined Rs.1,000 un-

                                               3 2   F R O N T L I N E
                                                                                                                    N. BASHKARAN

NOVEMBER 4, 2011

VIC TIM S O F T H E 1992 violence at Vachathi and their relatives with P. Dillibabu, CPI(M) MLA representing the Harur
constituency, in front of the party’s office in Dharmapuri on September 29, when the verdict was announced.
der Section 3 (2) (1) of the SC and ST    party in 1992, too, and the adminis-        chathi village on the morning of June
(PA) Act. Additional Principal Chief      tration then did its best to protect its    20, 1992. Just as the Forest Protection
Conservator of Forests P. Muthaiyan       officials involved in the case. P. Shan-     Squad led by the then Assistant Con-
has been sentenced for a year under       mugam, general secretary of the Tamil       servator of Forests, T. Singaravelu, was
Section 342 of the IPC (wrongful con-     Nadu Tribals Association, pointed to        in the process of recovering smuggled
finement). The other two IFS officers       the fact that the present government        sandalwood buried in the riverbed of
sentenced to jail are S. Balaji, Chief    was maintaining a stoic silence on the      Varattar, it noticed Chinnaperumal, a
Conservator of Forests, and L. Nathan,    verdict.                                    farmer, working in his field. He plead-
Conservator of Forests. The Madras            The government of the time had          ed ignorance when the team ques-
High Court, on October 11, ordered        claimed that no atrocities had been         tioned him about the “buried
suspension of the sentence against        committed against the tribal popula-        sandalwood”. One of the team mem-
Harikrishnan and Balaji. However, it      tion of the village. But the charge sheet   bers, Forester R. Selvaraj, started
asked them to appear before the trial     and reports filed by the Central Bureau      thrashing him. Responding to the
court once in three months.               of Investigation (CBI), which probed        alarm raised by Chinnaperumal, other
    The residents of Vachathi were        the case, and the report of the then        villagers came to his rescue. A scuffle
waiting outside the court when the        Director of the Scheduled Castes and        followed, and Selvaraj was injured.
verdict came. They thanked the lead-      Scheduled Tribes Commission and ex-         The villagers gave him first aid and
ers and activists of the Communist        officio Commissioner for SC/ST, B.           arranged a bullock cart to take him to
Party of India (Marxist) and the Tamil    Bhamathi, ripped through the claim.         hospital.
Nadu Tribals Association and the law-     These reports corroborated the ver-             In the afternoon, a contingent of
yers who had stood by them through        sions given by the residents of             300 forest and police personnel, in-
the long legal battle.                    Vachathi.                                   cluding 80 women constables, along
    It is poetic justice that the judg-                                               with a few Revenue Department offi-
ment has come at a time when the All      RECAPITULATION                              cials, ransacked the village. Some resi-
India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kaz-          A Forest Department team conducted          dents fled to the hills, but the others
hagam is in power. It was the ruling      a raid in the area surrounding Va-          were attacked with sticks and appre-

                                                    F R O N T L I N E   3 3
                                                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

   Red badge of courage
                                                                                                         tician visited this village. When a siz-
                                                                                                         able number of us, along with our
                                                                                                         children, were languishing in jails
                                                                                                         and many of the villagers were hiding
                                                                                                         in the hills, it was they who came to
                                                                                                         our rescue. They provided us food,
                                                                                                         utensils and clothes. Above all, they
                                                                                                         taught us to stand up and fight the
                                                                                                         repression let loose on the innocent
                                                                                                         persons,” she said. “That is why we
                                                                                                         decided to reject the relief offered by
                                                                                                         persons belonging to other parties
                                                                                                         who turned a blind eye to us when we

                                                                                          N. BASHKARAN
                                                                                                         were left in the lurch.”
                                                                                                             Her daughter was one of the 18
                                                                                                         rape victims. After the raid, the girl
   VA C H A T H I R E S I D E N T S S T A GI N G a demonstration in front of the                         and her brother dropped out of
   Dharmapuri Collectorate on November 5, 2007.                                                          school. “More than the lathi blows
                                                                                                         that fell on us, the verbal abuses and
   WHAT was the source of the courage           the frail woman, who has already be-                     humiliation heaped on us left an in-
   and the iron will with which the resi-       come the role model for many of the                      delible scar on our minds,” she said in
   dents of Vachathi took on such a large       1,000-odd residents of the village, re-                  a choked voice.
   number of officials and other person-         calls with gratitude the support ex-                         Several other women in the tribal
   nel who had the backing of the gov-          tended to Vachathi residents by the                      village expressed similar feelings. C.
   ernment and political bigwigs? When          Communist Party of India (Marxist)                       Alamelu, a farm worker, said her
   the question was posed to Paranthayi,        and the Tamil Nadu Tribals                               house was badly damaged in the at-
   a 59-year-old tribal woman of the vil-       Association.                                             tack, which took place when she was
   lage, pat came the reply: “Sengodi”              “How can we forget them? In the                      10 years old. She hid in the hills with
   (red flag).                                  wake of the terrible attack launched                     her elders. “When we returned to the
       With eyes brimming with tears,           by the uniformed personnel, no poli-                     village, we found that our house site

hended by the “combined party” of po-         police personnel nor the elderly wom-                      brooms. The women who refused to do
lice and Forest Department personnel          en from the village were allowed to                        so were caned by the forest personnel.
in the presence of the revenue officials.      accompany them. All the 18 girls were                      Only on the next day were they re-
Residents said that men in uniform            molested and raped and some of them                        manded in judicial custody.
broke open locked houses and went on          were gang-raped by the river. After-                           On June 21, 1992, the “combined
a looting spree. The community televi-        wards, they were forced to load the                        party” returned to Vachathi and re-
sion set was damaged. Pumpsets and            sandalwood.                                                sumed “recovery” of the smuggled san-
bicycles were dumped into community               A total of 217 villagers, including                    dalwood. Though it claimed that 40
wells, which rendered the water unfit          94 women and 28 children, were taken                       tonnes of sandalwood was unearthed,
for human consumption, local resi-            to the Forest Range Office in Harur, 16                     no one from the village was arrested on
dents said.                                   km away from Vachathi village. All of                      that day. Once again, its members
    According to activists of the Tamil       them were illegally detained there                         went about ransacking the houses,
Nadu Tribals Association, in the eve-         through the night without being pro-                       taking away valuables and goats, and
ning, the raiding party herded the vil-       vided police guard. Another barbaric                       mixing glass pieces with foodgrain, vil-
lagers under a banyan tree. The forest        attack was launched there. The arrest-                     lage residents said.
officials took 18 young girls towards          ed women were subjected to the hu-                             The raiding party also foisted three
the dry riverbed on the pretext of seek-      miliation of stripping each other. They                    Scheduled Timber Offences Report
ing their help to load the seized sandal-     were also forced to beat the village                       (STOR) cases against 76 men and 15
wood into a truck. Neither the women          head (Oor Gounder), Perumal, with                          women. On receipt of a complaint

                                                         3 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

pattas were torn to pieces by the raid- some industry so that the large-scale       babu said a sustained struggle by the
ing party.”                             migration of youth to other places,         tribal people with the backing of the
    V. Vellaichi, an elderly farm including Tirupur, seeking jobs can               Tamil Nadu Tribals Association and
worker, said she was at home when be prevented.”                                    the CPI(M) for the past 18 years had
the combined team raided the village.       Welcoming the judgment, P.              resulted in the judicial victory. Re-
“I was stripped and caned.” P. Un- Shanmugam, general secretary of the              calling that the entire village was ran-
namalai, K. Panchalam and M. Ra- Tamil Nadu Tribals Association, said               sacked, livelihoods were destroyed
mayee were among the tribal women the conviction of all the accused in the          and drinking water and electricity
who bore the brunt of the attack.       case offered tremendous hope to             supply was cut for several days after
    P. Lakshmi, sister of the village members of Scheduled Tribes all over          the attack, he called upon the State
head, Perumal, said even children the country to fight against the atroc-            government to send a high-level com-
were not spared by the raiding forces. ities unleashed on them. The judg-           mittee to Vachathi to study the sit-
“My brother was beaten up so badly ment also came as a warning to the               uation and obtain feedback from the
that he was thoroughly immobilised. perpetrators of such crimes against             locals and their representatives to
My sister-in-law’s hand was frac- the voiceless. The details of the case            take up rehabilitation measures. The
tured. Even a six-month-old baby was would be brought out through a doc-            government has not disbursed ade-
not spared by them.” Two                             umentary film and               quate compensation to the victims.
of her daughters were                                publications in differ-            Vice-president of the State unit of
among the rape victims,                              ent national languages         the All India Lawyers Union, G.
she said.                                            to enhance awareness           Chamki Raj, said the dilatory tactics
    Another rape victim                              among the tribal peo-          adopted by successive governments
said, “It is not that easy to                        ple. He urged the gov-         and the accused during the last 19
get out of the trauma. I                             ernment to take up             years only betrayed their total dis-
shudder to think of the                              rehabilitation     mea-        regard for the lives of tribal people.
incidents that unfolded                              sures, including distri-       The judgment in the case was unprec-
in our village 19 years                              bution of two acres of         edented in view of the number of the
                                                      N. BASHKARAN

ago. We have to cope                                 land to each of the vic-       accused, all of whom had been found
with the nightmare. As                               tims and disbursement          guilty, she pointed out. Referring to
an act of atonement the                              of enhanced compen-            the evidence given bravely by the rape
government should take P A RA N T H A Y I . S H E    sation to the affected         victims in court, she said that was
immediate steps to pro- S A Y S the humiliation      families.                      possible as they were not under any
vide employment to the has left an indelible             Local MLA and              taboo.
local people by starting scar.                       CPI(M) leader P. Dilli-                                     S. Dorairaj

from Singaravelu, another case was fil-     ever, news started trickling down, and     and Rajya Sabha member, submitted a
ed under Sections 147, 148, 332, 307,      the Tamil Nadu Tribals Association         memorandum to Chief Minister J.
325, 324, 323 and 506 of the IPC, read     heard of the raids in the first week of     Jayalalithaa on July 18, seeking her
with Section 25 (1) (a) of the Indian      July. A team including Basha John,         intervention.
Arms Act against 14 villagers. All the     president of the association; Shanmu-          But the government denied that
persons implicated in the three STOR       gam, general secretary; and M. Anna-       any atrocities had been committed.
cases were also remanded in this police    malai, CPI(M) leader and twice MLA         Forest Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan, in
case. The remand was extended peri-        from Harur constituency, visited the       a strongly worded statement in the
odically and they were released on bail    area on July 14, 1992. They had to         press on July 21, claimed that the for-
only after August 27, 1992. The High       make a huge effort to gain the confi-       est officials had seized smuggled san-
Court has now stayed the proceedings       dence of the petrified tribal popula-       dalwood worth Rs.1.5 crore during the
in the case and a criminal original pet-   tion, but in the end they were able to     raid in Vachathi. He accused the vil-
ition has been filed praying for quash-     persuade them to return home and as-       lagers of unleashing violence against
ing the charge sheet, G. Chamki Raj,       sure them that they were not alone.        government personnel. As many as
State vice-president of the All India          On the basis of what the villagers     300 families residing in the village
Lawyers Union, recalled.                   narrated, the team submitted a mem-        were involved in sandalwood smug-
    Fearing further attacks, the tribal    orandum to the District Collector on       gling throughout the year and earned
population of the village hid in the       the same day. A. Nallasivan, secretary     Rs.500 a day, he said, alleging that
Sitheri hills for weeks together. How-     of the State committee of the CPI(M)       Nallasivan’s statements were “imma-

                                                    F R O N T L I N E   3 5
                                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

ture” and “baseless”. Claiming that the
Chief Minister was creating history by
curbing sandalwood smuggling, he
said, the Vachathi episode was only a
step towards achieving the goal.
    He also made a sarcastic remark
against Nallasivan, saying that the el-
derly leader would not have climbed
the Sitheri hills to reach the “inacces-
sible village situated in high altitude”.
The comment attracted ridicule since
Vachathi is in the foothills of Sitheri.
    According to Shanmugam, the
Minister visited Harur, which is hardly
16 km from Vachathi, a couple of days
                                               T H I S B A N YA N TR E E at Vachathi was a mute witness to
after the attack. Though a representa-
                                               some of the horrors unleashed on the village in 1992.
tion had been made by a local activist
of the ruling party, he did not bother to
visit the village and console the           an inquiry into the happenings com-         said. Justice Abdul Hadi said in the
victims.                                    mencing from June 20, 1992, and the         order on February 24, 1995: “All these
    When the rape victims lodged a          consequent suffering undergone by           features will easily lead to the conclu-
complaint with the Harur police sta-        the villagers of Vachathi. It also prayed   sion that the police is trying to burke or
tion on August 22, the sub-inspector        that upon considering the inquiry re-       evade investigation of the alleged of-
refused to register a case. Though the      port, appropriate penal action be tak-      fences set out in the above said com-
District Collector on July 26 asked the     en against the delinquent personnel         plaint of 18 women [who were raped].
Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) to          and the victims be compensated. The         This is very much to be condemned.
visit the village and conduct an inqui-     petition also sought a probe into the       Taking all this into consideration, I
ry, he went there only a month later.       “wider question of smuggling in san-        feel that this is a fit case, where the
The “objective and independent” re-         dalwood in that area so as to eliminate     Central Bureau of Investigation
port submitted by him on August 10          the nexus between the culprits, politic-    should step in and do investigation…
claimed that the “alleged rape incident     ians     and      officials      of    the   and do the needful in accordance with
cannot be believed” and that the “vil-      administration”.                            law.”
lagers themselves damaged their                 On November 4, the High Court               The State government, which had
houses, in order to put the blame on        passed interim orders to restore basic      been delaying the legal process, did not
the forest and police officials”.            amenities to the village and asked the      lose much time to file a writ appeal
    The unhelpful attitude of the gov-      Director of Scheduled Castes and            against the single-judge Bench order
ernment made the residents of Va-           Scheduled Tribes Commission to visit        directing a CBI inquiry into the in-
chathi seek legal recourse, recalls         Vachathi and submit a report within         cidents. The government argued that
Chamki Raj. The CPI(M) set the ball         two weeks. The court also suggested         the CBI had no great advantage over
rolling by filing a public interest pet-     that the Collector should ensure that       the local police in investigating cases
ition before the Public Interest Litiga-    the residents were provided with basic      such as murders and riots. Investiga-
tion (PIL) cell of the Madras High          amenities.                                  tion by the Central agency could be
Court on July 30. But it was rejected by        “As the case was not heard on a         conducted only if there were special
the cell on the grounds that govern-        daily basis and the government au-          reasons, it argued. Rejecting the gov-
ment officials would not have indulged       thorities adopted dilatory tactics by fil-   ernment’s plea to set aside the order
in such acts and hence the case was not     ing counters on every occasion              and for an interim stay of its operation,
fit for being taken up as a PIL. Nallasi-    denying the brutal attack, it took three    the Division Bench said on March 23,
van filed a writ petition in the Supreme     years for the High Court to order a CBI     1995: “On the facts and circumstances
Court on September 3. The apex court        inquiry into the complaints of rape of      of the case and having regard to the
passed an order four days later trans-      18 women, looting of properties and         State government’s stand [that no
ferring the writ petition to the High       illegal detention of 90 women and 28        such incidents took place], it would be
Court, stating that it should be heard      children at the forest range office at       fit and necessary to entrust the matter
as early as possible.                       Harur. The court flayed the Revenue          to an agency which would be uncon-
    The modified writ petition came          Divisional Officer for the manner in         nected with State and State police.”
before the High Court, praying for a        which he conducted the probe and ar-            The government moved the Su-
mandamus to the government to hold          rived at his conclusions,” Chamki Raj       preme Court to stall this order of the

                                                      3 6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                         ing 143, 147, 149, 323, 427, 201 and        glers and the officials who are bent on
                                                         203 of the IPC and different Sections       shifting the blame to innocent villag-
                                                         of the SC and ST (PA) Act. The case         ers. The issue was highlighted in the
                                                         was committed to the District and Ses-      prayer of the writ petition filed by Nal-
                                                         sions Court, Dharmapuri, at Krishna-        lasivan, and it found a mention in the
                                                         giri on October 10, 1996.                   CBI investigation report and the re-
                                                             As there had not been much head-        port submitted by Bhamathi, then Di-
                                                         way in the case for nearly six years, a     rector of the SC and ST Commission,
                                                         writ petition was filed on January 30,       in August 1992.
                                                         2002, seeking the appointment of a               Bhamathi pointed out that more
                                                         special court under Section 14 of the       than two-thirds of the population in
                                                         SC and ST (PA) Act, and appointment         Vachathi were landless farmhands and
                                                         of a special public prosecutor under        they collected minor forest produce
                                                         Section 15 of the same Act. It was only     and firewood from the forests. “It may
                                                         after this that the High Court directed     be true that some Vachathi villagers
                                          N. BASHKARAN

                                                         the State government, on June 27,           were involved in the sandalwood
                                                         2002, to appoint the CBI public prose-      smuggling, but even they were used by
                                                         cutor, K. Jayabalan, as special prose-      master operators. The villagers were
Division Bench. However, the apex                        cutor to conduct the case in the            only a conduit for the smuggling and
court dismissed its special leave pet-                   designated court in Krishnagiri,            they were exploited by the powerful
ition in this regard on March 24, 1995.                  Chamki Raj said.                            operators. Unless the master operators
    The State government faced an-                           The hearing of the case was ad-         are brought to book, there is no point
other embarrassment on July 15, 1995,                    journed several times as some of the        in punishing the villagers alone for the
when an inquiry commission headed                        accused would not turn up before the        illegal trade,” she said in her report.
by the then Additional District Ses-                     court. On many occasions, the court              The CBI’s report exposed the nexus
sions Judge, Bhanumathi, indicted the                    pulled up Forest Department person-         between certain personnel of the For-
personnel of the Special Task Force                      nel for their recurrent absence. A new      est Department and the smugglers.
(constituted to catch Veerappan, the                     hall was constructed in the court com-      Pointing out that Vachathi, owing to
brigand) for the rape of two tribal                      plex in view of the large number of         its strategic location, had been the
women and torture of seven others in                     accused. The High Court had to be           starting point for transportation of
Chinnampathi village in Coimbatore                       moved again in April 2002, when dis-        sandalwood procured illegally from
district.                                                bursement of the compensation to the        the Sitheri hill range, the report said,
    As the government realised that a                    victims as per the SC and ST (Preven-       “It appears some of the field staff of the
CBI probe was imminent, all sorts of                     tion of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, was        Forest Department were hand in glove
problems were created to delay the                       sought. But part of the actual compen-      with notorious smugglers and their
trial in the sessions court. Owing to                    sation prescribed by the Rules was          agents in Vachathi and nearby villages.
non-cooperation on the part of the ac-                   paid only in July 2007.                          In fact, investigation has revealed
cused, the test identification parade                         Having failed in all their attempts     that there was a chit/token system in
was put off four times. An attempt by                    to get off the hook, seven of the accused   vogue to ensure smooth operation of
the accused to scuttle the identifica-                    filed a revision petition in the High        illegal felling, transportation, conceal-
tion parade was foiled by the High                       Court seeking to arraign as accused the     ment in riverbeds, patta lands and nal-
Court. The CBI led by DSP S. Jagan-                      then RDO, Superintendent of Police          lahs for some time, before loading and
nathan won the acclaim of one and all                    and Collector in the Vachathi case. But     ferrying the sandalwood to final desti-
for the tremendous work he did to                        the court, on June 24, rejected the plea    nations.” It added: “Going by the living
bring out the truth.                                     as unwarranted. Pointing out that the       standards and the economic status of
    The CBI, which did its job meticu-                   trial was almost over, the court held       the tribals of Vachathi village as a
lously, submitted its report to the Ma-                  that it was “nothing but a delaying tac-    whole, it does not seem that they are
dras High Court on April 25, 1996. A                     tic to protract the proceedings”. The       the main smugglers themselves. Offi-
charge sheet was filed before the Chief                   High Court directed the lower court to      cial records and discreet information
Judicial Magistrate in Coimbatore two                    expedite the trial. It also imposed costs   collected during investigation reveal
days earlier against 269 forest, police                  of Rs.10,000 on each of the seven           that the villagers are doing only in-
and revenue officials for various of-                     accused.                                    significant peripheral jobs…. There
fences, including rape. Of them, four                        A major issue that has escaped ev-      was also some discontentment in the
were IFS officers. A total of 244 ac-                     eryone’s attention is the reference         matter of sharing of spoils by some of
cused were remanded in custody. They                     made to the nexus between the politi-       the corrupt elements in the [Forest]
were charged under Sections includ-                      cally influential sandalwood smug-           Department.”

                                                                   F R O N T L I N E   3 7
Column                                                                                                       NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Financial Crisis 2.0
               As governments in the eurozone sink and banks move towards collapse, the
               nightmare of 2008 is back to haunt the world.

              ELD hostage by finance,                                                     that could affect the core of the eu-

H             the developed world
              seems to be hurtling to-
              wards another financial
              crisis. Banks in Europe
are increasingly shaky. Dexia, the
Franco-Belgian bank, has gone near-
bankrupt, forcing the Belgian govern-
                                                                                         rozone is growing. When debt gets
                                                                                         downgraded, not just governments but
                                                                                         also banks are forced to obtain funding
                                                                                         at a higher interest cost. They also find
                                                                                         it difficult to get such funding even at
                                                                                         the higher cost. Investors fearing de-
                                                                                         fault on the credit given by banks to the
ment to take over the bank’s Belgian                                                     public and private sectors want more
operations and the French to organise                                                    security than the risk premium of-
a forced merger of its French oper-                                                      fered.
ations, signalling a partial return to the                                                   Earlier, banks partly overcame this
temporary “nationalisation” experi-                                                      problem by buying credit default
ment that enriched banks after the                                                       swaps (CDS) to hedge against a pos-
previous crisis.                                                                         sible default. With risk hedged in this
     Meanwhile, eurozone govern-
ments and the European Central Bank
                                             Economic                                    manner, banks’ books look less shaky
                                                                                         to funders. But buying CDS is also
(ECB) are desperately seeking funds to
recapitalise banks that are likely to col-
                                             Perspectives                                proving too expensive. According to
                                                                                         Financial Times (October 9), the
lapse under the combined weight of           C.P. CHANDRASEKHAR                          iTraxx index, which measures the cost
sovereign default or sovereign debt                                                      of buying insurance against a bond de-
restructuring and default of debt to a                                                   fault, has risen by 257 basis points
recession-hit private sector. Just as the    mission,     the     ECB     and     the    since August 1, touching levels higher
fallout for Europe was immediate,            International Monetary Fund (IMF) –         than those that prevailed after the
when American finance was under               visited Greece in mid-October to ex-        Lehman collapse. With CDS turning
siege, the reverse is also likely and is     amine the country’s performance rela-       expensive, banks are not able to use
already showing signs of occurring.          tive to tough austerity measures, all it    that route to persuade funders to give
Another financial crisis at a time when       could promise was that the next             them money, forcing them to rely on
the world has lost the will to deal with     tranche of assistance would be re-          collateral that is limited. In the event,
the consequences of the first one is          leased in November, subject to Greece       their ability to avoid liquidity prob-
bound to be disastrous.                      redoubling its efforts to realise missed    lems despite carrying higher funding
     Yet there is no solution in sight.      fiscal targets. What was ignored was         costs is under challenge.
Consider Greece for example, where           that the tranche was too small to save          Moreover, higher CDS costs imply
the exposure of French and German            Greece from default. What was missed        that banks should be writing off some
banks to public and private debt             was that the austerity made it impos-       of their assets. The IMF’s Global Fi-
amounts to $52.9 billion and $35.7           sible for Greece to even reduce its debt.   nancial Stability Report team used
billion respectively out of European                                                     CDS prices to estimate the market val-
banks’ total exposure of $142.5 billion      FEAR OF CONTAGION                           ue of government bonds issued by Ire-
at the end of the first quarter of 2011. A    This is not to say that governments are     land, Greece and Portugal, besides
cash-strapped Greek government and           not worried. With clear signs that          Italy, Spain and Belgium. That exer-
a collapsing Greek economy is not            bond markets are turning the screws         cise showed that if these bonds were
good news for the banks concerned            on Italy, and are likely to hold back on    “marked to market” (or priced at their
and, therefore, for the countries where      lending to its government, and that         implicit market value) the base capital
they originate.                              rating agencies are contemplating pro-      of European banks (their “tangible
     When representatives of the Eu-         tecting themselves by downgrading           common equity”) would fall by about
ropean “troika” – the European Com-          even French debt, the fear of contagion     €200 billion or around 10-12 per cent.

                                                       3 8   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                        experience proves, even a small coun-
                                                                                                        try like Slovakia can put a spoke in the
                                                                                                        wheel. While the EFSF enhancement
                                                                                                        may go through anyway, it shows that
                                                                                                        the challenges to resolving the crisis
                                                                                                        are more than economic. That chal-
                                                                                                        lenge comes not just from small Slova-
                                                                                                        kia. It comes in one form or the other
                                                                                                        from every European government,
                                                                                                        since all of them seem to be hostage to
                                                                                                             Analysts often lament that govern-
                                                                                                        ments captured by vested interests do
                                                                                                        not learn from history. But such beha-
                                                                                                        viour is more than just farcical when
                                                                                                        history repeats itself within a period of
                                                                                                        less than four years and when the re-
                                                                                                        cessionary consequences of the earlier
                                                                                                        crisis are still being experienced.

                                                                                       YVES LOGGHE/AP
                                                                                                             Consider the trajectory that Eu-
                                                                                                        rope has been through in recent
                                                                                                        months. When this round of crisis in-
                                                                                                        tensification began, it seemed to be a
AT FR E N C H - B E L G I A N bank Dexia’s Belgium headquarters in Brussels on                          problem with sovereigns that had bor-
October 9. Dexia has gone near-bankrupt, forcing the Belgian government to                              rowed too much, as evidenced, among
take over the bank’s Belgian operations and the French to organise a forced                             others, by Portugal and Greece. Greece
merger of its French operations.                                                                        is the one that has gone the furthest in
                                                                                                        pushing through austerity measures to
Stated otherwise, to remain solvent         terest rates have become the central                        cajole Germany, France, the IMF and
banks have to find a lot more new            concern of European governments                             the ECB into providing it credit and to
equity.                                     and the ECB. But that requires more                         show its resolve to force out the sur-
    The higher interest cost is also        than just liquidity or even government                      pluses to repay debt. But, as any sen-
leading to shrinking profit forecasts        guarantees of doubtful debt, as the                         sible economist should have expected,
for even leading European Banks such        Dexia case illustrates. What seems to                       the contraction in output that the aus-
as Deutsche Bank. Besides higher            be the concern of leading eurozone                          terity resulted in curtailed government
costs, the need to write down debt          governments is finding money to                              revenues and widened the deficit, add-
owed by governments such as that of         achieve three separate goals. One is to                     ing to debt rather than reducing it.
Greece is affecting profit and loss ac-      keep afloat the peripheral eurozone                          Soon there were signs of contagion,
counts, leading to a flight out of banks’    countries trapped in crisis so that the                     with financial markets expressing
stocks in Europe. Banks have taken a        eurozone itself does not break up. The                      fears of sovereign default by countries
big hit in stock markets in recent          second is to find money to fence in                          as important as Spain, Italy and even
weeks. What is more, the banks them-        countries such as Italy that are now                        France.
selves have parked a growing volume         also under threat from bond markets                              It was at this point of time that the
of their funds with the ECB as they fear    despite the adoption of austerity mea-                      inevitable was obvious to all except
lending to other banks. The fear of         sures. The third is to recapitalise the                     some eurozone governments: a res-
counterparty risk that froze financial       banks, besides ensuring that failure on                     tructuring of Greek debt was needed to
markets in 2008 seems to be back.           the first two counts does not make                           begin restoring the viability of its econ-
                                            their funding requirements impossible                       omy. The reason this inevitability was
GOVERNMENTS CAVE IN                         to achieve.                                                 not recognised was the power of fi-
As a result of all this, eurozone govern-       To meet these demands, the eu-                          nance over governments. Debt res-
ments that dismissed calls for a recap-     rozone is attempting to strengthen and                      tructuring would require bondholders,
italisation of their banks, including       make effective the €440 billion Eu-                         including the banks that had lent to
from IMF’s Managing Director Chris-         ropean Financial Stability Facility                         the Greek government, to take a “hair-
tine Lagarde, have caved in. Recap-         (EFSF) in the hope that it will serve as                    cut” or a loss of part of the value of the
italising banks, ensuring easy liquidity    a future European Monetary Fund.                            credit they had provided governments.
conditions and perhaps reducing in-         But that requires agreement, and as                         This finance was not willing to accept.

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   3 9
Column                                                                                                       NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                                                    NIKOLAS GIAKOUMIDIS/AP
IN TH E N O R T H E R N   port city of Thessaloniki, Greece, on October 5, civil servants protest against ever-deeper
austerity measures.
    When the first round of negotia-           and a financial collapse. Their intran-      their interests. Only eight of the 90
tions to resolve the Greece problem           sigence was encouraged by the rating        banks tested failed. Moreover, the pos-
was completed, the Greeks were forced         agencies that not only started down-        sibility of sovereign default was ig-
to accept austerity, some European            grading debt across Europe but also         nored. As a result, most banks came
governments and the IMF offered               threatened to declare full or “selective”   through with very good results and
guarantees and/or financial support,           default on Greek public debt if banks       even those that were damaged were
the ECB demurred and offered some             were required to take even a partial hit.   only lightly hurt.
liquidity, but missing from the list of       Finally, the fact that European unity           However, things have taken a deci-
burden-sharing parties were the               itself was fragile came to the fore.        sive turn in recent times because of
banks. They did not have to face up to        Though Germans benefited from their          pressure on the banks from different
an immediate default on their loans to        country’s export success within a uni-      directions. An increasing number of
Greece, nor did they have to accept a         fied Europe, they joined the French,         sovereign debt downgrades, declining
haircut or even a restructuring of debt       the Finns, the Slovakians and others        share values, inadequate funding ac-
involving new loans with extended             who objected to their tax euros being       cess and private defaults have made it
maturities and lower interest costs.          used to save “profligate” citizens from      impossible to hide the truth. With the
    The refusal of banks to contribute        countries such as Greece.                   crisis imminent, the soft option every-
to the settlement was obviously be-               The banks were initially clever         body is choosing is to focus attention
cause they were in a state of denial, not     enough to even protect and enhance          on the governments that borrowed
recognising that sovereign default was        their share values. They manoeuvred         rather than on the banks that lent. But
in the realm of possibility. To bolster       to ensure that the stress tests of Eu-      as the governments sink and banks
their no-penalties position, they re-         ropean banks undertaken in July were        move towards collapse, the nightmare
ferred to the possibility of bank failure     set up to be extremely favourable to        of 2008 is back to haunt the world.

                                                        4 0   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Khaki and saffron
                Rudrapur, an industrial town in Uttarakhand, witnesses large-scale rioting and
                clashes of a communal nature. B Y P U R N I M A S . T R I P A T H I I N R U D R A P U R

VE H IC L E S S E T O N   fire near a police station in Rudrapur town on October 2.

When a group of Muslims protesting                                           and the Mumbai blasts in 1993. These regions had
                                                                             always maintained communal peace. But on October
against acts of sacrilege stoned a                                           2, the bustling industrial town of Rudrapur, located
                                                                             in the foothills of the Kumaon hills in Udham Singh
police station, the police reportedly                                        Nagar district, became the venue of the first commu-
                                                                             nal riots in the State.
sought the help of the Hindu                                                     The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been tak-
                                                                             ing great pains to explain that the 2002 Gujarat
residents of the nearby mohalla and,                                         violence was an exception, something that could not
                                                                             be avoided. What happened in Uttarakhand for
thereafter, clashes between members                                          three days from October 2 proves yet again that with
                                                                             the BJP at the helm of affairs, the administrative
of the two communities began.                                                machinery does look the other way when members of
                                                                             the Muslim community are targeted by the majority
                    THE Garhwal and Kumaon regions, which con-               community.
                stitute the tiny hill State of Uttarakhand, were totally         Rioting went on for three days, and shops and
                free of communal disturbances even when the entire           houses of Muslims were looted and set on fire. The
                country was in the grip of tension following the             town was brought under indefinite curfew following
                demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992            widespread clashes between Hindus and Muslims in

                                                        F R O N T L I N E   4 1
                                                                                                          NOVEMBER 4, 2011

which three persons were killed and       lice, damaged and burnt vehicles that
some 100 injured, some of them griev-     were parked there and threatened to
ously. Several people are reported mis-   set the station on fire. At this stage, the
sing. Being an industrial hub,            police reportedly sought the help of the
Rudrapur has a large population of        Hindu residents of the nearby Rampu-
migrant labourers; these people are       ra mohalla and, thereafter, the two
now fleeing the town. At the time of       communities started clashing with
writing this report (October 9), night    each other. Soon the clashes spread to
curfew was continuing and reports of      the entire city.
sporadic incidents of violence were           Justifying the police action of call-
coming in.                                ing the Hindu residents to control the
    The mayhem could have been            Muslim crowd, the new Deputy In-
avoided had the administration been       spector General (DIG) of Police, Ab-
more vigilant. The first provocation       hinav Kumar, said that it had been
came on September 29 when mis-            done to save the police station from
creants allegedly packed beef and pag-    being burnt down as the number of
es torn from the Quran in a               police personnel available was not suf-
bloodstained cloth and placed it out-     ficient to protect it. But why was the
side a Shani temple in Bhadaipura mo-     police force not strengthened when
halla. Members of the Muslim              signs of trouble were evident on Sep-
community, agitated over the desecra-     tember 29 itself? Besides, two battal-
tion of the Quran, demanded action        ion headquarters of the Provincial
against the culprits, but the adminis-    Armed Constabulary (PAC) are locat-
tration did not act. The alleged act of   ed within three kilometres of the trou-
sacrilege was repeated in the same mo-    ble spot. Why were local residents
halla on the night of October 1. This     enlisted to join the police action in-
time, pages from the religious book       stead of calling for reinforcements
were wrapped in a sheet of paper along    from the PAC?
with pork and thrown outside the              Facing criticism for mishandling
house of one Mustaq Ahmad.                the situation, the B.C. Khanduri gov-
                                          ernment removed DIG Amit Sinha
                                          and District Magistrate B.V.R. Pur-
The mayhem                                shottam. Nobody has answers to ques-
                                          tions about the clashes. Abhinav
could have been                           Kumar, who took charge on October 4          October 3, but he neither met the vic-
                                          after Amit Sinha was removed for per-        tims nor visited the affected areas.
avoided had the                           ceived lack of efficiency, only offers            This correspondent saw rows of
                                          conjectures. The new District Magist-        burnt shops in Bhadaipura, Kicchha
administration                            rate, B.S. Jangpangi, only says there        Road, Transit Camp, the main Durga-
                                          was some inefficiency in handling the         devi Road market and Gandhi Colony.
been more                                 situation initially.                         In the Durgadevi Road market where
                                              The initial administrative apathy,       shops owned by Hindus and Muslims
vigilant.                                 however, took a toll on the town.            stood side by side, miscreants had se-
                                          Scores of houses and shops belonging         lectively targeted those belonging to
    The following morning, over 100       to Muslims were burnt and looted,            Muslims, thrown the goods on the
Muslims gathered at the town kotwali      leaving the community with a deep            road and set them on fire. In areas
(police station) to demand action and     sense of fear and injustice. The two         where there were rows of shops owned
resorted to stone throwing, in which      communities had coexisted without            by Muslims, as in Bhadaipura, they
some policemen and the Sub-Divi-          any trouble, but now there is a divide       were all burnt down.
sional Magistrate, Vir Singh Budhiyal,    and a sense of mistrust. What has com-           Asif Ali, an elderly person who had
sustained injuries. The police chased     pounded the feeling of insecurity            been running an electrical goods shop
the crowd away by resorting to a lath-    among the Muslims is the fact that not       in Gandhi Colony since 1976, is in-
icharge. However, the Muslims re-         a single leader from the ruling BJP or       consolable. He told this correspondent
grouped, and this time a thousand         the government offered their sympa-          that he kept calling up the police help-
people gathered outside the police sta-   thies even six days after the incident.      line when the miscreants were looting
tion at Indira Chowk, stoned the po-      The Chief Minister visited the town on       and burning his shop, but he heard

                                                    4 2   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                               by the police, whereas several Muslims
                                                                                               have been rounded up. Many of the
                                                                                               alleged attackers are said to be close to
                                                                                               BJP and Congress leaders. Eyewit-
                                                                                               nesses claim to have seen Hindus with
                                                                                               Congress and BJP affiliations leading
                                                                                               the mobs that set shops on fire.
                                                                                                    The district administration too
                                                                                               agrees that “the role of political parties
                                                                                               cannot be denied in this” but has stop-
                                                                                               ped short of taking any effective action.
                                                                                               According to political observers, the
                                                                                               Assembly elections scheduled for early
                                                                                               next year is making the two political
                                                                                               parties nervous and hence the attempt
                                                                                               at communal polarisation. “Both the
                                                                                               BJP and the Congress are trying to fish
                                                                                               in troubled waters,” says Tejinder
                                                                                               Singh Virk, a member of the local trad-
                                                                                               ers’ association and State secretary of
                                                                                               the Samajwadi Party.What is shocking
                                                                                               is that the members of the Hindu com-
                                                                                               munity see nothing wrong in the police
                                                                                               seeking their help to quell the agitating
                                                                                               Muslims. Mohit Chauhan, an educat-
                                                                                               ed youth working in a leading hotel in
                                                                                               the town, said, “After all, the Muslims
                                                                                               were the ones who started it all. Why
                                                                                               did they throw stones at the police sta-
                                                                                               tion? If they thought there would be no
                                                                                               retaliation for their actions, then they
                                                                                               have surely learnt a lesson now.”
                                                                                                    A Hindu shopkeeper in Gandhi

                                                                                               Colony is also of the view that the po-
TH E P OLI C E L A T H I C H A RGE   the protesters.                                           lice were right in seeking the help of
                                                                                               the residents of the Hindu-dominated
only laughter on the other side. No            people, has suffered a loss of Rs.15            area to control the Muslims as the po-
police came to help him. He has in-            lakh. “With the administration turn-            lice station did not have sufficient per-
curred a loss of roughly Rs.15 lakh.           ing a blind eye to those who burnt and          sonnel.
Similarly, Rais Ahmad, who washes              looted our shops, where do we go now                 “The police, all young men without
and irons clothes in the same area, had        for help?” he asks. “If the administra-         training in handling such a situation,
his house looted and all his belongings        tion had taken action against those             were not even equipped with weapons.
burnt. “We ran away to save our lives,         who were responsible for the desecra-           The trained policemen of the former
nobody came to protect us,” says Ah-           tion of the Quran, this trouble would           Uttar Pradesh Police went back to the
mad’s wife. Now they do not know               not have happened in the first place.            parent cadre when the State was bifur-
where to go, for Ahmad was born here           Our grievance went unheeded, natu-              cated. The concept of mitra police
and grew up thinking this was his              rally there was anger among the people          [people-friendly] has done much
home. Suddenly he is feeling insecure          and they gathered at the police station         harm to the morale of the forces. Had
and vulnerable.                                to protest. But why is the government           the Hindus not assisted them, the po-
     There are others with similar har-        not paying attention to our grievanc-           lice would have been lynched by the
rowing experiences. Qauser Ali’s iron-         es?” a member of the Muslim commu-              mob,” he said. But why harm innocent
works shop in the Transit Camp area,           nity asked this correspondent.                  Muslims instead of those who started
Mohammad Omar’s cycle shop, and                    This sense of denial of justice is          the violence? “This happens in any
Mohammad Sultan’s tailoring shop in            deepening by the day because the real           such situation, nobody can help it,”
the Durgadevi Road market area were            culprits, who have been named by eye-           shrugs a shopkeeper at the Durgadevi
all targeted. Sultan, who employed 15          witnesses, have not been questioned             Road market.

                                                        F R O N T L I N E   4 3
world affairs                                                                                                                         NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Pushed to the wall
        There is no question that the “occupy”
        movement, irrespective of what
        eventually happens to it, has edged
        open a new, radical imagination.

Initially, there was scepticism.... But
when the park in the Wall Street
                                                                 SPENCER PLATT/AFP
area remained under “occupation”,
as the police fumbled with violence,
                                                                                     ZUC C OTTI P A R K,
and as the young people organised                                                    Wall Street, New York City.

their protest with cooperative
efficiency, the mood began to shift.
            I was lucky enough to see with my own eyes the
        recent stock-market crash, where they lost several
        million dollars, a rabble of dead money that went
        sliding off into the sea. Never as then, amid
        suicides, hysteria, and groups of fainting people,
        have I felt the sensation of real death, death
        without hope, death that is nothing but rottenness,
                                                                 GENEVIEVE ROSS/AP

        for the spectacle was terrifying but devoid of
                                                                                                                   DAVID KOHL/AP

        greatness. I felt something like a divine urge to
        bombard that whole canyon of shadow, where
        ambulances collected suicides whose hands were
        full of rings.                                                               HE N N E P I N COUN TY                        C I N CI N N ATI , OHI O.
                               – Frederico García Lorca, 1932                        G OVE R N M E N T Plaza,
            INTO the canyons of shadow, in the heart of the                          Minneapolis.
        financial empire at lower Manhattan, first came the
        youth of America, then came the many ordinary
        people frustrated with the insecurity that has come
        to define life for what they called the 99 per cent. A
        Canadian website (Adbusters) had put out a call, but                         Letter from America
        this echoed earlier discussions about the need to
        replicate the energy of the throngs that gathered in                         VIJAY PRASHAD
        Cairo’s Tahrir Square and then around Madison,
        Wisconsin’s Capitol. The energy of the Arab Spring                               The answer had been resoundingly negative. It
        and the resilient protests in southern Europe asked a                        cannot happen, one was told, largely because the
        question that has resonated in the byways of Amer-                           population has been spoiled by access to commod-
        ican progressivism: “Where is our protest to come                            ities, by the fetishism of technology (mainly social
        from?”                                                                       media) and by the illusions spawned by an Obama

                                              4 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                                                                           MICHELLE PEMBERTON/AP
                                                                                        JEWEL SAMAD/AFP
                                       F REED O M P LA Z A , W AS HI N G TON , D . C.

                                       C EN T RE S T REET , CA S P E R ,
                                       W Y O M I N G.

                                                                                                          VE TE R A N ’S P LA ZA, I N D I AN A P OLI S .

                                                                                                                                                           EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP

                                                                                                          TI M E S S QUAR E , N E W YOR K.
                                                                                                          The protesters also marked the
                                                                                        TIM KUPSICK/AP

                                                                                                          10th anniversary of the war
                                                                                                          in Afghanistan.

presidency. Despite the escalation of      The collapse of many of Obama’s              Obama surely (and for all kinds of de-
the wars from the Atlas Mountains to       promises produced disappointment             spicable reasons), but also opposing
the Hindu Kush, there has been only        and disillusionment among liberals,          the cosy relationship between Wash-
an anaemic anti-war response (but for      who saw the torture regime, the wars         ington and the financial elites. While
one very strong protest in New York        and the Wall Street bailouts continue        the Tea Party did emerge organically
City on April 9 this year). The econom-    unabated.                                    out of citizen frustration, it was rapidly
ic catastrophe, from foreclosures to the      It was left to the right side of the      seized and directed by a coterie in
unemployment rate, had also not ger-       spectrum (the Tea Party) to show             Washington, D.C., led by the Far Right
minated many progressive outbursts.        themselves on the streets, opposing          (lubricated with money from the Koch

                                                     F R O N T L I N E   4 5
                                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Brothers and their allies). It became        ulation. The steps the Obama adminis-      young people. When the park in the
apparent that the Tea Party ceased to        tration took were weak and had no          Wall Street area remained under “oc-
be a grass-roots movement, and was           appearance of seriousness. The Dodd-       cupation”, as the New York Police De-
more an astro-turf one. Money and the        Frank Wall Street Reform and Con-          partment fumbled with unnecessary
Republican Party rapidly suborned the        sumer Protection Act of 2010 tinkered      violence, and as the young people self-
Tea Party to operate as their Far-Right      with the margins of the problem. The       organised their protest site with coop-
subsidiary.                                  2,300-page Act offered some anaemic        erative efficiency, the mood began to
     In the shadows, far from the can-       policies to strengthen capital require-    shift.
yons of finance, the American Left has        ments of banks, took a moral approach          Even in the mainstream period-
incubated a series of organisations,         towards “excessive” Wall Street com-       icals, serious discussions have opened
from anarchists to environmentalists,        pensation, and modestly pointed a          up about the social imbalance occa-
from anti-war to anti-rape radicals. A       nervous finger at the conflict of in-        sioned by the economic inequality. The
wide spectrum of issues and grievanc-        terest between credit rating agencies      tide is at such a point that even people
es has poured into the open container        and investment banks.                      like the CEO of GE Capital had to ad-
of the American Left. From afar, it              The Act’s cautious tone regarding      mit, “If I were unemployed now, I’d be
seemed as if these various campaigns         derivatives meant that banks could         really angry too. There are a lot of un-
were too disparate to be ever unified,        continue to do what they are now hab-      happy people right now and there’s not
and that egotism of identity and spe-        ituated to do, namely, to take enor-       a lot going on that gives you much
cial interest put paid to ideas of soli-     mous risks with other people’s money       reason to be inspired.”
darity and unity. But what seems from        through financial instruments that do           After the first weeks of the occupa-
one perspective as fragmentary is from       nothing to engineer productive invest-     tion, many important trade unions of-
another a symptom of the myriad              ment. There was nothing like the sug-      fered their support, as did several
problems in society and a resource for       gestion that came from the economist       former marines and other armed
a broad and powerful movement, if it         Ha-Joon Chang that all new financial        forces personnel. Intellectuals and
ever came to that. The currents of           instruments should be regulated like       musicians, actors and journalists came
American progressivism made their            new drugs, tested by a federal agency      out to lend their names, including the
appearance, as if in a dress rehearsal,      before being allowed to enter the body     Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz.
at the 1999 protests in Seattle against      finance.                                    The stirring moved from New York to
the World Trade Organisation meet-               The Act called for the formation of    Boston, to San Francisco, to Portland,
ing, at the February 2003 anti-war           a consumer financial protection bu-        to other large cities and to small towns.
march in New York City and else-             reau, but its significance lapsed when      The “occupy” movement has now
where, and then again in the thronging       banks (with the connivance of Trea-        spread across the country.
crowds that went out amongst the             sury Secretary Timothy Geithner)               The official Democrats are largely
population in 2008 to elect Barack           forced the Obama administration to         silent. The Republicans, on the other
Obama President. These were indica-          back away from its nomination of El-       hand, have not altered their script.
tions of the Left that existed, but it had   izabeth Warren to its helm. It was not     Leading Republican Eric Cantor told
little access to the mainstream media        that Elizabeth Warren would neces-         the press on October 7, “If you read the
and no political party of any heft whose     sarily have been so significant, but the    newspapers today, I for one am in-
standard it might lift.                      fight to block her ended up weakening       creasingly concerned about the grow-
     The United States government’s          the political significance of the bureau.   ing mobs on Wall Street and the other
response to the credit crisis was the        Before the Dodd-Frank Act was              cities across the country.” The use of
final straw. Taxpayer money went to           passed, a staff economist at the New       the word “mob” is curious given that
the banks and the automobile indus-          York Federal Reserve Bank told me          there have been no acts of violence
try, with nary a care it seemed to the       that his entire team would do what it      from the protesters; all the violence
crisis in the heartland. No schemes          could to block the enforcement of the      has come from the police. The estab-
came to lift the terror of foreclosure       Act. To them, any regulation was           lishment will do its best to either wait
and no policies came from Washing-           anathema.                                  out the protesters or crack down on
ton to provide income support or social          With the unemployment rate stea-       them (one attempt in New York was
support to a population seized with          dy at 9.1 per cent and Obama’s jobs        unsuccessful).
fear about the stagnation in the econo-      plan trapped like an insect in amber, it       Whatever eventually happens to
my. In May 2011, personal debt in the        is no wonder that the population was       the “occupy” movement, there is no
U.S. stood at an astronomical $2.4 tril-     despondent. The Occupy Wall Street         question that it has edged open a new,
lion, and current student debt is just       movement lifted the mood of sections       radical imagination. As one slogan put
under $1 trillion. These are formidable      of the country. Initially, there was       it audaciously, “We will not go back to
expenses, and no one seems willing to        scepticism from the mainstream             apathy. We will see this march to its
lance them to the benefit of the pop-         media, who were disdainful of the          victorious end.”

                                                       4 6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011
                                                                                                          World Affairs

Feuding allies
           Disengaging with Pakistan is not an option for the U.S., which is trying to find a
           way out of the Afghan quagmire and the war on terror. B Y A N I T A J O S H U A I N I S L A M A B A D

Both countries overplay their                                           lishment and even those who posed tough questions
                                                                        to the Chief of Army Staff and the Director General
indispensability to the other: the                                      of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) at the All
                                                                        Parties Conference (APC) ultimately signed on the
U.S. the aid it gives and the leverage                                  dotted line when a resolution was drafted in re-
                                                                        sponse to the most severe indictment by
it has with the international                                           Washington.
                                                                            According to a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)
community, including many of the                                        official privy to the thinking that went into the reso-
                                                                        lution, what the U.S. managed to do with its allega-
Arab governments, and Pakistan its                                      tions regarding Pakistan’s institutional links with
                                                                        terrorist outfits was to force the government to re-
geographical location.                                                  consider its ownership of the war on terror. “Former
                                                                        President Pervez Musharraf made Pakistan a front-
                SINCE the beginning of this year, the United            line ally of the U.S. in its war on terror, but it was the
           States and Pakistan have seemingly worked over-              PPP that took ownership of this war and asserted
           time at living up to the reputation of being in a bad        that it is ‘our war’ also,” the official pointed out.
           marriage. Probably it is the realisation that the two
           countries are in this relationship “for better or for A P C R E S O L U T I O N
           worse”, as the marital vow goes, that makes both test Though the government has not yet gone as far as to
           the limits of each other’s patience and tolerance time disown the war, the APC resolution was telling.
           and again.                                                 There was not one mention of the words terrorism
                After all, what did the U.S. gain from the public and militancy, which are the preferred words used to
           rap on the knuckles that both its civil and military describe acts of terror except when security person-
           machinery delivered Pakistan in the second fort- nel are killed. John Lennon’s anthem of the anti-
           night of September? If it was to name and shame Vietnam war movement, “Give peace a chance”, be-
           Pakistan, what can be more mor-                                               came the clarion call of the APC,
           tifying than to have a foreign                                                with the political class deciding
           force kill and take away the body                                             to offer talks first to terrorist out-
           of the world’s most wanted man,                                               fits willing to decommission and
           Osama bin Laden, from the heart                                               take action only in case the dia-
           of the country – practically the                                              logue option fails.
           backyard of the military academy                                                  This has been received with a
           of a country where the military                                               fair amount of scepticism. While
           still calls the shots?                                                        Farhat Taj, author of Taliban
                Moreover, has not the U.S.                                               and Anti-Taliban, wrote in Dai-
           parroted the “Pakistan-must-do-                                               ly Times that “this implies that
           more” line way too often – with                                               there will be no fundamental
                                                                                           KHALID TANVEER/AP

           little effect – to know by now that                                           shift in the foreign policy or na-
           such public arm-twisting does                                                 tional interests as perceived by
           not get the desired results. If any-                                          the security establishment”, the
           thing, it works to the contrary.                                              dominant apprehension has
           For the second time in five                                                    been that that this may go the
           months, Pakistan’s political class A T A N A NTI - U. S . rally in Multan,    way of past deals. “In the past,
           rallied behind the security estab- Pakistan, on September 23.                 when the state pursued peace

                                                   F R O N T L I N E   4 7
                                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

deals, the militants took advantage of                                                 tack on September 10 despite a sizable
the space offered to them and streng-                                                  troop presence all along the way.
thened their networks and extended                                                         Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S.,
their area of control, leaving a much                                                  Hussain Haqqani, has been quoted as
fiercer fight to be fought later,” said                                                  saying to the American media that the
The Dawn’s editorial.                                                                  problem is of two competing narra-
     So, on balance, what the U.S. got in                                              tives – both simplistic and one-sided.
hand for its diatribe against Pakistan                                                 He said: “The Pakistani narrative is
was a politically backed decision to ac-                                               American betrayals. The American
commodate those who have been kill-                                                    narrative is Pakistan’s untrustworthi-
ing people on both sides of the Durand                                                 ness. One has to see what one can do to
Line and pushing for the ‘Talibanisa-                                                  reconcile the narratives.”
tion’ of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The
first to welcome the offer was Maulvi        This is because while Pakistan is part     POROUS BORDER
Faqir Muhammad, the deputy com-             of the problem in the region, it must      Both sides also overplay their indis-
mander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pa-         also be part of the solution. A flawed      pensability to the other: Washington
kistan, but on the condition that the       and strained engagement with Pakis-        the aid it gives to Pakistan plus the
Islamic Shariat be imposed in Pakis-        tan is better than disengagement. We       leverage it has with the international
tan, and Islamabad reconsider its links     have completely disengaged in the          community, including many of the
with Washington.                            past. That disengagement failed and        Arab governments, and Islamabad the
     This confirmed the apprehensions        brings us where we are today,” Mullen      geographical location of Pakistan. The
of those sceptical of the ‘Give peace a     said after naming the Haqqani net-         porous nature of the Durand Line –
chance’ line. Moreover, with Washing-       work as the “veritable arm of the ISI’’.   through which divided tribes and their
ton marginally toning down its rheto-       In the past, Washington only referred      families have been allowed the right to
ric in a bid to assuage frayed Pakistani    to elements in the security establish-     move back and forth under the legal
nerves while still playing the good-        ment as being supportive of terrorists,    rubric of ‘easement rights’ – means
cop-bad-cop routine, the powers that        but this time it named the ISI in no       that there is always the lurking fear in
be in Islamabad began claiming victo-       uncertain terms.                           the U.S. mindscape of a non-cooper-
ry in what was billed by some sections          Smarting over the accusations,         ative Pakistan pushing terrorists into
of the media as a make-or-break sit-        Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gila-       Afghanistan through the 2,640-kilo-
uation. So much so that these media         ni threw back the “do-more” phrase at      metre-long border that divides the two
networks seemed to be baying for            the U.S.; he pointed out that Pakistan     countries.
blood in anticipation of a war with the     had done a lot in the war on terror and        A card that Pakistan tends to over-
U.S., though security experts on both       it was now the turn of the U.S. to make    play is the land route it offers to non-
ends of the spectrum were unanimous         sacrifices. His Foreign Minister Hina       military supplies for the International
that a direct confrontation was some-       Rabbani Khar – she was in the U.S.         Security Assistance Force in Afghan-
thing neither country could afford.         through the week of high rhetoric to       istan. In the summer of 2010, nearly
And that was no secret.                     attend the United Nations General As-      70 per cent of such supplies used to be
                                            sembly sessions – sought to remind         ferried over land in trucks from Ka-
BEREFT OF CHOICES                           Washington that it was partly respon-      rachi to the Durand Line. But a series
What became clear as the American           sible for the creation of the Haqqani      of attacks by militants on these trucks
recriminations peaked was that Wash-        network. The sum and substance of the      during repeated stand-offs between
ington was not exactly spoilt for           Pakistani response to the U.S. accusa-     Islamabad and Washington forced the
choice. Moreover, former Joint Chiefs       tions was that Islamabad could not be      U.S. and its allies to look for alternative
of Staff Mike Mullen – who was the          held responsible for the American fail-    routes. Today, the bulk of the supplies
sharpest critic of Pakistan from the        ure to bring a semblance of normalcy       is being moved in to Afghanistan
American side – made it clear in his        in Afghanistan.                            through the Northern Distribution
damning testimony before the Senate             Referring to the terrorist attacks     Network – a series of commercially
Armed Services Committee on Af-             on its border posts from Afghanistan,      based logistical arrangements con-
ghanistan and Iraq that disengaging         Islamabad argued that even if the U.S.     necting the Baltic and Caspian ports
with Islamabad was not an option for        accusations regarding safe havens in       with Afghanistan through Russia,
Washington.                                 Pakistan were true, that still did not     Central Asia and the Caucasus. Now
    “Despite deep personal disap-           explain how terrorists managed to get      only 35 per cent of supplies to U.S.
pointments in the decisions of the Pa-      right up to Kabul or Wardak, where         troops in Afghanistan go through Pa-
kistani military and government, I still    five Afghans were killed and 77 U.S.        kistan and this is expected to be scaled
believe that we must stay engaged.          soldiers wounded in a truck bomb at-       down further by the year-end.

                                                      4 8   F R O N T L I N E
                              NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                              the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, on October 3. Families divided by the Durand Line have the right
                              AT CH A MA N , O N
                              of free movement across the border.
                                   If Pakistan has been found want-      while helping out in the reconciliation      Pakistani security establishment had
                              ing in taking action against the Haq-      process. Islamabad’s stated contention       given up its policy of the late 1990s
                              qani network and can be accused of         is that the Haqqani network has never        when it saw the Taliban as an instru-
                              speaking with a forked tongue on ter-      trained its guns on Pakistan and so it       ment of Pakistan’s regional agenda.
                              rorism, Washington’s policy also           would rather not open up another                  While the two governments spar,
                              shows no clarity. That comes out not       front. Besides, Islamabad’s fear is that     analysts in both countries agree that
                              just in what former U.S. special envoy     the U.S. by wanting to eliminate the         the reconciliation process is going to
                              and Ambassador to Afghanistan Peter        Haqqani network is actually trying to        be a long haul; not only because the
                              Tomsen referred to as the George W.        elbow Pakistan out of the negotiations       Taliban is yet to reveal its hand but
                              Bush and Barack Obama administra-          to decide on the governance equation         because the prolonged military oper-
                              tions’ “soft” policy of “persuasion        in Kabul after 2014.                         ations in Afghanistan have resulted in
                              mixed with bountiful aid” but also in                                                   the splintering of the Taliban to the
                              the failure to place the three main Af-    INVOLVING THE TALIBAN                        extent that there is no one voice repre-
                              ghan Taliban groups – Quetta Shura,        The opinion of the foreign policy elite      senting all the factions. “It has become
                              Haqqani network and Gulbuddin              of Pakistan is that only a truly inclusive   all the more difficult to negotiate be-
                              Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami – on the         government in Kabul can usher in an          cause no one is clear on whom to talk
                              U.S. State Department’s official list of    era of relatively efficient and stable        to. This is going to require us to keep
                              foreign terrorist organisations.           governance in Afghanistan. This was          our wits about us,” said Brian Katulis, a
                                   As of now only Mullah Omar of         articulated in a recent joint study titled   senior fellow at the Centre for Amer-
                              Quetta Shura and Sirajuddin Haqqani        “Pakistan, the United States and the         ican Progress.
                              of the Haqqani network have been           End Game in Afghanistan” conducted                Given the ground realities and the
                              placed on the Department’s Rewards         by the Jinnah Institute and the United       political compulsions on the domestic
                              for Justice list, with the former carry-   States Institute of Peace (USIP) on the      front in each country, the USIP’s
                              ing a prize of up to $10 million on his    perceptions of Pakistan’s foreign pol-       Moeed Yusuf is of the view that it is
                              head and the latter up to $5 million.      icy elite.                                   time both governments acknowledged
                              Now, in the wake of the recent spate of        According to this study, some in         that they are operating in an environ-
                              high optics attacks in Afghanistan –       the foreign policy elite were of the view    ment marked by “duplicity for all” and
                              including the 20-hour-long siege of        that a sustainable arrangement in Ka-        then work their way together through
                              the U.S. Embassy and headquarters of       bul would necessarily require the main       the quagmire that is Afghanistan. Pre-
                              the North Atlantic Treaty Organisa-        Taliban factions – particularly Quetta       senting an either-or situation in The
                              tion in Kabul on September 13 – the        Shura and the Haqqani network – to           Dawn, he wrote: “A breakdown in ties
                              U.S. has set in motion the process of      be part of the new political arrange-        will be followed by inevitable proxy
                              listing the Haqqani network. Pakistan      ment. The preference for an inclusive        conflicts among the interested region-
                              also questions the U.S. policy of want-    government in Kabul, they pointed            al actors – a perfect recipe to send
                              ing it to go after the Haqqani network     out, was reflective of the fact that the      Afghanistan into the abyss.”

                                                                                   F R O N T L I N E   4 9
World Affairs                                                                                         NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Strategic visit
       Afghan President Hamid Karzai, while visiting Delhi, avoids making any
       statement linking Pakistan with the recent terror attacks. B Y J O H N C H E R I A N

Ten years after the American                                       Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. Mullen had
                                                                   described the Haqqani network as “a veritable arm”
invasion, the war in Afghanistan is                                of the Pakistani intelligence agency, the Inter-Ser-
                                                                   vices Intelligence (ISI).
nowhere near an end. A U.S.                                            The White House and the U.S. State Department
                                                                   had tried to distance itself a little from the harsh
withdrawal in 2014 would leave the                                 statement Mullen made to the U.S. Congress. A
                                                                   White House spokesman said in the first week of
gates of Kabul open for the Taliban                                October that though Pakistan had been a strong
                                                                   partner in counterterrorism, the two countries
to march in. India seems to be                                     shared a “complex relationship”. Since the Rabbani
                                                                   assassination, the Afghan President has on several
supporting the U.S. move to stay on.                               occasions demanded that Washington increase its
                                                                   pressure on Islamabad to act against the Haqqani
           A FEW days before the tenth anniversary of the          group, which, he alleged, operated from Pakistani
       American invasion of Afghanistan, President Hamid           territory. Islamabad has strenuously denied any
       Karzai paid an official visit to India. October 8, 2001,     links between its intelligence services and the Haq-
       was the day the United States military ousted the           qani group.
       Taliban government in Kabul and began its occupa-               However, President Karzai, during his two-day
       tion, the longest so far in America’s recent history.       trip to India, carefully avoided making statements
       Though Karzai’s visit had been planned much in              that directly implicated Islamabad in the recent
       advance, it came in the wake of the assassination of        spate of terror attacks. This was his second trip to the
       Burhannudin Rabbani and the worsening of Af-                Indian capital this year. He said that after the assas-
       ghanistan-Pakistan relations, and hence elicited a          sination of Rabbani his government would rather
       lot of international attention.                             talk to the Pakistani government directly rather than
           Rabbani, a former President of Afghanistan, was         trying to talk to the Taliban. “The peace process will
       heading the Afghan High Peace Council which was             now be focussed on bilateral relations,” he said on
       trying to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.       October 5. Karzai added that he hoped the proposed
       The killing of Rabbani by a suicide bomber in Kabul         talks with Islamabad would focus on the need to end
       in the last week of September had triggered a war of        the “menace of terrorism” and could help in clar-
       words between Kabul and Islamabad. The Afghan               ifying certain “dark areas” in the bilateral ties be-
       government has said that the murder plan was                tween the two countries. Karzai conceded that in
       hatched in Pakistan and the suicide bombing was             recent years Pakistan had suffered more casualties
       carried out by a Pakistani national.                        from terror attacks than Afghanistan. He empha-
           The Barack Obama administration has used the            sised that ending terror attacks, especially suicide
       suicide attack on Rabbani to pressure Islamabad to          bombing, was a priority so that future generations in
       take military action against the Taliban forces oper-       the region could live in peace.
       ating along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, espe-              However, soon after departing from New Delhi,
       cially in northern Waziristan. President Obama said         Karzai took the gloves off and accused Islamabad of
       in early October that the Pakistan Army was not             being complicit in the recent terror attacks. “On the
       doing enough to support the war effort in Afghan-           overall policy of Pakistan towards Afghanistan and
       istan. Obama said that there were “some connec-             towards the Taliban definitely, the Taliban will not
       tions” between the Pakistani security agencies and          be able to move a finger without Pakistan’s support,”
       the Taliban. His remarks were not as strongly word-         Karzai told the BBC.
       ed as those of the former Chairman of the U.S. Joint            The Pakistani side has been wary for some time

                                              5 0   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                                                   NIKOLA SOLIC /REUTERS
U .S. SOLD I E R S   in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, on August 26.
about the growing strategic and secu-        gic agreement with India is not direct-        kistani officials claim that the Afghan
rity ties between Kabul and New Del-         ed against any country,” the Afghan            army is under the influence of the for-
hi. In Delhi, Karzai tried to allay the      President emphasised.                          mer leaders of the non-Pashtun
fears of the Pakistani establishment by           All the same, this is the first “strate-   Northern Alliance. The group, sup-
declaring that Pakistan was “a twin          gic agreement” that Afghanistan has            ported by an assortment of powers that
brother” while India was a “great            inked with any country. Though the             included Russia, India and Iran, had
friend”. He added that there was noth-       military component in the agreement            waged a war against the Pakistani-
ing new or significant about the “stra-       may be minimal, Pakistan continues to          supported Taliban government that
tegic partnership” agreements the two        be suspicious of the deepening of bilat-       was in power in Kabul in the
countries had signed during his visit.       eral relations between Kabul and New           mid-1990s.
He pointed out that India had helped         Delhi, especially in the context of the             The Pakistan government may be
his country in building strategic roads,     projected withdrawal of all American           under severe pressure from Washing-
hospitals and other important infras-        troops from Afghanistan by 2014. Pa-           ton for its alleged sympathies with the
tructure projects.                           kistani officials and strategic thinkers        Afghan Taliban, but those in charge of
    India has already disbursed more         have said that while they have no ob-          policy in Islamabad may have calculat-
than $2 billion in aid to the war-rav-       jection to India providing develop-            ed that time is on their side. And they
aged country. The agreements signed          mental aid to Afghanistan, they are            may not be far off the mark. Reports
during Karzai’s latest visit also talks of   against any tie-up between the two             coming in from the Afghan battlefield
India providing military training and        governments if the cooperation ex-             all tell the same story. Ten years after
arms to the Afghan security forces,          tends to the military domain and in-           the American invasion of Afghanistan,
which will number more than                  telligence sharing.                            the Taliban is far from being defeated.
3,00,000 when the Americans leave                 The threat of strategic encircle-         It seems to have reasserted its influen-
the country. “The agreements that we         ment by Pakistan’s traditional enemy           ce over many towns in half of the coun-
signed with our friend will not affect       is a fear that continues to haunt the          try’s provinces though it is not
our brother. The signing of the strate-      corridors of power in Islamabad. Pa-           physically holding much territory. The

                                                        F R O N T L I N E   5 1
                                                                                                                                        NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                                     that the civilian toll in the past three
                                                                                                                     years had risen by 24 per cent. She
                                                                                                                     blamed the troop surge ordered by
                                                                                                                     Obama for this.
                                                                                                                          Malalai Joya, like many well-
                                                                                                                     meaning Afghans, feels that it is the
                                                                                                                     continuing U.S. troop presence in her
                                                                                                                     country that is strengthening the Tali-
                                                                                                                     ban resistance. She also shares the
                                                                                                                     widespread suspicion that the U.S. has
                                                                                                                     no intentions of withdrawing com-
                                                                                                                     pletely from Afghanistan. General
                                                                                                                     John Allen, the commander of the U.S.

                                                                                        PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAISAP
                                                                                                                     forces in Afghanistan, recently told an
                                                                                                                     American television channel that the
                                                                                                                     troops would not be leaving Afghan-
                                                                                                                     istan any time soon. He said that the
                                                                                                                     news about complete troop withdraw-
                                                                                                                     al by 2014 was not accurate. “We’re
                                                                                                                     actually going to be here for a long
P R E S I D E N T H A M I D K A RZ A I with U.S. President Barack Obama in New                                       time,” he asserted.
York on September 20. The American intention to hold on to the military                                                   According to reports, the Amer-
bases in the country has won the approval of the Karzai government.                                                  ican intention to hold on to the mil-
                                                                                                                     itary bases has won the approval of the
Taliban has been avoiding frontal con-      the American public has got deeply                                       Karzai government. Not that Karzai
flicts with the North Atlantic Treaty        disillusioned about the war. A recent                                    had much of a choice in the matter,
Organisation (NATO) forces and is in-       opinion poll showed that a clear ma-                                     though he claimed while in New Delhi
stead focussing on dramatic assaults        jority of the American people thought                                    that Afghanistan would be “entirely re-
such as the September 13 attack on the      that the war in Afghanistan was not                                      sponsible” for its own security after
U.S. Embassy in Kabul. A recent re-         worth fighting. President Karzai him-                                     2014. An American withdrawal on the
port in The New York Times has high-        self has admitted that 10 years after the                                scheduled date would leave the gates
lighted its resilience. On the Taliban’s    Taliban government was overthrown,                                       of Kabul open for the Taliban to march
orders, cellphone services are discon-      his government together with NATO                                        in. The Indian government also seems
tinued every day at 8 p.m. in many          have failed to provide security to the                                   to be tacitly supporting the American
cities and towns. A Taliban spokesman       Afghan people. In an interview to the                                    move to stay on, hoping that it will
said that this was being done to pre-       BBC, he blamed the NATO forces for                                       forestall the installation of a pro-Pa-
vent NATO forces from intercepting          allowing the Taliban to find sanctuary                                    kistan government in Kabul.
calls and finding the locations of Tali-     in the tribal areas of Pakistan.                                              The continuing U.S. military pres-
ban fighters.                                     Writing on the 10th anniversary of                                  ence in Afghanistan has got more to do
     Ten years after the George W. Bush     the American invasion, Malalai Joya,                                     with the securing of the oil and gas
administration launched its “Oper-          the courageous Afghan activist, said                                     pipeline routes from Central Asia and
ation Enduring Freedom” to show “the        that the U.S. and NATO had invaded                                       surrounding Iran and China with
oppressed people of Afghanistan… the        her country “under the fake banners of                                   bases than with fighting terror. Al
generosity of America”, the country         women’s rights, human rights and de-                                     Qaeda had ceased to be a serious
still bears all the hallmarks of a failed   mocracy. But after a decade, Afghan-                                     threat, with its numbers reduced to
state. The United Nations has said that     istan still remains the most uncivil, the                                double digits within Afghanistan.
more than 10,000 civilians were killed      most corrupt, and the most war-torn                                      Both Washington and New Delhi are
in the past five years alone. More than      country in the world. The consequenc-                                    still betting heavily on the Turkmenis-
2,500 soldiers, most of them Amer-          es of the so-called war on terror have                                   tan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TA-
icans, have also perished in Afghan-        only been more bloodshed, crimes,                                        PI) gas pipeline. There are credible
istan in the past 10 years. The U.S. is     barbarism, human rights and women’s                                      reports of huge oil and gas deposits in
estimated to have spent more than           rights violations, which have doubled                                    northern Afghanistan. The Karzai
$500 billion so far on its war effort in    the miseries and sorrows of our peo-                                     government has privatised the hydro-
Afghanistan. Every day, Washington          ple.” Malalai Joya observed that more                                    carbon sector and has called for ten-
spends $2 billion for the upkeep of its     misery was heaped on the Afghan peo-                                     ders from foreign companies to exploit
soldiers in Afghanistan at a time when      ple after Obama took over. She wrote                                     the untapped resources.

                                                      5 2   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011
                                                                      World Affairs/Bangladesh

Day of reckoning
              Trial begins in the 40-year-old cases of crimes against humanity, and a Jamaat
              leader becomes the first to be charged. B Y H A R O O N H A B I B I N D H A K A

For Bangladesh, the war crimes trial
answers the innermost urge of an
aggrieved nation and addresses the
travails of countless bereaved
families, widows and orphans, and
the wounded and the immobilised.
                    ON October 3, Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a fire-
                brand leader of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami,

                became the first suspect to be formally charged by
                the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), which is
                                                                                     J A M AA T- E - I S LAM I leader Delwar Hossain
                probing the charges of rape, genocide and other
                                                                                     Sayedee, escorted by security personnel,
                crimes against humanity committed during the lib-
                                                                                     emerges from the Bangladesh International
                eration war of 1971. The tribunal was constituted by
                                                                                     Crimes Tribunal in Dhaka on October 3.
                the Sheikh Hasina government on March 25, 2010,
                to try those Bangladeshis (then East Pakistanis) ac-                they enjoyed hampered political stability, saw the
                cused of collaborating with the Pakistan army and                   rise of militancy, and destroyed the nation’s
                committing atrocities. With the opening of the war                  Constitution.
                crimes trial, 18 months after the formation of the                      So, the commencement of the trial is a landmark
                tribunal and four decades after the historic war, the               event in Bangladesh, which will be celebrating 40
                Hasina government has virtually reopened the coun-                  years of independence in December. The nation has
                try’s independence history. Horrendous crimes were                  been waiting for the judicial process against war
                                            committed during the                    crimes to take place not only to seek a remedy for
                                            nine-month-long war,                    past wounds but also to remove a national stigma.
                                            which resulted in the se-                   Seventy-one-year-old Sayedee, who is one of the
                                            cession of East Pakistan                key leaders of the country’s largest Islamist party,
                                            from Pakistan. Some                     was present in the ICT dock when the charges were
                                            three million people                    framed. He described the 4,000-page charge sheet
                                            were killed, nearly half a              against him as “untrue” and denied all the allega-
                                            million women were                      tions. The three-member tribunal chaired by Justice
                                            raped and over 10 mil-                  Nizamul Huq has fixed October 30 for the next
                    THE HINDU ARCHIVES

                                          THE HINDU ARCHIVES

                                            lion people were forced                 hearing when the prosecution will make an opening
                                            to flee to India to escape               statement.
                                            brutal persecution at                       The charges against Sayedee include involve-
                                            home. The perpetrators                  ment in the killing of more than 3,000 unarmed
                                             of the crimes were not                 people, rape, arson and loot, abduction, forcible con-
G E N. Y A H YA K H A N had "planned to      brought to book, and                   version of Hindus and collaboration with the Pakis-
murder Bengali intellectuals". (Right) this left a deep scar on                     tan army. The charges carry a maximum sentence of
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding the country’s political                         the death penalty. The prosecution said Sayedee was
father of Bangladesh.                        psyche. The impunity                   an active member of the ‘Peace Committee’ and the

                                                               F R O N T L I N E   5 3
                                                                                                                                              NOVEMBER 4, 2011

‘Razakar Bahini’, which were formed           a fulfilment of the Hasina govern-
by Pakistan’s military authorities to         ment’s electoral pledge but a step to-
suppress the Bengalis’ quest for              wards meeting a national obligation to
freedom.                                      the judicial process. It is going to be an
    While framing the charges, the tri-       acid test for Hasina in view of the
bunal specifically pointed out 20 in-          strong resistance to the trial by the
cidents, including those of genocide,         BNP and its ally, the Jamaat, as also
after narrating the circumstances of          the fundamentalist lobby. The chal-
the liberation war and its history, and       lenge to the trial may be massive if the
said the report described Sayedee as a        political opposition manages to con-
member of the Razakar Bahini.                 vince the people of the administra-
    The tribunal’s chief prosecutor,          tion’s failure to meet their needs and
Golam Arif Tipu, said: “The official           expectations.
trial has kicked off, this in itself is big       Khaleda Zia has already thrown a
news for which we had been avidly             direct challenge to the trial by calling
waiting for long.”                            the tribunal a “partisan body”. She de-
    Apart from Sayedee, Jamaat-e-Is-          manded the release of the Jamaat
lami chief Matiur Rahman Nizami,              leaders and described the legal process
secretary-general Ali Ahsan Moham-            as “a mockery of trial”. Khaleda’s latest
mad Mojaheed and two assistant sec-           stand vis-a-vis the Jamaat-e-Islami,
retaries–general,           Mohammad          the most organised fundamentalist
Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader                 party, has made analysts conclude that
Molla, have been detained on similar          she is determined to be with political
charges. A senior leader of the opposi-       Islamists in her future political course,
tion Bangladesh National Party (BNP)          ignoring the implications of such an
Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, who              association. Many observers feel this
was parliamentary affairs adviser to          was expected because the BNP’s foun-
former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia,            der, General Ziaur Rahman, rehabil-
                                                                                                      THE HINDU ARCHIVES

and a former Minister in the BNP gov-         itated the war criminals in politics and
ernment, Abdul Alim, have also been           Khaleda, his widow, completed the
arrested on similar charges.                  process when she was in power twice.
    The trial of war criminals is not just        The ICT is a domestic tribunal un-

                                                                                                                           der a domestic law. Law Minister Sha-
                                                                                                                           fique Ahmed assured the people that
                                                                                                                           the trial would be fair and transparent
                                                                                                                           and that the victims would get all legal
                                                                                                                           facilities on a par with international
                                                                                                                           standards so that no questions could
                                                                                                                           be raised about its competency.
                                                                                                                               To make the law, enacted in 1973,
                                                                                                                           more acceptable, a recent amendment
                                                                                                                           allowed the accused all opportunities
                                                                                                                           to defend themselves, including the
                                                                                                                           option to select lawyers of their own
                                                                                                                           choice. Shahinur Islam, registrar of
                                                                                                                           the ICT, said that although the tribu-
                                                                                                                           nal was a domestic one, it maintained
                                                                                           THE HINDU ARCHIVES

                                                                                                                           international standards. The Hasina
                                                                                                                           government, which has sought inter-
                                                                                                                           national support for the trial, said it
                                                                                                                           would be an open trial in a place where
                                                                                                                           international observers could watch.
P R IME M I N I S T E R I N D I RA Gandhi during a visit on May 15, 1971, to a                                                 Public pressure in favour of the
refugee camp at Udarband, Silchar, where women and children from East                                                      long-delayed trial has been mounting.
Pakistan were sheltered.                                                                                                   The Hasina government recently faced

                                                        5 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

ME M B E R S O F T H E   Razakar Bahini surrendering before the Indian Army in Noakhali district of Bangladesh.

huge criticism from the pro-liberation       ened younger generation. The irony is       cede, the United States, China and
political parties, civil society and free-   that although the process of trial of the   Saudi Arabia virtually reinforced the
dom fighters’ organisations for the “de-      “Pakistani collaborators” was initiated     Pakistani position on varying grounds.
lay” in framing charges against the          soon after Bangladesh got independ-         Against the background of this inter-
accused persons and not arresting oth-       ence, the attempt got frustrated fol-       national polarisation, the birth of Ban-
ers, such as Golam Azam, whose               lowing the assassination of Sheikh          gladesh, despite being a bloody one,
names are synonymous with genocide,          Mujibur Rahman, the founding father,        remained the least discussed topic.
rape and torture. However, the first          in 1975. The 195 Pakistani war crimi-           A well-known researcher on geno-
formal charge made by the tribunal           nals were allowed to go back to their       cide, R.J. Rummel, in his book Statis-
has removed the doubts to some               country along with over 90,000 pris-        tics of Democide: Genocide and Mass
extent.                                      oners of war who had surrendered to         Murder Since 1900, states: “In East
    In the face of the alarming rise of      the India-Bangladesh Joint Command          Pakistan [General Agha Mohammed
religious extremism over the years, the      in Dhaka on December 16, 1971.              Yahya Khan and his top generals] also
overwhelming majority in Bangladesh              Beginning with ‘Operation Sear-         planned to murder its Bengali intellec-
want to see the war criminals tried and      chlight’ on March 25, 1971, the Pakis-      tual, cultural, and political elite. They
religious extremism checked at all           tan army perpetrated widespread             also planned to indiscriminately mur-
cost. They link the growth of Islamist       violations of human rights with sup-        der hundreds of thousands of its Hin-
militancy with the failure to try the war    port from local Islamist militias. While    dus and drive the rest into India. And
criminals. In 2008, when Bangladesh          India and the former Soviet Union           they planned to destroy its economic
held its last general election, this mood    strongly opposed the atrocities and         base to insure that it would be sub-
was visible, mainly among the reawak-        supported East Pakistan’s cause to se-      ordinate to West Pakistan for at least a

                                                       F R O N T L I N E   5 5
World Affairs/Bangladesh                                                                                          NOVEMBER 4, 2011

generation to come.” Women were wars I covered in Korea, Congo, Egypt,                        refugees in the Indian States contig-
tortured, raped and killed. With the Vietnam and Biafra.” Stanley Buke,                       uous with Bangladesh.
help of its local collaborators, the Pa- another Western journalist, lamented:                     Among the 60 prominent people
kistan military kept numerous Bengali “It is thought-provoking to realise that                and Western eyewitnesses who narrat-
women as sex slaves inside their camps in the First World War people were                     ed the harrowing tales was Mother Te-
and cantonments. Susan Brownmiller, horrified by the sinking of Lusitania                      resa. She said: “I have been working
who conducted a detailed study, has with the loss of a few hundred lives. In                  among the refugees for five or six
estimated the number of raped women the Second World War people were                          months. I have seen these children,
at over 400,000.                           shocked by the bombing of Hiroshima                and the adults, dying. That is why I can
    Virtually every Bangladeshi house- at a cost of 150,000 lives. Today the                  assure the world how grave the sit-
hold has its own horror story to tell world is indifferent to a tragedy affect-               uation is and how urgently it must
from 1971, but it is somewhat difficult ing millions.”                                         help. The appeal is to the world – and
to gather direct proof after so many           Peter Dunn, photographer of The                the world must answer.”
decades, particularly when much of Sunday Times, wrote: “ …A press pho-                            Leading civil society groups and
the evidence may have been lost. De- tographer can usually tell himself that                  human rights activists in Pakistan
spite the difficulties, the investigators he is doing some good no matter how                  have condemned their military’s bru-
and the prosecution say that they have gruesome the photograph he is taking.                  tality in the former East Pakistan and
collected “enough evi-                                  But in Bengal the pana-               have been demanding a formal apol-
dence” to prove their                                   cea was denied to me. I               ogy to Bangladeshis. After the first
cases. The prosecutors                                  felt completely and utter-            charge was accepted by the ICT, one of
have reportedly complet-                                ly inadequate.”                       the leading Pakistani dailies, Daily
ed investigations in the                                     After a visit to refugee         Times, commented in an editorial,
case of some other prom-                                camps in West Bengal                  “Closing old wounds”, on October 5:
inent accused, including                                and Tripura, the late U.S.            “In a landmark move, Bangladesh is
BNP leader Salahuddin                                   Senator Edward Kenne-                 finally seeking closure for the atroc-
Quader Chowdhury, and                                   dy, said in a report: “I can          ities it suffered during the 1971 war for
are set to submit the for-                              tell you that not until you           the liberation of East Pakistan.”
                                                        ATUL YADAV /PTI

mal charge sheets in                                    see it first-hand can you                   About the Jamaat-e-Islami, the
November.                                               begin to understand the               newspaper remarked: “What was the
    Almost every house-                                 plight of the people, and             Jamaat’s role in the 1971 war? To aid
hold in Bangladesh still P RI M E M I N I S T ER        the forces of violence                the Pakistan army’s crackdown, it
bears the scar of the trag- S H EI K H Hasina.          which continue to create              formed paramilitary wings called Al-
edy. When the Pakistan                                  refugees and increase the             Badr and Al-Shams to fight the Ban-
military and its local supporters ran toll of civilian casualties…. The Gov-                  gladesh Liberation Army (Mukti Bahi-
amok, the Indian media were full of ernment of India, as it first saw this                     ni).      These    wings     contributed
traumatic tales of horrifying persecu- tide of human misery begin to flow                      immensely to the killing spree against
tion of unarmed civilians. Even West- across its borders, could have cor-                     intellectuals and activists. As if the Pa-
ern journalists filed vivid reports. Alan doned off its land and refused entry.                kistan army were not vicious enough,
Hart of BBC Panorama, reporting on But, to its everlasting credit, India                      these haywire groups added more fuel
the horror, said: “They’d been hacked chose the way of compassion. While                      to the bloodshed and carnage.”
to death with knife and clubs. From the magnitude of the problem staggers                          The newspaper also commented:
some of their wounds blood was still the imagination, the individual ac-                      “Pakistan could learn a thing or two
gushing. And when you thought they counts of the people who have fled East                     from Bangladesh. The atrocities per-
were dead and finished – they weren’t. Bengal tear at your heart.”                             petrated against East Pakistan are a
They went on twitching, some of these          Sydney Schanberg, at that time a               blot on our national conscience. Not
bodies, for several minutes. These are New York Times reporter, described                     only did they result in the obliteration
the images that I captured for my first the Pakistani crackdown in March                       of united Pakistan, Pakistan has seen
film report from inside.”                   1971 as “a pogrom on a vast scale” in a            history repeating itself within its own
    John Drewey of the Canadian land where “vultures grow fat”. Oxfam,                        borders in Balochistan.”
Broadcasting Corporation said: “I an international relief organisation,                            For Bangladesh, the war crimes
found it impossible to shut away the submitted a document, “The Testimo-                      trial is no ordinary trial but one that
memories of what I saw, in the refugee ny of Sixty”, to many Western govern-                  answers the innermost urge of an ag-
camps of West Bengal and along the ments and the United Nations on                            grieved nation and addresses the tra-
trails leading out of East Pakistan, in October 21, 1971, seeking urgent in-                  vails of countless bereaved families,
that corner of my mind reserved for ternational assistance to end the bru-                    widows and orphans, and the wound-
other horrors I witnessed during the talities and help the millions of                        ed and the immobilised.

                                                      5 6                 F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011
                                                                                                                World Affairs

Drone on target
           Al Qaeda’s Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Islamic cleric, is killed in Yemen
           in a drone attack authorised by President Obama. B Y J O H N C H E R I A N

The United States tried to portray                                                           bin Laden in the middle of this year. The operation
                                                                                             that killed Awlaki was supervised by the same unit
the killing as its biggest success in                                                        that raided Osama’s hideout in Abbottabad in Pakis-
the war against terror since the                                                                  The President has offered no apologies for the
                                                                                             killing of the two U.S. citizens in cold blood but
extermination of Osama bin Laden.                                                            insisted that Awlaki was the AQAP’s “leader of ex-
                                                                                             ternal operations”. Legal opinion in the U.S. is sharp-
But questions were raised in the U.S.                                                        ly divided on the extrajudicial killing of its own
                                                                                             citizens. Many other nationalities have become can-
about the legality of the decision to
kill a U.S. citizen on foreign soil.
               ANWAR AL-AWLA-
           KI, an American citizen
           of Yemeni origin, knew
           that he was living on bor-
           rowed time after the
           world’s most powerful
           man, the President of the
           United States, put him on
           the “hit list” last year.
           President Barack Obama
           had approved his killing
           in April 2010. The 40-
           year-old Islamic cleric is
           said to have escaped two

           previous attempts to tar- S A M I R K H A N , S E E N in
           get him, but his luck ran video footage taken in
           out when an unmanned North Carolina in 2008.
           Predator drone armed He was killed with
           with Hellfire missiles Awlaki.
           caught up with his convoy
           in a remote mountainous region in Yemen on Sep-
           tember 30. Awlaki and another U.S. citizen, Samir

           Khan, a computer specialist and co-editor of Al Qae-
           da’s online magazine “Inspire”, were killed in the
               Obama was quick to claim that Awlaki’s death
           constituted “a major blow to Al Qaeda’s most active
           affiliate” – Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
           (AQAP). The Obama administration has tried to                                     AN W A R A L- AW LA KI , who the U.S. says was the
           portray Awlaki’s killing as its biggest success in the                            leader of external operations of Al Qaeda of the
           war against terror since the extermination of Osama                               Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

                                                   F R O N T L I N E   5 7
                                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

non fodder in the 10-year-old war on        who tried to detonate a car bomb in         finest universities, including doing
terror. The Israeli Defence Forces had      Manhattan told the U.S. authorities         doctoral work at George Washington
been targeting Palestinian and other        that he was inspired by Awlaki’s ser-       University. U.S. media reports say that
leaders opposed to them for assassina-      mons.                                       Awlaki had actually worked for the
tion with impunity even before the war          In one of his sermons recorded in       Pentagon for a few years, helping it to
on terror began. The American Civil         early 2010, Awlaki urged American           counter the view that the U.S. was
Liberties Union (ACLU) has been crit-       Muslims to stage attacks. “Jehad            against the Islamic world. In the U.S.,
ical of the U.S. government’s decision      against America is binding upon my-         the Centre for Constitutional Rights
to impose the “death penalty without a      self just as it is binding on every other   and the ACLU, along with Awlaki’s
trial”. The U.S. Justice Department         able Muslim.”                               father, had filed a case in the federal
has refused to provide any legal justifi-                                                court to prevent the assassination of a
cation for the killing. Obama, however,
has said that his administration will       Dick Cheney,                                U.S. citizen outside a war zone. Dis-
                                                                                        trict Judge John Bates, who presided
“be resolute in its commitment to de-
stroy terrorist networks that aim to kill   who has been                                over the hearing, pertinently raised a
                                                                                        question on the justification of the ex-
                                            otherwise                                   ecutive branch of the government or-
                                                                                        dering the “assassination of a U.S.
After the events of September 11, 2001,     critical of                                 citizen without first affording him any
                                                                                        form of judicial process whatsoever,
Awlaki was among the small group of
radicalised American Muslims who            Obama, called                               based on the mere assertion that he is a
                                                                                        member of a terrorist organisation”.
threw in their lot with Al Qaeda. His
sermons in English with an American         it a “very                                      Ron Paul, a U.S. Congressman
                                                                                        from Texas and a candidate in Repub-
accent urging Muslims to wage jehad
against the West reputedly had a wide       good strike”.                               lican presidential primaries, has de-
                                                                                        scribed Awlaki’s killing as an unlawful
fan following on YouTube and other                                                      assassination. “To start assassinating
websites. After a U.S. Army officer of           But if reports in the Arab media are    American citizens without charges –
Palestinian origin, Major Nidal Mallik      anything to go by, Awlaki was only a        we must think very seriously about
Hassan, went on a killing spree in a        minor cog, used mainly for propagan-        this,” Paul said.
military base at Fort Hood in Novem-        da purposes, in Al Qaeda’s major net-           The Fifth Amendment in the U.S.
ber 2009, Awlaki’s name hit the head-       work. His fluency in both English and        Constitution states: “No person shall
lines. It was reported that the U.S.        Arabic coupled with his knowledge of        be deprived of life, liberty, or property
Army veteran was in touch with Aw-          the Quran helped him gather a big fan       without the due process of law.” Even-
laki before he went on the rampage in       following, especially among the youth.      tually, in an 83-page judgment in De-
which 13 people were killed. Awlaki         Experts on Yemen have said that he          cember last year, Bates dismissed the
had denied having encouraged Hassan         had no operational role in Al Qaeda.        petition to block Awlaki’s assassina-
in any way but later praised his act        The top commanders are Yemenis and          tion by executive fiat. “There are cir-
saying that it had prevented the U.S.       Saudis who have been leading the fight       cumstances which the [President’s]
soldiers who were killed from being         against the U.S. presence in the region     unilateral decision to kill a U.S. citizen
deployed in Afghanistan or Iraq where       for many years. The AQAP’s main             overseas is constitutionally committed
they “would have killed Muslims”.           leadership continues to be intact and is    to the political branches and is judi-
    Awlaki was also blamed for at-          no doubt busy hatching new terror           cially unreviewable,” the judge con-
tempts to blow up American passenger        plans. Awlaki was forced to flee into        cluded. He, however, did admit that
planes, though the claims have not          the desolate mountain region where          many “stark and perplexing questions”
been substantiated. The Obama ad-           his tribe is located and where Al Qaeda     remained to be answered following
ministration linked Awlaki with the         has a presence in order to escape from      Obama’s decision to put Awlaki on the
failed Christmas 2009 attempt of            the Americans, who had put a bounty         “kill list”.
Umar Farrouk Abdulmutallib, the             on his head.                                    The Obama administration claims
“underwear bomber”, to bring down a             Awlaki’s father, who was once           the right for targeted killings from the
Detroit-bound plane. Awlaki was also        Minister of Agriculture in the central      Bill signed by George W. Bush imme-
accused of playing a key role in the        government in Yemen, had issued a           diately after the events of September
October 2010 “mail bomb” plot. Pack-        public appeal to the U.S. administra-       11. The Bill authorised action against
ets containing bombs, originating           tion to drop the death warrant. The         those who “planned, authorised, com-
from Yemen and bound for the U.S.,          senior Awlaki went to the extent of         mitted or aided the 9/11 terrorist at-
were intercepted in Dubai and Europe.       describing his son as an “all-American      tacks”. White House officials have
In May 2010, a Pakistani-American           boy” who had studied at some of the         confirmed the existence of a “secret

                                                      5 8   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

A P R E DA T O R D R O N E ,   called the weapon of choice of the Obama administration, flies over Kandahar airfield in
southern Afghanistan.
panel” that can order the execution of         tration was using the same techniques      fered the U.S. “unfettered access” to
American citizens without judicial             favoured        by      the     previous   carry out hits against Al Qaeda from
oversight.                                     administration.                            Yemeni soil. The cables also reveal that
    Former Vice-President Dick Che-                The killing of Awlaki occurred a       Saleh outsourced Yemen’s counterter-
ney was among those who praised the            few days after President Abdullah Sa-      rorism efforts to the U.S. In the second
Obama administration for ordering              leh returned to Yemen after months of      week of October, U.S. drone attacks
the drone strike against Awlaki. Che-          treatment in Saudi Arabia. Saleh had       killed five Yemeni militants near the
ney, who has been otherwise critical of        narrowly escaped death but suffered        town of Zinjibar, which has been un-
Obama, called it a “very good strike”          serious burn injuries when his palace      der Al Qaeda influence since May. U.S.
and a “justified” one. But he was also          was attacked by forces loyal to the op-    officials are only confirming that the
quick to demand an apology from                position. His return was unexpected as     drones took off from a base in the Ara-
Obama for criticising earlier the harsh        talks for a peaceful settlement of the     bian Peninsula that became oper-
interrogation measures the Bush ad-            political crisis were poised delicately.   ational only recently. U.S. drones also
ministration had used to extract in-           After the announcement of Awlaki’s         fly into the region from known bases in
formation from terror suspects                 death, Saleh was quick to highlight the    Ethiopia, Djibouti and the Seychelles.
incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay and             close security cooperation between             White House counterterrorism ad-
secret prisons of the Central Intelli-         forces loyal to him and the U.S. mil-      viser John Brennan said recently that
gence Agency (CIA) all over the world.         itary. In fact, the first news about Aw-    counterterrorism cooperation with
    “The thing I am waiting for is for         laki’s killing came through Yemeni         Yemen “is better than it’s been during
the administration to go back and cor-         government sources. In all probability,    my whole tenure”. Saleh, no doubt, ex-
rect something they said two years ago         the drones used in the attack came         pects the Obama administration to
when they criticised us for overreac-          from a base in Yemen.                      back him in his efforts to cling to pow-
ting to the events of 9/11,” Cheney said           WikiLeaks documents have re-           er. The anti-government protests in
on television. He said recent events           vealed the close security links between    Yemen have been far bloodier than the
had shown that the Obama adminis-              the two governments. Saleh had of-         ones occurring in Syria.

                                                         F R O N T L I N E   5 9
update                                                                                                             NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Putin’s Eurasia plan
                                                                                               ton,     linking     the     powerhouse
                                                                                               economies of western Europe and East
                                                                                               Asia with the oil-producing states of
                                                                                               the Middle East (West Asia).
                                                                                                    The first world definitely won that
                                                                                               particular struggle, and globalisation –
                                                                                               by which I mean the extraordinary
                                                        P RI M E M I N I S TE R                combination of industrial productivity
                                                        V LAD I M I R P UTI N .                growth in American partners such as
                                                        His proposed ’Eurasian                 Japan and South Korea with the fi-
                                                        Union’ could become                    nancial flows that reshaped finance af-
                                                        “one of the poles of the               ter the 1970s – ultimately brought the
                                                        modern world, serving                  Soviet second world to its knees, both
                                                        as an efficient link                    because it simply could not compete
                                                        between Europe and                     internationally and because much of
                                                        the Asia-Pacific                        eastern Europe had become addicted
                                                        region”.                               to Western debt.
                                                                                                    There is a lesson here to be learned,
                                                                                          AP   surely, from an earlier foray into a kind
    IN Eric Ambler’s masterly inter-         European Union membership is effec-               of Eurasianism by Turkey. In the early
war thriller The Mask of Dimitrios, the      tively barred to Russia and where the             1990s, the then President Turgut Ozal
puppet master pulling the strings as a       E.U. is promoting its own eastern part-           imagined a coming “Turkish century”
seedy Europe slides hopelessly into          nership, led by Poland and Sweden, to             based on a new union among the Tur-
war is the shadowy Eurasian Credit           intensify European links with other               kic-speaking states of the Eurasian
Trust. The name was deliberately             former Soviet republics, one can see              heartlands. After his death, it became
chosen.                                      the logic in Russian efforts to extend            abundantly clear that the choice be-
    For most of the last century, Eu-        internal markets, remove barriers to              tween orienting the Turkish economy
rasia was scarcely a neutral term: it        labour mobility and at the same time              east or west was no choice at all. Hav-
evoked the whiff of racial degenera-         win the fight for the hearts and minds             ing learned that lesson, the Recep Tay-
tion, the prospect of civilisation over-     of the inhabitants of its western gate-           yip Erdogan government is pursuing a
run by eastern hordes.                       ways, above all in Ukraine.                       sort of post-imperial foreign policy of
    But now comes Russian Prime                   Politicians like the occasional              its own.
Minister Vladimir Putin, perhaps             grand vision, especially one with his-                 In short, it is no wonder Putin
looking to lift the attention of a restive   torical resonance. Yet will all this be           stresses that his new vision of deeper
public at home to something more ele-        worth the effort?                                 integration is not meant as a return to
vated than a peremptorily staged pres-            The precedents are not reassuring.           the Soviet past. The question is wheth-
idential succession, supporting the          Today some historians remind us that              er there is any alternative model that
idea of creating a Eurasian union of         the “third world” was so called precise-          makes sense for his proposed union. If
former Soviet-bloc nations that could        ly because of the sustained tussle for its        the coupling of the Russian economy
become “one of the poles of the mod-         allegiances in the 1950s and 1960s be-            to the southern ‘stans’ brings with it a
ern world, serving as an efficient link       tween the first and second worlds. Yet             decoupling from the more powerful re-
between Europe and the dynamic               all of this can be exaggerated. The sec-          gional dynamos to its west and east, it
Asia-Pacific region”.                         ond world was concentrated on east-               will end up as a drag, not a spur, to
    Putin explicitly denies that this is     ern Europe, and other member states               growth, and Russia will pay a heavy
about rebuilding the USSR.                   came and went. The rise of China                  price for an old-fashioned dream of
    Nevertheless, there has been a lot       weakened the ideological prestige of              imperial glory.
of talk of Eurasia since the collapse of     Moscow. And none of it was ever a                                          Mark Mazower
the USSR, and there is a close connec-       match in purely economic terms for                      Mark Mazower teaches history at
tion between the Eurasia concept and         the astonishingly powerful global alli-                  Columbia University, New York
Soviet history. And in a world where         ance system put together by Washing-                    © Guardian News & Media 2011

                                                       6 0   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011
                                                                                                 Natural Science

Bees and beetles
           Asian, African and Australian Aborigine
           myths and folklore, unlike European
           ones, are generally filled with
           reverence for insects. B Y G E E T H A I Y E R

Bees are revered across all cultures
and have been symbols of
regeneration and creation. Scarab
beetles were a symbol of resurrection
to the ancient Egyptians. The
Japanese have a special place in their
culture for dragonflies.
           “The scientist does not study nature because it is
           He studies it because he delights in it and he
           delights in it because it is beautiful”.
                           – Jules Henri Poincare (1845-1912)

               THE ecological relationships between humans
           and insects would not have taken long to get estab-
           lished. Insects were flourishing in almost every niche
           of the earth when the human species evolved. And
                                          insects seem to have
                                         treated humans as just
                                     another niche to fill. As a re-
                                   sult, they now share our dwell-
                                 ings and eat through them;
                                weave cocoons for our exquisite
                                silks, which other insects feed on
                                with relish; give us nutritious
                               honey and a sting; recycle our                                          THE CA R P E N TE R
                             waste; pollinate our plants; till the                                     B E E (Xylocopa
                            soil; feed on our blood, saliva and                                        species), so goes a
                           tears; and, in short, treat us as we do                                     legend, was in such
                                                                                                       a hurry to make
                                                                      PHOTOGRAPHS: GEETHA IYER

                                                                                                       honey that unlike
Series                                                                                                 the honeybee it did
                                                                                                       not wait to hear the
This is the sixth part of an eight-part                                                                end of this process
                                                                                                       from the Creator. So
series on insects.                                                                                     this bee’s honey is
                                                                                                       of no significance.
                       F R O N T L I N E   6 1
                                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

them. They have been with us at every
stage of our evolution. And humans
have at various stages revered and de-
spised them with equal intensity.

Asian, African and Australian Aborig-
ine myths, folklore and legends, unlike
European ones, are generally filled
with reverence for insects. The one in-
sect that is revered across all cultures is
the bee. Bees have been symbols of
regeneration, relationship, creation
and continuance of life. They have
even been seen as messengers to the
Iyam prthivi sarvesam bhutanam
madhu... (This earth is the honey of all)
Ima apah sarvesam bhutanam mad-
hu, asam apam sarvani bhutani mad-
hu... (This water is the honey of all
beings, and all beings are the honey of
                                              T H ES E B EA UTI FUL S CA R AB S are collected for their iridescent elytra.
this water.)
                                              (Above) the flower beetle; (below, left and right) Anomala sp.; (facing page)
Ayam agnih, sarvesam bhutanam
                                              Popillia sp.
madhu..., (fire...)
Ayam vayuh sarvesam bhutanam
madhu... (air...)
     – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad,
Chapter II1
      And so on the verses extol how
fire, air, sun, moon, space, lightning,
thunder, ether, law, truth, mankind
and self are the honey of all beings. The
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, com-
posed in the first millennium BCE,
contains a chapter called “Madhu
Brahmana”, which is devoted entirely
to metaphorical references to honey
(madhu). Madhu Vidya was a Vedic
rite through which one could save
lives. Through the description of hon-             In Lithuania, bee-keeping has
ey, one is made aware of not only the         been a sacred way of life for many cen-
life of bees and the medicinal nature of      turies. Austeja is the Lithuanian god-
honey but also the web of life. It is the     dess of bees. To this day, certain
first recorded association of humans           traditions continue, and bees are not
with insects.                                 bought or sold in certain parts of the
      The Egyptians believed that the         country as it is believed that their pres-
sun god Ra created bees from his tears        ence and honey are sacred. The Lith-
as is evident from this text, which also      uanian      Museum         of    Ancient
dates from the first millennium BCE:           Bee-keeping has displays on these cus-
“When the Sun weeps a second time,            toms and also exhibits of the intricate-
and lets fall water from his eyes, it is      ly carved logs that were traditionally
changed into working bees; they work          used for bee-keeping.                        A M ON G THE M OS T commonly
in the flowers of each kind, and honey         Let the wax raise                            encountered beetles are the ones
and wax are produced instead of               green statues, let the honey                 from the family Chrysomelidae, also
water.”                                       drip in infinite tongues, let the ocean be    called leaf beetles.

                                                        6 2   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                             a big comb
                                             and the Earth a tunic of flowers, let the
                                             be a cascade, magnificent hair, unceas-
                                             ing growth of Beedom.
                                                 – Pablo Neruda
                                                  It was a custom in certain parts of
                                             Europe to inform the bees when a bee-
                                             keeper died, in a ceremony called “tell-
                                             ing the bees”. When Sam Rogers, a
                                             cobbler and a postman from Shrop-
                                             shire2 died in 1961, his children went
                                             round his 14 hives to inform the bees.
                                             When the family gathered round his
                                             grave, the bees from his hives (which
                                             were more than a mile away) came in a
                                             swarm and settled on his coffin for
                                             about half an hour and returned to
                                             their hives, ignoring the flowering
                                             trees that were nearby.
                                                 Bees were not the only insects to be
                                             revered by the ancient Egyptians. They
                                             believed beetles, too, were a represen-
                                             tation of gods.

                                             A group of theologians once asked the
                                             British biologist J.B.S. Haldane what
                                             he could infer about the Creator from
                                             his studies, to which he is reported to
                                             have quipped, “An inordinate fond-
                                             ness for beetles.” In evolutionary
                                             terms, beetles are an old order of in-
                                             sects. The oldest beetle fossils are
                                             known from the Permian Period (299-
                                             350 million years ago). With nearly
                                             400,000 identified species, beetles
                                             represent one in five living species on
                                             earth. It may not be an exaggeration to
                                             say that they are perhaps the one group
                                             of animals that are evolving with the
                                             world rather than in it.
                                                 Beetles belong to the order Coleop-
                                             tera. The word derives from the Greek
                                             word “koleopteros”, meaning sheath-
                                             winged. The forewings of the beetles
                                             are hard and protective in function. A
                                             pair of membranous hindwings used
                                             for flight is kept folded under this hard
                                             forewing, which is generally referred
                                             to as elytra. Beetles can be found every-
                                             where, from the stored grains in the
                                             pantry to on and within trees, in ani-
                                             mal fur, below the soil and on decom-
                                             posing matter. There are jewel beetles,
                                             lizard beetles, flea beetles, fungus bee-

                   F R O N T L I N E   6 3
                                                                                                              NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                            tles, leaf beetles, rhinoceros beetles,
                                            fireflies, ladybirds, blister beetles, tiger
                                            beetles, and so on. But the beetles that
                                            have been well studied for their fre-
                                            quent reference in culture are the sca-
                                            rab beetles of the family Scarabaeidae.
                                                The family Scarabaeidae includes a
                                            vast diversity of beetles. The Goliath
                                            beetle, the giant in the beetle world,
                                            belongs to this family. Commonly
                                            called scarabs, they are medium- to
                                            large-sized insects with lamellate an-
                                            tennae that open like a small fan and
                                            close to form a club. In colour, scarabs
                                            can be both brilliant, especially the
                          beetle. As its
                                            June beetles and chafers, or dull and
name indicates, it feeds on the             black.
fruiting bodies of fungi.                       The dung roller is the most com-
                                            monly met scarab. This scavenger
                                            feeds on dung and other decaying or-
                                            ganic matter, playing an invaluable
                                            role in recycling waste. The dung of
                                            herbivorous mammals such as cows
                                            and elephants is mostly composed of
                                            half-digested grass and liquids. The
                                            dung rollers feed on the sap and use
                                            the semi-digested grass to line their
                                            nests, which are the dung balls. Their
                                            strong mandibular teeth and front legs
                                            are the tools to dig into the soil and the
                                                This scarab first carefully makes a
                                            ball with a hollow in the centre where
                                            the egg is laid. The ball is therefore       LAD YB I R D B E E TLE S , OR
                                            made with a careful selection of the         coccinellids, help in controlling plant
C OMB- C L A W E D B E E T LES F EED   on   partly digested fibres from the dung to       pests. They figure in children’s
plant and animal leftovers.                 line the innermost region of the ball.       literature, for instance, in Roald
                                            This serves as food for the larva that       Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach”.
                                            hatches from the egg. The scarab then        (Above) Propylea japonica and
                                            adds more layers of dung to this nest,       (below) Micraspis sp.
                                            which results in a strong, compact ball.
                                            Dung balls can be small or large. In
                                            forests, elephant-dung balls are sought
                                            out by bears as they know there will be
                                            a juicy beetle grub inside them.
                                                It is fascinating to watch a dung
                                            beetle moving the ball to its burrow.
                                            The first and last pairs of legs are used
                                            as levers and pivots, propelling the sca-
                                            rab forward, while the middle pair of
                                            legs is used to hold on to the ball and
                                            manoeuvre it to the burrow. The last
                                            pair of legs are lifted or held down and
                                            used to push and change direction.
                of the aquatic diving
TH E HI N D L E G S                             Not all dung beetles are rollers.
beetle are modified into paddles.            Some are tunnellers that dig and bury

                                                      6 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

TH E L AR G E , L O N G   mandibles of the stag beetle resemble antlers. Hence its name.
the dung, whereas some others are                                                    the reign of various Egyptian phara-
dwellers, residing in the dung.                                                      ohs, scarabs were fashioned from ivo-
     “One would never weary of admir-                                                ry, stone and precious metals to record
ing the variety of tools wherewith they                                              events or commemorations or to serve
are supplied, whether for shifting, cut-                                             as seals. Scarabs were also of great sig-
ting up and shaping the stercoral mat-                                               nificance in the rituals associated with
ter or for excavating deep burrows in                                                funerals. Heart-shaped scarabs fash-
which they will seclude themselves                                                   ioned out of precious stones were
with their booty. This equipment re-                                                 placed on the chest of the deceased. A
sembles a technical museum where ev-                                                 large piece of “heart scarab” made
ery        digging-implement          is                                             from Libyan glass was part of the pro-
represented,” wrote the French ento-                                                 visions entombed with Tutankhamen.
mologist Jean Henri Fabre in the                                                     The Luxor temple has massive sculp-
opening essay, “The Sacred Beetle”, of       A P O T A T O LA D Y B I R D beetle,    tures of scarabs.
his classic Souvenirs Entomologiques.        Henosepilachna vigintioctapunctata.          However, there is no record of
     The rhinoceros beetle is a dung                                                 flesh-eating scarabs of the kind depict-
roller with a horn-like protuberance         The beetle moving its dung ball sym-    ed in films such as The Mummy. All
on its head. The horn is used in combat      bolised the movements of the sun.       ancient cultures revered these beetles,
with other males to win over their fa-       Khepri, the scarab-like god, was con-   and they were not depicted as evil.
vourite females.                             sidered the manifestation of the sun         An ancient Tao text says: “The sca-
     People of ancient cultures who          god Ra. The beetle is named Kheper      rab rolls his pellet, and life is born in it
watched the insect emerge from a ball        aegyptiorum. This beetle, not seen      as an effect of non-dispersed work of
of mud attached a deeper meaning to          easily any more, has been replaced in   spiritual concentration. If even in ma-
it. So the scarab became a symbol of         symbolism with the more commonly        nure an embryo can develop and cast
resurrection to the ancient Egyptians.       observable Scarabaeus sacer. During     his ‘terrestrial’ skins, why should the

                                                       F R O N T L I N E   6 5
                                                                                                                           NOVEMBER 4, 2011

dwelling of our celestial heart not be                       speeds. Dashing, darting, hovering,        There is a delightful children’s story
able to generate a body too, if we con-                      gliding, flying backwards or manoeu-        from the Solomon Islands to explain
centrate our spirit on it?”                                  vring turns, it can attain speeds of       this behaviour.
    Flower scarabs are beetles that dis-                     more than 30 kilometres/hour and has           Once upon a time, a firefly wanted
play vibrant, shining colours. They are                      the ability to fly across oceans. Despite   a drink but did not want to go to the
variously known as flower chafers,                            this, dragonflies have not been able to     water during daytime. Its friend, the
flower beetles, June beetles, May bee-                        conquer as many habitats as or prolif-     dragonfly, agreed to accompany it at
tles, and so on. They are diurnal in                         erate as much as beetles, many of          night and carried a lantern to light the
nature and feed on flowers, pollinating                       which indeed have lost the power of        way. Once the firefly had quenched its
them in the process. Some of them feed                       flight. Dragonflies have not been able       thirst, the dragonfly gave the lantern to
on dung too. Unlike many others in the                       to move away from water sources.           it and started drinking. But the selfish
beetle family these can fly well. The
flower scarab has iridescent elytra.
This iridescence is retained even after
death, making the beetle a sought-af-
ter item for jewellery and art. Beetles
belonging to the Buprestidae and
Chrysomelidae families, generally re-
ferred to as jewel beetles, are also col-
lected for their iridescent, shiny wings.
    One-quarter of all beetles are wee-
vils, which most orchard owners think
of as pests. They attack anything from
stored grain to cotton crop to fruit and
are a farmer’s headache. But as a spe-
cies, they stand out for their sculpted
body design and Pinocchio-like nose, a
cartoon created by nature. Weevils
may be recognised easily by the pair of
antennae that arise not from the head
but from the elongated nose. The
mouth parts are found at the end of the
snout. These snouted beetles use their
long snouts not only to feed on plant
parts but also to make cavities in them
to lay eggs. The developing larvae thus
                                                             A N ELEP H A N T D UN G ball prised open by a bear allows one to see its inner
have ample food to feed on and grow.
                                                             architecture. (Below, right) Another one, the size of a coconut.
Dragonflies are among nature’s earli-
est insect creations. A cursory compar-
ison of a dragonfly and a beetle would
leave one with mild disbelief; how
could two creatures with so many dif-
ferences be classified under the single
umbrella called insects? The beetles
have a hard forewing, thickened to
                                            GIRIDHAR MALLA

form a protective elytra, and only the
membranous hindwing is tucked
away. The dragonfly’s wings are com-
pletely membranous but cannot be
folded on the back of its body.                              T H I S D U N G R OLLE R ,
     The dragonfly’s acrobatics in air                        Gymnopleurus miliaris, from
are a marvel in flight engineering; the                       the Eastern Ghats, is
insects hang in mid-air almost station-                      demonstrating how it uses its
ary and suddenly dart off at lightning                       legs to manoeuvre a dung ball.

                                                                        6 6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                     T H E A RCHI TE CT OF
                                                     the elephant dung
                                                     ball, Heliocopis

little firefly walked away with the lan-     meaning “toothed”. However, dragon-         watching dragonflies and damselflies
tern, leaving the dragonfly groping in      flies do not have teeth. Rather, they        would be time well spent.
the dark. So the people of this island     have strong mandibles, which they use           The Japanese have a special place
believe that fireflies roam the night        to crush their prey. Their antennae are     in their culture for dragonflies. Two
with the lantern, while dragonflies         small and insignificant.                     delightful stories tell of how Japan was
sleep at night and wander near the             The dragonfly’s entire demeanour         once called Akitsushima, or the Island
water during daytime.                      evokes admiration and a childish wish       of the Dragonfly. Legend has it that the
     Dragonflies were amongst the ear-      to catch and hold them. Its large eyes,     dragonfly ate the horse-fly that bit the
liest insects to have evolved on earth,    occupying most of the head, are capa-       mythical founder of Japan, Emperor
pre-dating dinosaurs by 100 million                   ˚
                                           ble of 360 vision and are responsible       Jinmu. In gratitude, he named the is-
years. Fossils indicate that giant drag-   for its ability to capture prey in flight.   land after the dragonfly (akitsu in Ja-
onflies roamed the earth at the time of     Dragonfly young are aquatic and de-          panese). According to another tale,
the dinosaurs. These insects have sur-     velop in water. Both adult and young        Emperor Jinmu climbed the highest
vived for millions of years retaining      are voracious carnivores, feeding on        peak to survey his country and noticed
many of the characteristics of their an-   other insects. For children growing up      that it looked like a dragonfly and
cestors. Along with the damselfly, their    in rural environs, catching a dragonfly      hence named the country after the in-
petite relative, they are classified un-    is still a pleasurable pastime. If one      sect. As a result, the dragonfly became
der the order Odonata, a Greek word        were to sit still near a waterbody,         the country’s emblem. The dragonfly

                                                     F R O N T L I N E   6 7
                                                                                                    NOVEMBER 4, 2011

DAMS E L F L I E S A R E S LEN D ER built and share the same habitat as the
dragonflies. Here, Rhodischnura nursei.

                                                                                THE D I TCH J E W E L,   or Brachythemis contam
   M A R S H dart (Ceriagrion                                                   THE
   coromandelianum).                                                            TR I C OLOUR E D
   These damselflies are                                                         M AR S H hawk
   not afraid of wandering                                                      (Orthetrum
   into human dwellings.                                                        luzonicum).
                                                                                literature has
                                                                                references to
                                                                                especially in

                                                                                ( FA R R I G HT)
                                                                                THE ground
ODON A T E S (D R A G O N F LI ES ) A RE described in the poems of Sumerians.   (Diplacodes
Here, the brown-backed red marsh hawk (Orthetrum chrysis).                      trivialis).

                                                    6 8   F R O N T L I N E
       NOVEMBER 4, 2011

minata, (left, female, and right, male) is a very common dragonfly seen near wetlands.

                                                        F R O N T L I N E   6 9
                                                                                                     NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                                            SANJAY SONDHI

A CIC A D A E M E R G I N G from its cocoon. According to Thucydides, people of Athens wore gold ornamental cicadas in
their hair and were aware of the subterranean nature of its life history. Cicadas find mention in the literature, visual
arts, folklore, scientic writing, philosophy and religion of Greece. Homer refers to them in "The Iliad", comparing their
sound to that of the high-pitched talk of old men.

                                                   7 0   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

also stands for strength, courage and                                                  which became the Bible for cricket
good luck in Japanese culture. It is                                                   fans! Since then, cricket fights have
referred to as Katsumushi, or the in-                                                  been alternately banned and raised to
vincible, and is etched on to the swords                                               the status of national sport. Cricket
and armour of Samurai warriors. Fam-                                                   fighting, despite its ups and downs, has
ily crests bore symbols of dragonflies.                                                 survived to modern times. The con-
Not surprisingly, the Japanese were                                                    cluding scene of the film The Last Em-
the first to create a dragonfly nature                                                   peror in which the emperor passes on
reserve.                                                                               his 60-year-old cricketpot to the young
     Other cultures, too, acknowledged                                                 boy aptly depicts the place crickets oc-
the dragonfly. While to the Navajo In-                                                  cupied in Chinese culture.
dians of the south-western United                                                          Crickets and katydids were not the
States it symbolised pure water, to the                                                only insects to be valued as songsters.
Chinese it was a symbol of instability                                                 Grasshoppers and cicadas were also
and to the Tahitians, it was a shadow of                                               welcomed with equal fervour by the
Hiro, the god of thieves. To the Zuni                                                  Chinese, Greek, Japanese and Amer-
Indians, killing the dragonfly was ta-                                                  ican Indian cultures.
boo as they believed it possessed su-                                                      Whether as oracles, religious sym-
pernatural powers. These myths and                                                     bols, musicians or entertainers, insects
beliefs illustrate how humans closely                                                  benefitted ancient and medieval hu-
observed insects and tried to arrive at     A C RI C K ET . T A M A Zoo in Tokyo
                                                                                       man civilisations. What about modern
explanations for their behaviour and        holds an annual autumn show on             humans? Will insects always remain
“weird” structures.                         singing Orthoptera. In 1993, visitors      “creepy-crawlies” to us?
     The other member of the order Od-      saw and heard 43 singing cricket               Records of anthropologists show
onata, the damselfly, is smaller, with       and long-horned grasshopper                that more than 700 species of insects
similar looking hind- and forewings.        species. Department stores in Tokyo        are well known and used by different
Unlike the dragonfly, it can fold its        sell electronic chirping bugs and          hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari. Yet
wings over the body. It is a weak flier      recorded cricket music.                    the San, one of the central Kalahari
and does not find much mention in                                                       tribes, consider insects goowaha,
human culture.                              were treated with special oils to make     meaning useless things, and look upon
                                            their music more pleasing to the ear.      ethno-entomologists with nothing but
INSECT ENTERTAINERS                         There are no crickets or katydids in       amusement. The San may have hit the
Crickets’ sounds may be perceived as        autumn and winter, but so deep was         nail on the head in describing how
irritating today and the loud call of       the adoration of the Chinese for these     humans today view insects.
cicadas may earn it a place in the Guin-    insects that they began rearing them in    Geetha Iyer is an author, a nature
ness Book of World Records, but to          captivity so that autumns would not        enthusiast and an independent
ancient Greeks, Chinese and Japanese,       fall silent.                               consultant in the fields of education
crickets and cicadas were delightful             This obsession resulted in the pro-   and environment.
companions. Singing and fighting             liferation of paraphernalia for insects
crickets were part of a 2,000-year Chi-     and insect rearing, and these soon be-     REFERENCES
nese culture3. Before the Tang dynasty,     came status symbols. At the height of      1. Swami Krishnananda; ‘Fifth
people listened to cricket songs for in-    this fad, professionals were hired to      Brahmana: Madhu-Vidya – The
formation that helped them with their       take care of the insects so that they      Honey Doctrine’; “The
agricultural activities.                    could be presented at important            Brihadaranyaka Upanishad”, Chapter
     During the Tang dynasty, crickets      events or in the emperor’s court.          II; http://www.swami-krishnananda.
were kept captive in cages as pets. Po-          With the beginning of the Song dy-    org/brdup/brhad_II-05.html
ems were written about them; glyphs         nasty, cricket fights began to flourish      2. Schull, Bill; adapted from ‘Life
were made showing cicadas and crick-        as a sport. Cricket fights were taken so    Song: In Harmony With All
ets; expensive and exquisite cages,         seriously that noblemen would never        Creation’. Excerpts available at
sometimes in gold, were built for           hesitate to trade a good horse for a
them; and generally, it was considered      cricket. Books were written and            /miscellaneous/science-a-
an elegant hobby to keep singing in-        manuals developed to take this sport to    technology/4587-communicating-
sects. Joining crickets in this “exalted”   exhilarating heights. History records a    with-insects.html
position were katydids, which were          cricket king who actively encouraged       3. Cultural Entomology Digest
viewed as symbols of luck and virtue.       the sport and a cricket minister, Cu Zhi   -Insect articles.
The wings of crickets and katydids          Jin, who compiled Book of Crickets,

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   7 1
books                                                                                                         NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Faith and reason
               The autobiography of Asghar Ali Engineer is a perceptive commentary on society
               written with unassuming scholarliness. B Y L Y L A B A V A D A M

                  HEN Vice-President                                                      neer has been fighting for reforms in

W                 M. Hamid Ansari re-
                  leased Asghar Ali En-
                  autobiography, A Liv-
ing Faith, he described the author as a
modern-day Spinoza. Comparisons of
the two thinkers march side by side.
                                                                                          his Bohra community and has had to
                                                                                          pay a heavy price for it: he was excom-
                                                                                          municated and he faced physical as-
                                                                                              He believes that “to be a truly reli-
                                                                                          gious person one has to have four qual-
                                                                                          ities. A quest for truth. Humility.
Both are radical and free thinkers,                                                       Compassion. Being anti-establish-
grounded in moral philosophy and                                                          ment. The reforms I am fighting for in
steeped in democratic political                                                           the Bohra community… I am up
thought. Like the 17th century Dutch                                                      against a very powerful establishment.
philosopher, Engineer has offered ra-                                                     I have met five Prime Ministers to try
tional critiques of formalised religion.                                                  and get them to intercede in what is
     Asked about his work, Engineer                                                       happening among Bohras, but they all
said,“People have asked me why I                                                          told me they were helpless.”
wrote this autobiography. My only an-                                                         His understanding of Islam is deep
swer is that I felt like sharing my expe-                                                 and uncomplicated and at the same
riences, and I wanted to reach out to                                                     time unsparing. Yet, as the historian
people who matter and who are con-                                                        Mushirul Hasan, who wrote the Fore-
cerned. I have three aims in life – peace                                                 word for A Living Faith, said, “… he
and communal harmony, social re-                                                          argued for reforms and innovations
form, and gender justice.                                                                 within the inherited traditions.”
     “Sixty-three years after Independ-         IN REVIEW
ence we are still lagging far behind in         A Living Faith: My Quest for              REFORM MOVEMENT
all these. Our society suffers from ex-         Peace, Harmony and Social                 There is a wonderful innocence in En-
ploitation in the name of religion. Reli-       Change by Asghar Ali                      gineer. A complete believer and fol-
gion is supposed to make you humane             Engineer; Orient BlackSwan;               lower of his faith, he cannot fathom the
and compassionate, but people kill in           pages 345, Rs.525.                        authoritarian manner in which it is
the name of religion. I discovered they                                                   being applied. The majority of the
kill because of vested economic inter-                                                    community acquiesce to the absolute
ests, political interests. It is a clash of   cles. He is the director of the Institute   authority of the high priest, Syedna
interests that causes violence – not a        of Islamic Studies, the head of the Cen-    Burhanuddin, who controls the com-
clash of religions as is commonly be-         tre for Study of Society and Secular-       munity with an iron hand. A handful of
lieved. I have given an account of all        ism, and the founding chairman of the       people do not. Engineer is one of them.
this in my book.” Born in 1939, Engi-         Asian Muslim Action Network.                    His earliest experience with the
neer graduated in civil engineering               He is also one of the founders of the   diktats of the high priest was when he,
and worked for 20 years as a sanitation       People’s Union for Civil Liberties. He      as a young boy, was told that he would
engineer in the Bombay Municipal              was awarded the Communal Harmony            have to perform sajda (prostrate one-
Corporation before he retired prema-          Award in 1997 and the Right Live-           self) before the Syedna. He refused,
turely to work for the Bohra reform           lihood Award (widely known as the           saying it was un-Islamic since sajda is
movement. He has authored more                ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’) in 2004.         performed only before Allah. A mar-
than 50 books and innumerable arti-               For the past three decades, Engi-       shal who noticed his refusal caught

                                                        7 2   F R O N T L I N E
                 NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                 ASG H AR A L I E N G I N E E R . For the past three decades, he has been fighting for reforms in his Bohra community and
                 has had to pay a heavy price for it. He was excommunicated and also assaulted.
                 him by the neck, called him a shaitan       ligion and not against religion per se. I   for a thriller. His mother, torn between
                 (devil) and forced him to prostrate         was fighting against exploitation and        her loyalty to the Syedna and her love
                 himself.                                    restrictions on freedom of expression       for her son, chose the former but was
                      The haplessness of his father in       which is both my Islamic as well as         still taunted by the community. Engi-
                 that situation must have served to keep     constitutional right.”                      neer writes of how she would some-
                 the memory alive in the young Engi-             But his relatives would not accept      times come to his office and “weep
                 neer. Many years later, when he wrote       these arguments. “They prefer to buy        before my colleagues…”.
                 an article in support of Bohras in Udai-    their way to peace rather than fight for          When he and other reformists
                 pur who had challenged the Syedna,          any principle, much less the principle      launched the democratically elected
                 Engineer again felt the heat of the         of freedom,” he writes. Finally he was      Central Board of the Dawoodi Bohra
                 powerful priests. A group of angry          presented with an ultimatum. “They          Community at an all-world reformist
                 Bohras surrounded the building of The       said that if I wanted to maintain any       Bohra Conference in 1977, stories of
                 Times of India in which the article         relationship with them I would have to      oppression began to flow from among
                 appeared and threatened to burn it          withdraw myself from the reform             the one lakh delegates who attended.
                 down if an apology was not printed.         movement or they would never see my         Engineer writes: “In one case in Udai-
                 The newspaper banned future articles        face again. I said I would prefer their     pur, a father who was with the reform-
                 by Engineer, but that was not the end       absence than give up my fight for free-      ists died of acid burns and his son who
                 of his tribulations. His relatives and      dom. No one from my family ever met         was Shabab (an orthodox Bohra orga-
                 friends pressured him to apologise.         me thereafter.”                             nisation) was forced to marry on the
                      In all clarity and innocence of be-        That last line, so powerful in its      day his father’s funeral procession was
                 lief, he writes, “I maintained that there   reality, is written with a moving sim-      held. He was even asked to curse him.”
                 was no question of apologising as I had     plicity, and is typical of Engineer, who         Unlike the rest of his community,
                 not done anything wrong. I was              has never dramatised his life even          many of whom acknowledge that
                 against exploitation in the name of re-     though there is enough material in it       greed is the driving force behind the

                                                                       F R O N T L I N E   7 3
                                                                                                               NOVEMBER 4, 2011

tyranny, Engineer has refused to toler-     class and intellectual conviction that         cannot because they are what have
ate it. This is actually a refusal to be    justifies communalism”.                         made the man – but he describes them
cynical, and to that extent he is truly a       Engineer’s endeavours for commu-           with a blandness that is almost dis-
revolutionary, albeit a non-violent         nal harmony began in the post-Emer-            appointing to readers, especially those
one.                                        gency days when the Janata Party was           who have followed his work via news-
     Interestingly, Engineer is himself     in power. Communal violence broke              paper reports.
the son of a priest and was brought up      out in Aligarh, Varanasi and Jamshed-               For instance, take the case of the
with strict and deep religious training.    pur. When Indira Gandhi returned to            very first attack on his life; an incident
This makes his arguments all the more       power, the dangerous trend contin-             that most other people would describe
strong as he is completely capable of a     ued, with the politicising of communal         in minute detail is dismissed in a cou-
serious debate on religious knowledge.      tensions. After a number of riots in           ple of lines by Engineer. It happened in
The establishment recognised this and       Biharsharif in the early 1980s, Engi-          Calcutta [now Kolkata] in 1977 when
saw him as enemy number one.                neer went to investigate them. He              Engineer had hired the Muslim Press
     His work in garnering support for      found that the “RSS machinery was              Club for a press conference to further
the reform movement was tediously           well oiled in the area and it spread           the reformist cause. The Syedna had
slow. The Bohra establishment wield-        rumours in villages which were instru-         heard about the press conference and
ed power by fear, and this prevented        mental in spreading the violence”.             paid a large amount of money to the
many from supporting Engineer. But                                                         club to cancel the reservation.
small things such as the gathering of
64 signatures from the staff of the Ali-    “It is a clash of                                   Of what must have been a tension-
                                                                                           charged atmosphere, Engineer writes,
garh Muslim University, assistance
from Jayprakash Narayan, and the            interests that                                 “I found the premises locked and wait-
                                                                                           ed with a journalist friend for someone
overwhelming support of almost all
sections of the media furthered the         cause violence,                                to come and open it. Suddenly some
                                                                                           people began gathering around us. I
cause of reform. But regardless of all
this and despite the fact that Engineer     not a clash of                                 became suspicious but stood there.
                                                                                           Soon a large number of Bohras and
made the movement an international
one, he feels sad that the community is     religions as is                                some goondas collected there and at-
                                                                                           tacked me. I could not run. But my
still in the grip of the high priest.
     Social and religious reformer, lin-    believed.”                                     journalist friend knew some young
                                                                                           people from the area and summoned
guist, intellectual, writer – there is no
all-encompassing label that describes       – Engineer                                     them to help me. They lifted me bodily
                                                                                           and fighting their way out, took me to a
the author. He is as much a student of                                                     nearby building which was a safe
Marx as he is of Farman Fatehpuri, the           Then came the Shah Bano case, the         place. I escaped death very narrowly.”
Urdu scholar who authored seminal           conversion of Dalits to Islam in Mee-               A striking quality about Engineer
works on the poets Mirza Ghalib and         nakshipuram (Tamil Nadu), riots in             is his rationality and his calm ap-
Muhammad Iqbal. Marx guided him             Meerut and Bhagalpur, and the demo-            proach to whatever comes his way.
to take an objective view of religion       lition of the Babri Masjid. Throughout,        This equanimity is what comes across
while he still remained grounded in         Engineer attempted to gather infor-            as one turns the pages of the book. On
the essential teachings of Islam. In his    mation, prepare reports and keep pas-          reflection, even though there seems to
book he writes, “Although I remained        sions low on both sides, but the voice of      be a disconnect with the turbulence of
a believer, I too was converted to          moderation was not heard. He says he           his life and his manner of relating it, it
Marxism. In my opinion it is not neces-     had the distinct feeling that Indian           is actually a fitting style for Engineer to
sary to be an atheist to be a Marxist.”     secularism was being shredded. His             tell his own story.
     Taking his cue from Christian lib-     involvement with secularism and anti-               “It is difficult to write an autobiog-
eration theology which originated in        communal work is a natural corollary           raphy because in our society to come
South America, Engineer learnt to           of his reformist work. The obvious             out with the truth is a very challenging
take the best of all knowledge from         common bond is that he is committed            thing to do,” said Engineer. “I have
diverse streams. This thirst for com-       to building an inclusive society, one in       tried to be honest and truthful… as
bining faith and reason – what perhaps      which humanity overrides all else.             much as a human person can be.”
can be called pure knowledge – is                If there is any criticism of the book,         There is no doubt that the book is a
something of a trademark. Being open        it is that it does not reflect adequately       perceptive commentary on society
to all influences is particularly valuable   the dangers, the violence, the struggles       written with unassuming scholarli-
in the current age where exists, as Ku-     and the tireless striving that have been       ness. It is an accurate representation of
mar Ketkar, editor of Divya Marathi,        a part of Engineer’s life. It is not that he   the author and his life and hence a true
says, a “dangerous trend of middle          avoids these aspects of his life – he          autobiography.

                                                       7 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Law in a nutshell
              A comprehensive and user-friendly digest that offers a collection of the Supreme
              Court’s judgments dealing with criminal law. B Y V . V E N K A T E S A N

           his book is very popular be-                                                the continuance of the death penalty in

T          cause it follows a unique
           method whereby the law, as
           laid down by the Supreme
           Court on various subjects, is
made available for perusal with mini-
mum effort. Every year, the Supreme
Court’s judgments are printed in sev-
                                                                                       our statute books continues to be rele-
                                                                                       vant even today. The court rejected his
                                                                                       argument that the uncontrolled and
                                                                                       unguided discretion given to judges to
                                                                                       impose capital punishment or impris-
                                                                                       onment for life was violative of Article
                                                                                       14 of the Constitution, which guaran-
eral volumes of recognised journals. It                                                tees the right to equality. The court did
is almost impossible for a lay reader to                                               so on the grounds that there were a
understand the significance of these                                                    number of safeguards to regulate the
judgments under every branch of law,                                                   exercise of this discretion.
let alone criminal law. This digest                                                        In subsequent years, the legisla-
helps the reader understand the conti-                                                 ture as well as the court tried to streng-
nuities and changes in any area under                                                  then these safeguards. In the new Code
criminal law from 1950, when the Con-                                                  for Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC)
stitution came into force, to 2010. As                                                 brought into effect in 1974, it became
the Supreme Court’s judgments influ-                                                    imperative for judges to write “very
ence the governance of the country in                                                  special reasons” for the award of the
myriad ways, this book helps to make                                                   death penalty. In the Bachan Singh
these accessible to every reader in a                                                  (1980) case, the Supreme Court’s five-
user-friendly manner.                         IN REVIEW                                judge Constitution Bench identified
     The first edition of this book ap-                                                 seven mitigating circumstances that
peared in 1961. The author, J.K. Soo-         J.K. Soonavala’s Supreme                 the court should consider in favour of
navala, then senior counsel in the            Court Criminal Digest (1950-             the convict before awarding the death
Bombay High Court, died before the            2010), fifth edition, 2011,              penalty. The court evolved the rarest of
second edition came out in 1968. But          Volumes 1 to 4, edited by V.R.           rare doctrine in this case, to hold that
that did not stop his relatives, friends      Manohar; LexisNexis                      the extreme penalty of death need not
and admirers from updating and ex-            Butterworths Wadhwa,                     be inflicted except in the gravest cases
panding this digest by bringing out           Nagpur; Rs.6,995.                        of extreme culpability.
three subsequent editions in the au-                                                       The court further limited the appli-
thor’s name, in 1990, 2007 and              constitutionality was Jagmohan Singh       cation of this doctrine by asking the
2011.For the purpose of review, one is      vs State of Uttar Pradesh, decided in      judges to ask and answer whether
tempted to choose entries, arranged in      1973. A few entries in the book give a     there was something uncommon
alphabetical order, some of which have      gist of the Supreme Court’s holdings in    about the crime which rendered the
hogged newspaper headlines in recent        this case, and in subsequent cases. The    sentence of imprisonment for life in-
days, for random reading. The first to       court in this case held that deprivation   adequate, and whether there was no
hold one’s attention is the one on cap-     of life was constitutionally permissible   alternative to the death sentence even
ital punishment in Volume 1. Because        if it was done according to procedure      after according maximum weightage
the state finds it legitimate to take        established by law, and it would be        to the mitigating circumstances in fa-
away the life of a convict sentenced to     very difficult to hold that capital sen-    vour of the offender.
death, the Supreme Court’s justifica-        tence was regarded per se as unreason-         However, the frequent resort to
tion of this inhuman punishment over        able by our Constitution makers or         this doctrine to justify the imposition
the years is of considerable interest.      that it was not in the public interest.    of the death sentence by the Supreme
     The very first case that required the        Ironically, the legal challenge       Court in the post-Bachan Singh era
Supreme Court to pronounce on its           posed in that case by the petitioner to    showed that there was no consistency

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   7 5
                                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                                                    M. LAKSHMANAN
TH E S UPR E M E C O UR T building. The court’s judgments influence governance in myriad ways. The book helps to
make these accessible to every reader.
in the court’s judgments and that the       out that in most cases, the court ap-       another offence. In Bachan Singh, the
sentencing discretion of the judges         pears to have inferred that “rarest of      court refused to declare the death pen-
continued to be unfettered. In a recent     rare” means the brutality and severity      alty unconstitutional, not because it
case (Ajit Singh) decided by the court,     of the offence. This was the result of      did not have that power but for other
a two-judge Bench justified the impo-        losing sight of the emphasis placed in      reasons.
sition of the death penalty on the ap-      the Bachan Singh case by the court on           The entry on clemency is insight-
pellant-convict after admitting that        the need to assess the feasibility of an    ful. The power to pardon a convict,
there was not a precise definition of        alternative punishment to the death         entrusted with the President or the
what constituted a “rarest of rare” case.   sentence in a given case, however bru-      Governor, is not an act of grace or
For the proponents of the abolition of      tal the offence.                            mercy but part of the constitutional
the death penalty, this should be rea-           The Supreme Court’s plea, repeat-      scheme (the Kehar Singh case, 1989).
son enough for the Supreme Court to         ed in several judgments, that it cannot     At a time when critics question the
declare a moratorium on the death           abolish the death penalty, as it is not     relevance of the President and Gover-
penalty in all pending and future cases,    part of the legislative domain also fails   nors exercising this power after the
until the court evolves a suitable defi-     to convince the proponents of aboli-        Supreme Court has confirmed the
nition of the doctrine to guide its im-     tion. After all, the same court declared    death penalty, the Supreme Court’s
position by the courts.                     Section 303 of the Indian Penal Code        judgment in the Kehar Singh case is
    The reliance on a vague doctrine to     unconstitutional in Mithu vs State of       instructive. It is open to the President,
take away the life of a human being         Punjab in 1983. Section 303 imposed         the court said, to scrutinise the evi-
cannot be a procedure established by        the death penalty on a convict if he was    dence on the record of the criminal
law, as required under Article 21, they     found to have committed murder              case and come to a different conclu-
say. The proponents of abolition point      while undergoing a life sentence for        sion from that recorded by the court

                                                      7 6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

with regard to the guilt of and sentence    be arbitrary or irrational and it must      relevant legislative developments
imposed on the accused. The Presi-          satisfy the test of reason.” The Su-        along with the Supreme Court judg-
dent, the court said, acted in a wholly     preme Court’s contribution to the evo-      ments. The entry on plea bargaining,
different plane from that in which the      lution of law is indeed exemplary.          for instance, completely ignores the
court acted. More important, the court                                                  fact that Parliament made it legal by
can examine whether the President           ON PUBLIC MEETING                           amending the Cr.PC in 2005 with the
considered all the relevant materials       The entry on “public meeting” in Vol-       objective of reducing the pendency of
while rejecting a mercy petition from a     ume 4 refers to the only case that          criminal cases. The book’s entry ends
convict.                                    throws light on the right to assemble       with the Supreme Court’s judgment in
    There are other entries in the book     peaceably and without arms (Himat           2003, wherein it deprecated the prac-
that can persuade a reader to treat         Lal K. Shah vs Commissioner of Police,      tice in cases involving serious offences.
criminal law as a fascinating disci-        Ahmedabad, 1973). Recently, the rul-            Plea bargaining refers to pre-trial
pline. An entry on communalism in           ing came to the aid of both Team Anna       negotiations between the accused and
Volume 2 refers to the Supreme              and the Delhi Police when the latter        the prosecution during which the ac-
Court’s decision in a case that the valu-   first refused permission to Anna Ha-         cused agrees to plead guilty in ex-
able and cherished right of freedom of      zare to hold an indefinite fast at a pub-    change for certain concessions by the
expression and speech may at times          lic place. The Delhi Police relied on the   prosecution. The amendment makes it
have to be subjected to reasonable sub-     ruling to hold that the right to assem-     necessary for certain conditions to be
ordination to social interests, needs       ble does not mean that the right can be     fulfilled before a court accepts plea
and necessities to preserve the very        exercised at any and every place. Team      bargaining. These conditions require,
core of democratic life (State of Karna-    Anna, however, pointed to another           among other things, that the offence,
taka vs Praveen Bhai Togadia, 2004).        part of the judgment which held that        for which plea bargaining is invoked,
    In an earlier case, too, the court      the right to hold public meetings flows      must be one punishable with not more
was clear that the promotion of feel-       from Article 19(1)(b) and Article 19(1)     than seven years’ imprisonment. Ha-
ings of enmity, hatred and ill will be-     (d), and that the state cannot impose       bitual offenders, and those charged
tween different religious communities       unreasonable restrictions on this right.    with socio-economic offences, and
could not be carried out in the name of     Ultimately, Team Anna’s view pre-           those who have committed offences
political thesis or historical truth. De-   vailed over that of the Delhi Police.       against women and children are ineli-
mands for the prosecution of Janata                                                     gible to avail themselves of plea bar-
Party leader Subramanian Swamy fol-                                                     gaining in India.
lowing a recent newspaper article by        This digest                                     The publishers would do well to
him seeking disenfranchisement of                                                       make an effort to include in the next
Muslims who do not subscribe to their       helps the reader                            edition entries that might have been
Hindu ancestry make sense in view of                                                    left out inadvertently. One such is
this clear enunciation of law.              understand the                              about sting operations by the media
    An entry on “Law” in Volume 3                                                       and individual citizens to expose cor-
makes for interesting reading. It refers    continuities and                            ruption and wrongdoing in public life.
to an early pronouncement of the Su-                                                    The use of sting by the media has been
preme Court, which has since been re-       changes under                               vindicated by the Supreme Court in
versed. In A.K. Gopalan vs State of                                                     R.K. Anand vs Registrar Delhi High
Madras, decided in 1950, the court          criminal law                                Court, in 2009.
said: “To read the law as meaning rules                                                     Another judgment by the Delhi
of natural justice will land one in diffi-   from 1950.                                  High Court in the Aniruddha Bahal
culties because the rules of natural jus-                                               case last year found nothing wrong
tice, as regards procedure, are                 A curious reader will find many          with the use of stings by journalists
nowhere defined and the Constitution         other entries in this four-volume di-       and citizens alike to expose corruption.
cannot be read as laying down a vague       gest (there are nearly 2,000 entries) a     The issue has come to the fore with the
standard. The word ‘Law’ is equivalent      rich source of reference material on        Delhi Police – after much prodding by
to state-made Law.” In the A.K. Gopa-       contemporary legal issues that defy         the Supreme Court – arresting the
lan case, the Supreme Court dismissed       easy resolution.                            whistle-blower MPs who organised a
his challenge to the Preventive Deten-          However, a word of caution may be       sting operation to expose the cash-for-
tion Act under which he was arrested.       justified against using the book as          votes scam in Parliament in 2008. The
    Contrast this with what the Su-         one’s only source for keeping oneself       law on stings and entrapment is still
preme Court said in the Bachan Singh        updated on the developments in law.         evolving in India, and it will be useful
case: “What is a necessary element of       Certain entries suggest that the book       to include an entry on the subject in a
the rule of law is that the law must not    could have gained by incorporating the      digest like this.

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   7 7
books/in brief                                                                                               NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Sangh Parivar’s bluff
              The book ably documents evidence of saffron terror. B Y A . G . N O O R A N I

           ERROR was never absent                                                       did not have much impact but helped

                                              BOOK FACTS
            from the Sangh Parivar’s                                                    keep the issue of Hindutva terror alive.
            techniques. The Rashtriya         Godse’s Children: Hindutva                    “It was only when the Malegaon
            Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)           Terror in India by Subhash                2008 bomb blast took place and the
            has been repeatedly cen-          Gatade; Phros Media, New                  ruling dispensation led by the Con-
sured by commissions of inquiry for its       Delhi; pages 400, Rs.360.                 gress-NCP in Maharashtra asked the
complicity in communal riots. The                                                       Anti-Terrorism Squad of the State to
Bharatiya Janata Party’s defence of re-     local people who provided shelter or        investigate it that the situation took a
cent outrages of saffron terror exposes     arranged logistical or financial sup-        dramatic turn. ATS chief Hemant Kar-
it completely.                              port, but are yet to nab any of the         kare, who had been successful a few
    Subhash Gatade, an engineer by          masterminds, planners, financiers or         months back to nab terrorists belong-
training and a freelance journalist and     ideologues of this terror project.          ing to Sanatan Sanstha for bomb blasts
translator as well, has written exten-           “Barring two chapters, which dis-      in Thane and Panvel (April 2008),
sively on issues of communalism and         cuss the global dimensions of Hindut-       took up the case with the same vigour.
Dalit emancipation. He has rendered a       va     terror    and     the     ‘Mossad’   After a painstaking investigation, he
service by bringing within the covers of    phenomenon, the focus of the book           brought forth the startling fact [that]
one book ably documented evidence of        remains largely confined to India.           members of the RSS and allied Hin-
the saffron terror.                         Looking at the fact that different Hin-     dutva organisations had been engaged
    On January 10, RSS boss Mohan           dutva formations have established in-       in creating terror modules at different
Bhagwat claimed, revealingly, that “of      ternational networks/linkages, which        places in the country and had been
the majority of the people whom the         have facilitated their work in many         successful in even penetrating the
government has accused [in various          ways, this aspect of the phenomenon         military.”
blast cases] a few had left voluntarily     needs greater attention. One also               The BJP and the RSS cried “witch-
and a few were told by the Sangh that       needs to understand that apart from         hunt”. The book exposes that false-
this extremism [sic] will not work          the overtly political and cultural          hood and very many more. In doing so,
here, so you go away”. He owes a clear      groups, the plethora of ‘spiritual gurus’   the author makes some important
duty in law to name them, the ones          have also established an international      points. “One could say that the ap-
who left as well as the ones asked to “go   network and it is an open secret that       proach of secularists is ‘state centric’; it
away”. We can then identify in which        such groups share close relations with      not only emphasises the role of the
of the cases launched by the police         many militant Hindutva groups.”             state in combating communalism but
these “former” RSS men figured.                   The book records the facts of the      makes demands on the state, it asks
    The author describes the focus of       Malegaon, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Sha-          the state to ban communal outfits or
his book. “A significant part of the         rif and Samjhauta Express terrorist         take strict action against the violation
book discusses terror acts perpetrated      outrages and identifies the culprits as      of constitutional rights or popularise
in different parts of the country by        well as the roles they played. “The cred-   scientific temper, etc. This approach
Hindutva formations. It gives an idea       it for inviting people’s attention to the   does not address the question of secu-
about the expanse of the majoritarian       terror turn in Hindutva politics and        larisation of polity. It is left unsaid but
terror modules which can strike at will     highlighting the danger it posed to so-     effectively the societal vacuum is left
at any place and also makes it evident      ciety goes to writers, journalists, civil   open to religious and communal orga-
that it is no more a regional phenom-       society organisations and marginal          nisations or NGOs or other status qu-
enon. Secondly, it also brings forth the    secular and leftist groups and individ-     oist formations. Clearly, the approach
commonality of tactics used by these        uals. They persisted despite limited        does not even envisage the possibility
terror modules. Thirdly, it underlines      human as well as material resources in      of the state being in the hands of com-
the Himalayan task which awaits the         hand and in spite of a general resist-      munal forces (that would then have a
investigating agencies as they have         ance in society to broach a topic which     free run, enacting laws, carving out
hitherto limited themselves to appre-       could put the ‘tolerant’ majority com-      statues to present Hindutva itself as
hending the planters of the bombs or        munity on the defensive. These efforts      another name for democracy).”

                                                      7 8   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Dialectics of culture
               The authors embark on an appraisal of the semantics of the culture industry.
               BY SHELLEY WALIA

              UR history extends over a                                                    multiplied. With its powerful config-

O             critical and crucial period
              of adjustments when
              nothing in religion, poli-
              tics, society or the life of
the individual is absolute and any at-
tempt to prove the contrary is doomed
to failure. Life cannot be fixed and cod-
                                                                                           urations of new sentiments and
                                                                                           thoughts it seemed, as David Harvey
                                                                                           argues, “set fair to play a crucial role in
                                                                                           defining the trajectory of social and
                                                                                           political development simply by virtue
                                                                                           of the way it defined standards of social
                                                                                           critique and political practice”.
ified; the very nature of existence is                                                           Culture, in the modern capitalist
that it is changing, and when one thing                                                    sense, thus begins to appear both fasci-
changes everything changes with it.                                                        nating and repellent, unabashedly
Living at the crossroads of culture, one                                                   complex and tantalising: out of it de-
can feel the immediacy of a fluctuat-                                                       velop stereotypes of different kinds de-
ing, unstable, dualistic, exciting and                                                     pending on one’s ideology and world
creative life. Though it has connota-                                                      view. It is a landscape which is some-
tions of aesthetic development per-                                                        times self-questioning, and at other
taining to works and practices of                                                          times rushing blindly into an unkempt
intellectual and artistic activity, in re-                                                 confusion of the supermarket and oth-
cent literary-cultural debates the term                                                    er commonly known features of pop-
“culture” has been employed to come                                                        ular culture.
to grips with the ideological represen-        IN REVIEW                                        Scott Lash and Celia Lury in their
tations behind things and the hegemo-                                                      recent book Global Culture Industry
ny of capitalist structures. With the
                                               Global Culture Industry by                  focus on the different meanings of cul-
advent of postmodernism and the rap-
                                               Scott Lash and Celia Lury;                  ture. The writers embark on an ap-
id and radical social change in its
                                               Polity Press, Cambridge;                    praisal of post-Adorno semantics of
wake, the nature of those disciplines
                                               pages 240, £17.99.                          the culture industry by employing the
that both reflect our culture and help                                                      neo-Gramscian paradigm between the
to shape it have inevitably undergone        ethnic cleansing, not just the relative       paranoid and the populist, between
transformation. Modes and categories         merits of Stendhal or the detective           the belief that “mass” culture is an
inherited in their conventional form         novel. The work itself is not what mat-       alien imposition on the people from
no longer fit contemporary times as           ters; it is the way it is construed or used   above, and the euphoric view of it as a
there is a visible erosion of the assump-    to perpetuate the dominant ideology.          vital flourishing from below. Cultural
tions and presuppositions that sup-          The content of culture is not what is         meanings are seen in a permanent
ported disciplines in the past and their     important; its relevance lies in what it      state of contestation, in which dom-
unambiguous fixity.                           signifies.                                     inant values are indeed at work in pop-
     The conflict between cultures and             This makes the study of culture a        ular culture but rarely without
ideologies is no longer a scuffle of char-    postmodern discipline and a focal             resistance to adaptation on the part of
acterisations, but a worldwide clash. It     point in debates over the impact of           their audience, while meanings which
is a matter of tangible conflicts, not        postmodernism on global cultural in-          emerge more organically from popular
just academic ones. Culture and its val-     dustry, including academic, publish-          life are always at risk of being appro-
ue are relevant to a world in which “the     ing and media industries. Though it           priated and reflected by the ruling cul-
joint wealth of the three richest indi-      often seemed in the last few years that       tural order.
viduals is equal to the combined             the concept of postmodernism would                 In his essay “Discourse and Dis-
wealth of 600 millions of the poorest”.      fade away under the painful burden of         cos”, Terry Eagleton writes: “Theory is
It is just that culture wars that are of     its own incoherence, the attraction for       radical and conservative together; and
importance concern such questions as         it and the clamour of debates have            nowhere is this more obvious than in

                                                       F R O N T L I N E   7 9
books/review                                                                                               NOVEMBER 4, 2011

postmodern thought itself. It is a strik-   classical culture industry was through     Now, on the other hand, cultural ob-
ing feature of advanced capitalist so-      representation, domination or hege-        jects are said to be “everywhere”.
cieties that they are at once libertarian   monic ideology. But in our emergent             There is no denying that “everyday
and authoritarian, hedonist and re-         global culture industry, culture be-       life is now more saturated with images
pressive, multiple and monolithic. The      comes “thingified” and starts to dom-       and cluttered with ‘stuff’ than in the
reason for this is not hard to find. The     inate both the economy and everyday        1940s and 1970s”. Nevertheless, as
logic of the marketplace is one of plea-    life. This mediation of things has re-     Herbert Marcuse observed in One Di-
sure and plurality, of the ephemeral        placed the predominance of represen-       mensional Man, “the products indoc-
and discontinuous, of a great de-           tation. Culture no longer “works           trinate      and    manipulate”,       the
centred network of desires of which         primarily as hegemonic ideology, as        “thingification” of culture necessarily
individual consumers are the passing        symbols, as representation” but in-        operates through the continuing im-
function…. Capitalism is the most plu-      volves “the emergence of things be-        pact of ideology, symbols and repre-
ralist order history has ever known,        come media, of media become things”.       sentation. I am of the firm opinion that
restlessly transgressing boundaries                                                    the classical culture industry and the
and pitching diverse life-forms             FROM IDENTITY TO DIFFERENCE                global coalesce in their operation and
together.”                                  Scott Lash and Celia Lury give the         cannot be demarcated in the age of
                                            reader seven main shifts from the clas-    capitalism and free market economy.
DARING THESIS                               sic model of culture industry to the       The thesis, though theoretically well
Scott Lash and Celia Lury, therefore, at    global: from identity to difference or     argued by the writers, is, therefore, in-
a juncture when radical texts like          determinate objects with fixed mean-        herently questionable.
Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of        ings to indeterminate objects spinning          The postmodern debate on culture
Enlightenment have seen their day and       out of control in heterogeneous en-        is indeed a self-reflexive phenomenon
are no longer theoretically adequate to     counters with the reflexive subjects of     whose nature and form themselves re-
define the paradigmatic shifts in social     information capitalism; from com-          flect the conditions of the postmodern
theory, put forward a daring thesis         modity to brand or, in other words,        and the institutional conditions along
that sets out to examine the altered        standardised goods of the past to          with intellectual regroupings which
view of the culture industry within the     unique virtual entities which acquire      give shape to contemporary critical
context of globalisation.                   value through particular event-experi-     theory and critique. There is a possibil-
     The rapid rate of global flow and       ence; from representation to the thing     ity that openness and diversity in glob-
change has brought in a state of urgen-     or from culture that is interpreted to     al culture, which this approach
cy for the writers to look beyond the       culture that is used; from the symbolic    encourages, might usher in a cultural-
Frankfurt School and examine seven          to the real; from mechanistic power to     political ethics in the postmodern era.
cultural objects in the present times:      biopower; from extensity to intensity      The social and economic basis of this
Euro ’96; Young British Art; Pixar’s        and from the actual to the virtual.        “free-floating phenomenon” – as Terry
animated movie Toy Story, Ardman                Far more than giving attention to      Eagleton would call it – of postmo-
Studio’s claymation characters Wal-         the conditions governing the material      dernist culture is one important way of
lace and Gromit; the movie Trainspot-       production of the objects, it is the is-   identifying contemporary experience
ting; Nike, and Swatch. The trajectory      sues of distribution and consumption       with all its variants that affect individ-
of their metamorphosis from their           that underline the authors’ concern.       ual values and social processes of the
production to distribution to market-       They do, however feel, that Adorno’s       most fundamental kind.
ing to consumption is analysed from         fear of culture becoming a commodity            I take this observation to illustrate
various perspectives befitting the 21st      has finally come true; material objects     the reality of something being utterly
century.                                    such as watches and sportswear, Nike       wrong with our society. The pursuit of
     Emphasising different sets of con-     shoes, global football and conceptual      wealth has become a virtue and we are
ceptual tools, the authors feel that the    art have become powerful cultural          blind to the forces of social change. We
dynamics of the global cultural indus-      symbols. Production of symbols in the      never ask if our future will turn out a
try vary enormously from the days of        form of brands across the globe have       better civil society.
Fordist or national cultural industry       now become the central concern of               Uncritical admiration for unfet-
underlined by Adorno and Horkheim-          capitalism. Things give shape to our       tered markets, the delusion of endless
er. Though the classical culture indus-     imaginary and we carry out our com-        growth, the predatory organism of un-
try has not disappeared, it does not        munication through objects.                regulated capitalism are only harbin-
work entirely through representation.           The argument therefore is that         gers of a greater calamity just around
It is “so ubiquitous that it seeps out of   “when culture was primarily super-         the corner. The inexorable laws of eco-
the superstructure, and then comes to       structural, cultural entities were still   nomics take us by the scruff of the
infiltrate, and then take over, the in-      exceptional” and everyday life was the     neck, manipulating our desires and
frastructure itself”. Mediation in the      domain of “material objects” (goods).      wants.

                                                      8 0   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Diplomat’s insights
              This work on Indian foreign policy is built on solid research and calm reflection
              with a unique sweep and insights that only a diplomat can provide. B Y A . G . N O O R A N I

              AVID M. MALONE be-                                                      tachment charged with empathy and

D             longs to an aristocracy of
              intellect some of whose
              members came to reside
              in New Delhi as envoys of
their respective countries; men like
Count Stanislas Ostrorog of France,
Alva Myrdal of Sweden, John Kenneth
                                                                                      rich insights. Sample this. As a uni-
                                                                                      versity student, he travelled to Afghan-
                                                                                      istan, Pakistan, India and both parts of
                                                                                      Kashmir. “I have visited no place out-
                                                                                      side Iran closer in atmosphere, style,
                                                                                      and inclination to Persian manners,
                                                                                      customs, and outlook than the Kash-
Galbraith of the United States, Octavia                                               mir valley, and I loved it on contact, as
Paz of Mexico and Escott Reid of Can-                                                 I still do.” How many Indians have
ada. David Malone’s work reminds one                                                  noticed those affinities, pronounced as
of Reid’s books Envoy to Nehru and                                                    they are? In May 1970, while on a visit
Hungary and Suez. His book is a prod-                                                 to Srinagar, the editor of a leading pe-
uct of solid research and calm reflec-                                                 riodical exclaimed to the reviewer:
tion. He had met very many Indian                                                     “This place is a part of Central Asia!”
diplomats, especially when he was at                                                       The compass of his book is best set
the Centre on International Cooper-                                                   out in his own words. “The scope of the
ation at New York University. As Can-                                                 topic is vast and daunting. This may
ada’s High Commissioner to India                                                      explain the few scholarly attempts at
(2006-2008), he interacted with an                                                    surveying Indian foreign policy of late.
amazingly wide range of Indian aca-                                                   Most authors, even memoirists, tackle
demics, diplomats and writers. Dili-                                                  one or a few of the themes of Indian
gent     research      followed     after     BOOK REVIEW                             foreign policy of interest to them, often
retirement. This book has flashes of                                                   ones that were particularly salient dur-
insights that only one who has served         Does the Elephant Dance?                ing the period covered. Picking just a
as a diplomat in India and is himself         Contemporary Indian Foreign             few angles is, in many ways, easier
cerebral can provide. He is currently         Policy by David M. Malone;              than attempting to order the features
president of Canada’s International           Oxford University Press;                of Indian foreign policy as a whole. The
Development Research Centre.                  pages 425, Rs.695.                      latter allows for the inclusion of many
     The book is dedicated to his “Indi-                                              issues and relationships but requires
an friends”. He writes: “Regular con-       (JNU). But I was rebuffed, very polite-   the exclusion of others, a painful busi-
tact with strong and curious students       ly. The relevant Dean there explained     ness, particularly for an author having
is a wonderful way of having one’s cer-     to me that several faculty members        delved into more than can be conveyed
tainties challenged. Wherever I had         feared my ‘bias’, perhaps being com-      in a book of reasonable length.
gone in recent years, I had either been     fortable only with their own.” It was          “Inevitably, this volume slights a
associated with or taught at local uni-     the JNU’s loss.                           number of India’s partners, in an at-
versities, as I did in New York at Co-           This is a belated review; for the    tempt to avoid the deadening effect
lumbia      University’s    School     of   reviewer hesitated long on whether or     that a cataloguing of bilateral relation-
International and Public Affairs while      not to write one. David M. Malone is a    ships or Indian involvement in a myr-
serving as an ambassador at the Unit-       good friend; a generous mention of the    iad of multilateral institutions would
ed Nations. And, naively, I had hoped       writer in his book was an added inhib-    produce. Hence, the following chap-
to do likewise in Delhi. Reaching that      ition. “Disclosure of interest” apart,    ters, in both what they include and
great city, I thought of India’s leading    what impels one to review this book is    exclude or touch upon only tangential-
graduate teaching and research insti-       its unique sweep – history, economics,    ly (for example, my own country Cana-
tution, Jawaharlal Nehru University         domestic politics and diplomacy – de-     da), represent a debatable set of

                                                     F R O N T L I N E   8 1
                                                                                                                                NOVEMBER 4, 2011

choices of the countries, forums, and                             Indian trading communities spread          “that an India-Pakistan reconciliation
diplomatic processes that have mat-                               around the continent, particularly         is like trying to treat two patients
tered the most to post-independence                               along its shores, are addressed mainly     whose only disease is an allergy to each
India, do so today, or are likely to                              through the prism of India’s growing       other”. Malone might have done well
emerge as dominant in the near future.                            anxiety about its access to the natural    to omit this puerile comment in a seri-
Accordingly, India’s relations with La-                           resources for which its economy will       ous book. It implies that the two coun-
tin America and the Caribbean as a                                increasingly hunger. While the pages       tries can never be friends. Not
whole are not discussed at length (in                             of this volume develop only a few ma-      surprisingly, that envoy advocated in
spite of strong Diaspora links with the                           jor themes, each chapter ends with         December 2001 stoppage of the river
Commonwealth Caribbean and in-                                    some conclusions deriving from its         water flow to Pakistan; a fine testimo-
creasingly meaningful economic links                              earlier paragraphs, a drafting device      nial to professional competence and
with Brazil, Mexico and Chile). Like-                             more helpful perhaps to the author         grasp of the Indus Treaty.
wise, India’s relations with much of                              than to the reader.” Self-deprecating
Africa, long seen through the prism of                            humour is an engaging trait.               INDIA-PAKISTAN TIES
                                                                      India has produced writers, artists,   His thesis is, of course, utterly false.
                                                                  economists, scientists, historians, ad-    But it is the kind of falsehood that
                                                                  ministrators and diplomats of world        makes us live comfortably with our im-
                                                                  class. It has not produced a single        possible positions. India-Pakistan re-
                                                                  scholar on the Cold War. The contest is    lations were warm in 1953 (Nehru
                                                                  always viewed through the prism of         went to Karachi); were promising in
                                                                  India’s foreign policy and its own “na-    1960 (Indus Treaty); in 1962-63; in
                                                                  tional interests”; perceived narrowly,     1997-98; and from 2004-2007. In the
                                                                  almost always. Not surprisingly, there     first three cases, Nehru’s intransigence
                                                                  is little interest in the works of the     on Kashmir wrecked the détente. He
                                                                  great masters who wrote on the very        had admitted to Sheikh Abdullah pri-
                                                                  fundamentals of international politics     vately in a Note of August 25, 1952,
                                                                  – Reinhold Niebuhr, Hans Morgen-           that as early as 1948 he had all but
                                                                  thau, E.H. Carr, George Kennan, Louis      decided against a plebiscite. Nawaz
                                                                  Halle and Walter Lippmann. Little no-      Sharif fought the 1997 general election
                                                                  tice is taken of the writings of John J.   on a plank of friendship with India
                                                                  Mearsheimer. This Indian self-ab-          only to be deceived by Inder Kumar
                                                                  sorption (narcissism?) accounts for        Gujral, who reneged on their accord on
                                                                  touchiness; elation at praise and deep     a working group on Kashmir. Inciden-
                                                                  resentment at criticism, of a piece with   tally he, of the bogus Gujral Doctrine,
                                                                  this is a consistent refusal to acknowl-   offered Nepal in 1990, as it was in the
                                                                  edge interests other than one’s own,       throes of an upheaval, a draft treaty
                                                                  especially those of Pakistan and China.    worse than the one of 1950, which all
                                                                  “A discussion of Pakistan along with       Nepali parties denounce. And, from
                                                                  India’s other neighbours brings out        2004-2007 India and Pakistan had
                                                                  several Indian pathologies when deal-      drawn up the basics of an accord on
                                                                  ing with neighbours.”                      Kashmir.
                                                                                                                 All of 1959-60 China sought to ar-
                                                                  MYTHS AND METAPHORS                        rive at a fair accord on the boundary,
                                                                  In most narratives of “standard”           conceding the McMahon Line and
                                                                  works, the specific disputes which          asking for the Aksai-Chin area. But
                                          VARSHA YESHWANT KUMAR

                                                                  caused estrangement in relations are       Nehru had decided way back in 1954
                                                                  either glossed over or smothered un-       that the map of that year, which
                                                                  der comfortable myths and meta-            showed a firm line in Ladakh, was not
                                                                  phors, or the record is recalled with      negotiable. The official maps of 1948
                                                                  palpable falsehoods.                       and 1960 depicted the boundary from
                                                                      A former Indian High Commis-           the Sino-Indo-Afghan tri-junction in
DA VID M. MA L O N E . The former                                 sioner to Pakistan returned after a        the west right up to the Sino-Indian-
Canadian High Commissioner to                                     brief tenure to spout hate. An Amer-       Nepal tri-junction in the east as “un-
India is now president of Canada’s                                ican “expert”, whose writings are pep-     defined” – that is, in both the western
International Development Research                                pered with factual errors galore,          and middle sectors. One wishes the
Centre.                                                           quotes him with apparent approval          author had discussed this crucial as-

                                                                            8 2   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

pect of India’s self-righteous policy in   point in Indian politics, economic ori-                          tant security and political challenges at
greater detail. Most of the media duti-    entation, and foreign policy. It coinci-                         home, in its region, and globally. On
fully follow up the official line, TV       ded with the collapse of the                                     the domestic front, while the opening
channels especially. At the end of Sep-    post-Second World War world                                      up of the political space to new social
tember, a senior anchor of a leading       order….”                                                         groups has deepened democracy in In-
TV channel exclaimed: “Behind one               India’s policies became more prag-                          dia, it has also led to severe political
lies the McMahon Line.” He was in          matic and its pronouncements less                                fragmentation and often creates ob-
Ladakh.                                    doctrine. “The manner in which In-                               stacles to effective policymaking. In-
    The book makes a timely appear-        dia’s international relations evolved                            dia’s region is fraught with security
ance now that both India’s economy         assisted India in creating higher levels                         threats arising out of unstable, often
and diplomacy are reaching what Ros-       of economic growth and earning grea-                             weak states such as Pakistan, Sri Lan-
tow called the “take-off” stage. “The      ter global influence. However, India                              ka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and
year 1991 was a significant turning         still grapples with a number of impor-                           Afghanistan, a near-neighbour in
                                                                                                            which India is much invested. Further
                                                                                                            afield, India could serve as a pivot in a
                                                                                                            new triangle (much promoted by geo-
                                                                                                            strategic commentators) involving the
                                                                                                            USA, China and India. Beyond the
                                                                                                            sphere of enjoyable geostrategic spec-
                                                                                                            ulation, India has in recent times ben-
                                                                                                            efited from cooperation with the USA,
                                                                                                            while it grapples with perennial poten-
                                                                                                            tial security threats emanating from
                                                                                                            China. India’s regional and global se-
                                                                                                            curity concerns are reflected in its pol-
                                                                                                            icies      relevant      to      military
                                                                                                            modernisation, maritime security, and
                                                                                                            nuclear policy. But domestic security
                                                                                                            concerns overwhelmingly predomin-
                                                                                                            ate.” They are just the ones which re-
                                                                                                            main unaddressed not least because of
                                                                                                            a volatile public opinion shaped by un-
                                                                                                            scrupulous politicians and a self-righ-
                                                                                                            teous, ignorant media, bar a few
                                                                                                            honourable exceptions.
                                                                                                                Comments on Afghanistan bear
                                                                                                            quotation in extenso. “Aside from sim-
                                                                                                            ilar nations such as Bhutan and the
                                                                                                            Maldives, perhaps the one country in
                                                                                                            the region where India’s involvement
                                                                                                            has not played against it – to the Pakis-
                                                                                                            tani establishment’s distress – is Af-
                                                                                                            ghanistan. Indians tend to see Delhi’s
                                                                                                            policy as altruistic, in the words of a
                                                                                                            recent editorial: ‘Delhi’s partnership
                                                                                                            with Kabul has thrived because Delhi
                                                                                                            has neither geographic access to Af-
                                                                                      SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

                                                                                                            ghanistan nor a political agenda of its
                                                                                                            own. What India wants is a moderate
                                                                                                            and stable Afghanistan that is in har-
                                                                                                            mony with its neighbours.’ This assess-
                                                                                                            ment glosses over a simple calculus in
AFG H AN PR E S I D E N T H A M I D Karzai and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh                                Delhi’s policy towards Afghanistan –
in New Delhi in April 2006. Malone writes: "Indian consistently cultivated                                  to prevent Kabul from tilting exces-
Prime Minister Hamid Karzai as an ally, but recently is rumoured to have                                    sively towards Pakistan, and allowing
opened channels of its own with the Taliban...."                                                            itself to be subsumed by Islamabad

                                                     F R O N T L I N E   8 3
books/review                                                                                                NOVEMBER 4, 2011

into its security space. Delhi worries     sight today were distasteful, and, in       times leads Indian practitioners to
that when the U.S.-led NATO forces         any event, proved consistently counter      monopolise attention through rhetori-
begin to pull out, as several NATO         productive in compelling India’s            cal brilliance and to spend as much
members have signalled they wish to        compliance.                                 time on impressing the gallery as on
do soon, Kabul could submit to the             “Russia was eventually able to ac-      tending effectively to Indian interests.
combined influence of Pakistan (sup-        quire India as an ally, virtually by de-    The cleverest person in the room may
ported by China) and the Taliban,          fault, through a more relaxed               win many arguments, but still not win
leaving India as the loser in a geostra-   projection towards India of its ideolog-    the game, as suggested in the previous
tegic tug-of-war. These worries as of      ical posture, through patience with In-     chapter. Many of those interviewed for
mid-2010 are not ill-founded: desper-      dian rhetorical flourishes, and a realist    this book in India itself, in South Asia,
ate for an exit strategy of its own,       appreciation that India mattered in         and beyond have commented that Del-
Washington appears to be encourag-         the balance of power in Asia. Indian        hi’s negotiating style too often exhibits
ing a ‘negotiated’ solution to the con-    needling of the West, particularly of       no ‘give’ while rarely hesitating to com-
flict that could only strengthen            the USA, the fruit of its anti-imperial-    municate non-negotiable principles
Pakistan’s hand locally. India consis-     ist sentiment, and the high-minded          and demands.”
tently cultivated Prime Minister Ha-       nature of much Indian speech-making              Coming as it does from a commit-
mid Karzai as an ally, but recently is     at the U.N. and elsewhere, was congru-      ted friend of India, these remarks must
rumoured to have opened up channels        ent with its eventual alliance with         be taken to heart. This is a work of
of its own with the Taliban despite        Moscow, but the latter was unable to        enormous worth. Its author’s apprais-
maintaining that there is no distinc-      assist India much with several of its       als are balanced and sound. “At the
tion between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban.     pressing needs.” This is a fair assess-     strategic level, India is not yet a partic-
A Western withdrawal from Afghan-          ment of the policies.                       ularly significant player beyond its
istan would leave numerous Indian as-                                                  own neighbourhood. International ex-
sets highly vulnerable; even under
present circumstances the Indian em-       “Indian                                     perts view only the Indian navy as hav-
                                                                                       ing developed both a strategy and the
bassy was attacked twice in fifteen
months in 2008-9. Delhi’s remaining        needling of the                             political support and resources to im-
                                                                                       plement it in expanding India’s global
option, were that scenario to unfold, of
seeking (perhaps with Moscow) to re-       West was                                    reach…. Time and history are on In-
                                                                                       dia’s side as it struggles to recover from
vive the Afghani Northern Alliance,
would doubtless prove a disappointing      congruent with                              several centuries of foreign domina-
                                                                                       tion and its consequences. Its re-emer-
and expensive consolation prize.” On
October 4, Prime Minister Manmohan         its eventual                                gence, particularly if it manages its
                                                                                       significant domestic challenges with
Singh and President Hamid Karzai
concluded in New Delhi an agreement        alliance with                               success, will be one of the major shifts
                                                                                       of the twenty-first century. It will have
whereunder “India agrees to assist, as
mutually determined, in the training,      Moscow.”                                    been hard won, and should gladden
                                                                                       both students of history and of foreign
equipping and capacity building pro-                                                   affairs the world over. Twenty or thirty
grammes of Afghan National Security             So is this one on India’s conduct of   years from now, the tentative, contin-
Forces”. Its implications will be          its foreign policy, its diplomacy. “Indi-   gent nature of many of my judgments
far-reaching.                              ans are mostly brilliant, hard-working,     today may well seem over-cautious. I
    The work covers the whole gamut        loquacious, fluent, and creative. They       certainly hope so.”
of India’s relations with the U.S., Rus-   generally cleave to engagement with              Over 40 years ago, Dorothy Wood-
sia, the European Union, Japan, the        others, and this works wonders at the       man, another friend of India, wrote:
Gulf States, Iran and South-east Asia,     bilateral level, where the parameters of    “India today seems to be the victim of
besides the neighbours. “India’s policy    national interests are perhaps most         three traumas: Kashmir, the Aksai
was appreciated with much more             clearly defined on both sides. In bilat-     Chin, poverty. To try to resolve the first
moderate enthusiasm by the West,           eral diplomacy, India has made many         two by vast military expenditure can
which, with overweening superiority,       friends. Multilaterally, however, while     only direct her funds and energies
and the assumption that any democra-       generating for itself a reputation as a     from the struggle against poverty…. To
cy worthy of the concept should align      country that always needs to be con-        settle for the present stalemate is to
on it, indulged quite frequently in bul-   tended with, India has achieved less to     condone a militarily active frontier
lying tactics towards Delhi (while also    date, with its financial diplomacy an        across Asia” (Himalayan Frontiers,
assisting it economically, particularly    honourable exception. The perceived         page 321). The situation in 2011 is not
with food aid). The Western, partic-       need to outflank all potential or actual     much more promising than it was in
ularly U.S., tactics viewed with hind-     rivals and impress all comers some-         1969.

                                                     8 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

The basic structure
              The government and the opposition together must take responsibility for the
              country’s growth and preserve the structure of the Constitution.

           OOKING at the United                                                          candidates with absolutely spotless re-

L          Progressive Alliance (UPA)
           government’s troubled sec-
           ond term, what seems to be
           a significant difference
from its first term is the attitude of the
two major parties or groups, the UPA
and the National Democratic Alliance
                                                                                         cords were available. But the ruling
                                                                                         party persisted, even got the Presi-
                                                                                         dent’s signature to his “selection”, and
                                                                                         then had to face the ignominy of hav-
                                                                                         ing the appointment set aside by the
                                                                                         Supreme Court and being sharply re-
                                                                                         buked by that court for what the gov-
(NDA), to the institutions that have                                                     ernment had tried to do. Did the
made India a functioning democracy.                                                      government not know that such an ap-
In India, we do not know what con-                                                       pointment would, had it stood, have
structive criticism means, and we can                                                    weakened an institution that clears the
accept that as an attribute of Indian                                                    highest functionaries for appoint-
democracy. Opposition means opposi-                                                      ment? The answer again is, of course, it
tion, total and unrelenting. One side                                                    knew. But it just did not care.
opposes; the other side replies in kind.
Neither listens. Well, it is the way we
                                            Point of View                                    And it is not just the Central gov-
                                                                                         ernment. The Gujarat government has
are.                                        BHASKAR GHOSE                                had an Indian Police Service (IPS) offi-
    But the criticism by the Bharatiya                                                   cer arrested, one who has publicly ac-
Janata Party (BJP), its antics in Parlia-                                                cused the Chief Minister of issuing
ment, and its various postures in the       as an institution? They know the an-         directions to the police to look the oth-
public domain leave one a little curi-      swers, which is the alarming part. They      er way when the anti-Muslim pogrom
ous. A good deal of it is justified, given   know and they do not really care. But        of 2002 engulfed the State; the arrest
the scams that have come tumbling           people in general must necessarily be        was made on some laughably stupid
out of various grotty cupboards, with       worried, even frightened. It is one of       grounds. Did the government not
the promise of more to come as time         those institutions that have made In-        know what the grounds looked like to
goes on. And then there has been the        dia the democracy it is, giving the lie to   everybody? Again the answer is it cer-
orchestrated confrontation between          those who foretold its destruction           tainly did, but again, it simply did not
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee           within years of becoming independ-           care. So, an all-India service officer is
and Home Minister P. Chidambaram.           ent. Stalling it, making it into an arena    put in jail, making that service less
But nonetheless, the BJP’s reactions        for shouting and screaming, can only         effective in the State.
have been slightly curious.                 weaken it and therefore the fabric of            The other element that has come
    Curious because it has been so over     India’s democratic nature.                   into the public exchanges between the
the top. There is a shrillness in its op-        This is one part of the issue. Anoth-   BJP and the government spokesmen is
position, its criticism; the biblical       er is what the Central government and        the descent into acrimonious name-
rending of garments has been per-           State governments are doing to the           calling. The number of times that the
formed over and over again. Not allow-      other institutions that make the coun-       BJP has called the Prime Minister in-
ing Parliament to function is now so        try work. Consider the manifest idiocy       capable of action, incompetent, pow-
much a part of opposition strategy as       of trying to appoint someone as Cen-         erless, and so on, has increased
to have becom almost formal parlia-         tral Vigilance Commissioner even             remarkably, and this was something
mentary practice; it is not just the BJP    when one of the members of the three-        started, if one remembers correctly, by
which does it, though; the Congress         member selection committee objected          no less than senior BJP leader L.K.
did just that when the NDA was in           to the appointment on the valid              Advani himself.
power.                                      ground that there was something                  It is not that one cannot call the
    But what, one would like to ask         questionable in the official’s record or      Prime Minister incompetent or pow-
both parties, does it do to Parliament      that he was chosen when two other            erless. In a democracy one can, if one

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   8 5
Column                                                                                                           NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                             wealth Games scam is undoubtedly
                                                                                             something that involves the Congress
                                                                                             because the former games Organising
                                                                                             Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi
                                                                                             is a Congress MP, but he has been put
                                                                                             in jail. What, then, about the brazen
                                                                                             behaviour of the former Chief Minister
                                                                                             of Karnataka, a BJP stalwart, about
                                                                                             which there has not been a squeak
                                                                                             from any of the BJP’s leaders? The
                                                                                             short answer is that no party can claim
                                                                                             to be, what we say in Bengali, washed
                                                                                             tulsi leaves.
                                                                                                  But the weakening of institutions
                                                                                             goes on unabated, inspired, perhaps by
                                                                                             the behaviour of MPs in Parliament
                                                                                             and MLAs in State Assemblies who
                                                                                             have thrown mikes, chairs and even
                                                                                             pedestal fans at each other and at the
                                                                                             Speakers. Chief Ministers use trans-
                                                                                             fers as punishment, often moving offi-
                                                                                             cers two weeks after they join a
                                                                                             particular post. It is very unlikely that
                                                                                             these Chief Ministers ever stop to
                                                                                       PTI   think of what the cumulative effect of
                            proceedings in the Lok Sabha on the issue of
                                                                                             all these transfers has on the adminis-
rising prices of essential commodities, in 2010.                                             trative machinery.
                                                                                                  One can, in this context, under-
wants to. All one is saying is that de-     ing urgent decisions, the crises that a          stand the kind of movement that social
scriptions of that sort could, perhaps,     Chief Minister has to face time and              activist Anna Hazare has started, al-
be limited to specific instances instead     again. It would be easy to say this, but         though it looks as if it will end up as
of being added to all references to him.    then one has to marvel at the fact that          another political party with its own
This is one of the things that seem         no less than six States are run by the           agenda. But one can see what angers
curious, though the reason for their        BJP, that the Chief Ministers of these           him because many ordinary people are
repeatedly saying that Manmohan             States would certainly be sharing their          angered by the same things. Never-
Singh is incompetent is to point, in-       problems and difficulties with the                theless, even he needs to look beyond
directly, to the fact that the real power   Central leadership, and would in fact            corruption, at the process by which the
is with Congress president Sonia            be in touch with Ministers in the UPA            country is being weakened until it re-
Gandhi, not with the Prime Minister.        government, and yet the strident tone            aches a stage where it will, as many
While we all know that, it is the fre-      of the BJP’s national leadership does            self-proclaimed prophets said in 1947,
quency with which this is declared by       not change, more curiously, that of              disintegrate into small pieces and col-
all leaders and members of the BJP          Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Mo-              lectively sink into greater poverty and
that seems odd.                             di, whom the party fancies as a future           misery.
    One needs only to look at the atti-     national leader.                                      Is it so difficult for governments
tude and behaviour of another NDA                Is it because there are so many in-         and opposition parties to realise that
constituent, the Janata Dal(U). Has         stances of corruption emerging from              both have to shoulder a tremendous
one heard Bihar Chief Minister Nitish       the UPA’s cupboards? That argument               responsibility if the country is to grow
Kumar ever say anything offensive or        will not really hold any water because           or, more basically, stay together? The
crude about the Congress? He has crit-      for one thing the scams involve, main-           Keshavananda Bharati judgment by
icised the UPA often enough, and his        ly, the Congress’ allies – the Dravida           the Supreme Court laid down that the
criticism has been at times pretty          Munnetra Kazhagam and, recently,                 basic structure of the Constitution
strong. But it has always been within       the Nationalist Congress Party, which            cannot be altered by Parliament. Apart
certain unspoken limits.                    pressured the government to take the             from that is it not clear that there is a
    It would be easy to say that this is    extraordinary decision to lift the ban           basic structure that keeps the country
because he knows what it is to run a        on the export of onions when food                together, and that ought not to be al-
State, the difficulties in the way of tak-   prices were rising. The 2010 Common-             tered?

                                                      8 6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Moral historians
               Amar Kant and Srilal Shukla, joint winners of the 45th Jnanpith Award, analyse
               the changing sociology in post-Independence north India. B Y M A N G A L E S H D A B R A L

While Srilal Shukla is the author of                                            It is remarkable that the Jnanpith has honoured
                                                                            a writer in Hindi like Amar Kant, who is known for
celebrated novels such as                                                   his leftist leanings and has been a member of the
                                                                            Progressive Writers’ Association. Srilal Shukla has
Raag Darbari and Makaan, Amar                                               not adhered to any ideological position as such (be-
                                                                            cause he was a member of the U.P. civil services) but
Kant is best known for his short                                            he has always maintained a broad left-humanist
stories such as Dopahar ka Bhojan,                                          SRILAL SHUKLA
Zindagi aur Jonk and Hatyaare.                                              Born on December 31, 1925, in Atrauli near Luck-
                                                                            now, Srilal Shukla is best known for his novel Raag
                                                WHEN Amar Kant,             Darbari, now a modern classic running in its 18th
                                            the octogenarian writer         print. It is comprised of a series, a kaleidoscope of
                                            in Hindi, was informed          events encountered by the young protagonist Rang-
                                            by the Bharatiya Jnan-          nath, a research scholar, who had gone on a trip to his
                                            pith that he had been           native place Shivpalganj, a fictional U.P. town cre-
                                            selected for the 45th           ated by the author. Unlike the innocent ambience of
                                            Jnanpith Award jointly          R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi, Shivpalganj is a collage – of
                                            with Srilal Shukla, an-         the transformations taking place in a town, the
                                            other       octogenarian        emergence of a valueless middle-class in a feudal
                                            writer, he said: “Srilal is     structure, the increasing corruption and lumpenisa-
                                            a close friend and it is a      tion of society, and the downtrodden people strug-
                                            pleasure to share this          gling to sail through it.
                                            award with him.” It was             When Raag Darbaari was published in 1968,
                                            the natural response of         after a brief face-off with the bureaucracy, many
                                            a writer who has always         critics, who considered the genre of novel as a grand
                                            upheld the values of            national narrative, were shocked to find a novel with
                                            collectiveness        and       no hero or an anti-hero who finally escapes the bi-
                                            equality in life and            zarre reality that is constantly ‘chasing him’. One of
                                            work.                           them termed the novel “a big volume of big boredom
                                                Amar Kant and Sri-          whose destiny is to remain unread”, while others
                                            lal Shukla share many           dismissed it as “too much of reality, too much of
                                            other things: both of           satire” and “a bundle of humorous episodes” and
                                            them were born in Ut-           even as being “contemptuous of rural life”. But, defy-
                                            tar Pradesh in 1925 and         ing predictions, Raag Darbaari went on to become
                                            received most of their          one of the most read and must-read texts in Hindi, a
                                            education in Allaha-            new national metaphor deconstructing the much-
S R IL AL S H UK L A , J O I N T winner of  bad, the intellectual           celebrated image of Bharat Mata, or Mother India,
the Jnanpith Award for 2009.                capital of the Hindi            famously expressed in a poem by the Chhayavadi or
                                            heartland in the 1950s          romantic poet Sumitranandan Pant: Bharat mata
                and 1960s. Through their novels and short stories,          gramvasini/ Kheton mein phaila hai shyamal/
                both have dissected in a masterly manner the chang-         Dhool bhara maila sa aanchal (Bharat Mata dwells
                ing sociology and the degeneration of values in post-       in the villages /with her dark soiled sari border/
                Independence north India. Both authors also share           spread onto the crop fields).
                age-related health problems now.                                To Srilal Shukla, Mother India’s sari is soaked in

                                                       F R O N T L I N E   8 7
                                                                                                                             NOVEMBER 4, 2011

the “mud of humanity which cannot              his village have not changed even after                    composes again and again. His father
produce any lotuses”. It was for the           32 years of Bhooda, and “the villagers                     and the woman he loved are no more,
first time that the well-entrenched             of Bisrampur are up again in arms to                       and Narayan too is destined to die in a
perception of the rural milieu as a            get back their agricultural land”. Bis-                    rickshaw accident “with his broken si-
quiet and innocuous place got prob-            rampur ka Sant, written in a style dis-                    tar and a bottle of rum thrown aside”.
lematised in such a comprehensive              tinct from Raag Darbaari, is a                             This portrays the end of an era of the
way. Raag Darbaari is not a tale in            narrative of the decadence of the poli-                    values and ideals of lofty artistic
black and white, rather it is a huge grey      tics that promised liberation to the                       pursuits.
area where the protagonist is just an          people, and also provides a discourse                          Srilal Shukla has 10 novels to his
observer, a chronicler of contemporary         on the unresolved question of land re-                     credit besides several other books, but
history, who is in the end unable to           forms and the suffering of peasants.                       he has not repeated himself in any of
take in so much of the reality around                                                                     his works. Before writing Raag Dar-
him.                                                                                                      baari, he had established himself as a
    Prof Raaj K. Sah, a Chicago-based                                                                     satirist, along with Harishankar Parsai
economist, once told this writer that                                                                     and Sharad Joshi. His first collection
Raag Darbaari was “an essential text                                                                      of humorous-satirical pieces, Angad
for social scientists studying the north                                                                  ka Paanw (Angad’s Foot, 1958), exhib-
Indian polytheistic social structure                                                                      ited his skills in dissecting the degen-
which is full of upper-caste hypocrites                                                                   eration and cynicism in India’s
who consider everything acceptable in                                                                     post-Independence public sphere.
society – from the trinity of the gods                                                                    Later it was to become a recurrent
and their incarnations, to corruption,                                                                    theme in his writing, greatly helped by
nepotism and all kinds of fraudulent                                                                      his experiences as a civil servant. In
practices”. Raag Darbaari won the                                                                         almost all his works, Srilal Shukla’s
Sahitya Akademi Award in 1970, mak-                                                                       main concern has been to dissect in a
ing Srilal Shukla the youngest Hindi                                                                      clinical manner the feudalism that had
                                                                                           SANJAY JOSHI

author to win the same.                                                                                   covered itself with the garb of democ-
    In another magnum opus, Bisram-                                                                       racy after Independence. In a deluxe
pur ka Sant (The Saint of Bisrampur),                                                                     edition of Raag Darbaari released in
Srilal Shukla again deconstructed the          A M A R K A N T , W HO   shared the award                  2007 to mark the 40th year of its pub-
values of the freedom movement and             with Srilal Shukla.                                        lication, Srilal Shukla wrote in a new
the Gandhian ideals in the post-Inde-                                                                     preface: “Given today’s pan-Indian
pendence era through the life of a Gov-            Makaan (The House), yet another                        corruption and fraudulence among
ernor, Kunwar Jayanti Prasad. He is a          significant novel of Srilal Shukla, re-                     the middle and upper classes, it may
zamindar, an advocate, a freedom               mained somewhat sandwiched be-                             seem that the writer has wasted his
fighter and later a prominent pillar of         tween the above-mentioned works. In                        energy on some rustic folks.”
the ruling political party. These are the      it he chronicled the decay of our time
characteristics that go into the making        using the realm of music. It is the tale                   AMAR KANT
of a prototype politician in India.            of a sitar player, Narayan Banerjee,                       Amar Kant, on the other hand, is best
    With feudal and aristocratic traits,       who is a mixture of talent, ambition                       known for his short stories although he
Jayanti Prasad is a degenerated patri-         and cunning. He wants to achieve                           has published six novels until now. His
arch, a consumer of power, money and           greatness in his art but, at the same                      short stories, such as Deputy Collecto-
sex, but unlike most of our contempo-          time, abhors the life of austerity and                     ry, Dopahar ka Bhojan (The Lunch),
rary politicians, there is still some          struggle that his musicologist father                      Zindagi aur Jonk (Life and the Leech)
sense of guilt, or the fear of society, left   had happily led. He wants to be suc-                       and Hatyaare (The Assassins), are
within him. When he hears the news of          cessful in worldly ways while retaining                    considered milestones in post-Inde-
the death of Sundari, an idealistic Sar-       the purity of his music. Caught in the                     pendence fiction. He started writing in
vodaya activist whom he had tried to           conflict between art and business, pur-                     a period when the Nai Kahani (New
exploit physically even when she was           suit of music and worldliness, Narayan                     Story) movement was heralding a big
having an intimate relationship with           Banerjee tries hard to get a house of his                  thematic and structural shift, and al-
his leftist son Vivek, a disillusioned         own. But when a house is ultimately                        most overshadowed the tradition of
Jayanti Prasad retires to a Sarvodaya          allotted to him by a shrewd and cruel                      Premchand which used to be the
Ashram in Bisrampur where Sundari              administrator, he loses all interest in                    mainstream fiction in Hindi. This
used to work and takes his own life.           that abode of his dreams and prefers to                    movement focussed more on urban
    The so-called Bhoodan activist also        stay on in his old hotel room, listening                   settings, individual characteristics,
realises that the agrarian equations in        to his favourite Raag Bihag, which he                      man-woman relationships, and so on,

                                                          8 8   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

in place of people in villages and small     President of the Society for the Preven-
towns. The scene was dominated by            tion of Corruption and the Society for
authors such as Mohan Rakesh, Ka-            the Abolition of Casteism. But if you
maleshwar and Rajendra Yadav, ag-            can’t drink this much, then how are
gressive advocates of the movement as        you going to take bribes from officials?
a new metaphor for and of modern             How will you make forgeries? How
society.                                     will you tell lies? How then are you
    Amar Kant was one of the few writ-       going to serve the country, scum?”
ers who stuck to the ‘social realistic’           Amar Kant’s own life has been full
tradition of Premchand. Literary crit-       of struggles. At a time when a journal-
ics like Dr Vishwanath Tripathi con-         ist’s job was not a lucrative one, he
sider his short stories to be in the         worked most of his life in that profes-
lineage of Premchand’s later works,          sion with various newspapers, literary
particularly his masterpiece Qafan           periodicals, and news magazines pub-
(The Shroud), which is a compactly           lished by Mitra Prakashan in Allaha-
crafted tale of a Dalit family. The por-     bad.
trayal of Siddheshwari Devi in Dopa-              Born in Balia on July 1, 1925, he
har ka Bhojan, Babu Sakaldip Singh in        was, as a 17-year-old student, attracted
Deputy Collectory and Rajua in Zinda-        to the Quit India movement headed by
gi aur Jonk are intricate and remarka-       stalwarts such as Acharya Narendra
ble. For instance, Siddheshwari Devi         Dev, Ram Manohar Lohia and Jaya-
in Dopahar ka Bhojan distributes a           prakash Narayan. Gandhiji’s “Do or
very limited quantity of food amongst        Die” call had a historic impact on Ba-
her retrenched husband and unem-             lia, along with Satara in Maharashtra
ployed children so that nobody feels         and Medinipur in West Bengal. An
half-fed, but in the end when nothing        independent government was formed
but half a roti is left for her, she cries   for 10 days in Balia and non-violent
silently. The beauty of Amar Kant’s          revolutionaries took over police sta-
writing lies in its simplicity, which the    tions and tehsils and freed prisoners
critic Pranaya Krishna described as          from the jail. Later, in 2003, this histo-
“the most difficult pursuit”. Amar Kant       ry surfaced in Amar Kant’s volumi-
goes deep into the sociology as well as      nous novel Inheen Hathiyaron Se
the psychology of his characters with-       (With These Weapons Alone), which
out any cathartic drama and turns            focusses on the people rather than the
them into authentic representatives of       leaders involved in the movement.
our social margins.                          One of the characters in the novel says:
                                             “Call it Gandhi storm, old dame storm
URBAN BRUTALITIES                            or mega storm, it is a well-known
His short stories of the later period        storm in human history. Yes, this is the
mark a shift to urban brutalities. In        oldest storm. It repeats itself wherever
Hatyaare, he describes two young bul-        there is slavery, atrocity, injustice, and
lies who boast to each other about be-       dictatorship.”
ing close to leaders such as Jawaharlal           Amar Kant’s other notable novels
Nehru and John F. Kennedy, about             include Kaale Ujale Din, Sukhjeevee
refusing the offer of the Prime Minis-       and Sunaar Pande ki Patohu. At pre-
ter’s post, and about being Presidents.      sent, despite his ill health, he is work-
They sexually exploit a poor woman,          ing on a novel based on his experiences
deprive her of her wages and, while          as a journalist.
running away, knife to death a man                If fiction is the moral history of our
chasing them. It is a dark and cruel         time, Amar Kant and Srilal Shukla
world profiled in a tense, mocking lan-       have chronicled it with a poignancy
guage.                                       never seen before.
    During a drinking bout, one of the            Mangalesh Dabral is a Sahitya
bullies says: “Wretch! You’re a cow-         Akademi Award-winning Hindi poet
ard! I was thinking that when I be-          and the executive editor of the Hindi
come Prime Minister, I’d make you the        fortnightly The Public Agenda.

                                                       F R O N T L I N E   8 9
Awards                                                                                               NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Modern myth-maker
        Chandrashekar Kambar, who chose a style that was starkly different from that of
        his contemporaries, wins the Jnanpith for 2010. B Y S . B A G E S H R E E

He has given a mythical character                                  event when I, their son, became literate and capable
                                                                   of documenting these experiences in writing.”
to the country’s new economic                                           The best in Kambar’s vast body of work – which
                                                                   includes nine collections of poetry, 24 plays, five
policy too, equating liberalisation                                novels and five feature films – abound with richly
                                                                   sensual imagery drawn from rural life. His charac-
to Mohini, the enchantress                                         ters speak a raw northern Karnataka dialect, and the
                                                                   techniques are strongly inspired by folk performing
who would lure men only to turn                                    traditions such as Bayalata.
                                                                        A singer too, he is the star of poetry reading
them into ashes.                                                   sessions because he never recites his poems but sings
                                                                   them with the full-throated gusto of a village bard.
            AT a recent felicitation function, Chandrashekar       Though this boisterous celebration of the folk in his
        Kambar joked that he owed the Jnanpith to his              works has sometimes led to Kambar being errone-
        miserable failure in the family’s traditional trade of     ously branded a “folk writer”, he is clearly a modern
        ironmongering. His father was frustrated as the            writer who chose a style that was starkly different
        young Kambar showed no promise in the skill of             from that of his contemporaries in Navya (modern-
        softening iron and shaping it into agricultural tools      ist) writing.
        and other implements. “Leave alone shaping the                  His second collection of poetry, Helatena Kela,
        softened metal, I could not even keep the furnace          published in 1962, marked the beginning of what
        aglow!” Kambar said with his signature guffaw. “My         was to be Kambar’s distinct literary path. The epony-
        father had no alternative but to put me in school.”        mous, long narrative poem has the musicality and
            No one could have guessed that this accidental         rhythm of the Lavani form and uses rich earthy
        entry into mainstream education would one day              imagery. However, its central theme is the frag-
        bring the Jnanpith to Kambar – the eighth to Kanna-        mentation of the organic community of Shivapura in
        da, a language which lays claim to bagging the large-      its confrontation with colonial modernity. A play like
        st number of Jnanpith awards.                              Jokumaraswamy, hailed for bringing back folk
                                                                   forms to the urban stage and creating a new music-
        NATIVE WISDOM                                              and-dance trend in Indian theatre, is a reflection on
        To the good fortune of Kannada and its literary            the decline of an oppressive feudal order.
        tradition, formal education did not kill Kambar’s
        love for the earthy flavours of his native village.         DEALING WITH TRADITION
        Godhageri in Belgaum district, where he was born in        Kambar has described himself as a modern-day
        1937, was a vibrant place teeming with folk story          “myth-maker” and believes that this method alone
        tellers, singers and performers. They made an in-          can help the writer grapple with the complex Indian
        delible impression on him, and have stayed with him        reality. Kambar has given a mythical character to the
        through nearly 50 years of his writing career.             country’s new economic policy too, equating liber-
            In his speech after receiving the Kendra Sahitya       alisation to Mohini, the enchantress who would lure
        Akademi Award in 1992, he said that the fact of his        men only to turn them into ashes.
        birth in a disadvantaged community had turned into             Several literary critics have pointed out that
        a blessing. “My people, who were illiterate and the        while many of his contemporaries rejected the past,
        most exploited, had preserved and nurtured their           Kambar negotiated it in a manner all of his own. He
        experiential learning through songs and stories.           does not betray the typical modernist alienation but
        Their entire system of knowledge stemmed from              remains rooted in tradition even though this rooted-
        their sensory memory. So it was an extraordinary           ness is fraught with complexities. His negotiations

                                              9 0   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                            out taking into account the oppressive
                                                                                                            context in which the tradition was
                                                                                                            born,” he said.

                                                                                                            AS VICE-CHANCELLOR
                                                                                                            Outside the realm of literature, Kam-
                                                                                                            bar’s negotiations between tradition
                                                                                                            and the mechanisms and tools of mod-
                                                                                                            ernity are evident in the work he did as
                                                                                                            the first Vice-Chancellor of the Kanna-
                                                                                                            da University at Hampi. He laid the
                                                                                                            foundation of the institution with a
                                                                                                            vision to conduct multidisciplinary re-
                                                                                                            search on various aspects of Karnataka
                                                                                                            to make it a centre of “Kannada knowl-
                                                                                                                 A votary of primary education in
                                                                                                            the mother tongue exclusively through
                                                                                                            state-run schools, he has often talked
                                                                                                            of the need to make all forms of knowl-
                                                                                                            edge available in local languages. Colo-
                                                                                                            nial experience, he has said, has led to a
                                                                                                            lapse of memory of a rich cultural ex-
                                                                                                            perience and a voluntary abandon-
                                                                                                            ment of native creative strengths,
                                                                                                            which need to be reclaimed.
                                                                                                                 He believes that the latest techno-
                                                                                                            logical tools can aid this process. Kam-
                                                                                          K. MURALI KUMAR

                                                                                                            bar,      with     the      late     writer
                                                                                                            Poornachandra Tejaswi, lobbied for
                                                                                                            active government role in Kannada
                                                                                                            computing. Though Kambar rarely
CH A NDR A S H E K A R K A MB A R D U RI N G a felicitation function organised                              makes comments that can be read as
by the Department of Kannada and Culture at Ravindra Kalakshetra, in                                        anti-establishment or confronting po-
Bangalore on September 26.                                                                                  litical trends or political parties, he has
                                                                                                            often spoken angrily of the Karnataka
with the fissures and contradictions of        novel Siri Sampige, never go beyond                           government’s apathy towards Kanna-
the modern world, as the poet and crit-       their sexual identities. “The role of a                       da computing, which has left it at least
ic H.S. Shivaprakash puts it, are             woman in a feudal society is not a seri-                      15 years behind States such as Tamil
“through the eye chastened by the wis-        ous question for Kambar. Women in                             Nadu. This was one of the issues he
dom of a rooted oral tradition”.              his plays sing and dance with abandon,                        had raised when he was nominated to
    It is crucial that tradition for him is   but do not stand beside men as equal                          the Legislative Council in 2004 by the
not Brahmin orthodoxy, but a Sudra            partners,” says Ashadevi.                                     Congress government.
native wisdom which informs his per-              Kambar seems to have achieved a                                He recently said that he and Te-
ceptions of the tussle between tradi-         much more complex negotiation be-                             jaswi had met Minister after Minister
tion     and      modernity      involving    tween the traditional past and the                            to plead for the cause, but to no avail.
questions of identity, feudal decay, co-      modern in poems such as Gangamayi                             He joked that each Minister would put
lonialism or sexuality.                       or Maotsetunganige, where the han-                            an arm each on both their shoulders,
    There are times, though, when             kering for the native tradition is tem-                       making them feel like “bullocks in har-
Kambar seems to get carried away by           pered by a cuttingly satirical tone.                          ness”, but did little else.
his zeal for celebrating the native, even     During an interaction with the press                               His next work, Kambar has an-
to the extent of turning blind to some        recently, he said that nostalgia over the                     nounced, will be a comedy on thieves.
of its trappings. The feminist critic         death of oral traditions without an un-                       When he was asked to comment on
M.S. Ashadevi, for instance, points out       derstanding of the context could be                           this rather unusual choice of theme, he
that women characters in Kambar’s             dangerous. “We cannot, for instance,                          replied, tongue firmly in cheek: “Be-
works, with exceptions such as in the         celebrate the music of Devadasis with-                        cause there are too many around us!”

                                                        F R O N T L I N E   9 1
Science                                                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

For a true picture
             The use of Adaptive Optics and Robo-AO will go a long way in improving the
             performance of optical instruments such as telescopes. B Y R . R A M A C H A N D R A N

The Palomar P60 telescope, with                                                                ing plane of the detector, resulting in a smudged or
                                                                                               blurred image, a fuzzy blob, instead of a sharply
the AO system fully mounted, is                                                                defined point or a disk. A bigger and more powerful
                                                                                               telescope only aggravates the smudging.
undergoing final tests. After                                                                       If two stars are very close, this makes it difficult to
                                                                                               ‘see’ or resolve them as separate objects. Astrono-
commissioning, it will have a month                                                            mers quantify this ability to resolve two nearby ob-
                                                                                               jects as ‘seeing’, which is a measure of the optical
of science demonstration run before                                                            steadiness of the atmosphere. The unsteadiness
                                                                                               arises owing to thermal non-uniformities in the at-
being used for regular observations.                                                           mosphere, like layers having different temperatures
                                                                                               and wind velocities, which are always present, caus-
                 NURSERY RHYMES have told us since child-                                      ing the light from the star that passes through them
             hood days that the stars that we see in the sky twin-                             to deviate constantly. Temperature fluctuations in
             kle. This apparent twinkling is because of the                                    small patches of air act as many little lenses and
             swirling air or the turbulence in the atmosphere                                  cause light to be refracted many times by little
             above us. The same thing happens when stars or                                    amounts. Therefore, when light reaches the tele-
             planets are observed or imaged through a telescope.                               scope, what started out as a plane wave gets dis-
             In addition to the twinkling, turbulence causes the                               torted. Equivalently, the light rays are no longer
             light from the star to jump about in the field of the                              parallel and hence cannot be focussed to a point.
             eyepiece of the telescope. If instead of an eye there                             Figure 1 shows the distortion to the incoming light
             were an imaging device at the focal plane of the                                  schematically.
             telescope’s lens, the image would correspondingly                                     ‘Seeing’ is the biggest problem in earth-based
             shift around on the photographic plate or the imag-                               astronomy. This is why most astronomical observ-
                                                                                               atories are built on mountain tops as the atmosphere
                                                                                               closer to the ground is much more convective than at
                                                                                               high altitudes. Though ‘seeing’ does improve, it does
                                                                                               not solve the problem completely. One of the chief
                                                                                               reasons for launching telescopes, such as the Hubble
                                                                                               Space Telescope (HST), into space is to overcome the
                                                                                               blurring effect of the atmosphere and achieve a far-
                                                                                               better resolution. However, this option is not avail-
                                                                                               able to everyone since space-based observatories are
                                                                                               expensive and difficult to maintain as the HST expe-
                                                                                               rience should tell us.
                                                                                                   Under ideal conditions, the theoretical limit for
                                                                                               the optical quality, or resolving power of an imaging
                                                                      BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

                                                                                               device including the eye, is determined by the dif-
                                                                                               fraction of light waves. This is the so-called ‘diffrac-
                                                                                               tion limit’ and is given by the Rayleigh Criterion. It
                                                                                               gives the smallest angular separation at which two
                                                                                               equally bright point sources can be distinguished.
                                                                                               Images of any two objects separated by a smaller
TH E 2 - M I UC A A Girawali Observatory in Pune, the next test                                angle will merge because of diffraction effects. Ac-
bed for Robo-AO.                                                                               cording to the Rayleigh Criterion, numerically, the

                                                    9 2   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

resolving power of a telescope (in radi-
ans; 2π radians make an angle of 360º)
can be approximated by the equation
R = (λ, the wavelength of light)/(D,
diameter or aperture of the telescope).
For example, this relation tells us that
for a theoretically achievable angular
resolution of 0.1 arcsec (1 arcsec = 1/
3,600 of a degree) with yellow light of
wavelength 580 nanometre (nm), the
telescope should have a diameter of 1.2
    However, this theoretical limit is
practically unachievable because of at-
mospheric distortions. Table 1 gives a
comparison of the diffraction-limited
resolution and actual resolution that
different ground-based telescopes
achieve. The 2.4-m HST, on the other
hand, has a resolution better than 0.1
arcsec in the visible compared with the    F I GU RE 1 : D I S T O R TI ON of incoming wavefront caused by intervening
diffraction limit of 0.05 arcsec. (The     atmospheric turbulence. (Adapted from the lecture "AO and Its Applications"
eye’s resolving power is also shown for    by Prof. Claire Max, University of California, Santa Cruz, U.S.)
comparison though the eye’s limita-
tions are more from the imperfections      ment (ACE) developed as part of the         an array of segmented mirrors, and the
in the cornea and the eye lens.)           Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI).         timescale involved is much longer.)
                                               Present-day AO systems essential-           Basically, an AO system comprises
ADAPTIVE OPTICS                            ly correct the wavefront received by the    the following main components: a wa-
Adaptive Optics (AO) is a technique        telescope itself by sensing its distor-     vefront sensor (WFS) to measure the
that uses optical systems in conjunc-      tions in near real-time and applying        distortion due to atmospheric turbu-
tion with the telescope to correct, or     the required corrections so that the        lence; a wavefront corrector, usually a
compensate for, the optical aberra-        image detector receives a wavefront         DM located behind the exit pupil of the
tions introduced by the intervening        that approximates the plane wave and        telescope, to compensate for the dis-
medium. In 1953, Horace Babcock, an        gives an image resolution that is close     tortion; and a control system to calcu-
inventor of astronomical instruments       to the diffraction limit. Because the       late the required correction and
then working at the Mt. Wilson and         atmosphere is constantly changing,          necessary shape to apply to the correc-
Palomar observatories in the United        the distortions caused are random and       tor. The basic principle is that the sys-
States, proposed this concept. Howev-      quite dynamic. Therefore, for the cor-      tem takes a sample of light from a star,
er, appropriate technologies were not      rections to be made in near real-time,      determines how the atmosphere is
available in the 1950s to meet the pre-    AO systems need to operate at high          perturbing and distorting the plane
cision required in an AO system.           frequencies, typically about 1,000          wavefront, and then uses a DM to
    The first working AO system was         Hertz (that is, correction response         “straighten” it.
built in 1956 by the Caltech nuclear       times of a few milliseconds). Since it is       The early techniques used a bright
physicist Robert Leighton as an ama-       difficult to change the primary mirror       “guide star” in the sky close to the ob-
teur astronomer to improve planetary       of a telescope at such high speeds, AO      served object such as a galaxy to serve
images at the 60-inch telescope at Mt.     systems use secondary wavefront cor-        as a reference. Light from the “natural
Wilson. Conceptually, however, it was      recting devices, such as a flexible de-      guide star” (NGS) passes through the
quite different from present-day AO        formable mirror (DM) or a liquid            telescope optics and is sampled at
systems. It was based on reducing the      crystal display (LCD) array. After the      about 1,000 times/sec by the WFS,
image drift with short exposure times      Cold War ended, when many of the AO         which will measure how turbulence is
and using an electronic guiding system     technologies used by the military were      distorting the wavefront. This infor-
that moved the imaging plane to can-       declassified, rapid technological ad-        mation is sent to a computer which
cel out the image motion on the film.       vances in AO became possible. (In ac-       calculates the correction to be applied
In 1992, the telescope was fitted with a    tive optics, as against adaptive optics,    to the DM, and this information is fed
different early AO system called the       deformations in large primary mirror        to the DM to counteract the distor-
Atmospheric Compensation Experi-           geometry itself are corrected by using      tions. The light wavefront from the ob-

                                                     F R O N T L I N E   9 3
                                             F I GU RE 3 : S CHE M ATI C of how a Shack-Hartmann WFS works. (Adapted
                                             from Claire Max lecture "AO and Its Applications").
FIG U R E 2: T H E ‘cone effect’ and the
                                             To overcome this problem, astrono-           shorter the wavelength of the laser
consequent missing data due to
                                             mers in recent times have begun to use       light, the more intense the scattered
insufficient sampling of wavefront by
                                             a laser to make an “artificial star” in the   light. Therefore, Rayleigh beacons are
laser guide star. (Source: Centre for
                                             part of the sky being observed.              usually in the near-ultraviolet wave-
Imaging Science, Rochester Institute
                                                                                          lengths. (It is the Rayleigh scattering
of Technology, U.S.)
                                             LASER GUIDE STAR                             of light by the atmosphere that makes
served galaxy reflects off the DM, and        The idea of using “laser guide star”         the daytime sky appear blue; blue light
the distortions are cancelled out. The       (LGS) was suggested in the early             scatters more than the higher wave-
above process is actually a continuous       1980s. Basically, this involves mount-       length red or yellow light.)
one and is in a “closed loop” control        ing a laser beam on the telescope and             One of the limitations of having
system, which constantly sends small         pointing it at the object observed. One      LGS is that it is focussed at a finite
corrections to the shape of the DM.          concept uses the sodium LGS as the           altitude. So its light does not pass
Important to this process are fast com-      beacon, which uses a yellow colour la-       through the same patches of atmo-
puting and modelling of the incoming         ser light with wavelength 589 nm that        sphere as light from a real star or the
wavefront.                                   can excite a layer of sodium atoms nat-      object being observed. This is due to
    Usually, AO systems employ wave-         urally present in the mesosphere – de-       the so-called “cone effect” (Figure 2);
front correction in two stages: first,        posited by meteorites – at a height of       light from the LGS forms a cone so that
what is known as tip-tilt correction,        about 90 kilometres. The sodium              some bits of the atmospheric turbu-
the simplest form of distortion correc-      atoms then re-emit the laser light, re-      lence that affect the observed object
tion, is applied, followed by higher-        sulting in a small glowing spot in the       are missed. It is obvious that in the
order correction with the use of the         sky that serves as the “artificial star”      case of the Rayleigh beacon, which is at
DM. Tip-tilt correction corresponds to       that can be used to measure turbu-           a much lower altitude compared with
the correction of the tilts of the entire    lence effects on the wavefront. (The         the sodium beacon, the ‘missing data’
wavefront in two dimensions (relative        same atomic transition is used in sodi-      about the wavefront will be so much
to the plane perpendicular to the optic      um vapour street lamps.) The power of        more, particularly in large aperture
axis of the telescope) and is performed      sodium beacons is typically 6-25 watt.       telescopes, that AO performance be-
using a rapidly moving tip-tilt mirror           An alternative concept is that of        comes quite poor. To compensate for
which can rotate around two axes. A          the “Rayleigh beacon”, which uses a          this, it often becomes necessary to have
significant fraction of the atmospheric       pulsed laser light focussed at an alti-      multiple laser beams to determine the
distortion can be removed this way.          tude of about 10-15 km. The laser light      atmospheric distortions sufficiently
    Often it is difficult to find an NGS       is scattered by air molecules, and the       accurately using what is known as ‘to-
that is sufficiently bright to serve the      WFS is timed so as to observe the scat-      mographic wavefront reconstruction’.
purpose close to every observed object.      tered laser light at just the time when      At present, only some telescopes
For infrared observations, it must lie       the pulse would have travelled up and        around the world have implemented
within about 30 arcsec of the object         back from the chosen altitude. The           the LGS concept and a few with mul-
and for visible light it must be within      concept is so named because the type         tiple beacons.
10 arcsec. These constraints are fairly      of scattering from air molecules is               The other chief limitation of AO is
severe and they correspondingly limit        called ‘Rayleigh scattering’ – the scat-     that the technique performs well only
the sky coverage of the telescope. The       tered light intensity here is inversely      at higher wavelengths like infrared as
fraction of objects in the sky that have a   proportional to the fourth power of the      compared to the visible region. This is
suitable NGS is a few per cent or less.      wavelength. This means that the              because of a factor called Strehl ratio,

                                                       9 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

which is the ratio of the peak intensity                                                                                            today: with piezoelectric actuators,
of the resulting image against that of a                                                                                            with micro-electro-mechanical system
theoretically perfect image (in the ab-                                                                                             (MEMS) devices, with LCDs and even
sence of the atmosphere) at the diffrac-                                                                                            liquid DMs using ferrofluids.
tion limit. It is a measure of the optical                                                                                              A DM usually has many degrees of

                                                                                           COURTESY: CFAO, LICK OBSERVATORY, U.S.
quality of telescopes. In practical sit-                                                                                            freedom, and this determines the
uations images have a ‘core’ and a ‘ha-                                                                                             number of wavefront inflections that it
lo’. When an AO system performs well,                                                                                               can correct. The number of degrees of
there is more intensity in the core. In                                                                                             freedom in a DM can be roughly taken
poor seeing conditions, the halo con-                                                                                               to be equal to the number of mechani-
tains a larger fraction of the intensity                                                                                            cal actuators. The DMs come in differ-
and the peak at the core falls; that is,                                                                                            ent sizes, and degrees of freedom range
the image becomes smudgier. Now                                                                                                     from a few tens to over a thousand.
this ratio falls off rapidly at lower opti-                                                                                         Technological advances have enabled
cal wavelengths. As compared to in-           F I GU RE 4 : A star seen through the                                                 new DMs that have over 5,000 actua-
frared, where ratios are in the range of      atmosphere with and without AO.                                                       tors and WFSs that can handle this
0.7, in optical wavelengths, current          The images were taken by James                                                        many degrees of freedom. Corre-
AO systems on large telescopes do not         R. Graham of the University of                                                        spondingly innovative algorithms for
perform better than 0.01, according to        California.                                                                           computing systems too are under con-
AO specialists. So present-day AO sys-                                                                                              stant development.
tems are used largely only in the in-                                                                                                   Figure 4 compares stellar images
frared.                                                                                                                             obtained with and without AO. Practi-
     The two key components of an AO                                                                                                cal AO systems, however, are expen-
system are the WFS and the DM. The                                                                                                  sive to build and incur large
WFS that can measure turbulence                                                                                                     operational overheads. Therefore, only
hundred to thousand times a second is                                                                                               a handful of large observatories can
typically a fast change Charge Coupled                                                                                              afford to implement AO. Even in these,
Device (CCD), similar to those used at                                                                                              only a relatively small fraction of the
slower speeds in video cameras. The                                                                                                 available observing time is set aside for
arrangement of optics in front of the                                                                                               AO-mode operation because of the
sensor varies depending on the tech-                                                                                                large operational costs. Despite this,
nique being used. There are mainly                                                                                                  the focus of AO has hitherto been only
two techniques in use: “curvature                             Ophiuchu, a binary
                                              I M A GES O F 7 0                                                                     on large telescopes because of their
sensing” and Shack-Hartmann sens-             star located 16.6 light years away,                                                   inherent capability to view faint ob-
ing. The latter, which is more widely         with and without AO, during Robo-                                                     jects and, if suitable NGSs can be locat-
used, is shown schematically in Figure        AO commissioning tests at P60.                                                        ed nearby, AO can be used to view
3. In Shack-Hartmann WFSs, the cir-                                                                                                 these faint objects sharply.
cular telescope aperture is split up into     the DM, which then corrects the wave-                                                     But there are a large number of
a two-dimensional array of pixels us-         front distortions.                                                                    small and medium telescopes (using
ing an array of small lenslets so that the        DMs for astronomy are usually                                                     mirrors of diameter 1-3 m). Besides
shape of the incoming wavefronts can          made of a very thin sheet of glass or                                                 their inherently limited light-gather-
be measured as a function of position         membrane mirrors. Attached to the                                                     ing power, their observational capa-
in the telescope aperture. Light from         back of the membrane are “actuators”                                                  bilities are severely limited by
an NGS or LGS is focussed by the array        (pistons) which expand or contract in                                                 atmospheric ‘seeing’. “What has not
of lenslets on to the fast CCD camera.        length in response to a voltage signal                                                been so clear is that if the power of AO
In the absence of turbulence, a plane         and bend the mirror locally. If the DM                                                can be combined in an efficient and
wavefront would be focussed on to an          has a depression that is half the depth                                               affordable way, it will open up hitherto
evenly spaced array of spots on the           of the initial distortion in the shape of                                             unachievable observational possibili-
camera. In the presence of turbulence,        the wavefront, then as the light gets                                                 ties. It can make moderate-sized tele-
the spots would be irregularly spaced         reflected from the mirror in the oppo-                                                 scopes more powerful with an
and these spots will jump around on           site direction, since it has to travel the                                            investment under $1 million,” pointed
the detector corresponding to the rap-        extra path length equal to the distor-                                                out Shrinivas Kulkarni of Caltech, who
id changes in the atmosphere. The             tion, the rest of the wavefront would                                                 is spearheading a collaborative project
mean wavefront perturbation in each           have caught up with the distorted sec-                                                between the Pune-based Inter-Uni-
pixel is calculated quickly and the pixe-     tion and the wavefront will become                                                    versity Centre for Astronomy and As-
lated map of the wavefronts is fed into       flat. Different kinds of DMs are in use                                                trophysics (IUCAA) and Caltech that

                                                        F R O N T L I N E   9 5
                                                                                                           NOVEMBER 4, 2011

began two years ago to implement AO                                                    includes visible, infrared and near-IR
on small and medium-sized tele-                                                        cameras for imaging. The first is an
scopes. This project, called Robo-AO,                                                  electron-multiplying low-noise visible
is currently being implemented on the                                                  CCD camera and the second an in-
fully robotic 60-inch (1.5-m) telescope                                                dium-gallium-arsenide (InGaAs) IR
– hence “Robo-AO” – at the Palomar                                                     camera, both of which are readily
Observatory in the U.S. “The collab-                                                   available. It is in adapting the general-
oration is leading innovation in as-                                                   ly available mercury-cadmium-tellu-
tronomical adaptive optics,” said                                                      ride (HgCdTe) based near-IR camera,
Kulkarni.                                                                              known as Hawaii-2RG, that IUCAA
                                                                                       has played a significant role. The near-
ROBO-AO                                                                                IR H2RG camera is, however, being
Project Robo-AO’s aim was to demon-                                                    planned only as a future upgrade for
strate a low-cost autonomous LGS AO                                                    Robo-AO. Almost all hardware devel-
system and science instrument, which                                                   opment for this upgrade (optics, elec-
works both in the visible and near-         will actually work as against a large      tronics and a good fraction of the
infrared, and is specifically designed to    telescope. A 1.5-m telescope will work     software) will be carried out at IUCAA.
take advantage of modest aperture tel-      a little better with a sodium beacon           According to A.N. Ramaprakash of
escopes by improving their sensitivity.     focussed at 90 km, but since sodium        the IUCAA, who leads the IUCAA Ro-
“Robo-AO ushers in a new AO observ-         lasers are roughly $1m [million] with      bo-AO effort, these HgCdTe sensors,
ing paradigm,” said Christoph Bara-         ongoing maintenance costs of               bonded on to a silicon circuit, are the
nec, who heads the Robo-AO group at         $100,000/yr, they are very costly com-     most successful near-IR detectors and
Caltech and is the principal investiga-     pared to the 10-15 km beacons which        are used in a number of large telescope
tor of the Caltech-IUCAA collabora-         can be purchased for less than             observatories and will also be flown on
tive project. “The emphasis is on           $100,000 and last for several years        the proposed James Webb Space Tele-
robustness,” he said in his presenta-       before needing to be serviced.”            scope. “However, the detectors are ex-
tion on Robo-AO that he made at the              The AO and camera systems are all     tremely expensive; for example, a 4
recently concluded workshop on Ro-          based on components and systems            megapixel detector costs about
bo-AO at the IUCAA. This demonstra-         that can be bought off the shelf. The      $400,000. In view of this demand, in
tor system, he hoped, would serve as        WFS part of the AO system is perform-      IUCAA we have achieved the ability to
the archetype for a new class of affor-     ed with an 11x11 Shack-Hartmann sen-       handle these detectors by designing
dable systems that were deployable on       sor with a high quantum efficiency of       appropriate detector control and data
1-3 m class telescopes. Its design is       72 per cent at the laser wavelength.       acquisition and handling system,” Ra-
modular and only small design chang-        While the zeroth order wavefront cor-      maprakash said in an e-mail exchange.
es are necessary to port the system to      rection is done by a piezoelectric tip-    “It allows the astronomers to run a
different telescope architectures, ac-      tilt mirror with a capability of up to 4   simple software on a Linux platform
cording to the project scientists. The      arcsec tip-tilt correction, higher order   and control the detector using a stan-
idea then is to replicate the Robo-AO       wavefront correction is done by a          dard USB connection,” he said.
system in small and medium tele-            12x12 actuator MEMS mirror. The pi-            This has actually resulted in the
scopes around the world, towards a          lot AO system has reportedly been          technology developed for Robo-AO
Robo-AO network of telescopes. That,        working successfully at 1.5 kHz since it   flowing back to large telescopes. The
the scientists said, would bring the        was mounted on the P60 telescope.          IUCAA-designed controller called I-
benefit of AO to the large community              For science purposes, the system      SDEC, in fact, has been chosen for
of moderate-diameter telescopes.
    The three main components of the
Robo-AO system are an LGS, an in-
tegrated AO and science camera sys-
tem, and a robotic control system. The
LGS is a 10-12 watt ultraviolet laser (λ
= 355 nm) used in the pulsed Rayleigh
beacon mode focussed at an altitude of
10 km. “If the telescope is reduced in
size to 1.5 m,” Baranec said in an e-mail
message, “the amount of missing data
will be much smaller compared to, say,
a 10-m telescope, and the AO system

                                                      9 6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                                apply this capability in three broad ar-
                                                                                                                eas: Large Single Image Surveys, Rap-
                                                                                                                id Transient Characterisation and
                                                                                                                Time-domain Astrometry, particular-
                                                                                                                ly high-precision astrometric charac-
                                                                                                                terisation of binaries and searches for
                                                                                                                     According to the scientists, in
                                                                                                                terms of Robo-AO’s performance, in
                                                                                                                the near-IR, the observations will give
                                                                                                                small telescopes capabilities equiva-
                                                                                                                lent to 4-m plus aperture telescopes at

                                                                                       BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT
  TH E R O B O - A O                                                                                            a much lower cost and with greater
  SY STE M fully                                                                                                flexibility. While in the IR, Robo-AO’s
  mounted on                                                                                                    Strehl ratios are in the range of 0.5-0.7,
  Caltech’s 1.5-m                                                                                               in the visible it can deliver Strehl ratios
  Palomar telescope.                                                                                            of 0.1-0.2, an order of magnitude bet-
                                                                                                                ter than large telescopes with tradi-
building a near-IR spectrograph for        This ability to handle a large number                                tional AO, according to Baranec. The
the 11-m South African Large Tele-         of targets a day in an automated mode                                ability to do AO correction in the vis-
scope (SALT). It will also be used by a    will be ideal for the following up of the                            ible is the other unique capability of
University of Florida team for an in-      large number of planned large surveys                                Robo-AO, he pointed out. “We are not
strument called CIRCE being built for      by various astronomy groups, said                                    limited by physics to do so on larger
the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio CANARIS         Kulkarni. Robo-AO on small tele-                                     telescopes, it’s just that technology is
(GTC) at La Palma, Spain. In return        scopes, with its minimal observation                                 probably several decades away,” he
for its contribution, the IUCAA will get   overheads, endows them with the ca-                                  said. “This,” pointed out Ramapra-
observing time on SALT and GTC, Ra-        pability of large 1,000-plus or even                                 kash, “results from a combination of
maprakash said.                            10,000-plus targets in multiple-week                                 careful error budgeting from the de-
     According to him, for the current     single campaign high-resolution sur-                                 sign phase itself, presence of an atmo-
version of Robo-AO, which is being         veys with its high per night observing                               spheric        dispersion       corrector,
commissioned on P60, some of the           rate, pointed out Baranec.                                           atmospheric characteristics of the site,
other areas in which the IUCAA’s labs          “The ability to perform observa-                                 etc.” Robo-AO’s angular resolution in
were directly involved include devel-      tions in a science programme with Ro-                                the visible is 0.1-0.15 arcsec, while in
opment of Linux-based driver for the       bo-AO on small telescopes,” he added,                                the IR it is 0.2-0.25 arcsec. Table 2
MEMS-based DM, tip-tilt mirror driv-       “is orders of magnitude more than                                    gives a comparison of the character-
er and its integration with the MEMS       what an astronomer would be able to                                  istics of a 1.5-m telescope with a tradi-
mirror driver system, laser launch sys-    realistically do at the world’s largest                              tional AO system and with Robo-AO
tem optics design, design and assemb-      apertures. If one wanted to, say, to look                            system.
ly of electrical and control system and    at 10,000-odd potential lensed quasar                                     The Palomar P60 telescope, with
software for integration of environ-       candidates with [the 10-m] Keck [tel-                                the AO system fully mounted, is now
ment and safety sensors (temperature,      escope], it may take a century since                                 undergoing final tests towards being
humidity, and so on) and feedback.         any given astronomer may only be able                                commissioned soon. After commis-
     The robotic operation and control,    to get one or two nights a year on that                              sioning, it will have a month of science
a crucial part of the Robo-AO idea,        telescope. However, on small tele-                                   demonstration run before being used
operates on a consumer grade person-       scopes, where there is typically much                                for regular observations. An identical
al computer running on Fedora Linux,       less demand, one could execute all of                                of the first Robo-AO system will be
a free open access software. According     the observations necessary in a matter                               then deployed at the IUCAA Girawali
to the scientists, the software operates   of months, both due to the availability                              Observatory’s (Pune) 2 m telescope. A
all the subsystems as a single instru-     of the system and because of the effi-                                third NGS-only variant of Robo-AO is
ment. The system thus is able to exe-      ciency afforded by making the system                                 being developed for the 1 m telescope
cute fully autonomous observations,        completely robotic and autonomous.”                                  at Table Mountain of Pamona College
which is directed by a very efficient and   Robo-AO’s potential contribution to                                  in California. After a proprietary peri-
intelligent     (observations)    queue    science comes from this unique ability                               od, the design and software for Robo-
scheduling system. It is designed to       to obtain near diffraction limited ob-                               AO will be made public under a gener-
handle up to 150 targets/night, with       servations of a large number of targets,                             al Public Licence, according to the
each observation lasting two minutes.      and the Robo-AO team is planning to                                  scientists.

                                                     F R O N T L I N E   9 7
Obituary                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

The genius of Apple
       Steve Jobs (1955-2011) gave the world not just personal computing and related
       entertainment products but a digital lifestyle. B Y J O H N M A R K O F F

Apple’s very name reflected his                                    shipping it in June 2007. To his understanding of
                                                                  technology he brought an immersion in popular cul-
unconventionality. In an era when                                 ture. In his twenties, he dated Joan Baez; Ella Fitz-
                                                                  gerald sang at his 30th birthday party. His world
engineers and hobbyists tended to                                 view was shaped by the 1960s counterculture in the
                                                                  San Francisco Bay Area where he had grown up.
describe their machines with model                                When he graduated from high school in Cupertino in
                                                                  1972, he said, “The very strong scent of the 1960s was
numbers, he chose the name of a                                   still there.”
                                                                       After dropping out of Reed College, a stronghold
fruit, supposedly because of his                                  of liberal thought in Portland, Oregon, in 1972, Jobs
                                                                  led a countercultural lifestyle himself. He told a
dietary habits at the time.                                       reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three
                                                                  most important things he had done in his life. He
            STEVEN P. JOBS, the visionary co-founder of           said there were things about him that people who
       Apple who helped usher in the era of personal com-         had not tried psychedelics – even people who knew
       puters and then led a cultural transformation in the       him well, including his wife – could never
       way music, movies and mobile communications                understand.
       were experienced in the digital age, died on October            Decades later he flew around the world in his
       5. He was 56.                                              own corporate jet, but he maintained emotional ties
            A friend of the family said that Jobs died of         to the period in which he grew up. When discussing
       complications from pancreatic cancer, with which he        the Silicon Valley’s lasting contributions to human-
       had waged a long and public struggle. He underwent         ity, he mentioned in the same breath the invention of
       surgery in 2004, received a liver transplant in 2009       the microchip and The Whole Earth Catalog, a 1960s
       and took three medical leaves of absence as Apple’s        counterculture publication.
       chief executive before stepping down in August and              Apple’s very name reflected his unconventional-
       turning over the helm to Timothy D. Cook, the chief        ity. In an era when engineers and hobbyists tended to
       operating officer. By then, Jobs had largely come to        describe their machines with model numbers, he
       define the personal computer industry and an array          chose the name of a fruit, supposedly because of his
       of digital consumer and entertainment businesses           dietary habits at the time.
       centred on the Internet. He had also become a very              Coming on the scene just as computing began to
       rich man, worth an estimated $8.3 billion.                 move beyond the walls of research laboratories and
            Jobs was neither a hardware engineer nor a soft-      corporations in the 1970s, Jobs saw that computing
       ware programmer, nor did he think of himself as a          was becoming personal and that it could even be a
       manager. He considered himself a technology lead-          force for social and economic change. And at a time
       er, choosing the best people possible, encouraging         when hobbyist computers were boxy wooden affairs
       and prodding them, and making the final call on             with metal chassis, he designed the Apple II as a
       product design. “He was the most passionate leader         sleek, low-slung plastic package intended for the den
       one could hope for, a motivating force without paral-      or the kitchen. He was offering not just products but
       lel,” wrote Steven Levy, author of the 1994 book           a digital lifestyle.
       Insanely Great, which chronicles the creation of the            He put much stock in the notion of “taste”, a word
       Mac. Jobs was the ultimate arbiter of Apple prod-          he used frequently. It was a sensibility that shone in
       ucts, and his standards were exacting. Over the            products that looked like works of art and delighted
       course of a year he tossed out two iPhone prototypes,      users. Great products, he said, were a triumph of
       for example, before approving the third, and began         taste, of “trying to expose yourself to the best things

                                             9 8   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                        attending Homestead High School in
                                                                                                        neighbouring Cupertino. The two took
                                                                                                        an introductory electronics class there.
                                                                                                             The spark that ignited their part-
                                                                                                        nership was provided by Wozniak’s
                                                                                                        mother. Wozniak had graduated from
                                                                                                        high school and enrolled at the Uni-
                                                                                                        versity of California, Berkeley, when
                                                                                                        she sent him an article from the Octo-
                                                                                                        ber 1971 issue of Esquire magazine.
                                                                                                        The article, “Secrets of the Little Blue
                                                                                                        Box”, by Ron Rosenbaum, detailed an
                                                                                                        underground hobbyist culture of
                                                                                                        young men known as phone phreaks
                                                                                                        who were illicitly exploring the na-
                                                                                                        tion’s phone system.
                                                                                                             Wozniak shared the article with
                                                                                                        Jobs, and the two set out to track down
                                                                                                        an elusive figure identified in the arti-
                                                                                                        cle as Captain Crunch. The man had
                                                                                                        taken the name from his discovery that
                                                                                                        a whistle that came in boxes of Cap’n
                                                                                                        Crunch cereal was tuned to a frequen-
                                                                                                        cy that made it possible to make free
                                                                                                        long-distance calls simply by blowing
                                                                                                        the whistle next to a phone handset.
                                                                                                             Captain Crunch was John Draper,
                                                                                                        a former Air Force electronics tech-
                                                                                                        nician, and finding him took several
                                                                                                        weeks. Learning that the two young
                                                                                                        hobbyists were searching for him,
                                                                                                        Draper appeared one day in Wozniak’s
                                                                                                        Berkeley dormitory room.
                                                                                       PAUL SAKUMA/AP

                                                                                                             On the basis of information they
                                                                                                        gleaned from Draper, Wozniak and
                                                                                                        Jobs later collaborated on building
                                                                                                        and selling blue boxes, devices that
AP P L E CE O S T E V E Jobs introduces the Apple Nano in San Francisco on                              were widely used for making free – and
September 5, 2007. Jobs considered himself a technology leader, choosing                                illegal – phone calls. They raised a total
the best people possible, and making the final call on product design.                                   of $6,000 from the effort.
                                                                                                             After enrolling at Reed College in
humans have done and then trying to         View and then to Los Altos in the                           1972, Jobs left after one semester but
bring those things into what you are        1960s. Jobs developed an early interest                     remained in Portland for another 18
doing”.                                     in electronics. He was mentored by a                        months auditing classes. In a com-
    Steven Paul Jobs was born in San        neighbour, an electronics hobbyist. As                      mencement address given at Stanford
Francisco on February 24, 1955, and         an eighth grader, after discovering that                    in 2005, he said he had decided to
put up for adoption by his biological       a crucial part was missing from a fre-                      leave college because it was consuming
parents, Joanne Carole Schieble and         quency counter he was assembling,                           all of his parents’ savings.
Abdulfattah Jandali, a graduate stu-        Jobs telephoned William Hewlett, the                             Leaving school, however, also
dent from Syria who became a political      co-founder of Hewlett-Packard (HP).                         freed his curiosity to follow his inter-
science professor. He was adopted by        Hewlett spoke with the boy for 20                           ests. “I didn’t have a dorm room,” he
Paul and Clara Jobs. Paul Jobs, who         minutes, prepared a bag of parts for                        said in his Stanford speech, “so I slept
worked in finance and real estate be-        him to pick up and offered him a job as                     on the floor in friends’ rooms, I return-
fore returning to his original trade as a   a summer intern.                                            ed Coke bottles for the five-cent depos-
machinist, moved his family down the            Jobs met Stephen Wozniak, with                          its to buy food with, and I would walk
San Francisco Peninsula to Mountain         whom he started Apple in 1976, while                        the seven miles across town every Sun-

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   9 9
                                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                            The Apple III, introduced in May
                                                                                        1980, was intended to dominate the
                                                                                        desktop computer market. IBM would
                                                                                        not introduce its original personal
                                                                                        computer until 1981. But the Apple III
                                                                                        had a host of technical problems, and
                                                                                        Jobs shifted his focus to a new and
                                                                                        ultimately short-lived project, an office
                                                                                        workstation computer code-named
                                                                                            By then Jobs had made his much-
                                                                                        chronicled 1979 visit to Xerox’s re-
                                                                                        search centre in Palo Alto, where he
                                                                                        saw the Alto, an experimental personal
                                                                                        computer system that foreshadowed
                                                                                        modern desktop computing. The Alto,
                                                                                        controlled by a mouse pointing device,
                                                                                        was one of the first computers to em-
                                                                                        ploy a graphical video display, which
                                                                                        presented the user with a view of docu-
                                                                                        ments and programmes, adopting the
                                                                                        metaphor of an office desktop.
                                                                                            “It was one of those sort of apoc-
                                                                                        alyptic moments,” Jobs said of his visit
                                                                                        in a 1995 oral history interview for the
                                                                                        Smithsonian Institution. “I remember
                                                                                        within 10 minutes of seeing the graph-
                                                                                        ical user interface stuff, just knowing
                                                                                        that every computer would work this
                                                                                        way someday.”
                                                                                            In 1981 he joined a small group of
day night to get one good meal a week        ple I computer simply to show it off to    Apple engineers pursuing a separate
at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it.      his friends at the Homebrew. It was        project, a lower-cost system code-
And much of what I stumbled into by          Jobs who had the inspiration that it       named Macintosh. The machine was
following my curiosity and intuition         could be a commercial product.             introduced in January 1984 and trum-
turned out to be priceless later on.”            In early 1976, he and Wozniak, us-     peted during the Super Bowl telecast
    He returned to Silicon Valley in         ing their own money, began Apple           by a 60-second commercial, directed
1974 and took a job there as a tech-         with an initial investment of $1,300;      by Ridley Scott, that linked IBM, by
nician at Atari, the video game manu-        they later gained the backing of a for-    then the dominant PC maker, with Ge-
facturer. Still searching for his calling,   mer Intel executive, A.C. Markkula,        orge Orwell’s Big Brother.
he left after several months and trav-       who lent them $250,000. Wozniak                A year earlier Jobs had lured Scul-
elled to India with a college friend,        would be the technical half and Jobs       ley to Apple to be its chief executive. A
Daniel Kottke, who would later be-           the marketing half of the original Ap-     former Pepsi-Cola chief executive,
come an early Apple employee. Jobs           ple I computer. Starting out in the Jobs   Sculley was impressed by Jobs’ pitch:
returned to Atari that Fall.                 family garage in Los Altos, they moved     “Do you want to spend the rest of your
    In 1975, he and Wozniak, then            the company to a small office in Cuper-     life selling sugared water, or do you
working as an engineer at HP, began          tino shortly thereafter.                   want a chance to change the world?”
attending meetings of the Homebrew               In April 1977, Jobs and Wozniak            He went on to help Jobs introduce
Computer Club, a hobbyist group that         introduced Apple II at the West Coast      a number of new computer models,
met at the Stanford Linear Accelerator       Computer Faire in San Francisco. It        including an advanced version of the
Centre in Menlo Park, California. Per-       created a sensation. Sales skyrocketed,    Apple II and later the Lisa and Macin-
sonal computing had been pioneered           from $2 million in 1977 to $600 mil-       tosh desktop computers. Through
at research laboratories adjacent to         lion in 1981, the year the company         them Jobs popularised the graphical
Stanford, and it was spreading to the        went public. By 1983 Apple was in the      user interface, which, based on a
outside world.                               Fortune 500. No company had ever           mouse pointing device, would become
    Wozniak designed the original Ap-        joined the list so quickly.                the standard way to control comput-

                                                      1 0 0   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                 der, with about 7 per cent of the com-       ness, introducing first iTunes and then
                                                 pany’s stock.                                the iPod MP3 player. The music arm
                                                     His personal life also became more       grew rapidly, reaching almost 50 per
                                                 public. He had a number of well-publi-       cent of the company’s revenue by June
                                                 cised romantic relationships, includ-        2008. In 2005, Jobs announced that
                                                 ing one with the folk singer Joan Baez,      he would end Apple’s business rela-
                                                 before marrying Laurene Powell. In           tionship with IBM and Motorola and
                                                 1996, his biological sister, the novelist    build Macintosh computers based on
                                                 Mona Simpson, threw a spotlight on           Intel microprocessors.
                                                 her relationship with Jobs in the novel          Apple began selling the iPhone in
                                                 A Regular Guy. The two did not meet          June 2007. Jobs’ goal was to sell 10
                                                 until they were adults. The novel cen-       million of the handsets in 2008, equiv-
                                                 tred on a Silicon Valley entrepreneur        alent to 1 per cent of the global cell-
                                                 who bore a close resemblance to Jobs.        phone market. The company sold 11.6
                                                 It was not an entirely flattering por-        million.
                                                 trait. Jobs said about a quarter of it was       The iPhone dispensed with a stylus

JOB S INT R O D UC I N G A PP LE I I   in        accurate.                                    and pioneered a touch-screen inter-
Cupertino, California, in 1977.                      His wife and Mona Simpson sur-           face that quickly set the standard for
                                                 vive him, as do his three children with      the mobile computing market. Rolled
ers. But when the Lisa failed commer-            Laurene Powell, his daughters Eve            out with much anticipation and fan-
cially and early Macintosh sales                 Jobs and Erin Sienna Jobs and a son,         fare, the iPhone rocketed to popular-
proved disappointing, the two men be-            Reed; another daughter, Lisa Bren-           ity; by end of 2010 the company had
came estranged and a power struggle              nan-Jobs, from a relationship with           sold almost 90 million units.
ensued, and Jobs lost control of the             Chrisann Brennan; and another sister,            Though Jobs took just a nominal
Lisa project. The board ultimately               Patti Jobs.                                  $1 salary when he returned to Apple,
stripped him of his operational role,                                                         his compensation became the source
taking control of the Lisa project, and          RETURN TO APPLE                              of a Silicon Valley scandal in 2006 over
1,200 Apple employees were laid off.             Beginning in 1986, Jobs refocussed           the backdating of millions of shares of
He left Apple in 1985.                           NeXT from the education to the busi-         stock options. But after a company in-
    That September he announced a                ness market and dropped the hard-            vestigation and one by the Securities
new venture, NeXT Inc. The aim was               ware part of the company, deciding to        and Exchange Commission, he was
to build a workstation computer for              sell just an operating system. Although      found not to have benefited financially
the higher-education market. The next            NeXT never became a significant com-          from the backdating and no charges
year, the Texas industrialist H. Ross            puter industry player, it had a huge         were brought. The episode did little to
Perot invested $20 million in the ef-            impact: a young programmer, Tim              taint Jobs’ standing in the business
fort. But it did not achieve Jobs’ goals.        Berners-Lee, used a NeXT machine to          and technology world.
    Jobs also established a personal             develop the first version of the World            As the gravity of his illness became
philanthropic foundation after leaving           Wide Web at the Swiss physics re-            known, and particularly after he an-
Apple but soon had a change of heart,            search centre CERN in 1990.                  nounced he was stepping down, he was
deciding instead to spend much of his                 In 1996, after unsuccessful efforts     increasingly hailed for his genius and
fortune – $10 million – on acquiring             to develop next-generation operating         true achievement: his ability to blend
Pixar, a struggling graphics supercom-           systems, Apple, with Gilbert Amelio          product design and business market
puting company owned by the film-                 now in command, acquired NeXT for            innovation by integrating consumer-
maker George Lucas.                              $430 million. The next year, Jobs re-        oriented software, microelectronic
    There was little market at the time          turned to Apple as an adviser. He be-        components, industrial design and
for computer-animated movies. But                came chief executive again in 2000.          new business strategies in a way that
that changed in 1995, when the com-                   Shortly after returning, Jobs publi-    has not been matched.
pany, with Walt Disney Pictures, re-             cly ended Apple’s long feud with its             If he had a motto, it may have come
leased Toy Story. That film’s box-office           archrival Microsoft, which agreed to         from The Whole Earth Catalog, which
receipts ultimately reached $362 mil-            continue developing its Office soft-          he said had deeply influenced him as a
lion, and when Pixar went public in a            ware for the Macintosh and invested          young man. The book ends with the
record-breaking        offering,    Jobs         $150 million in Apple.                       admonition “Stay Hungry. Stay
emerged a billionaire. In 2006, the                   Once in control of Apple again,         Foolish.”
Walt Disney Co. agreed to purchase               Jobs set out to reshape the consumer             “I have always wished that for my-
Pixar for $7.4 billion. The sale made            electronics industry. He pushed the          self,” he said.
Jobs Disney’s largest single sharehol-           company into the digital music busi-                © New York Times News Service

                                                          F R O N T L I N E   1 0 1
Obituary                                                                                                    NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Timeless music
       Jagjit Singh (1941-2011), with his mellifluous voice, helped ghazal find
       its rightful place in the hearts of the common people. B Y V I J A Y L O K A P A L L Y

                                                                                                                  S.S. KUMAR

       G H A Z A L M A ES T RO J A GJ I T   Singh at a concert in Chennai in July this year.

The album “The Unforgettables”,                                          of it spent bringing ghazal out of the closet. “You have
                                                                         to understand the language. If you don’t, the essence
released in 1976, was a “defining                                         of ghazal would be lost,” he once remarked. The
                                                                         maestro would convince himself first and then take
moment” in his musical career. Then                                      his offering to the masses. He did not believe in
                                                                         “imposing” a ghazal on his followers.
came the success of the songs from                                            Jagjit Singh was born into a Sikh family in Sri
                                                                         Ganganagar in Rajasthan on February 8, 1941. He
the films Arth and Saath Saath.                                           spent his modest childhood in Bikaner where his
                                                                         father worked.
           JAGJIT SINGH was born to sing, and he firmly                        “We were a lower-middle-class family. My moth-
       believed that he could have done nothing else. And                er had 11 children. Seven survived,” Jagjit is quoted
       when the great ghazal singer breathed his last in a               as saying in his biography, Beyond Time. His middle-
       Mumbai hospital on October 10, he had reached the                 class rooting helped him embrace life, its joys and
       end of a journey that lasted 70 years, the better part            sorrows, with a realistic philosophy.

                                                   1 0 2   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

     Jagjit’s love for singing took wing         He formed a winning partnership          response would decide the course of
under the guidance of Pandit Chha-          with his wife and fellow ghazal singer        the evening,” Desai recalled.
ganlal Sharma, a blind music teacher.       Chitra. “Bohot pehle se un kadmon ki              He particularly liked fans who
     Jagjit did not mind missing school     aahat pehchaan lete hain” had a gener-        grew up listening to his film and non-
to catch up on films that had good           ation swooning. As did “Sarakti jaye          film genre of music. “The middle-aged
music. At a college function, he held       hai rukh se naqaab ahistaa ahistaa”.          group at his concerts struck an instant
the attention of the audience, despite a    Jagjit and Chitra’s fan following grew        bond,” Desai pointed out. This was the
power failure, with a song from the         with each album of theirs. Ghazal had         segment that formed the largest chunk
film Pyaasa. That day he was con-            found its rightful place among the            of his ghazal-loving audience. Jagjit
vinced that his future lay in singing. He   common people, but what thrilled Jag-         would joke: “They must have been
pursued education in Jalandhar, Pun-        jit the most was the overwhelming re-         teenagers or in the early days of their
jab, primarily because the town had a       sponse his concerts received overseas.        courtship when I was just about begin-
radio station.                                   Many singers found live concerts         ning to make ghazal popular with the
     Gulzar, the versatile poet and film-    an uncomfortable experience. But Jag-         youth. Most of their requests would
maker, described Jagjit thus: “His          jit loved them. In fact, he was at his        often be for my songs of 1975-85.”
voice is beautiful and so is his render-    best during live performances. He                 Two films, Arth and Saath Saath,
ing.” The two came together in Jagjit’s     would innovate, and regale the audi-          propelled him into national reckoning.
later years and produced some unfor-        ence with his humour. “It became part         The songs from the films captured the
gettable gems. Little wonder that Gul-      of his concerts in later years,” remem-       imagination of the young, and their
zar affectionately referred to him as       bered Kuldeep Desai, who conceptual-          success gave a fillip to his non-film
“Ghazaljit”.                                ised the shows. “He had an amazing            renderings too. Jagjit and Chitra be-
     Jagjit, who had a mellifluous voice,    skill to read the audience. The jokes         came household names in the 1980s,
struggled initially as a singer. His        were his way of making them comfort-          and it was considered fashionable to
brother Kartar revealed in Beyond           able, and his constant interaction with       hum ghazals and embellish one’s col-
Time how Jagjit sang at film parties in      them lit up the atmosphere.”                  lection with Jagjit-Chitra albums. His
the hope of getting a break: “When he            “He looked forward to performing         evergreen solo from Prem Geet, “Hoton
was new to Bombay (in the                   at concerts. Surprisingly, he never pre-      se chhu lo tum, Mera geet amar kar
mid-1960s), all the big film people          pared himself for the shows. His initial      do”, became an anthem for the youth
would call him to their homes to sing,      interaction with the audience and its         and continues to be one in times when
making false promises of giving him a
chance in films so that he would per-
form for them free.”
     But Jagjit was determined to make
it big on his own. A Sikh, Jagjit sacri-
ficed his hair and beard to gain a new
look, the look of a ghazal singer. This
act did not go down well with his fam-
ily at first.
     His first playback song was in a
Gujarati film, but Jagjit confessed that
the album “The Unforgettables”, re-
leased in 1976, was a “defining mo-
ment” in his musical career. His “Baat
niklegi to phir duur talak jayegi” in the
album was a big hit. The album
changed the way the masses listened to
     While purists and traditionalists
may have preferred the Pakistani gha-
zal singers Mehdi Hassan and Ghulam
Ali, Jagjit’s voice won the hearts of the
youth. Ghazal became easy to under-
stand and easier to hum thanks to him.
Jagjit’s numbers became an essential

part of social gatherings and private
parties.                                    J A GJ I T A N D W I FE   Chitra. They formed a winning partnership.

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   1 0 3
Obituary                                                                                                                            NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                                missioned him to bring out an album
                                                                                                                of four CDs containing 32 shabads
                                                                                                                (hymns) to commemorate 300 years of
                                                                                                                Gurta Gaddi of Sri Guru Granth Sahib
                                                                                                                Ji Maharaj. Jagjit, in association with
                                                                                                                Dr Gurnam Singh of Punjabi Universi-
                                                                                                                ty, Patiala, produced a priceless collec-
                                                                                                                tion. The album had singers from
                                                                                                                different religions and cultures, such
                                                                                                                as Ustad Rashid Khan, Shafaqat Ama-
                                                                                                                nat Ali, Hariharan, Begum Parveen
                                                                                                                Sultana, Jayshri Shivram, Ashwini
                                                                                                                Deshpande, Suresh Wadkar, Sonu Ni-
                                                                                                                gam, Anup Jalota, Dilraj Kaur, and
                                                                                                                Shankar Mahadevan apart from Jagjit.

                                                                                                                RELIGIOUS RENDERINGS
                                                                                                                At the launch, Jagjit said: “The 32 sha-
                                                                                                                bads are a symbol of national integra-
                                                                                                                tion and we have many non-Sikh
                                                                                                                singers contributing. The shabads are
                                                                                                                simple and easy to understand.” His
                                                                                                                music, too, was always simple and easy
                                                                                                                to understand. The album became part
                                                                                                                of his religious renderings which also
                                                                                                                included Ram Dhun, Shiv Dhun and
                                                                                                                Krishna bhajans.
                                                                                                                    Another album that Jagjit loved
                                                                                                                was Samvedna, based on the poetry of
                                                                                                                former Prime Minister Atal Bihari
                                                                                          V.SREENIVASA MURTHY

                                                                                                                Vajpayee. The one that appealed to
                                                                                                                him the most was “Duur kahin koi rota
                                                                                                                hai”, which Vajpayee wrote when he
                                                                                                                was lying in a hospital bed during the
WITH PA K I S T A N I G HA Z A L   singer Ghulam Ali in Bangalore in August 2007.                                   His following was worldwide and
                                                                                                                his music appealed to the people of
music, as he lamented sometimes, has          with Lata Mangeshkar. It was a land-                              Pakistan greatly. Mehdi Hassan and
been reduced to “cacophony”.                  mark effort because it brought two leg-                           Ghulam Ali shared a special rapport
    Tragedy struck in July 1990 when          ends from different backgrounds                                   with this icon from India. Jagjit and
Jagjit and Chitra lost Vivek, their only      together.                                                         Ghulam Ali held a concert in New Del-
son, in a car accident on Marine Drive,           A private person, Jagjit was polite                           hi in September 2011. Their second
Mumbai. Vivek was a month short of            to a fault with his friends and fans. His                         performance, in Mumbai, stood can-
19. Chitra never performed in public          only anguish was with reality shows                               celled as Jagjit took ill and suffered a
again, but Jagjit returned to win the         and the general decline in singing                                brain haemorrhage, which led to his
hearts of his fans after six months.          standards.                                                        death.
    “I was a broken man,” wrote Jagjit,           “They [the new singers] are in a                                  Jagjit loved the company of crick-
recalling how the tanpura infused life        hurry. They want to rush from being                               eters and was close to many. He visited
into his singing again. He sought sol-        bathroom singers to studios,” he told                             Sharjah to watch the India-Pakistan
ace in Nida Fazli’s poems such as “Ap-        this correspondent once. The reality                              matches. He was fond of racing too
na gham le ke kahin aur jaaya jaye,           shows, he said, were nothing but “dra-                            and owned a few horses, but music
Ghar mein bhikre hui cheezon ko sa-           mas” with judges as “showpieces”.                                 remained his priority, and as he often
jaaya jaye”.                                      Jagjit boosted secularism through                             said, his “commitment” to society.
    The pain was evident in Jagjit’s          his work. He took immense pride                                       Jagjit Singh, of ageless music, will
voice when he came out with “Sajda”,          when Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur                                   sing no more. But his voice will live
one of his finest albums, in tandem            Sahib of Nanded (Maharashtra) com-                                forever.

                                                       1 0 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Question of ethics
               The targeting of Al Qaeda’s Anwar al-Awlaki raises questions about the legality
               of the U.S. killing its own citizens and the ethicality of using drones for that.

            HE September 30 killing of                                                  job that his U.S degrees could certainly

T           Anwar al-Awlaki, a preach-
            er-turned-operational com-
            mander of Al Qaeda, in a
            remote tribal village in the
desert region of Yemen, following a
United States drone attack, is yet an-
other setback to the dreaded terrorist
                                                                                        have earned him. He became an imam,
                                                                                        first at Fort Collins (Colorado) and lat-
                                                                                        er in San Diego, where he spent five
                                                                                        years at the local mosque, the Arribat
                                                                                        Al Islami. He had earlier married a
                                                                                        cousin from his native Yemen and
                                                                                        raised two children. Awlaki’s life in
organisation. (The last time the U.S.                                                   San Diego was comfortable, marked by
used a drone in Yemen was in 2002.                                                      good relations within the community.
That was to kill Abu Ali al-Harithi, a                                                       Ironically, alongside religious in-
Yemeni Al Qaeda operative accused of                                                    struction there, he displayed temporal
planning the 2000 attack on USS Cole,                                                   interests as well. These included ex-
the U.S. Navy destroyer.) Coming                                                        ploring prospects of investment in pri-
within months of the death of Osama                                                     vate business, particularly in gold and
bin Laden in a daring U.S. operation at
Abbottabad in Pakistan, the liquida-
                                             Law and Order                              minerals. It was this aspect of his per-
                                                                                        sonality that persuaded a visitor to the
tion of Awlaki in Yemen is a remarka-        R.K. RAGHAVAN                              San Diego mosque to make Awlaki
ble success for the Central Intelligence                                                agree to recording his lectures and
Agency (CIA) and the White House.                                                       marketing them in CDs. This essen-
Incidentally, another U.S. citizen, Sa-      themselves to striking at the U.S. and     tially commercial proposition (about
mir Khan, of Pakistani origin, was also      its citizens across the globe.             50 CDs were sold) was a success be-
killed in the raid, along with two oth-           The Awlaki profile, like that of bin   cause of his powers of articulation, es-
ers. Samir Khan was the co-editor of         Laden, makes for interesting reading.      pecially in English.
“Inspire”, an English online propagan-       It more than confirms that the breed-            One report tells us that the lectures
da magazine that was principally             ing ground for terrorists is not Afghan-   were free from radicalism, with not
aimed at prospective recruits to Al          istan or Pakistan. It could well be the    even a tinge of hatred or exhortation to
Qaeda.                                       American heartland itself. Awlaki was      violence, something that was to mark
     Even the bitterest U.S. detractor       born in New Mexico in 1971, when his       his later rhetoric. His desire to be in
would concede that superior technol-         father (who was later to become a Min-     the spotlight influenced his decision to
ogy and a ceaselessly penetrative in-        ister for Agriculture in the Yemeni        relocate to Virginia in 2000, where he
telligence outfit with enormous               government) was a student there. Re-       became imam at the big Dar al-Hijrah
resources were indeed making a differ-       turning to Yemen with his father, he       mosque in Falls Church, outside
ence, even in as difficult a terrain as       went to a prestigious private school.      Washington, D.C. This proved very
rural Yemen. Incidentally, this appar-       He went back to the U.S. to get an         significant as it gave him exposure to a
ently seamless operation – almost sim-       engineering degree at the Colorado         large segment of the Muslim commu-
ilar to the one that saw the elimination     State University and a Master’s in         nity in the country.
of bin Laden – should strengthen the         Education from San Diego.                       Then came 9/11 and the subse-
Obama campaign for next year’s presi-             Possibly because of his exposure to   quent government action against ter-
dential election. This is, of course, only   strong Islamic instruction while he        ror suspects. Awlaki took a leading
if the country’s economic situation          was an adolescent in Yemen, Awlaki         part in the Muslim protests that fol-
does not worsen further and Obama            took a drastic decision after he com-      lowed. Information fed to official
retains the zeal and edge in his offen-      pleted his postgraduate studies. Much      quarters had it that at least two of the
sive against Al Qaeda and other orga-        to the chagrin of his father, he pre-      hijackers involved in the 9/11 attack
nisations      that    have     dedicated    ferred religious preaching to a regular    had attended Awlaki’s sermons. He

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   1 0 5
                                                                                                                          NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                      year, a U.S. court refused to intervene
                                                                                                      in a suit filed by Awlaki’s father ques-
                                                                                                      tioning the constitutional validity of
                                                                                                      the order against his son. The court’s
                                                                                                      view was that this was an essentially
                                                                                                      political decision falling outside the ju-
                                                                                                      dicial ambit. The question may have
                                                                                                      raised is whether by ordering his liq-
                                                                                                      uidation the Obama administration
                                                                                                      had violated a citizen’s right enshrined

                                                                                                      in the Constitution.
                                                                                                          One view that supports the admin-
                                                                                                      istration refers to Awlaki’s dual na-
A PREDATOR DRONE        of the U.S. Air Force, an undated handout.                                    tionality and his choosing to operate
                                                                                                      from Yemen, a country over which the
was quizzed several times by the Fed-      lates to Al Qaeda’s morale. To be spe-                     U.S. had no control. Even if this was so,
eral Bureau of Investigation (FBI) dur-    cific, how far has it further weakened                      there is the other test of “imminent
ing the 9/11 investigation, but it did     Al Qaeda, which is yet to recover from                     danger” – a condition prerequisite for a
not throw up material enough to justi-     bin Laden’s removal from the scene?                        peremptory order of assassination
fy his detention. Feeling the heat of      Without a doubt, one more virulent                         against an individual – that the U.S.
scrutiny, he left the U.. abruptly and     campaigner against the West in gener-                      government had to satisfy. It is diffi-
went to the United Kingdom, where he       al and the U.S. in particular has been                     cult to say whether Awlaki’s assassina-
was a big draw at student gatherings.      got rid of. If bin Laden stood out for his                 tion satisfied this criterion, especially
     Unable to make ends meet, he re-      organising abilities, Awlaki was for-                      when the target was operating from a
turned to Yemen in 2004. It was dur-       midable with his widespread appeal on                      remote locale and had no means him-
ing this phase that Awlaki’s outlook to    the Internet for violence against the                      self to strike at his enemy. One school
life underwent a surprising transfor-      non-Islamic world. The ease with                           of thought accuses the Obama admin-
mation. He transited from being a          which he spoke English carried an in-                      istration of being extremely “flexible”
mere ideologue to an operations man,       credible appeal to the American Mus-                       while defining “imminent danger”.
and became pronouncedly militant in        lim youth, a phenomenon that caused                        The debate will necessarily be incon-
his exhortations online to Muslims,        panic within the U.S. administration.                      clusive.
telling them that they should kill all     His successful elimination highlights                          Finally, there is the ethical ques-
those who did not subscribe to Islam.      the American prowess in the fight                           tion of the use of drones, which have
Under U.S. pressure, he was detained       against terrorism, and to this extent, it                  become a powerful weapon in the U.S.
by the Yemeni government for a year.       will dampen Al Qaeda and its allies for                    armoury. They are lethal beyond belief
     Following his release, he found it    at least some time.                                        and are growing fast in sophistication.
safer to operate from the remote re-            Also, the impact of the U.S. oper-                    Otherwise known as Unmanned Ae-
gions of the country so as to evade        ation should be long lasting, especially                   rial System (UAS) or Unmanned Ae-
continual official monitoring of his ac-    because of the use of a technology that                    rial Vehicle (UAV), the remotely
tivities. Keeping track of his doings as   Al Qaeda has not been able to match as                     piloted aircraft have become an ac-
a leading light of the Al Qaeda in the     yet. This is why the AQAP’s threat of                      cepted mode of attacking the enemy.
Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the U.S.         retaliation announced seems more                           Until now they have passed muster
administration ordered his targeted        symbolic than a real one backed by a                       with the Geneva-Convention-based
killing in 2010. This move also took       capacity to inflict large-scale destruc-                    Law of Armed Conflict despite the
into account the strong evidence link-     tion on the U.S. and its allies. Notwith-                  chorus of protest from human rights
ing him with Nidal Malik Hasan, the        standing this, a few spectacular actions                   activists. The truth is, however much
U.S. Army Major who killed 13 per-         that can damage relatively minor U.S.                      the U.S. may deny it, a drone attack
sons in the Fort Hood camp in Novem-       targets are very much on the cards.                        takes more civilian lives than is ad-
ber 2009, and the arrest, one month             The second feature of the Awlaki                      mitted. In sum, the Awlaki episode de-
later, of a Nigerian student with explo-   killing is the legality of the U.S. action.                serves to be studied seriously by both
sives fastened to his innerwear while      Awlaki was a U.S. citizen on whom the                      defence experts and the political exec-
on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.      Constitution vested a few fundamental                      utive in India. The technology used
                                           rights, including the Fifth Amend-                         and the legal issues raised here may
THREE ISSUES                               ment right (No one shall be “deprived                      not be relevant to us just now. At a
In my view, the Awlaki killing raises at   of life, liberty, or property, without due                 distant point of time, however, it may
least three major issues. The first re-     process of law”.) Interestingly, late last                 not remain so.

                                                     1 0 6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Misleading picture
              The theories about a major shift in global economic power from the North to the
              South are premature because they are derived from a flawed methodology.

           WO thoughts dominate in                                                         The economic theory behind the

T          the global financial press in
           these uncertain times. The
           first is the growing concern,
           even fear, about immediate
economic prospects with the almost
certain possibility of another major fi-
nancial crisis. The euro area is appar-
                                                                                       use of PPP measures is that exchange
                                                                                       rate comparisons of less-developed
                                                                                       economies consistently undervalue
                                                                                       the non-traded goods sector, especial-
                                                                                       ly labour-intensive and relatively
                                                                                       cheap services, and therefore under-
                                                                                       estimate real incomes in these devel-
ently unable to resolve the problems of                                                oping economies.
imbalance and debt in the peripheral                                                       In some cases, this can be quite
countries, which now threaten the                                                      significant. For example, according to
profitability and even viability of major                                               the Penn World Tables, which provide
banks in the core countries. The Unit-                                                 the most widely used source of infor-
ed States is so hamstrung by its com-                                                  mation on incomes deflated by PPP,
plex political process that its                                                        total incomes in countries with large
government is unable to take any mea-
ningful measures to prevent the econ-
                                           Preoccupations                              poor populations such as India or Chi-
                                                                                       na increased by multiples of around
omy from falling into recession or even    JAYATI GHOSH                                2.5 with the PPP estimate, compared
depression. The contagion effects in                                                   with the nominal exchange rate esti-
the rest of the world will probably be                                                 mate in 2005. (In India, for example,
more pronounced than they were in          ing markets, particularly in countries      the World Bank’s latest PPP estimate
2008 and 2009 since many economies         such as Brazil, Russia, India, China        is Rs.19 a U.S. dollar, compared with
that withstood the earlier crisis are fi-   and South Africa (BRICS) .                  the actual exchange rate of more than
nancially more vulnerable now.                 In some recent publications, the        Rs.48 a dollar.)
    The second perception, which is        impression is given that the shift has          The use of PPP rates led to the
expressed in gloomy or resentful terms     already occurred. The IMF’s World Ec-       grandiose statements of China becom-
in the North and in excessively confi-      onomic Outlook for September 2011,          ing the second largest economy in the
dent terms in the South, relates to the    for example, suggests that developing       world or India even reaching sixth po-
shift in global economic power, which      countries now account for nearly half       sition on the global economic ladder.
has been occurring especially over the     (48 per cent) of world output, more         These conclusions are based on the
past decade and is widely seen to have     than double the share of two decades        assessment that our currencies com-
been accelerated by the crisis.            ago. According to their estimates, in       mand several times more goods and
    All the major global publications,     2010 the U.S. economy accounted for         services than are reflected in the actual
whether they are from the Interna-         less than one-fifth of global output and     exchange rates.
tional Monetary Fund (IMF) or the          the euro area less than 15 per cent.            However, there are some major
World Bank or the Organisation for         Developing Asia, by contrast, accounts      problems with the estimates of income
Economic Cooperation and Develop-          for 24 per cent.                            using exchange rates based on PPP.
ment (OECD) or the United Nations              Described in this way, it certainly     The most significant is that of deriving
Conference on Trade and Develop-           appears as if the fulcrum of global eco-    the actual price comparisons. Obvi-
ment (UNCTAD), have taken note of          nomic power is on the verge of chang-       ously, PPP calculations should be
this tendency and see it as possibly the   ing or has already done so. But a closer    based on comparing the prices of iden-
dominant process in the future. Some       look reveals that these estimates are all   tical (or at best very similar goods) in
further argue that the downturn in the     based on “Purchasing Power Parity”          different countries, and these should
North will be effectively counterbal-      (PPP) rates instead of actual exchange      in turn be the goods that are most
anced by continued growth in emerg-        rates.                                      commonly represented in total expen-

                                                    F R O N T L I N E   1 0 7
Column                                                                                                      NOVEMBER 4, 2011

diture. But this is easier said than         terms, for example, shows a 40 per         els of income across countries, by mak-
done. It is almost impossible to find         cent decline compared with the 2000        ing countries with low per capita
identical goods that dominate con-           estimate. This is because the new PPP      incomes at actual (or nominal) ex-
sumption and investment across dif-          for China is estimated to be around        change rates suddenly appear to be
ferent countries.                            half the nominal rate, whereas the pre-    much less poor in terms of PPP.
    So the first question is how to           vious estimate (dating from 1993) had           Instead, if we actually look at the
choose comparable baskets of goods in        suggested it was only around one-          share of incomes across different
different countries. Currently, a “rep-      fourth of the nominal rate. This down-     country groupings in terms of actual
resentative” basket of U.S. consump-         ward revision of per capita income in      exchange rates, it makes sense because
tion is taken as the norm, which is          China also adds significantly to the es-    of all the reasons mentioned above and
highly problematic because of enor-          timate of poverty using the standard       also because of the fundamental point
mous differences in consumption that         U.S. dollar per day definition, more        that global trade and investment flows
stem not only from cultural patterns         than doubling the estimated number         actually take place in nominal ex-
but also from per capita income itself.      of poor people in China.                   change rates, not in some imaginary
It is also worth noting that in recent            But then there is a further problem   “PPPs”. So if relative economic power
years, the process of goods consumed         in using a single PPP indicator over a     is to be assessed, it must be looked at in
in greater proportion (such as con-          long period. The PPPs reflect the rela-     terms of the actual size of economies in
sumer durables) by the better-off have       tive costs for a pattern of consumption    terms of the rates that are used for
been falling, especially relative to the     prevailing at only one moment in time,     cross-border transactions.
prices of essentials such as food. So this   but this pattern is actually constantly         The shift in relative economic
too would not adequately reflect actual       changing. So a snapshot of relative        strengths, while still visible, is no-
purchasing powers across different in-       prices across countries at a point in      where near as significant or major as is
come groups.                                 time can give a misleading idea of time    generally presented. The share of de-
    The second, and even more daunt-         trends.                                    veloped countries has certainly de-
ing, problem is how to find the actual             There is a less talked about but      clined in the past two decades by
prices of such goods and services, and       possibly even more significant concep-      nearly 15 percentage points but they
what to take as the representative price     tual problem with using PPP esti-          still account for more than 70 per cent
of each. This obviously has to use ei-       mates. In general, countries that have     of global income. And while develop-
ther existing price data or data from        high PPP, that is, countries where the     ing countries have more than doubled
surveys that are constantly updated.         actual purchasing power of the cur-        their share in the same period, they
But this is also very difficult especially    rency is deemed to be much higher          still have achieved less than 30 per
in most developing countries, includ-        than the nominal value, are typically      cent share. This is certainly not as stark
ing very large ones.                         low-income countries with low aver-        in terms of presenting an imminent
                                             age wages. It is precisely because there   handover of global power.
UNRELIABLE DATA                              is a significant section of the workforce        When individual countries are
There are real concerns about the poor       that receives very low remuneration        considered, the U.S. still accounts for
and often outdated quality of the data       that goods and services are available      nearly a quarter of global output, and
on actual prices prevailing in different     more cheaply than in countries where       the euro area is nearly one-fifth. China
countries (including large developing        the majority of workers receive higher     is still less than 10 per cent, and India
countries such as China and India)           wages.                                     is less than 3 per cent.
that are used in such studies, which              Therefore, using PPP-modified               This is not to deny the clear direc-
affect the reliability of such calcula-      gross domestic product (GDP) data          tion of change but simply to point out
tions. Thus, until recently, there had       may miss the point, by seeing as an        that the process still has a very long
been no major survey or even careful         advantage the very feature that reflects    way to go before it can become really
estimate of prevailing prices in India       greater poverty of the majority of wage    significant. This is certainly worth
and China so that the PPP estimates          earners in an economy.                     pointing out to those in the North who
before 2005 have been based on very               In other words, a country’s ex-       are currently obsessed with the fear of
outdated evidence on prices of goods         change rate tends to be “low” – or the     the southern takeover. But it may be
and services in these two countries.         disparity between the nominal value of     even more important to remember in
    When they were finally revised on         the currency and its “purchasing pow-      the South, especially among people
the basis of recent surveys and fresh        er” tends to be greater – because the      whose gung-ho optimism in this re-
evidence on actually prevailing prices       wages of most workers are low. A low-      gard is not always tempered by reality.
in the two countries, the PPP estimates      currency economy is a low-wage econ-       Especially in South Asia, our devel-
in these two countries changed dra-          omy, which is not something that           opment project remains woefully in-
matically. The 2005 PPP-adjusted per         should be celebrated. And that, in         complete – but our income levels are
capita income for China in U.S. dollar       turn, gives a misleading picture of lev-   also still really low.

                                                      1 0 8   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011
                                                                                                  Nobel Prizes

Immunity unravelled
           The Prize for Medicine has gone to three scientists who found out the key
           mechanisms underlying the activation of the immune system. B Y R . R A M A C H A N D R A N

Ralph Steinman, who was awarded                                           innate response is unable to counter the invading
                                                                          organism, the second layer of the immune system,
the prize posthumously in a break                                         called the “adaptive” or “acquired” immune system,
                                                                          takes over. Adaptive immunity produces antibodies
from the Nobel Foundation’s rule,                                         that fight the infection and killer cells that destroy
                                                                          infected cells. The adaptive immune system is, how-
discovered the role of dendritic cells                                    ever, known to be present only in jawed vertebrates.
                                                                              Unlike the innate response, where the response
in immune regulation, which opens                                         is rapid on exposure to the pathogen, adaptive re-
                                                                          sponse is slower; there is a time lag between expo-
up avenues for the development of                                         sure and the maximal response that the system can
                                                                          mount (Figure 1). The second stage of immune re-
new vaccines against infections.                                          sponse finally leads to the pathogens being cleared
                                                                          from the body. But, more significantly, while innate
               TO defend themselves against infection by ex-              immunity does not retain any memory of the patho-
           ternal microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fun-          gen, adaptive immunity develops an immunological
           gi and parasites, living beings possess layers of              memory that enables the immune system to respond
           defence with increasing specificity. The first layer is          faster and mount stronger responses when the same
           the physical block such as skin and external secre-            pathogen causes a subsequent infection. While these
           tions that prevents microorganisms from entering               two levels of the immune system provide good pro-
           the body. If these physical barriers are breached, the         tection against infections, if the activation threshold
           body’s “immune system” provides an immediate                   is too low, or if endogenous molecules can activate
           non-specific innate response. This triggers inflam-              the system, it may result in inflammatory diseases or
           mation – one of the initial biological responses to            autoimmune disorders.
           infection or injury – that can counter their attack and            This year’s Nobel Prize for Physiology or Med-
           destroy invading pathogens. The innate immune                  icine has gone to three scientists who unravelled the
           system is present in all plants and animals. If the            key mechanisms underlying the activation of the           CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS


           R A L PH S T EI N M A N .                 B RU C E BE UTLE R .                       J ULE S HOFFM AN N .

                                                    F R O N T L I N E   1 0 9
                                                                                                             NOVEMBER 4, 2011

immune system, both innate and               unprecedented in the history of the          gatekeepers that sample substances
adaptive. One half of the prize has          Nobel Prize…. According to the statu-        from the environment.
gone to Jules Hoffman and Bruce              tes of the Nobel Foundation, work pro-           Interestingly, in a video interview
Beutler “for their discoveries concern-      duced by a person since deceased shall       last year, Steinman had said that he
ing the activation of innate immunity”       not be given an award. However, the          had not been exposed to biology until
and the other half to Ralph Steinman         statutes specify that if a person has        he passed out from school in Quebec
“for his discovery of the dendritic cell     been awarded a prize and has died            and joined McGill University. There
and its role in adaptive immunity”. By       before receiving it, the prize may be        he took a biology course to see what it
discovering how the innate and adap-         presented. An interpretation of the          was all about and then he was “smit-
tive stages of immune response are           purpose of this rule leads to the conclu-    ten”. He said in the interview: “I want-
triggered, the three Nobel laureates         sion that Ralph Steinman shall be            ed to understand how the immune
have provided new insights into dis-         awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Phys-        response begins and how this immune
ease mechanisms. Their work has              iology or Medicine. The purpose of the       system … is driven into action.” This
opened up avenues for the develop-           above-mentioned rule is to make it           took him to the Rockefeller University.
ment of preventive vaccines as well as       clear that the Nobel Prize shall not         “[The] most distinctive feature of the
therapy against various infections,          deliberately be awarded posthumous-          cells that we had discovered,” he add-
cancer, inflammatory diseases and             ly. However, the decision to award the       ed, “[is that it] had many processes.
even autoimmune disorders.                   Nobel Prize to Ralph Steinman was            They are constantly probing the envi-
    Hoffman, 70, served last at the          made in good faith, based on the as-         ronment looking for all the challenges
University of Strasbourg, France, be-        sumption that the Nobel Laureate was         that the immune system has to deal
tween 1974 and 2009. It was here that        alive. This was true – though not at the     with and when they see the challenge
he obtained his doctorate in 1969 and        time of the decision – only a day or so      they have to take it into the body and
also did his award-winning research.         previously. The Nobel Foundation             teach the immune system what to do….
Beutler, 54, has been at the Scripps         thus believes that what has occurred is      [T]here was one system that people
Research Institute, La Jolla, U.S.,          more reminiscent of the example in           had discovered before us on how im-
since 2000 though his Nobel work was         the statutes concerning a person who         mune responses were generated in a
carried out at the University of Texas       has been named as a Nobel Laureate           test tube. But something was missing
in Dallas in the late 1990s. However,        and has died before the actual Nobel         for the immune response to work in
Steinman is no longer alive to receive       Prize Award Ceremony.” Steinman,             the test tube. So we looked at the im-
the award. In the 110-year history of        68, had been at the Rockefeller Uni-         mune cells with the microscope and
the Nobel Prize, this will be the first       versity, where he had carried out the        there we spotted something that no-
time that the award is being given           path-breaking research, since 1970.          body had ever seen or taken note of
posthumously. The prize was an-                                                           before – these strange probing den-
nounced on October 3 but Steinman            WATCHDOG CELLS                               dritic cells….”
had passed away on September 30.             The time line of scientific discoveries           By the late 1960s, it was already
    In a press release issued after the      that has led to our present understand-      established that a kind of white blood
announcement of the prize, the Nobel         ing of the immune system is not in the       cells (lymphocytes), the T-cells, and
Foundation said that the information         same order in which the two stages of        certain “accessory cells”, whose identi-
on Steinman’s death had reached the          the immune system work. It was the           ty and function were unknown, played
Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institu-        mechanism involved in the adaptive           a role in cell-mediated immune re-
tet via the president of the Rockefeller     response that came to be discovered          sponse in mammals. Steinman and
University only at 2-30 p.m. (Europe-        first. In 1973, Steinman, working with        Cohen were studying spleen cells to
an Time) on October 3, while the No-         Zanvil A. Cohen, discovered a new cell       understand the induction of immune
bel Assembly had announced the Prize         type that he termed dendritic cells          responses in a major lymphoid organ
at 11-30 a.m. According to Alexis            (DCs), which he hypothesised to be           of the mouse when they encountered a
Steinman, her father had joked only          important in the immune system. DCs          population of cells with unusual
the previous week with his family            are tree-like cells that were first discov-   shapes and movements that had not
about hanging on until the prize an-         ered in Germany in 1869 by Paul Lan-         been seen before. Because they had
nouncement. Steinman had apparent-           gerhans, who thought that they were          unusual tree-like or “dendritic” proc-
ly said: “I know I have got to hold out      part of the nervous system. These cells      esses, Steinman named them dendritic
for that. They don’t give it to you if you   are found at the interfaces between the      cells. Steinman and Cohen then went
have passed away. I got to hold out for      body and the environment, like the           on to study whether DCs were involved
that.”                                       epidermal layer of the skin, and in lym-     in activating T-cells. They were able to
    “The events that have occurred,”         phoid or immune organs. In addition,         establish that in cell culture experi-
the press release stated, “are unique        DCs line the surfaces of the airway and      ments, the presence of DCs led to a
and, to the best of our knowledge, are       the intestine. There they function as        strong response of T-cells to pathogen-

                                                      1 1 0   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011                                                             FIGURE 1

                                                                                        risk of infection of all kinds. This is
                                                                                        nothing but innate immunity. But how
                                                                                        is this initial innate immune response
                                                                                        triggered? What is the mechanism
                                                                                        that alerts us? It is obvious that the
                                                                                        immune system has a genetically pro-
                                                                                        grammed capacity to recognise certain
                                                                                        molecules of microbial origin and trig-
                                                                                        ger some specialised sensor or receptor
                                                                                        molecules. But what are these

                                                                                        STUDY OF FRUIT FLIES
                                                                                        In 1996, Hoffman at the University of
                                                                             FIGURE 2
                                                                                        Strasbourg, and his co-workers, while
                                                                                        investigating how Drosophila (fruit
                                                                                        flies) fought infections, found that flies
                                                                                        that had mutation in the gene called
                                                                                        Toll could not mount an effective im-
                                                                                        mune response when challenged with
                                                                                        bacterial or fungal infection. Actually,
                                                                                        Hoffman and colleagues were study-
                                                                                        ing the general problem of how insects
                                                                                        fought infections and had identified
                                                                                        several antimicrobial peptides that the
                                                                                        system produced to do this. The in-
                                                                                        vestigation culminated in identifying
                                                                                        the important role played by the Toll
                                                                                        gene in the promoter sequence for the
                                                                                        antimicrobial peptide genes. The find-
                                                                                        ing indicated that the molecular prod-
                                                                                        uct of the Toll gene was involved in
                                                                                        sensing pathogenic organisms, and
ic substances. Initially, these results     and these peptides then bind to prod-       Toll activation was necessary to activa-
were met with scepticism, but later         ucts of the major histocompatibility        te the innate immune response.
work by Steinman established that           complex (MHC) – a region of the ge-              In 1998, Beutler, then working at
DCs had the unique capacity to activa-      nome important for immunity and au-         the University of Texas, found that cer-
te T-cells. DCs thus constitute a crit-     toimmunity – and then exit to the cell      tain mutant mice, the model system
ical, and previously missing, link in the   surface to present the antigens to the      that he was investigating, were resist-
adaptive and innate branches of the         T-cells. This then signals the T-cells to   ant to high doses of a bacterial product
immune system.                              mount an immune response to counter         called    lipopolysaccharide       (LPS),
    As the body’s watchdogs, DCs seek       the attack, in particular by enabling       which was otherwise known to cause
out foreign invading pathogenic sub-        white blood cells called B-cells to make    life-threatening septic shock by over-
stances such as bacteria, viruses and       antibodies to neutralise the infection      stimulating the immune system. Beut-
toxins. One of the functions of DCs is      and killer T-cells to destroy the in-       ler and his associates determined that
to capture the antigens – molecules         fected cells (Figure 2).                    the mutation was in a gene that was
characteristic of the invading patho-           But the key question that still re-     very similar to the Toll gene in the fruit
gens – and convert them to smaller          mained was how does the system know         fly. The product of this Toll-like gene,
pieces and display the antigenic frag-      in the beginning that there is an in-       called the Toll-Like receptor (TLR)
ments on their cell surfaces to be rec-     fection? Clinicians have known for          molecule, turned out to be the receptor
ognised by the T-cells to mount an          long that patients have different levels    that was responsible for binding to
immune response. DCs then travel to         of “innate immunity”. For instance, if      LPS (receptor molecules reside on the
immune or lymphoid tissues and seek         patients do not have neutrophils –          surface of cells and signal the cells into
out regions rich in T-cells. In technical   white blood cells that migrate into the     some specific action.) When the TLR
terms, DCs convert the antigens to          bloodstream during the beginning            binds to LPS, signals are activated,
peptides within the cell’s cytoplasm,       phase of infection – they are at grave      triggering inflammation (Figure 2).

                                                     F R O N T L I N E   1 1 1
                                                                                                               NOVEMBER 4, 2011

But when the dose is excessive, it caus-         The discoveries of these sensor           posed of very chemically defined sub-
es septic shock. The findings of Hoff-        molecules triggered an explosion of re-       stances and very safe, very specific and
man and Beutler showed that                  search in innate immunity. Over a doz-        very incisive in terms of what they do.
mammals and fruit flies make use of           en different TLRs have now been               The dendritic cells help us understand
similar molecules to activate innate         identified in humans and mice. Each            the many diseases that involve the im-
immunity against infections.                 one of them is programmed to recog-           mune system. How does an autoim-
     “Of course,” said Beutler in his        nise certain types of molecules com-          mune disease begin? How does allergy
post-prize announcement interview,           mon in microorganisms. While                  begin? What goes wrong? How can we
“we know that some things go very far        individuals with certain mutations in         fight cancer better…. I think dendritic
back and are preserved even to the           these molecules carry an increased risk       cells will bear upon the future of vac-
Cambrian times. And, nonetheless, it         of infection, other genetic variations in     cine design,” he said.
still was a surprise to me at the time       TLRs have been linked to increased                The basis for this lies in the new
that everything was so similar in the fly     risk of chronic inflammatory diseases.         research at Steinman’s lab. It has
as in the mammal. When we made our               As mentioned earlier, if innate im-       shown that DCs, which provide the
discovery, which was a [of] couple           munity is breached, adaptive immuni-          important adaptive and are also prob-
years after Jules made his, I had only a     ty comes into play. It is clear, therefore,   ably linked to innate immunity, are
very dim awareness of the situation in       that the innate immune response in            also responsible for a seemingly oppo-
flies. [He had] showed [that] a fly was        some way contributes to the develop-          site role in health called immune toler-
overwhelmed with fungal infection if it      ment of an appropriate adaptive im-           ance, which silences dangerous
had mutation in Toll. Because it made        mune response. But the exact                  immune cells and prevents them from
perfect sense that in the mouse the          mechanism of communication be-                attacking innocuous materials in the
same sort of situation applied, and          tween the two stages remains unclear.         body or the body’s own tissues. In the
there was overwhelming gram-nega-            Beutler and his co-workers in collab-         absence of infection, DCs have been
tive sepsis if you had a mutation in         oration with David Nemazee’s labora-          found to efficiently capture and proc-
Toll-like receptor 4 [TLR4]. So, I saw       tory at the Scripps Institute have been       ess harmless ‘self-’ and environmental-
right away the parallelism.”                 able to show that TLR signalling is not       antigens and silence the immune re-
     But this finding was the culmina-        required for effective antibody produc-       sponse; that is, induce immune toler-
tion of research that had begun in the       tion, which has led them to conclude          ance. But during infection, it has been
1980s when Beutler had identified tu-         that a large number of other genes            found that DCs undergo an intricate
mour necrosis factor (TNF) as an in-         could be involved in supporting adap-         process of differentiation called matu-
flammatory protein. “I realised quite         tive immune response.                         ration, which enable them to express
early on,” he said in an interview, “that        As regards the potential applica-         additional receptors for responding ef-
TNF was one of the major executors of        tions of research on innate immunity,         fectively to microbial antigens and
endotoxic shock. And, it was strongly        Beutler said, “I think that the most          mount an immune response.
induced by LPS, and therefore, we al-        hopeful [applications] lie in the realm           This work has led to a new under-
ways took it as a marker of the LPS          of inflammatory and autoimmune dis-            standing of the control of tolerance
response. It was the endpoint that we        ease because I believe now, as I be-          and immunity and has formed the ba-
followed, just as Professor Hoffmann         lieved long ago, that inflammation is          sis of a new field of study in immunol-
followed the production of antimicro-        something that evolved to cope with           ogy: the role of DCs in immune
bial peptides. It took a very long time      infection. And when we speak of sterile       regulation and their potential to help
to find the Toll-like receptor for a mol-     inflammatory diseases, like rheuma-            discover new vaccines and therapies
ecule because we didn’t use a genetic        toid arthritis, and autoimmune diseas-        for autoimmune disorders such as lu-
approach for quite a while. We used          es like lupus, probably some of the           pus and multiple sclerosis. During al-
conventional approaches: cross-im-           same pathways are utilised. And, it           lergy, autoimmunity and organ
munising mutant mice with wild type          may very well be that by blocking TLR         transplantation, DCs initiate unwant-
mice and looking ‘proteomically’… to         signalling we’ll have very specific ther-      ed immune responses that cause in-
try to find a difference between the two      apies for those kinds of diseases.”           flammatory diseases and autoimmune
strains. And all of that was fruitless. It       Steinman, too, saw similar poten-         disorders. But DCs are also known to
took a very long time before we were         tial from the ongoing work on DCs.            suppress these conditions. That is, de-
able to start positionally cloning.” (Po-    “Our most recent work is to take ad-          pending upon the effectiveness in tol-
sitional cloning is reverse of the tradi-    vantage of the science of dendritic           erating        self-antigens,       their
tional approach where you find an area        cells,” Steinman said in his interview.       effectiveness in orchestrating innate
of interest in the genome by genetic         “What we are trying to do is to… use, to      and adaptive immune responses, DCs,
screening and then find out what that         exploit, to harness what we have learnt       in a sense, define the immunological
region does functionally with the pro-       about dendritic cells to make vaccines        “self”. Thus they can lead to new strate-
teins that the region makes.)                in a new way. Vaccines that are com-          gies for vaccines.

                                                       1 1 2   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011
                                                                                            Nobel Prizes

Chasing supernovae
           The universe is expanding faster than ever before. This is what the research of
           the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics concludes. B Y R . R A M A C H A N D R A N

They have shown how to use distant                                    University of California, Berkeley. Brian Schmidt,
                                                                      44, an American-Australian, heads the HZSS team
supernovae to record the history of                                   and is Distinguished Professor at Australia National
                                                                      University at Western Creek, Australia. Adam Riess,
the expansion of the universe. They                                   a 42-year-old American, is now Professor of Astron-
                                                                      omy and Physics at Johns Hopkins University and
have also set an example of                                           the Space Telescope Science Institute, U.S.
                                                                          Just over a century ago, the universe was consid-
collaboration among the community                                     ered no larger than our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
                                                                      The many nebulae that were seen in the sky were
of astronomers in probing the truth                                   thought of as mere gas clouds on the fringes of the
                                                                      Milky Way. In 1912, the American astronomer Vesto
about the universe and its final fate.                                 Slipher, working at the Lowell Observatory, pio-
                                                                      neered measurements of the shifts towards the red of
                WHAT if one were to throw up a ball in the air        the light from the brightest of these nebulae that had
           and, instead of it coming down under the force of          been seen. The redshift of an object in light is akin to
           gravity, watched it overcome the gravitational at-         the Doppler Effect that one is familiar with in sound
           traction and disappear into space faster and faster as     from a moving object; sound waves from a train
           if attractive gravity were being countered by a stron-     moving away, for example, gets stretched and the
           ger repulsive force? The winners of this year’s Nobel      pitch drops in proportion to the velocity. Similarly,
           Prize in Physics observed something similar happen-        light waves from a moving object, too, get stretched
           ing in the large scale of the universe.                    and shift towards longer wavelengths, or the red end
                Two astronomy research groups concluded               of the spectrum. Slipher had found something in-
           around 1998, independently of each other, that the         teresting that could not be explained. The nebulae
           universe that we know to be expanding as a result of       seemed to be moving faster than the escape velocity
           the Big Bang that created it now seems to be speed-        for the Milky Way!
           ing up its rate of expansion instead of slowing down,          In the 1920s, the nature of these nebulae, too, got
           as one would expect, under the gravitational pull of       unravelled when astronomers, most importantly Ed-
           the matter contained in it. One was the Supernova          win Hubble, using the new 100-inch telescope at Mt.
           Cosmology Project (SCP) team and the other was the         Wilson, looked at the better resolved images of these
           High-z Supernova Search (HZSS) team. The SCP               nebulae and could spot individual stars within these
           was initiated in 1988 and was headed by Saul Perl-         spiral nebulae like the Andromeda nebula. Some of
           mutter, and the HZSS was launched in 1994 and was          these stars were found to be pulsating stars, called
           headed by Brian Schmidt, with Schmidt’s associate          Cepheids, which brightened and dimmed with regu-
           Adam Riess playing a crucial role.                         lar periods. In 1912, the American astronomer Hen-
                The 2011 physics Nobel Prize, according to the        rietta Swan Leavitt, analysing thousands of these
           award citation, has been given “for the discovery of       Cepheids, had found an interesting characteristic of
           the accelerating expansion of the Universe through         these variable stars. The brighter ones had longer
           observations of distant supernovae”. One half of the       pulse durations and the luminosity of Cepheids and
           award has gone to Perlmutter, and the other half,          their pulse periods were related. Using this informa-
           divided equally, to Schmidt and Riess.                     tion, she could calculate the intrinsic brightness of
                Perlmutter, a 52-year-old American, continues         distant Cepheids by observing their pulsating peri-
           to head the SCP, which is still gathering data on          ods. So in Cepheids astronomers had the ‘standard
           supernovae, at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab-         candle’, the yardstick to measure a star’s intrinsic
           oratory (LBNL), and is a professor of physics at the       brightness.

                                                F R O N T L I N E   1 1 3
                                                                                                                                        NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                              BELINDA PRATTEN/AFP

SAU L PE R L M UT T E R , B RI A N   Schmidt and Adam Riess. They shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.
    Now if the luminosity-period rela-            ical      foundations       for     the                           steady-state solution was unstable and
tion could be calibrated with nearby              gravity-dominated universe was also                               any small perturbation would render
Cepheids, whose distances can be                  being laid by Einstein. In November                               the universe non-static. Einstein, how-
measured from parallax measure-                   1915, he formulated the theory of Gen-                            ever, did not like an expanding uni-
ments, distances to other Cepheids can            eral Relativity (GR), an extension of                             verse and had apparently called the
be established (to within 10 per cent) –          his theory of Special Relativity. This                            idea “abominable”.
the dimmer its light, the farther away            revolutionary theory is one of the                                    Though Hubble is credited with
is the star in accordance with the in-            greatest achievements in the history of                           Hubble’s Law, Lemaître in his 1927
verse square law. The pulse period will           science, a major milestone in 20th cen-                           paper had derived the equations for an
give its intrinsic luminosity and from            tury physics. It soon became clear to                             expanding universe and obtained a re-
the apparent luminosity (brightness as            the astrophysics community that the                               lation similar to Hubble’s and found
observed) and the inverse square law              GR equations could be applied to                                  essentially the same proportionality
the distance can be deduced. Hubble               cosmological situations, and in 1917                              constant from observational data on
used Leavitt’s relation to estimate the           Einstein himself applied them to the                              distances and radial velocities of 42
distances of the spiral nebulae and               entire universe, making the implicit                              galaxies two years before Hubble did.
concluded that they were too far away             assumption that the universe is homo-                             But his results were published in a not
to be part of the Milky Way and hence             geneous at cosmological scales when                               widely circulated Belgian journal and
must be galaxies themselves beyond                effects of local clusters of matter get                           the 1931 English translation of it in the
the Milky Way. So the universe was                averaged out.                                                     Monthly Notices of the Royal Astrono-
much larger than just our Milky Way.                                                                                mical Society (MNRAS) had removed
    Further, combining his own mea-               COSMOLOGICAL CONSTANT                                             the section about Hubble’s law. Re-
surements of 46 galaxies and the red-             Remarkably, however, the solutions of                             cently it has come to light that these
shifts of these that had been measured            the equations suggested that the uni-                             omissions of Lemaître’s results on ex-
by Slipher and others, Hubble found               verse could not be stable – it had to                             pansion of the universe were perhaps
that almost all these galaxies were               either expand or shrink. This conclu-                             deliberate, which have denied Le-
moving away from us. He also found a              sion, which Einstein found contrary to                            maître the due credit for such a revolu-
rough proportionality of an object’s              his view of a static universe, had been                           tionary cosmological result. He also
distance with its redshift, which in              reached at least a decade before Hub-                             subsequently showed the logical con-
turn is proportional to its radial reces-         ble’s observations of ever receding gal-                          sequence of his finding that the uni-
sion velocity, and the proportionality            axies. Einstein, however, soon found a                            verse must have existed for a finite
factor is called the Hubble constant.             way out of it. His GR equations, in the                           time only and must have emerged
The conclusion was that the galaxies              most general form, could accommo-                                 from an initial “single quantum” and
were rushing away from us and each                date a ‘cosmological constant’, a con-                            thus laid the basis for the concept of
other – much like raisins in a cake               stant energy component of the                                     the Big Bang.
swelling in the oven – and the farther            universe, which could cancel the in-                                  The discovery of the expansion of
away they are, the faster they are re-            stability to give a static universe. How-                         the universe by Slipher, Hubble, Le-
ceding from us. This is today known as            ever, calculations using GR equations                             maître and others in the 1920s soon
‘Hubble’s law’, which Hubble publish-             by the Russian mathematician-phys-                                led to its widespread acceptance with
ed in 1929.                                       icist Alexander Friedman during                                   which Einstein, too, later reconciled,
    While observational cosmology                 1922-24 and the work by the Belgian                               given the growing evidence. He is sup-
was giving new insights about the uni-            priest physicist Georges Lemaître in                              posed to have called the introduction
verse we live in, the profound theoret-           1927 essentially showed that Einstein’s                           of the cosmological constant his

                                                           1 1 4   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

“greatest mistake”. From then on the         equations of GR with the assumption        absorption line at 615 nm wavelength
idea of the cosmological constant in         of a homogeneous and isotropic uni-        in their spectra. Supernovae belonging
GR equations faded, only to gain im-         verse. In principle, the record of the     to Type 1a had an amazing degree of
portance once again following this           expansion history of the universe can      uniformity in their characteristics.
year’s Nobel Prize-winning discov-           be obtained by using as a ‘standard        Their spectra were found to match fea-
eries. The constant is now thought to        candle’ any distinguishable class of as-   ture by feature as did their ‘light
represent an intrinsic energy compo-         tronomical objects of known intrinsic      curves’. Light curves are plots of super-
nent of spacetime that can overcome          brightness that are available to the as-   novae brightness as they wax and wane
the total energy content of ordinary         tronomer over a wide range of dis-         in the weeks following a supernova ex-
matter and provide the push for the          tances. The recorded redshift and          plosion. Type 1a supernovae became
observed accelerated expansion of the        brightness of such objects will thus       the new standard candles.
universe.                                    provide a measure of the total integrat-       Type 1a supernova results from the
    The theoretical understanding of         ed expansion of the universe since the     explosion of an extremely compact star
an expanding universe in the GR              time the light was emitted. If such        called white dwarf, which is of the size
framework following Friedman’s and           measurements over a sufficient range        of the earth but is as heavy as the sun,
Lemaître’s work also gave credence to        of distances can be compiled, we will      at the end of its life cycle. White dwarfs
the model of a homogeneous and iso-          have a record of the history of the uni-   form when a star has run out of its fuel,
tropic universe, which, too, quickly         verse’s expansion.                         hydrogen and helium, required to sus-
came to be accepted by the scientific                                                    tain its nuclear fusion reaction in its
community. This idea that the uni-           ‘STANDARD CANDLES’                         core. Only carbon and oxygen remain.
verse looks the same on cosmological         As we have seen, one well-known class      But it is not at all uncommon that
scales to all observers, independent of      of standard candles is the Cepheid var-    low-mass white dwarfs are part of bi-
the location and independent of the          iable stars. These stars can now be        nary star systems, in which case the
direction in which they look, is called      identified at distances up to about 10      white dwarfs’ strong gravity can lead to
the Cosmological Principle. The model        megaparsec (1 parsec, or pc, is a dis-     accretion of gas and matter from the
of the universe that incorporates the        tance corresponding to a parallax of 1     companion star. However, when the
Cosmological Principle is called the         arc second and is used as a unit of        white dwarf approaches the limit of 1.4
Friedman-Lemaître-Robertson-                 length in astronomy. It is equal to 3.26   solar masses, the Chandrasekhar limit,
Walker (FLRW) model. Since the               light years, or about 31 trillion          the star cannot hold itself together and
1930s, the evidence for the Cosmolog-        (3.1×1013) km). The Milky Way has a        it becomes unstable. When this hap-
ical Principle has grown stronger and        diameter of 30 kpc. To determine the       pens, the white dwarf becomes suffi-
stronger with the discovery in 1964 by       expansion history of the universe,         ciently hot for runaway nuclear fusion
Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson of the        however, we need to be able to mea-        and the star explodes. The nuclear fu-
all pervading Cosmic Microwave               sure distances of at least about 1,000     sion emits strong radiation that in-
Background (CMB) radiation, the relic        Mpc. Way back in 1938, Walter Baade        creases rapidly during the first weeks
radiation from the Big Bang that has         and Fred Zwicky, working together at       after the explosion and then decreases
since stretched to long wave radiation       the Mt. Wilson Laboratory, suggested       over the following months. So, irre-
corresponding to a black body at 3           that the supernovae were highly prom-      spective of the nature of the white
degrees Kelvin and is distributed uni-       ising candidates as distance markers.      dwarf and how it started out its life
formly throughout. The recent obser-         They are bright enough to be visible at    cycle, its final fate is the same and this
vations of CMB by WMAP satellite             large distances and can, in fact, over a   is why Type 1a supernovae are remark-
show that the largest temperature ani-       few weeks, outshine an entire galaxy.      ably similar and can serve as ideal
sotropies (of the order of a thousandth      However, with many supernovae be-          standard candles.
of a degree) arise owing to the motion       ing discovered over the years, it was          About 10 Type 1a supernovae occur
of the Milky Way through space. If this      found that their peak brightness,          every minute, but given that the uni-
component is subtracted from the da-         which had originally seemed quite uni-     verse is so huge, in a typical galaxy only
ta, the residual anisotropies are a          form, had a considerable range and         one or two explosions occur in a thou-
hundred times smaller.                       these objects were really not as homo-     sand years. But astronomers were
    To understand the history of the         geneous as ‘standard candles’ should       lucky to spot such a supernova explo-
universe, right from the Big Bang to         be.                                        sion just last month in a galaxy close to
the present and its possible evolution           Fortunately, by the 1980s a class of   the Big Dipper (Saptarishi) constella-
into the future, is the basic objective of   supernovae emerged with no hydro-          tion, which was so bright that it could
cosmology. The paradigm that has             gen emission lines in their spectra,       be seen with a pair of binoculars. But
emerged for understanding the large-         which were called Type 1 supernovae,       most supernovae occur at great dis-
scale structure of the universe over the     and among these there was a subclass,      tances and thus are dimmer. In any
last seven decades is based on the           Type 1a, which in addition had silicon     case, these explosions are very brief

                                                      F R O N T L I N E   1 1 5
                                                                                                           NOVEMBER 4, 2011

and occur at random. So in their search     the moon. (A bright moon is an imped-       ological constant from the GR equa-
for such supernovae, astronomers            iment to the follow-up observation.)        tions, his obvious question was
have a daunting problem at hand. How        We first demonstrated this superno-          regarding the universe’s ultimate fate.
to plan an observation to be able to        vae-on-demand methodology in 1994.          He posed it in terms of the geometry of
catch a supernova in this vast expanse      From then on, proposals for time at         spacetime that the equations repre-
of the universe? And telescope obser-       major ground-based telescopes could         sented. Is the universe open or closed
vation times are not available on           specify delivery dates and roughly how      or is it something in between, flat?
demand.                                     many supernovae would be found and              An open universe is one where the
                                            followed up. This approach also made        gravitational force of attraction is not
SUPERNOVAE ON DEMAND                        it possible to use the Hubble Space         large enough to prevent the expansion
Perlmutter said in a 2003 article:          Telescope (HST) for follow-up light-        of the universe. All matter gets diluted
“This was a classic Catch-22. You           curve observations.” With a growing         in an ever larger, ever colder and emp-
couldn’t preschedule telescope time to      number of collaborators, the Berkeley       tier space. In a closed universe, on the
identify a supernova’s type or follow it    team’s project came to be called the        other hand, the gravitational force is
up if you couldn’t guarantee one. But       SCP.                                        strong enough to halt and even reverse
you couldn’t prove a technique for              Implementing the programme and          the expansion. So the universe will ul-
guaranteeing Type 1a supernova dis-         chasing supernovae was thus as much         timately stop expanding and fall back
coveries without scheduling telescope       challenging to science and technology       together in a hot and violent ending, a
time to identify them spectroscopical-      as to logistics. First, the right type of   ‘Big Crunch’. Most cosmologists prefer
ly.” Besides these problems of logistics,   supernova had to be found. Second, its      a simple and mathematically elegant
astronomers had to deal with technical      redshift and brightness had to be mea-      universe that is flat. But if there is a
issues as well. The light of supernovae     sured. The light-curve had to be ana-       cosmological constant, the expansion
had to be extracted from the back-          lysed in order to be able to compare it     would continue to accelerate even if
ground light in their host galaxies. To     with other supernovae of the same type      the universe is flat. The Nobel lau-
obtain the correct maximum bright-          at known distances. This called for a       reates, in their attempt at measuring
ness of supernovae one had to correct       network of scientists to decide whether     supernovae distances and their red-
for the scattering and absorption of        a particular star was suitable for obser-   shifts, expected to measure the cosmic
light by the intervening galactic dust.     vation and follow-up. It also required      deceleration, or how the universe was
     Crucial to hitting upon a technique    switching between telescopes and hav-       slowing, as it was expected to in the
of catching the supernovae as they          ing observation time at a telescope,        generally accepted cosmological sce-
brightened, which Perlmutter and            including the HST, granted without          nario given the energy density of ob-
Carl Pennypacker came up with in            delay, a procedure that normally takes      served matter in the universe.
1988, was the invention by Willard          months. All this was to be done quickly         In the simplest cosmological mod-
Boyle and George Smith of light-sensi-      because supernovae fade quickly.            els, the expansion history of the cos-
tive digital imaging sensors based on           The new supernovae-on-demand            mos is determined entirely by its mass
Charge-coupled Devices (CCDs),              techniques now permitted systematic         density. The expansion will be slowed
which allowed studying thousands of         study of distant supernovae. At the end     down more by gravity if the density is
galaxies in a night on a 4-m telescope,     of 1994, the second collaboration           high. Therefore, in the past, a high-
thus increasing the chances of catch-       HZSS led by Schmidt, which included         mass-density universe would have
ing a supernova. “Contemporary com-         many supernova experts, also got un-        been expanding faster than it does
puting and networking advances just         der way, essentially adopting the same      now. So one did not have to look too far
barely made possible the next-day           techniques. Over the following years        back in time – through extremely dis-
analysis that would let us catch super-     the two collaborations independently        tant and faint supernovae – to find
novae as they first brightened,” wrote       searched for supernovae, often but not      evidence for the expected deceleration.
Perlmutter.                                 always at the same telescopes. “The         Conversely, in a low-mass-density uni-
     The Catch-22 problem was solved        two rival teams,” according to Perl-        verse one will have to look far back in
by Perlmutter and his associates by an      mutter, “raced against each other over      time. But the mass distribution in the
ingenious idea. “In retrospect,” wrote      the next few years – occasionally cov-      universe at present already determines
Perlmutter, “the solution we found          ering for each other with observations      the lower limit to the mass density.
seems obvious…. By specific timing of        when one of us had bad weather – as         That is how far one must look to find a
the requested telescope schedules, we       we all worked feverishly to find and         given redshift.
could guarantee that our wide-field          study the guaranteed on-demand                  In the beginning of 1998, both
imager would harvest a batch of about       batches of supernovae.” Like the SCP,       groups published their results which
a dozen freshly exploded supernovae,        the HZSS could also demonstrate the         seemed to show evidence for far less
all discovered on a pre-specified ob-        validity of the chosen strategy.            than the expected deceleration. While
serving date during the dark phase of           When Einstein removed the cosm-         these seemed consistent with a low-

                                                     1 1 6   F R O N T L I N E
NOVEMBER 4, 2011

mass-density universe, the high-red-       energy. If the hypothesis is correct, to-   stant should ring alarm bells and force
shift supernovae that the two groups       gether with the other unknown form of       us to examine the assumptions of the
found “were fainter than would be ex-      matter, which has gravitational force       ‘standard’ cosmological model…. Al-
pected even for an empty cosmos”.          but does not interact with light, called    though the universe is inhomogeneous
“The faintness – or distance – of the      dark matter, this constitutes 95 per        on small scales, averaging over spatial
high-redshift supernovae was a dra-        cent of the universe. Only the remain-      fluctuations and studying time evolu-
matic surprise,” he wrote. If the cosmic   ing 5 per cent is regular matter that       tion is not easily done in a mathemat-
expansion had been slowing down,           makes up galaxies, stars, the planets       ically rigorous and consistent way. The
they should have appeared brighter.        and living things.                          real problem is we have very few cosm-
The surprising conclusion was that the         The simplest way to introduce a         ological solutions of the GR equations
expansion of the universe was not          repulsive counterforce is to put back       apart from the simplest ones based on
slowing down but actually accelerat-       Einstein’s constant, which, being a         the cosmological principle,” he added.
ing. Two breakthrough papers imply-        constant, does not change with time.             There are many scientists working
ing the above were published later in      So dark energy began to dominate            to understand whether the interpreta-
1998 itself. While the HZSS observa-       when matter got diluted to a low densi-     tion is an artifact of the assumed ideal-
tions were based on 16 Type 1a super-      ty because of expansion over billions of    ised FLRW model. One such theorist is
novae analysed by Riess, then a            years. According to scientists, that        Syksy Rasanen of Helsinki University.
postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley,       would account for the fact that the         “The fact that the distribution of mat-
the SCP paper by Perlmutter and oth-       cosmological constant entered the pic-      ter and geometry in the universe has
ers included 45 supernovae. That both      ture so late in the history of the uni-     large local fluctuations can change the
the groups independently presented         verse, some five to six billion years ago.   relation [between the distance and ex-
similar, albeit extraordinary, results     However, with regard to the cosmolog-       pansion rate] from the FLRW model,”
was crucial to their general acceptance    ical constant, vacuum energy gives rise     he said. However, he made the follow-
by the scientific community.                to its own peculiar problem based on        ing significant observation: “There are
     To be sure that their conclusions     elementary particle physics and quan-       also independent observations of the
are right, the scientists have investi-    tum theory. The latter tells us that the    expansion rate, which indicate that the
gated questions such as: Could the         vacuum is never empty but is actually a     expansion has at least decelerated less
dimness of distant supernovae be the       bubbling soup of matter and antimat-        than expected. So the expansion of the
effect of intervening dust? Or, did the    ter that are constantly being created       universe has also to be changed any-
Type 1a supernovae in the early uni-       and annihilated and contribute to en-       way, even if acceleration is not proved
verse have different properties from       ergy. However, the simplest estimate        beyond reasonable doubt. Also, accel-
the nearby, recent ones? The two           puts this at an astounding 10120 (1 fol-    eration does not in itself imply the
groups have concluded that dust is not     lowed by 120 zeroes) times large than       presence of dark energy or modifica-
a major problem and the spectral           the amount of dark energy required.         tion of gravity. The presence of struc-
properties of near and distant super-      So vacuum energy would actually raise       tures can also lead to actual
novae are very similar. Later studies of   more questions than actually solve the      accelerating expansion of cosmologi-
supernovae of very high redshift, from     question of an accelerating universe.       cal volumes. Whether the effect of
the time when the universe was much                                                    structures is significant remains an
denser and energy density due to mat-      PERTINENT QUESTION                          open question. Until this effect is
ter dominated, indicate that repulsion     But the more pertinent question, irre-      quantified, we do not know whether
set in when the universe was about half    spective of whether there is dark ener-     the observations indicate new physics,
its present age. The dramatic conclu-      gy or not, is whether the conclusion of     or if they can be understood in terms of
sion of an accelerating universe has       an accelerating universe, for which the     a complex realisation of the physics we
been confirmed by precision measure-        Nobel Prize has been awarded this           already know.”
ments of CMB and by studies of galaxy      year, is itself questionable. “The evi-          The major contribution of the No-
clustering.                                dence for accelerated expansion is also     bel laureates actually lies in their dem-
     The driving force behind the accel-   indirect,” points out Subir Sarkar, an      onstration of how to use distant
eration, however, is unknown. The          Oxford University cosmologist. “It is       supernovae to record the history of the
widely held current belief is that the     based on interpreting the brightness of     expansion of the universe. It is as much
cause of expansion is vacuum energy        distant supernovae (versus their red-       a demonstration of the ingenious ap-
called dark energy, but it is one of the   shift) in the framework of an assumed       plication of science and technology in
biggest challenges to present-day          homogeneous cosmological model              cosmological studies as it is of the suc-
physics to understand its exact nature.    whereas the real universe is manifestly     cessful collaboration among the global
The amount of acceleration found ac-       not so…. The very fact that this imme-      community of astronomers towards
tually implies that three-fourths of the   diately implies that the universe is        knowing the truth about the universe
universe is in this unknown form of        dominated by the cosmological con-          we live in and its ultimate fate.

                                                    F R O N T L I N E   1 1 7
FOCUS TOWARDS TOMORROW-MANAGEMENT STUDIES                                                                    NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Moulding managers
           Privately run B-schools make their mark in management education in the

                                                                                                  PHOTOGRAPHS: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

INSTI T UT E O F MA N A GEM EN T ,   Nirma University, Ahmedabad.

They boast spacious campuses, top-                                       icine, pharmacy, dentistry, arts, science, engineering
                                                                         and technology.
class faculty, well-equipped libraries,                                  TAPMI
good hostel facilities, innovative                                       Since the inception of its Postgraduate Programme
                                                                         in Management (equivalent to MBA) in 1984, TAP-
course structures, industry                                              MI has received recognition and respect from well-
                                                                         known industrial houses and academic institutions
collaboration and assured                                                for the quality of both its education and student
                                                                         talent it has produced. Continuous improvements in
placement, and rank high in surveys                                      curriculum, academic systems and faculty resources
                                                                         have contributed significantly to making TAPMI a
of B-schools in the country.                                             preferred centre for management education. Today,
                                                                         over 1,900 TAPMI alumni hold responsible man-
                  THE medical and engineering streams no longer          agerial positions in India and abroad.
              define the limits of youth aspirations in India. In an          In early 2009, in its 25th year of existence, TAP-
              economy that has many more and varied opportuni-           MI shifted its operations to a scenic, 42-acre (one
              ties to offer, management institutions play a crucial      acre is 0.4 hectare) residential campus in Manipal.
              role in moulding youngsters into professionals. The        Perched on the slope of a hillock and overlooking a
              private sector now has a number of management              valley filled with verdant tropical greenery, the new
              institutions that can hold their own in a global envi-     campus provides an ideal setting for serious study
              ronment.                                                   and creativity, combined with entertainment and
                  The T.A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI) in           relaxation. Developed at a cost of about Rs.60 crore,
              the university town of Manipal in Karnataka is a           the facility has a built-up area of 2,50,000 square
              leading institute, with a reputation for “academic         feet and houses wi-fi-enabled, air-conditioned class-
              rigour and faculty-student interaction”. It was            rooms, plush offices, a knowledge centre, a computer
              founded by Tonse Ananth Pai, former Chairman of            centre, a students’ centre, hostels for men and wom-
              the Life Insurance Corporation of India, Rajya Sab-        en, and residences for faculty and staff. The students’
              ha member and, at various times a Minister at the          centre has a canteen, a gym, a yoga and meditation
              Centre having portfolios such as Railways, Heavy           room, a mini open-air theatre and a convenience
              Industries, Steel and Mines, Industry and Civil Sup-       store.
              plies. TAPMI’s mission is to produce professional              TAPMI has earned a number of awards and
              management capability. It has also played a role in        achievements. In August 2011, TAPMI received the
              strengthening the existing educational and health          AIMS-WE School Innovation Award at the 23rd
              infrastructure of Manipal, a town that has become          AIMS Annual Management Education Convention
              synonymous with institutes offering studies in med-        2011, organised by the Association of Indian Man-

                                                   1 1 8   F R O N T L I N E
FOCUS TOWARDS TOMORROW-MANAGEMENT STUDIES                                                                     NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                         have been well received by the indus-
                                                                                         try. The curriculum consists of 28
                                                                                         courses – spread over four semesters.
                                                                                         Students do project work (eight
                                                                                         weeks) in addition. A student can spe-
                                                                                         cialise in finance, marketing, human
                                                                                         resource management, information
                                                                                         systems, banking and finance or in-
                                                                                         ternational business.
                                                                                              Graduates in agriculture, arts,
                                                                                         commerce, engineering, management,
                                                                                         law, science or other disciplines with a
                                                                                         minimum of 50 per cent marks (aggre-
                                                                                         gate of three years, including languag-
TH E T . A . PA I   Management Institute in Manipal is a leading B-school.
                                                                                         es) in the qualifying examination are
agement Schools, in Bhubaneswar,             considered to be in the top 1 per cent of   eligible for the management pro-
Orissa. The award-winning innova-            business management schools in the          gramme. Those appearing for final de-
tion, presented by Professor R.C. Nat-       country.” One of the highlights of the      gree examinations can also apply.
arajan, was about experiential               institute is its “transparent and scien-         The institute’s industry-focussed
learning techniques in postgraduate          tific selection process”. He said: “We       curriculum, excellent faculty and
courses in marketing management, in-         have a 100 per cent placement record        strong alumni network brought it rec-
cluding the experience of OMEGA,             and 3,000 of our alumni are employed        ognition as an A++ level B-school in
BrandScan and other simulation               across the globe.”                          the Business India Survey of B-Schools
games. TAPMI beat 12 others for the                                                      2010. These qualities have also made
award and was also adjudged the B-           K.S. HEGDE INSTITUTE                        the institution a preferred destination
School for Best Innovation in Manage-        The Justice K.S. Hegde Institute of         for management education. It is recog-
ment Education.                              Management is one of the many pri-          nised as a centre for research and is
    TAPMI has also been conferred            vately run management institutes in         among the very few AICTE-NBA ac-
with the Dr J.J. Irani Award for the         Karnataka. Established in July 1988 by      credited institutes. It is also certified to
Best Management Institute by the Dr.         the Nitte Education Trust and situated      ISO 9001:2008 standards by KEMA,
P.N. Singh Foundation, Mumbai. The           50 kilometres from Mangalore in             Netherlands.
award will be presented at the 13th          Nitte, a small hamlet in the foothills of        Equipped with a spacious campus,
Annual Convention on Leadership in           the Western Ghats in Udipi district, it     a well-stocked library, hostel facilities
Mumbai in mid-November in the                has been a pioneer of sorts in impart-      and an excellent academic atmo-
presence of over 800 delegates.              ing management studies. The institute       sphere, the institution provides stu-
    In July 2011, TAPMI received the         is one of the 23 educational institu-       dents global exposure through
all-important approval from the All          tions, in engineering, medicine, den-       conferences and exchange pro-
India Council of Technical Education         tistry and paramedical courses, run by      grammes that derive maximum bene-
(AICTE) for increasing its intake of         the trust and shares the vision of its      fits from tie-ups with the University of
students from 180 to 300. In June            founder, the late Justice K.S. Hegde,       Pennsylvania, United States, and Ma-
2011, CRISIL Business School Grad-           who was Speaker of the Lok Sabha and        kerere University B-School, Uganda.
ing gave TAPMI an A*** (pronounced           a Supreme Court judge.                           The institute’s practical approach
A triple star) grading in its national as        The Justice K.S. Hegde Institute of     in moulding budding managers is re-
well as State-level grading of manage-       Management started out with 40 stu-         flected in its consulting projects, co-
ment educational institutions across         dents and the avowed mission of pre-        curricular activities, scholarly research
the country. TAPMI is now on a par           paring globally competent managers          and career development programmes.
with S.P. Jain, NMIMS, XIMB, IIFT            who retain the Indian ethos of loyalty      It has undertaken consultancy and re-
and MDI. This rating is valid up to          and commitment to excellence. The           search projects funded by the Ford
March 23, 2012.                              institute, which is affiliated to the Vis-   Foundation, the Government of India,
    In April 2011, TAPMI was de-             veswaraya Technological University,         NABARD, the IIBF, and various pub-
clared the ‘Top Management Institute’        Belgaum, offers a two-year full-time        lic sector banks. The institute has been
by Competition Success Review. Said          MBA programme recognised by the             the knowledge partner for Corpora-
Professor Chowdari Prasad, Dean              AICTE and the Government of Karna-          tion Bank’s MSME Excellence Awards
(Planning and Developing): “We are           taka.                                       for the last several years.
known for our rigorous academic envi-            Since its inception, it has turned           The MBA programme includes
ronment. And not for nothing are we          out more than 900 managers who              student participation in social pro-

                                                      1 2 0   F R O N T L I N E
FOCUS TOWARDS TOMORROW-MANAGEMENT STUDIES                                                                    NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                         Business); PGDM (BIFAAS); and
                                                                                         PGDM (Triple Specialisation) in the
                                                                                         non-residential stream.
                                                                                              Many of the 60-member full-time
                                                                                         faculty hold doctoral qualifications
                                                                                         and have experience in industry. “In
                                                                                         tune with the latest teaching practices
                                                                                         across the globe, the emphasis of in-
                                                                                         struction at the SSIM is on self-learn-
                                                                                         ing. The strong team of highly
                                                                                         experienced faculty plays the role of
                                                                                         facilitators,” says Prof. V.G. Chari, Di-
TH E J US T I C E K . S .   Hegde Institute of Management in Nitte in Karnataka’s        rector (Academic) of the SSIM.
Udipi district.                                                                               Most of the faculty bring to the
                                                                                         classroom experience gained from ex-
jects, whereby students are taught to          drawn up on the basis of industry de-     posure to industry. Teaching involves a
recognise the importance of being so-          mands. It is constantly updated in tan-   judicious mix of lectures, case studies,
cially sensitive. The institute has been       dem with changing industry needs.         simulations, role plays, assignments,
recognised among the premier B-                “We are one of the few institutes who     group work, live projects, and special-
schools in Karnataka on the basis of its       offer enterprise resource planning and    isation projects. For the past two years,
performance in academics, consultan-           business solutions to our students.       students have been exposed to interna-
cy and research. The prestigious               ERP business solution software is de-     tional practices through international
ICMR-4Ps B&M B-School Survey,                  signed to equip students with practice-   study tours. “Such exposure will not
2010, ranked the Justice K.S. Hegde            oriented knowledge on ERP systems.        only benefit the students in terms of
Institute of Management 45th in its            It gives the student hands-on experi-     overseas placements, but it will also
final ranking analysis. The survey              ence that is designed to help make        enrich their professional knowledge,”
shortlisted 529 institutes from a pool         business decisions.”                      explains Prof. Chari.
of 2,000-plus B-schools in the                                                                The SSIM aims to place at least 10
country.                                       SSIM                                      per cent of its postgraduates overseas.
    The institute has an active place-         A combination of theory and case-         As part of the exercise, the students
ment committee, with a full-time offi-          based and interactive methods of          will visit countries such as Singapore,
cer assisted by two faculty members            teaching makes the Siva Sivani Insti-     Malaysia and Thailand and hold work-
and student representatives. The com-          tute of Management (SSIM) at Kom-         shops there. Global Talent Consult-
mittee explores the different areas,           pally on the outskirts of Hyderabad       ants conducts 3-E events every year to
taking care to ensure that students are        one of the favoured places of learning    enhance the professional view of the
aware of the latest placement situa-           for diversified and specialised courses    students. It also evaluates the students’
tions and opportunities. It bridges the        in management. It has consistently        project reports.
gap between the industry’s demand for          been ranked among the top business             Students are taught English and at
talent and the students’ search for a          schools in the country. The SSIM          least one foreign language – Spanish,
right career. And it all begins with the       started out with 40 students in 1992.     French or German. “We have an En-
right kind of summer training they un-         With seven specialised management         glish language club to fine-tune the
dergo, which leads to successful exec-         programmes (courses), four residen-       English skills of the students, and en-
utive placements. The placement cell           tial and three non-residential, the in-   terprise resource planning is a part of
conducts lectures, seminars and dem-           stitution has blossomed into one of the   the course,” says Z. Ramesh Kumar,
onstrations by experienced and reput-          largest AICTE-approved autonomous         Controller of Examinations of the
ed persons from different streams.             business schools in the country with      SSIM.
    Pre-placement activities focus on          diversified two-year full-time courses.         The SSIM has innovative and in-
training students individually and in          Student intake has gone up to 418 in      digenously planned activities such as
groups, improving their presentation           the academic year 2011-12.                article review sessions, company re-
skills and making their participation               The programmes offered by the        view sessions, accent neutralisation,
in group discussion effective. Students        SSIM are PGDM (Marketing – Dual           presentations, group discussions and
are also exposed to mock interviews.           Specialisation); PGDM (HR); PGDM          panel discussions to help students
According to Sudhir M., Assistant Pro-         (Banking, Insurance, Finance and Al-      hone their soft skills. The institute en-
fessor (Marketing Management and               lied Services, or BIFAAS); and PGDM       courages students to organise various
Planning) and the Placement Coordi-            (Triple Specialisation) – in the resi-    co-curricular and extracurricular ac-
nator, the institute’s curriculum is           dential stream, and PGDM (Global          tivities, management meets and cul-

                                                        1 2 2   F R O N T L I N E
FOCUS TOWARDS TOMORROW-MANAGEMENT STUDIES                                                                  NOVEMBER 4, 2011

tural meets to acquire practical knowl-    Plant), BHEL, ECIL, NFCL, Power             HR, information technology and oper-
edge and demonstrate their leadership      Grid Corporation and Indorama               ations and strategic management. The
and managerial capabilities. In addi-      (Thailand). It has also undertaken          programme also offers dual special-
tion, other forums such as the finance     consultancy projects from TMC, ITC,         isations. The unique features of the
club, the marketing club and the HR        Tupperware and Orient Cements.              programme include close relationship
club provide outlets to students’ cre-         The SSIM follows a rigorous ad-         with the corporate world, a balance
ative talent.                              mission procedure and conducts a se-        between conceptual framework and
    The institution has tie-ups with or-   lection process in all important centres    industry practices in the curricula,
ganisations such as HDFC Bank, De-         in the country. Students with CAT,          case study method and project work as
loitte and TMI Network to facilitate       MAT, XAT, ATMA, JMET and ICET               the main pedagogical tools, special
placements. “HDFC takes students,          scores are eligible for admission and       emphasis on the development of soft
trains them in retail banking and ab-      due weightage is given for work experi-     skills, and special programmes to cre-
sorbs some of them. The private sector     ence and academic performance.              ate a sense of social responsibility in
                                           NIRMA INSTITUTE                                 The faculty is a rich blend of people
                                           The cool, grey-stone buildings dotted       with diverse academic backgrounds
                                           on the sprawling campus of the In-          and industrial experience. Interactive
                                           stitute of Management, Nirma Uni-           learning and an enriching campus life
                                           versity (IMNU), in Ahmedabad                create a serene milieu for students.
                                           reinforce the popular perception about          The Master of Business Adminis-
                                           the institute as one that is progressive,   tration (Family Business & Entrepre-
                                           efficient, modern and liberal. These         neurship) programme aims to develop
                                           qualities have also put it among the top    owner-managers with knowledge of
                                           25 business schools in India.               family business management tech-
                                               Located on the Sarkhej-Gandhina-        niques and an entrepreneurial
                                           gar highway, the institute was estab-       mindset.
                                           lished in 1996 as an autonomous body.           The institute’s “Corporate Inter-
                                           It became a constituent Institution of      face” programme is, says a statement
                                           Nirma University in 2003. The uni-          from the institute, “an important pa-
                                           versity was established under the lead-     rameter for brand building and suc-
                                           ership of Dr Karsanbhai K Patel, who        cess of its students getting to be
                                           is the chairman of Nirma Ltd and the        industry-ready professionals after
                                           president of the university. The uni-       completing the MBA programme.
                                           versity is recognised by the University     They thus can contribute to the com-
                Institute of
TH E S I V A S I V A N I                   Grants Commission (UGC) under Sec-          pany’s products, operations, and
Management in Secunderabad.                tion 2(f) of the UGC Act and accred-        growth from day one after joining.”
                                           ited by the National Assessment and             The IMNU provides an executive
bank has taken 65 students as its em-      Accreditation Council (NAAC).               education programme. At the execu-
ployees last year,” Ramesh Kumar               The IMNU has consistently held a        tive education centre, the participants
said. Deloitte carries out some of its     position among the country’s top 15         bring with them their work experience
corporate social responsibility activ-     private business schools. The Nirma         and knowledge. The faculty brings in
ities in association with the SSIM         Institute, as it is popularly known, has    its knowledge of best management
apart from providing internships to        world-class infrastructure with state-      practices. The centre also provides a
students.                                  of-the-art classrooms, a digital library    good platform for networking.
    The SSIM has a consistent track        that has 24-hour access and wi-fi In-            The IMNU has signed memoran-
record of 100 per cent placements. Ac-     ternet connectivity. An air-condi-          dums of understanding with the fol-
cording to the recent Business World-      tioned amphitheatre is the venue for        lowing universities abroad: Universiti
Synovate B-School Survey-2010, it has      conferences and cultural programmes         Utara Malaysia, Malaysia; Hangyang
been ranked first in placements in          through the academic year. Besides          University, South Korea; Florida At-
Andhra Pradesh. The training and           these, the university has facilities for    lantic University, U.S.; Minnesota
consultancy division at the SSIM un-       indoor and outdoor games and a mod-         State University, U.S., Coggin College
dertakes assignments on vital issues in    ern gymnasium.                              of Business, North Florida University,
different sectors. The SSIM has con-           The IMNU’s flagship programme,           U.S., California State University, U.S.,
ducted over 100 faculty development        Master of Business Administration, is       Lake Forest Graduate School of Man-
programmes (FDP) involving compa-          a two-year residential one with spe-        agement, U.S.; Texas A&M Universi-
nies such as NTPC, RINL (Vizag Steel       cialisation in finance, marketing, OB &     ty-Commerce, U.S.

                                                    1 2 4   F R O N T L I N E
FOCUS VIGYAN PRASAR                                                                                        NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                                                                                                                   PHOTOGRAPHS: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT
A W O R K S H O P F O R chemistry teachers in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, conducted by Vigyan Prasar to mark the
International Year of Chemistry.

Science for all
             Vigyan Prasar has been hugely successful in its efforts to inculcate scientific
             temper with humanism in Indian society. B Y A C O R R E S P O N D E N T

Its concerted efforts are slowly                                        those blessed with divine powers can understand it.
                                                                            Magic it is, but not of the kind these godmen and
leading to the transformation of                                        saints propagate. They are the magic of chemical
                                                                        reactions that nature itself has encoded. Dry coconut
India. In its role as a facilitator and                                 burns when water is poured over it because of the
                                                                        sodium kept hidden in it. Ash is produced when
resource facility centre, it has helped                                 fingers dipped in mercuric chloride solution are
                                                                        rubbed against an aluminium coin. This is then
reach millions who are least exposed                                    passed off as divine ash, or vibhuti, to the devotee. In
                                                                        an underdeveloped and semi-literate society like In-
to governance models and has                                            dia’s, scientific explanations of such miracles are
induced them to think rationally.                                           It is this mindset that Vigyan Prasar, under the
                                                                        Department of Science and Technology of the Gov-
                HAVE you ever come across a possessed godman            ernment of India, has been trying to change for the
             who performs miracles by burning a dry coconut             past 22 years. This, it does, through popularising
             with water? Or a saint who offers you ashes by             science at every level of society. The year 2011 marks
             rubbing his fingers on a coin? For a gullible devotee,      the International Year of Chemistr, and therefore,
             the world seems to be steeped in magic and only            Vigyan Prasar has been encouraging experiments

                                                  1 2 6   F R O N T L I N E
FOCUS VIGYAN PRASAR                                                                                     NOVEMBER 4, 2011

                                       that denounce miracles. This it does by     ate. Social justice, widespread
                                       conducting workshops among chem-            education and unrestricted communi-
 Access to                             istry teachers and through its litera-
                                       ture and voluntary science clubs across
                                                                                   cation are prerequisites for the spread
                                                                                   of scientific temper and, therefore, op-

 science                               the country. The scientific temper
                                       sought to be promoted thus is not de-
                                                                                   timising the results of science and
 Dr T.V. Venkateswaran, Head of        void of humanism.
 Audio-Visual Department, Vi-              In fact, performing plain experi-       SCIENCE CLUBS
 gyan Prasar:                          ments is not Vigyan Prasar’s only call-     It is for this reason that a unique pro-
                  FOR      scientific   ing. It focusses on sensitising people      gramme of voluntary science clubs has
                  temper to perco-     against all forms of social evils and       been conducted across the country.
                  late into society,   training people in the rural areas to       Volunteers who wish to open science
                  the foremost pre-    work scientifically. “In a developing        clubs in any residential colony, school,
                  requisite is to      country like ours, scientific temper         or village can register their names with
                  make science and     would not only help promote devel-          Vigyan Prasar, which then gives them
                  its public face,     opment, but would also address social       resource materials to experiment and
                  technology, ac-      concerns like literacy, superstitions,      break common myths. It also intro-
                  cessible to the      and empowerment of women and chil-          duces club members to the world of
 public at large. Time and again,      dren,” said T.V. Venkateswaran, a sci-      machines and electronics. Vigyan Pra-
 studies have shown that ordi-         entist at Vigyan Prasar.                    sar has not been supporting the clubs
 nary people seek quick remedies           It is for this reason that Vigyan
 only when a better alternative is     Prasar has adopted an approach that
 inaccessible or not available. We     would seek to promote “scientific tem-
 have seen people administering        per with humanism” in its Palampur
 vaccines to their children when       declaration of 2011. The preamble to
 mass campaigns such as the            the declaration says: “The spread and
 pulse polio programme take the        adoption of mankind’s knowledge has
 facility to their doorsteps.          been uneven due to prevalent schisms
     Secondly, rote learning in        across the world and control over such
 our schools hardly helps in           knowledge by the elites. In such a
 building skills or shaping a sci-     bleak situation, fatalism prevails, rein-
 entific attitude. Revamping the        forcing obscurantism, irrationalism
 way we teach science in schools       and a retreat from reason. To advance
 is a paramount task before us.        in the scientific age, we must under-
 Until now science popularisa-         stand the meanings and imperatives of
 tion involved only questions          scientific temper – which in essence is
 such as ‘what are we’ and ‘what is    ‘humanity’s assertion of being in
                                                                                   VI G YAN P R AS AR ’S C AM P A I G N
 the universe made of’, and at-        charge of its destiny and not a passive
                                                                                   among children has helped them
 tempted to satisfy only people’s      victim of the malevolence of stars’. Sci-
                                                                                   watch the solar eclipse safely.
 cultural needs. The science and       entific temper thus becomes an imper-
 technology aspects of people’s        ative for a brighter future for our         financially but only gives them the re-
 socio-economic needs – for ex-        country.”                                   source materials so that trained teach-
 ample, safe use of pesticides and         The declaration says that scientific     ers can impart scientific knowledge.
 rational use of fertilizers – have    temper should be seen as the method         There are around 11,000 science clubs
 been hitherto treated as part of      of science that encompasses all human       in the country dealing with subjects
 simple ‘extension’ work, a set of     knowledge cutting across the natural        such as biodiversity, machines, chem-
 instructions to farmers, or dis-      and social sciences. “Scientific temper      ical reactions, and water filtration.
 semination of mere ‘know how’.        is incompatible with theological and            “The experiments in the science
 If we wish to nurture scientific       metaphysical beliefs. While science is      clubs are contextual. We see what the
 temper through empowerment,           universal, religions and their dogmas       social conditions in the area are and
 then we at Vigyan Prasar think it     are divisive. Scientific temper cannot       based on necessity, expose the people
 is important to communicate the       flourish in a grossly inegalitarian so-      of the area to specific experiments. For
 ‘know why’ to them. We have           ciety where 50 per cent of the pop-         example, if there are many godmen in
 launched an initiative to ‘reach      ulation lives below the poverty line and    the area, we train our volunteer to ex-
 the unreached’.                       almost 70 per cent of our people, espe-     pose their magical tricks through
                                       cially women, are functionally illiter-     chemical experiments in front of the

                                                1 2 8   F R O N T L I N E
FOCUS VIGYAN PRASAR                                                                                        NOVEMBER 4, 2011

people. In areas where there are high
levels of water contamination, we im-
part knowledge about processes like
evaporation and condensation to puri-
                                               Reaching out
fy water. This is also taken up at a          Rintu Nath, Division Head, Infor-           Another important factor is
community level,” said B.K. Tyagi, sci-       mation Systems & Laboratories:          cost. Developing and disseminating
ence club facilitator and scientist at                        OUR web applica-        e-resources is very cheap compared
Vigyan Prasar.                                                tions may not be able   with conventional methods. Factors
     “The thrust is on taking scientific                       to reach every corner   such as availability, low/zero cost,
experiments out of the esoteric do-                           of the country. How-    fast feedback mechanism, user in-
main of laboratories. We try to encour-                       ever, dissemination     teractivity, wider reach and interna-
age experiments with the resource                             of resource materials   tional visibility are reasons to
materials available in our vicinity, in-                      to institutions/sci-    encourage more web applications in
cluding those with which children play                        ence communicators      the days to come. Higher band-
all the time,” said Venkateswaran. Vi-                        becomes easier if we    width, efficient communication
gyan Prasar has been organising work-                         have all the resource   techniques and easy availability of
shops for chemistry teachers in various       materials available in the public do-   information technology products
places so that they can motivate              main. Resource dissemination at         will ensure wider reach in the com-
schoolchildren to perform small ex-           the local level and feedback mecha-     ing years. Vigyan Prasar pro-
periments outside the laboratories.           nism become very effective with the     grammes are ready to take leverage
That in itself has proven to be a huge        use of the Internet.                    of this technology for its outreach
challenge as the teachers rely on text-           In the past few years, a number     programmes.
books instead of developing a scientific       of resource materials were devel-           Our website www.vigyanpra-
attitude, say scientists at Vigyan Pra-       oped for Vigyan Prasar by experts. It is one of the most com-
sar. “Scientific temper means thinking         was required to generate materials      prehensive websites on S&T
                                              that are locally relevant. Through      communication in India. Our dig-
                                              the Vigyan Prasar website, user         ital library has become very pop-
                                              groups were created to upload and       ular. One can register for free and
                                              exchange materials among experts.       download any number of books and
                                              The final product was then made          posters. We have an e-platform
                                              available in the public domain for      called “Discussion Forum” for S&T
                                              free access.                            communication.

                                           grammes as a strategy to root out so-      unheard of 20 years ago. It was
                                           cial evils. The primary areas of focus     through sensitisation programmes on
                                           are water and health care, which de-       national television, the Vigyan Prasar
                                           pends on factors such as nutrition,        website, and popular literature that
                                           livelihood, income generation, sanita-     people got over their fear of eclipses
A VIG YA N PR A S A R science club
                                           tion and hygiene. Technological com-       and became interested in looking at
where women perform experiments            munication is also one of its primary      them scientifically. Arwind Ranade, a
outside the laboratory.                    agendas; programmes such as tech-          scientist at Vigyan Prasar, says that it is
scientifically, innovatively. But unfor-    nologies for rural artisans, small farm-   for this reason that sensitising people
tunately our education system has          ers, rural women and tribal people         about astronomy remains one of Vi-
been one that relies on rote learning.     show that Vigyan Prasar gives top pri-     gyan Prasar’s main responsibilities.
Our struggle is against that form of       ority to welfare measures for the mar-     Teaching children about telescopes,
education of which not only students       ginalised sections.                        and encouraging them to perform ex-
but also teachers are a part,” Venka-                                                 periments at exhibitions and work-
teswaran said. So, Vigyan Prasar, in its   BIRTH OF VIGYAN PRASAR                     shops is part of this.
workshops, gives chemistry teachers a      It was the need to sort out archaic            Vigyan Prasar has tried to address
scientific kit. The kits have been pre-     superstitions regarding astronomical       the needs of the disadvantaged groups.
pared after long consultations and are     phenomena such as solar and lunar          One of its recommendations goes
in consonance with international           eclipses that led to the birth of Vigyan   thus: “Vigyan Prasar, a national in-
standards.                                 Prasar. One of its biggest successes has   stitute for science and technology
    Similarly, Vigyan Prasar has been      been the increasing number of eclipse      communication under the Depart-
focussing on gender-based pro-             watchers, an activity that was almost      ment of Science and Technology, is

                                                    1 3 0   F R O N T L I N E
FOCUS VIGYAN PRASAR                                                                                      NOVEMBER 4, 2011

   Popularising chemistry                                                               Science for
   Subodh Mahanti, Division Head,
                                                Vigyan Prasar has developed
                                            many low-cost teaching aids in              women
                     VIGYAN PRASAR          chemistry, and workshops are being          Kinkini Dasgupta Misra, scien-
                     has developed a        held in different parts of the country      tist, Vigyan Prasar:
                     number of activ-       to train teachers on how to use them                         VIGYAN PRA-
                     ities for different    in classrooms. These aids will be                            SAR’S newly con-
                     sections of society    helpful in improving the teaching of                         stituted Gender &
                     on the occasion of     chemistry in schools, particularly in                        Technology Com-
                     the International      rural areas where there is a lack of                         munication divi-
                     Year of Chemistry.     resources. Vigyan Prasar has devel-                          sion has devel-
                     They will be helpful   oped a series of experiments to                              oped a gender-
                     in     popularising    demonstrate the chemistry behind                             sensitive science
   chemistry in remote and underde-         many so-called miracles. It has                              communication
   veloped regions. We have produced        planned also to develop a country-                           programme       to
   a series of radio programmes for         wide programme to demonstrate               empower communities.
   telecast in all major Indian languag-    how chemistry helps in the puri-                 Vigyan Prasar will join hands
   es from all kendras of All India Ra-     fication of water. This programme            with identified grass-roots stake-
   dio. We are also producing a             will also help students undertake           holders and extension workers in
   television serial. These will help       experimental work on their own.             the fields of health, agriculture,
   people appreciate the importance of      Students from rural areas will par-         and so on, and collaborate with
   chemistry in their daily life.           ticularly benefit.                           government and non-govern-
                                                                                        mental organisations to promote
                                                                                        women’s development pro-
committed to add its might in prepar-       stitutions such as the Vikram Sarabhai      grammes. It will develop infor-
ing materials appropriate for the           Space Centre, and voluntary agencies        mation,        education       and
unreached and disadvantaged groups          such as the Tamil Nadu Science Forum        communication materials for
on themes and topics related to sci-        and the National Institute of Open          various target groups and con-
ence, technology, environment and           Learning. Science programmes on             duct awareness and training
scientific outlook. Initially the focus of   Doordarshan and All India Radio have        programmes for women.
efforts would be directed at members        multiplied, thanks to the increased fo-          One of Vigyan Prasar’s initial
of women self-help groups, neo-litera-      cus on audio-visual learning. Informa-      efforts, jointly with the National
tes and semi-literates, slow learners/      tion regarding experiments can be           Science Centre, Delhi, was a two-
first-generation learners and school         downloaded free from the Vigyan Pra-        day national seminar in 2010 in
dropouts, National Rural Employ-            sar website.                                New Delhi on Gender, Technol-
ment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA)                   Vigyan Prasar has achieved many         ogy and Communication. Vigyan
workers, elected members of local           successes, but it faces many challenges     Prasar, in partnership with the
self–governments, and so on.”               too. “Reaching people in their mother       Institute for Gender Justice and
    When inclusive growth is the need       tongue has been a problem. To pro-          Sudinalay - Centre for Women,
of the hour, Vigyan Prasar’s concerted      mote scientific temper, we have to go        New Delhi, organised this year a
efforts are slowly leading to the trans-    beyond the 21 official languages. We         week-long       interactive   pro-
formation of India. As a facilitator and    have done some programmes in the            gramme on “Women’s Health
resource facility centre, it has not only   Gondi and Bhil tribal languages, but        and Empowerment for Prosper-
helped reach millions who are the least     that is not enough. We need to find          ity and Social Change” on March
exposed to governance models, but has       good literate volunteers among these        8, International Women’s Day.
also induced people to think on the         communities. This is very difficult. It is   Among other efforts, a 13-epi-
basis of reason. Only a cultural revolu-    important to go beyond elementary           sode radio serial on Women and
tion can result in a true transforma-       science and popularise science in peo-      Science was produced jointly
tion, and Vigyan Prasar, by                 ple’s thinking,” said Venkateswaran.        with the All India Radio and
encouraging scientific temper in a su-       “The interest in science is gradually       broadcast from 119 radio sta-
perstition-bound country like India, is     declining as India is growing. We have      tions in the country. It was pro-
actually doing that. And this work is       to put in an organised effort to tackle     duced in 19 Indian languages.
done in partnership with renowned in-       this.”

                                                     1 3 2   F R O N T L I N E
letters                                                                                                       NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Twelfth Plan                    derstand that the absence of       from terror groups support-     top BJP leaders should be
                                proper platforms for work-         ed by Pakistan. Only when       looked into objectively.
THE Approach Paper to the       ers to express their concerns      the U.S.’ wrong policy came         K.S. JAYATHEERTHA
Twelfth Five-Year Plan is       will prompt them to strike         back to haunt it through 9/         BANGALORE
yet another illustration of     work. Proper perks and sal-        11 did it choose to come back
the obsession of our eco-       aries in proportion to the         on the right path. It is only
nomic think tanks’ faulty ec-   work done will encourage           after 9/11 that the U.S. is     Teesta treaty
onomic policies (Cover          employees to work hard.            supporting India in its war     CHIEF Minister Mamata
Story, “Neoliberal Plan”,           P. SENTHIL SARAVANA            against terror and has come     Banerjee’s eleventh hour re-
October 21). This shows             DURAI                          out openly against Pakistan     fusal to accompany the
that the consultative proc-         VAZHAVALLAN                    for supporting terror.          Prime Minister to Bangla-
ess with civil society was a        TAMIL NADU                         K. STEPHEN DANIEL           desh was undoubtedly em-
farce. The Approach Paper                                              SECUNDERABAD                barrassing for the country
is designed to placate global                                      THE U.S. needs to be con-       (“Sinking a deal”, October
moneylenders like the Asian     9/11                               gratulated for not lowering     7). However, Mamata Ba-
Development Bank and the        THE United States has os-          its vigil and ensuring some     nerjee’s concerns over the
World Bank and reiterate        tensibly taken up the cause        form of justice for the vic-    sharing of the Teesta’s wa-
the government’s commit-        of exterminating terrorism         tims of 9/11. What needs to     ters deserve consideration
ment to neoliberalism. No       from the face of the world         be changed, though, is how      as many poor peasants of
doubt, the Approach Paper       (Cover Story, “War of Ter-         the West regards the Mus-       northern Bengal depend
will aid concentration of       ror”, October 7). The com-         lim community. It must be       solely on it for agricultural
wealth     among      India’s   plicity of the U.S. and the        reiterated that Islam is a      purposes. As the Chief Min-
super-rich.                     U.K. – the current torch-          peaceful religion.              ister, it is her duty to safe-
   E. KRISHNADAS                bearers of peace – in the              SYED KHAJA                  guard the interests of her
   PALAKKAD, KERALA             making of modern terror-               NEW DELHI                   State. The issue has been
                                ism cannot be denied. Until                                        pending for a long time and
                                the superpowers realise that                                       must be resolved through
Maruti strike                   they cannot weed out some-         The judiciary                   consensus and not in a hur-
THE recent strike by the        thing that they sowed, a ter-      THE resignation of Justices     ried way.
workers at Maruti Suzuki’s      ror-free world will remain a       Soumitra Sen and P.D. Di-           JAYANT MUKHERJEE
Manesar plant proves that a     myth.                              nakaran to escape impeach-          KOLKATA
labour crisis was inevitable        ANURAG SINGH                   ment sets a bad precedent
in the industry (“Fighting          LUCKNOW                        (“Dodging scrutiny”, Octo-
                                                                                                   The first sentence in the Cover Story
for dignity”, October 21).      THIS is with reference to          ber 7). The wrongs commit-      (October 7) “War on Terror” should
    Though the Union La-        the Cover Story articles           ted by them cannot be           read: “September 11 marked the
                                                                                                   tenth anniversary of the devastating
bour Ministry’s provisional     “War of terror” and “Go            undone by resignations.         terror attacks on the American
data show that the number       massive, go bust”. The arti-           N. R. RAMACHANDRAN          mainland       that     dramatically
of strikes and lockouts had     cles implied that the U.S.             CHENNAI                     changed the course of contempo-
                                                                                                   rary history and politics.”
fallen from 349 in 2009 to      went broke because of its
                                                                                                   In the article “Nawab of cricket”
99 in 2010, the truth is that   war on terror. The U.S.’ eco-                                      (October 21), it was wrongly men-
grievances of workers both      nomic woes and its terror-         Scams                           tioned that Iftikhar Ali Khan Patau-
in the organised and unor-      related woes are two differ-                                       di, father of M.A.K. Pataudi, was a
                                                                   THANKS to men like Gali         hockey Olympian. According to the
ganised sectors are not be-     ent things. The cause of its       Janardhana Reddy, politic-      noted statistician B.G. Joshi, Iftik-
ing addressed properly. The     terror woes is its policy error    ians are a despised lot today   har (1917-1952) was in the Indian
                                                                                                   team of 16 players for the Amster-
lack of pay parity and per-     in promoting terrorism for         (“Mine of scams”, October       dam Olympics in 1928 but did not
manent status for contract      selfish gains. Osama bin La-        7). Now that action has fi-      travel. He later led a British-Indian
workers are the main rea-       den was once a friend of the       nally been initiated against    hockey team’s tour of Germany in
                                                                                                   December 1930.
sons behind the Manesar         U.S. During this time, the         him and others, one hopes
strike.                         U.S. was Pakistan’s friend as      that it will be taken to its    ANNOUNCEMENT
    Banning strikes is no       well and chose to turn a           logical conclusion without      Letters, whether by surface mail or
                                                                                                   e-mail, must carry the full postal
way out. The management         blind eye to the many ter-         fear or favour. The allega-     address and the full name, or the
of the company should un-       rorist attacks India faced         tions of their long ties with   name with initials.

                                                     1 3 4   F R O N T L I N E
Published on alternate Saturdays.WPP No.CPMG/AP/SD-15/WPP/11-13 & MH/MR/South-180/2009-11.Postal Regn. No.TN/ARD/22/09-11. RNI No.42591/84

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