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THE ~ 

FORUM 



Vol. Ill No. 15 

New Delhi 

20 August - 4 September 1988 

Fortnightly 

Rupees Two 



Prof. Darshan Singh Again: 


Political Manoeuvring or 
Religious Concern . 


T he reinstatement of Prof. 
Darshan Singh Ragi as 
the Akal Takht Jathedar 
by the Shjromani Gurdwara Pra- 
bandhak Committee executive 
and his reported acceptance of 
the high post after initial hesita- 
tion has made a mockery of the 
respected office regarded by the 
Sikhs as the highest seat of reli- 
gious authority. It also shows to 
what low and opportunistic levels 
the Akali politics has sunk and 
the utter disregard for estab- 
lished norms and conventions. 

Time was when the Akal Takht 
Jathedar was appointed by 
SGPC by consulting all religious 
heads and other Sikh dignitaries 
f>-ia consensus arrived at. Now 
l(L^» become a game of musi- 
cal chairs. SGPC can now stop 
the music at any time it likes and 
ask its nominee to occupy the 
chair. Only a few months ago 
SGPC appointed Mr. Harcharan 
Singh of Delhi as the Akal Takht 
chief by removing Mr. Jasbir 
Singh Rode and other four high 
priests as it suspected them to 
be government "agents". Mr. 
Harcharan singh was immedi- 
ately put behind bars by the gov- 
ernment and his appointment 
was challenged by the militants 
who retaliated by killing Giani 
Sohan Singh, head granthi of the 
Golden Temple and the SGPC 
secretary, Mr. Bhan Singh. 

In This Issue 

Page 

n Authoritarianism: 

Indira To Rajiv 3 

n The Delhi Epidemic 5 
n Women’s Movement: 
Anti-Communal Force?6 
n Violence And Terror 7 
n The 59th Amendment: 
Repeating Blunders! 8 
n Short Story: 

Mangli Tikuli 10 

n Rajasthan Desert Areal 3 
n BJP And Muslims 15 
n Congress(l) And 
Muslims 16 



Prof. Darshan Singh 


past enemies have become 
today’s bed-fellows. 

The Bhinderanwale family 
members are said to have joined 
hands with Mr. Simranjit Singh 
Mann and Capt. Amrinder Singh, 
who is related to Mr. Mann 
through his wife. It remains a 
mystery how the relatives of Mr. 
Mann and his counsel brought 
an unsigned statement from Mr. 
Mann in Bhagalpur jail for 
restructuring the United Akali Dal 
by taking in two more members 
of the presidium close to the Jog- 
inder Singh faction. This addition 
of members was challenged by 
Tohra-Badal group who said that 
it was illegal as Mr. Mann had no 
power to expand the presidium. 


Allegations 

T he position was clarified 
by Prof. Darshan Singh, 
architect of UAD, a few 
days ago when he said that Mr. 
Mann had no power to dissolve 
the council and expand the pre- 
sidium. Prof. Darshan Singh said 
that a 13 member council was 
appointed to give representation 
to all sections. He alleged that 
Baba Joginder Singh pressur- 
ised him to appoint him acting 
president but he refused to do 
so. He clarified that neither the 
president nor the five-member 
presidium had any power to take 
policy decisions as this power 
was vested in the cduncil. Prof. 

continued on page 7 


Bhai Mohan Singh was 
appointed acting jathedar of the 
Akal Takht but after these killings 
he made a somersault and 
declared that Mr. Rode and Baba 
Joginder Singh, father of Sant 
Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale, 
who wants family control over 
SGPC and Akali politics, the 
Tohra-Badal group in SGPC has 
now appointed Prof. Darshan 
Singh Ragi as the new Akal 
Takht chief without the normal 
convention of first sacking Mr. 
Harcharan Singh. The situation 
is most confusing and the 
present reappointment of Prof. 
Ragi as the Akal Takht jathedar 
and of Mr. Manjit Singh Calcutta 
as SGPC secretary has made it 
worse confounding. 


President’s Rule In Nagaland: 


Challenge To 
Regional Aspirations 


By Randhir Chhatwal 


T he whole nation and the 
Parliament in session 
were taken aback at the 
sudden clamping of the Presi- 
dent’s rule in Nagaland and dis- 
solving its eight month old 
Assembly. Thus has begun 
another onslaught on the Federal 
fabric of our Constitution. Thir- 
teen MLAs of Congress(l) party 
including four ministers resigned 
from the party to form a new 
party. They announced their 
support to opposition party in 
forming a joint regional legislative 
party. Thus opposition party 
developed a strength of 35 MLAs 
in a house of 59 members. Union 
Minister of Surface Transport 
joined by Mr. Buta Singh and the 
hurriedly recalled Chief Minister, 
from Japan, tried for three to four 
days to persuade them but these 
MLAs could not be coaxed or 
bullied into a redefection. Even 


Turmoil 

T he Akali politics has been 
in a turmoil since Opera- 
tion Black Thunder, 
removal of Mr. Rode as Akal 
Takht chief and expansion of the 
presidium of the United Akali Dal 
by its jailed president, Mr. Sim- 
ranjit Singh Mann, former police 
officer. Realignment of forces 
within the Akali Dais and SGPC 
is taking place and leaders are 
changing loyalties overnight and 



Nagaland Governor, 
Gen. K.V. Krishna Rao 

threat of dissolution of Assembly 
could not prevail to reverse their 
decision. Governor, Gen. K.V. 
Krishna Rao (retd), all this time 
of crises in Nagaland was sitting 
and watching from Imphal and 
showed no concern to come to 
Kohima, allegedly under instruc- 
tion from the Centre. Congress(l) 


ministry was reduced to minority 
but Chief Minister Serna did not 
resign. 

On coming to Kohima Gen. 
Rao did not consider it necessary 
to carry out any visible effort to 
ascertain the party position or the 
claim of opposition leader. He 
was, however, convinced of 
Chief Minister Serna heading a 
minority government as he says 
"aim of the dissident group was 
not really to function as an inde- 
pendent party with any ideology, 
but to topple the 
constitutionally-elected govern- 
ment by forging an alliance of 
convenience with the opposition 
with an eye on office of profit and 
attended benefits." He forgot that 
of the 13 MLAs involved, four 
were ministers and had surrend- 
ered the "office of profit and ben- 
efits." Why these MLAs revolted? 
Could Naga’s aspirations be 
achieved under Congress(l) 

continued on page 4 





i nt 

FORUM 


Cartoons Of The Fortnight- 


mm. 

mmi 

IS THE 
PRICE OF 

LIBERTY 



Indian Express 



This is it! 

By Sudhir Dar 


m 


If#*' 

“Dadqji, congratulations — 
you’ve become a VIP! Our 
phone is being tapped!” 
Hindustan Times 

THE 

FORUM 

GAZETTE 

Managing Editor 
Dr. Amrik Singh 

General Manager 

Lt.Col.Manohar Singh (Retd.) 

Editors 

Dr. A.S. Narang 
Gian Singh Sandhu 

Subeditor 

K H Nazeer (Baiju) 

Lay Out 
Gulshan 
Rajan Pathak 

Publishers 

Ekta Trust 

2/26, Sarva Priya Vihar 
New Delhi-110016 
Ph. 660738 

Editorial, Business 
and Circulation Offices 

3, Masjid Road, Jangpura 
New Delhi-110014 
Ph. 619284 




OTHER VIEW 




^ 4s 


^;'F 


a* . ^ 

hfeC vSlt, iii 


war. 


CowruM© 1988. Cartoonistj t Writer* Syndic*!* 







&?<£;■ I 

FM> 

\ I i 





NEWSHOUND 

£ CANT ALLOW HEAL 6EM0CRACT 
i WULLAND BECAUSE OF THE 
. _ — .THREAT OF 

CHINA.../ 


Sound And Fury 

We don’t bother to tap telephones. We have better things to do. 

- Mr. Rajiv Gandhi 

■i 

We are happy. The headache is gone. 

- Mrs. Shakuntala Hegde after her husband's resignation. 

The Congress(l) is a party for the elite by the elite. The (National) Front 
is for the poor. 

- Mr. Ajit Singh 

It (National Front) is only an exercise by a group of desperate leaders 
to find a short-cut to power. 

- Mr. H.K.L. Bhagat 

I will feel bad if my policeman has to arrest my own people. 

- Mr. Jyoti Basu 

We don't need Marx. And we don’t need Communists. 

- Mr. M. V. Kamath in Organiser. 

We take note of the Soviet party's views. But we have not pawned our 
brains to anyone. 

- Mr. E.M.S. Namboodiripad 

I arrived as a child, now I go back as an adult. 

- Mathias Rust after his release from a Soviet prison 

The Congress(l) is still alive in Tamil Nadu and the party as well as 
the people are reawakening. 

- Mr. Rajiv Gandhi 


Atter 20 years we have a government (In Tamil Nadu) that w Jks. 

- Mr. P. Chidambaram 

I do not know what the merger is about. 

- Mr. Chandra Shekhar 

You are always talking about splits but I am talking about unity. 

- Mr. Arif Mohammed Khan to the Press. 

I had stated in the past also that I would not accept any post in the 
Government in future. I stand by that. 

- Mr. V.P. Singh 

I’m still in the Janata Party, whereas Mr Ramakrishna Hegde has already 
become the vice-president of the Samajvadi Janata Dal 

- Mr. H.D. Deve Gowda 

I myself connot tell which party I belong to. 

- Mr. Ashoke Sen. 

If Boffors had done something wrong, I will condemn it. — 1 % 

- Mr. K.C. Pant 

Anyone casting aspersions on the quality of Bofors guns and thereby 
demoralizing the armed forces is a traitor. 

- Mr. Vasant Sathe 

Is there anything called Election Commission in this country? At least 
I can’t believe it exists. 

- Mr. Karunanidhi 

We are a little tired of bringing the LTTE to the negotiating table. 

- Mr. Rajiv Gandhi 


CANT ALLOW REAir 
DEMOCRACY IN KASHMIR 
I BECAUSE OF TUB THREAT 
V OF PAKISTAN...^ 


By Rap 

WE CANT ALLOW REAL ^ 
DEMOCRACY IN PtlHi BECAUSE 
OF THE THREAT OF IHPlA / I 






2 


20 August - 4 September 1988 





FORUM 


i nt 

FORUM 


• Minority Rights 

• Civil Liberties 

• Equality for women 

• Democratic Values 

• Environmental Protection 


Thought For Fortnight 

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. 

- English Proverb 

The Exit Of R.K. Hegde 


I t takes a politician of the calibre of Mr. R ,K. Hegde to turn the 
tables upon those who chose to crucify him. By resigning at the 
time and in the manner that he did, he has not only outwitted his 
opponents, both at the state and national levels, but also projected an 
issue which is not going to die out so soon. 

It is not suggested that Hegde is an innocent man who has been 
crucified on the altar of value-based politics. Though he has disowned 
his involvement in phone-tapping, everyone is not convinced of it. 
Strong suspicions persists to the effect that he had something to do 
with the leakage of that recorded conversation to the press. This is 
alleged on the ground that it was only he who stood to gain because 
of that leakage, it was in no one else’s interest to leake it out. So 
whether he was involved in phone-tapping or not, the general sus- 
picion is that he had some role in having that particular conversation 
leaked to the press. 

Not only that, he was having all kinds of problem with his own 
party. While he had been able to control dissidence to some extent, 
danger of its recurrence was always there. In other words, his 
v^s.iure, had he continued to stay in office as Chief Minister, would 
not have been smooth. Some problem or the other would have arisen 
and it is difficult to say how things would have finally shaped out. 

There was also a third consideration which need not be treated as 
being unimportant. He certainly has a nature and a presence in national 
politics. Where precisely he fits in and what role he eventually plays 
are issues that are hidden in the womb of the future. As far as he 
was concerned, he had enough projection at the state level. What temp- 
ted him now was the wider national scene. To have stayed on as Chief 
Minister in Karnataka and also played a role at the Centre would have 
been difficult to manage. Getting out of the state was, therefore, an 
alternative with which he had been tying for some time. But he wanted 
a good exit with the proper timing and so on. 

Rajiv Gandhi provided him with that opening. By being present 
in parliament at a time when he is not normally present and by ensur- 
ing the absence of a number of Congress(I) MBs even though they 
had put questions, the question dealing with phone-tapping was given 
a certain degree of prominence. He went on the offensive and so did 
Home Minister. For a while the opposition did not know how to 
‘VjRJpe with the situation. But the impact lasted only for a day. 

By the next morning, Hegde had decided to resign and in doing 
so he consulted some of his sympathetic colleagues in the Janata Party 
also. Now, that he has resigned, he has mounted an offensive against 
the Prime Minister. As everyone knows, phone-tapping has been a 
widespread practice these four decades. The British practised it before 
1947 and so have the successors. The Prime Minister today cannot 
pretend that no phone-tapping is being done anywhere either at the 
Centre or in the Congress(I) states. When, therefore, Hegde calls for 
a total ban on the practice, he has put the government on the defensive. 

Perhaps nothing spectacular will happen in consequence. What he 
has done, however, is to inscribe this particular item on the political 
agenda. The issue will continue to be discussed. Furthermore, whether 
acknowledged or otherwise, there would be a certain amount of reduc- 
tion in the quantum of phone-tapping at least for some time. The sit- 
uation may change after a while and the practice may be pushed with 
greater vigour even. All that is uncertain and remains to be seen. For 
the present, no one is to forget that phone-tapping has been going 
on for a long time and is still going on. 

The Janata record from 1977-79 was not particularly different in 
this respect; phone-tapping was practised to that extent hardly anyone 
can claim hitherto. To that extent hardly anyone can claim a holier- 
than-thou attitude. Through an astute move, however, Hegde has extri- 
cated himself from a difficult position both in the wider sense of the 
word and in the political sense. What is more, he is now free to pursue 
a career at the national level. And above all, he has gone on the offen- 
sive as far as the ruling party at the Centre is concerned. On balance, 
therefore, he has given evidence of shrewd planning and a masterly 
tactical sense. This is an achievement of which any politician can be 
proud. 


Authoritarianism : 
Indira To Rajiv 


P opulism and manipula- 
tion of institutions were 
the two principal 
methods of the authoritarian pol- 
itics of Indira Gandhi in her 
efforts to secure personal sup- 
remacy, ascendance of her 
family and suppression of oppo- 
sition. While Rajiv Gandhi conti- 
nues those trends, he has 
resorted to additional methods of 
authoritarian politics two of which 
have become conspicuous, 
namely, communication and 
crisis management. 

Projection through Doordar- 
shan, Radio and other cultural 
media on the one hand, and vis- 
ible interventions in crisis situa- 
tions through accords, reshuffles 
of ministers and military- 
bureaucratic measures are some 
of the instances of the new dis- 
position. The enactment of the 
59th Amendment epitomises the 
new facet of authoritarianism in 
India. It was sought to be pro- 
jected as a necessary, patriotic 
measure to stop secessionism in 
Punjab and it was part of a pack- 
age of crisis management. How- 
ever, on both points it is getting 
progressively exposed. 

Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian- 
ism was her strategy of self- 
defence in the wake of rising 
demands of people for their 
democratic rights. In the early 
1970s she first tried to use the 
power of the state to respond to 
the problems in the country-side. 
Her initial package of populist 
measures was put forward as a 
necessary response to save the 
system. In this she got the sup- 
port of a section of the Indian 
middle class and the business 
sector. She forged what 
appeared then a formidable coa- 
lition of social groups consisting 
of the Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims 
and other minorities with a spe- 
cial appeal to women. This was 
supported by a spectrum of the 
traditional base of the Congress. 

illusions 


T hen to she had manipu- 
lated the media, project- 
ing herself as a saviour of 
the poor fighting reactionries who 
were obstructing anti-poverty 
programmes, a secularist who 
alone could be trusted by the 
minorities in a Hindu-dominated 
India and a modernist who 
looked forward to a technologi- 
cally advanced India. At a time 
when the simplifications embed- 
ded in all these concepts were 
being questioned by liberals as 
well as socialists, such a projec- 
tion was going on merrily creat- 
ing illusions which could only be 
exploded later. 

Her inadequate and ill- 



Kajiv uanani 

conceived measures failed to 
met the demands of the agrarian 
poor, the socially depressed and 
the lower middle classes. 

When she found that the crisis 
was threatening her personal 
position as Prime Minister, she 
proclaimed Emergency. Emer- 
gency was a blatant subversion 
of the Constitution which was 
opposed by wide sections of 
people. But an attempt was 
made during the Emergency 
regime to justify it in the name of 
popular measures to curb pov- 
erty, give land to the tribal poor, 
enforce discipline and contain 
corruption. But soon it was clear 
that none of these claims were 
substantiated on the ground. 
Therefore, a shift to a greater reli- 
ance upon communication and 
crisis management visible during 
the Emergency years. 

After the initial flush of struc- 
tural measures in 1971-73, 
instead of taking further struc- 
tural measures to meet the 
democratic demands of the 
people, Indira Gandhi relied 
more and more on a strategy of 
consolidating her personal posi- 
tion by a variety of actions. She 
personalised the Congress party 
making the Chief Ministers her 
loyalists ratherthan autonomous 
leaders with a power base. Par- 
liament was no longer a policy- 
making forum and it was reduced 
to a ruling party show where loy- 
alists orchestrated, their defence 
of their leader. The judiciary 
began to show signs of vulner- 
ability to the ruling party’s pres- 
sures. By now the evidence of 
erosion of institutions under 
Indira Gandhi is well docu- 
mented. 

Authoritarian Politics 


By Manoranjan Mohanty 

for militant action. Comple- 
mented by a movement of the 
young entrepreneurs all over the 
country, Sanjay Gandhi directly 
established a cadre through the 
activisation of the Youth 
Congress- a cadre that was so 
completely loyal to the leader 
that on his call they could do any- 
thing. 

They had no respect for insti- 
tutions and norms, they could 
directly order bureaucrats and 
police, and they were also ready 
to make any sacrifice for what 
believed was the national cause. 
This element had its social basis 
in the expansion of lumpen ele- 
ments in Indian society because 
of poverty, unemployment and 
cultural alienation. 

In the early 1 980s when Rajiv 
was called by his mother to fill 
the place of Sanjay, there was a 
conscious attempt to undermine 
this element of the Sanjay cadre. 
Rajiv reconstituted the Youth 
Congress, removed some of 
Sanjay’s close aides and delib- 
erately tried to put up a gentle 
face. But as later developments 
have shown, the Sanjay phe- 
nomenon was an objective 
development in the Indian polit- 
ical process which was assimi- 
lated into the Congress(l) and 
the Rajiv phase has only dressed 
up the phenomenon and added 
additional dimensions to it. 

These additional dimensions 
were embodied in the slogan of 
the Twenty First Century. Rajiv 
started pushing some of these 
policies in the early 1980s when 
his mother was still alive. But the 
new accent was unmistakable 
during the election campaign of 
1984. The communication 
aggression launched by the 
Congress(l) was unprecedented 
not only in terms of resources 
invested, but also in terms of the 
techniques used and the 
approach unfolded. "Sweep the 
universe" is the method used in 
that campaign. This was some- 
thing that the opposition was not 
familiar with. The emotional 
issue of saving the country from 
disintegration was fully exploited 
along witrf the sympathy factor 
arising out of the assassination 
of Mrs. Gandhi. 

A Package Of Policies 


S anjay Gandhi, however, 
had yet another element 
as part of his strategy of 
authoritarian politics. He mobi- 
lised a section of the rural and 
urban youth-more of the latter 
who suffering from unemploy- 
ment and alienation were ready 


B ut is was not an isolated 
policy of communication. 
A package of policies 
was now evolved to build a Sil- 
icon State i.e. a techno- 
managerial state that projects 
techniques of crisis manage- 
ment, projects itself as a per- 
formance oriented regime that 
has no alternative and manipu- 

continued on page 15 


20 August • 4 September 1988 



FORUM 


Nagaland Under 
President’s Rule 


Continued from page 1 


rule? These questions are not 
answered. However, the Gov- 
ernor's logic would mean that 
any government once formed 
cannot be changed during the 
tenure of the legislature. 13 
MLAs could not be dismissed as 
their number was more than one 
third of the total number of Con- 
gress(l) Legislative Party. 
Neither the Constitution nor the 
present Anti-defection Law per- 
mits this action. But Gen. Rao 
recommended President’s rule 
on the ground, what Sorabji calls 
‘Mantra’ of Article 356. "Govern 
ment of the State cannot be car- 
ried on in accordance with the 
provisions of the Constitution" 
The Hindu questions" According 
to whom ? According to which 
provisions of the Constitution" 


T he entire print media has 
strongly condemned the 
imposition of President’s 
rule and dissolution of the 
Assembly in Nagaland except 
the two close friends of Rajiv. 
Times of Indie is overjoyed "The 
centre must be facilitated for also 
dissolving the house." While The 
Telegraph feels happy "There is 
one good thing about the deci 
sion to impose President’s Rule 
and-more important-dissolve the 
Assembly." Would they recall 
what heooened recently in 
Meghalaya-now dio the Con- 
gress(l) increase its number of 
MLAs in the Assembly to form 
government Surely by defection 
from other parties for office of 
profit and greed associated with 
it. Sorabji warns "It would be a 
dangerous exercise for the gov- 
ernor to delve into the minds and 
hearts of legislators to find out 
whether their motives were noble 
or selfish." This raises two ques- 
tions. First-lf resignation of even 
more than 1/3 number of ruling 
party MLAs, to term a new party, 
but resulting in opposition form- 
ing majority in the house, is con- 
sidered enough to impose 
President’s rule, then necessarv 
amendment in the existing la\ 
should take precedent. This, 
cannot be left to the whims of the 
Governor. Recommendation of 
Sarkaria Commission regarding 
resorting to Article 356 that 
"Governor must explore all pos- 
sibilities at state level of installing 
a government, enjoying majority 
support in the Assembly," and 
"opposition parties or groups 
must be given chance', would 
then become unnecessary And 
so also the necessity of a trial of 
strength on the floor of the house 
- which is the legitimate forum for 
settling all such disputes or even 
parade of MLAs in Raj Bhawan 
(now an accepted means of test- 
ing), will not be necessary. Any 
grouping or alignment could be 
alleged to be for greediness and 
opportunism and thus disre- 
garded. If election result does not 
bring any party to power by clear 
majority, Assembly would have 


to be dissolved before its forma- 
tion. Second point is - When to 
commence application of this 
’noble’ principle. 

Times of India welcomes, "The 
time has come to put an end to 
such expedient going on." But 
why from Nagaland? Does the 
centre distrust the regional 
party- Naga National Democra- 
tic Party? Or no reaction from 
countrymen is anticipated - like 
reaction to Ramlal action against 
N.T.R. government in Andhra 
Pradesh. Nagas whom we call 
Indians but would offer very little 
iu maKe inem teei so. Hegionai 
sentiments are very strong 
among them. Tribune fears 
"Alienation of the people from 

political process will become 

acute.” Any democratic protest 
will face full force of Draconian 
Laws enacted. Para-military 
forces under Gen. Krishna Rao 
would be ill-equipped to deal with 
;he complex political and psycho- 
logical problem. The treatment of 
the Nagas - citizens of a free 
country - would be similiar to 
those of subjects of a colonised 
nation, since under President 
Rule states local tepresentative 
do not have any say in admini- 
stration and development. 
Opposition parties seem to be 
satisfied with their action in Par- 
liament of carrying out the ’ritual’ 
of walk out and loud and noisy 
discussion on the Presidents 
Rule in Nagaland. But the demo- 
cratic aspirations of the people of 
Nagaland to become equal part- 
ners in the destiny of the coun- 
try has to be sustained inspite of 
this. Citizens of the country out- 
side Nagaland have to agitate 
and continue strong protest 
against this "coup against the 
Constitution." The Hindu appeals 
"People round the country must 
speak up against this outrage- 
against the Constitution and 
against the cause of national 
unity and stabilisation." 


G en Krishna Rao has 
lowered the prestige of 
the office of Governor. 
According to Tribune, it has 
douched a new low’. First, he 
continued to stay put at Imphal 
while Nagaland was facing 
crises. On returning he made no 
effort to ascertain the party posi- 
tion in the Legislative by any 
means. The Hindu condemned 
his action "twisting to meet bla- 
tantly narrow interest of the party 
ruling at the Centre. And his 
actions are authoritarian and 
damaging to national unity." In 
other words ‘Anti-national’. 

The Statesman regrets, "Gen. 
Rao has only brought further dis- 
credit on the gubernational 
office.... and bending over back- 
wards to placate the Con- 
gress(l)." This has strengthened 
the prevailing opinion that some 
Governors do not serve the Con- 
stitution, whose oath they take, 
but the interest of those to whom 


they owe their job. It has been 
argued in this context of political 
complexion and nature of the 
centre and state govts, the 
power to evoke Article 356 must 
not be allowed to rest with the 
executive or the head of the 
Government, at the centre. Soli 
Sorabji in The Times of India has 
suggested "The power of impos- 
ing President’s Rule in a state 
should be entrusted to the Pres- 
ident's individual judgement." 
This would require constitutional 
amendment. With Governors 
being appointed by central 
Government-what will happen if 
the President does not agree 
with the recommendation of the 
Governor- 'That government of 
the state cannot be carried on in 
accordance with the provisions 
:f the Constitution’. We may 
recall an earlier action of Gen. 
Rao in 1 985, when he refused to 
swear a number of ministers 
recommended by the then Chief 
Minister of Manipur. A constitu- 
tional crises may develop. So 
amendment to Constitution may 
not help, we require a change in 
our attitude to the Constitution. 
We look for a Governor to be a 



person of self-respect and integ- 
rity, who can withstand pres- 
sures and choose to resign 
rather than succumb to them. 
Gen. Krishna Rao has proved 
himself to be unfit to hold the 
appointment of Governor - as he 
remained away from the State 
when needed and then sheep- 
ishly succumbed to the political 
pressure of the Centre to the det- 
riment of the people of Nagaland. 
Political parties, democratic and 
civil liberty organisations, and 
public spirited individuals should 


demand resignation of Gen. 
Rao. Newly formed Front of 
opposition parties should con- 
sider to announce, that if voted 
to power in next election they 
would not only dismiss Gen. Rao 
but also would consider stopping 
his pension for not remaining 
true to the oath and throttling the 
democratic aspirations of the 
Nagas. The agony of the Naga 
people now is a challenge to all 
of us who would like to uphold 
the democratic traditions of the 
country. 


Join In Thousands 

Mass Demonstration Against 

59th Amendment 
(To Impose Emergency) 

on 1 September 1988 at 10 A.M. 
Assemble at Jantar Mantar to pro- 
ceed to Parliament. Prominent Lead- 
ers, Parliamentarians and Civil 
Liberty Activists will lead ar*fl 
Address 

Organised by 

Emergency Virodhi Manch 



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20 August - 4 September 1988 



THE 

FORUM 

GAZETTE 


The Delhi Epidemic-Callousness, 
Neglect and Misuse of Funds 
Took Several Lives 


At the time of writing, over 17000 people have 
reported at big hospitals and at least 250 lives have 
been lost in the epidemic of gastroenteritis and chol- 
era in Delhi. What are the factors that led to this trag- 
edy? How has the administration faced the tragedy? 


There has been no respite for 
Delhi’s poor. Rains should have 
brought a welcome relief from 
the tortuous heat of June, 
instead - in the dirt and lack of 
basic amenities in which they are 
forced to live - it has brought an 
epidemic of a gastroenteritis and 
cholera which, till the date of writ- 
ing (August 1) had already 
claimed at least 212 lives, 
according to official data. 

This data tells us that till July 
17616 cases of gastroente- 
ritis and cholera had been regis- 
tered in hospitals. The number of 
people hospitalised due to chol- 
era and gastroenteritis was 
4757. 

Underestimates 

A ll these figures are likely 
to be underestimates of 
the actual victims of this 
disease, as only the patients 
coming to big hospitals for treat- 
ment are covered here. On July 
19 the B.J.P. chief in Delhi, Mr. 
Madan Lai Khurana, gave the 
names of persons mainly chil- 
dren, who had succumed to 
these diseases in two settle- 
ments. In the jhuggies cluster of 
2 B Janakpuri, 12 deaths had 
taken place in one week while in 
Kalyanpuri, six deaths had taken 
place within one day. All these 
deaths were outside the official 
count as these had taken place 
at home, not at any hospital, he 
said, although some of them had 
earlier received treatment at 
hospitals. Even the low accessi- 
bility of the poorest people to 
hospitals, it is not surprising that 
several such deaths should have 
taken place outside the official 
count and a much large number 
of persons had suffered from 
these diseases compared to 
what the official figures admit. 

The Causes 

T he causes of this epide- 
mic are not difficult to 
seek. Sewerage and san- 
itation facilities either do not 
exist,, or else exist in a highly 
unsatisfactory state for the 
majority of Delhi's population 
living in jhuggi jhompri (hut) col- 
onies, unauthorised colonies, 
resettlement colonies, other 
slums and urbanised villages. 

Even where public toilets exist, 


regular cleaning is neglected so 
that these stink from a distance 
and so are difficult to use, espe- 
cially for children. Hence, during 
the rainy season, feces to mouth 
infections spread easily. Due to 
non-availability of clean tap 
water or its meagre availability, 
people have to fall back on 
cheaply installed, shallow hand- 
pumps and tubewells which pol- 
iticians eager to please them at 
election time are only too willing 
to arrange. Water of these shal- 
low hand-pumps is easily con- 
taminated. Several colonies 
have come up on land, including 
drainage land, where water 
accumulates easily and pools of 
stagnant dirty water remain for a 
long time. 

Hence it is not surprising that 
a large number of gastroenteri- 
tis cases are reported almost 
every year during the rainy 
season, and to a lesser extent 
during the summer (only last 
year this trend was reversed as 
there was hardly any rain in July 
and August). In 1986, for 
instance 4548 gastroenteritis 
cases were reported in July and 
August. It hardly needs to add 
that the most of the cases are 
reported from the colonies where 
the poor live. 

Special Schemes 

F rom time to time there are 
reports of special 
schemes being started 
and funds being sanctioned for 
providing relief to the long- 
suffering people of these colo- 
nies, with special emphasis on 
improving the sanitation of these 
areas. No significant impact of 
this has been seen on yet, and 
it is very likely that a substantial 
amount goes down the drain of 
corruption. While this is the sit- 
uation even in normal times, it 
has deteriorated greatly in recent 
months following the transfer of 
the charge of 44 resettlement 
colonies from Delhi Develop- 
ment Authority (DDA) to the 
Delhi Municipal Corporation 
(DMC). It appears that even 
before - handing over charge, 
knowing that the responsibility is 
going to pass from their hands, 
the DDA started neglecting the 
sanitation work. The DMC made 
matters worse by prolonging the 
neglect, taking the stand that the 


Bharat Dogra 



necessary funds had not yet 
been transferred by the DDA. 
The transfer also resulted in con- 
fusion among the sweepers 
regarding their service condition, 
and as they got embroiled in this, 
this added further to the neglect 
of the colonies. 

The accumulated garbage, the 
stinking toilets were there for all 
to see. The press was reporting 
it, the people were drawing 
attention to it again and again. In 
one of the worst affected colo- 
nies, Nand Nagari, people had 
even gone in protest demonstra- 
tions to the concerned officials. 
But the officials refused to listen, 
ignoring all the warning signs as 
the rains approached, content 
that they could always place the 
blame on others. 

Despite Warning 

A n early warning had 
been given by the nearly 
25 cholera/gastroenteri- I 


tis deaths in and around Rajokri 
village, affecting the villagers as 
well as stone-quarry and crusher 
workers. This was in mid-May. 
An innoculation drive was 
launched here, senior officials 
visited, but the wider warning 
was ignored. 

When the administration 
finally woke up to the enormity 
of the tragedy, it was very late. 
The fact that efforts had to be 
made so late in all directions 
- from cleaning toilets to pro- 
viding clean water - points 
only to the extreme neglect all 
this while, especially in recent 
months when the stink and the 
dirt could not have been 
missed by anyone. 

Even after administration 
started its crash programme, 
some nagging doubts persisted. 
Why was so much emphasis 
placed on the inoculation drive 
despite the view widely voiced by 
several -studies and experts of 
the low protection offered by it? 


Further, in view of the huge back- 
log of the sanitation work and the 
ambitious targets set up, will 
some important precautions be 
ignored in the effort to show the 
works having been completed 
and the targets achieved? Like 
all crash programmes, this one, 
too, left room for problems and 
leaks that would surface only 
later. Such hurried patchwork 
may not be able to provide ade- 
quate precaution against other 
possible epidemics regarding 
which some experts have 
already warned. 

No Information 

A fter all, the task set for 
suddenly awaked offi- 
cials is quite a massive 
one, and it has started too late. 
According to Gargi Parsai 
reporting in ‘The Hindustan 
Times’ (July 22), "Sources con- 
fided that of 1 ^6 samples col- 
Continued on page 15 


20 August - 4 September 1988 


5 



FORUM 

^ r,A7FTTF 


Women’s Movement 
Anti-Communalist Force? 

By Gabiele Dietrich 

In a refreshing critique of the women’s movement in India, the author raises a 
host of questions which seem to have a powerful bearing on the tasks of mass 
mobilisation. ^ 

u We reproduce here an abridged version of the article which first appeared in 
Lokayan bulletin . w 



W ith the passing of the 
controversial Muslim 
Women Protection Bill 
in India's Parliament on May 5, 

1 986, the secular state as well as 
the women's movement suffered 
a definite setback. Articles 14 
and 1 5 of the Constitution which 
guarantee women equality 
before the law, were once again 
overruled by Article 25 which 
safeguards freedom of religion. 
Even worse, a valid secular law, 
Section 1 25 of the Criminal Pro- 
cedure Code (CrPC), which 
guarantees needy women, chil- 
dren or parents at least the right 
to maintenance of upto Rs.500 
per month, was amended 
according to the dictates of con- 
servative religious opinion which 
is contested within the respective 
community itself by a large 
number of women and by pro- 
gressive men as well. With this, 
Articles 1 4 and 1 5 of the Consti- 
tution were doubly violated. Not 
only have Muslim women been 
reduced to a more drastic state 
of helplessness than hitherto, by 
handling them over to the care of 
their families and the Waqf 
board, but they are made to 
suffer their discrimination as 
women on the ground that they 
are Muslims. Their discrimination 
as women is at the same time 
discrimination on the ground of 
religion. 

What makes the situation so 
difficult is the fact that there is a 
partly overt (as in the anti-Sikh 
riots in Delhi), partly covert (i.e. 
using secular posture) wave of 
majority communalism on the 
rise which creates reactions 
among the minority religious 
forces and tends to strengthen 
their most conservative leaders 
who then have to be "appeased" 
at the cost of women. 

Ironically, this happens in the 
name of secularism and com- 
munal harmony, while at the 
same time, Muslim youths of the 
poor classes can be gunned 
down by police in the walled city 
of the capital without preceding 
provocation or warning. Obvi- 
ously, the decision-making on 
the controversial bill has been 
entirely motivated by power 
equations. Neither the presenta- 
tions to the Prime Minister by 1 25 


eminent Muslim Indians from all 
walks of life, nor the demonstra- 
tion of Muslim women, nor dras- 
tic steps such as the resignation 
of the Minister of State for Home 
Affairs, Arif Mohammed Khan, 
could make any dent in the per- 
ceptions of what was supposed 
to be "Islamic". 

Thus the time seems to be ripe 
for working out secular laws on 
marriage/divorce, maintenance, 
inheritance, guardianship, adop- 
tion, etc., in consultation with 
women’s groups based on a 
close evaluation of women’s 
actual needs. This demand 
should not be confused with the 
demand for a secular personal 
law as is raised by the Shiv Sena 
and other communalist organisa- 
tions which exploit rising aware- 
ness on women's issues for the 
purpose of generalising the 
Hindu law and declaring it as 
"secular". This type of "secular- 
ism" has to be unmasked and 
opposed. Yet, the problem by no 
means ends there. 

The Context of 
Communal Riots 

T he women’s movement, 
though facing the issue of 
communalism primarily in 
the field of personal laws, is 
simultaneously confronted with 
the impact of communal violence 
expressed in massive physical 
confrontations such as the com- 
munal riots in Bombay and Bhi- 
wandi in May 1984, the Punjab 
problem, including Operation 
Bluestar and the Delhi carnage 
in the wake of the assassination 
of Indira Gandhi, and the pro- 
tracted anti-reservation agita- 
tions in Ahmedabad. 

The Emotional Appeal 
Of Anti-Communalism 

I n building a secular culture, 
the question is whether the 
appeal has to be only to 
rationalist humanist values or 
whether other resources can be 
tapped. Putting it differently, what 
forms of solidarity and emotional 
support are people offered when 
the appeal is made to overcome 
the confines of religious com- 
munity and caste? One even has 
to ask whether the appeal to 


rationalist humanist values only, 
especially if combined with an 
attack on religion, does not con- 
tribute more to a communalist 
reaction than to a secular culture. 
In the women's movement in 
India the emotional appeal is 
towards women’s solidarity in a 
patriarchal society together with 
a commitment to the plight of the 
vast majority of poor women and 
the poor and exploited in gen- 
eral. Is this enough to forge sol- 
idarity across religious barriers? 
And how does one deal with the 
fact that a very vast number of 
women is oppressed. 

Can Religion Be 
A "Private Affair"? 

H istorically the demand 
that religion should be a 
"private affair" arose with 
the formation of bourgeois capit- 
alist society in Europe. It was 
important as a means to disman- 
tle the feudal structure of the 
church and to divest it of politi- 
cal power. The Marxists, social 
democracy and later the social- 
ist countries took over this 
demand for tactical reasons in 
order to avoid antagonising reli- 
gion, expecting, however, the 
withering away of religion. In 
reality, religion has not withered 
away according to expectations. 
In fact, it even shows signs of 
recovery after a time of setbacks. 
While this may be explained by 
the survival of class society 
under state capitalism or other- 
wise, the problem remains that 
religion, as long as it survives, is 
never private but always in some 
ways corporate and collective. 
This poses specific difficulties in 
a multi-religious society like 
India. 

The Nature And Future 
Of Religion 

T here are certain underly- 
ing assumptions on the 
nature and future of reli- 
gion which are implicit in the dif- 
ferent stands on religion and 
need to be clarified. There 
seems to be an overall assump- 
tion among leftists as well as 
women’s activists that religion is 
reactionary and oppressive 
because it is, on the one hand, 
rooted in the ancient inability to 
master nature, and on the other, 
in the function to justify class 
society and patriarchy. While his- 
torically, religion has had all the 
functions described in these the- 


ories, there may be more com- 
prehensive ways of looking at it. 
Religions have also been 
expressions of the human 
capacity to anticipate, to hope, to 
transcend given limitations and 
to grope for the meaning of life 
in history and in the cosmos. 

In India, we are in the relatively 
fortunate position that the build- 
ing of people’s movements 
(women, ecology, people’s 
science) is allowed. We are also 
relatively fortunate in the sense 
that secularism can be fought for 
by democratic means, a right 
much more sharply curtailed in 
all our neighbouring countries. 
While taking an anti-religious 
stand is one way of making use 
of this right, the attempt to 
appropriate religious history from 
below, is another way of going 
about it. Instead of allowing 
communalist forces to hijack 
women’s issues, we can as well 
try to discover our own religious 
history as women, across com- 
munal barriers, and on this 
ground dismantle the commun- 
alist claims of religious and polit- 
ical leaders. 

This may require some of the 
following steps: (i) To contrast 
the accepted and hidden mean- 
ings of each other's scriptures, 
stories, myths, rituals and festi- 
vals, from a women’s perspec- 
tive. (ii) To develop a basically 
non-polemical discourse on reli- 
gion which enables us to be 
equally tolerant of people who 
are occasional or fervent beli- 
evers as of those who are deci- 
dedly agnostic or atheist without 
implicitly labelling some as 
"backward" and the others as 
"progressive", (iii) To be sensitive 


to the dynamism of minority and 
majority communalism even if 
shrouded in secular argument, 
(iv) To explore inner-religious 
anti-communalist arguments and 
make them known, (v) To make 
known religious traditions which 
are genuinely pro-women and 
pro-poor in such a way that 
bridges are built, (vi) To attack 
oppressive religious practices 
without making unnecessary 
generalisations about this partic- 
ular religion or about religions 
general, (vii) To unmask cO» ) 
where religious camouflage has 
been used to obscure socio- 
economic and political interests, 
(viii) To work towards separation 
of religion and State at the level 
of legal and political institutions. 

I am painfully aware that I 
have been raising many more 
questions than I can at present 
attempt to answer. The most 
uncertain question is whether the 
women’s movement can suc- 
ceed in efforts at mass organi- 
sation on issues of daily survival 
such as water, housing, ecology, 
price rises, organisation of the 
unorganised sector, together 
with class organisations and 
people’s movements, and at the 
same time develop a women's 
perspective on these issues. 
Without building a mass base, 
the ideological interventions 
which were discussed in greater 
detail, will remain ineffective. 
However, the fact that many 
class organisations have suc- 
cumbed to communal ons- 
laughts, makes clear that the 
need to raise the emotional 
appeal of anti-communalist 
forces is of great importance. 


The Sikh Forum requests 

Your praticipation in 
a meeting to discuss 

Dangerous Implications of 
59th Amendment 
(To Impose Emergency) 

on Saturday 27 August, 1988, 5 P.M 
at 

Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, 
New Delhi-1 10001 


6 


20 August - 4 September 1988 


THE 

FORUM 

- GAZETTE » ■ ■ 


Violence And Terror 

Political activists working among ethnic minorities that 
are found to resort to violence ask a question of great 
urgency: what does one do In States controlled entirely by 
terror? In such States and situations, what are seen as inse- 
cure terrorist responses to State terror become inevitable. 
There Is no scope for political dialogue. 

The question Is most pertinent for It deals with the vital 
issue of the relationship between violence and democratic 
order. The compelling need of our times Is to seek out a 
clear workable alternative to both Insecure States resort- 
ing to atrocities, terrorism and sudden shootouts and the 
equally Insecure terrorist responses of counter-atrocities. 
But terrorism cannot contain either the repression of the 
State or the violence of the terrorists. To the terrorists, I 
would simply ask: What spurn dialogue? Of course, there 
are situations, as in Sri Lanka, where the government wants 
to play a game of elaborate deception. The Sri Lankan gov- 
ernment seems to believe that It can win by tiring out the 


Prof. 

Darshan 

Singh 

Again 

Continued from page 1 
Darshan Singh said that the 
Centre was trying to dominate 
the Sikh scene by suing some 
persons and added that he 
would not tolerate such interfer- 
ence while holding the high office 
of Akal Takht jathedar. 

Prof. Darshan Singh’s 
appointment as Akal Takht jath- 
edar for the second time - first 
time he deserted the post in the 
face of threats from the militants 
- should be viewed in this con- 
text. Accepting the post, he said 




Tamil militants in a process of alternating between unend- 
ing negotiations and sudden invasions of military power. 
My concern Is different. It Is that In the end Eelam does 
become a political reality, can one be certain that It would 
be a better State than the present State of Sri Lanka? 

1 do not wish to argue against the idea of new natlon- 
- states emerging as a matter of principle. In the world we 
w> live In, there can be ho such cut and dried principles. But 
I do want to assert that terrorism Is no response to State 
repression. They both share a basic common characteris- 
tic. State repression and terrorism are both anti-democratic. 

Democratic intervention Is inconceivable In the absence 
of dialogue. Dialogue may not lead to perfect or permanent 
resolution of conflicts and differences. But to abolish the 
possibility of dialogue would Inevitably rule out the pos- 
sibility of democratic Intervention. The cycle of violence Is 
bound to be endless. And as such It is powerless to resolve 
Issues that In the first place created the need for a violent 
response. I cannot visualise a worthwhile political process 
emerging from such a cycle of violence and terror. In all 
such situations — be it Punjab or Sri Lanka, Lebanon or Cen- 
tral America — ordinary citizens suffer. People are tired of 
violence and terror. The only sane choice is to return to the 
political process. 

It Is not always easy to restore the political process In an 
environment scarred by violence and terrorism. But the cru- 
cial Issue of the relationship between violence and demo- 
cratic order has to be faced. Technology has insured a 
progressively enhanced scale of violence. Alongwlth that 
has Inevitably risen the scale of human misery. The lan- 
guage and ethic of violence can only usher an unending 
cycle of human misery. Once again I would reiterate an old 
question: can we build a democratic order on the sands of 
violence? Is it legitimate to resort to violence for the build- 
ing of a democratic order? 

Rajni Kothari In ‘State against Democracy’ 


Sant Harchand Singh Longowal 

Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, a symbol of sanity, mod- 
eration, patriotism and democrat to the core, laid down his 
life at the altar of the unity and Integrity of the country, 
communal harmony and above all peace and sanity. Three 
years after his assassination on 20 August 1985, It Is time 
to look Into Punjab In retrospect. Has not centre belittled 
the sacrifice of a great sou! by not Implementing the Accord 
signed with him? 

The main consequence of the failure of the accord Is that 
Akali party today stands fractured. That part of it which was 
committed to the Implementation of the Accord and to mod- 
eration In its relations with New Delhi has been politically 
discredited and has aroused a suspicion in a large seg- 
ment of the Sikhs that the Centre could no longer be relied 
upon. 



he would like to have some time 
to join duty as the Golden 
Temple complex must be freed 
from government control first. He 
asked the government to hand 
over the control to SGPC. 

Barnala's Position 

W hat is the position of 
Mr. Surjit Singh Bar- 
nala vis-a-vis these 
developments? It may be 
recalled that he had not heeded 
the call of the Akal Takht jathe- 
dar (then Prof. Darshan Singh) to 
dissolve his party and join UAD 
and as a consequence he was 
ex-communicated. Only over a 
month ago Mr. Barnala had 
applied to the Akal Takht chief 
(Mr. Mohan Singh) for pardon at 
the behest of Capt. Amrinder 
Singh but the Takht chief kept his 
application pending on the 
ground that he must dissolve his 
party. As for Mr. Barnala is con- 
cerned the situation has not 
changed as Prof. Darshan 
Singh, who ex-communicated 
him, has been reappointed Akal 
Takht chief. It is learnt that Mr. 
Rode has now been released. If 
these developments take place, 
it will pave the way-for merger of 
the Akali Dal (L), a section of 
UAD and Mr. Rode who has the 
support of Baba Joginder Sinnh. 
In such an event, the new front 
can function under the flag of 
Akali Dal (L) which has been 
recognised as a political party by 
the Election Commission. 

The Punjab government's 
order to release all prisoners 


including the former head priests 
and 1 8 UAD leaders arrested on 
May 1 4 for trying to march to the 
Golden Temple to free it from 
Security forces will activate 
further realignments in the Akali 
Dais and SGPC. These devel- 
opments have come within 24 
hours of the reappointment of 
Prof. Darshan Singh as Akal 
Takht chief in place of Mr. Har- 
charan Singh. Who has been set 
free. 

Prof Darshan Singh has 
decided not to take charge of the 


post immediately. Mr. Rode after 
his release has chosen not to go 
to the Golden Temple. But what 
will happen if tomorrow Mr. Rode 
goes to the Golden Temple and 
starts working as the Akal Takht 
chief because he says that the 
appointing authority is the 'sarbat 
khalsa’ and not SGPC. What if 
Prof. Darshan Singh also walks 
in after sometime? The situation 
is most fluid and pregnant with 
developments, both good and 
bad for the Akalis in particular 
and the Sikhs in general. (August 
16, 1988). 


With Best Compliments From 

Satkar Financial 
Corporation 

2651 Kucha Chelan 
Darya Ganj, New Delhi-110002 
Tele. Nos. 275595, 267628 


20 August - 4 September 1988 


7 




W hat experience and 
history teach is this, 
says Hegel, "that 

people and governments never 
have learned anything from his- 
tory, or acted on principles 
deduced from it". Does this ring 
a bell for Indian political scient- 
ists when they read Punjab- 
related parliamentary debates on 
the Constitution (59th Amend- 
ment) Bill? As a politico-legal 
observer, I am reminded of the 
Bourbons who learnt nothing and 
forgot nothing. The lessons of 
the last Emergency must have 
been a deterrent for a govern- 
ment with a memory. The sinis- 
ter'emergency’spell of 1975-77 
and the Killer Operation Biue 
Star and its harsh backlash are 
sufficient omens for dialectically 
sensitive administrators and 
legislators not to repeat blund- 
ers. But undaunted, lawless lav/s 
are being Jugged into the statute 
book with .unconscionable indif- 
ference to the human essence of 
our processual and substantive 
criminal juHsprudence, doing 
reckless violence to the univer- 
sal human rights instruments. 

The Punjab syndrome is now 
sought to be cured by the emer- 
gency" therapeutics of constitu- 
tional "terrorism". The Prime 
Minister and his proxies in the 
Home Ministry sell the illusion 
that unconstitutional violence can 
be put down by "constitutional" 
violence. Speaking generally, the 
nation will support any legislative 
navigation leading to destination 
normalisation. Massive killings 
and heartless murders have 
revelled too long in Punjab and 
any measure to defuse the crisis 
and arrest the danse macabre of 
the savages will command con- 
sensus, popular and parliamen- 
tary. But the gut issue is whether 
the 59th Amendment of the Con- 
stitution in the hands of the dith- 
ering, bluffing Rajiv regime, will 
knock down the trained terrorists 
ready to do or die or will come in 
handy to harry progressive and 
bully people's leaders' move- 
ments. Even so, let us inquire 
into the professed objectives of 
breaking the terrorists back. 

At this stage, the socio-political 
realities must be briefly analysed, 
and then the constitutional ther- 
apy and its potency judged pro- 
perly. Without delving into the 
confused spiral of sten gun 
slaughter and police encounter, 
one may well say that Akali 
communalism is an entranched 
political factor in Punjab. Specific 
demands, mostly secular were 
urged by Punjab's Sikhs, not qua 
Sikhs but as Punjabis keen on 
more autonomy and more devel- 
opmental justice, e.g., like Chan- 
digarh as Punjab's capital, more 
river waters for agriculture, and 
more autonomy. The Anandpur 
Sahib Resolution, they claim, is 
not a secessionist plea but 
enlarged decentralism. But the 
legitimate and secular and eco- 
nomic claims were tantalisingly 
frustrated, fertilising Sikh extrem- 
ism, isolating the Sikhs and 
grossing up extremists and 
moderates as national suspects, 


hurt Sikh sentiment and broad- 
ened extremist backing. 

While bomb maniacs, blood 
thirsty fundamentalists and Khal- 
isthan cultists are people’s ene- 
mies, many critics hold that the 
Centre bungled, gaffed, prac- 
tised State terrorism and 
betrayed its bankruptcy of 
statesmanship, politicking and 
pettifogging all the time. This 
may be exaggerated but has a 
ring of truth. That is the back- 
drop. 

Punjab is india’s pride. Sikhs 
are patriots whose brothers are 
Hindus. The partition, the Paki- 
stani aggressions, the Jallian- 
walla tradition, the burning 
Bhagat Singh nationalism, the 
Green revolution, the indusatrial 
wonders, the military vanguar- 
dism, sports and games miracles 
and above all, the spirit of historic 
sacrifice and defiance against 
injustice and oppression through 
the centuries have woven the 
Sikh brotherhood into our Swaraj 
odyssey unforgettably. And the 
j Sikh religion, built by the blood 
I of the great gurus is the finest 
and most eclectic, nobalest and 
most catholic, and conceptually 
based on universal brotherhood, 
threw open the gurudwaras for 
free secular discussion and shar- 
ing of food and common roof. 


India, the Rowlatt Act plus were 
pale before the bloodshot eyes 
of the anti-terrorist laws of the 
eighties. The dialectics of Punjab 
politics was lost on the Govern- 
ment: the dynamics of all-party 
Sikh-Hindu mass action never 
dawned except in rhetoric. Even 
sympathetic secular Sikhs were 
slowly alienated by the commu- 
nal mistakes. The Hindu found a 
government of sound and fury 
and of total futility. 

The avoidable Operation 
Blue-Star, the ghastly assas- 
sination of Indira Gandhi and 
the gory Delhi massacre of 
Sikh Innocents, with criminal 
justice and police security In 
rigor morits are part of our 
macabre history. After these 
unspeakable events and 
uncontrolable developments, 
more draconian laws were 
made, secret trials, detentions 
without trial, jettisoning of 
provincial government by 
President’s rule and operation 
Black Thunder have hap- 
pened. And now, the power- 
hungry appetite for "emer- 
gency" absolutism has 
secured from Parliament the 
59th Constitution Amendment 
| Act,1 988. 

All of us intensely feel that 
i dear Punjab must get justice. 


The 59th 


-repeatii 



What a tragedy that by a 
genius for political pollution 
and communal collusion, 
Delhi engineered may be an 
unwitting egregiousness, 
aggressive Sikh conscious- 
ness. When the disease 
proved dangerous, the union 
Government's political brain 
trust began to rely on manip- 
ulations and suppressions 
which proved counter- 
productive. A national vision 
was absent, an all-Party solu- 
tion was allergy, mass action 
to repair the rift and streng- 
then the will to live as one 
family became alien to politi- 
cal craft; and what could have 
been resolved by statesman- 
ship was allowed to errupt as 
volcanic lava of brutal vio- 
lence. 

More reliance on police terror 
and lawless laws which vested 
despotic powers in the State 
minions became the weaponry. 
The worst ever legislations 
enforced by the Britishers in 


that the satanic violence and the 
seditious Khalistanism must end, 
that the curtain must be rung on 
this bloodstained, blasphemous 
chapter. My purpose now is not 
to examine the sombore escala- 
tion of shocking civilian killings 
through callous extremist opera- 
tions on the one hand and 
through engineered fake 
encounters and repression on 
the other. The current human 
rights dimension in the situation 
unfolded in Punjab by the Con- 
stitution (59th) Amendment 
claims my attention here. 

We may presume for the 
present purposes that the terror- 
ist ogre is a roaming spectre in 
Punjab and the speedy and 
effective justice is a desideratum 
to deal with terrorism. Neverthe- 
less, we must always remember 
that the rule of law which is a 
basic feature of the constitutional 
order cannot be abandoned 
without violation of the humanist 
jurisprudence of fair trial sup- 
ported not merely by our Consti- 


tution but also by the Universal 
Declaration of Human Rights 
and the International Covenant 
on Political and Civil Rights. 

It is shock and shame that law- 
less laws should still poison pro- 
cedural fairness even in cases of 
grave consequences to the 
accused. We cannot permit ero- 
sion of precious values of proce- 
dure or stoop to conquer by 
using expediency to meet one 
exigency. Justice Singhal 
opposed this temptation in the 
Special Courts Bill Case: 

"What is done once, if it be 
allowed, may be done again and 
in a lesser crisis and less seri- 
ous circumstances: and thus 
judicial power may be eroded". 

Brutal Procedure 


T he special Courts Act is 
brutal in its procedural 
operation. The power to 
select judges for the special 
courts is left to the Central Gov- 
ernment, which is vicious 
because the prosecution thereby 
gets a power to handpick judges. 

Again, the special court may 
not only sit outside the State, but 
may sit at any place perhaps 
within army barracks or prison 
precints. 

The public prosecutor, an 
agent of the executive, may cer- 
tify and thereby deny the basic 
features of fair trial. There is no 
particular safeguard even in the 
choice of the public prosecutor, 
that power being left to the Cen- 
tral Government. 

An appeal shall lie to the 
Supreme Court on final adjudi- 
cation, not to the High Court as 
under the ordinary Code. 

The Supreme Court Js a 
summit institution of Justice, 
but it is common knowledge 
that It Is beyond the Indigency, 
Illiteracy and reasonable 
opportunity of ordinary per- 
sons. 

And the frightful delay there is 
denial of the right itself. 

Present penal law 
adequate 

I do not deny for a moment 
that public order is a high prior- 
ity, that national security is non- 
negotiable and terrorist opera- 
tions which menace peaceful life 
should be stopped and punished 
without any leniency whatever. 
But judicial extremism and terror- 
ism are a blot on constitutional 
justice. I plead for the trial of all 
persons high and low guilty, 
prime facie, of offences under 
the penal law. A strict enforce- 
ment of the present law of the 
land can meet the current chal- 
langes, given effective investiga- 
tions, efficient prosecutions. 


by V. 


There is a widespi 
activists and those co 
that government was 
an Emergency. The l 
tution is a way to hoo 
the cover of terrorisn 
lyarin a four piece art 
dangerous apparent a 
are carrying here ex 
information of our re< 


activist judges and strict sent 
ces. 

It is true that dastardly viola 
inflicted on innocents has b 
exponential increasflj^ but 
untrue that the law sdfters fr 
lockjaw. 

Battery of repressive 
laws 

Mr. Inderjit Gupta, a vete 
parliamentarian and consist 
battler for liberties, urged: 

"There is a whole battery 
repressive laws on the stai 
book. Now, it is not only I 
question of emergency, then 
a National Security Act. Then 
the Terrorists’ Disruptive Act 
ties Act. There is the Disturt 
Areas Act. Whenever" one 
these Act was passed, whenei 
the bills were brought, we wi 
always told in this house tha 
has become very qocessj 
because under the exfr^ j lay 
the law enforcing authorities i 
not able to act effectively ar 
therefore, this new Act has to 
passed but we assure everyba 
that it will not be used for wro 
purposes and will not be us 
against the people who are inr 
cent or who are peacelovii 
May I just remind you, Sir, unc 
the National Security Act, w 
were arrested cr detained wi 
out trial. First and foremost wt 
the trade union workers." (L 
Sabha Debater P. 12094-129 

The Supreme Cou 
justice, but it is coi 
beyond the indigene 
opportunity of ordin 

The lurid background of te 
fying laws serves to instruct c 
understanding of the need 
and the bonafides of the 5! 
Amendment with its sharp 
claws and bigger jaws. The p 
itics of emergency, its consti 
tionality and conformity toJ 
humanism of the world lei 
order falls for consideration he 
i While a whole wealth of hum 


8 


20 August - 4 



RUM 


Amendment 

ig blunders 


. Krishna Iyer 


>ad feeling among civil liberty 
cerned with democratic values 
ooking for an excuse to clamp 
9th Amendment of the consti- 
wink the people of India under 
in Punjb. Justice V.R. Krishna 
:le in "The Hindu" exposed the 
d hidden behind this move. We 
erpts from that article for the 
ders. 


rights instruments has blos- 
somed from the United nations, 
the universal essence of this 
! value-rich jurisprudence is 
'^sconced in three great parch- 
ments. The Universal Declara- 
tion of Human Rights (1948) was 
the mother of an international bill 
of human rights. In 1976, (10 
years after adoption by the Gen- 
eral Assembly) the "bill" was 
fleshed out into a full realty with 
the entry into force of the inter- 
national Covenant on Civil and 
Political Rights (ICCPR). 

Right to life 


is rtical 4 proceeds furthur 

i- to state that measures 

d ^^mderogating from funda- 

)f mental freedoms must be "strictly 

ar required by the exigencies of the 

p e situation". Most important is that 

it such suppression or suspension 

iy „ of human rights during a public 
s, ( (emergency "shall not be in dera- 
te gation of Arts. 6, 7,or8"- 

d, paragraphs 1 & 2). Article 6 pro- 
le claims: 

Iy "Every human being has the 
ig inherent right to life. This right 

id shall be protected by law. No one 

L shall be arbitrarily deprived of his 

g. life." (The International Bill of 

ir Human Rights-United Nations), 

jo The Indian emergency under 
h- the Amended 352, read with 

re 359A, chokes the right to life, 

ik This legal thuggery violates Art. 

j). 6 and Art. 4 of the ICCPR. Art. 7 

{■ ■ - 

jt is a summit institution of 
nmon knowledge that it is 
r, illiteracy and reasonable 
ry persons. 

i- forbids torture, cruel, inhuman or 

ir degrading treatment. The neo- 

>r emergency provision scorns at 

h this limitation because there is no 

»r remedy during emergency if the 

I- police torture or treat with cruelty 

i- and inhumanity the victim citizen, 

e The thrust of my submission is 

il that the 59th Amendment which 

). imports "internal disturbance" as 

n a jurisdictional circumstance, 


based virtually upon a subjective 
determination of the executive, to 
throw overboard criticial human 
rights, voilates international law 
and the Convenant and contra- 
dicts the paramount obligation 
under Art.51(c). When India rat- 
ified the Convenant (1979), it 
made a Constitutional amend- 
ment deleting the deleterious 
words "internal disturbance" and 
confining emergency to the life 
and death crises of the nation, 
not any internal entropy. 

"Constitutional 

dictatorship" 


O ur founding fathers 
permitted the power to 
proclaim emergency in 
the hope that it would be exer- 
cised only in the rarest of rare 
cases. .The late M.C. Setalvsjd, 
among the most outstanding 
lawyers of free India and for long 
the Attorney General, considered 
emergency powers as "Constitu- 
tional dictatorship" (Sir Alladi 
Krishnaswamy Ayyar Lecturb in 
1965). "Power tends to corrupt 
and absolute power corrupt 
absolutely". 

The fair name of Indian 
democracy is now a paper 
beauty. 


moment involving grave conse- 
quences addressed to the Parli- 
ament of a nation which has 
traumatic memories of a tragic 
spell of emergency would and 
should, one wished, marshall 
impregnable and fail-safe checks 
against abuses of absolutism 
exercised by many minions of 
the State, especially because 
judicial lockjaw encourages 
executive excess and police raj 
tends to run amok. In this back- 
ground, the Minister’s phoney 
defence is boloney. He states six 
safeguards with amazing self- 
assurance. 

"The first safeguard is that the 
Cabinet must invite the advice of 
the President when emergency 
is to be proclaimed. The second 
safeguard is that we have to 
come before Parliament within 
30 days. The third safeguard is 
that the proclamation of emer- 
gency must be adopted by a 
majority of not less than 2/3rd 
members present and voting and 
a simple majority of the House. 
The fourth safeguard is that 
1/1 0th of the members of the 
House can at any time petition to 
the President or the Speaker and 
call into session a special ses- 
sion of the House. The fifth safe- 
guard is that not both the 
Houses, only the Lok Sabha by 
a simple majority can repeal the 


Fragile checks 

M l Mb* ***{ 

r. P. Chidambaram, 

Union Minister df State, * 

has contested the case % 


M r. P. Chidambaram, 
Union Minister df State, 
has contested the case 
of constitutional absolutism by 
spelling out six safeguards but 
parliamentary realists will easily 
repel these checks as fragile. 
This aspect may be examined 
later. The legal position is, in 
Setalvad’s words, during the 
"emergency"the Indian federa- 
tion assumes the shape of a 
unitary government. And if the 
Cabinet and the parliamentary 
majority, thanks to the anti- 
defection law, become spineless 
members, the unitary govern- 
ment degenerates into a Fueh- 
rer rule. 

The Constitution, within the 
limitations of our society, is the 
guarantee of our liberties. Of 
course, during periods of convul- 
sion shaking the very foundation 
and future of the nation reason- 
able restrictions are necessary 
even on fundamental freedoms. 
Who lives if India dies? And so, 
when the country’s so ereignty 
and survival are in jeopardy 
because of war or external 
aggression or like grave peril the 
global jurisprudence of human 
rights grants limited exceptions 
and some fundamental freedoms 
are put on holiday. 

A solemn defence by a Home 
Minister of a measure of great 



A . ■ 

*■ > . A 



Justice V.R. Krishna Iyar 

emergency. And he last safe- 
guard is — this is where I want 
to stress my argument particu- 
larly with regard to the diminish- 
ing majority in the Rajya Sabha 
— that every six months we have 
to come back to both the Houses 
of Parliament for a special major- 
ity of 2/3rd members present and 
voting." (Lok Sabha Debates 
-March 23, 1988 — Page 
12121 ). 

These six cybernetic, prophy- 
lactic and ombudsmanic proce- 
dures were but cipher six times 
over. In the Westminster system, 
the ruling party has a controlling 
majority in Parliament. Every 
M.P. shall vote as desired by the 


leader because of the whip and 
the anti-defection rule to quit. 
Likewise, the President is bound 
to act on the Cabinet's advice. 
The Prime Minister dominates 
the Cabinet, indeed, is the Cab- 
inet de facto, for on his pleasure 
a minister sits or quits. On these 
postulates, the six ersatz safe- 
guards are ropes of sand, rather, 
constitutional counterfeits 
wrapped in print. 

Granted the mathematical 
might of Congress (I) numbers in 
the House of the People, read in 
the background of the lethal law 
against defection, members on 
the treasury benches are path- 
ological species with zero option. 
The Cabinet and Parliament, in 
the final analysis, are but a 
command performance. Nor is it 
any consolation that the ordeal is 
only of two years’ duration. What 
guarantee is there? 

One small point, but signifi- 
cant. The emergency applies to 
Punjab and in relation to Punjab, 
which means it applies to any 
activity anywhere in the country, 
provided it has relation to Punjab 
problems. Thus, a public meeting 
to protest against Government 
action in Punjab, if held in Kan- 
yakumari, may be banned, being 
in relation to Punjab. Similarly 
detentions and other official 
excesses, if active nexus with 
Punjab turbulence exists in the 
Government's jaundiced opinion. 

The habeas corpus case (AIR 
1976 SC 1207) was forensic 
harakiri leaving the citizen 
remedyless even where the 
impugned action of the official 
was mala fide or irrelevant to the 
emergency-inducing factors. 
Judicial extremism -found 
expression in the Bhanudas 
case (judgment dated January 
21, 1977) when the court that 
orders "suspending the 
enforcement of fundamental 
rights' impose blankets bans on 
any and every judicial enquiry 
and investigation into the validity 
of an order depriving a person of 
his personal liberty." The court 
further held that even relief in the 
shape of "giving facilities to a 
detenue to be taken from his 
place of detention to his home or 
to an examination hall or for spe- 
cial medical treatment under a 
doctor of his choice or for any 
other facility would be enforcing 
fundamental rights through the 
aid of the court" and that the 
presidential order was a com- 
plete answer against the grant of 
such reliefs." 

"The most unkindest cut of all" 
is that among the fundamental 
rights burked by the emergency 
is the very right to life and not to 
be tortured. Art. 6 of the Interna- 
tional Covenant, which India has 
ratified, holds that every human 
being has the inherent right to 
life, protected by law and inviol- 
able by arbitrary deprivation. Art. 
7 forbids torture or inhuman 
treatment. But the habeas 
corpus case (AIR 1976 SC 1207) 
has made an unwitting joke of 
these covenanted freedoms 
which, by Art. 4, are non- 
derogable even "in time of public 


emergency which threatens the 
life of the nation." 

The Covenant (ICCPR) has 
entered into force and India has 
ratified and acceded to it on 
March 29, 1979. Thereafter our 
country cannot stultify the Cbn- 
venant (vide Art.2). 

It is noteworthy that no decla- 
ration or reservation has been 
filed in respect of Article 4 of the 
ICPA which specifies certaion 
rights as non-derogable, that is, 
non-supendable even during an 
emergency: the protection 
against arbitrary deprivation of 
life is one of such non- 
suspendable rights under the 
ICPA 1966. The Constitution 
(44th Amendment) received 
presidential assent on April 30, 
1 979. India thus partially fulfilled 
its obligations under the ICPA by 
making Articles 20 and 21 non- 
suspendable. This means that 
the 59th Amendment is a breach 
of international law binding on 
India. Even under Indian consti- 
tutional law, the Amendment is 
pregnable. Why? Under the 59th 
Amendment, the right to life 
(Art.21) is suspendable during 
emergency, not before, as 
amended by the 44th Amend- 
ment. Now it is, and pro tantathe 
Amendment violates the basic 
culture and feature of the Indian 
Constitution — vide the Bharathi 
case (1973 SC 1461) canons. 

In essence, the jurisprudence 
of humanism mandates against 
homicide of core human rights 
but the court itself (et tu brute) 
has jettisoned those rights — of 
course, as such constitutional 
interpretation commended itself 
to the learned judges. Some 
Indian jurists abroad, reading this 
judgment in isolation, may 
exclaim: "O! what a fall was 
there, my countryman. Then, I, 
and you, and all of us fell down." 
For, they may not know the other- 
wise great record of ti e court. 

But there is hope. A ruling of 
the court is liable to reversal by 
a larger Bench. There is enough 
precedential support for the pro- 
position that acts and orders 
made malafide are non est and 
liable to be scrutinised and struck 
down by judicial writ. It is an 
imperative of the jurisprudence 
of power that any exercise of it 
becomes a nullity if irrelevant or 
extraneous factors or mala tides 
induce the action. 

A little familiarity with India's 
accumulating anti-terrorist 
corpus juris strikingly brings out 
that there are enough laws to 
cope with the worst situations of 
destabilisation, disruption, disin- 
tegration and social demolition. 
But incompetence has no cure 
except competence in the phar- 
macopea of good administration. 
Fiftynine times the 59th Amend- 
ment, in the hands of a moron 
regime, sans political imagina- 
tion, sans mass action, sans dia- 
lectical appreciation, and sans 
secular sincerity to solve secular 
issues with secular courage and 
conviction, cannot match the 
savage super-terrorism of Pun- 
jab’s Pakistan-fuelled and ra- 
logically demented youth 



FORUM 


Mangli’s Tikuli 

- Bhairav Prasad Gupta 

Translated from Hindi by Anand Prakash. 


A s the evening fell, Mangli 
took a broken piece of 
the earthen vessel from 
the alcove and added another 
short line to the ones drawn ear- 
lier. This done, she put back the 
piece on the alcove and began 
counting the lines - one, two, 

three ... she counted upto ten 
and after this, bent the little finger 
of her left hand. She could count 
only upto ten... Rama had con- 
fided in her that the day she bent 
three fingers of her hand, he 
would come to meet her in the 
evening at the mound near the 
small pond. 

This is how she had met Rama 
for the last six months at differ- 
ent places... at the mound, 
behind the temple near the river, 
in the garden on the village 
border or next to an ancient 
structure which bore the name of 
Dih Baba, a holy man. First time, 
when Rama ran away from the 
village he'had’nt told anybody 
about it. This had led to a lot of 
whispering in the village all 
through the night. 

That day, it was Mangli who 
carried the breakfast for Rama to 
the farm. Her sister-in-law had 
accompanied her mother. 
Mother was down with fever. 
Father-in-law had gone out to 
talk over with people and settle 
his daughter’s marriage. The 
breakfast time would soon be 
over. The old woman had asked 
her daughter, Sugia to go and 
see someone, young or old in the 
neighbourhood, who may carry 
food for the boy. None was, 
however, available. All people 
had gone to the farm, fields or 
the orchards. It was already 
mid-April and the harvesting 
season was at its peak. 

If mother-io-law had’nt been ill, 
she, too, would be working on 
the farm.- A small field for the 
whole family. Nothing much 
came out of it. Times were hard 
and all, young and old, had to be 
in search of work. During one 
such job, mother-in-law had 
stumbled and hurt herself. The 
old man, however, could'nt stay 
back to look after her - he was 
busy with something more 
important like fixing his grown- 
up daughter’s marriage. In fact, 
he had suggested to his son 
Rama that he worked on the 
farm for a few days and earned 
some money which could be 
used at the time of the daught- 
er’s marriage. But Rama was 
reluctant to go to the farm again. 
Many a time, the farm-owner had 
sent him out half-way, accusing 
of fanning discontent among 
other farm-workers. Rama had 
told his mother that he planned 


‘Tikuli: A round-shaped ornamental 
thing the newly married women wear 
on their foreheads. 


to go to the neighbouring small 
town and work there on a reg- 
ular basis. Mother, however, 
wished him to stay and work on 
the village farm till she recovered 
or his father came back. Then he 
could go wherever he liked, none 
would stop him. It was just a 
matter of days. 

This being the peak season, 
the farm was short of working 
hands. As Rama approached the 
farm-owner in the morning, he 
was accepted, though with a 
warning that he would mind his 
own work and would’nt mix up 
with the other workers. Rama 
did’nt have much to say on this. 
He busied himself with the job. 

For two days in the beginning, 
the old woman herself, though ill 
and weak, carried food to Rama 
on the farm. Third day, however, 
she had no strength left to do it. 
As the time for food approached, 
Mangli said out of desperation, 
"Do I go and deliver the food? It’s 
already late. Being hungry too 
long, he may fall sick." 

"How would you go, daughter- 
in-law:" exclaimed the disturbed 
old woman, "you are absolutely 
new to thq place. You would’nt 
even know the way to the farm." 

"i’ll ask some passer-by, 
mother. Someone will guide me." 

The old lady was helpless. 
She had to allow Mangli, though 
she advised that her daughter 
accompanied her. Mangli said 
mildly, "Would he not be angry 
that both of us came?" 

"That would’nt happen,' said 
the mother-in-law, "Tell him that 
I sent you both as no one else 
was available." 

Both the young women started 
for the farm. Mangli had veiled 
her face up to the eye-brows. 
She was carrying a can of sug- 
arcane juice. The small bag with 
parched gram inside hung on 
sister-in-law’s shoulder. Mangli 
was'nt walking smoothly, while 
her companion danced as it were 
on her toes. Sometimes as they 
walked, Mangli came too close to 

her sister-in-law and received a 
sweet rebuke from her, "Why 
can’t you walk properly?" She 
laughed as she said it. Mangli, 
the young bride, smiled and yet 
hesitated lest someone saw her 
do so. She was so bashful, Did’nt 
know what to do. The path was 
uneven, unfamiliar. Many a time, 
she stumbled and could balance 
herself with great difficulty. 

As they heard the noise of the 
rractors in the farm, sister-in-law 
remarked, "Look how these trac- 
tors work: How like demons they 
move round the field: Let’s go 
towards them. Brother would be 
somewhere there." 

Mangli felt giddy as she 
♦watched the tractors moving 
around in cricles as if each trac- 
tor and been caught in a whirl- 
pool and was dipping into the 



storm of the flying chaff. Mangli 
inhaled some tiny particles as 
she breathed and coughed vio- 
lently. This caught the attention 
of a man passing by who 
remarked, "Who is this young 
chick? Oh, she has a real bold 
tikuli* on her forehead." 

Mangli trembled. A little more 
and she would have dropped the 
juice can on the ground. 

Sister-in-law raised her eye- 
brows and pressed her lips. She 
looked searchingly towards the 
man who had uttered those 
words. She heard further, "Go 
over to that mahua tree, Sugia. 
Rama is busy in the field near it." 

Sister-in-law caught hold of 
Mangli’s other hand and drew 
her away. Reaching a little dis- 
tance, she said, "This was the 
farm-owner, the rake:" But 
Mangli was burning all over and 
she walked faster. 

Rama caught sight of them 
standing under the tree and 
called from the field as he ran to 
reach them. Panting, he asked, 
"How is mother?" Handing him 
over the little bag, Sugia said, 
"She is’nt well". 

Mangli gave the juicecan to 
Sugia, Rama walked towards the 
shade and asked them also to sit 
down as he began to open the 
bag. Sugia sat in front of him, but 
Mangli stood on, her face on the 
other side. Rama sensed from 
the way she stood that some- 
thing was amiss. As he ate, he 
asked Sugia, "What’s the 
matter? Your sister-in-law...". 

"You finish up the food," said 
Sugia and catching Mangli’s 
hand she tried to make her sit 
down. But Mangli became stiff 
and freed herself from Sugia. 

Rama finished his breakfast 
hurriedly and then said, "All right, 
Sugia, tell me now what hap- 
pened?" 

Just then, Mangli tore away 
her little tikuli from her forehead 
and threw it away on the ground. 

The little tikuli lay on the 
ground, hurt and writhing as it 
were like the blood-red insect 


commonly found during rains. 
Rama looked at the tikuli awhile, 
turned his eyes towards Mangli... 
and then towards Sugia. Sugia 
trembled, as she explained in 
brief the whole incident to her 
brother. 

"Well, you go home, both of 
you", said Rama. 

Sugia, collected her little 
belongings and walked back with 
Mangli. Rama stayed there for a 
while, his eyes speaking dag- 
gers. The two women had hardly 
gone across the field when 
Rama picked up the tikuli and 
resumed his work. He had, it 
appeared decided on his future 
course of action. 

That day in the field, he 
worked with his sickle so 
furiously-considering the crop 
before him as the army of his 
sworn enemy. 

He worked but did not talk with 
fellow-men, whom he usually 
treated like his younger brothers. 
They jokingly said to him: "Wife 
brought something delicious, 
perhaps, and a bucketful...: But 
why hurry, the sun will not set 
earlier than usual... Have pati- 
ence man, she would'nt be away 
too long:" 

They teased him for a while 
but he remained unmoved. Or 
was he lost in some thought? 
They apprehended trouble. They 
asked him how he was feeling, 
if the other people at home were 
all well, but he would not reply. 
Something was really brewing. 

Earlier, whenever he was quiet 
as he was today, something ter- 
rible happened. They had seen 
it happen more than once. Once 
he beat up the village patwari. 
Another time, he had challenged 
the local police boss. As far as 
the farm-owner is concerned, 
Rama would quarrel with him 
quite often - it was he who haa 
opposed the working of women 
on the rarm. What happened on 
the farm before that? It was a 
vice-den. 

The owner would roam around 
like a wolf and harass the young 
women who worked on his farm: 
everyday one argument or 
another would arise at the lunch 
time. No one among the people 
was happy but what they could 
do. 

At long last, this very Rama 
rose to the challenge one day. 
He planned the whole operation 
with other young men and 
launched a fierce assault on the 
assembly of hoodlums at night 
Friends of the farm-owner tool* 
sticks to fight back but soon real 
ised that they had been out 
numbered. They ran for their 
dear lives. Dead drunk, the 
owner could’nt hold the gun in 
his hands. The kidnapped 
women ran out of the inner room 
and was crying as she stood 
near Rama’s men. Rama chal- 
lenged the owner to dare shoot 

at them and face the music then. 

The owner could not pull the 
trigger. Rama stopped him as he 
turned to close the door of the 
room to say that such activities 
would cease forthwith. It was an 


order the owner could flout at his 
own peril. 

There were no more assem- 
blies at the farm. At the fall of 
evening, the owner slipped into 
his haveli quietly. But his mis- 
chiefs continued. Abusing the 
workmen, getting them beaten 
up, abduction of their wives and 
sisters - everything had conti- 
nued .. Only the form of these 
actions changed. 

On every such occasion, 
Rama would put up a fight with 
him. And then, the owner would 
sack him from the temporary job 
at the farm and call the police. 
He did’nt go much beyond this 
knowing as he did that it was’nt 
the protection from police or his 
goons that kept the work at the 
farm going. Farm work 
depended on the labour of 
workmen - antagonising them 
did'nt pay. This was the reason 
that whenever Rama 
approached him for work, he 
agreed to employ him. But the 
owner bided his time, and so did 
Rama. As the owner was adding 
to the strength of goons, Rama 
too was mobilising the farm- 
workers under a Peasant Asso- 
ciation. If the owner abusecHHj 
workers, they, too, gave it back 
to him, if he cut someone’s 
wages, the workers went to the 
fields in the night and took away 
double the worth of crops. A 
hireling of the owner roughed up 
workers paid him back. They had 
decided not to remain unarmed 
- they always had a lathi, a 
scythe, a long knife or a simple 
iron rod with them. Rama had 
told them that the possession of 
such a thing would keep them 
bold and confident. 

One day Rama did’nt get his 
lunch. And he laid under the 
mahua tree aimlessly. His com- 
rades tried to give him something 
to eat from their own but he did'nt 
accept. He simply stared at the 
tree above. 

This was a clear indication tfl® 
something would soon happen, 
but no one could guess what 
exactly it would be. They hoped 
that Rama would take them into 
confidence as soon as he 
reached a decision. They waited 
and prepared themselves ment- 
ally for any help he would seek 
from them. 

The sun gradually reached the 
end of its journey and the work- 
ers stopped for the day. As they 
were about to go away, they 
caught sight of the owner stand- 
ing at the corner of the field with 
someone spreading the umbrella 
overhead. He looked at his 
watch and said, "It’s only five 
thirty. You have to work another 
hour." 

The workmen looked at 
Rama’s direction but he did’nt 
say anything - he simply gave 
the owner a sharp look. Never- 
theless, his eyes were red and 
his grip over the sickle tightened. 

The owner continued, "Rama 
promised to work hard and effi- 
ciently. What for are you looking 
towards him? come along, do not 
waste time." 


10 


20 August - 4 September 1988 



THE 


FORUM 

- r.A7FTTT— 


Then Rama spoke, uttering 
words clearly with pauses in 
between, as if taking out a piece 
of stone, and then another piece 
of stone from between his teeth, 
"We have already worked half an 
hour extra. We will not work any 
more today." 

"We’ll pay you for the extra 
time," said the owner, "You get 
on with the work". 

"We say ‘No’," said Rama. 

"You have a wife to look after 
now, Rama," said the owner, 
"How do you say you do not 
need money? What a gorgeous 
wife you have and you want to 
starve her? Come on, let’s begin. 
May be your wife gets some little 
ornament if you agree to..." 

He could’nt complete the sen- 
tence and nobody saw what 
happened. It was just a flash of 
lightning as it were, and then the 
man with the umbrella was heard 
saying, "Stop. Catch him..." 

But who could catch Rama? 
The owner had fallen down. The 
sharp end of Rama’s sickle had 
pierced the right eye of the 
owner. 

First thing the labourers did 
was to take Mangli and Sugia 
^away to an unknown place - they 
“were unsafe at home. Even 
mother was kept in dark about 
the place. It was reported that the 
farm-owner had been admitted in 
the district hospital. The police 
came to the village and Rama’s 
house as well as the neighbour- 
ing ones were searched. Some 
labourers were threatened and 
beaten up. 

People talked in whispers and 
it seemed none slept that night. 
All were at a loss about why 
Rama had punished the farm- 
owner in that peculiar way. It was 
said that Rama aimed the sickle 
at the owner's neck and it struck 
his eye instead. Someone 
remarked that Rama was’nt a 
novice at punishing people, he 
deliberately struck the weapon 
where it actually hit. But 'then, 
what was the purpose of hitting 
the eye. None, however, thought 
that Mangli and Sugia might 
have an answer to this. But as 
soon as Sugia heard it, she said 
to Mangli, "A pity really that the 
sickle had only one point. If it was 
double-pointed, the fellow would 
have lost both his eyes. He 
could’nt set his eye on your 
tikuli." 

Mangli laughed as she said, 
"But where has your brother run 
away?” 

"He does it so often. Never 
mind, he’ll come back". 

But Rama did’nt come back. 
An arrest warrant had been 
served on him and the court 
notice was stuck on the door of 
his house. 

After a fortnight, a youth came 
from the neighbouring village 
and met Mahesa. He had 
brought the news of Rama. The 
message was that all the young 
men were to assemble at the 
temple near the river and that 
Rama would talk to them there. 
After the meeting, Rama was 
also to meet his own family. The 
responsibility to arrange this lay 


with Mahesa. 

Everything had gone on fine. 
Rama had met his mai (mother), 
his Kaka, and then Sugia. In the 
end, he had met Mangli. Mangli 
looked at him - he was carrying 
an axe. Rama said, "Why is your 
head bent? Look up." 

Mangli raised her head and 
smiled. Rama laughed and 
looked into her eyes. Then he 
asked, "You’ve kept your fore- 
head bare since then?" 

Before Mangli could say any- 
thing, he took out the tikuli, stuck 
it on her forehead and added, 
"Be careful lest it may fall. The 
rascal is still left with an eye. 
We’ll meet again after seven 
days near Dihi Baba at night. 
You’ll get the message. Some- 
one will come to escort you." 

The farm owner had gone 
blind of the right eye but the devil 
in his left eye had become even 
more fearsome now. There was 
something that made his face 
terrifying: The animal in him had 
been roused. Since Rama had 
left the village and there was nc 
likelihood of his return, the farm- 
owner moved about undaunted, 
unashamed and uncontrolled. 
Two constables at the gate of the 
haveli and four at the farm kept 
guard. He fired all the local 
labourers and called others from 
outside. He did not seem to 
know that a worker was a worker 
after all, whether a native or an 
outsider. 

It happened frequently. A part 
of some ready crop would dis- 
appear. Nobody could see what 
was happening, neither the 
owner nor the constables. It was 
then decided that watch would 
be kept on the crops during the 
nights. Some labourers were 
posted at the 'fields, their wage 
being the night meal.. The con- 
stables were asked to go on 
rounds of the place at regular 
intervals. But somewhere or the 
other, crops would yet be stolen. 
At last, the owner was disgusted, 
got the whole thing harvested 
and kept it in a heap near the 
house. But it was of no avail. At 
night once again, the mischief 
was done and a constable got 
injured. 

There was real commotion at 
the police station. It struck the 
police that may be it was Rama 
who was behind all this. They 
had tried hard but were not able 
to catch him. They decided to 
launch another campaign. The 
owner’s attention was also 
drawn towards Rama’s house. 
He remembered Rama’s wife 
whose tikuli he had seen near 
the farm one day. Rama was 
plundering his crops, he, too, 
could do something in retaliation. 
He smiled at the thought. 

It happened one night and the 
word spread that two of the 
owner's goons had entered 
Rama’s house. The inmates 
called out for help and as the 
neighbours reached the scene, 
they found that the women 
themselves had given a beating 
to the intruders. Everyone 
laughed and remarked: "Do 
come again and see how you are 
received by our women folk." 


The youth continued with their 
secret assemblies in different vil- 
lages. Every village had farms, 
farm-owners, as also farm- 
labourers and peasants. The 
whole area soon turned into a 
battle ground. Some of the 
owners were so terrified that they 
sought the shelter of the police 
station at night. But the one-eyed 
monster had changed his own 
house and farm into a police sta- 
tion. 

There was lull for some time in 
the village. On the appointed day 
at the appointed time, Rama 
would come to meet Mangli. 
Mangli regularly drew the lines, 
counted them and when it came 
to the right number, she did the 
make-up and put vermillion on 
the parting in her hair. Also she 
never forgot to keep the tikuli on 
her forehead. 

That evening, Mangli bent her 
three fingers and was happy. 

This indicated that the day Rama 
was expected aat that time. She 
went to Mangli and asked, "Do 
I also come along with you?" 

"If you iikel", said Mangli. 

Sugia, too, got ready. At dusk, 
a youth came straight to their 
house and touched mother's 
feet. 

Then he turned towards 
Mangli and said, "Today, it is not 
easy to go out. All sorts of char- 
acters are moving around. 

Mangli was alarmed, "So, 
what do we do?" 

Sugia said, "I am also coming 
today." 

"No," said the youth, "You 
can’t be allowed today. Mangli 


has to come alone and that, too, 
in a man’s guise." 

Mangli bit her lips. 

The youth said, "Do not delay. 
I am waiting for you outside. You 
change into man’s clothes and 
yes, keep this, too, somewhere 
with you," He gave her a small 
dagger. 

Mangli put on man's dress as 
Sugia laughed. Unwillingly, 
Mangli removed her tikuli but sh'6 
kept it in her pocket, thinking that 
as she approached Rama, she 
would stick it on her forehead. 

As they came out, it had 
become quite dark. They were 
walking alongside each other on 
a narrow track. There were sug- 
arcane fields on both sides. They 
talked casually. Their destination 
was’nt far away when they heard 
some rustling in the fields. Soon 
they faced a barrage of lathi 
blows. The youth fell and as he 
tried to be up on his feet, he saw 
that Mangli had been physically 
lifted and a dozen people were 
running away with her. 

The youth rushed to the 
mound and informed Rama. 
Then, both of them left for some 
place. 

Hardly had an hour passed 
when the bell in the village 
started ringing. It was perhaps a 
notice to the bells in other vil- 
lages and in no time, one heard 
the sounds coming from all direc- 
tions. It was like huge dark 
clouds moving towards the place 
with lightning and thunder. The 
darkness of the village faced the 
innumerable burning torches and 
this light closed on the house of 
the farm-owner. 


This made the goons and the 
constables posted at the house 
take to lathis and guns to resist 
the attack. But they were only a 
dozen while the torch-bearers 
before them were inumerous. 
jThey felt as though thousands of 
burning eyes were staring at 
them and coming closer by the 
minute. 

Just then, a shriek was heard 
from that part of the house where 
men slept. Hearing this, the 
silence outside was broken by 
the firing of guns. As the goons 
and constables fell under the 
impact, the torches ran towards 
the place. The door of the room 
could’nt stand the joint push of 
several hands and gave way. A 
part of the door broke and half 
crushed the owner under its 
weight. Many lathis also struck 
him. He bled profusely. Some- 
one lifted the chopper but Rama 
stopped him. 

"No, he is not to die:" said as 
Rama stood before his men, 
"People should know what it is to 
be a villain and how we punish 
such ever". 

Two men came forward ana 
tore his dhoti. Rama took a knife, 
cut his penis and threw it on his 
face. 

Mangli lay unconscious on the 
.floor near the bed. Rama lifted 
her and said to his comrades, 
"Let’s go." 

The bells became silent. The 
torches were blown off. The 
steps of the crowd retreated. The 
house of the owner was engulfed 
in darkness. 


Pakistan As A Blunder: 
Did Jinnah Regard? 


..."One day, we learnt that the 
Prime Minister, Mr. Liaqat Ali 
Khan, was coming to visit the 
Quaid. We did not have to make 
preparations. Who could we pre- 
pare for more than the Quaid? 
Everything always remained 
spick and span. 

"The next day the Prime Mi- 
nister arrived. I received him in 
the verandah and then escorted 
him inside the house. The first 
was an empty room, then come 
the room where the Quaid lay. 
Liaqat Ali Khan approached the 
Quaid from behind his head; I 
went and took my position at the 
foot of the bed. 

"Liaqat Ali Khan first greated 
the Quaid, to which the Quaid 
made no reply. Now face to face, 
he asked how the Quaid was. 
The Quaid blew up. He said: 

"You have started thinking 
yourself as a big man. You are 
nothing. I have made you Prime 
Minister of Pakistan. You think 
you have ma.de Pakistan. I have 
made it. But I am now convinced 
that I have committed the bigest 
blunder of my life. If now I get an 
opportunity, I will go to Delhi and 
tell Jawaharlal to forget about the 
follies of the past and become 
friends again". (At that point the 


Quaid lifted his hand as if in a 
handshake). 

"The Quaid was shivering with 
emotion. He had turned white 
like the bedsheet. I panicked. I 
placed a hand on Liaqat Ali's 
shoulder and said that the 
excitement was not good for the 
patient and it would be best if he 
withdrew. Liaqat Ali, wholly 
unruffled, turned, walked with 
slow steps into the next room 
and then out on to the verandah. 


There he gave a Dig laugh and 
said in a loud voice. "The old 
man has now discovered his 
blunder." 

"I left Liaqat Ali and ran to the 
Quaid. The Quaid's eyes were 
closed. He lay exhausted. Miss 
Fatimah Jinnah was standing 
beside the bed. Seeing me she 
said:" Liaqat Ali Khan had come 
to see with his own eyes how 
long more my brother would 
live." 

(Source :Frontiar Post, Col. Elahi 
‘ Bux as reported by Md. Yahya, 
Peshawar, January 25, 1987) 

(Courtesy: Muslim India) 


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20 August - 4 September 1988 





THE 

FORUM 

■ GAZETTE 


Sant Chanchal Singhji 


What is 

T he word 'Sikh’ means 
‘disciple’. A Sikh is a 
person who believes in 
One God and teachings of the 
Ten Gurus, enshrined in the 
Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy 
book. Additionally, he or she 
must take Amrit, the Sikh Bap- 
tism. 

Brief History 

T he Sikh religion was 
founded by Guru Nanak, 
who was born in 1 469 AD 
in the village Talwandi, now 
called ‘Nankana Sahib’ near 
Lahore (Pakistan). 

Right from the childhood his 
keen mind would not accept all 
the groundless, rituals, supersti- 
tions and dogmas which passed 
for religion in those days. 

Guru Nanak and the nine 
Gurus who succeeded him, set a 
wonderful example of living spi- 
ritually, while yet taking an active 
and secular part in the word. 


Sir: 

Air Marshal M.M. Singh on 2 
August ’88 after his retirement 
has given vent to his disturbed 
feelings having been superseded 
by Air Marshal S.K. Mehra who 
has been appointed Chief of Air 
Staff. The supersession always 
hurts, but a soldier should not 
become victim of this hurt. We, 
the officers of the defence ser- 
vices continue to owe our loyalty 
to the country, and remain guar- 
dians of discipline and good 
name of the services. We are to 
care for the sentiments of the 
men we have commanded and 
enjoyed their love and affection, 
which we continue to enjoy 
even after retirement. 

The comments made by Air 
Marshrl Singh do communicate 
certain reflection on the intention 
of the government in their 
assessment, and on the discip- 
line of the Army and Air Force, 
and the lack of trust of the gov- 
ernment in the senior officers, 
when he says, "I am very friendly 
towards the Army, and the gov- 
ernment, feels very insecure. The 
government, perhaps, does not 
want the Army and Air Force to 
be friendly towards each other .... 
it makes them feel very inse- 
cure." No officer should express 
such opinion, more so the Gen- 
erals/Air Marshals. They must 
take into account, how the out- 
side world would exploit such 
impressions against our coun- 
try’s interest, especially country 
like Pakistan which is aiding ter- 
rorism in Punjab. Even though, 
the supersession might be unjus- 


Sikhism 

The Tenth and the last Guru, 
Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708 
AD) initiated the Sikh Baptism 
ceremony in 1 699 AD: and thus 
gave a distinctive identity to the 
Sikhs. The first five Baptised 
Sikhs were named Panj Pyare 
(Five Beloved Ones), who in turn 
bapiised the Guru on his 
request — an event hitherto 
unknown in the history of man- 
kind. 

Shortly before passing away 
the Guru ordained that Guru 
Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy 
Scripture, would be the ultimate 
spiritual authority for the Sikhs 
and the temporal authority would 
vest in the Khalsa Panth — The 
Sikh Commonwealth. 

Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh 
holy scripture, was compiled and 
edited by the Fifth Guru, Guru 
Arjun in 1 604 AD. This is the only 
scripture in the world which has 
been compiled by the founders 
of a faith during their own life 
time. 


Marshal 

tified, still one must exercise cau- 
tion that one's anger does not 
cause any harm to the national 
interest. It is also incumbent on 
the government that their 
assessment must be governed 
by the merits of the person con- 
cerned, because any official 
consideration would surely 
damage the discipline and 
morale of the defence services. 

A soldier would never like to 
be communal nor he would like 
to be treated in that fashion. 
What the men would like to have 
a fine commander and nothing 
else. Unfortunately, our politi- 
cians have been slipping while 
dealing with the army promotions 
at top levels. In the case of Gen- 
eral K.M. Carriappa (Now Field 
Marshal), General Rajindera 
Singh was to supersede him. 
But, it was General Rajindera 
Singh, who declined the offer in 
favour of than NOI General Car- 
riappa. A guiding principle of 
seniority must be observed at all 
levels. This will provide general 
satisfaction and build up com- 
radeship. But, where it cannot be 
observed, the person concerned 
should be interviewed by an 
appropriate authority to give rea- 
sons for ones supersession. 
Than such contingencies may 
not arise. 

Yours, etc., 

Lt. Col. Manohar Singh 

False Allegation 

Sir: 

I am extremely surprised to 
read in a section of press news- 



Sant Chanchal Singh 

Guru Arjan also built the world 
famous Gurudwara Darbar 
Sahib, at Amritsar which is the 
nucleus of Sikhism. During the 
eighteenth century the Sikhs 
were subjected to various sup- 
pressions and persecutions by 
th9 authorities of the time moti- 
vated by communal fanaticism. 
They had to make supreme sac- 
rifices to preserve their faith and 
separate entity. 

The Muhgal Empire was on 
the verge of disintegration. The 
Afghans had started invading the 


item captioned "Clashes mar 
Gurudwara Celebration" wherein 
Mr. Talwinder Singh Marwaha, a 
Youth Congress joint secretary 
vyho is also described by his fol- 
lowers as panthic leader, is 
reported to have stated that "his 
supporters had objected to a 
speech by Prof. Darshan Singh, 
a former Akal Takht Chief, con- 
demning the recent Supreme 
Court verdict giving death sen- 
tence to the two assassins of late 
Mrs. Indira Gandhi (Prof. Dar- 
shan Singh was conducting the 
Kirtan"). 

The undersi jred, a retired 
Assistant Corr rr issioner from 
the Income tax Deptt, was 
present throughout the stated 
Kirtan of Prof. Darshan Singh 
and can say with confidence that 
the learned Ragi did not utter a 
single word about the said 
Supreme Court verdict. He had 
totally confined his speech 
(Wiakhia) during his gurbani 
kirtan to the guru’sedicts and 
advised the congregation for 
promoting unity and peace. If 
anybody wants to check the 
statements of Mr. Marwaha and 
myself, let him refer to the tape 
recording, which is normaly 
available with the Gurudwara 
management and the admirers 
of Professor’s kirtans. 

Incidentaly, it is not under- 
stood why should Mr. Marwaha 
take part in religious affairs, 
when he is an activist of the 
Youth Congress(l) whereas his 
own party has introduced a Bill 
in the Parliament for separating 
religion from politics. 

Yours, etc., 
G.S.Chadha I.R.S(Retd) 
Advocate 


country under Ahmed Shah 
Abdali. The Sikhs availed of this 
opportunity to establish their own 
kingdom which they ultimately 
achieved under the Maharaja 
Ranjit Singh (1780-1839 AD). 
The Sikh Empire lasted for half- 
century and was annexed by the 
English in 1849 AD. 

During the freedom struggle of 
India a large number of Sikhs 
kissed the hangman's noose, 
faced all the brutalities and 
braved the bullets and suffered 
long imprisonments in order to 
liberate the country. 

Although the Sikhs constitutes 
only 1.7 percent of India’s pop- 
ulation, yet they have made a 
name for themselves in almost 
all walks of life such as armed 
forces, agriculture, sports, indus- 
tries, education, medicine and 
engineering, etc.through sheer 
dint of hard work and with a mis- 
sionary dedication. Their adven- 
turist and enterprising nature has 
taken them to almost all coun- 
tries of the world. 


Religion and Philosophy 

T he Sikh religion is strictly 
mono-theistic, believing in 
one Supreme God. Abso- 
lute yet All-bervading, the Eter- 
nal, -the Creator, the cause of 
Causes, without enmity, without 
hate, both Immanent in His crea- 
tion and beyond it. It is no longer 
the God of one nation, but the 
GOD OF GRACE. That being so, 
He creates man not to punish 
him for his sins, but for the real- 
isation of his true purpose in the 
cosmos and to merge in from 
where he issued forth. 

'O my mind thou art the 
embodiment of Light; 

Know thy Essance’ 

'O my mind, the Lord is ever 
with thee; 

through the Guru’s Word enjoy 
His love’ 

'Knowing thy essence thou 
knowest thy Lord; 
and knowest thou the mystery 
of birth and death.’ 

(Guru Granth,P.441) 

The basic postulate of Sikhjf m 
is that life is not sinful in its origin, 
but having emanated from a 
Pure Source, the True One 
abides in it. Thus sayeth Nanak : 


'O my mind, thou art the spark 
of the Supreme Light; 

Know thy essence.’ 

Not only the whole of Sikh 
Philosophy, but the whole of Sikh 
history and character, flows from 
“this principle 

The S'khs do not recognise 
the caste system nor do they 
believe in idol-worship, ritual, or 
superstitions. The gods and 
goddesses are considered as 
nonentities. 

This religion consists of prac- 
tical living, in rendering service to 
humanity and engendering toler- 
ance and brotherly love towards 
all. The Sikhs Gurus did not 
advocate retirement from the 
world in order to attain salvation. 

It can be achieved by anyone 
who earns an honest living and 
leads a normal life. 

'He alone, O Nanak, knoweth 
the Way, 

who earneth with the sweat of 
his brow, 

and then shareth it with the 
others’. 

(Guru Granth, p. 12 5) 

Nanak gave new hope to the 
down-trodden mankind to join his 
fraternity as equals. He i^**, 
creator of the NEW MAN in?kj 
New World supported by a New 
morality. 

Riches and personal posses- 
sions are not hinderance in living 
by spiritual ideals. Sikhism does 
not believe in the maxim, "It is 
easier for a camel to go through 
the eyes of a needle than for a 
rich man to enter into the king- 
dom of God". On the other hand 
the Sikh dictum is as under 

They, who are attuned to the 
Lord, 

by Guru’s Grace, 

Attain to the Lord in the midst 
of Maya, (i.e. Wealth).’ 

(Guru Granth p.921) 

Sikhism does not accept the 
ideology of pessimism. It adi#^ 
cates optimism and hope. Tf® ... 
maxim, "Resist not evil but who- 
soever shall smite thee on the 
right cheek, turn to him the other 
also", does not find any place in 
Sikh way of life. On the other 
hand it enjoins its followers : 

"When an affair is past every 
other remedy 

It is righteous, indeed, to 
unsheath the sword." 

(Guru Gobind Singh) 


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Letters 

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12 


20 August - 4 September 1988 






THE 

FORUM 

GAZETTE 



Rajasthan Desert Area 
Some Disturbing Questions 


Rajasthan desert area is passing through extreme 
distress conditions. This article probes and raises 
question about aspects of the adverse and deterior- 
ating conditions of life and livelihood in the desert vil- 
lages. 


I t is well-known that wide- 
spread distress conditions 
prevail in the Rajasthan 
desert area, more specifically in 
parts of Barmer, Jaisalmer and 
Jodhpur districts. However, 
there is uncertainty and differ- 
ence of opinion about the precise 
extent of this distress, about 
identifying in phase through 
which this region is passing. 

In his well-known book, 'Pov- 
erty and famines', Amartya Sen 
has written in the context of the 
disastrous, Ethiopian famine of 
1972-74 which claimed a death 
toll of over one lakh," Official rec- 
ognition of the developing famine 
came, however, very slowly, 
even though a study done by the 
Ministry of Agriculture in Nov- 
ember 1972 had sounded a note 
of grim warning. In fact, the seri- 
ousness of the famine seems to 
have been systematically mini- 
mized by the government at the 
early stages. The international 
organisations were also rather 
slow in reconizing the situation 
for what it was - a severe famine 
... By the time foreign relief 
started arriving on a large scale 


... the peak of starvation crisis 
was already over." 

The Questions 

W hat is the exact stage 
of the bad and deter- 
iorating situation in 
the Rajasthan desert area? How 
much the death rate has already 
risen above the ‘normal’ death 
rate for this region and the coun- 
try? What is the condition in the 
worst affected pockets? What 
percentage of domestic animals 
have already perished? How 
deep is the crisis of nomadic 
herdsmen, the small landhold- 
ers, the landless or hear land- 
less, the service castes, and 
other vulnerable groups? How 
deeply has the livelihood basis 
been eroded, now and for future, 
and how adequate is the gov- 
ernment’s relief effort in the short 
and the long term? 

Generalized writings on the 
distress conditions have not 
provided several specific 
information which may be 
necessary for a timely and big 


adequate relief effort to avoid 
a possible tragedy. Table 1 
gives the basic livelihood pat- 
tern of Barmer district In 
normal times - 

The high place of animal hus- 
bandry in the rural economy is 
apparent - the total number of 
domestic animals is seen to be 
about three times the human 
population. A large number of 
animals have perished in recent 
years but exact estimates are not 
available. 

Inequalities 

A look at the land distrib- 
ution data in Table 2 
clearly reveals that sub- 
stantial inequalities exist. The 
average land holding is about 15 
hectares but nearly 50 per cent 
of the buildings are in the less 
than 10 ha category, extending 
to just 3-60 lakh hectares, or 
about one-seventh of the total 
land. Nearly one-fourth of the 
bottom holdings (less than 5 ha) 
together extend over less than 
one lakh hectares of land, or 
about 4 per cent of the total agri- 
cultural land. On the other hand 
the top 4 per cent holdings exend 
to about 20 per cent of the agri- 
cultural land. Given such ine- 
qualities - which probably exist 
also in the ownership of animals 
- it is important that the impact of 
drought/famine conditions on 
those at the lowest level of 
property-ownership should get 
proper attention. 

The importance cf this factor 
was brought to me in several 
ways in the course of a recent 
visit to some desert villages. "It 
is on this side of the village that 
the poorest people live and it is 
here that the most deaths have 
occurred", said a doctor very 
simply in one village. "When the 
rains came and the poor tarm- 
ers had no seeds to sow and no 
animals to plough, their meagre 
land may be further taken over 
by the bigger resourceful farm- 
ers", said another official who 
has travelled widely In this area. 

Grim Situation 

! f If the rains fail us for one 
I or two more years; said 
I a senior medical official 
of Barmer in a grim voice, "we 
will have to organise special 
camps for people to enable them 
to survive as-it will be difficult to 
take relief to each and every 
remote, widely dispersed 
hamlet." 

Such opinions expressed by 
officials who have travelled 
widely in the area should make 
it empty clear that the region is 
passing through a truly grim sit- 
uation and any neglect or com- 
placency at this stage can prove 


very costly at a later stage in 
terms of the highest price thant 
can be paid - the loss of human 
lives. 

What about the death rate at 
present? The official list of the 
deaths that have occurred during 
October ’87 to March '88 in 
Barmer district, for example, is a 
very incomplete list as well 
known deaths in several villages 
have not been listed here. How- 
ever even on the basis of this 
highly incomplete list, it appears 
that the death rate in several vil- 
lages has been abnormally high 
as is evident from Table 3, which 
lists only those villages where 
there have been over 1 0 deaths 
during this six months period. 

It is also to be noted that the 
remotest villages of the desert 
are on Indo-Pak border area. 
And in a war-like situation, when 
the administration will have to 
meet the requirements of the 
armed forces on a top priority 
basis, relief work could suffer a 
lot. Several government officials 
say that even in normal times it 
is very difficult for relief supplies, 
medicines, etc. to reach the 
remotest, very widely dispersed 
hamlets - especially when vehi- 
cles suited to the difficult paths 
are not supplied. Even at 
present, when the supply of relief 
can be the top priority of the gov- 
ernment, this cannot be called 
adequate relative to the needs of 
a badly affacted population, 
whatever be the reasons and 
despite the dedicated efforts of 
some of the officials. 


Total population 
Rural population 
Agricultural Area 
Total Agricultural Holdings 
Agricultural Area per Holding 
Number of sheep (lakh) 

Number of Goats (lakh) 

Number of Cows/Bullocks (lakh) 


By Bharat Dogra 
Vulnerable Groups 

O ne of the most vulner- 
able, groups in the 
desert population is that 
of Berdsmen who regularly 
migrate with their animals while 
retaining a base in their desert 
villages. Their condition has 
been deteriorating over a period 
of time due to various changes 
taking place in the villages,, for- 
ests, etc. through which they 
pass. For example, earlier those 
villagers who invited them to 
bring their animals to camp in 
their fields because of the 
manure they provided, now they 
do not want these animals to 
come near these fields as due to 
changes in the cropping pattern 
and more intensive farming the 
fields are already planted by the 
time, these animals come. So it 
becomes difficult for the Berds- 
men to find a camping place 
where the animals can rest and 
they evoke the hostility of local 
villagers instead of getting the 
hospitality which they enjoyed 
earlier. Even wrose is the steep 
hike in the grazing rates imposed 
in the forests of Madhya Pradesh 
for migrating herdsmen. This can 
be a severe blow for a people 
already living on the margin. 

In addition, of course, there is 
the overall decline in the pas- 
tures and greenery in the desert 
villages due to a number of fac- 
tors. Government sponsored 
afforestation efforts at several 
places have been marred by the 


11.1 lakhs 

10.2 

23 lakh ha 

I . 5 lakh 
15 ha 

II. 57 
13.34 
4.90 


TABLE - 2 

Distribution of farm land In Barmer District 
(Approximated Figures) 


Size of holding 
(in hectares) 

Number of 
holdings 

Area 
(in ha) 

Less than 5 

37000 

090000 

5-10 

37000 

272000 

10-30 

56000 

970000 

30-50 

14000 

543000 

Over 50 

6800 

458000 

Total 

150000 

2300000 


Source-Statistical outline of Barmer District (Hindi), Directorate of Eco- 
nomics and Statistics, Rajasthan. continued on page 14 



TABLE - 1 

Livelihood base in Barmer District 


20 August - 4 September 1988 


13 



THE 

FORUM 

GAZETTh 


Rajasthan Desert Area 

Continued from page 13 


relative emphasis on exotc trees 
like the eucalypt'js which are 
useless from the point of view of 
fodder, and the relative neglect 
of traditional tree species like 
Khejadi which of immense value 
to villagers and their animals. 
Animal husbandry has been the 
base of the economy of desert 
villages and erosion of the pas- 
tures which can sustain this has 
had such a destructive impacl 
that all the other development 
work cannot make up for this. 

Similarly the neglect of the 
catchment areas of many tanks, 
several encroachments and 
quarrying activities which retard 
the flow of water have led to the 
drying up of several water sour- 
ces which is now posing ques- 
tion marks orrthe very survival of 
certain rural and urban settle- 
ments. 


The biggest modern develop- 
ment work which according to 
some promises to do much for 
this area is, of course, the Raj- 
asthan Canal Project (also called 
Indira Gandhi Canal). However, 
certain aspects of the project are 
already indicative of the serious 
problems that could arise in 
future - the control of the irrigated 
tracts by rich farmers and denial 
of benefits to poor, threat of 
extensive waterlogging and 
excessive silting of the canal. In 
a very recent study ‘Impact of 
Canal Irrigation on the Ecology 
of Arid Tract of Rajasthan’, ecol- 
ogist S.K. Saxena has noted 
-"Indira Gandhi Nahar Project 
(IGNP) is gigantic stride for 
obtaining irrigated crops on 
sandy tracts of western Rajas- 
than. The canal has produced 
many beneficial effects which 


TABLE - 3 


Village 

Population 

Number of deaths 

Konra 

3145 

20 

Bhejariya 

1848 

13 

Salariya 

1032 

18 

Slnhar 

904 

24 

Baamnor 

2140 

19 

Netrad 

5187 

21 

Sava 

2705 

64 

Paradiya 

987 

12 

Bernahs Agor 

2278 

11 

Taaratara 

4446 

17 

Jaane ki Beri 

2800 

11 

Isrol 

2426 

17 

Blsarrlya 

3744 

16 

Kltnorlya 

2874 

32 

Hod 

10313 

31 

Jaruaha 

855 

22 

Khokhasar 

3486 

17 


The Middlemen 

I n severe droughts while 
agriculture and animal 
husbandary suffer, alterna- 


presently reflect in better socio- 
economic conditions of the 
people. But intensive canal irri- 
gation, poor canal maintenance 


In severe droughts while agriculture and animal 
husbandary suffer, alternative occupations like 
artisan work, handicrafts, etc. can continue to 
provide sustenance to several families. Desert vil- 
lages have a rich tradition of craft work, especially 
embroidary and women work on colourful clothes. 
Unfortunately in most villages middlemen con- 
tinue to dictate terms and the real crafts persons 
continue to get a raw deal. Hence, a good alter- 
native source of earning for the rural poor has not 
been properly developed. 


tlve occupations like artisan 
work, handicrafts, etc. can 
continue to provide suste- 
nance to several families. 
Desert villages have a rich tra- 
dition of craft work, especially 
embroidary and women work 
on colourful clothes. Unfortu- 
nately in most villages mid- 
dlemen continue to dictate 
terms and the real crafts per- 
sons continue to get a raw 
deal. Hence, a good alternative 
source of earning for the rural 
poor has not been properly 
developed. 


and other mismanagements 
have created a large number of 
adverse effects especially in 
respect of seepage and water 
logging, development of soil 
salinity, continuous rise in water 
table, invasion of abnoxious 
water and crop weeds, and 
many health hazards, etc. thus 
effecting the whole ecology of 
arid region, stage II of IGNP is 
traditionally known for its animal 
husbandry which is likely to be 
adversely affected. (N.F.S 
INDIA). 


Save A Life 


A scooter makes a sharp 
turn, unmindful of a lorry 
rushing towards it. The 
scooterist and the pilliori rider, 
both in their teens, are thrown off 
the sccoter and lie in a pool of 
blood. A crowd gathers but does 
nothing to help the hapless vic- 
tims. They only argue about who 
should do what while seconds fly 
and precious blood is lost. ' 
Everyone is afraid to take any ini- 
tiative because it may lead to 
oroblems with law. 

A young housewife tries to 
cross the street and a speeding 
car hits her. She lies bleeding 
just 200 feet away from her 
house. Nobody seems to recog- 
nise her nor is immediate med- 
ical attention available. A 
passerby, fortunately a doctor, 
picks her up, thanks to his initia- 
tive, and her life is saved. 

A journalist going by a scooter 
comes under the wheels of a 
truck. People in the area recog- 
nise him but nobody comes for- 
ward to do anything, being afraid 
of the consequences. Since 
there was a delay of more than 


two hours before he could be 
brought to a hospital, he remains 
unconscious to this day, and 
according to doctors, his memory 
is lost forever. 

Such cases abound in major 
cities and as a matter of fact, in 
Madras alone more than 5600 
people are victims of accidents 
every year. Among them, more 
than 500 are fatel. A few good 
Samaritans gathered to discuss 
this serious problem. Thus came 
into being ‘Save A Life Club’. 
Members of the club will be 
easily identified with a special 
badge and they will be in accid- 
ent prone traffic points near their 
residences or workplaces so that 
the moment an accident occurs, 
they will be able to contact the 
nearest hospital and get an 
ambulance immediately. Eight 
hospitals in Madras city have 
agreed to treat the accident vic- 
tims identified by the ‘Save A Life 
Club’ members. Membership is 
open to ^11, including students, 
who are our future citizens, and 
opinion leaders. Funds have also 
been collected to get medically 


By S. Venkataraman 

equipped ambulences placed at 
accident-pron points for ready 
use by members. 

Indian Oil Corporation has 
come forward to put up hoar- 
dings indicating names of the 
eight hospitals and their tele- 
phone numbers for public ben- 
efit as well as the good 
Samaritans who would like to be 
of help to save a life. Time will 
not be far off when almost every 
busy street corner would have an 
ambulance and every hospital 
worth its name will be ready to 
treat accident victims promptly 
without any hesitation. 

"Next time, an accident hap- 
pens in your area, it may be your 
friend, neighbour or your own 
relative. Join the ‘Save A Life 
Club’ in your area and ensure 
safety for one and all" This is the 
inspiring slogan of the club in 
Madras which has attracted 
many enterprising youth as well 
as a lot of social welfare organ* 
isations. 



14 


20 August - 4 September 1988 


i nt 

FORUM 


Congress(I) And The Muslims 


^Continued from Page J 6. 


there is another move by the 
same Committee to undertake a 
public march in October this 
year. Quite predictably, this is 
bound to create tension. Already 
there are threats an^ counter- 
threats from both sides. 

Babrl Masjid March 






W hile the Muslims are 
acutely unhappy 
about what is happen- 
ing, they are not in favour of such 
a march being undertaken. 
Those who care to study the 
Muslim press know that feelings 
this time are neither as widely 
articulated nor as strongly 
expressed as in late 1986. This 
is not to suggest that the Muslims 
have accepted the position. At 
the same time this much is also 
definite that they are not in a 
mood to be combative about it. 
In this situation pressure is being 
mounted on the Babri Masjid 
Action Committee to call off the 
march. Whether this eventually 
.comes to pass or not remains to 
be seen. But even if it does not 
get called off, the mobilisation 
would not be all that extensive. 
In any case, the government is 
likely to ban such a march. 

What is of greater significance 
is the second fact. The ruling 
party is not inclined to permit this 
matter to get out of hand. As far 
as one can judge, it would not 
like the matter to be decided 
either way. If passions are run- 
ning high on both sides, that 
cannot be helped. But to take a 
definite position and to hand over 
a readymade situation to either 
of the two parties is not what is 
perceived to be in the interest of 


the Congress(l). 

That is why the law courts are 
taking so long to decide and are 
moving in the matter in a lei- 
surely way. For instance, the 
U.P. government had to file an 
affidavit. It took more than half a 
year to do so and this is only one 
step in the long and tortuous pro- 
cess of a legal verdict. For all we 
know, that decision may not be 
taken in the remaining years of 
the century. There have been 
instances when decisions have 
been kept pending for decades 
together and this one also may 
be kept pending. 


The Dilemma 

T he point of saying all this 
is that in terms of the polit- 
ical and social situation 
confronting the ruling party, a 
clear pro-Hindu posture or a 
clear anti-Muslim posture are 
both to be avoided. In either case 
there would be problems. In the 
*omner case, the situation can get 
out of hand and support for the 
ruling party will not be all that 


Authoritarianism 

continued from page 3 


lates public opinion. There is 
hardly any serious attempt to 
tackle problems of poverty, 
unemployment, disparities and 
above all alienation of dalits, adi- 
vasis and minorities. 

Since the early 1970s there 
has been a structural freeze in 
the Indian political economy as 
far as the State initiative is con- 
cerned. Whatever changes have 
occurred are despite the state 
and as a result of the earlier pol- 
icies. Land reforms have been 
stopped half way and restriction 
on monopolies has been practi- 
cally abandoned. The Silicon 
State envisages the creation of 
a professional elite through the 
new education policy, special 
managerial training and compu- 
terisation which would deliver the 
goods to the rulers. 

The new stress on communi- 
cation includes not only the 
expansion of Doordarshan, but 
also capturing the world of art 
and music for purposes of the 
State. The attempt to patronise 
artists through the Festivals of 
India abroad and holding Apna 
Utsav seems to have borne little 
fruit. Cultural activity can only be 


sustained by society, the state 
can only play a supportive role. 
If the state arrogates to itself the 
role of the financier-controller, it 
can neither satisfy the demands 
nor can it maintain its control. 

Communication Strategy 


T he Rajiv regime merely 
sought to exploit this 
avenue as a part of its 
communication strategy. The 
programmes on Doordarshan 
are having a peculiar effect. The 
Hindu wave' that was being 
created has had its limits. The 
mystique of TV Rama was thor- 
oughly exposed in Allahabad. 
Doordarshan news has already 
acquired the reputation of carry- 
ing little credibility. Motivated 
manipulation of communication 
media is talked about every- 
where today. Valiant efforts to 
recreate the scenes of the free- 
dom struggle to visibly claim the 
lagacy produced greater ridicule 
for the Prime lyiinister. The bright 
brains of the communication 
clique around the PM seem to be 
fast losing out. 

Rajiv Gandhi’s crisis man- 
agement strategy was not unre- 


ik 'if* 


ykjJlC^S it 


rrr\:* 


m 





explicit and overwhelming. Some 
part of it can also benefit the BJP 
and other political parties. The 
whole thing is uncertain and dif- 
ficult to anticipate or manage. 

Should the Congress adopt an 
anti-Muslim posture, it can lead 
to trouble in a number of places 
and create a situation where, 
again, things may get out of 
hand. As is widely recognised, it 
is easy to start a fire but it is dif- 
ficult to control it. That is in terms 
of law and order and the general 
political situation. In political 
terms, the ruling party cannot 


adopt a line where it wins in the 
Hindi-speaking belt and loses in 
neighbouring states like Maha- 
rashtra, Karnataka, etc. In plain 
words, what would suit the ruling 
party is a situation which can be 
manipulated either way and that 
is precisely what it is likely to be 
ensured. 


T, 


Vote Banks 

here is one danger for the 
Congress(l), however. It 
may be able to avoid a 


BJP and Muslims 


BJP on 2 August, 1988, has 
demanded immediate interven- 
tion by the government of India 
in Bangladesh to seek a "solemn 
assurance" for protection of 
minorities following Islamisation 
of Bangladesh. This demand is 
very much in order, even the fair 
minded people of Bangladesh 
would support the cause. But, 
how can. we Indians justify in 
adopting this attitude or principle 
that if this situation is allowed to 
continue in Bangladesh, it will 

lated to his focus 
communication. The spate of 
accords on Punjab, Assam, Miz- 
oram, Jammu & Kashmir was 
meant to convey a message 
from an apparently conciliatory 
leader who was different from his 
arrogant mother. But they were 
all adhoc arrangements to tide 
over a specific situation, rather 
than a part of a deeper under- 
standing of the problem. None of 
the accords embodied a clarifi- 
cation of the nature of the Indian 
Union as a union of participating 
identities. The assertion of a cen- 
tralised India where power is 
exercised by a leader-in this 
case from the Nehru family who 
are supposed to stand above all 
identities-was basic to all the 
arrangements even when actual 
concessions were made to the 
region. 

The slogan of performance 
and reliance of modern man- 
agement and technology is cen- 
tral to the new approach. This 
supports the existing trends in 
the economy which allows 
severe exploitation of unorga- 
nised labour all over the country 


disrupt communal harmony in 
India and create serious danger 
to social harmony. This indirectly 
implies that the Muslims in India 
will have to pay the price for the 
wrong policies of Bangladesh 
government, being coreligionists. 

All this amounts to that Mus- 
lims remain as hostages! Would 
such statements make Musiims 
feel that they are in a real sense 
part and parcel of India? If they 
do not, who is to blame? All sov- 
ereign countries are responsible 

both in the urban and rural areas. 

The violence perpetrated by the 
landlords and the State against 
the rural poor cannot be tackled 
by crisis management policies. 
The increasing rate of commu- 
nal violence can hardly be con- 
tained by this approach. In the 
absence of a structural 
response, these policies only 
mean more and more resort to 


situation but there is little that it 
can do to improve its fortunes. In 
days gone by, the Muslims voted 
for the Congress(l) in large 
numbers. That large scale sup- 
port would not be forthcoming 
any longer. Instead the Muslims 
would vote more or less in rela- 
tion to the local situation and for 
or against parties and individu- 
als whom they would like to sup- 
port or defeat. 

The phase of Indian politics 
when they would vote en masse 
for one particular party is almost 
over, unless of course the situ- 
ation is so badly mishandled that 
the Muslims feel insecure and 
then of course it becomes an 
abnormal and different situation. 
If they do not feel insecure, as 
does not appear to be too likely, 
they are more likely to vbte as cit- 
izens of the country than as 
members of a particular com- 
munity. Should this come to 
pass, as one hopes it will, it 
would be a healthy development 
and, in that sense, a step in the 
right direction. 


to the welfare of their entire pop- 
ulation irrespective of their caste 
and creed as enshrined in the 
constitution. Therefore, the 
statement from the political party 
dominated by the majority com- 
munity is ridiculous. It is high time 
that all the political parties took 
it on their shoulders the respon- 
sibility of creating sense of Indi- 
anness to have oneness with 
pride to enable the country to 
meet all challenging situations. It 
will be an appropriate action to 
restore confidence in the Mus- 
lims if the BJP statement in ques- 
tion is condemned in the 
parliament. 

repressive measures ranging 
from police brutality to commun- 
ication aggression. To do all this 
with a stamp of law you have the 
59th Amendment. We are going 
to see more of such measures. 
Democratic forces in responding 
to this situation have to take into 
account the new shades author- 
itarianism at the present stage. 


Delhi Epidemic 


lected so far, 138 samples from 
the hand-pumps and tube-wells 
in Nand Nagri, Sunder Nagri, 
Tahirpur, Maujpur and adjoining 
areas have been found ’unfit’ for 
drinking." 

Another question that should 
be asked is : why is it that it had 
not been able to keep the poor 
and illiterate informed about the 
rehydration drink treatment for 
such diseases involving dehy- 
dration? Do we have to wait for 
such a serious epidemic to start 


continued from page 5 

taking such important messages 
to huts and slums? Several lives 
would have been saved if there 
was adequate consciousness 
about this cheap treatment 
involving water, salt and sugar 
only. 

Lastly, it needs to be recorded 
carefully that even when the epi- 
demic was in headlines at least 
two big demolitions took place in 
the hut colonies of Delhi - one in 
Kabul Lines, Delhi Cantt, and the 
other one in the posh locality of 
Chankyapuri. 


20 August - 4 September 1988 


15 



Delhi Postal Reglsteration No. D(SE) 15/86 


Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India R.No.45763 

THE 

FORUM 

, — — GAZETTE - 


Congress(I) 


By Amrik Singh 

O ne thing that became 
more than apparent in 
the recent by-elections 
was that by and large the Mus- 
lims had not voted for the Con- 
gress (I). There was no clear or 
uniform pattern and it varied from 
constitutency to constituency. 
But this much was clear that the 
earlier situation when the Con- 
gress (I) could count upon the 
Muslims as a 'vote bank’ no 
longer obtains. This is a cause 
for disquiet as far as the ruling 
party is concerned. How pre- 
cisely the problem is dealt with 
remains to be seen. However 
some of the factors which have 
a bearing on the situation need 
to be brought into the open. 

Basic Things 

A t this stage, two basic 
things must be recog- 
nised. One, the Muslims 
are no longer in that frame of 
mind in which they were after 
1947. Things have changed a 
great deal since then. The estab- 
lishment of Bangladesh in 1971 
in particular brought about a sig- 
nificant change in their outlook. 
That single development under- 
lined one fact for the majority of 
them: they were here to stay. 

The establishment of Pakistan 
might have aroused certain aspi- 
rations and impulses but those 
could not be given any more 
importance than a phenomenon 
which had no doubt occurred in 
a given set of circumstances but 
which could neither be repeated 
nor relied upon to yield anything 
more than it had yielded. To 
some extent, its backlash had 
been even negative in character. 
In other words, the Muslim voter 
today is, as things go, mature in 
outlook and likes to decide in 
relation to the problems that face 
him and the individuals for or 
against whom he has to vote. 

Secondly, the manner in which 
Muslims read to problems is not 
uniform all over the country. It 
varies from state to state. For 
instance, the Ram-Janam 
Bhoomi and Babri Masjid dispute 
has quite an impact in U.P. and 
Bihar. To some extent in M.P. 
and Rajasthan, too. Put another 
way, the kind of reaction one 
sees in the Hindi-speaking belt is 
somewhat different from what 
one sees in states like Maha- 
rashtra, Karnataka, Andhra and 
so on. In the non-Hindi speaking 
states, the local problems weigh 
on their minds much more deci- 
sively than is the case in the 
Hindi-speaking belt. 

Aurangabad Case 

T he recent trouble in 
Aurangabad is a case in 
point. Aurangabad, as is 
widely known, was under the 


Nizam before 1947. The situation 
since then has changed a good 
deal. Not only has the overall 
population of the city undergone 
a drastic change in terms of pop- 
ulation, there is also a marked 
change in regard to the social 
and economic life of the city. The 
Muslim elite which ruled the roost 
during the Nizam days has more 
or less got dethroned. Further- 
more, there has been consider- 
able inflow of Hindu population 
into the city and so on. All this 
has meant a significant shift in 
the social and economic stand- 
ing of the Muslims who are per- 
ceived as some kind of a threat 
by the emergent Hindu popula- 
tion in that city. 

In its quest for power, the Shiv 
' Sena has chosen to move out of 
Bombay and Aurangabad pro- 
vided a good point of entry into 
the Marathwada area. The 
unexpected entry of the Shiv 
Sena in that city led to a riot in 
the short run and a change in the 
person of the Chief Minister of 
Maharashtra in the long run. It 
requires no effort to show that 
while the exit of S.B. Chavan 
from Maharashtra had been on 
the cards for quite some time, 
what finally triggered it off was 
the emergence of Shiv Sena as 
a political force in Aurangabad. 
It became clear to the Congress 
(I) that S.B. Chavan who might 
be capable otherwise would not 
be able to deliver the goods in 
the next election. Sharad Pawar 
seemed to be a better bet from 
that point of view and that is how 
the change was brought about. 
All this is widely accepted and it 
should not be necessary to dilate 
on this subject. 

Dual Policy 

W hat however needs to 
be understood is the 
fact that the Congress 
(I) cannot follow one policy in 
Maharashtra and another policy 
in the Hindi-speaking belt. 
Sharad Pawar has to meet the 
challenge of the Shiv Sena. That 
can be done only if the Muslims 
are protected in that state. And 
if Muslims are protected in Maha- 
rashtra, surely they cannot be 
exposed to attack elsewhere. 
This is the dilemma in which the 
Congress (I) is caught and its 
significance should not be mini- 
mised. 

One does not have to go into 
the details of the Babri Masjid 
issue. Those have been written 
about at great length by a large 
number of people. One thing is 
clear. The problem need not 
have arisen but for a decision by 
someone at some stage that the 
status quo be unfrozen. The sit- 
uation had remained frozen for 
about four decades. All of a 
sudden it was unfrozen. In con- 
sequence an issue which had 
laid buried for so many years 
emerged out of nowhere and 


And The Muslims 



became a live, political issue. It 
is pointless to go into as to who 
all did it. Was it the then Chief 
Minister of U.P. or was it Arun 
Nehru or was it the PM himself? 
All kinds of things are alleged but 
in the absence of anything def- 
inite, nothing can be affirmed. 
What is more relevant, however, 
is: what did the emergence of 
this particular issue lead to? 

Punjab Example 

I n this regard two things need 
to be noted. One was the 
Punjab situation at that time. 
An accord had been signed with 


the late Sant Longowal but not 
implemented faithfully and 
honestly. Not only that, there was 
a general atmosphere of Hindu 
resurgence and the moment the 
Ram Janam Bhoomi issue 
exploded, the whole thing sud- 
denly acquired a new edge and 
a new momentum. Even if its 
connection with Punjab is dis- 
counted, of this there should be 
no doubt that the political atmos- 
phere got surcharged with emo- 
tion and the eruption of this issue 
did play a part in intensifying the 
emotions further. 

To put it somewhat bluntly, the 
Congress(l) which had already 


played upon the Hindu sentiment 
at the time of the Eighth General 
Election went a step further and 
created a situation for that sen- 
timent to focus on and rally 
around it. Developments since 
then have led to a situation 
where strong positions have 
been taken on both sides and the 
atmosphere is once again sur- 
charged with emotion. 

Secondly, in 1987, there was 
a move by the Babri Masjid 
Action Committee to register a 
protest in regard to this issue by 
boycotting the Republic Day cel- 
ebration. The protest move fiz- 
zled out and now once again 
on page IS 


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... a breed apart! The right choice 


16 


20 August - 4 September 1988 


Published and Printed by A.S. Narang for Ekta Trust 2-26 Sarvapriya Vihar, New Delhi-110016 at Mercury Printers Choorivalan, Delhi-110006