Whether in 21st Century, India is determined to go forward to match and surpass other countries of the world or to go backward to and go down in the status, in comity of nation? Our government and people in 2010-11 thereafter are to decide. Whether perpetuation of caste system and inclusion of caste in the Census of 2011 will take India forward or to 19th-20th century or even in medieval times, in social set up.
There are only four castes in Hinduism viz Khatri, Brahm in Vaish and Shudar. It is well known that independent India’s constitution was framed mainly by Ambedkar, there was not only caste system but untouchability. The constitution of 1950 banned untouchability. This was first landmark in the creation of equality amongst all Indians. The next step was to ban caste system but the constitution gave just 15 years, to eliminate it by 1965, by improving economically their conditions. But unfortunately it was not implemented but extended time and again and worst part is that by including caste in the census of 2011 this will perpetuate caste system and legalize it.
Now, in addition, the Jats are insisting that they should be included in OBC’s ie other backward classes. Many Jats and Yadavs are rich and prosperous landlords and prominent, through higher education, than many of other so-called upper castes. They are holding high positions in Defence forces, civil services, business and business administration engineering and technology. Above all a number of Jats and Yadavs are Chief Ministers, Cabinet ministers and holding influential positions in politics of Centre and many states. Do they need benefits and reservations like other backward classes? Are the children of Hooda, Mulayam Singh, Badal and Lalu Prasad Yadav, to name a few, who are already ministers, or were Chief Ministers need reservations and special benefits?
How the caste census will operate amongst Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Budhists, Tribals and Parsees, Muslims have no caste system, there are only two sects, Shias and Sunnis. Christians also have no caste system, there are only Catholics and Protestants. Under Sikhism caste has been forbidden Kairon. Barnala and Badal and Dr Manmohan Singh never mentioned their caste. In Buddhists there is no caste system at all so is in Parsees. How all Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsees as well as tribals will be asked to give their caste in the forthcoming census of 2011?
Educated Indians, in particular, all over the country must rise and oppose inclusion of caste in census. Thousands of crores of rupees which will be sheer wastage but could be used for the uplift or poor workers, landless labourers in villages and poor labourers in urban areas. It may further be understood that caste system, its perpetuation by caste census, will perpetuate ‘Khap’ politics and so called Honour Killings in Haryana, Punjab and Tamil Nadu and elsewhere. Recently a young girl killed her mother in Haryana in ‘Honour Killing’ bringing, in fact, dishonour to the entire family.
Enumeration of caste in census of 2011 seems to be ultravires to the 1950 constitution of Republic of India. The constitution highlights, democracy and equality and a casteless society where all Indian citizens are equal. However, the government should have done to raise the living standard of 35 percent poor Indians by setting up small industries in and around rural areas and their employment at reasonably good minimum wage. That was the way. But the present government followed absolutely wrong way which would take India backward. Even now people should appeal to Supreme Court for considerate advice or even decision whether inclusion of caste in 2011 census violates the constitution of India? If so it should disallow 2011 caste census.
This is such an issue which has far reaching consequences for the whole nation and for all the time to come. Manmohan Singh government instead of hastily deciding for enumeration of caste in 2011 census should have consulted the National integration Council. It is noteworthy and guiding principle, which India’s First Prime Minister advocated at the national integration council meeting attended by all the Chief Ministers that “help (to poor) should be given on economic considerations and not on caste.” This statement of Prime Minster Nehru should be a guiding principle of the government led by Manmohan Singh as PM and Sonia Gandhi as Congress and UPA president. They must not be led by narrow political considerations of vote bank politics and tarnish the image of ever rising India which is likely to be top ranking country in another 20 years, surpassing UK, other European countries and even USA.
He had all the praise for India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru none for Sardar Patel though he said that with the independence of India in 1947, the phoenix had truly risen from the ashes. But why, how and which circumstances and policies caged the phoenix after independence. It was infact Nehru’s socialistic pattern of society and indifference to India’s economic growth coupled with his love for Mountbatten family that kept India caged. A couple of years after freedom when Ironman like Sardar Patel were no more, private enterprise and private industries were not allowed in Nehru era, so the industrial progress as per GDP was nil or hardly sometimes 1 or 2 percent per annum. Thus phoenix that flew for a couple of years after independence was grounded and remained so for more than three decade. Phoenix was no longer caged and started flying high and very high since Dr Manmohan Singh was made India’s Finance Minister and state controlled economy was replaced by free private enterprise under Narsimah Rao’s government. As a result in a decade Industries GDP rose from 1 percent to 8 to 10 percent annum.
Despite recession in the world and crisis in US and European economy, India is still flying high because of tremendous development in electronics particularly software. India has not gone back to socialism or socialistic pattern of economy. Rightly Gupta praises Indians talent but criticizes disregard for Indian’s competence at home:
“Standards have been so lowered at home that ambitious Indians are often forced to realize their potential abroad Indians are doing well in USA, UK and Europe as Software experts…… while Indian professionals have a great reputation abroad for their competence, they do not shine in the same way in their motherland. There are many reasons for this, but most importantly intellectuals are generally uncomfortable with political graft and craft. What came as a surprise to me is that the actual amount allotted by the state in Research and Development has come down over the years. Naturally the best and the brightest are tempted to leave for foreign shores and can we blame them? Instead of asking why such skilled professionals head westwards, every time a non-resident Indian does well abroad, it is happy have at home.”
The question arises, after having paid such a high tribute to Indian professionals intellect and performance abroad bringing good name to India, why has Gupta thought and wrote whether India will fly at all or not? While in USA it is evident that Gupta was influenced by American thinking about India as well as by his close associate Mary Anne Weaver his contemporary at Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholers (WWICS). “She was a great source of encouragement, friendship and flattery. She buoyed up my spirits before and after every academic encounter, I had at the WWICS and is also responsible for the title of the book”. Gupta further adds to India and Indian’s bewilderment, “As for the text, she has done what she could to improve my communicative skills”.
It becomes clear that not only the title of the Book but much of the ideas and description about India are more by his American associates than by Gupta an Indian himself. It is also evident that Gupta was much more influenced by American Scholars whom he considered more educated, experienced and clearheaded. In his own words:
“ I am not at all certain that this book could have been written, warts and all, were I anywhere else…… while I was in Washington DC, I took the opportunity of testing my views and findings with a larger audience in different universities. A roadshow seemed the best way to New York, Baltimore, Maryland, Illinois and New Jersey and learnt a lot from my discussions there.”
After having written so much about Mary Anne Weaver and Americans, it would have been better if Gupta had added the name of Weaver on the title of the book along with his own name. Even President Obama has made mention of Bangalore as ‘electronic hub of India’ and has urged American students electronic aspirants and workers to follow the example of Indian students and workers and do hard work.
Thus there is no question of the caged phoenix and of question mark: Can India fly? India is no longer caged phoenix and will never be so in view of all round progress, the movement of which has not slowed down or halted during the world economic crises of 2008 to 2010. Dipankar Gupta though pays half hearted tribute to Indian students intelligence, hard work and perseverance. To an extent he is right in condemning India’s politics and corrupt politicians. But that does not mean than India is caged phoenix and it is doubtful whether it will break the cage and fly.
In the outset, it must be said that title of the book is not appropriate and appealing. For instance, “Red Sun’ is imitation of Red Star over China. The sub-title ‘Travels in Naxalite Country, too, is not befitting. It gives wrong impression as if Naxalites already have their own country. Country is a sovereign state. India is a country, so is USA, UK, France, Germany, China, Russia and Pakistan, to name the few. Naxalite, in India are spread over in the forest areas of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, MP, and Andhra. They are fighting and killing hundreds of innocent people, men women and Children and the Security forces of these areas. When the majority of armed Naxalites upto 10,000, as the author himself says “are largely secreted in the forests and remote villages, how can this unconnected forest area can be called Naxalite Country. These are simply terrorists or Naxalites hideouts.
Some of the major terrorists attacks before Dantewada massacre of 76 security personnel, almost all of them belonging to CRPF, were massacred while asleep are described by the author, as here under. Naxalites, in 2004 and 2005, imitating Mao Tse Tungs long March in China, hundreds of Armed Naxalites entrenched themselves in the nearby forest areas of Koraput district of Orissa and simultaneously attacked Distt headquarters and armoury, unexpected by Koraput administration and police and captured 400 to 500 weapons, including self loading ,as well as: 303 rifles, light machine guns and other machine guns, hand grenades, revolvers, pistols plus huge amount of ammunition. A similar attack by armed Naxalites took place in November 2005 in Jharkhand. They had targeted a prison and got freed 140 or more their jailed fellows. Yet another attack in Feb 2006, Naxalites captured and took away more than 20 tons of explosives to manufacture their own bombs. Process of making bombs some of Naxalites of South India had learnt from Tamil Tigers.
In June-July 2006, as pointed out in book under review, Karnataka home minister announced in the assembly that “members of 5000 families in Bangalore alone were in one way or another involved in Naxalites activities.” This seems to be an exaggeration to conceal his failure in administration of the state. Yet it is true that Naxalites have sympathizers, out of fear or conviction, in areas near their hideouts and adjoining areas, mostly because of fear and poverty to give them information about the presence of Security forces.
West Bengal CM Buddhadeb claimed that West Bengal does not have Maoist or Naxalite problem. The Naxalite Maoists from adjoining States of Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar that create problem off and on, which are being locally handled effectively. Maoists have hardly “200 cadres” in West Bengal. Dalma squad comes from the industrial city of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand which creates trouble. Otherwise West Bengal is comparatively far from Maoist activities of jail break and killing. The author in his visits found that CPI (Maoist) and CPI (ML) had often quarreled. One of the ML cadre senior (Kavita) told him that Maoists had been killing their people. She says “The fact is they have killed ML cadre. Our office was attacked in Paliganj in the dead of night. Five people were killed….there was lot of demand for retaliation. But our leader, Dipanka Bhattacharya, kept requesting our cadre to not retaliate but work politically to isolate these people.
As pointed out above there have been many instances of attacks and loot of arms and killing in Jharkhand, in Koraput district of Orissa and Uttrakhand, which are going on more vigorously in 2007 to 2010. There does not seem to be end of these killings by Maoists, Naxalites despite loss of hundreds of Maoists, hundreds of Civilians and hundreds of security personnel every year. What is the solution? Can the Maoists and Naxalites be eliminated by our security forces? Recently four police officers of Bihar were captured by Maoists, one of them killed, while the other were got released without accepting their condition of freeing 8 Maoists from Bihar jails, though negotiations went on for a week with Bihar CM Nitish kumar. There is no regret from either side and no assurance that such a capture of police or security officers will not occur again. In his book ‘Red Sun’ Sundeep Chakarvarti has only described at length about the Maoists activities but has not suggested a solution.
Few years back Govt of India decided to offer paid job and accommodation to those Maoists who surrender unconditionally. But none or very few have come forward. Government, in collaboration with affected 6-7 state governments has to find out a new and lasting solution to this menace. Even on 12th Sept 2010 there has been a massive attack by Maoists, as reported. Maoists or Naxalites are Indian citizens. India has to understand their problems and solve them with patience.
For permanent peace and development, it seems essential that there should be unconditional negotiations between government of India’s representatives and Maoists leaders, offering all the adivasi tribals full equality with Indian citizens, free education by establishing many schools in Adivasi area, their right to vote, employment facilities,by setting up small industries employing most of adivasis and those ousted from their areas near forests and mines. If the government takes steps to provide all these facilities to ousted adivasis it is likely that Maoists will reciprocate and surrender arms and become peaceful citizens.
It is unprecended, not only in India but in the whole of world that doctors (in Jodhpur hospital) remained on strike for little more than there days, resulting in the death of 57 patients because of immoral and irrational negligence of doctors. Now it is confirmed that 37 patients lost their lives because they remained unattended by doctors. Even death due to negligence (non-attendance) by doctors is unpardonable. Obviously they did not realize the pain, suffering and cries of the kith and kin of those who passed away in hospitals unattended. Some must have lost the only bread winner of the family. How will the family manage and survive now? Some might have lost the only child and they will cry for years and may be throughout their lives. Who can console them and how? Some might have lost their mothers, from where they will get mothers to love them as much as a mother who has given the birth can only do.
In Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital there was complete strike though even for one day. However it was claimed that its Out Patient Department (DPD) continued to function. In a hospital where daily 6000 patients visit OPD how all the patients be attended properly when most of the doctors were on strike and all the departments of 1800 beded hospital were closed? How can patients with serious ailments like that of heart, kidney or pregnancy be attended properly and carefully? However it is satisfying that the strike in Safdarjug Hospital was called off after one day and not like Jodhpur hospital where it went on for 3 days causing lot of deaths.
Reason for going on strike by hundreds of doctors in Jodhpur and Delhi is the same. In Jodhpur one doctor is said to have been assaulted by the relatives of a patient who died. While in Delhi it is said that such assault on doctors occurred three times. Doctors say that there is not enough and proper security for them to be able to perform their duties. True, but the way out is not total strike. It could be, to be rational and keeping in view the oath of doctors to serve the patients and medical rules, the concerned doctors who were assaulted could protest, go on strike and even on hunger strike to attract the attention of state and hospital authorities. But under no circumstances total and uncalled for strike could be justified. This action of Jodhpur hospital and Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital doctors for going on total strike can not be forgiven and forgotten. Though to an extent state governments, Central Health Ministry and the apex medical organization, too, have not done enough and in time to avert or even bring an end to the strike in few hours. They should also take steps so in future there are no assaults on doctors. At least government of India, if need be through constitutional amendment declare medical services of doctors and other hospital staff as an essential service and permanently ban the strikes in hospitals.
There have been strikes and bunds in many states, particularly in West Bengal where there is every now then a state or Kolkata bund. In Kerala,too, there have been quite a number of strikes and bunds. Recently there has been strike in banks, by Airline staff and by MCD staff in Delhi. Industrial workers in many countries of the world have earned right to go on strike to get higher pay because of inflation etc and get more benefits. In India, too, industries, private industries, in particular, may continue to exercise right to strike. All strikes and bunds result into suffering by the affected people and loss in government or industries income. For example as Airline Services did not operate on the day of strike, thousands of crores of rupees were lost. Strike by bank employees caused suffering and loss to thousands who were committed to draw money and make payment as promised.
To sum it up, strike in all essential services should be banned. Government and industry should be, first of all, consider to the demand of workers, through their trade unions and discuss much in advance with the representatives of trade unions and concede to their just demands so that there is no strike. Leaders of uncalled for and unjustified strike, as recently in Jodhpur hospital, in particular. Should be punished, in accordance with law and with the advice of concerned heads of industry or organization as the ease may be.
It is well known that urban population is increasing very fast, not so in European countries and America where there is lot of urbanization but in Asia and Africa, particularly in India. For example during last 50 years Delhi’s population before independence was hardly 5 lakhs. In 1947 due to partition of India about 4,70,000 refugees came from Pakistan and settled in Delhi. Since then Delhi’s population had been increasing in percentage more than any other city of India and perhaps anywhere in the world. It is estimated to be now more than 1 crore. In 50 years Delhi’s population has grown ten fold. Similarly India’s population after independence was only 35 crores but in 2010 it is estimated to be more than 105 crores, 300 percent increase.
Inevitably problems of housing, infrastructure, health, education and transport have increased manifold though India’s GDP has been rising, particularly since India abandoned Nehru’s socialist pattern of society with rationing and controls and virtually ban in private enterprise in industry, GDP since Narsimha Rao became PM and appointed Dr. Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister, private enterprises boomed exceptionally and slowly and steadily. GDP also increased from 1% to 8 to 10 percent per annum. Thus, as was inevitable urban population increased tremendously because laborers from villages moved to cities for well paid jobs. Education, too, spread all around and more and more workers got trained for better jobs in industry and even agriculture because of Green Revolution. Thus increase in urbanization gives more opportunities and also demands more facilities by the government and municipal administrators.
Government of India in 1992 passed 74th Constitutional Bill amendments restructuring Indian federal system thus empowering rural and urban local bodies. This led to decentralization of authority and power to be used according to requirement of urban highly populated cities like Delhi Bombay, Calcutta to frame their own local and regional laws to meet the needs of time and specific requirement of each city and village or Panchayat requirements. These amendments are historic and ever lasting. Because of these constitutional amendments Delhi state could do its best, without further constitutional amendment, to use resources to the requirement of Common Wealth Games because unprecedented rains, water logging and corruption to complete the required infrastructure, stadium and housing requirements of the visitors to important event in Delhi and India, success of which would be India’s honour. Success of CWG despite many bottlenecks, natural and man-made, will make India shine.
Decentralization under 74th constitutional amendment of 1992 meant that central Government of India and state governments were to devolve powers and functions to about 3000 urban local bodies in the country. It became mandatory for state governments to pass legislations to empower local bodies in the state. In compliance with 1992 constitutional amendment Municipal Corporation of Delhi(MCD) is one of the largest in the world as it provides civic amenities to about one crore forty lakh, i.e. 14 million people living in union territory of Delhi or Delhi State. In 1992, an elected government for National Territory of Delhi was constituted with 70 legislative council Members with a Chief Minister of Delhi. It came into operation to deal with complex problems of national capital, cantonment, old Delhi and rural areas of the union territory.
Maharashtra government passed Nagarpalka Act in April 1994, entrusting, Municipal powers, functions and responsibilities to urban Local Bodies and wards committee.
Similar provisions, suiting each state have been made in all states. There are also provisions, for urban Environmental management. Management and disposal of waste products. Provisions for squaterers settlements, particularly in Delhi’s Jhuggi Jhampri clusters.
West Bengal Government in compliance with 47th CCA of 1992 set up a Metrolian Planning Committee which covers three Municipal Corporations, 38 municipalities and 133 panchayats.
Tamilnadu government in pursuance of 74th constitutional amendment of 1992, focused it intention on Chennai Metropolitan area inhabited by about 5 million people consisting of Chennai corporation area, eight municipalities and many town panchayats surrounding it. In the municipalities sate appointed commissioners and elected local governments have the responsibility to see the development from all aspects.
To sum it up, 74th constitutional Amendment of 1992 was a landmark in the development of all the major cities of the country. Every state, as some examples have been given above, set up requisite committees, urban councils, panchayats and other institutions required and recommended by the 74th amendment. There is no doubt that there is allround improvement in the urban development all over the country particularly the overpopulated cities of Delhi the national capital, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
William Dalrymple, a renowned Writer has called the present American war in Afghanistan as 2nd Afghan war. First Afghan war was fought in 1842-1843 when England in its arrogance as a supreme power, attacked Afghanistan and suffered the most humiliating defeat when British East India Company lost 40,000 soldiers, only 40-50 were able to survive Afghan onslaught. As it was East India Company’s folly in 1840, so is the American folly under George Bush in the year 2000. In 19th Century England as biggest and strongest colonial power in which, as they said,’ Sun never set’, thought of conquering Afghanistan or at least subduing it, so that it does not, as it was feared, join the Russian czarists against British. Similarly USA considered itself, after the breakup of USSR, the only super power in the world. Accordingly USA thought that it can subdue Afghanistan, after dominating Latin America and whole of Europe as the founder and organizer of NATO and its dominant and supreme leader.
USA forgot about its virtual defeat in China, where after the war in 1945, it intervened on the side of Chiang Kai Shek against Mao communist movement and after a prolonged struggle lost whole of Chinese mainland and Chiang had to flee. America also failed to recall or learn lesson from its humiliating defeat in Vietnam where 80,000 American soldiers lost their lives and ultimately USA had to evacuate its diplomatic staff and some other military personnel, who survived, by helicopters from the roof of American Embassy building. Yet America unnecessarily intervened in Afghanistan a decade back to annihilate Talibans who were in fact American creation with the help of Pakistan to turn out Russian soldiers from Afghanistan and topple the communist government of Kabul in which they succeeded because of fight and sacrifice by Taliban of Afghanistan, though USA had provided them money, arms and equipment.
Afghanistan’s present puppet regime of Karzai which hardly controlled one third of Afghanistan and despite American bombing in the hideouts of Taliban for the last almost 10 years they could not defeat or ever demoralize Talibans. Taliban are resentful of USA because they feel that when they attacked Russian soldiers to turn them out of Afghanistan USA and Pakistan considered them as “freedom fighters” and now they consider Taliban as enemies and terrorists and have been killing them, their women and children in Afghanistan as well as in parts of Pakistan, NWFP and Baluchistan by incessant daily attacks by drones and other means.
Now Talibans instead of being defeated and accepting defeat are encircling Kabul and its adjoining territories with a view to over throw Karzai government and end American intervention. America has already lost thousands of American soldiers as well as NATO soldiers. It is reported on 5th Sept 2010 that America and NATO have lost 500 soldiers up to August, while during whole of 2009 only 500 were lost as per Reuters tally. After having ended US combat operation or war in Iraq. President Obama is now realizing the inability of USA to eliminate Talibans, so is preparing for withdrawal of US combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2010. Obama seems to be determined man and believing in peace and harmony is likely to succeed in ending war in Afghanistan as he has done in Iraq. Obama rightly thinks it is more important to devote time and money for development of US economy which has suffered a lot during 2008 and 2010. By the end of 2010, as Karzai has set up a committee to negotiate with Taliban America, NATO and in fact whole world will be relieved, thank him and appreciate his efforts. Obama has also called to USA Israeli PM and Palestinian President to discuss and agree for lasting peace. Another meeting has been called for Sept 14-15 to finalize the agreement. Obama is likely to succeed.
It is high time that India should realize the futility of helping Karzai government with construction of Infrastructure and sending to Afghanistan hundreds of Indian workers. Government of India have 3 months to steadily reduce the Indian Embassy staff and Indian workers, in view of hostility of Talibans towards India. Talibans believe that India has been serving American interests as American ally like other NATO countries without militarily supporting American war in Afghanistan. Talibans even consider Pakistan as their enemy and are attacking now and then with suicide bombing even places far off as Quetta and Lahore. In India, too, Taliban are helping Kashmiri dissidents with arms and men to create unrest, in a revengeful manner. Thus government of India should give first priority to end American sponsored assistance to Afghanistan and start recalling back Indian workers.