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October - November 2004

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India’s President in South Africa
India’s President, Mr. APJ Abdul Kalam, on a four-day visit to South Africa, said that India wanted to achieve peace in the subcontinent through economic development but would safeguard its interests on issues such as Kashmir. He pointed out, at a join briefing with South African President Thabo Mbeki, that India was on the talking table with Pakistan. Discussions were taking place at various levels. He emphasised that India was busy in developmental activities; and it is only development that would help bring about lasting peace in the region.

India goes up the ladder on world travel map
Conde Nast Traveller, a travel publication in its annual readers’ traveller awards announced that India was now No. 6 among the top ten destinations, going up three steps from number nine last year. The credit for this of course goes to Mr. Jagmohan, the ex-Minister of Tourism whose campaign ‘incredible India’ proved a great success. The new Union Tourism Minister Renuka Choudhary responded with the comments that the world was ‘rediscovering’ India. The Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards is based on the readers’nominations, which follow a list of criteria. India got high points for its cultural diversity, hospitality and for being ‘value for money’.
The top destination award this year went to Australia, followed by Thailand and New Zealand.
(Your comments: Why couldn’t India be in the Top Three? Suggest some ways and means, which would make India a desirable destination for the world.)

Madhya Pradesh Launches a Courageous Drive to wipe out Corruption
Twenty-two Judges sacked for Corruption.
In an unprecedented move, the Chief Minister of BJP-led government in Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Babulal Gaur sacked 22 judges of the lower courts for alleged corruption and irregularities on the recommendation of the High Court. The High Court had recommended their sacking after scrutinising the service records of judges above 50 years who had completed 20 years in service.

The courageous chief minister declared that corruption would not be tolerated at any cost in this state. “Those indulging in financial irregularities will not be spared and similar offensive is being mounted on corruption in various government departments,” said Babulal Gaur. The chief minister added that he had directed all departments to identify employees indulging in corrupt practices and irregularities and prepare their list to ensure quick action.
(What about the ministers and the members of the legislative assembly? Has anyone started scrutinising their past records? What would you do if one of your ministers were found corrupt? Will you be able to show courage? (Comments from the readers invited).

The Saga of the Census
The hullabaloo made by various political parties about the result of the Census 2001 revealed more the nature of Indian political scene than any scientific analysis of Sociological trends in India Society as revealed by the statistics shown in the Census 2001. The naivete of the Minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal can be gauged from his statement that ‘religion-based census achieves no good’. The congress government had discarded it; but the BJP revived the practice. He blamed ‘hardcore Hindu organisations’ for exploiting the issue as elections in some parts of the country are nearing. Mr. Jaiswal is of course in favour of the two-child norm for various communities, including Muslims, as that would help in checking growing population.

Even after taking into account the aberration caused by Jammu & Kashmir census in 2001, the fact remains that the Muslim population in India has increased by 29.6%; whereas that of Hindus the population increase is only 19%. Today, the Muslim population in India is 13%. After the partition of the country, the Muslim population of India was about 7%. Country was partitioned on the basis that certain areas of India with Muslim majority wanted to have a land of their own which would be ruled by Muslims in accordance with the Muslim laws; and which would be a land of the ‘pure’.

The British Establishment (political leaders and the mandarins in the Whitehall) saw the situation in India almost similar to what they had been experiencing in their backyard (Ireland). Consequently, they brought their familiar solution of dividing an ancient country by using a carving knife; and running away from their responsibilities.
Leaders of India, struggling for Independence for years, at last had a glimpse of the cake (the power) and grabbed it, even forgetting the ‘Father of the Nation’ who was on his ‘yatra on foot’ in East Bengal; and had nothing to do with the ‘new political arrangements bestowed on India by the British government

The present-day Congress forgets that numerical strength was the basis of the partition. Today, in democratic India, again power lies with number; whether it is of caste or creed. Almost all political parties encouraged this unhealthy growth. Census reveals nothing but bare facts. Growth in Muslim population or Christian (especially Catholics) community is something more than mere backwardness. Even among Hindus, the lower castes have larger population.

India has been trying in vain to persuade, softly softly, by education. However, even primary education has remained unavailable for 70% of women and 60% of men. Indian illiterates are producing more illiterates whether they are Hindus, Muslims or Christians.
(Is there an end in sight to this misery of overpopulation? Send your views and we will publish them.)

Manmohan Singh visits USA
US President George Bush, receiving the credentials of the new Indian Ambassador to the US, Ronen Sen, in the Oval Office of the White House said that he was looking forward to his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He emphasised that the ‘strategic partnership’ with India was broader and deeper enough to enable to share the goal of working together. Development of close relations with India was one of the high priority goals of his administration. He appreciated the public commitment of the government of India to the continued forward movement in bilateral ties and expressed confidence that under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s leadership, the relationship will be strengthened even further.
He also stressed expansion of Indo-US co-operation in civilian nuclear activities, civilian space programmes, high technology trade and dialogue on missile defence.

Bush pointed out that the positive transformation in the relationship was rooted in common values and interests as democratic societies committed to political freedom, tolerance and the fight against terrorism. “India’s emergence as a rising world power and its development into a market economy is significant to the region and the world,” He said.
President Bush noted with satisfaction the real progress in strengthening defence ties between the two countries and commitment of both countries to defeat terrorism. He said the two nations have suffered at the hands of terrorists.

The President said that the US –India economic relationship presents a significant opportunity for both nations. Indian products and services have done well in the US market, and a vibrant, growing Indian economy should be a magnet for increased American exports and investment.

Jayalalitha goes soft on Sonia after meeting Manmohan Singh
The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalitha, in her three-day visit to New Delhi tried to build bridges with the Congress-led government at the centre. She said that her statements against Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin should not be taken as a ‘personal attack’. “They were not a personal attack at all. Certain issues were raised by political parties during the election campaign. So it was natural for me to highlight certain issues related to governance,” she told at a meeting of reporters at the new state guest house. About Manmohan Singh she said, “He was always a gentleman, a kind soul, personification of tameness and a great man of learning”. She urged the Central government to provide drought relief, persuade the Karnataka government to release its legitimate share of Cauvery water, declare Tamil as an official language, announce ancient Tamil work, Thirukkural, as ‘national literature and help her state in development projects.

She, however, expressed her reservations against the Centre’s decision to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota). “It is our conviction that Pota is necessary for combating terrorism in the new post-September 11 scenario. It is quite perplexing and entirely confusing to see that the government of India has taken such a decision,” she said.
BJP-led states are already on record that they would enact anti-terrorism law if the Congress-led Government at the Centre withdraws Pota.

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