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August - September 2005

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Prime Minister honoured by his alma mater
Oxford University honoured Dr.Manmohan Singh with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his role as “statesman and enlightened economist”. Speaking on the occasion, the Prime minister made some interesting observations about the legacy of British Raj in India. “It used to be said that the sun never sets on the British Empire. I am afraid we were partly responsible for sending that adage out of fashion”, quipped Dr. Manmohan Singh. In the same breath, lest the learned old scholars around him resent his slight dig on the British Raj, the Prime Minister offered a hot brew, “if there is one phenomenon on which the sun cannot set, it is the world of English-speaking people, in which the people of Indian origin are the single largest component.”
Some of his comments provoked criticism from the BJP spokesmen as well as the left parties. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, vice-president of BJP termed it as an insulting statement as “No Indian can describe British rule in India as an example of good governance as it was full of atrocities and barbarism.”
Well, to tell the truth, neither Mr. Naqvi nor Mr Manmohan Singh nor even Sonia Gandhi were freedom fighters. That tribe of ‘freedom fighters for the country’s independence’ has receded fast.


Pranab Mukherjee’s Indo-US defence pact
Instead of welcoming indo-US defence pact which has opened the way for India to outsmart Pakistan and its special relationship with the United States, the left parties in India have threatened to launch a countrywide agitation against the pact. terming it as against Common Minimum Programme.. The left parties consider the agreement to be an extension of the previous NDA government’s policy towards the United States. It fears that the pact may put India under obligation to participate in military campaigns around the world under US leadership.
Well, who did support India when Chinese communists entered Assam in Indo-China war of 1962? It was none other the USA which forced Pakistan to withdraw from Kargil and respect LOC as if it were international borders. United States is fighting the forces of evil; and it is in our interest to support it.
What are your views? Please email or post your reply to us.

LK Advani Hits Back
L.K. Advani shrugged aside the Allahabad high Court Order in the Babri Masjid demolition case, and suggested that he might go to Supreme Court.
Defending the need for a special law to curb terrorism, Mr. Advani blamed the UPA government for repealing Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). He emphasised, “A special law is required to deal with terrorism - we had made one but to please a particular section of the society the UPA government repealed it.”
Whether POTA could have saved the attack on Ayodhya, he was not sure. But “a terrorist attack was mde at the Ram Janam Bhoomi complex in Ayodhya”, he pointed out. “Terrorism has acquired a global proportion. The ugly face of terrorism that India had been witnessing for over two decades was yesterday witnessed by London and a couple of years ago by USA during the 9/11 attacks”, he added, responding to his reaction about London bombing on July 7.
Meanwhile, RSS top leadership has diluted its attack on Advani’s leadership, especially after the resignation of BJP national Secretary Sudheendra Kulkarni. Kulkarni was held responsible for advising Advani on his speech about Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s secular credentials in Karachi. RSS leaders are now reluctant to force the issue of Advni’s leadership. It seems both sides have made an unwritten understanding that Advani would remain in office til the concluding session of BJP’s Silver Jubilee celebation in Mumbai in December. By that time the Bihar election results will be out. The outcome of the election may change the plan. If NDA wins in Bihar, it would raise Advani’s stature not only in the NDA but within BJP as well. He may be allowed to complete his full three-year tenure.
Meanwhile, Advani urged the Congress-led UPA government to extend a helping hand in accomplishing the BJP’s unfulfilled dream of building a grand Ram temple at Ayodha. He said, “The people of India will never be satisfied until a grand temple is built at the birthplace of Ram.”

Shiv Sena Splits
Narayan Rane, one time chief minister of Maharashtra resigned as the leader of the Opposition in Maharashtra State Assembly after a prolonged conflict with UdhoThackeray, the son of Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena Chief. It is possible that together with his twelve supporters in the state assembly, Narayan Rane may now join National Congress Party of Sharad Pawar.

Just over two years ago I passed an elegant old war memorial in the middle of a wide road in the centre of Jabalpur, which is truly in the Heart of India. I just managed to read ‘In memory of All the Men of all classes and creeds who sacrificed their lives …’ I could not read the full inscription as we drove by, but that most poignant of phrases sums up the sacrifice of so many in the twentieth century.
In the 4th century BC Aristotle said ‘we make war that we might live in peace…’ and then several hundred years later Calgacus, chief of the Picts, the then inhabitants of my native Scotland said ‘They have made a desert and they call it peace…’ referring to the conquering Roman army. Those phrases are as pertinent to day as when they were first uttered.
Whether it is a ‘just and moral’ war or an act of folly, the men and now the men and women of a nation’s armed forces pay the price and suffer the costs. These are our unsung HEROES. Bertold Brecht used the line ‘Pity the nation that has no heroes..’ to which the sneering rejoinder was ‘Pity the nation that needs heroes…’ Well my friends we all need heroes, to whom we can look up and show respect and use as icons and models for our lives. Heroes I repeat, NOT celebrities; the men and women of our armed forces are unsung heroes and those of the Indian Army in the last century fighting this country’s wars were superb. By the end of the First World War 1,500,000 people from the Indian Subcontinent, in what was British India, had served overseas, at a cost of 60,000 dead. Some 9.200 soldiers won decorations, including 11 VCs. In the Second World War the Indian Army grew to two and a half million men, the largest volunteer force the world has ever seen. The two world wars resulted in a loss of 87,000 men from the Indian Sub-continent who died for us; in the horror and turmoil of war acts of great courage and nobility generally go unnoticed – but we must not forget these true unsung heroes. As a daughter of an Indian Army’s soldier and mother of a British Army’s soldier these facts are not just academic but something with which I have grown up and the Indian Army is a body of men and women of whom I, and all Indians should remain immensely proud.
As we venerate this July all those who gave ‘Their Today’ 60 years ago and more – we will continue to Remember Them – All Men of All Classes and Creeds.

Aline Dobbie

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