Sri Lanka

Published : Jul 08, 2000 00:00 IST

In the article "The doublespeak in Tamil Nadu" (July 7), Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi is criticised for espousing a plan to divide Sri Lanka on the Czechoslovakian model to end the ethnic strife. But, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo sho uld not be singled out for censure. Some other political parties in Tamil Nadu have been expressing more or less the same "pro-secessionist" and "pro-LTTE" view. Though some of them initially tried to "pretend" to be one with the Centre on upholding Sri Lanka's territorial integrity, they could not for long conceal their real wishes, desires and beliefs in the matter. So they backtracked on their initial stance.

If these political parties support a terrorist organisation that has been resorting to the most horrifying forms of assassination of Sri Lankan Tamil moderate leaders, President Premadasa, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and various others by utilisin g "suicide bombers", they can themselves be charged with being "pro-terrorist" as a means of obtaining their goals. It must not be forgotten that, after all, there was a secessionist movement in Tamil Nadu some decades ago and a demand was voiced for the establishment of an independent Tamil state outside India. Those who claim to speak in the name of India's Tamils, a very intelligent people, should not be allowed to impose their own vengeful and selfish approach towards Sri Lanka on our country.

K. Kumara Sekhar Eluru, Andhra Pradesh* * *

The Tamil United Liberation Front's call to LTTE to come to the negotiating table is timely. Only this would lead to a just and amicable settlement and put an end to human suffering in the island nation.

Let us hope that India, Norway and other nations will play a constructive role in evolving a solution that will be acceptable to both sides.

Dr. A.K. Tharien Oddanchatram, Tamil NaduA people's movement

The Kerala People's Campaign for the Ninth Plan has made it clear that the goal of balanced growth and development could be achieved only with the wholehearted cooperation of those who would benefit by development ("A people's movement," June 23). When t he people actually take charge of processes that lead to development, team spirit builds up and work proceeds quite well. This is the law of group dynamics, be it in agriculture or scientific research.

Sheojee Singh PatnaRajesh Pilot

In the tragic demise of Congress leader Rajesh Pilot ("A committed leader", July 7), we have lost a dedicated leader. Pilot was a true nationalist and a bold politician who never hesitated to criticise his own party.

Abhijeet D. More Nashik, MaharashtraDr. Kotnis

The picture of Madame Guinglan Kotnis with President K.R. Narayanan during his recent China visit ("Facets of contemporary China," June 23) prompted me to read a biographical outline of Dwarakanath Shantaram Kotnis titled Dr. Kotnis in China (Dolp hin Books, Beijing, 1987) in the typical Chinese storybook format with large illustrations and minimal text.

Like most Indians perhaps I had never heard of Dr. Kotnis before and was indeed amazed by the account of his life in China, and his heroic devotion to duty which earned the affection of the people of China and leaders such as Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong.

Maybe it is time for us to make ourselves better informed about Indians such as Dr. Kotnis who devoted their lives for the benefit of people in other nations, just as there are foreigners who have made immense sacrifices for "our" causes. In these days o f increasing ethnic and regional parochialism, which serves political or commercial interests, it would be a shame if we forget the examples of those who rendered selfless service in alien cultures.

T. Tharu ChennaiDrought

The top-down vision of policy-makers, which leads to standardisation and uniformity, make them unable to cope with the complex nature of the problem of drought ("Dealing with drought", June 23).

The onset and ultimate impact of drought is highly region-specific and depends mainly on the socio-economic status of the people living in the affected area. So due importance should be given to local plans for the use of water resources. Activities such as dam construction, canal digging, hydel power generation and channel diversions should not discourage or obstruct people from formulating small, local, low-cost schemes. Techniques adopted by people in Rajasthan, such as kuis, rapats and bao lis, should be encouraged. Wherever feasible, artificial recharging of water sources and rain-water harvesting should be taken up so as to reduce the dependence on distant sources of water supply.

Reforestation and cultivation of crops that are drought resistant can go a long way in tackling drought. The need of the hour is to adopt holistic approach, integrating indigenous knowledge with modern technology.

Sudhakar Prasad Patna* * *

This has reference to Lyla Bavadam's excellent reports on the drought situation in Gujarat ("Retrograde development," June 9; "Gujarat's thirst," May 26). Her analysis from an ecological and political perspective was informative.

It is reported that even at the height of drought, fodder was exported, industries continued to extract groundwater, and billboards denouncing the Narmada Bachao Andolan appeared all over Ahmedabad.

The government's doublespeak on the issue is loud and clear. Even as full-page advertisements from the Ministry of Water Resources call for the adoption of decentralised water harvesting techniques, billions are allocated for the controversial Sardar Sar ovar Project on the Narmada.

Rapid siltation caused by the Sardar Sarovar Dam has created severe water problem in the villages of Nandurbar and neighbouring districts which never had this problem before, while the dam's potential to deliver water (in 2025, according to the Ministry of Water Resources) to villages of Kutch and Saurashtra is doubted even by the farmers of that region. There are reports that people who had harvested rain waters faced no scarcity this summer. The villages mentioned in this context are Ghelhar Choti in Jhabua district, Mandlipur in Rajkot, Thunthi Kankasiya and Mahudi in Bahod, Raj-Samadhiyala and Gandhigram in Kutch, and Dewas in Madhya Pradesh - all drought-prone areas. Such success stories prompt one to ask why all villages in the drought-prone area s could not adopt this technique and why the government is not implementing such water projects in all districts.

L.S. Aravinda Mumbai* * *

Dr.M.S. Swaminathan has in his interview suggested ways to counter the drought situation ("Pro-active monsoon management plan is needed," June 9). But the measures he suggested will have little impact as the human and animal population is increasing rapi dly in India. Unless we put an end to the rapid increase in population droughts cannot be prevented.

G.E.M. Manoharan Coimbatore* * *

It is time each citizen realised his or her responsibility in preserving the ecological balance. The articles on the drought crisis are really warning signals about the future of humanity in the 21st century. The drought in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh is not a spontaneous phenomenon. Indiscrimi-nate exploitation of nature is a major cause of such calamities.

Parvez Mohammed Thalassery, KeralaThe roots of fascism

Glyn Ford's article "Against the rising tide of racism" in Europe, Vijay Prashad's "The hunt for Mexicans" (June 23) and Prithi Nambiar's "Australia's reconciliation pangs" (June 9) remind us that even highly advanced countries are not free from the scou rge of "racism" and "xenophobia". The question is: Why does this 'inhuman' legacy persist even in the 21st century?

An excess of religious belief, the practice of social Darwinism and capitalism are the main reasons for this trend. It is the combined 'force' of these that keep the ideas of discrimination alive in human beings. We can get rid of such ideas only when we give preference to the common welfare of humanity over the individual's religion, race or colour and pursue an economic path that is guided by the spirit of cooperation and not competition.

Shakil Akhtar Bhagalpur , BiharCricket

I was shocked by the statement of Azharuddin that he is being targeted because he is a Muslim. I am really surprised that a man like him, with so much international exposure, should have made a statement which is worthy of the most ignorant. His statemen t has caused considerable hurt and pain to the Muslim community. He has lost the sympathy of his admirers, Muslim and non-Muslim. At the crease he has faced the world's fastest bowlers alone. Now he must face the bouncers from the Central Bureau of Inves tigation (CBI) and the Income-Tax Department alone. There is no need to bring in his community.

I may add that luckily for the Indian public and the game of cricket, the CBI has its head a Director who is familiar with cricket - as a player and as a TV commentator. He cannot be bowled by a googly.

M.Z. Chida ChennaiTripura

The article "Terror in Tripura" (Frontline, June 23) is a grime reminder of my personal experience in the State five years ago. When I visited Agartala the bus I was travelling in had to go in a convoy with a military escort through the jungles. T he passengers were asked to observe silence and the lights were switched off until we reached Agartala.

When it comes to the question of violence, Kashmir hogs national attention, not the north-eastern region. A few militant outfits have sprung up in each State in this region espousing all sorts of causes. Though these States have a democratically elected government, militants have a free run and collect fines and taxes. They issue receipts claiming that they are the real government. In some cases even government employees "donate" a part of the salary to the militants. Instances of extortion and kidnappi ng for ransom are common. These militants have the latest communication facilities and sophisticated arms.

It is unfortunate that the Centre's attention is confined to the Prime Minister's visits to the region once in a way and announcement of a grand package. Union Ministers, barring a few exceptions, do not seem to care to see what is happening in the regio n. The States are left to fend for themselves and it is clear they are unable to cope with the menace of extremism. Apart from sending more forces the Centre should think of initiating a serious dialogue with the militants involving the State governments concerned to find a long-term solution to the problems.

The recent meeting of the Chief Ministers from the north- eastern States is significant. They have with one voice demanded better attention from the Centre to tackle militancy.

D.B.N. Murthy BangalorePower tariff

It was surprising to note the extent to which the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) could be liberal in allowing the tariff hike in Andhra Pradesh ("A rude shock in Andhra Pradesh," June 23). The State Government had only proposed a hike to the tune of Rs. 800 crores but the SERC has allowed a hike of Rs. 1000 crores. A comparison with other states, including those that are implementing economic reforms, shows Andhra Pradesh in poor light on the power front. A mere increase in tariffs will not help reduce the demand. This is the experience in the oil sector. A better option for those who are serious about reforms is to ensure prompt compliance with rules regarding electricity connections. It is estimated that about 40 per cent of the conne ctions being used are illegal.

There is no doubt that people from the middle and lower middle classes, who generally pay the tariffs regularly, will be the most affected by the tariff hike.

Farmers, at worst, are going to pay 35 paise a unit. It is not that agriculture should not be given priority but the extent to which one should give concessions is a moot question.

Vijayalakshmi Vindhyanagar, M.P.The Shimla agreement

Pran Chopra has said ("What happened at Shimla" June 9) that had New Delhi implemented the 1975 Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah accord in letter and spirit, much of the problem in Kashmir since 1989 would have been resolved. He should remember that the Mir Qasim-led Congress Government in Jammu and Kashmir abdicated state power in favour of Sheikh Abdullah in the same year. This, despite the fact that the Congress commanded an absolute majority in the Assembly and that Sheikh Abdullah's outfit did not hav e even a single legislator. This was done strictly in accordance with what the 1975 accord stipulated, ignoring the interests of the State Congress and millions of its supporters.

Again, he should remember that Sheikh Abdullah did appoint in 1977 a high-power three-member Cabinet Sub-Committee with the then Revenue Minister, Mirza Afzal Beg (a signatory to the 1975 accord) as its Chairman and G.M. Shah and Ghulam Nabi Kochak as me mbers to go into the whole gamut of Central laws extended to the State between 1953 and 1975 and recommend withdrawal of those which it deemed harmful to the State's general politico-economic and socio-religious rights and interests.

The Committee, however, could not complete the assigned task as the politics within the National Conference led to the collapse of the over 50-year-old friendship between Sheikh Abdullah and the Mirza in 1978 and the appointment of the then Deputy Chief Minister, D.D. Thakur, as the Chairman of the Central Laws Review Committee (CLRC). Other members of the CLRC remained the same.

The Thakur Committee submitted two highly contradictory reports. One was produced by Thakur himself. In that he said that "the needles of the clock cannot be turned back" and that "none of the Central laws had impinged on the State's special status or er oded the Kashmiri identity". On the contrary, he said, "the extension of the provisions of the Indian Constitution had only benefited the people of the State". The other report was from Shah and Kochak, who recommended wholesale withdrawal of Central law s and institutions from the State. The upshot of their formulation was that these laws and institutions were "squarely responsible for the erosion of the internal autonomy granted to the State under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution".

The difference of opinion between Thakur and other CLRC members culminated in a serious controversy in the Sheikh Abdullah Cabinet. The controversy was resolved by none other than the Sheikh, himself a staunch believer in the concept of greater autonomy, bordering on sovereignty. He did this by accepting Thakur's recommendations in their entirety and even allowed the extension of certain other Central laws to the State.

Why did not Sheikh Abdullah accept the recommendations of Shah and Kochak? There were several factors which prevented him from doing so. The most important factor was the vehement opposition in Jammu and Ladakh to the idea of the State getting a politica l system different from what other States obtained on January 26, 1950 under the Indian Constitution. The attitude of the people of Jammu and Ladakh has not undergone any change whatsoever. They still stand for the State's full integration with India and the extension of the provisions of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, they vouch for a change in the State's existing politico-administrative and economic structure that separates them from the Valley and empowers them to shape and m ould their own political and economic destiny themselves in India and within the Indian Constitution.

Hari Om Professor of History University of Jammu. Jammu

Sign in to Unlock member-only benefits!
  • Bookmark stories to read later.
  • Comment on stories to start conversations.
  • Subscribe to our newsletters.
  • Get notified about discounts and offers to our products.
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment