Vote on FDI

Print edition : January 11, 2013

VIJAY VERMA/PTI

WITH its candidate winning the presidential election and with the successful passage in both Houses of Parliament of the Bill allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, the Congress leadership is perhaps under the impression that its new slogan Aapka paisa aapke haath will tide its government over, absolve it of its cumulative governance deficit, and help it keep its position as the main contender in the next general elections (Cover Story, December 28).

The governments cash transfer scheme is nothing more than a desperate political gimmick aimed at winning that election.

THE Prime Minister said that the vote in favour of FDI was a clear victory for reforms. However, the government used dubious means to win the support of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. It is clear that the whole issue was fixed.

Kapil Sibal saying that numbers are far more important than anything else in a democracy goes to show that the United Progressive Alliance-II government will go to any extent to win the parliamentary vote on any issue even when the numbers are not on its side. This is shameful.

THE UPA-II governments winning the FDI vote in Parliament is like a student who did not secure pass marks standing first in class. Out of the 18 parties who spoke in Parliament on the issue, only four supported it. But the opposing parties either abstained from voting or voted for the government to avoid a general election. In short, Parliament won, people lost.

THIS is with reference to the Cover Story article Friends in need (December 28). Once the S.P. and the BSP bailed out the UPA government on the FDI issue, it was inevitable that they would fight tooth and nail for their pound of flesh as they are against each other on the Bill on reservation.

This will put enormous pressure on the Prime Minister to decide between the two. And as the things have unfolded, the Congress cannot have the support of both parties; it will have to part ways with one to accommodate the others request. What a sad state of affairs for Indian politics: the interests of the country are always ignored for the interests of political parties.

THE public is dispirited with the disclosures of recent scams and the pitched battles in support of wrongdoers (Auditor, the target, December 28). Representative democracy is fast sinking into murky depths. The Comptroller and Auditor Generals proactive stance should be welcomed and audit reports should become the staple diet for informed analyses on good governance.

We have forgotten that the CAG elicited public participation in audits in October 2010. This idea was picked up by the Australian National Audit Office two years later. It has announced a pilot programme for seven chosen audits that provides for the confidential participation of public servants.

India should also go in for such initiatives and make it possible for legislators to seek specific audits in a bipartisan manner, as happens in the U.S, where audit reports are in the public domain.

Hence, the sittings of public accounts committees should be made open to the public and the media, just like courts. Then, and only then, will a government audit serve a public purpose.

Hospital puja

THE article Homam therapy (in The Nation, December 28) is problematic. It makes a connection between the homam and the practice of reciting hymns to ward off ailments that was supposedly prevalent in the distant past when medical knowhow was lacking. The connection is unwarranted because no one today advocates homams in lieu of medical treatment. As the homam was conducted at the temple on the premises of the hospital, how can it be said that the ritual was performed on the premises of a government organisation? Logically, one can question the presence of a temple on the premises of a government-run hospital.

A doctor is quoted as having said that conducting superstitious practices on the government hospital premises did not augur well for communal harmony. Superstition is against rationality, but how does it affect communal harmony? Some rationalists want to eradicate religion. I would avoid joining their chorus though I am opposed to the conspicuous occupation of public spaces by religion.

Cyber laws

ONE fails to understand why there are laws as stringent as Section 66A of the Information Technology Act against people expressing their views on social networking sites (Cyber challenge, December 28). Those who enforce the law are generally lenient when certain politicians and fanatical elements make provocative statements, and they are carried by the print and electronic media and online.

K. MURALI KUMAR

And there is hardly ever any action taken against those who indulge in vandalism. Interestingly, when people complain about products and services on social networking sites, the institutions concerned take note of the grievances and redress them. Similarly, political parties are supposed to serve the people, and therefore, there ought to be a code for them to follow. Germany has a charter of duties for political parties that includes democratic principles of internal organisation.

Curbing the freedom of expression of citizens under legal provisions like Section 66A is not democratic. Two girls were arrested in Palghar, near Mumbai, for making innocuous comments on Facebook. They had to face the brute might of the state. The magistrate who released these girls on bail should have dismissed the case. Unfortunately, India does not have laws to protect litigants, and judges are not accountable for their judgments.

Deendayal M. Lulla Mumbai I.K. Gujral

SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

I.K. GUJRAL was a class apart and never compromised on his principles (Gentleman politician, December 28). He steered the country successfully as Prime Minister though his tenure was short.

Politicians like him are a rarity these days. India will be fortunate if it can produce disciplined and principled politicians like him in the near future.

Bal Thackeray

THE article Proud & prejudiced (December14) provided a clear insight into the life of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.

His death marked the end of an era in Maratha politics, which there is no denying he dominated. The Shiv Sainiks were always at his beck and call and even the slightest hurt to Maratha pride was dealt with severely.

Kasabs hanging

AJMAL KASAB was brainwashed by the masterminds of the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai (Questions left hanging, December 14). Outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al Qaeda compel economically deprived, unlettered people like Kasab to nurture hate and spread terrorism in the name of jehad against India and other countries. India seems to have achieved nothing by executing him, but it is obvious that it has brought much-awaited justice to the families of those who were killed. The execution took Pakistan by surprise. It has thus far failed to take any action against the culprits named by India. By hanging Kasab, India has proved that it is no longer a soft nation that will tolerate terrorism on its soil.

SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Janga Bahadur Sunuwar Bagrakote, West Bengal

KASAB was a young man without a job who got brainwashed by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba into committing the dastardly act. And Pakistan is yet to punish the 26/11 masterminds. Everyone knows that Kasab was merely a pawn in the terror game. The machinery that despatched and remote-controlled him is still functional in Pakistan and that is what Indians want dismantled.

THE legal provision for mercy petition in India should be removed to avoid its misuse or the miscarriage of justice. Once the Supreme Court confirms a death sentence, there should not be any going back.

THE death penalty prevents a repeat offender from returning to society and continuing to harm innocent people. Society has always used punishment to discourage would-be criminals. Society should use the strongest punishment available to deter murder. If murderers are sentenced to death and executed, potential murderers will think twice before committing such crimes. Capital punishment is a just form of retribution, expressing the moral indignation not only of the victims relatives but of law-abiding citizens.

Jammu & Kashmir

THE article Living on the edge (December 14) convincingly detailed the state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the plight of women. The factors of poverty and unemployment need to be attended to on a war footing as the youth have to be given reasons to stay within the stream of democracy.

The conference the Centre for Policy Analysis organised for women obviously gave them a platform on which to air their justifiable demands. It is high time that law and order situation in the State was normalised and due priority given to promote the welfare of its people.

India and China

A.G. NOORANIS well-researched Cover Story (November 30) on the 1962 war made one thing clear: unless India sheds the mindset of seeing China as an aggressor, it cannot ever solve the dispute. China is not a nation that will take the first step to maintain cordial relations with neighbours. A news report by CNN in November related how China recently released electronic passports showing a map of China that included regions claimed respectively by India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia. So far, only Vietnam and the Philippines have lodged diplomatic complaints. One does not know Indias position on this, but Vietnam has refused to stamp these passports for visa applications and is issuing visas on a separate piece of paper. India needs leaders who are not living with a rear-view-mirror mentality and are pragmatic enough to solve this half-a-century-old dispute. China might prove a far better neighbour than Pakistan in at least reaching the table for settlement.

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