Kartik 28 Vik Samvat 2067. Yugabda 5112: 16 Nov 2010

1. FESTIVALS: Vaikuntha Ekadashi: The Margashirsha shukla paksha ekadashi, falling on December 17 this year, is known as 'Mokshada Ekadashi' also. Special prayers, yagnas, discourses and speeches are arranged at Vishnu temples across the world on this auspicious day. According to Vishnu Purana, Lord Vishnu opened the gate of Vaikuntham for two demons in spite of they being against Him. They asked him a boon that whoever listens to their story and see the image of Lord coming out of the door called Vaikuntha Dwar will reach Vaikuntha as well! Hindu temples all over the world make a door kind of structure on this day for devotees to pass through that.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi celebrations in Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam last 21 days and are divided into two parts of pagal pathu (morning part) and Ira pathu (night part). Lord Vishnu as Lord Ranganatha is adorned in an armor of diamonds (rathnaangi) and is brought to the Thousand-Pillared Hall from the sanctum sanctorum through the northern gate known as Paramapada Vasal, the gate to the heaven. This gate is opened once in a year, only on the Vaikuntha Ekadashi day. Tirumala Venkateswara Temple also has a similar concept.
2. RSS DHARNAS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AGAINST TERROR CHARGES: The RSS swayamsevaks along with members of other Parivar outfits staged demonstrations and handed over memoranda in several parts of Bharat on November 10 accusing the Congress of hatching a "political conspiracy" to malign its image and "falsely" implicating its senior leader Indresh Kumar in the Ajmer blast case. The protest was mainly against politicisation of the probe into the bomb blast cases.
In Lucknow, RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat accused the Congress of hatching a conspiracy to tag the saffron outfit as a terrorist organisation and said it will come out clean.
In Pune, hundreds of RSS volunteers raised slogans of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' during the two-hour long protest. In Bhopal, former Sarsanghachalak targeted Congress president Sonia Gandhi. In Bangalore, RSS staged a sit-in dharna in front of the town hall, flaying the Congress for likening RSS with "saffron terror and Hindu terror". A huge crowd in Jaipur shouted slogans like 'Dushprachar ki rajniti nahin chalegi' (politics of defamation won't work) and 'Hindu drohi sharam karo' (Hindus bashers have some shame). About 75,000 activists participated in the dharnas organised in the district headquarters of Telangana and Rayalseema regions of Andhra Pradesh.
In Hyderabad, the sit-in was organised at Indira Park where RSS Sarkaryavah Suresh Joshi accused the UPA Government of trying to defame the outfit and framing its leaders and activists in false cases. Former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, former Governor A Rama Rao, ex-BJP President Bangaru Laxman, Andhra Pradesh BJP chief G Kishana Reddy and ex-MP A Narendra were among those who participated in the dharna. In Nagpur, the demonstration was organised at Moriss Collee T-Point. RSS leaders Dilip Gupta, Manmohan Vaidya, Ram Harkare, Mayor Archana Dehankar of BJP took part in the protest. In Vijayawada, Hindu religious leaders and workers of VHP, ABVP and BJP took part in the sit-in. Advocates, teachers, lecturers and business people also participated in the protest held at Sub-Collector's Office.
3. SUU KYI IS FREE: Myanmar’s democracy leader 65-year old Aung San Suu Kyi walked free on November 13 from the lakeside home that has been her prison for most of the past two decades, to the delight of huge crowds of waiting supporters. Addressing a vast crowd of her supporters outside her party’s offices in Rangoon, the day after her release, she said: "The basis of democratic freedom is freedom of speech." She also told them: "If we want to get what we want, we have to do it in the right way,” adding that she had "no antagonism" towards her captors and that she had been well treated during her captivity.
4. BOOSTER SHOT: It can be said definitively now: with US President Barack Obama's India visit, the long shadow that the Cold War cast on India-US ties has been dispelled. Instead of looking to the past, the relationship has been recast for the 21st century.
From terrorism to the Security Council to trade, Obama not only checked off all the key phrases during the culmination of his India visit, he put them together in an eloquent speech that wowed Parliament. Certainly, the deals worth over $10 billion that he is taking back with him will be useful for him in a domestic context, given the shellacking the Democrats have received in the just-concluded US midterms.
But those deals would have happened regardless of his presence. It is the tone and tenor of his oration - the public aligning of US and Indian interests, and what it means for one of the crucial strategic relationships of the 21st century - that makes his visit a notable success.
His backing of India's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council is not an immediate deliverable; neither is his acknowledgement that India has already emerged as a great power entirely accurate. But in accepting the validity of New Delhi's ambitions - and by explicitly offering Washington's support in achieving them - he has made a powerful statement. It is the culmination of the process begun by Bill Clinton and furthered by George W Bush, to dissolve the lingering skepticism holding back the India-US relationship.
His emphasis on the interlinking of Indian and US economic and geostrategic interests for the future is both timely and welcome. His explicit condemnation of Pakistan-backed terrorism and support of India's role in Afghanistan will assuage fears of Washington's softness towards Islamabad on those issues. Equally crucial is his urging New Delhi to engage with East Asia. The region is set to become the economic, energy and strategic hub of the coming decades. And given ASEAN members' fears of Chinese dominance, US and Indian engagement in the region is necessary for stable, cooperative growth.
The India-US relationship is still, in many ways, a nascent one. It will continue to evolve over the coming years. Adjustments will be required on both sides. In order to boost security and sustain growth, New Delhi will have to carry out a fine balancing act between maintaining its relationship with Washington and exercising strategic autonomy. But this is the kind of manoeuvring that can be safely achieved if the framework of the relationship is robust. And that is where Obama has left his imprint. He has ably continued where his predecessors left off. Editorial: The Times of India: November 10’2010.
5. OBAMA’s CONFIRMED AUDIENCE: It seems the desire to listen to US President Barack Obama LIVE in the joint session of Parliament was bit too strong for Lok Sabha Member of Parliament Tarun Mandal. Even after being directed by his party, the Socialist Unity Centre of India, to boycott the session, the MP from Joynagar in West Bengal decided to be present in the production control room of Lok Sabha Television to listen to Obama. He was present all through the speech. Except Forward Block, other Left MPs were present in the Central Hall when Obama delivered his speech.
6. FIRST ENLISTED SIKH SOLDIER IN US: Simran Preet Singh Lamba on November 11 became the first enlisted soldier in the US Army in more two decades to complete basic training after getting a rare religious exemption for his turban and beard because the military wants his language skills.
Recruited by the army in 2009 through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program for his language skills in Punjabi and Hindi, Lamba completed basic training with his turban and unshorn hair at Fort Jackson outside Columbia and became a US citizen.
7. BHARAT A PART OF SUPERCONTINENT: A new and exciting piece of research from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has confirmed what has long been believed that Bharat was a part of supercontinent that later broke away into smaller physical entities and transformed into small continents and countries.
Geological research conducted recently by assistant professor Sanjeev Krishnan of the Centre for Earth Sciences, IISc has revealed that certain rock crusts or granulites in Sri Lanka, Southern Bharat and Madagascar have properties that demonstrate Bharat as being part of a supercontinent.
“The ancient supercontinent of Gondwana once consisted of what are now the smaller continents of South America, Africa, Madagascar, southern Bharat, Sri Lanka, Antarctica and Australia. Our research reveals that massive tectonic activity had occurred 600 million years ago and had brought together all the earth formations into a supercontinent,” Krishnan said.
Krishnan has explained his inferences in a recent issue of the journal Geology.
8. STOP ATTACKS ON RSS OFFICES: BJP on November 14 asked Congress to put a stop to attacks on RSS offices by its workers in protest K S Sudarshan's remarks against Sonia Gandhi and warned that failure to do so would lead to nation-wide agitations on corruption in 2-G Spectrum, CWG and Adarsh Housing Society.
"We are giving a stern warning to Congress that if it continues with its violence and anarchy in spite of all clarifications by BJP and the RSS, which remained calm even after Congress leaders equated RSS with SIMI, we will launch a nation-wide agitation to expose Congress on 2-G Spectrum, Adarsh scam and CWG issues," BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay said.
Congress workers had attacked and vandalised RSS offices in Delhi, Akola, Allahabad, Jaipur and in a few other cities in protest against former RSS chief's derogatory remarks. RSS had expressed regret at Sudarshan's statement while the BJP said its views on the issue were the same as that of the RSS. But this did not placate the Congress.
9. TURBAN SCREENING NORMS AT US AIRPORTS: Several US-based Sikh organisations are up in arms against new procedures laying down additional screening of turbans at American airports, terming the measure unwarranted profiling. “Targeting turbans for additional scrutiny sends a message to other passengers that Sikhs and their articles of faith are to be viewed with suspicion by fellow travelers. The policy is a serious infringement on our civil rights and liberties,” three Sikh bodies complained bitterly.
As part of a joint protest action, the three organisations — Sikh Coalition, United Sikhs and the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund have asked members of the Sikh community to ‘oppose this unjust policy’ by taking it up with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and members of the US Congress.
10. MANDIR EXECUTIVE’S CONFERENCE: October 22 - 24, 2010, the foyer and ballroom of the Sheraton North Houston Hotel on JFK Boulevard were bounteously transformed into Little Bharat during the 5th Annual Hindu Mandir Executives Conference (HMEC). The event drew community leaders and mandir representatives from over ninety temples nationwide and from Canada who met, mingled, shared ideas through brainstorming sessions, and amicably found resolution to several compelling issues.
HMEC resolved to implement a supply chain management scheme, an idea outlined jointly by Dr. Sharma Tadepalli of the Meenakshi Temple Society in this city, and Hari Murthy of the Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh. The issue of ensuring that America’s school textbooks correctly portray Hinduism was reviewed by Hinduism Today Magazine. The supplements produced by the magazine will be sent out to schools nationwide.
11. KEDARNATH AND YAMUNOTRI CLOSED FOR WINTERS: Portals of Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath and Yamunotri shrines were closed for the winter season, on Bhaiya Duj, Saturday November 7.
Amid sounds of conch shells and drum beating, chief priests of both the shrines performed special puja and closed the doors for pilgrims for a period of six months, in the presence of administrative officials. Thousands of pilgrims were present in the premises of the temples, braving chilly winds at the closing ceremony.
12. BHARAT TEST-FLIES NISHANT DRONE WITH NEW TECHNOLOGY: Bharat has successfully test flown its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Nishant with new technology for monitoring its structural health in flight. "The trials were conducted at Kolar airfield in Karnataka and the structural health of the UAV was monitored in flight," Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist R K Gupta said in a statement.
Developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) and National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), the new system enables the structural health of aeronautical structures to be monitored on board.
"The system allows us to monitor the health of the aircraft online and take corrective action in flight without grounding it," Gupta said.
The new technique will also avoid periodic grounding of the UAV for maintenance.
13. US BODY TIES UP WITH KALAM TO ADDRESS SOLAR ENERGY ISSUES: The US’s National Space Society (NSS) on November 5 unveiled a new initiative in association with former Rashtrapati APJ Abdul Kalam with the aim of addressing the global energy crisis by harvesting solar power in space.
Announcing the initiative at a news conference in Washington, the NSS said this joint initiative has the potential to turn Bharat and the US into “net energy exporters”. Kalam joined the event via electronic hookup from New Delhi, as did TK Alex, Director of ISRO Satellite Centre, from Bangalore.
“It is a game-changing technology that addresses energy security, sustainable development, climate change and multinational cooperation,” said Mark Hopkins, CEO of NSS, a non-profit American body. He felt both the US and Bharat have the means to harvest solar power in space on a mass scale — especially if they work together.
Said Kalam: “ I am convinced that harvesting solar power in space can bring Bharat and United States of America together in whole new ways. And I am certain that harvesting solar power in space can upgrade the living standard of the human race.”
14. DEEPAWALI FESTIVAL AT THE NEW ZEALAND PARLIAMENT: The Hindu festival of Deepawali (Festival of Lights) was celebrated at the New Zealand Parliament on Wednesday, 10 November 2010. It was hosted by the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs. The Chief Guest, the Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, Governor General of New Zealand, graced the occasion. A number of Parliamentarians including Hon Bill English, Minister of Finance and Acting Prime Minister; Hon. Phil Goff, Leader of Opposition; Hon Peter Dunne, Minister of Revenue; Dr Rajen Prasad and Mr Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Members of Parliament representing the Bharatiya community and other members representing various political parties were present at the festival.
Deepawali is celebrated not only by Bharatiyas but also by Hindus from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Fiji, and South Africa and so on. It was heartening to see some of them representing the Hindu community at the Parliament function.
15. HARIPRASAD CHAURASIA GETS TOP FRENCH HONOUR: Classical flute exponent Hariprasad Chaurasia will be conferred the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest civilian award in France, by the French government for his contribution to music Nov 9.
The award will be presented to the 72-year-old by French ambassador Jerome K. Bonnafont at a ceremony at the French embassy here.
A book and and a CD “Hariprasad Chaurasia and the Art of Improvisation” by Henri Tournier, the flute maestro’s French assistant at the Rotterdam Music Conservatory, will be released at the awards ceremony.
Chaurasia is also artistic director of the Indian music department at Rotterdam Music Conservatory, where he has been teaching for the past 15 years.
The French government distinction Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) is conferred on “persons who have distinguished themselves by their creativity in the field of art, culture and literature or for their contribution to the influence of arts in France and throughout the world.”
16. IGNOU TO CERTIFY GURU-SHISHYA PARAMPARA: The IGNOU has signed a Memorandum of Collaboration with the Union Ministry of Culture’s four zonal cultural centres at Thanjavur, Nagpur, Allahabad and Kolkata for the launch of Academic Certificate programme, Certificate in Indigenous Art Practices (CIAP) under the Guru-Shishya Parampara Scheme. CIAP is an initiative of IGNOU for Vocational Education and Training (IIVET), Shillong.
Under the Guru-Shishya scheme, the North Central Zone Cultural Centre has shortlisted 19 Gurus and around 162 students, including accompanists. These Gurus have been drawn from Birha singing, Maand gayaki and others. Students will be evaluated basis of one performance per year.
The various art forms that are covered under these programmes are folk/tribal arts, martial arts, oral traditions etc. The eligibility is 10th pass, and the duration of the programmes is a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years. The programme envisages a traditional master to impart traditional knowledge and expertise of the art form to the disciples.
17. CAMERON HIRES NRI INTERNET EXPERT TO HEAD MEDIA SECTION: Young Bharat-origin internet wizard Rishi Saha has been hired by British Prime Minister David Cameron to head the new media section of 10, Downing Street on a salary of 50,000 pounds.
A former Conservative candidate, Saha, 30, devised the "Pimp My Party" online game for Cameron.
Saha, is "head of new media" with control over its website, the premier''s ''Webcameron'' and other internet projects.
18. BHARATIYAS’ ENROLMENT DIPS IN US UNIVERSITIES: Data released by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) reveals that after a year of zero growth, when American universities saw no rise in the number of foreign students, international enrolments have gone up marginally. The data shows enrolment from Bharat fell sharply in 2009 and 2010. This year, the UK replaced the US as the favourite education destination for the Bharatiyas.
19. THE BRAZILIAN WHO LOVES MANTRAS: “Besides Indian music, I love mantras from Hindu religion and my performance follows them. Chanting them before my performance imbibes some spiritual and positive energy in me. I am a follower of Swami Nityananda and Gurumayi Chidvilasananda and from them I have got the knowledge of these mantras,” said Brazilian singer Paula Santoro who was in Delhi recently to perform at Kamani Auditorium. She was accompanied by piano player Rafael Vernet, bass player Guto Wirtti and drummer Alex Buck.
“I’m completely fascinated by Indian art, culture and traditions. I visited the Taj Mahal and was bowled over by its beauty. It was like a dream come true to watch the wonder in front of my eyes. I went there with my husband and the entire experience was just amazing,” she shared.
Santoro was born in Minas Gerais, and she believes music is in her blood.
20. CHINA'S ‘EXPANSIONIST' TONE CREATING HURDLES: ADVANI: In unusually strong remarks in his latest blog posting, senior BJP leader LK Advani on November 7 said: “I wish China realised that its expansionist statements such as those in relation to Arunachal and its tacit support to Pakistan’s hostile attitude towards India are stumbling blocks in the way of restoring normalcy between our two countries.”
The relationship between India and China will be one of the key determinants of the course of world history in the 21st century, he claimed.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will visit Bharat next month for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders during which the two sides are expected to take up bilateral irritants and ways to sort them out.
Referring to Tibet and its exiled leader Dalai Lama, Advani said even though a lot of atrocities have been committed and much of the cultural and spiritual heritage of Tibet damaged — “most of all during China’s shockingly mis-named Cultural Revolution (1967-77)”— Tibet continues to be the holy land of the Tibetan people.
21. FARMERS SPREAD DESI RICE AWARENESS THROUGH ‘MELA’: In response to genetically-modified (GM) crops and its impact on the Bharatiya food culture, a group of farmers in Mysore recently held a desi rice mela. The fair — called Desi Akki Utsav in Kannada — was to promote rice, a cornerstone of Bharatiya food culture. The day-long event was organised by Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Nesara, Nisarga and other farmer groups.
Many traditional varieties of rice — like doddabairanellu, kari batha, puttabatha, sannavalya, mara batha, kari jaddu, kempu munduga, doddi batha, deva mallige, jolaga, nere guli and aromatic rice varieties like Gandhasale, Gamgadale and Jeeriga samba — are used in preparation of special rice dishes. Rajamudi, one of the most popular varieties, and number of others rice were exhibited to create awareness.
22. KANNADA IN HIGH COURT: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on November 14 said the government is seriously considering making Kannada a language in high court proceedings along with English. He said that lower courts are issuing judgments in Kannada which helps the common man. He was honouring 60-odd judicial officers for rendering judgements in Kannada at a function organized by the Kannada Development Authority. He made special mention of Justice Arali Nagaraj for delivering the first Kannada verdict in the High Court some years ago.
23. SANSKRIT CENTRE TO BE REVIVED: The prestigious Centre for Technology Research in Sanskrit (CTRIS) will get a fresh lease of life with the committee appointed by the Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa recommending its revival in Bangalore, with a mandate to carry out pioneering work in blending technology with the classical language. The centre, a subsidiary of Melkote-based Academy of Sanskrit Research, was shut down in 2005 due to financial mismanagement and political intervention. About 25 abandoned projects will now be revived at the Karnataka Sanskrit University campus in Bangalore, where the center will be housed.
Some of the high-priority projects include a non-conventional approach to aeronautics, study on iron and steel in ancient Bharat, participation in the Digital Library Project of Bharat (with Carnegie Mellon University and the Indian Institute of Science) and the ministry of culture’s National Manuscript Mission.
24. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr.Shankar Tatwawadi, Samyojak Vishwa Vibhag reached UK on Nov 12. Ravikumar, sahsamyojak is in HongKong from Nov 13. Visitors: Ramesh Mathur – Japan, Ma. Dr. Ved Nanada, Radheshyam Dwiwedi – USA
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: You are assuming your rightful place as a leader of nations. – Barack Obama.



God is often a witness in court proceedings the world over. This is especially so when statements are made under oath with a hand on a holy book. But only in Bharat, God can be both witness and litigant. That Ram Lalla filed a case claiming property in Ayodhya would have surprised secular societies elsewhere, but in Bharat is routine and unremarkable.
From this it might be tempting to argue that Christianity is intrinsically rational while Hinduism is not. That is not strictly true. Both depend ultimately on faith and, indeed, this is true of all religions. If Christianity looks different today it is not because it is inherently more reasonable, but that science forced it to become so.
As Hinduism is an idol-centric religion, its core principles are of no consequence to science. Christianity is a creation-centric religion. This is why it had to oppose modern science which, too, is creation-centric. The latter has taken strong positions on how life began, how day became night, and how our beings are energised. This is what compelled science and religion to go on a collision course in the western world. From the 16th century onwards, they were like two monster trucks driving in opposite directions on a one-way street.
Hinduism was spared all this. It worships divine heroes who step in and out of this world. They marry, procreate, win wars, and also have their share of losing. But at the end of the day they have the last word which is why their lives should be emulated. Hinduism makes no dogmatic declaration on how humans appeared on earth or on whether the sun is stationary or not. In India, our gods have never been challenged by science as they are not concerned about matters of creation.
This is why Hinduism has never felt the need to take on Newton, Galileo, Humphry Davy or Darwin, nor even Aryabhat or the Charvakyas. On the other hand, under science's onslaught, Christianity was in a doctrinal mess. It had invested a lot in Aristotle-proofing the Bible, but that was beginning to fall apart. Adam and Eve and Noah's Ark soon began to appear as fables for the credible. Even our positioning on earth was now more about gravity than God.
Over time there were just too many bullets for Christianity to dodge. The Lutheran-inspired Reformation of the 16th century helped religion to make peace with science, but only after the Bible retreated on some of its principles. From then on Christianity had to accommodate reason in order to survive, but Hinduism never faced such compulsions. As it was idol-centric in character, faith in India could proceed unchecked by science; in fact, the twain need never meet.
Creation-centric Christianity could not ignore science. This is probably why, in retrospect, it was possible in Europe for the Renaissance to grow into the Reformation and finally into the Enlightenment. Protestant clerics soon became quite enthusiastic about science and believed with Michael Faraday that the work of God was just like science: neither irrational nor petulant, but orderly and dependable. Pascal from the Catholic side echoed a similar sentiment when he said that the Christian religion is not contrary to reason and, if it were, "our religion would be absurd, laughed at".
Many of the most remarkable western figures of science in the 17th and 18th centuries were trained by men of religion in their initial years. Humphry Davy was taught science in school by a Reverend J C Coryton; Robert Boyle by his village parson; Francis Bacon by John Whitgift, later to become Archbishop of Canterbury; Newton lucked in getting his lessons at home from his stepfather who was a minister and so did Robert Hooke from his father who was a curate. These scientists could now go to church and laboratory without a schism in their souls.
Indian Renaissance not only came 300 years later, but instead of questioning tradition it went about perfecting the Vedas. Thus, while the European Renaissance set the stage for the conflict between science and religion, no such thing happened here. Neither Swami Dayanand, nor Swami Vivekanand, nor the Brahmo Samajis are remembered for emphasising the scientific traditions of India's past. Their most durable contribution is their skilful copy editing of Vedic texts.
This is why Hindus are not worried if their religion is "laughed at" by secularists. Ram Lalla can be a litigant as Hinduism's idol-centric nature protects it against physical and exact sciences. For this very reason though, Hinduism often runs afoul of history and the social sciences as these disciplines take issue with the idolised lifestyles of Hindu gods and goddesses, and with the veracity of their corporal presence on earth.
Interestingly, while Christianity clashed with the physical and exact sciences in the West, in India, Hinduism has been threatened only by history and the social sciences. This conflict quickly takes on a political dimension as every layperson has a view on what is a good life. Social sciences, history included, thus lack the persuasive capacities of the natural sciences. If certain political compulsions arise, sociologists and historians can also be cast as subversive anti-nationals.
Consequently, the Hindu faith remains unchallenged by reason and Ram Lalla might even win his case someday. – The writer is former professor, JNU. Times of India November 8, 2010.


The recent goings-on in Karnataka only remind us how deep the rot in the system is. The institutions of the Governor, speaker and legislator are in a total shambles — and there is little hope in the offing, since almost the entire political class appears to be in cahoots with this system.
How can one control the untrammelled abuse and misuse of power by constitutional functionaries? Let us first take the position of the Governor. The Governor was supposed to be an eminent person who played a constitutional role, representing the Centre in the state and providing sage counsel and guidance to the ministry. But now it has become, in many cases, a move to accommodate a political hack or a time server. The fault here lies with our first prime minister. Nehru appointed Harekrishna Mahatab Governor of Bombay state. Mahatab had been chief minister of Orissa and a Union minister before his appointment as Governor — and a Union minister after he ceased to be Governor of Bombay! But an aberration has now become almost accepted practice. The post of Governor has become debased. As Governors look forward to bigger and better assignments, they have become agents of the Centre. They are not, in the words of Indira Gandhi, "forward looking"; they are, more appropriately, in the words of Nani Palkhivala, "looking forward".
With some very honourable exceptions, primarily those with civil service and military backgrounds, Governors have not covered themselves with glory. Some recent examples: Shivraj Patil, who slept through 26/11, was rewarded with the governorship of Punjab. S M Krishna was asked to "rest" as the Governor of Maharashtra. The current Maharashtra Governor was reportedly asked whether he would prefer to return to active politics and his answer was, "Yes." Is this the kind of person we want in the Governor’s chair? The Founders promised us independent, intellectual giants. Instead, we got Buta Singh. Is that fair?
The Sarkaria Commission made a number of recommendations about the kind of persons who ought to occupy the Governor’s chair, but these have been blithely ignored. We are fated to have (normally) third-rate politicians as our Governors, so how can we minimise the damage they do? By taking away the two powers that they currently enjoy.
First, the power to invite a person to form a government after he has paraded his backers. This power should be moved to the legislature. Let the legislature elect its own leader, as is done in the German Bundestag, where the Chancellor is elected on the floor of the House — and not anointed by the Governor, with bags of money in the background.
Secondly, the power to dissolve the legislature, which currently vests in the Governor and has been abused times without number. This needs to be moved to the Election Commission or, even better, to the higher judiciary. Let Governors stay in the Raj Bhavans, which cost us a small fortune, but let them not cause any more damage to the constitutional fabric.
Speakers, in general, are no better — recall the disgraceful scenes in the UP Assembly some years ago? How often has a Speaker ruled on an important matter against the government? Not too frequently. Here is another lot of "looking forward" persons. There is little chance that a person elected Speaker will resign from the political party that has nominated him, as happens in Britain. Rather, many of them want to graduate to being ministers — even chief ministers!
Can we expect fair play from them? Obviously not. And when do they cause the maximum damage? At times when there are votes of confidence — by expelling members or preventing them from voting. The Administrative Reforms Commission suggested that expulsions should be decided upon by the Governor on the advice of the Election Commission. Why get in the discredited and biased governor who can probably ignore the advice? Let the Election Commission or the higher judiciary take this call.
Now we come to the members of our legislatures. There is a small number of incredibly dedicated members. However, for a large number of them, the membership is just a meal ticket, as is borne out by the recent shenanigans of legislators in Karnataka. Except perhaps for the Left parties, most members of all parties appear to be addicted to the culture of pillage of the public exchequer.
Now, we find that even the provisions of the Anti Defection Law do not deter them from resigning, on matters of high principles, of course. The Anti Defection Law needs to be amended to ensure that anyone who defects is barred from contesting electoral office for five or 10 years. In addition, the person should be barred from accepting any assignment where the Central or state government or any public authority (such as a municipality) has any connection, however tenuous. Of course, we shall not be able to stop the wives and children of these men of principle from fighting the same seats until we move to a "list" system.
The Founding Fathers gifted us a wonderful constitution. Our leaders have spent 60 years subverting it. Let us not kid ourselves — things are not getting better; they are clearly getting worse. There are still some well-meaning leaders in all our political parties. Let us hope they wake up before we degenerate into a second-rate kleptocracy, so that the dreams of the Founding Fathers are not totally ground into the dust. (Sunday Business Standard, November 14, 2010)

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