Paush 17 Vik Samvat 2066. Yugabda 5111: January 1, 2010

1 FESTIVALS: The month of January marks sun entering the zodiac sign – rashi of Makara (Capricorn) and the beginning of Uttarayana, the sun's movement northward for a 6 month period. It is celebrated throughout Bharat by names such as Makar Sankranti in western parts, Pongal in Tamilnadu and Lohri in Punjab and North Bharat.
Pongal is the Tamil New Year and also a celebration of the prosperity associated with the harvest by thanking the rain, sun and the farm animals that have helped in the harvest.
Pongal is celebrated four days from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of Thai. The first day, Bhogi, is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials, the second day, Pongal, is the main day, falling on the first day of the Tamil month Thai (January 14 - 15). Also known as Sarkarai Pongal or Veetu Pongal, it is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel. The act of boiling over of milk in the clay pot is considered to denote future prosperity for the family. The third day, Maattu Pongal, is for offering thanks to cattle, while Kaanum Pongal is the day for for visiting relatives, friends to enjoy the festive season,
2. THAILAND GOVERNMENT RELEASED NEW POSTAGE STAMPS ON HINDU DEITIES: Government of Thailand released new edition of stamps depicting the Hindu Deities, namely Lord Ganesha, Lord Brahma, Lord Narayana (Phra Narai) and Lord Shiva (Phra Issuan). Thailand has a remarkable affinity to the Hindu Religion and Thai People are obviously proud of their Hindu connection with the rich and colourful Thai culture and tradition.
The newly published stamps and the first day covers has brought great honor to the minds of the Hindu fraternity in Thailand and every parts in this globe. The inclusion of Aum sign and the Trimurthi ( Brhama, Vishnu and Mahesh) in the first day cover enhanced the significance of Hindu Dharma into the mind of every Hindu admirers without any doubt.
3. "BHARAT KO MEIN MATA MANTA HOON" - MAURITIUS PRESIDENT: President of Mauritius Anerood Jugnauth was felicitated with the status of `Mahamana' on Dec 6 at a program in Varanasi jointly organized by Satua Baba Ashram, Matribhoomi Sewa Mission (Kurushetra) and Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust.
The felicitation ceremony (near the famous Harischandra Ghat) saw the special connection and bondage with Bhojpuri land coming to light when the President delivered his speech. "Is dharati se mera khoon ka rishta hai aur bharat ko mein mata manta hoon (I have blood relation with the Bhojpuri land and I consider India as my mother)," said the President in Hindi. He was overwhelmed by the love and affection showered on him during the ceremony.
"Nearly 70 per cent of the Mauritius population had migrated from India in the past. Therefore, a strong sense of brotherhood and fraternity still prevail among the two countries." He said. “India has the potential to become a super power and it must be realised soon to create a balanced world order” He added.
4. KASHMIR A NON NEGOTIABLE ISSUE: BHAGWAT: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat said Kashmir was a non- negotiable issue with Pakistan.
Addressing a meeting of RSS workers, in Patna Shri Bhagwat said Kashmir was an integral part of the country and it could never be an issue for negotiation with Pakistan.
''We should ask Pakistan in clear terms that continued encouragement to terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of the country from across the border must be stopped without further loss of time,'' Shri Bhagwat said adding western countries, instead of checking Pakistan in this regard, were often found suggesting Bharat to maintain restraint.
Referring to the agreement reached in Copenhegan to protect ecological balance, Shri Bhagwat said Bharat and other developing countries had been unnecessarily pressurised to bear the burden of saving the globe from carbon emission.
5. SEVA BHARATI ADOPTS 15 FLOOD-AFFECTED VILLAGES: Seva Bharati, the service wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, is doing a remarkable job by providing houses to North Karnataka people who lost their dwellings in the recent floods. Seva Bharati has identified 15 villages in 11 taluks spread across 6 districts including Raichur, Gulnbarga, Bagalkot to construct a total of 2,371 houses. An MoU, signed between Seva Bharati, Karnataka, and Government of Karnataka regarding construction of houses, indicates that at least 2371 families will be able to live peacefully.
Dr HV Parswanath, Secretary, revenue department (disaster management), Government of Karnataka, exchanged copies of MoU in the presence of Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa. Senior RSS pracharak Shri MC Jayadev, Shri N Dinesh Hegde, co-ordinator of Seva Bharati, Karnataka,
Seva Bharati has formed a core team and various committees comprising experienced civil engineers, construction material suppliers, labour contractors, chartered accountants, and dedicated volunteers to implement the project for the flood victims.
6. GANESHA, ‘LINGGA YONI’ FOUND AT NEWLY DISCOVERED SITE: An excavation team from the Yogyakarta Prehistoric Legacy Conservation Center examines a Ganesha statue and lingga yoni on Dec 26 at the newly discovered site within the Indonesian Islamic University in Yogyakarta. The site was believed to be part of an ancient Hindu temple.
Head of the center’s protection working group Indung Panca Putra said the findings led the excavation team to conclude that the site, located in the Indonesian Islamic University (UII) campus on Jl. Kaliurang, Yogyakarta, was from a Hindu kingdom.
The team expects to find two more statues on the site, because according to Hindu mythology lingga and yoni always accompany statues of Durga Mahisasura Mardini and Agastya.“Materials from volcanic eruptions could have buried these two statues,” Indung said. The site is located at the base of Mount Merapi.
UII Rector Edy Suandi Hamid confirmed his university will relocate the site of the library and is working with the BP3 and the Education Ministry. - (By Slamet Susan to, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta 12/24/2009)
7. 100TH AGM OF RAMAKRISHNA MISSION HELD: The 100th Annual General Meeting of the Ramakrishna Mission was held at Belur Math on Dec 23. With this meeting, the Mission completed 100 years since its registration on May 4, 1909 with the Registrar of Societies. During the year, the Mission started a new centre at Hatamaniguda in Rayagada in Orissa. The Mission has also started many new projects in the field of education, medical and rural development. The Math also started a new centre at St Petersburg in Russia besides upgrading its activities in various other countries as well.
8. HOME COMING IN ANDHRA PRADESH: More than 300 people belonging to 76 families of four villages returned home at a function organised at Suryapeta town of Nalgonda district in Andhra Pradesh. The function to welcome these people back to Hinduism was organised by Dharma Prasar Samiti of Paschim Andhra on December 4.
The people, who had embraced Christianity some time back, originally belong to Madiga, Mudiraj and Lambadi communities. The local Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Dharma Prasar Samiti workers were also assembled at the function. The home coming ceremony started with reciting hymns. The 76 family members offered aahutis in the yajnas.
9. LAUNCING OF WEBSITE OF HSS MAURITIUS: Website of Hindu swayamsevak Sangh – Mauritius was launched by Swami Poornanand Ji, on December 30 at Triolet . The function was presided over by Sri Raghunath Deealji, Sanghchalak Mauritius and the chief speaker was Sri Prabhu Narain Srivastava(Prabhuji), Sah Prant Sangh Chalak, Avadh Prant, U.P., Rtd Chief Engineer and All Inda Organizing Secretary of Mahamana Malaviya Mission.
On this occasion Prabhuji said that the entire world is engaged in resolving challenges mankind is facing and Hindu Dharma since time immemorial has advocated life vision which addresses those problems in its entirety. It is because of this that the Hinduism has survived since thousands of centuries.
Swami Poornanandji also blessed the HSS for expanding its work in Mauritius. The sanghchalak of Mauritius Sri Raghunath Deealji elaborated the importance of Gurupooja and Bhagwa Dhwaj.
10. GIRLS STORM MALE BASTION IIT: In the last five years, the number of women clearing the joint entrance test (JEE) to get into the seven IITs has trebled, according to a report analysing IIT admission trends.
In 2005, women formed five per cent of the total number of those who cleared the JEE (381 out of 6,433). In 2009, their pool increased to 10 per cent (1,048 of 10,035). Though the percentage is small, it is a big improvement.
“The number of applications from women has also increased and courses at IIT are no longer viewed as only-for-men. Even women are interested in technical fields,” said Anil Kumar, IIT-Bombay’s JEE chairperson, who prepared the report.
“Parents may still be apprehensive about sending their daughters to the male-majority IITs but there is no bias on campus,” said Sukhada Pendse, a third year IIT-B electrical engineering student, one of eight girls in her class.
11. ANEROOD JUGNAUTH INAUGURATES SAHAYOG PARISHAD: Pravasi Bhavan, the long cherished project of Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad (ARSP), was inaugurated by Sir Anerood Jugnauth, President of the Republic of Mauritius, in the presence of foreign diplomats and High Commissioners of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname and Mauritius in New Delhi on December 1.
Dr Sarojini Mahishi, former union minister, former president of ARSP Shri LL Mehrotra, senior vice president of ARSP Shri JC Sharma, and Swami Chidanand of Parmarth Ashram, Rishikesh were also present on the occasion. Inaugurating the Bhavan Sir Anerood Jugnauth lauded various good works done by its members since its inception in 1978 to develop people to people contact among Bhartiya diaspora settled in various countries of the world and brings them closer to Mother Bharat. Earlier general secretary of the Parishad Shri Baleshwar Agrawal said the Pravasi Bhawan is a dream project of ARSP. It is not just a building, it is a Mission.
12. NOW, UP SECOND NRI STATE AFTER KERALA: Uttar Pradesh has emerged as second biggest NRI State in the country, behind only Kerala. According to recent statistics brought out by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs on the workers who have gone through emigration channels across the country to abroad, the State of UP has surprisingly crossed the NRI flow from costal States like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
According to data collected by the Ministry from offices of Protectors of Emigrants, in 2008, 1,39,254 persons from Uttar Pradesh has flown to Middle East for jobs, second to the traditional largest NRI population State Kerala with 1,80,703. The figures also indicate that Rajasthan and Bihar have emerged with considerable number of workers moving abroad. As many as 64,601 workers from Rajasthan and 60,642 workers from Bihar landed in the Middle East in 2008
13. RAJIV SHAH IS HIGHEST RANKING BHARATIYA AMERICAN IN US ADMINISTRATION: The United States Senate has unanimously approved the nomination of Rajiv Shah to head the US Agency for International Development (USAID), making him the highest ranking Bharatiya American in the Obama administration. Shah, a medical doctor, currently serves as chief scientist for the US Department of Agriculture and previously worked as director for agricultural development at the foundation headed by Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and his wife.
Dr. Shah earned his MD from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and his Master of Science in health economics at the Wharton School of Business. He has attended the London School of Economics and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
14. TRICKLE OF HOPE IN THE PARCHED HIMALAYAS: It’s a sparkling morning, the dawn chill lifting as the sun’s rays light up this little village in Pauri Garhwal. Situated nearly on top of a hill, and facing east, the villagers get the early sun. It helps, because morning is the time for fetching water from the three public taps in this small village of 235 people. Each family gets two buckets, no more, and then the tap is put under lock and key, using an ingenious contraption made from a metal dabba.
This is a fairly common story in the parched Himalayas, often called the ‘‘Water Tower’’ or even the Third Pole of the world, because these mountains contain the largest store of freshwater in the world after the north and south poles. Most of it is in the form of snow and glaciers. Life-giving waters of 10 major river systems originate from the Himalayas, sustaining nearly one-fifth of humanity from southern China, through the Mekong delta in Vietnam and the Irrawady in Myanmar to the Indo-Gangetic plains in north Bharat.
But for the people here, water is arguably the greatest hardship. Spring water, the main source of water in the hills, is drying up. In Pokhri, it trickles in at about 11 litres per minute, while the need of the villagers — for personal use, as well as for animals and kitchen gardens — will get fulfilled only by 24 litres per minute. And, this is leaving aside irrigation needs.
With changes in rainfall pattern, deforestation and growing population, the springs are going dry across the hills.
This has unleashed many responses, ranging from government schemes to lay pipelines to more lasting efforts by NGOs at rejuvenating water sources.
One of the most innovative efforts is the result of an unlikely collaboration between villagers of Nagrasu, in Rudraprayag district, and nuclear scientists of the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai. Using isotope analysis, the scientists traced water flows inside the mountain. This helped locate the areas from where water starts percolating into the ground to finally reappear at the spring. Water conservation structures were built on these areas so that the water doesn’t flow off but gets absorbed into the ground.
Gursharan Singh, head of BARC’s isotope division explained the process to TOI. ‘‘Naturally occurring isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen were analysed from water collected at various points above the spring by the scientists. -(Subodh Varma, TNN 20 December 2009 )
15. BHARAT INC RAISES OVER RS 150,000CR IN 2009: Companies knocking on government doors for bailout funds may have been the norm in the West, but Bharat Inc begged to differ from this rule by raising over Rs 1,50,000 crore of capital for expansion from investors across the world in 2009.
Nearly two-thirds of these funds are estimated to have come from investors in overseas markets, which themselves were in shambles and where companies were in dire need of capital, forcing them to beg their respective governments for money.
Also, Bharatiya companies took the quickfire QIPs to meet their immediate capital needs, instead of the time consuming IPO route. As a result, the funds raised by Bharatiya companies during 2009 were more or less equal to the levels seen in 2008, when economic downturn was not a reality for most part of the year.
A total of about 50 companies raised a record-breaking cumulative figure of about Rs 55,000 crore through sale of shares to qualified institutional investors, mostly overseas private equity firms and also local and foreign financial services firms like banks, insurers and fund houses.
16. IGNOU’S GLOBAL REACH ON THE RISE: Over 28,000 students have been registered from 35 countries so far to the various academic programmes of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and the number is ever increasing, announced VC Professor VN Rajasekharan Pillai.
Female students are approximately 38 per cent and the programmes preferred are BCA, MCA, MBA, BEd and Bachelor’s Degree programmes.
Under the pan-African e-Network Project, all 53 African countries universities’ will be partnered with IGNOU. Afterwards, IGNOU shall provide tele-education to SAARC countries for different professional programmes, he added.
NM Hedayathullah said, “I was the first student to enroll with IGNOU in Saudi Arabia for the MBA programme. It has been a great honour and privilege to be part of one of the largest universities in the world.”
IGNOU has an assortment of partners. In the Gulf countries, higher education is mostly in private hands and therefore in the UAE, Kuwait, Doha, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Singapore, Kenya, Mauritius, Nepal and Afganistan, private institutions are IGNOU partners. In the Republic of Oman, an administrative body that manages all Bharatiya schools with CBSE affiliation coordinates programme delivery.
17. GUJARAT MAKES VOTING COMPULSORY IN PANCHAYAT ELECTIONS: Gujarat Government has moved the "The Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009" which will make voting compulsory in all local body elections of the state.With this Gujarat became the first state to introduce such a law in the country.
Speaking on the Bill, State Urban Development Minister Nitin Patel termed the move as pioneering and aimed at making democracy more representative and meaningful.
With state assembly passing the Bill it becomes mandatory for all registered voters in Gujarat to vote and those absent will be summoned by the local election officer to submit a valid reason for being absent with proof within a month.
The new amendment empowers the election officer to declare people who do not cast their vote as defaulter voters and subsequently, the government will decide on the action to be taken against the defaulters.
18. HINDU SAMHATI CONCLUDES SUCCESFUL REGIONAL CONFERENCE: A two days State Conference of Hindu Samhati was concluded in Kolkata on 26th and 27th of Dec 2009, very successfully. Over 230 delegates from 22 blocks covering 83 villages attended the meeting at Mundhra Dharmashala in the heart of the city, to chalk out the organizational strategy and plan for the next year programs.
In the opening speech Tapan Ghosh, President of Hindu Samhati described the situation of Bengali Hindus as worse than ever. He urged the Hindu Samhati members to keep keen vigil on the situation for combating the evil forces in the Hindu Society including the secular political parties favoring the Muslims. Radheshyam Brahmachari, Dr. Dipankar Pati, Amitava Ghosh, Rabindranath Dutta, Madanlal Sharma and Vijoy Saraff were also present in the conference.
19. BHARATIYA-ORIGIN BARRISTER APPOINTED TO KEY UK JUDICIAL POST : Kalyani Kaul, a prominent barrister of Bharatiya origin who has handled high-profile cases in the UK, has been appointed a Recorder by Queen Elizabeth and will soon preside over hearings in county courts.
Kalyani 49 who was the third highest paid barrister in terms of legal aid payments in 2005, has been practicing law in Britain for the last 26 years. She studied Law from the London School of Economics (LSE).
20. GAU-GRAM YATRA NEWS: Vishwa Mangal Gau Gram Yatra is entering last leg of its four – month sojourn leaving behind the message of cow protection, rural development based on cow and cattle power firmly etched on the minds of crores of people. It traversed Gujrath, Rajasthan and Delhi during second fortnight of December drawing huge crowds and people from all walks of social life. While Swami Akhileshwaranand blessed the yatra in Sambhajinagar – Aurangabad Maharashtra, Poojya SatyaMitrananda ji Giri and Rameshbhai Oza addressed the gatherings at Patan – Gujrath. On Sunday Dec 27, yatra wound its way through the lanes and bastis of Delhi including Trilokpuri, YamunaVihar culminating at Uttam Nagar. Several Dharamacharyas including Swami Anubhootananda, Ramte Ram addressed the gatherings on the way.
21. NOW, BHARATIYAS CAN FLY TRICOLOUR AT NIGHT: Bharatiya citizens can now fly the National Flag even at night. This is subject to the condition that the flagpole is really tall and the flag is kept well-illuminated.
The home ministry took the decision following a proposal by industrialist and MP Naveen Jindal, who had earlier won a court battle in the 1990s for flying the Tricolour as a fundamental right for every citizen.
Jindal had sought permission to fly mammoth-sized national flag on monumental flagpoles during night. Jindal had said that the National Flag is to be flown in "as far as possible between sunrise and sunset" as per Flag Code of Bharat, but it was a common practice worldwide for massive national flags to be flown day and night on monumental flagpoles of 100 feet and above in height.
Citing the example of countries like Malaysia, Jordon, Abu Dhabi, North Korea, Brazil, Mexico and Turkmenistan where monumental flags are flown at night, Jindal proposed that such flags to be flown in Bharat also.
22. SURAT TOP PLAYER IN BIG DIAMOND PROCESSING: The world’s biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat has become a top player in global diamond industry by processing almost 80% of solitaire diamonds, big diamonds above one carat, once dominated by Israel and Belgium.
Experts said the diamond hub in Surat has been processing 30%, Rs 15,000 crore, of the large-sized diamonds of its total annual production of Rs 50,000 crore. There were only 10 to 15 leading diamond companies like Venus Jewels, Hare Krishna Exports, Ram Krishna Exports and Karp Impex manufacturing large-sized diamonds above one carat some five to six years ago. At present, the industry has more than 200 diamond manufacturers who have shifted from processing small-sized diamonds to the large ones.
“The diamantaires in Surat will easily capture the global market for large-sized stones in the next five years,” says Rohit Mehta, president of Surat Diamond Association (SDA).
23. SENIOR PRACHARAK MA.SRI DESPANDEJI FROM AP PASSED AWAY: Senior Pracharak Bheemsenrao Despande, Paschima Andhra Prantha Dharma Jagarana Pramukh, passed away on Dec 26 at a Hospital at Hyderabad after suffering a heart stroke. He was 60 years. Bhimsenji, born in Mogiligidda Village, near Hyderabad was a Sangh Pracharak from 1972.
24. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Visitors: Smt.Devi and Shri Susheel Bhanot Botswana, Sardar Devinder Singh Sawhney USA Pravas: Shri Shyam Parande, Secretary Sewa International is back in Bharat after visiting South Africa and Kenya.
25. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: "The Bhagavad Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to Bharat but to all of humanity." -Aldous Huxley.


Vir Sanghvi

Most of us forget nearly everything we learned in university within months of graduating. I doubt if I am an exception. But there’s one particular Politics tutorial that comes back to haunt me again and again each time Pakistan is discussed.
I was at university during the Cold War so all dons were slightly obsessed with the way in which the rivalry between Nato and the Soviet bloc would play out. One of them told us that he was an admirer of Henry Kissinger’s strategic thinking.
In those days, we were taught the doctrine of MAD or Mutually Assured Destruction.
The US and the Soviets both had so many nuclear weapons that each could easily destroy the other. Any Russian leader or American president who ordered a nuclear strike knew that he was, in effect, ordering the destruction of his own country. The other side would retaliate with so much force that the original attacker’s country would be destroyed.
If neither side could afford to go to war — because the nuclear destruction that followed would devastate both countries — then the threat of war could not be used ‘as a negotiating tool’. After all, only a madman would start a nuclear war that would lead to total destruction.
Kissinger’s bright idea, my don explained, had been to convince the Russians that President Richard Nixon was unstable. He drank late into the night, flew into rages, went down on his knees in the Oval Office to ask Jesus for instructions. In other words, Nixon was a madman.
The moment one of the players in this game of MAD is mad or unstable, then the threat of war suddenly becomes a negotiating ploy again. Who knows, Kissinger would tell the Russians, if you provoke this mad Nixon, he might just press the nuclear button after he has had too much to drink!
The strategy had worked, my don said. And he was now convinced that the Cold War would not be ended by visionary statesmen but by tacticians who pretended to be mad for strategic advantage.
Can it be a coincidence that when the West finally won the Cold War, it was after eight years of sabre-rattling Ronald Reagan who most liberal commentators (and the Russians) regarded as a foolish, unstable, reactionary, war-monger?
I thought back again to this Madman theory of politics on the first anniversary of 26/11 as I witnessed the sorry spectacle of Pakistani commentators and defence experts appearing on Indian TV to deny all responsibility for those monstrous attacks. I first thought: are these people mad?
Then, remnants of my education kicked in. Oh my God, I said to myself. They are using the Madman theory of politics!
Look at it this way. When our prime ministers (whether it is Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Manmohan Singh) talk to Pakistan, they act like statesmen. They are reasonable, flexible and willing to go the extra mile. When Pakistanis talk to us, it is an entirely different story.
Whoever we talk to, always plays the Kissinger role and warns us that there is a mad Nixon-like figure hovering in the background, who could go off the handle at any time. Even as we talked peace to Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan was sending militants into Kashmir. Years later, when I asked Benazir about it, she said: what could I do? It was the ISI. They don’t listen to us.
Then, when Vajpayee went to Lahore and held hands with Nawaz Sharif, the photo-ops were followed by the invasion of Kargil. What a tragedy but there’s nothing I can do, said Sharif. The army acts on its own. They are all mad!
Then, when General Musharraf turned up in Agra, I asked him how we could trust him after what he had done in Kargil. He denied the army’s involvement. There was a mujahideen factor, he said. The Pakistani army could not be blamed.
A year ago, Asif Zardari talked peace at the HT Leadership Summit. He offered a hand of friendship, he said. Weeks later, 26/11 happened. Zardari’s explanation: he wanted peace but what could he do? There were powerful Islamic groups that he had no control over. And they were lunatics and fanatics.
And so on. Nobody India speaks to wants war or terror. But there is always some uncontrollable force that does and, sure enough, war and terror follow.
Because the Pakistanis maintain a careful ambiguity about where power actually resides within their society, they are able to speak in many voices at the same time. Time after time, Indian leaders fall for this. Even as astute a tactician as Indira Gandhi bought Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s claim that he would not include the acceptance of the Line of Control in Kashmir as the international border in the Simla Agreement because “public opinion in Pakistan is so strong that I will be lynched when I go back”. Now Pakistan denies Bhutto ever agreed to this.
Can you imagine Indian leaders behaving like this? Can you conceive of Vajpayee saying “I know I promised peace but my generals attacked you anyway”? (As Sharif did after Kargil.) Can you conceive of Manmohan saying “I want to talk peace but the Hindu fundamentalists will kill me if I appear too reasonable”?
Because we’re a stable nation with a single centre of democratic authority, we talk with one voice. And each time, that works against us.
Pakistan has perfected the Madman theory so completely that even the Americans have now been taken in. Islamabad says: “If you don’t give us billions of dollars and lots of arms and extract some concessions from India, then our country will self-destruct and you will have instability and Islamic extremism in the region.” And the US gives in.
Within the Indian intelligentsia, Pakistan uses a variation of the same argument: if you don’t do as we say, then our country will self-destruct.
So gullible Indian intellectuals say things like “It is our job to save Pakistan.” Or even, “A strong and stable Pakistan is in India’s best interests.” (Is it? Why? So it can send more terrorists here and keep shifting the blame? Would India really be worse off if Sindh seceded? If Baluchistan revolted?)
If history has taught us anything, it is this: talking peace with Pakistan gets us nowhere. Every peace talk is followed by war or terror. About the only time in recent memory when we have had a degree of peace was between 1972 and 1989. And how did we achieve nearly two decades of peace? By winning the Bangladesh war.
In this day and age, war may not be possible. But, let’s be realistic: peace is not possible either. It’s time to stop acting like statesmen when we are dealing with cunning madmen. There’s only one language that works in these situations.And that, sadly enough, is the language of strength. -- (Hindustan Times December 12, 2009)

It is astonishing that a working group set up by the Prime Minister to study Centre-State relations in the context of Jammu & Kashmir should have come up with a report that has neither been endorsed by all the members of the panel nor addresses the real issues. The group, headed by a former judge, Justice S Saghir Ahmad, was set up after the Round Table Conference of May 2006 — which was an initiative of the Prime Minister to resolve political issues related to Jammu & Kashmir — and its remit was to recommend measures to strengthen relations between the State and the Centre. Although not stated specifically, the group was supposed to deal with the demand for ‘autonomy’ which is voiced by Srinagar-based political parties though it is defined differently by each one of them — for instance, the PDP calls it ‘self-rule’ — and which transmogrifies into the demand for ‘azadi’ when it comes to the so-called aspirations of the separatists, exemplified by the charter of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference. But the aspirations of Jammu & Kashmir are not represented by the politicians of the Kashmir Valley alone: Jammu province seeks greater autonomy within the State to ensure its development and progress, so does Ladakh; both feel neglected, and justifiably so, by Srinagar. Justice Ahmad and his team were supposed to come up with fresh ideas to reconcile conflicting demands within the State and address the core issue of the State’s relationship with the Centre. Twenty-seven months later, he has come up with a report which deals with neither. If the executive summary of the report, released by the State Government’s Information Department, is an accurate guide to what the document says, then the working group has done precious little other than meet the representatives of only certain political parties and regurgitate outdated ideas and old demands. Worse, the report’s draft was not circulated among other members of the group before being finalised, nor were their views sought to evolve a consensus. In fact, Justice Ahmad now stands accused of not holding formal meetings over the past two years. Curiously, though the group was set up by the Prime Minister, it has chosen to submit a copy of its report to the National Conference Government headed by Mr Omar Abdullah.
On the face of it, the report is a compilation of the recommendations of previous committees and commissions that were set up to deal with intra-State demands as well as the clamour for ‘autonomy’. Most of those recommendations are well past their use-by-date and the situation which obtained when they were submitted bears no resemblance to the situation that obtains today. For example, it is absurd to talk about the ‘Kashmir Accord’ today or going back to the pre-1953 status. Nor does ‘self-rule’ mean anything — Jammu & Kashmir, in case the PDP has missed the point, is ruled by elected representatives of the people of the State and not ‘outsiders’. The recommendations for Jammu and Ladakh are neither here nor there and fall far short of the expectations of the people of this region by way of addressing their genuine grievances which are related to development. Nor does the report do justice to the Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to flee the Valley by Islamic terrorists and are living as refugees in their own country. In a sense, an opportunity to deal with the real issues of Jammu & Kashmir has been squandered. --(Editorial, The Pioneer 26 Dec 2009)