SACW | Dec 17-21, 2009 / Courts, Corruption and Accountability / Suicide bombers disneyland / Ouestions re Liberhan report / Swiss vote to ban minarets / Crime in Copenhagen
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Sun Dec 20 23:35:59 CST 2009
South Asia Citizens Wire | December 17-21, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2677 -
Year 12 running
[ SACW Dispatches for 2009-2010 are dedicated to the memory of Dr.
Sudarshan Punhani (1933-2009), husband of Professor Tamara Zakon and
a comrade and friend of Daya Varma ]
 Afghanistan: Revisiting Afghanistan: A Conversation with
Najibullah (Alan Brody)
 Pakistan: Implications of court order taking away amnesty against
- Full Text of Pakistan Supreme Court's Ruling against the NRO
- Another aspect of the judgment (Asma Jahangir)
- Pakistan: Supreme court chaos (Editorial, The Guardian)
- Editorial: Augean stables of corruption
- Arousing the nation (Roedad Khan)
 Pakistan: A pie in the sky when you die (Kamila Hyat)
 India Administered Kashmir: Murky Trail (Editorial, Kashmir Times)
 India: Make the Courts Accountable:
(i) Choosing judges - Need for greater transparency (Fali S.
(ii) Integrity is not just a private virtue (H Suresh)
 India: Resources For Secular Activists
(i) Republic of Silence (Ashok Mitra)
(ii) Saw this, Liberhan? (Madhu Trehan)
(iii) India: Story of a Humanist Campaign Against Religious
Exploitation of a Child (Babu Gogineni)
 Book Review: review of Pritam Singh's Federalism, Nationalism and
Development: India and Punjab Economy by Karna Basu
- CEMB statement on Swiss vote to ban minarets
- The Truths Copenhagen Ignored (Johann Hari)
(i) Science Ka Adda: Humans in the Cosmos (Karachi, 22nd December 2009)
The Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter 2008 / Volume 84, Number 1
REVISITING AFGHANISTAN: A CONVERSATION WITH NAJIBULLAH
by Alan Brody
 Pakistan: Court sends shock waves by declaring the National
Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) unconstitutional and taking away
impunity against corruption. What are the implications?
FULL TEXT OF PAKISTAN SUPREME COURT'S RULING AGAINST THE NRO
o o o
Dawn, 19 December 2009
ANOTHER ASPECT OF THE JUDGMENT
by Asma Jahangir
The NRO case, Dr Mubashar Hasan and others versus the federation, has
once again stirred a hornet’s nest.
There is thunderous applause for bringing the accused plunderers and
criminals to justice and widespread speculation on the resignation of
the president. Very little analysis is being done on the overall
effect of the judgment itself.
While, the NRO can never be defended even on the plea of keeping the
system intact, the Supreme Court judgment has wider political
implications. It may not, in the long run, uproot corruption from
Pakistan but will make the apex court highly controversial.
Witch-hunts, rather than the impartial administration of justice,
will keep the public amused. The norms of justice will be judged by
the level of humiliation meted out to the wrongdoers, rather than
strengthening institutions capable of protecting the rights of the
There is no doubt that impunity for corruption and violence under the
cover of politics and religion has demoralised the people, fragmented
society and taken several lives. It needs to be addressed but through
consistency, without applying different standards, and by
scrupulously respecting the dichotomy of powers within statecraft. In
this respect the fine lines of the judgment do not bode well.
The lawyers’ movement and indeed the judiciary itself has often
lamented that the theory of separation of powers between the
judiciary, the legislature and the executive has not been respected.
The NRO judgment has disturbed the equilibrium by creating an
imbalance in favour of the judiciary.
The judgment has also sanctified the constitutional provisions of a
dictator that placed a sword over the heads of the parliamentarians.
Moreover, it has used the principle of 'closed and past transactions'
It is not easy to comprehend the logic of the Supreme Court that in a
previous judgment it went beyond its jurisdiction to grant life to
ordinances — including the NRO — protected by Musharraf’s emergency
to give an opportunity to parliament to enact them into law.
If the NRO was violative of fundamental rights and illegal ab initio,
then whether the parliament enacted it or not it would have
eventually been struck down. By affording parliament an opportunity
to own up to the NRO appears to be a jeering gesture unbecoming of
The NRO judgment has struck down the law also for being violative of
Article 62(f), which requires a member of parliament to be,
'Sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and ameen'.
Hence, the bench will now judge the moral standing of
parliamentarians on these stringent standards set by the notorious
Zia regime. This article of the constitution has always been
considered undemocratic and a tool to keep members of parliament
If parliamentarians, who also go through the rigorous test of
contesting elections in the public domain, are to be subjected to
such exacting moral standards then the scrutiny of judges should be
After all, judges are selected purely on the value of their integrity
and skills. Judges who erred in the past seek understanding on the
plea that they subsequently suffered and have made amends. Should
others also not be given the same opportunity to turn over a new
leaf? How will sagacity and non-profligate behaviour be judged?
Apart from Dr Mubashar Hasan, not even the petitioners of the NRO
case are likely to pass the strenuous test laid down in Article 62 of
the constitution. This could well beg the question whether it is wise
for those in glass houses to be pelting stones.The judgment goes much
further. It has assumed a monitoring rather than a supervisory role
over NAB cases. In India, the supreme court directly interfered in
the Gujarat massacre but it did not make monitoring cells within the
Is it the function of the superior courts to sanctify the infamous
NAB ordinance, the mechanism itself and to restructure it with people
of their liking? It is true that the public has greater trust in the
judiciary than in any other institution of the state, but that
neither justifies encroachment on the powers of the executive or
legislature nor does it assist in keeping an impartial image of the
The long-term effects of the judgment could also be counter-
productive; perpetrators are often viewed as victims if justice is
not applied in an even-handed manner and if administered in undue
haste with overwhelming zeal. It is therefore best to let the various
intuitions of state take up their respective responsibilities because
eventually it is the people who are the final arbiters of everyone’s
The writer is chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
o o o
The Guardian, 18 December 2009
PAKISTAN: SUPREME COURT CHAOS
Politics and the law are entwined in Pakistan, but the jubilant
lawyers should be wary of getting what they wish for
There was jubilation among Pakistan's lawyers about the decision by
the country's supreme court to strike down an amnesty which allowed
the late Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari to return
from exile. Lawyers called the decision a landmark judgment. One
former president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, Anwar
Kamal, said that the supreme court had closed the door on corruption
in the country for all time to come. We shall see, but on one thing
we should be clear. This was not purely a judicial act. The judgment
reeked of politics, designed to unseat an unpopular president halfway
through his term.
Any independent court worth its name would have struck down the
national reconciliation ordinance (NRO), the selective amnesty that
the former president Pervez Musharraf concocted in 2007 as part of a
power-sharing deal with Ms Bhutto brokered by the US and Britain. But
the supreme court went far beyond this. By turning the clock back to
the date when the ordinance was issued, the court ordered that all
cases and investigations frozen by the amnesty be revived.
Knowing that Mr Zardari would be protected by the immunity he gets
from his position as president, the court ordered the government to
inform the Swiss authorities that a case against him there may be
reopened. The thinking behind this is that if the president cannot be
prosecuted in his own land, he should be prosecuted in another. This
is designed to increase the pressure on him to resign. The court also
ordered the government to sack prosecutors, and ordered the interior
minister Rehman Malik to issue himself with an arrest warrant. A
decision conducted in the name of good governance was aimed instead
at crippling the government.
Who profits from this? Rightwing members of the senior judiciary;
sections of the military and intelligence establishment who regard Mr
Zardari as too pro-American and want to stop him cracking down on the
Afghan Taliban; and the opposition leader Nawaz Sharif. His own
previous conviction was not covered by the NRO, but he profited from
Ms Bhutto's return to Pakistan by coming home from exile himself.
Mr Sharif has called for midterm elections. The unpopular Mr Zardari
and his ruling Pakistan People's party are far from blameless. They
could have seen this situation coming. Yesterday they were forced to
say they respected the judgment, but also insist the president would
not resign. Politics and the law are entwined in Pakistan, but the
jubilant lawyers should be wary of getting what they wish for. They
could be preparing not just the ousting of the PPP from power, but
the re-entry of the army into it.
o o o
The Daily Times, 19 December 2009
EDITORIAL: AUGEAN STABLES OF CORRUPTION
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has denied allegations that he was
aware of an alleged system of kickbacks related to a defence deal
between France and Pakistan in the 1990s. In May 2002, 11 French
employees of a naval construction firm were killed in a bomb attack
on a bus in Karachi. Relatives of the French engineers suspect that
the attack was carried out in revenge by Pakistani agents after
France decided to freeze the secret payouts. The decision was made by
former President Jacques Chirac after he defeated Edouard Balladur in
the 1995 presidential election. Sarkozy was a budget minister under
Balladur, which is why he also stands accused of corruption. While
the French have lodged a complaint against Sarkozy, a thorough
investigation must be carried out in Pakistan to find out the whole
truth about these alleged kickbacks in the arms deal.
The Supreme Court has put NRO beneficiaries in the dock by scrapping
the NRO, thereby setting a precedent that corruption will no longer
be tolerated in this country. Most of the NRO beneficiaries say that
the cases against them were partisan or politically motivated. Only
time will tell whether this is true or not. Accountability is now
certainly on the agenda in Pakistan. While all this is very good, the
courts should also take action against other pending cases like that
of the Bank of Punjab scam, Haris Steel Mills, etc. Defence deals
should also come under scrutiny. Why should only one section of
politicians be made accountable while the rest of the political class
remains untouched? The military, bureaucracy and some other
politicians should also be taken to task over alleged corruption
charges. It is time to cleanse the Augean stables of corruption if
the country is to move towards a corruption-free future.
On an aside, the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission
along the lines of South Africa has been floated around, but one may
ask whether anyone in Pakistan would actually ever come out and speak
the ‘truth’? *
o o o
The News, 20 December 2009
AROUSING THE NATION
by Roedad Khan
The nation-wide jubilation which we witnessed after the Supreme Court
delivered its landmark judgement in the NRO case on 16th December was
justified on many grounds. It restored the majesty of the
Constitution; it proved the independence of the judiciary; it
confined to the dustbin the odious agreement between a military
dictator and an ambitious politician which was motivated purely by
the desire of each to retain or gain political power. The court also
directed that criminal proceedings against all the beneficiaries of
the NRO should be continued from the stage at which they were
withdrawn and, as a guard against deliberate foot-dragging by the
National Accountability Bureau, it has established a monitoring cell
to check on the progress of these cases. The order to replace the
present top leadership of NAB indicates that the court means
business. While doing all this, the court did not exceed the limits
of good jurisprudence and stopped short of actually assuming the role
of a trial court and proceeding against any particular individual. It
did, however, insist that the names of the beneficiaries should be
disclosed, no matter how high and mighty they may be, and the amounts
they had stolen be shown to the court and the public.
All these are good causes for celebration. The citizens of this
benighted country have, for once, been assured that there is such a
thing as true accountability. They have the comfort of knowing that
those who have grown fat and rich on ill-gotten gains at the cost of
starving millions, can be brought to book. But there is a deeper
question which arises. Will this landmark decision, which the
revitalised Supreme Court has handed down, arouse the conscience of a
nation which has become accustomed to a social and political order
where corruption, tax evasion, fraud and dishonesty were never
condemned? Indeed, an order where wealth, no matter how it was
acquired, enhanced the social status of the individual, where it
opened up doors to the corridors of power and where it was an object
of envy rather than revulsion. Unless this judgement leads to the
arousal of the nation’s conscience, unless it generates a re-
evaluation of the moral standards which have prevailed till now, it
will be no more than a one-off event that gives temporary
satisfaction, but in due course, gives way again to the old rotten
The honourable court did not merely apply the law in a correct
manner, it also proved sensitive to the nation’s interests. The court
itself was revived as a result of the concerted and determined
efforts of the lawyers community, supported by civil society, which
boldly defined the national interest. For Pakistan, that was a
defining moment where, perhaps for the first time, citizens were
successful in defying the wishes of the powers that be. It was a
turning point. Can civil society do it again? This is the challenge
that now faces us. Every citizen of Pakistan must search his soul and
decide whether he has the duty to be a part of a revolution that the
Supreme Court has initiated. It is a gigantic but vital task. As far
as the judges go, the task has been well-begun but only half-done.
There are more peaks to be climbed. Every citizen now shares the
responsibility to carry this task to its logical conclusion and bring
about a lasting and fundamental change in our national sense of
morality. It has been rightly said that those who do evil are bad,
but good men who do nothing to oppose it are equally so.
I had the privilege of moving a petition in the Supreme Court
challenging the validity of a deplorable legislation, not because I
had an animus against any particular person. Nor did I stand to
personally gain anything. I did so because, as a citizen, I felt it
my duty to challenge such an iniquity being imposed on millions of my
fellow citizens. I do not believe the task has been fully completed.
Civil society must remain actively engaged. It must, as it did in the
judges case, see the battle through. No single individual, no matter
how well-intentioned, can do it alone. If civil society is to be
effective, it must organise itself as an identifiable and disciplined
force. Those of us who took the initial steps now need the support of
civil society as a whole to see that the spirit of the Supreme Court
judgement is carried through. We must be ready to join in actions
which ensure that thieves and robbers never again take the destiny of
the nation in their hands. They must atone, they must be cast aside,
they must not be allowed to enjoy the tainted wealth that they have
acquired. It is our duty to ensure that the judgement of the Supreme
Court is put into full effect in letter and spirit. There are already
worrisome indications that the executive is determined to defy the
apex court. The first threats of counter - revolutionary activity
have already begun to appear. Attempts are being made to subvert the
people’s will and overturn the revolution. It is therefore imperative
that necessary follow - awakening up action, whether it means public
pressure or further petitions, is vigorously pursued.
The writer is a former federal secretary. Email:
roedad at comsats .net.pk, www.roedadkhan.com
The News, December 17, 2009
A PIE IN THE SKY WHEN YOU DIE
by Kamila Hyat
The bizarre four-roomed 'heaven' discovered by security forces in the
Nawaz Kot area of South Waziristan is a reminder of how young boys
are lured into becoming suicide bombers.
The garish paintings hung in the rooms were intended to persuade
recruits aged between 12 and 18 years that they could expect to live
a life of extraordinary luxury amid streams of milk and honey where
beautiful women roamed after they became 'martyrs'. They were also
told they would enjoy the same rank as the companions of the Holy
Prophet (PBUH). For those who have known only the perpetual misery of
poverty and deprivation in this life, and who have suffered the
consequences of occupying a place on the bottom tier of society, the
promise of a different kind of existence in the hereafter obviously
offers plenty of temptation. A teenage would-be suicide bomber from
Waziristan, held some months ago in Afghanistan, had also spoken of
similar means used by sweet-talking 'teachers' to convince their
victims of how they could benefit by blowing themselves – and others
-- into smithereens. Drugs and the haze of addiction make it easier
for them to act irrationally and cloud conscience. According to
security experts, huge quantities of drugs run through the veins of
most of those sent out on suicide missions.
Similar tactics have been used for centuries. In the American south,
preachers promised slaves they would be rewarded in heaven for the
hardships they withstood at the present time. The glib message was
parodied in a popular song written in 1911 by the labour-rights
activist, Joe Hill, who urged workers to seek rights in this world
rather than wait for a 'pie in the sky' after they died. This is as
relevant today as it was nearly 100 years ago. Religion has become in
our country a means to exploit people and persuade them not to
agitate for rights or to expect any change in their fortunes. To
escape squalor, hunger and deprivation they must wait for death. In
other places, at other times, religious belief has of course been
used to create momentum for change and for a more just world.
This message needs to be countered. In its most extreme form it has
become one that has been used to persuade parents to hand over sons
to militant outfits. The promise of a place in heaven for the whole
family and the money handed over to 'buy' the boys both play a role
in providing the human flesh militants use to carry out the most
horrendous acts of violence. The fact that people now sip their tea
as they watch images such as those from Moon Market in Lahore a short
while ago reflects just how accustomed we have become to the sight of
bodies scattered on streets or ambulances racing in to yet another
scene of disaster.
In what we are told is an attempt to tackle extremism, the government
seems to have launched some kind of initiative. Several prominent
members of the clergy have come forward to condemn suicide bombings
and other acts of terrorism. The interior minister has presided over
one such seminar and lavishly praised the 'ulema' for their message.
Other key religious leaders, including the head of the JUI-F, are
meanwhile conspicuous by their silence. Astonishingly there are still
some, even after the carnage we have seen, who speak of negotiations
with the Taliban.
The question is where these tactics are leading us. The words of
eminent scholars may have some small influence as far as shaping
public opinion is concerned but they are unlikely to have any impact
at all on the militants. The philosophy they espouse has been
developed over many years and tried out in nations such as
Afghanistan. In the world of hatred they have moulded, moderation has
The only way to challenge the militants is to make it possible for
people to believe in something available to them now, in this life
rather than the next. Some sense of hope has to be injected back into
a society from which it has been gradually drained away. If not a
pie, people need to be offered at least the means to obtain 'roti'
and 'daal'. The question is whether our government has the vision and
the capacity to set about this. If it does, it has certainly done
nothing so far to demonstrate this ability. Even now, there seems to
be some difficulty in grasping the enormity of the task before us and
accepting that military action alone cannot defeat militancy. Much,
much more needs to be done.
Change cannot come instantly, but the structures on which it is to be
based need to be set in place now. The fact that today Brazil is a
country where the gap between the rich and the poor is closing more
rapidly than anywhere else is rooted in policies that in the 1990s
focused on removing children from the labour force and putting them
in schools. The pay-off has come in the access of more people to
better-paid jobs – as electricians or mechanics or clerks – and the
creation of mobility in a previously moribund society. Better health
care has helped dispel despondency and give people some belief in the
possibility of living a meaningful life now or of their children
living one that is more fruitful than their own. Income support in
various forms has helped too.
There are many examples around the world that we can learn from. The
question is whether we will do so before it is too late. Terrorism
threatens to devour our country. We already live in a place that has,
for many, become a kind of hell. Poverty condemns people to
unimaginable hardship. Escape lies for them only in the hope of
reaching heaven once they cross that divide between life and death.
This is the promise used by the ruthless to trap those who live
without any optimism or any confidence of an improvement in the
quality of their lives.
The government needs to challenge them not by propping up religious
scholars who condemn terrorism. Most ordinary people are already
rational enough to know it is inherently wrong to kill the innocent.
Instead change must be created by offering them something that makes
life worthwhile and persuades teenage boys that it should be lived,
rather than hankering after the houris that they are told will
surround them after death.
The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor
 India Administered Kashmir:
The Telegraph, December 17 , 2009
Editorial : MURKY TRAIL
Two women died unnatural deaths on the night of May 29-30. It is
amazing that the cause of the deaths of 17-year-old Asiya Jan, and
her pregnant sister-in-law, 22-year-old Neelofar, keeps changing —
the charges ranging from rape and murder in the reports of the
Muzaffar Jan inquiry commission appointed by the state government and
the High Court Bar Association inquiry to drowning without rape and
murder in the latest report submitted by the Central Bureau of
Investigation. The Shopian case, as it has come to be known, is a
painful exposure of the erosion in civil society institutions in
Jammu and Kashmir, the tragic result of years of mistrust, violence,
tension between communities and the tussle between unionism and
separatism. The discovery of the bodies, together with the ready
suspicion that the police or military were to blame, had ignited in
the valley a storm of protest, aggressive police reactions, curfews
and house arrests of separatist leaders from May 30 to around July
13. Things cooled a little after five policemen associated with the
inquiry were suspended for mishandling the investigation, but no
solution emerged. From the beginning, the trail of forensic evidence
was murky: two post-mortem examinations by different teams of doctors
with the fury of the populace barely held at bay, and procedures
allegedly violated at every step, by the police, doctors and
officials of all kinds. An exhumation, that alleged the younger girl
to be a virgin, was followed by the CBI’s most recent claim that 13
people, including doctors and lawyers, had fabricated evidence, while
the policemen had done nothing wrong. Predictably, the people are
Together with the CBI, there have been four separate inquiries. Each
was conducted under pressure, and revealed wildly conflicting
statements from doctors and witnesses, and, often, retractions with
charges of coercion directed towards one or the other body. The CBI’s
credibility is pitiful, but the contaminated evidence has allowed it
to come to the conclusions it has presented. With separatists
breathing down the government’s neck and the obvious resentment of
the people towards uniform, no woman’s death, close to a security
personnel camp as these were, can be treated with the hamhanded
stupidity that has been displayed. In an atmosphere of pervasive
mistrust and fear, institutions have to go the extra mile to convince
the people that they are on the track of the truth.
 India: Accountability for Courts
The Tribune, 12 December 2009
CHOOSING JUDGES - NEED FOR GREATER TRANSPARENCY
by Fali S. Nariman
In 1981, the Supreme Court said in S.P. Gupta’s Case (also known as
the First Judges’ Case), by a narrow majority of 4:3, that the Chief
Justice of India’s opinion in the judges’ appointment was not
constitutionally binding on the Centre. The majority of the justices
consisted of Justices Bhagwati, Fazal Ali, Desai and Venkataramiah,
and the minority consisted of Justices Gupta, Tulzapurkar and Pathak.
The majority decision may or may not have been correct in
constitutional law (it probably was); but it was definitely not in
accordance with constitutional convention. And it proved to be a
disaster for “judicial independence” because it enabled governments
to “manipulate” appointments. As for instance when in the case of
some recommendations of the executive, the CJI stood firm, the Centre
attempted to persuade the High Court Chief Justice concerned (in the
case of appointment of a judge to a High Court).
When Justice P.N. Bhagwati, who delivered the majority judgment in
the First Judges’ Case (1981) became the CJI in July 1985, he was
administered by the government some of the bitter medicine that he
himself had prescribed when presiding over the Bench of seven
justices in the First Judges’ Case. Justice Bhagwati (who was CJI for
18 months) made recommendations of persons who deserved to be
appointed as judges. But at the end of his tenure as CJI, Bhagwati
chafed quite a bit at the government’s refusal to accept the names
proposed by him!
It was all this accumulated experience — as a result of the majority
judgment in the First Judges’ Case — that prompted the now new faces
on India’s Supreme Court to take a fresh look at the problem. The new
faces were: Justices S. Ratnavel Pandian, A. M. Ahmadi, Kuldip Singh,
J. S. Verma, M. M. Punchhi, Yogeshwar Dayal, G. N. Ray, Dr A. S.
Anand and S. P. Bharucha. They came to the conclusion that it was
time to review the correctness of the ratio of the majority decision
in the First Judges’ Case.
This is where I come in. I had led the main argument on behalf of the
petitioner, Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Association in the
Second Judges’ Case and we had succeeded. But the fallout was
not as we had expected.
What the majority in the Second Judges’ Case (1993) prescribed (7:2)
was not the status quo ante but it was — as the Americans would call
it — an entirely new “ball game”!
The CJI’s primacy on which the whole edifice of an independent
judiciary under our Constitution rested was a doctrine that had been
sorely misused during the internal Emergency (1975-77) during which
period Chief Justice A.N. Ray had got transferred judges from one
high court to another not on the basis of the exigencies of work but
solely because these judges had decided certain important cases which
had political overtones against the Centre or the relevant state
government. It was in this background that the majority in the Second
Judges’ Case said that they would not endorse the doctrine of the
Justice Verma, (who, in 1997, succeeded Justice Ahmadi as CJI) said
(in the Second Judges’ Case) that the reason given by the majority in
the First Judges’ case could not be supported, and was not in
accordance with existing practice, and that the doctrine of primacy
would henceforth mean the CJI’s opinion after taking into account the
views of his senior colleagues required to be consulted by him for
formation of a collegiate opinion: the opinion of a collectively of
judges was to be preferred to the opinion of the primus inter pares
of that body viz. the CJI.
Subject to introducing the idea of a collegiums, the judges (7:2 in
the Second Judges’ Case) restored the pre-1981 position in matters
relating to the judges’ appointment in the higher judiciary with one
caveat: if the government did not accept the collegium’s
recommendation, it would be presumed that the government had acted
without bonafides. In the Second Judges’ Case, the majority held that
the court’s prior decision of 1981 was erroneous and it was expressly
The truth is that although good competent honest men and women have
been appointed to the superior judiciary under this judge-evolved
procedure, many fit and competent persons have been passed over for
unknown reasons simply because there is no institutionalised system
for making recommendations.
Thus, when Justice Punchhi became the CJI in January 1998 and
suggested that a list of five named persons be appointed in vacancies
to the highest court (all strictly in accordance with the methodology
laid down in the Second Judges’ Case), the government, having genuine
reasons to doubt the suitability of one or two of the names in that
list, dragged its feet.
When the government suggested to the CJI that some of the names could
be accepted but not all, the CJI said “no”; he was firm and there
were apprehensions in the minds of the executive of possible
“contempt” proceedings being initiated suo motu against the executive
if the CJI’s en bloc proposal was not accepted!
Ultimately, to avoid a possible ugly situation, a Presidential
Reference was filed by the government for the advisory opinion of the
Supreme Court for “clarification” of some dicta in the Second Judges’
Case. In this Reference, only a few ‘creases’ were ironed out; and
the collegiate was enlarged (by judicial decree) from three to five
of the seniormost justices on the highest court on the (somewhat
dubious) principle that there was greater safety in larger numbers!
As for the suggestion made in the Third Judges’ Case (1998), which
has been implemented, the criticism is that the system of
recommendation for appointments by a collegium of five seniormost
judges (like that of three went before) has also not been
institutionalised. No mechanism has been prescribed (by the collegium
itself) nor any criteria evolved as to which amongst the high court
judges, all aspirants to a place in the Supreme Court should be
As a general rule, some, or perhaps many, of the recommendations of
this five-member collegium have been “good”, but some have been “not-
so-good” and a few positively “bad”: with the constantly changing
combinations in the collegium (all Supreme Court judges having to
compulsory retire at 65 years).
So nothing has worked well. Neither the system of appointments during
1981-92 (where the government had the veto) nor even the post-1993
system of appointments (where three and later five seniormost judges
of the court) had the right to recommend judges for appointment.
But is the National Judicial Commission the right answer? Will there
not simply be more confusion in even greater numbers? Perhaps there
would. The answer to all this lies not in the number of persons who
select nor in the range of persons entitled to select. There must be
a greater transparency in the method and procedure of judges’
I do not imply that there should be publicity. Once the method and
procedure is known, the confabulations within the judiciary must be
left to the justices without the intruding eyes of members of the
public or the media. The problem today is that not much care is taken
by the collegium in recommending judges for appointment to the
Supreme Court simply because they are otherwise too busy in deciding
cases that come before them.
Today, for reasons I need not expand upon, I can only express my
extreme anguish at the current state of ground realities. The extra-
curricular activity (imposed upon five judges by a judgement of the
court itself) that of recommending appointments to the highest court
has not been conducted with the care and caution that it had
deserved. There is too much ad hocism and no established process of
selection for recommendation.
This article is excerpted from the writer’s Annual Dr Kailash Nath
Katju Memorial Lecture delivered at Teen Murthi House, New Delhi, on
December 11, 2009
o o o
Express Buzz, 3 December 2009
INTEGRITY IS NOT JUST A PRIVATE VIRTUE
by H Suresh
This is an appeal for action in a situation of inaction — a la
Justice Dinakaran. By now, the media has detailed several acts of
apparent misconduct of P D Dinakaran with sufficient authenticity and
credibility. All his private gains have become public knowledge.
The Forum for Judicial Accountability placed all those materials
before the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
The CJI, after scrutiny, has just referred the matter to the
government. P D Dinakaran is not going to be elevated to the Supreme
Court. Is the Government investigating the allegations? We do not
The CJI could have handed over the complaint to the CBI, and, after
investigation, if the allegations were prima facie found true and
substantial, could have given sanction for prosecution.
In the mean time, the judge sits in the court, with no restraint on
him. If what has appeared in the press cannot be hidden from the
public ear and eye, will the public have confidence in the
administration of justice by Dinakaran?
Ordinarily, when any inquiry takes place on any serious charge,
particularly of corruption against any officer or incumbent of any
office, he is suspended from discharging his official duties.
In the case of judges of the higher courts, it should be more
appropriate that they should voluntarily abstain from work,
particularly when the ‘scrutiny’ is going on at the level of the
What is expected of a judge is stated in the Restatement of Values of
Judicial Life (Code of Conduct), and one of the important
‘values’ (16) says : “Every judge must at all times be conscious that
he is under public gaze and there should be no act or omission by him
which is unbecoming of the high office he occupies, and the public
esteem in which that office is held.”
It is true that there is no provision in law or in the Constitution
to suspend an errant judge from functioning during an inquiry. That
deficiency should not allow a judge to compromise on his conscience.
In the past, when such aberrations arose, some attempts had been made
to make the concerned judge stay away from his work.
In the case of Justice V. Ramaswamy of the SC, when inquiry
proceedings under the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 began, the then
Chief Justice of India just declined to assign any judicial work to
the judge. So also when the Bar Associations of the Bombay High Court
called for a boycott of four judges (1990) on grounds of corruption,
the then Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court did not assign any
judicial work to them, with no demur from the Bar or from the Bench.
Later on, two of these judges were transferred, while one resigned,
and the other, on refusing to accept transfer, continued without any
work for nearly four years, till his retirement.
As at present, these salutary precedents seem to have been
forgotten. The CJI recommends impeachment of a judge of the Calcutta
High Court (Justice Sen), and the judge refuses to resign; and the
chief justice of the high court does not seem to have withdrawn any
work from the impugned judge. The same is the case with other judges
who were named in the Provident Fund Scam case.
In the case of Justice V. Ramaswamy, about twelve out of fourteen
charges were held to be proved. The charges, inter alia, related to
criminal misappropriation, cheating, etc. No prosecution was ever
launched against him, even after retirement.
In the case of Chief Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee, where the
allegation was that he had received a disproportionately large sum of
$ 80,000 as royalty from a suspect Middle East publisher for the
second edition of a book on Muslim Law and the Indian Constitution,
the Supreme Court just declined to order any investigation or inquiry
into those allegations.
The court further said that the Constitutional provisions of
impeachment “put the nail squarely on the projections, prosecutions
or attempts by any forum or group of individuals or associations,
statutory or otherwise, either to investigate or inquire into or
discuss the conduct of a judge or the performance of his duties and
on/off court behaviour”.
Thus, the Supreme Court lost the opportunity to lay down guidelines
in Bhattacharjee’s case. The court itself could have enquired into
his conduct. It didn’t. It just closed its eyes, like the ostrich
burying its head in the sand. So the same is likely to take place in
the present case.
M.C. Setalvad, the first Attorney General of India, in his book, “My
Life”, refers to the episode of the Chief Justice of Patna High Court
having been accused of giving a false age at the time of his
appointment, and how Gajendragadkar, then Chief Justice of India,
persuaded him to resign without any investigation.
Setalvad comments : “The canker appears to have spread even in the
highest judiciary …… it is surprising that the persons in high places
who have repeatedly, eloquently condemned corruption of all kinds on
the public platform, should be parties to draw a veil of silence and
secrecy on the alleged corruption of the Chief Justice….(and) they
seem to imagine that by avoiding into the allegation against the
Chief Justice they are saving the judiciary….. from exposure; they
forget that what they are trying to conceal is known to all lawyers
and concerned citizens.”
So, our objective should be to devise appropriate mechanisms to weed
out corruption without impairing the dignity and independence of
judges in any manner.
A corrupt judge is not independent. Judicial independence is not
only independence from the executive, but also independence from such
human frailties as succumbing to acts of corruption and immorality.
It is therefore necessary to amend the Constitution to provide for
dismissal of such errant judges on proven charges of corruption,
bribery and such other acts of misconduct which would fall beyond the
ken of appropriate judicial behaviour.
There should be an independent complaint mechanism and an independent
tribunal for investigation and appropriate action. In proper cases,
there could be prosecution under the criminal law.Our law minister
has been saying that no tainted judge will be allowed to continue.
He has not spelled out the proposed law, so far. If one has to judge
by what he did in the last Lok Sabha session, he seems to be
suffering from the syndrome that the proposed law should have the nod
from the judiciary (“As you please, my Lord”).
That is the reason why the UPA I government could not bring in any
appropriate law, either on the appointment or performance of the judges.
The government must know that any consent from the judiciary, even
if given, is no guarantee that the law would be later held to be
constitutionally valid. It will have to be tested independently.
It is hoped that the government would appreciate the urgency of the
situation where the confidence of the public in the judiciary is fast
eroding because of the presence of such errant judges.
It should not be yet another missed opportunity. In any event, one
must acknowledge that the situation being an extraordinary one, the
Supreme Court (not necessarily the CJI) should suo moto consider an
innovative approach of issuing an appropriate Writ or order,
directing Dinakaran to abstain from discharging his judicial functions.
Sounds extraordinary! But it seems inevitable, not for the
protection of the corrupt or dishonest, but for protecting several
other honest, conscientious and hardworking judges to preserve their
Finally, one must know that judicial integrity is not just a private
virtue, but a public necessity. The situation demands action — and
H Suresh is a former judge of the Bombay High Court
 India: Resources For Secular Activists
The Telegraph, December 18 , 2009
REPUBLIC OF SILENCE - P.V. Narasimha Rao’s forgotten promise
Cutting Corners - Ashok Mitra
Hokum must have its kingdom. The judicial report on the culpability
for the crime perpetrated on December 6, 1992, was first leaked and
then laid on the floor of Parliament. The predictable sequel was an
uproarious parliamentary debate. Countrymen are however not any more
enlightened than they already were.
That horrid outrage was committed over 17 years ago, in broad
daylight, with the world’s media looking on. Thousands watched the
proceedings on the television screen; they even had the opportunity
to watch the gleeful post-demolition celebrations and the faces of
the celebrants. All that the judge’s report does is to state the
obvious. The government is delighted; it has responded to the
judicial blah-blah by an ‘action taken’ report, equally blah-blah,
the purport being to make it plain that no action whatever is
The parliamentary debate has been marked by the same bogus quality.
Each party went through the motion of parading its anger, sorrow,
indignation or self-righteousness for the sake of record, nothing
beyond. It was hypocrisy reflecting a kind of mutual agreement among
the different parties of the you-do-not-embarrass-us-too-much-and-we-
too-will-behave genre. The nation is taken for a ride, since
politicians are confident that the nation will accept the charade
with philosophical equanimity: these are turbulent times, enough new
problems are cropping up every day, little purpose is served by
raking up the embers of that hideous episode, let bygones be bygones.
A similar consensus has presumably been reached on a related matter
too. Whether P.V. Narasimha Rao, the then prime minister, was
‘daydreaming’ — as the judge’s report suggests — or actually taking
an indolent Sunday afternoon nap while the Babri mosque was being
demolished is no longer terribly important. To what extent he was
responsible for what happened is now little more than academic
speculation. What is, however, very much relevant is the commitment
he made at twilight of that infamous day in a telecast address to the
nation. It was a commitment by the nation’s prime minister on behalf
of the Government of India. After disposing of the preliminaries
concerning the events of the day, he had then announced his
government’s resolve to ensure that the destroyed mosque was soon
rebuilt on the same site.
It was a categorical announcement, with no ambiguity about it. At
least, it was assumed there was no ambiguity about it: a grievously
wrong thing had taken place, the government was sorry it could not
prevent its occurrence. It had, however, resolved to set right the
wrong that had been done and decided to arrange the reconstruction of
the mosque on its original foundation. Those who listened to the
prime minister took it for granted that the restoration of the mosque
at its original site would happen as early as possible, perhaps in
the course of the next couple of years, certainly not at the fag end
of a century or a millennium.
The pledge the prime minister of the day made has not been
implemented till now. But it has not been repudiated by any
succeeding regime either. The executive authority within the
framework of a parliamentary democracy is supposed to be a continuum;
unless a particular commitment made by a previous government has been
formally rescinded or amended by a succeeding one, it remains an
official commitment. Quite a few changes in the political complexion
of the regime in New Delhi have, of course, taken place since
December, 1992. The Congress was not in power between 1996 and 2004.
A rainbow coalition was in charge for a while during this period, and
was followed by a regime led by the Bharatiya Janata Party. For the
past five years and a half, though, the Congress has been back in
government. It has dispatched P.V. Narasimha Rao to posthumous
oblivion, but no record exists to show that the pledge he made on
behalf of the Congress government was ever publicly disavowed by the
Some bigots might have thought otherwise, the prime minister’s
statement was, however, accorded a quiet but firm welcome at the
time. Sections of the BJP leadership were struck by awe realizing the
implications of the dastardly act perpetrated by their acolytes. None
of them openly protested against the government decision to have the
mosque re-built, nor was any dissonance voiced from any other
quarters. It has nonetheless been an astounding display of
forgetfulness. Debate still continues over the assignment of
responsibility for the outrage. The investigating judge’s damp squib
of a report has given a new lease of life to that debate. But it is
an impressive republic of silence as far as the question of arranging
the reconstruction of the mosque is concerned, talk of building a Ram
temple on the site is sought to be kept alive instead.
Excitement is caused every now and then over the supposed breach of
this or that parliamentary privilege. If a minister makes a promise
on the floor of the House and fails to carry it out, it is taken to
be a breach of the privileges of Parliament. That apart, any outsider
who in any manner dishonours or disparages Parliament is considered
to be guilty of breach of privilege and is liable to be charged with
contempt of the House. Should not there be scope for a similar breach
of privilege where the government makes a commitment to the nation
and does nothing about it subsequently?
We, however, exist in a realm of fakery. Politics has been reduced to
an artefact of simulated amnesia. Politicians and political parties
can get away by pretending that they have managed to forget the
pledge P.V. Narasimha Rao as prime minister had made to the nation.
Or that pledge, it will perhaps be suggested, was made by a flustered
prime minister of a cornered government in a state of half confusion
and half contrition. He could not possibly have meant it, or even if
he had meant it at that particular moment, second thoughts made him
realize the necessity of discretion, for any initiative to implement
that commitment might have enormously combustible consequences. It
might generate social tension of the same magnitude as the demolition
of the mosque had given rise to. Politicians and political parties of
practically all hues have evidently gone along with this judgement.
Many amongst them would even feign surprise that such a pledge was
Honouring the commitment the government undertook on that dismal
evening more than 17 years ago is evidently not ‘politically
feasible’. The BJP would be scandalized if the proposal to rebuild
the mosque were to be revived; the party is still — even if only
nominally — determined to build a Ram mandir on that site. The Indian
National Congress would scamper away with fright if reminded of the
promise made by its own prime minister; there is, after all, a
substantial overlap between its constituency and that of the BJP.
Even politicians of other species, who take pride in flaunting their
secular credentials, have chosen to remain silent on the issue. They
will not actively campaign for the restoration of the mosque because
they hate the idea of igniting a fresh controversy. They will grant
the moral case for rebuilding the Babri mosque where it once was.
Even then, they will prefer to let the sleeping dog lie. In the
recent parliamentary debate, not one member cared to suggest that the
foremost imperative action for the government to take is to help
restore the mosque on its original foundation.
India, its Constitution asserts, is a socialist republic. Nobody
loses sleep over that huge joke. The Constitution also claims India
to be a secular republic. It is however a soft variety of secularism,
the republic is secular to the extent ‘practical’ politics permits it
to be so. Not merely that those who claim to defend the Constitution
lack the courage of their conviction, the conviction itself, have no
illusion, is greatly wobbly.
Hindustan Times, December 20, 2009
SAW THIS, LIBERHAN?
by Madhu Trehan
It should have taken 60 minutes — 30 minutes to watch the footage
from Newstrack, the old video magazine, and 30 minutes to write the
report. Newstrack’s December 1992 edition gave a minute-by-minute
account of what happened in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. And yet,
M.S. Liberhan took 17 years to come up with what he came up with.
Mritinjoy Jha along with his team were in Ayodhya from November 23,
1992. Thousands of pumped-up, slogan-shouting people were pouring in,
carrying pick-axes and other equipment. Manoj Raghuvanshi, with
another Newstrack team, had pulled the story together. In his voice-
over, Raghuvanshi spoke about “a chief minister who spoke from both
sides of his mouth — promising the Supreme Court that no construction
would take place on the disputed site — and a prime minister who
trusted everybody, including his central forces sent ostensibly to
defend the masjid”.
The recordings captured Hindu leaders, including Tyagi Maharaj and
Acharya Dharmendra, exhorting the crowd that the masjid must be
destroyed and a temple built. Uma Bharti in her speech made three
crucial points by demanding answers from the crowd: “Will you
restrain yourselves when the leaders ask you to? Will you maintain
peace and observe rules? Will you obey your leaders?’” The crowd
bellowed a yes. But did the BJP really believe that it could control
the kar sevaks, the RSS volunteers, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa
Hindu Parishad after its own passion-rousing rath yatra?
Rehearsals of demolition teams practising with ropes, pick-axes and
boulders were recorded by Newstrack. The images included Bajrang Dal
leader Ramesh Pratap in khaki shorts ‘directing’ with a whistle.
Each time they pulled down a ‘practice boulder’, there were cheers.
Bajrang Dal president Vinay Katiyar stated on camera, “I have never
formulated any strategy keeping the Supreme Court in mind.” At the
Marg Darshak Mandal meeting on December 5, 1992, VHP president Ashok
Singhal responded to Newstrack’s query on whether he would obey the
Supreme Court order to maintain the status quo: “Nonsense! We have
nothing to do with courts. We are unaffected by the court order.”
The disputed area was cordoned off and only sadhus and journalists
were allowed in. Around 11.00 am on December 6, BJP leaders Murli
Manohar Joshi, L.K. Advani and the VHP’s Ashok Singhal were seen
walking into the area. Ayodhya District Magistrate R.N. Srivastava
smugly told the Newstrack team: “We have made full arrangements,”
adding excitedly, “There is a lot of enthusiasm in the public.” Any
fear of anything happening? “No fear,” Srivastava replied. Senior
Superintendent of Police (SSP) D.B. Rai maintained that “peace and
calm will prevail”. Srivastava, along with other senior bureaucrats,
then settled down on a terrace to observe the demolition. Tea was
served as they watched the proceedings.
As the mob started to demolish the cordoned-off area of the Babri
Masjid, there was a clear divide between the general crowd and the
hardcore kar sevaks. After being given a cue, the kar sevaks started
assaulting journalists, breaking cameras and most journalists made a
run for it. Newstrack’s sound recordist Ashok Bhanot hid tapes under
a charpai in a nearby house. Another team carried on shooting.
The hardcore kar sevaks wearing yellow head-bands then started
weeding out the general crowd (wearing orange head-bands) and only
those trained and part of the demolition plan entered the area of the
masjid. Singhal was seen shoving people himself. There was confusion
among the faithful about why they were being thrown out. Those who
resisted were beaten up. There was a specific plan with assigned
roles for the demolition. Any ‘freelance’ help was not welcome.
“Watch this. The single-most crucial development that led to the
destruction of the disputed structure — at this point there was no
direct threat to the shrine and certainly no threat to the police —
for some unknown reason: these troops suddenly lined up and filed out
of the shrine area,” says Raghuvanshi in the voice-over of the
footage. “Was this direct collusion? Were they ordered to leave and
if so, by whom? There was no tear gas. No rubber bullets. No lathi
charge. No firing. There was no attempt whatsoever to even try to
defend the shrine.”
As sadhus blew conch-shells and kar sevaks scaled the barricades to
the masjid with pick-axes, ropes and shovels, a small contingent of
police stood just below the bureaucrats’ terrace. A police rebellion
was caught on camera. As the demolition began, a frantic-looking SSP
D.B. Rai ordered his troops to stop the demolition. The police force
shuffled nervously, refusing to move even as Rai shouted at them. The
bureaucrats kept sipping on their tea. Cameraman Bharat Raj realised
then that the action to capture was not confined to the destruction
of the masjid, but also the inaction around it.
The Censor Board banned the Newstrack tape. We appealed to the
Appellate Tribunal in Bombay. Justice B. Lentin passed an order that
stated, “Not only should this tape be allowed, it should be
compulsory viewing for every citizen of India.” Doordarshan showed
We had 36 tapes of 20 minutes each, which totalled 12 hours. I was
furious with Raghuvanshi for wasting so much tape on a 30-minute
story. M.S. Liberhan asked Newstrack to hand over the tapes. I
refused to hand over 12 hours of original tape and we gave him the
In the 17 years that Liberhan took to write his report, the BJP was
in power for six years and the Congress for ten. One can presume
that all the 48 extensions were given to Liberhan by both these
parties, since the Congress and the BJP were in power for 16 out of
the 17 years. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the tabling
of the report did not suit either party.
Here’s the simple conclusion: both parties were responsible for the
destruction of the Babri Masjid.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has ordered an inquiry into the leaking
of the Liberhan report. This is the wrong inquiry to order.
Journalists were simply doing their job to get the contents of the
Liberhan report to the public. There should be an inquiry into who
gave Liberhan 48 extensions and took Indian citizens for a Rs 8 crore
Madhu Trehan produced and anchored Newstrack, a video magazine, from
1988 to 1995.
INDIA: STORY OF A HUMANIST CAMPAIGN AGAINST RELIGIOUS EXPLOITATION OF
by Babu Gogineni
For the last few weeks Humanists, Rationalists and Human Rights
activists have been waging a huge battle against the forces of
fundamentalism in Andhra Pradesh. This is a battle where all sections
of society, and in which the media, the police, the justice system,
aggressive fundamentalists, the Dalai Lama as well as the Humanists
and Rationalists are involved. It is a battle that is being watched
with keen interest by millions of homes as it unfolds on live TV and
through public discussions, newspaper articles and also in homes.
The campaign started publicly with a complaint made by Babu Gogineni
in the name of IHEU along with a dozen collaboratoring intellectuals
and organisations with the Andhra Pradesh Human Rights Commission.
The campaign's slogan Sambhavi Gudilona Badilona? has now become the
byword for TV programs, for newspaper articles and also discussions
as all citizens are challenged to take a stand whether Sambhavi, a
child of 7, who it is claimed is a reincarnation of a Buddhist
goddess should be in school or remain in the temple. Everyone has an
opinion, most of them agreeing with the Humanists. This is also a
story which has catapulted Humanists and Rationalists into the
limelight as superstition, religious privilege and human rights clash
publicly in Andhra Pradesh state which is home to 90 million Telugu
speaking people - the second largest language group in India.
[. . .].
Full Text at: http://www.sacw.net/article1289.html
 Book Review:
review of Pritam Singh's Federalism, Nationalism and Development:
India and Punjab Economy by Karna Basu
The Journal of Asian Studies (JAS 68.3 August 2009))
Book Reviews—South Asia
FEDERALISM, NATIONALISM AND DEVELOPMENT: INDIA AND THE PUNJAB
Economy. By PRITAM SINGH. New York: Routledge, 2008. xviii, 223 pp.
Pritam Singh’s Federalism, Nationalism and Development is an
informative study of Punjab’s economic growth in the context of
India’s federal structure. Given the unique nature of Indian
federalism and the unique status of Punjab within India, this is an
ideal subject for a detailed case study.
Singh examines the ways in which the structure of India’s center–
state relations has shaped the economic development of Punjab, a
wealthy agrarian state in northern India with a majority Sikh
population. His general argument is the following: The Indian
constitution has endowed the central government with significant
power to exert economic control over individual states. This has had
interesting implications for Punjab. First, independent India’s goal
of self-sufficiency in food, combined with Punjab’s early advantages
in agriculture, led the center to invest heavily in Punjab’s
agricultural research and development and infrastructure. Second, as
a result of Punjab’s high per capita income and the center’s distaste
for income inequality across states, Punjab was denied access to the
funds and licensing necessary for industrial development. The book’s
contribution lies in its methodology as well as its choice of
subject. Singh uses what he describes as the “reconfigured
centralization-decentralization” approach as a method of analysis.
First, he presents a history of Punjab and of Sikhism, followed by a
detailed description of India’s federal structure. He then looks
separately at the relationship between Punjab and the central
government in the areas of finance, agriculture, and industry. The
balance (or imbalance) of power in each of these relationships is
analyzed from several perspectives (e.g., constitutional versus
extraconstitutional, redistribution versus compensation, state
expenditure requirements versus sources of revenue).
To an economist, chapters 2 and 3, which cover the history of Punjab
and Indian federalism, are particularly illuminating. Singh adeptly
casts familiar history in a new light to stress the links between the
politics of the past and the economics of today. He shows how the
formation of Sikh identity in opposition to Hinduism and Islam can be
connected to Sikh military participation on behalf of the British
colonial powers, and how this can be connected to early agricultural
infrastructure in Punjab (through “canal colonies” built for retiring
The remaining chapters focus more directly on the economy. While
Singh elucidates stylized facts and trends in the data, he is unable
to convincingly isolate the impact of the central government’s
actions on the overall health of the Punjab economy. The following
are established very convincingly in the text. First, the
constitution of India accords quite a bit of power to the center, and
over the years, the center has been able to consolidate this power
further. Second, the center has used its power to redistribute
wealth and direct production. Singh provides evidence that Punjab
gets very little financing from the center as a fraction of its total
income (compared to other states), and that the center has restricted
industrial growth in Punjab. This can be seen in the fact that not
only does industry contribute little to Punjab’s income, but most
industry is small scale in nature. During 1968 to 1975, only 1
percent of the center’s public sector investment went to Punjab
(though the state houses 2.39 percent of India’s population).
This leaves open the question of what we are to do with these facts.
Singh’s contention is that, overall, the center has done a disservice
to the Punjab economy by deterring diversification and redistributing
wealth. Let me first focus on the issue of diversification. While it
is certainly plausible that industrial growth is essential to
Punjab’s development, Singh’s arguments are not persua-sive. Consider
the following claim: “Although the Green Revolution did push up
Punjab’s relative per capita income status, the agrarian-oriented
development path in Punjab based on it is handicapped in sustaining
long-term growth” (p. 120). To support this, he describes how
Punjab’s state domestic product has grown slower than those of other
states in recent years. Yet this is hardly evidence in favor of
diversification. It could as easily be evidence for the convergence
in incomes that is predicted by numerous models of economic growth.
There is also a question about the applicability of Singh’s arguments
to post-liberalization India. After the 1991 balance of payments
crisis, India abolished its notorious industrial licensing policy and
allowed firms and states to borrow directly from abroad (see Arvind
Panagariya, India: The Emerging Giant [New York: Oxford University
Press, 2008], 103–4, 200–201). This has significantly reduced the
Punjab government’s reliance on the center’s beneficence for its
industrial development and, likewise, enhanced its responsibility for
the fate of the Punjab economy.
If diversification is vital to the long-run well-being of Punjab,
then it is also vital to the future well-being of the Indian economy
(for many reasons, including the fact that there will be more to
redistribute). If the center ignores this, is it because it is making
mistakes, or that agents operating at the center do not have the
correct incentives? This question could be answered a little better
if Singh were to open the black box of the “center.” We are left
uncertain about whether the center is to be interpreted as a monolith
with fixed objectives, or competing political parties, or a set of
individuals playing according to a set of rules.
Finally, to better assess the government’s redistributive policy, it
would help to see how it has benefited the poorer states. Singh’s
arguments would be stronger if he could show that the rate of return
to investments would be higher in Punjab than, say, Uttar Pradesh.
Nevertheless, Pritam Singh’s book is an important work. His analysis
addresses some difficult questions about the conflicting objectives
of the center and the states. If this also raises more questions,
that is only a good thing.
University of Chicago
CEMB STATEMENT ON SWISS VOTE TO BAN MINARETS
December 13, 2009
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is extremely concerned over the
Swiss vote to ban minarets.
Far-right proposals to ban minarets are divisive, reactionary and in
line with the ‘Clash of Civilisations' agenda, which hands over
'Muslims' or those labelled as such to the political Islamic movement
and denies the universality of the demand to live a life worthy of
the 21st century.
Believing in Islam or any religion for that matter is not a crime.
Neither is it a crime to have minarets in mosques. What are crimes,
however, are groups or individuals using religion to threaten people
to death, intimidate them, violate their rights, and discriminate
against them. Society has to address these crimes and prosecute those
who threaten or terrorise people - not ban minarets!
Political Islam is a political phenomenon that demands a political
response. This response must include targeting the discrimination,
abuse and criminal acts that take place against children in Islamic
schools, against citizens in Sharia councils and tribunals, against
apostates and freethinkers, gays and women who are killed in the name
This response must demand a banning of Sharia law and Islamic
schools, along with all faith-based laws and schools.
It must exert pressure on governments to stop appeasing Islamic
states and demand that such states be politically isolated.
It must demand the prohibition of any kind of financial, material or
moral support by the state or state institutions to religion and
religious activities and institutions.
It must support those who are at the forefront of fighting the
political Islamic movement.
It must demand an end to the promotion of cultural relativism.
It must demand that religion be a private matter.
It must call for secularism - the complete separation of religion
from the state, education and legal system - as a minimum
precondition for the respect of rights and freedoms in society.
It must defend rather than restrict universal rights.
The Enlightenment didn't ban church towers in order to successfully
push Christianity into the private sphere. The same must be done with
And that is what civilised humanity intends to do.
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The Independent , 19 December, 2009
THE TRUTHS COPENHAGEN IGNORED
by Johann Hari
So that's it. The world's worst polluters – the people who are
drastically altering the climate – gathered here in Copenhagen to
announce they were going to carry on cooking, in defiance of all the
They didn't seal the deal; they sealed the coffin for the world's low-
lying islands, its glaciers, its North Pole, and millions of lives.
Those of us who watched this conference with open eyes aren't
surprised. Every day, practical, intelligent solutions that would cut
our emissions of warming gases have been offered by scientists,
developing countries and protesters – and they have been
systematically vetoed by the governments of North America and Europe.
It's worth recounting a few of the ideas that were summarily
dismissed – because when the world finally resolves to find a real
solution, we will have to revive them.
Discarded Idea One: The International Environmental Court. Any cuts
that leaders claim they would like as a result of Copenhagen will be
purely voluntary. If a government decides not to follow them, nothing
will happen, except a mild blush, and disastrous warming. Canada
signed up to cut its emissions at Kyoto, and then increased them by
26 per cent – and there were no consequences. Copenhagen could
unleash a hundred Canadas.
The brave, articulate Bolivian delegates – who have seen their
glaciers melt at a terrifying pace – objected. They said if countries
are serious about reducing emissions, their cuts need to be policed
by an International Environmental Court that has the power to punish
people. This is hardly impractical. When our leaders and their
corporate lobbies really care about an issue – say, on trade – they
pool their sovereignty this way in a second. The World Trade
Organisation fines and sanctions nations severely if (say) they don't
follow strict copyright laws. Is a safe climate less important than a
Discarded Idea Two: Leave the fossil fuels in the ground. At meetings
here, an extraordinary piece of hypocrisy has been pointed out by the
new international chair of Friends of the Earth, Nnimmo Bassey, and
the environmental writer George Monbiot. The governments of the world
say they want drastically to cut their use of fossil fuels, yet at
the same time they are enthusiastically digging up any fossil fuels
they can find, and hunting for more. They are holding a fire
extinguisher in one hand and a flame-thrower in the other.
Only one of these instincts can prevail. A study published earlier
this year in the journal Nature showed that we can use only – at an
absolute maximum – 60 per cent of all the oil, coal and gas we have
already discovered if we are going to stay the right side of
catastrophic runaway warming. So the first step in any rational
climate deal would be an immediate moratorium on searching for more
fossil fuels, and fair plans for how to decide which of the existing
stock we will leave unused. As Bassey put it: "Keep the coal in the
hole. Keep the oil in the soil. Keep the tar sand in the land." This
option wasn't even discussed by our leaders.
Discarded Idea Three: Climate debt. The rich world has been
responsible for 70 per cent of the warming gases in the atmosphere –
yet 70 per cent of the effects are being felt in the developing
world. Holland can build vast dykes to prevent its land flooding;
Bangladesh can only drown. There is a cruel inverse relationship
between cause and effect: the polluter doesn't pay.
So we have racked up a climate debt. We broke it; they paid. At this
summit, for the first time, the poor countries rose in disgust. Their
chief negotiator pointed out that the compensation offered "won't
even pay for the coffins". The cliché that environmentalism is a rich
person's ideology just gasped its final CO2-rich breath. As Naomi
Klein put it: "At this summit, the pole of environmentalism has moved
When we are dividing up who has the right to emit the few remaining
warming gases that the atmosphere can absorb, we need to realise that
we are badly overdrawn. We have used up our share of warming gases,
and then some. Yet the US and EU have dismissed the idea of climate
debt out of hand. How can we get a lasting deal that every country
agrees to if we ignore this basic principle of justice? Why should
the poorest restrain themselves when the rich refuse to?
A deal based on these real ideas would actually cool the atmosphere.
The alternatives championed at Copenhagen by the rich world – carbon
offsetting, carbon trading, carbon capture – won't. They are a global
placebo. The critics who say the real solutions are "unrealistic"
don't seem to realise that their alternative is more implausible
still: civilisation continuing merrily on a planet whose natural
processes are rapidly breaking down.
Throughout the negotiations here, the world's low-lying island states
have clung to the real ideas as a life raft, because they are the
only way to save their countries from a swelling sea. It has been
extraordinary to watch their representatives – quiet, sombre people
with sad eyes – as they were forced to plead for their own existence.
They tried persuasion and hard science and lyrical hymns of love for
their lands, and all were ignored.
These discarded ideas – and dozens more like them – show once again
that man-made global warming can be stopped. The intellectual
blueprints exist just as surely as the technological blueprints.
There would be sacrifices, yes – but they are considerably less than
the sacrifices made by our grandparents in their greatest fight.
We will have to pay higher taxes and fly less to make the leap to a
renewably powered world – but we will still be able to live an
abundant life where we are warm and free and well fed. The only real
losers will be the fossil fuel corporations and the petro-dictatorships.
But our politicians have not chosen this sane path. No: they have
chosen inertia and low taxes and oil money today over survival
tomorrow. The true face of our current system – and of Copenhagen –
can be seen in the life-saving ideas it has so casually tossed into
'You can watch Johann explaining some of the appalling loopholes
being smuggled into the Copenhagen treaty here
Johann Hari is a columnist for the London Independent. He has
reported from Iraq, Israel/Palestine, the Congo, the Central African
Republic, Venezuela, Peru and the US, and his journalism has appeared
in publications all over the world.
Copyright 2009 Independent News and Media Limited
After 8 1/2 months of blood, sweat, and a lot of tears, we're finally
coming back to life. Tuesday, 22nd December 2009 marks the rebirth of
T2F 2.0 is now officially in beta testing and we look forward to your
continued support. Thank you for believing in us.
To kick things off, we're delighted to announce a Science Ka Adda
session, featuring the ultra-talented Salman Hameed, who teaches at
Hampshire College and is in Karachi for a couple of days.
2009 is the International Year of Astronomy and Salman will talk
about how 400 years of the telescopes have changed the way we look at
Science Ka Adda: Humans in the Cosmos
Tuesday, 22nd December 2009 | 6:30 pm
There is perhaps no instrument other than the telescope that has so
changed fundamental perceptions about humanity and its place in the
universe. Galileo, 400 years ago, pointed his telescope skywards and
saw an imperfect universe - with blotches on the Sun and craters on
the Moon. But his telescope also opened up a universe of objects
invisible to the naked eye - such as the moons of Jupiter and the
rings of Saturn. This was only the start of our journey. Since the
time of Galileo, our telescopes have unveiled newborn stars shrouded
in gas and dust, planets around other stars, gaseous nebulae
containing the building blocks of life, comets crashing into planets,
and a universe consisting of hundreds of billions of galaxies.
In this exciting Science Ka Adda session, Salman Hameed will
highlight key discoveries, from Galileo and Herschel to the Palomar
Observatory and the current Hubble Space Telescope, that have had the
biggest impact on the way we look at ourselves and construct our
place in the universe.
For more information, please visit: http://www.t2f.biz/science-ka-
Date: Tuesday, 22nd December 2009
Time: 6:30 pm
Minimum Donation: Anything you like. Please support our vision of
intellectual poverty alleviation by donating generously
Venue: T2F 2.0
10-C, Sunset Lane 5, Phase 2 Extension, DHA, Karachi
0300-823-0276 | info at t2f.biz
o o o
South Asia Citizens Wire
Buzz for secularism, on the dangers of fundamentalism(s), on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
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