தலையங்கம் - 05-07-2021

இந்தியா முழுவதும் உள்ள கல்வி நிறுவனங்களின் ஆசிரியர் மற்றும் ஆசிரியர் அல்லாத காலிப் பணியிடங்கள் பற்றிய அனைத்து விவரங்களையும் ஒற்றைச் சாளர முறையில் அளிக்கும் திட்டம் ஒன்றைப் பல்கலைக்கழக மானியக் குழு மேம்படுத்திவருவது கல்லூரிகள் மற்றும் பல்கலைக்கழகப் பணியிட வாய்ப்புகளைத் தகுதியானவர்கள் அறிந்துகொள்ளவும் சேரவுமான வாய்ப்பைப் பரவலாக்கும் என்று எதிர்பார்க்கப்படுகிறது. அதே நேரத்தில், மாநில எல்லையைத் தாண்டி தேசிய அளவில் விரிவுபடுத்தப்படும் இந்தப் பணியிடங்கள் பற்றிய அறிவிக்கையால் உருவாகவிருக்கும் புதிய போட்டிகளைச் சமாளிக்கும் வகையில் தமிழ்நாட்டின் உயர் கல்வித் துறை தன்னைத் தகுதிப்படுத்திக்கொண்டிருக்கிறதா என்ற கேள்வி முக்கியமானது.

கடந்த அதிமுக ஆட்சியில் பிறப்பிக்கப்பட்ட அரசாணையின்படி இனிமேல் முனைவர் பட்ட ஆய்வுப் படிப்பை முடித்தவர்கள் மட்டுமே கல்லூரிகள் மற்றும் பல்கலைக்கழகங்களில் உதவிப் பேராசிரியர் பணியிடங்களுக்கு விண்ணப்பிக்க முடியும். எனவேதான், எம்.ஃபில் படிப்புக்கான தேவையே கேள்விக்குறியாக மாறியுள்ளது. எம்.ஃபில் படிப்புகளைத் தொடர்ந்து நடத்த முடிவெடுத்திருக்கும் தமிழ்நாட்டின் உயர் கல்வித் துறை உதவிப் பேராசிரியர் பணியிடத்துக்கான குறைந்தபட்சத் தகுதியாக முனைவர் பட்டப் படிப்பை வலியுறுத்தும் அரசாணை குறித்து இன்னும் மௌனமே சாதித்துவருகிறது. 2018-லேயே பல்கலைக்கழக மானியக் குழு முடிவுசெய்த தர நிர்ணயம் இது.

முதுநிலைப் படிப்பும் தேசிய தகுதித் தேர்வில் தேர்ச்சியும் மட்டுமே உதவிப் பேராசிரியர் பணியிடங்களுக்குப் போதுமானது என்றிருந்த நிலையில், தற்போது அத்தகைய ஒரு பணிவாய்ப்புக்கு மேலும் ஐந்தாண்டுகள் காத்திருக்க வேண்டியிருக்கும். அந்த ஐந்தாண்டுகளுக்குள் ஆய்வுப் பட்டத்தை நிறைவுசெய்ய முடியுமா என்பதும் ஒருவேளை நிறைவுசெய்தாலும் பணிவாய்ப்புகளுக்கு உறுதிசொல்ல முடியுமா என்பதும் பதிலளிக்க முடியாத கேள்விகளாகத்தான் தொடர்கின்றன. தமிழ்நாட்டுப் பல்கலைக்கழகங்களில் கடந்த சில பத்தாண்டுகளாகவே ஆசிரியர் பணியிடங்கள் நியமனத்தின் வெளிப்படைத்தன்மை சந்தேகங்களை எழுப்பும் வகையிலேயே அமைந்துள்ளன. அரசுக் கல்லூரிகளின் ஆசிரியர் நியமனங்களும்கூட கடந்த அதிமுக ஆட்சியின் கடைசி சில மாதங்களில் கேலிக்கூத்தாக மாறவிருந்த நிலையில் நல்லவேளையாக கடைசியில் அந்த முயற்சிகள் கைவிடப்பட்டுவிட்டன.

உயர் கல்வித் துறையில் மாணவியர் சேர்க்கையில் இந்தியாவிலேயே தமிழ்நாடு இரண்டாவது இடத்தில் இருப்பது பெருமைக்குரியது. ஆனால், பெண்களின் உயர் கல்வி பங்கேற்பு ஆராய்ச்சி நிலை வரை தொடரச் செய்வதும் அவர்களுக்கு உடனடி வேலைவாய்ப்புகளுக்கான சூழல்களை உருவாக்குவதுமான பொறுப்பு மாநில அரசுக்கும் உயர் கல்வித் துறைக்குமே உள்ளது. பள்ளிக் கல்வியிலும் பொதுச் சுகாதாரத்திலும் தமிழ்நாடு அடைந்துவரும் மேம்பாட்டை ‘திராவிட மாதிரி’யாக முன்னிறுத்தும் பொருளியலர்களும்கூட உயர் கல்வித் துறையில் தமிழ்நாடு பின்தங்கியுள்ளதைச் சுட்டிக்காட்டவே செய்கின்றனர். மாநிலத்தில் செயல்பட்டுவரும் ஒன்றிய அரசு அலுவலகங்களில் தமிழ்நாட்டவர்களுக்கு இட ஒதுக்கீடு கோரும் தமிழ்நாடு அரசு, உயர் கல்வி நிறுவனங்களில் தமிழ்நாட்டவருக்கான வாய்ப்புகளை உறுதிசெய்ய வேண்டும் எனில் ஒரு நெடும் பயணத்துக்குத் தயாராக வேண்டும்.

--Source: hindutamil.in

 வங்கிகளிலிருந்து கடன் வாங்கி மோசடியில் ஈடுபட்ட தொழிலதிபர்கள் விஜய் மல்லையா, நீரவ் மோடி, மெஹுல் சோக்ஸி ஆகியோரிடமிருந்து பறிமுதல் செய்யப்பட்ட ரூ.9,000 கோடி சொத்துகளை அவர்கள் கடன் பெற்ற பொதுத்துறை வங்கிகளின் பெயருக்கு மாற்றிக் கொடுத்திருக்கிறது அமலாக்கத் துறை. அவர்கள் வங்கிகளிலிருந்து கடன் பெற்று மோசடி செய்திருக்கும் தொகை ரூ.22,584. 83 கோடி. இப்போது பொதுத்துறை வங்கிகளிடம் ஒப்படைக்கப்பட்டிருக்கும் அவர்களின் சொத்து மதிப்பு ரூ.9,041.50 கோடி. அதாவது, அவர்கள் மோசடி செய்திருக்கும் பணத்தில் 40%.
 கிங்ஃபிஷர் விமான நிறுவனத்தின் உரிமையாளர் விஜய் மல்லையா (ரூ.9,000 கோடி), வைர வியாபாரிகளான நீரவ் மோடியும், அவரது உறவினர் மெஹுல் சோக்ஸியும் (ரூ.13,000 கோடி) என பொதுத்துறை வங்கிகளுக்கு மொத்தம் ரூ.22,000 கோடி அளவில் இழப்பை ஏற்படுத்தி இருக்கின்றனர். அவர்கள் மூவர் மீதும் கருப்புப் பண மோசடி தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தின் கீழ் அமலாக்கத் துறை நடவடிக்கை எடுத்து வருகிறது. அவர்களுக்கு சொந்தமான ரூ.18,170 கோடி மதிப்புள்ள சொத்துகள் முடக்கப்பட்டிருக்கின்றன. வங்கிக்கு அவர்கள் செலுத்த வேண்டிய அசல் தொகையில் 80.45% அளவிலான சொத்துகளை அமலாக்கத் துறை கைப்பற்றியிருக்கிறது என்பது ஓரளவுக்கு ஆறுதல் அளிக்கிறது.
 பஞ்சாப் நேஷனல் வங்கியில் ரூ.13,500 கோடி கடன் பெற்று மோசடி செய்த வைர வியாபாரிகள் நீரவ் மோடியும் அவருடைய உறவினர் மெஹுல் சோக்ஸியும் இன்னும்கூட இந்திய அதிகாரிகளின் பிடியில் சிக்காமல் வெளிநாடுகளில் வசித்து வருகிறார்கள். லண்டன் நீதிமன்றம் நீரவ் மோடிக்கு பிணை வழங்க மறுத்துவிட்டது. அவரை இந்தியாவுக்கு அழைத்து வந்து சட்டத்தின் முன் நிறுத்தும் முயற்சியில் அதிகாரிகள் ஈடுபட்டிருக்கிறார்கள். விரைவிலேயே அழைத்து வரப்படுவார் என்று எதிர்பார்க்கலாம்.
 நீரவ் மோடி பிரிட்டனில் தஞ்சமடைந்தார் என்றால் அவரது உறவினர் மெஹுல் சோக்ஸி ஆன்டிகுவாவில் குடியேறினார். இப்போது அவர் ஆன்டிகுவாவிலிருந்து அண்டை நாடான டொமினிக்காவுக்கு மே 23-ஆம் தேதி தனது தோழியுடன் சட்ட விரோதமாக நுழைந்ததற்காக கைது செய்யப்பட்டு சிறையில் அடைக்கப்பட்டிருக்கிறார். அதைப் பயன்படுத்தி அவரை இந்தியாவில் வழக்கை எதிர்கொள்வதற்காக கைது செய்து அழைத்து வரும் முயற்சியில் அரசு ஈடுபட்டிருக்கிறது.
 ஆன்டிகுவா அரசின் குடியுரிமை சட்டத்தின் அடிப்படையில் அந்த நாட்டில் குடியேறியிருக்கும் மெஹுல் சோக்ஸி, தனது தோழியுடன் கியூபா போவதற்காக டொமினிக்கா வந்தபோது பிடிபட்டிருக்கிறார். இல்லையென்றால் இந்த வாய்ப்பு கிடைத்திருக்குமா என்பதே சந்தேகம்தான்.
 டொமினிக்காவைப் பொருத்தவரை அவர் மீதான வழக்கு குடியுரிமை சார்ந்ததல்ல. சட்ட விரோதமாக அந்த நாட்டுக்குள் நுழைந்ததுதான் குற்றம். மெஹுல் சோக்ஸி தப்பியோடிய பொருளாதாரக் குற்றவாளி என்று அவருக்கு எதிராக சர்வதேச இன்டர்போல் தேடுதல் இருக்கிறது என்பதும் இந்திய அரசால் டொமினிக்கா நீதிமன்றத்தில் சுட்டிக் காட்டப்பட்டிருக்கிறது.
 டொமினிக்கா உயர்நீதிமன்றம் சோக்ஸியின் வழக்கு விசாரணையை ஒத்திப்போட்டிருக்கிறது. டொமினிக்கா கீழமை நீதிமன்றம் அவருக்குப் பிணை வழங்க மறுத்திருக்கிறது. டொமினிக்காவுடன் இந்தியாவுக்கு நாடு கடத்தல் ஒப்பந்தம் இல்லாத நிலையில் அந்த நாட்டு நீதிமன்றத்தால் எப்படி முடிவெடுக்க முடியும் என்பது கேள்விக்குறியாக இருக்கிறது.
 இந்தியாவிலிருந்து தப்பியோடிய குற்றவாளிகளை சட்டரீதியாக கைது செய்து கொண்டு வருவதில் பல தடைகள் காணப்படுகின்றன. மீட்டுக் கொண்டு வருவதற்கான சட்ட வழிமுறைகளில் காணப்படும் ஓட்டைகளைப் பயன்படுத்தி விஜய் மல்லையா, நீரவ் மோடி, மெஹுல் சோக்ஸி உள்ளிட்ட பல பொருளாதாரக் குற்றவாளிகள் வெளிநாடுகளில் சொகுசு வாழ்க்கை வாழும் அவலம் தொடர்கிறது.
 தப்பியோடிய பொருளாதாரக் குற்றவாளிகள் சட்டம் 2018-இல் இயற்றப்பட்டது. இந்திய நீதிமன்றங்களின் அதிகார வரம்புக்கு வெளியே தப்பியோடி, தங்கள் மீதான வழக்குகளைக் கேள்விக்குறியாக்கும் நபர்களுக்கு எதிராக கொண்டு வரப்பட்டதுதான் அந்தச் சட்டம். இந்தியாவில் வழக்கை எதிர்கொள்ளாமல் இருப்பதற்காக வெளிநாடுகளுக்குத் தப்பியோடுவது, வெளிநாடுகளிலிருந்து இந்தியாவுக்கு திரும்பி வராமல் இருப்பது இரண்டுமே இந்தச் சட்டத்தின் கீழ் குற்றமாகக் கருதப்படுகிறது.
 வெளியுறவுத் துறை அமைச்சகத்தின் தகவல்படி, 47 நாடுகளுடன் நாடு கடத்தல் ஒப்பந்தம் மேற்கொள்ளப்பட்டிருக்கிறது. 11 நாடுகளுடன் இந்தியாவுக்கு நாடு கடத்தல் குறித்த புரிந்துணர்வு ஒப்பந்தம் இருக்கிறது. நாடு கடத்தல் ஒப்பந்தத்தின்படி, ஒரு நாட்டிலிருந்து வழக்கைச் சந்திக்காமல் தப்பியோடி வந்தவர்களை கைது செய்து ஒப்படைப்பது ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப்படுகிறது. ஆனால் அதற்கான நடைமுறைகள் கடினமானவை. நீதிமன்ற ஒப்புதலுக்கு உள்பட்டவை.
 அது விஜய் மல்லையாவானாலும், நீரவ் மோடி - மெஹுல் சோக்ஸியானாலும் அவர்கள் சர்வதேச சட்ட அமைப்புகளைக் கேலிக்குள்ளாக்குகிறார்கள். சர்வதேச நீதி பரிபாலன அமைப்புகளும், நாடுகளும் எந்த அளவுக்கு ஒத்துழைப்பு தருகின்றன என்பதைப் பொருத்துதான் தப்பியோடிய பொருளாதாரக் குற்றவாளிகளை நாடு கடத்திக் கொண்டு வர முடியும்.
 உலகில் சட்டத்தின் ஆட்சி நிலவ வேண்டுமானால், தப்பியோடிய குற்றவாளிகளுக்கு எந்த நாட்டிலும் பாதுகாப்பான அடைக்கலம் இல்லாமல் இருப்பது உறுதிப்பட வேண்டும். அதற்காக சர்வதேசச் சட்டம் இயற்றப்பட்டு, நாடு கடத்தும் ஒப்பந்தங்களுக்கு தேவையில்லாத நிலை உருவாக வேண்டும்.

--Source: dinamani.com

It is indisputable that the Indian military continues to work in silos, like all governmental agencies in India, and a need was rightly felt and directions issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring about jointness, leaving the task to the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of India. It is also indisputable that the aim is to bring about a synergy in operations while economising through the elimination of duplication and wasteful practices or processes. At the outset, it also needs to be clearly stated that, contrary to the recent media reports, debates and some opinions, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is not playing ‘dog in the manger’ and resisting the formation of theatre/functional commands. With my 40 years in uniform, as I understand the doctrine and philosophy of the IAF, it is keen to bring in the requisite reforms to improve the war-fighting capabilities of the Indian military as a whole while also economising.

Nuances of air power

The statement that the IAF wants to fight its own private war thus comes from people who do not understand the nuances and capabilities of air power and lack the expertise in its effective utilisation. In the current formulation of theatres, the objections from the IAF have essentially been due to air power being seen as an adjunct to the two surface forces, the Indian Army and the Indian Navy, and being divided into penny packets which would seriously degrade the effectiveness of air operations in any future conflict or contingency. It is better that such objections and dissenting opinions come out now before the structure is formalised than once it is set in stone and the use of air power is found to be sub-optimal under the military ethos of “an order is an order”. We must remember that in war there is no prize for the runner-up. The nation would then end up paying a heavy price, with the Air Force carrying the burden and blame for the failures.

Political objectives

If war is the continuation of politics by other means, then it is essential to first define the political objectives flowing into a national security strategy before any effective use of force can be truly contemplated. The failures of the mightiest militaries in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and even our own Indian misadventure in Sri Lanka bear testimony to the lack of clear political objectives and appropriate military strategies.

It is, therefore, unfortunate that even after over seven decades after Independence, India still does not have a clearly articulated national security strategy. Only such a strategy can define the types of contingencies the military is expected to address, leading to appropriate military strategies, doctrines and required capabilities. That would define the structures required for the conduct of synergised operations with the requisite communications and training requirements. Concurrently, such an intellectual exercise would identify duplication, wasteful resources and practices. This is what the CDS should have been pursuing before first freezing the structure and then trying to glue the pieces together or hammer square pegs in round holes.

As argued elsewhere earlier, such an exercise may well result in identifying air power as the lead element, particularly since the Indian political aim, even in the foreseeable future, is unlikely to be occupation of new territories. A large, manpower-intensive army with unusable armour formations would then also come into focus. Even the proposed air defence command conflicts with the domain commands in seamless employment of air power. It is due to the absence of such an intellectual exercise that the IAF does not wish to see its limited resources frittered away in fighting frontal defensive battles by a land force commander with little expertise in employment of air power. The Army fails to realise that offensive air power is best not seen, busy keeping the enemy air force pinned down elsewhere while giving own surface forces the freedom to manoeuvre and operate with impunity, as shown in 1971.

The Army-Air Force silo

Historically, the Indian Army has always kept the IAF out of the information loop and demonstrated a penchant to ‘go it alone’. The charge that the IAF joined the party late during Kargil (1999) is also totally baseless and shows a lack of knowledge of events and a failure to learn from historical facts. Recorded facts and a dispassionate view would clearly show that the IAF began conducting reconnaissance missions on May 10 as soon as the Indian Army just made a request for attack helicopters, without sharing full information. It is also surprising that a request for photo-reconnaissance of the entire area was not made to first gather essential intelligence on what the Army was facing, before launching foot patrols which were mostly ambushed with unnecessary casualties, instead of asking for armed helicopters. This despite the IAF pointing out the unsuitability of armed helicopters at these altitudes and their vulnerability.

The use of offensive air power close to the Line of Control also required that the political leadership be kept informed due to possibilities of escalation, something that the Army was unwilling to do. Even the Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) initially threatened to go it alone on his return from his visit abroad. As for silos, the CoAS himself admitted later that information was not shared even between the Director General of Military Operation (DGMO) and the Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) within Army headquarters, much less with the IAF. All this was despite the fact that the Defence Programme post-1962 was based on the assumption that China posed the major threat and that the IAF be made capable of assuming some of the Army’s deterrence capability.

Echoes from Kargil

Seen in this light, the Chinese incursion into Eastern Ladakh last year is reminiscent of Kargil. While the response has been swift, it is evident that a clear intent to use combat air power, as against 1962, has significantly contributed in deterring China. However, such intent and a joint strategy would have been forcefully signalled by the presence of air force representatives in the ongoing negotiations to restorestatus quo ante. The continuing build-up of the infrastructure for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in Tibet further emphasises the need for an air-land strategy, with air power as the lead element to deter or defeat the Chinese designs at coercion.

Address the structural gaps

Finally, theatre or any lower structure requires an institutionalised higher defence organisation, which has been sadly missing since the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) became defunct in the 1950s, leading to little regular dialogue between the political and military leadership, except in crises resulting in knee-jerk responses. This led to a remark from a scholar-warrior that, “it is ironic that the Cabinet has an Accommodation Committee but not a Defence Committee”. In the current proposal, it appears that the CDS, as the permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), would also exercise operational control of the theatre/functional commands, a move that is unlikely to be palatable to the politico-bureaucratic leadership and which has, perhaps, called for further deliberations.

Prudence demands that instead of ramming down such structures without adequate deliberations and discussions with all stakeholders, we first evolve appropriate military strategies in a nuclear backdrop in concert with the political objectives. Thereafter, joint planning and training for all foreseen contingencies, with war-gaming, would automatically indicate the required structures with suitable command, control and communications.

Air Marshal Harish Masand is a retired fighter pilot from the Indian Air Force and a Vir Chakra awardee from the 1971 war

How does one read the recent move by Mayawati, chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), in declaring that the party will “go solo” in the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly elections? More importantly, how does one read this politically? In a series of Tweets recently, Ms. Mayawati had said, “The BSP wishes to clarify that, except Punjab, the BSP will not contest the assembly election in alliance with any party in U.P. and Uttarakhand, where the elections to the assembly are to be held at the beginning of next year. The BSP will fight the assembly elections in both the states on its own strength.”

Eye on social groups

There may be multiple ways to understand her decision about the participation of her party in the important Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh. If one analyses the electoral history of the BSP, one may find that most of the time, the BSP has preferred not to form an electoral alliance with political parties but has been more inclined to form alliances with various social groups. The BSP believes that it represents a larger Dalit-Bahujan social base and has what it takes to offer other social communities better political space when they join the BSP. The BSP has scripted most of its political victories through its strategies to associate various social groups around its Dalit social base, by providing them various forms of representation. It must be noted that it was when they began losing their capacity to form an alliance with various non-Dalit communities directly that they felt compelled to go in for alliances with political parties during the Lok Sabha/general election, in 2019.

Alliance with SP and after

In its early years, the BSP formed a successful electoral alliance with the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) during the 1993 Assembly election but the leadership in both parties realised later that their parties represent the interests of social groups that are contesting against each other at the grassroots due to various socio- political reasons. So, this electorally successful alliance could not work out when it came to governance due to inherent social contradictions with the aggressive rise of Other Backward Classes and Dalit communities that had political aspirations.

Therefore, Ms. Mayawati’s decision cited above — about not forming an electoral alliance with any political party — needs to be re-read in the context of changed political time and social context. The fact is that Ms. Mayawati is struggling to keep her voter base intact. Her Dalit base faces problems on account of various possibilities of fragmentation. A Hindutva aspiration is growing fast among a section of marginal communities, even as economically well-to-do and a leading section of marginal communities are looking for comparatively better space in various political parties with the aim of acquiring political power. A section of Dalit communities is also disillusioned with Ms. Mayawati despite her record of being a four-time Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. They are critical of her and ready to move towards exploring other political options in their quest for empowerment. So, this would mean an electoral alliance with any political party that brings them in close contact with the cadres and the leaders of alliance partners that may help prepare the conditions needed for their upward mobility.

Therefore, it is to preserve her voter base that Ms. Mayawati feels a need to go it alone in the election and inculcate hope among her voter base for their better political future. It would appear that Ms. Mayawati may be projecting herself as strong and aggressive just to make her voter base be confident and cohesive. Ms. Mayawati’s recent political actions reflect that her primary aim/priority in this election is to retain her voter base vote rather than form the government. She has also declared her position well in advance not to form an alliance with any political party to reduce any confusion among her followers following rumours. In a related Tweet, she had said, “A news channel is broadcasting news since yesterday that in the upcoming UP Assembly elections, BSP will contest along with (Asaduddin) Owaisi’s party AIMIM. This news is completely wrong, misleading and devoid of any fact. There is not even an iota of truth in this. The BSP vociferously denies this.”

Versus the BJP

Ms. Mayawati’s stand may be guided by her compulsion and the need to save her electoral base but it is going to be beneficial for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the State in some sense. It is easy to understand that a fragmented and dispersed Opposition may not be able to present itself as a strong counter to the BJP. Voters against the BJP may remain fragmented even as the BJP is trying hard to expand its politics among various castes and social communities in the State. It can be seen trying to reach out and form alliances with various social communities and bringing them under its fold using three strategies: by providing them political space; nurturing the identities of various backward and marginal communities by providing them a sense of dignity, and distributing democratic and state- sponsored resources to the various Bahujan communities. Ms. Mayawati’s main challenge now is to prevent Hindutva politics from making inroads and saving her marginal and Bahujan base. It is interesting to observe that the BSP is constantly losing its capacity to attract other castes to join its Dalit- Bahujan base vote. Given this situation, it would be difficult for Ms. Mayawati to win a number of seats that may help her take over the reins of State power.

In my understanding, Ms. Mayawati’s decision to ‘ekala chalo’, or go alone in the coming election is probably influenced by the party’s earlier experience of electoral coalitions. In fact, an electoral coalition may not be successful unless it enables chemistry between social groups at the grass-root level. The conflict and contradiction between the social bases of allied partners may weaken the possibility of an electoral victory as seen during the last parliamentary election 2019, where the SP and the BSP contested together in Uttar Pradesh, only to perform so badly. Second, it is also the result of her main worry to keep her voter base intact. In fact, the Mayawati-led BSP is going to contest one of the toughest, if not the toughest, election in its political history. Let us see how she takes it further and performs in the forthcoming U.P. Assembly election, in 2022.

Badri Narayan is Director, G.B. Pant Social Science Institute (a Constituent Institute of the Central University of Allahabad), Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Ten years ago, on July 5, 2011, Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar delivered a historic judgment banning Salwa Judum, a vigilante movement started in 2005 and sponsored by the Chhattisgarh and Central government, ostensibly to fight against the Maoists. The judges also ruled that the use of surrendered Maoists and untrained villagers in frontline counter-insurgency operations as Special Police Officers (SPOs) was unconstitutional. It directed that the existing SPOs be redeployed in traffic management or other such safe duties. Other matters, especially prosecution of security forces and others involved in human rights violations, and rehabilitation of villagers who had suffered violence, were left pending, since the State had been asked to submit comprehensive plans for this.

Ten years on, nothing has been done to implement the judgment. Instead, the State government has merely renamed the SPOs. They are now known as the District Reserve Guard (DRG). Conversations with DRG members have revealed that most of them are captured or surrendered Maoists and are given automatic weaponry as soon as they join the police force. Some of them get one-three months of training, and some not even that. They commit the most excesses against their former fellow villagers, suffer the most casualties in any operation, and are paid much less than the regular constabulary, all the reasons the judges had outlawed their use. A contempt petition filed in 2012 is still awaiting hearing. Although ‘final hearings’ commenced in December 2018 before another bench of Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta, the judges retired soon thereafter and there has been no hearing since.

New struggles

Much has happened on the ground since then. At its peak between 2005 and 2007, the Judum involved forcing villagers into government-controlled camps. Those who refused were punished by having their villages burnt. Hundreds of people were killed and their deaths were not even recorded as ‘encounters’. Villagers fled to neighbouring States or into the forests around their villages. Sangham members — active but unarmed Maoist sympathisers — were either jailed or compelled to join the security forces as SPOs.

Today, the Judum camps are virtually empty with only the former SPOs and their families remaining, in now permanent houses. Villagers split between those who went to the camp and those who went to the forest are now reconciled. People have come back and started cultivation. An entire generation has grown up and, as we see in the movement against the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Silger, have embarked on new struggles.

Across the region, villagers are demanding schools and health centres. Instead, what they have got in abundance are CRPF camps. These have come up at intervals of less than 5 km, and roads are being bulldozed through what were once dense forests. The only Supreme Court direction to have been implemented since 2007, when the case began, was that security forces vacate the schools where they were camped. But that is because with its own larger takeover of public land and private fields, the CRPF no longer has any use for these ruined structures.

Villagers have tried out all the tools of getting justice but failed. The residents of Tadmetla, Timapuram and Morpalli, whose villages were burnt by the security forces in 2011, travelled hundreds of kilometres to give evidence before the Central Bureau of Investigation, which found in their favour, and filed a charge sheet against some SPOs. In a rare moment, the National Human Rights Commission castigated the government for violations in village Kondasawli, in a case filed by lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj. The villagers of Sarkeguda, where 17 innocent people, including children, had been shot dead one night in June 2012, showed great courage and persistence in deposing before a judicial enquiry commission. But in all these cases, where the government and security forces have been indicted by independent inquiries, no steps have been taken to prosecute those responsible.

T.R. Andhyarujina and Ashok Desai, the lawyers who argued for the villagers pro bono in the Supreme Court, have passed away. And Justice Nijjar too. Ms. Bharadwaj has been in jail since 2018 on contested charges. Along with five others, I have survived a false charge of murder levelled by the police, and even been compensated by the NHRC for the mental trauma undergone, though our case is an exception. Podiyam Panda, former Communist Party of India (CPI) activist, who supported the Tadmetla villagers to demand justice, was arrested, allegedly tortured and is now a ‘police informer’. The Maoists will not let him or his wife, the former sarpanch of Chintagufa, return to the village, even though all the people in Chintagufa and neighbouring villages want them back.

Promises not kept

In 2014, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government replaced the 10-year-old Congress government at the Centre. In 2018, a Congress government replaced the 15-year-old BJP government in Chhattisgarh. Mahendra Karma, the Adivasi face of a violent movement jointly run by the BJP and Congress, was killed by the Maoists in 2013. The medical college hospital in Dimrapal is now named after him. S.R.P. Kalluri, as Bastar Inspector General of Police, was accused of many human rights violations. He was moved out of Bastar, but never prosecuted despite being named in an internal report by the CBI for burning Tadmetla.

When contesting the elections in 2018, the Congress promised to do something about the thousands of innocent villagers who are arrested en masse by the police as suspected Maoists and spend long years in jail before being acquitted. For these villagers, meeting their families is difficult and hiring lawyers drains their meagre resources. Even as a few dedicated human rights lawyers have tried to help, the scale of arrests is massive. Yet, the government’s resolve in freeing prisoners – even during COVID-19 – is in stark contrast to its resolve in setting up security camps and arresting more people.

Deaths in encounters between jawans and Maoists periodically hit the national headlines. But extrajudicial killings of villagers and Maoists and killings of suspected informers by Maoists continue at a steady pace, rarely hitting any high publicity note. An estimate given to the press on June 28 at Sarkeguda claimed 187 deaths in fake encounters between 2015 and 2021.

Another promise made by the Congress — providing protection to journalists — also lies in shreds. The difficulties faced by activists of the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan and the CPI in reaching Silger and Sarkeguda show how the BJP’s tactics continue. The villagers were told that COVID-19 restrictions meant they could not mourn the victims on the anniversary of the Sarkeguda massacre, but a day later, the administration laid out a red carpet and large crowds to welcome Congress MLA Kawasi Lakhma.

Unless both sides get serious about peace talks, another 10 years will pass. The 2011 Supreme Court judgment will be rendered even more meaningless, as will the idea of justice or the rule of law ever being possible in this land, in this time.

Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, is one of the petitioners in the Salwa Judum case

One of the defining lessons I have learnt as a journalist in the last three decades is actually a life skill that one could deploy in any sector. It is about navigating change while retaining your core values and cardinal principles. Technology is galloping at an exponential rate; geopolitics is always shifting; and what was a sunrise sector has become a sunset sector in less than a decade, with a revenue model which has no relationship to influence, trust and reach.

Classic yet contemporary

AtThe Hindu, a phrase I often encounter is ‘classic yet contemporary’. The headline for a feature on the food outlet, The Yellow Chilli, by Shonali Muthalaly was “Classic yet contemporary” (January 9, 2014). A profile of eminent dancer and choreographer Akram Khan was titled “When classic meets contemporary…” (October 21, 2015). A piece on composer V. Dakshinamurty had the headline “Classic but always contemporary” (August 8, 2013). A short report on Pieter Louis Erasmus had the headline “Traditional yet contemporary” (July 30, 2011). Interestingly, the newspaper’s design for its print as well as Internet edition, created by Garcia Media, had the governing theme, ‘Contemporary-Classical’. Former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral’s book on India’s foreign policy is calledContinuity and Change.

It is feedback from readers that shapes changes in the newspaper even as it retains its core values. Feedback helps to draw the crucial line between public interest and what the public is interested in, and ensures that the sacrosanct line balances the two contending, and often contradicting, interests. While editors seek inputs from readers, they also use editorial judgment to decide what changes should be made and what cannot be tampered with. The omnipresence of digital technology has led to the proliferation of cut-and-paste critique by various interest groups. Editors are not swayed by amplification of such narrow interests.

For instance, this newspaper carried a report from its legal correspondent headlined “SC refuses to stay Vanniyar reservation” (July 3) . In the report it was pointed out that the Tamil Nadu State law temporarily provides 10.5% special reservation to Vanniakula Kshatriyas within the quota for the Most Backward Classes (MBCs). The strap line provided the context for the report. It read: “Bill was passed barely an hour before model code of conduct kicked in”.

Amplification of vested interests

We have received innumerable mails and phone calls questioning the use of the word ‘temporary’ in the report. R. Arul, a reader from Chennai, felt that the word was inserted by the newspaper and had no legal or legislative basis. If there is no legal basis for the use of the word ‘temporary’ with reference to the State Act, he said, the newspaper should retract the story. He also cited one of the guidelines issued by the Press Council of India: “The newspaper should promptly and with due prominence, publish either in full or with due editing, free of cost, at the instance of the person affected or feeling aggrieved/or concerned by the impugned publication, a contradiction/reply/ clarification or rejoinder sent to the editor in the form of a letter or note.”

This letter from Mr. Arul was written in both English and Tamil. Within hours, we were flooded with letters. All these letters had copy-pasted Mr. Arul’s arguments. This orchestrated amplification of vested interests failed to look at facts in a dispassionate manner. The report was based on a petition filed in the Supreme Court. It clearly stated that it was the previous Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu who had tabled the Bill. The Chief Minister had said then: “The reservation provided for in this Bill will be temporary. Once the caste-based census is completed, this will be revised based on the findings.”

Readers who want to know the process that governs the selection of news can take part in the virtual Open House we have convened on July 17. We will be closing the call for this virtual meet on July 10.

readerseditor@thehindu.co.in

A light rail is a symbol of modernity that would surely appeal to the vanity of a society’s establishment. What is less evident though is the cost at which it could come. These are not just the upfront costs of installing one but also the hidden environmental impact, which can vary enormously according to geography and the project’s spread. A light rail project has found favour with the Government of Kerala. It’s unique selling proposition, apparently, is that it will reduce very substantially the travel time between the two extremities of the State, namely the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram in the south and the town of Kasargod in its north. So far, the project has mostly drawn criticism from environmental groups but there are also economic considerations that must be brought to the table when judging its desirability. It may seem odd to say this as the economy is embedded in nature and we cannot ignore environmental cost. However, there are instances when the environmental impact of alternative projects is the same but the economic returns vary significantly and vice versa.

Environmental costs

What are the environmental costs of yet another rail line in Kerala? The land here is of an undulated topography combined with an often rocky surface that is prone to crumbling when dislodged. Excessive quarrying and construction have already left it vulnerable to torrential rain, as seen in the devastating landslides recorded across the State in recent years. Therefore, the first thought that comes to mind when contemplating another railway, light though it may be, is how it will impact the stability of the earth’s surface along its course. So far, we have only considered the consequences of the land use at stake. However, natural capital comprises not only the earth’s surface, and the services it renders to us, but also the ecosystem as a whole. It has been pointed out that a part of the land that has been earmarked for acquisition for the project are wetlands, including paddy fields. This should concern us. Paddy is the staple food of Malayalees. Its production in Kerala has been in decline for over half a century. Part of this is explained by economic factors but some part of it is due to the lack of an assured water supply. A double whammy of building over paddy fields and shrinking water bodies threatens food security. There is a recognisable pattern to the development strategy of the present government in Kerala. Two years ago, it had dismissed protests by the villagers of Keezhattur in Kannur District against a highway project that would destroy their paddy fields. It now has a chance to listen to citizens’ concerns on the plan to install a light railway across the State, the consequences of which will be far more widespread.

Taking into account alternatives

It is not anyone’s case that the government should not develop transportation. The point is that it should take into account all alternatives. Kerala already has a railway line that is two- laned for the most part. There is an international airport in every urban conurbation. It is well connected by road, with one of the higher road densities among States. But of the highest promise are the possibilities of transportation over water. There is at present an ongoing project for transportation through inland waterways. Finally, nothing prevents the government from developing a sea-borne ferry service connecting Thiruvananthapuram with Kasargod, and all the ports in between. This would leave the land untouched.

There is an irony in the pitch for a light rail by a Communist government. In the 1950s, when it was believed that land reforms would deliver the land to them, the peasants hopefully sang “we will (one day) harvest all the fields”. Now, by their actions, the ruling class seems to be saying to the workers who installed them in power “we shall (one day) kill all the fields”. Spoken in Malayalam, the statements rhyme.

Pulapre Balakrishnan teaches economics at Ashoka University, Sonipat, Haryana

Pushkar Dhami has replaced Tirath Singh Rawat as the new CM of Uttarakhand, in the second change of guard in the State within four months. Mr. Rawat was not a member of the State legislature, and would have had to be elected an MLA if he were to continue in office beyond six months. The BJP has put out a narrative of a legal limbo to explain the change, claiming that it had become impossible for him to be elected an MLA within the six-month timeframe. Mr. Rawat said in an exit statement that “given the constitutional crisis, I felt it was right for me to resign”. He went on to add, “bypolls could not be held because of COVID-19”, which was not his decision, or the BJP’s to take. The Representation of the People Act 1951 mandates that a bypoll for any vacancy should be held within six months of that vacancy arising, provided that the remainder of the term is not less than one year, or the ECI and the Centre do not certify that holding that bypoll in that timeframe is difficult. The Act does not bar a bypoll even when the remaining term of the Assembly is less than one year, though it becomes optional in that case. In the past, the ECI has conducted bypolls for Assemblies that had less than one year of life remaining. It also remains unclear whether the ECI decided not to conduct bypolls to the two vacant seats in the Uttarakhand Assembly on account of COVID-19 or any other reason.

The change of guard appears to be a political decision of the BJP but the party does not want it to appear so. Over two terms, the BJP has had seven CMs in the State. For all its claimed mastery over matters political, the party picked the wrong horse in Mr. Rawat, an admission implied in his replacement. Far from putting the BJP house in order, Mr. Rawat’s tenure of nearly four months aggravated the tensions within the State unit and embarrassed the party elsewhere. While a political party can run its affairs as it deems appropriate, backing up its decisions with speculation on how the ECI might act creates an unhealthy fog around the institution, which has had to deal with similar situations elsewhere too. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is not a member of the State Assembly, needs to be elected to it within four months. The Assembly has seven vacant seats but there is no clarity regarding the ECI’s plans to hold by- polls. For its own reputation and to demonstrate fairness in the conduct and timing of elections, the ECI must explain its thinking regarding pending bypolls. The pandemic has raised unprecedented challenges in the management of elections that the ECI has to adapt to. It must do so in a transparent manner and ensure that its actions or silence do not appear designed to accommodate political machinations.

India’s merchandise exports reached an all-time quarterly high of $95 billion in the three months ended June, providing welcome cheer on the economic front. That the record was notched up during a quarter when the second wave of the pandemic hit its peak, and amid varying degrees of lockdowns, is all the more noteworthy. Exports last month surged 47% from June 2020 to $32.5 billion. Even discounting the fact that the year-earlier period provided an anomalous base as the economy had just begun reopening from a protracted nationwide lockdown, growth in shipments was still a robust 30% when compared with the pre-pandemic June of 2019. Propelling the surge from the 2019 levels were non-rice cereals, which quadrupled; iron ore, which more than doubled; and organic and inorganic chemicals that rose 62%. Engineering goods exports had the biggest jump in dollar terms, adding $2.73 billion in value, or 42% over June 2019, as the rising vaccination coverage and economic recovery in key developed markets including the EU and the U.S. bolstered demand. Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal was enthused enough by the export performance to posit that shipments of goods to overseas markets could touch the $400 billion mark this fiscal, a figure which, if achieved, would represent an annual record.

Trade data, however, reveals that a significant driver of the export growth has been the runaway rally in commodity prices that have benefited from the accelerated reopening of major economies, as well as an increased appetite for raw materials and grains in China. On the other hand, the crucial job-generating export sectors including readymade garments, leather and leather products and tea all posted double-digit declines from June 2019 levels, reflecting the deeper structural problems that dog each one of them. If the tea industry has been facing a long-term downtrend exacerbated by inadequate product variety, lack of marketing-savvy and sharp competition from rivals including Sri Lanka and Kenya, the leather goods segment has been put on the ropes by a combination of short-sighted policy measures, WTO-mandated withdrawal of export incentives and a pandemic-induced slowdown in orders. For a segment that provides large-scale employment, the recent imposition of an import duty on a key raw material has thrown the sector’s very viability into question. With the Government dragging its feet on notifying the rates applicable under the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP) scheme, exporters are still unsure of how to price their products while bidding for orders. A container shortage and heightened congestion have also sent freight rates out of Indian ports soaring. Policymakers need to look beyond headline numbers and expedite action to restore the health of every constituent sector if economically enduring long-term growth in exports is to be ensured.

A Liberian cargo ship “Ocean Glory” sank this morning [Madras, July 4] in the Bay of Bengal, 160 km. south-east of Madras. All the 31 members of the crew of the ill-fated vessel were, however, rescued by a British passenger-cum-cargo ship and brought to Madras safely. The 10.850-tonne ship is said to have suddenly developed a leak in the engine room which ultimately flooded the vessel. The ship had to be abandoned with all its cargo. It was loaded with sulphur and was sailing from the Persian Gulf to Visakhapatnam. The Captain of the British ship, “Chilka”, and the Ennore Post and Telegraphs Wireless Station received messages from the ‘distress ship’ about the leakage and that it should be rescued immediately. The Wireless Station got in touch with the British ship and requested it to proceed toward the Liberian vessel to rescue the crew.