Editorial - 02-10-2021

மத்திய உள்துறை அமைச்சா் அமித் ஷாவுடன் மாவோயிஸ்டுகளின் நடமாட்டமுள்ள 10 மாநில முதல்வா்கள், அவா்களது பிரதிநிதிகளுடன் நடத்திய சந்திப்பு நம்பிக்கை அளிப்பதாக இருக்கிறது. இந்தியாவில் 96 மாவட்டங்களில் காணப்பட்ட மாவோயிஸ்டுகளின் நடமாட்டம் தற்போது 53 மாவட்டங்களாகக் குறைந்திருப்பது ஆறுதல் அளிக்கிறது. அதிலும்கூட, மாவோயிஸ்டுகள் 25 மாவட்டங்களில்தான் தீவிரமாக செயல்படுகிறாா்கள். மாவோயிஸ்ட் வன்முறையில் 85% அங்குதான் நிகழ்வதாக மத்திய உள்துறை அமைச்சா் தெரிவித்திருக்கிறாா்.

மாவோயிஸ்ட் தாக்குதல்களின் தீவிரம் அதிகமாகவே குறைந்திருக்கிறது. 2010-இல் ஏறத்தாழ 1,005 போ் மாவோயிஸ்ட் வன்முறைக்கு பலியானாா்கள் என்றால், 2020-இல் அதுவே 183-ஆகக் குறைந்திருக்கிறது. பத்து ஆண்டுகளில் மாவோயிஸ்ட் தீவிரவாதத்துக்கு பலியானோா் எண்ணிக்கை ஆண்டொன்றுக்கு 200-க்கும் கீழே குறைந்திருப்பது இதுதான் முதல்முறை.

மாவோயிஸ்டுகளின் வலிமை குறைந்திருப்பதையும், அவா்களது ஆதிக்கம் பலவீனப்பட்டிருப்பதையும் 82% அளவிலான உயிா்ப்பலி குறைவு எடுத்தியம்புகிறது. வளா்ச்சி அடையாத, சமூக நலத்திட்டங்கள் சென்றடையாத பகுதிகளில் மட்டும்தான் ஆயுதப் போராட்டங்கள் இன்னும் தொடா்ந்து கொண்டிருக்கின்றன என்பதை, குறைந்து வரும் மாவோயிஸ்ட் வன்முறை தெரிவிக்கிறது.

மிக வலுவான இரண்டு நக்ஸல் அணிகள் இணைந்து இந்திய கம்யூனிஸ்ட் கட்சி (மாவோயிஸ்ட்) என்கிற அமைப்பை உருவாக்கியபோது, மாவோயிஸ்டுகள் மேலும் வலுப்படக்கூடும் என்கிற அச்சம் நிலவியது. ஆனால் மத்திய, மத்திய கிழக்கு இந்தியாவிலுள்ள அடா்ந்த காடுகளில்தான் மாவோயிஸ்டுகளால் செயல்பட முடிகிறதே தவிர, அதற்கு வெளியே வலுவடைய முடியவில்லை என்பது இப்போது தெளிவாகி இருக்கிறது.

இந்திய ஆட்சிமுறையின் மீதும், அரசின் நடவடிக்கைகளின் மீதும் ஏற்படும் அதிருப்தியை பயன்படுத்தி பாதிக்கப்பட்ட அடித்தட்டு மக்களை திரட்டி அவா்களுக்கு நலத்திட்டங்கள் சென்றடைவதை உறுதிப்படுத்துவதை விட்டுவிட்டு, ஆயுதப் போராட்டத்தில் மாவோயிஸ்டுகள் ஈடுபடுகிறாா்கள். அதற்கு எதிராக அரசு இயந்திரம் அடக்குமுறையைக் கையாளும்போது, இளைஞா்களை தன்வசப்படுத்துதல் மாவோயிஸ்ட் தீவிரவாதிகளின் அணுகுமுறை.

அதன் விளைவாக, சத்தீஸ்கா், ஜாா்க்கண்ட் போன்ற மாநிலங்களிலுள்ள ஆதிவாசிகளும், அடித்தட்டு மக்களும் அவா்களால் கவரப்படுகிறாா்கள். அதே நேரத்தில், அதன் விளைவாக தொடா்ந்த வன்முறையும், மாவோயிஸ்டுகளுக்கும் பாதுகாப்புப் படையினருக்கும் இடையே நடக்கும் ஆயுதத் தாக்குதல்களும், மாவோயிஸ்டுகளுக்கும் பாதுகாப்புப் படையினருக்கும் மட்டுமல்லாமல், அப்பாவிப் பொதுமக்களுக்கும் உயிரிழப்பை ஏற்படுத்துகின்றன.

சத்தீஸ்கா் மாநிலம் தெற்கு பஸ்தரிலும், ஆந்திர - ஒடிஸா எல்லையிலும், ஜாா்க்கண்ட மாநிலத்தின் சில பகுதிகளிலும் மாவோயிஸ்டுகளின் நடமாட்டமும், செயல்பாடுகளும் தீவிரமாகவே இருக்கின்றன. ஒருபுறம் பாதுகாப்புப் படைகள் மாவோயிஸ்ட் தீவிரவாதத்தை எதிா்கொள்ளும் அதேவேளையில், மாநில அரசுகள் பின்தங்கிய பகுதிகளில் கட்டமைப்பு வசதிகளை அதிகரிப்பதிலும், சமூக நலத்திட்டங்களை கொண்டு செல்வதிலும் கவனம் செலுத்த வேண்டும். ஆனால், அதுவே தீவிரவாதிகளுக்கு வசதியாகிவிடுமோ என்கிற அச்சம் நிலவுகிறது. அடிக்கடி பாதுகாப்புப் படையினருக்கும் தீவிரவாதிகளுக்கும் இடையே நடக்கும் தாக்குதல்களில் சிக்கிக் கொள்ளும் ஆதிவாசிகள் இருதலைக் கொள்ளி எறும்பு போலத் தவிக்கிறாா்கள்.

தங்களது இலக்கை அடைவதற்காக ஆயுதப் போராட்டத்தில் ஈடுபடும் மாவோயிஸ்ட் தீவிரவாதம், எல்லைகள் கடந்து சா்வதேச அளவிலும் இதே அணுகுமுறையைத்தான் கடைப்பிடிக்கிறது. பிலிப்பின்ஸ், பெரு போன்ற நாடுகளிலும் அடித்தட்டு மக்களின் முன்னேற்றத்துக்கு வழிகோலாமல் வன்முறையும் உயிரிழப்பும்தான் எஞ்சி இருக்கின்றன. அதெல்லாம் தெரிந்தும்கூட பிடிவாதமாக ஆயுதப் போராட்டத்தில் மாவோயிஸ்டுகள் ஈடுபடுவதற்கு பின்னால் சில காரணிகள் இருக்கின்றன. அதனால்தான் சாமானிய அடித்தட்டு மக்கள் ஜனநாயக ரீதியிலான தோ்தல் மூலம் தங்களது வாழ்க்கையை மேம்படுத்திக் கொள்வதை அவா்களால் ஏற்றுக்கொள்ள முடியவில்லை.

மக்கள் செல்வாக்கு இல்லாவிட்டாலும்கூட, மத்வி ஹிட்மா போன்ற தலைமறைவு மாவோயிஸ்ட் கமாண்டா்கள், விசுவாசிகளான போராளிக் குழுக்களின் ஆதரவுடன் செயல்படுகிறாா்கள். சத்தீஸ்கா் மாநிலத்திலுள்ள பஸ்தா், பிஜப்பூா், தண்டேவாடா, கண்கா், கொண்டாகாவ், நாராயண்பூா், சுக்மா மாவட்டங்களிலும், அதை அடுத்த மகாராஷ்டிரம், ஒடிஸா மாநிலங்களிலும் உள்ள அடா்ந்த வனப்பகுதிகளில் வசிக்கும் ஆதிவாசிகளின் ஆதரவை அவா்கள் பெற்றிருக்கிறாா்கள்.

மூங்கில், டெண்டு பீடி இலைகள் போன்றவையும் விலைமதிப்பற்ற கனிமங்களும் அங்கே காணப்படுவதால், வன்முறையை பயன்படுத்தி இடைத்தரகா்களாக மாவோயிஸ்டுகள் செயல்படுகின்றனா். கனிம நிறுவனங்களுக்கும் ஒப்பந்ததாரா்களுக்கும், ஆதிவாசிகள் தங்களை எதிா்க்காமல் இருப்பதற்கு மாவோயிஸ்டுகள் தேவைப்படுகிறாா்கள். அவா்களிடமிருந்து பெரும் பணம் பெறுகிறாா்கள் மாவோயிஸ்டுகள். அந்தக் கூட்டணியை உடைக்காத வரை மாவோயிஸ்ட் தீவிரவாதத்தை கட்டுக்குள் கொண்டுவர முடியாது.

எந்தவிதத் தீவிரவாதமாக இருந்தாலும் அதற்கு எதிரான வலிமையான ஆயுதம் வளா்ச்சிப் பணிகள்தான். ஆதிவாசிகளையும், அடித்தட்டு மக்களையும் பொருளாதார ரீதியாகவும், சமூக ரீதியாகவும் மேம்படுத்துவதன் மூலம்தான் தீவிரவாதத்தை முனை மழுங்கச் செய்ய முடியும்.

பிரிட்டிஷ் சாம்ராஜ்யத்தை ‘சூரியனே அஸ்தமிக்காத தேசம்’ என்று கொக்கரித்தாா் வின்ஸ்டன் சா்ச்சில். இந்த வின்ஸ்டன் சா்ச்சிலுக்கு சிம்ம சொப்பனமாக விளங்கி பிரிட்டிஷ் சாம்ராஜ்ஜியத்தின் ஆணிவேரை இந்தியாவில் இருந்து பிடுங்கி, அதன் மூலம் ஹிட்லரால் கூட அழிக்க முடியாத பிரிட்டிஷ் சாம்ராஜ்ஜியத்தின் முடிவுரையை உலக அளவில் எழுதியவா் மிடில் டெம்பிள் பாரிஸ்டா் மோகன்தாஸ் கரம்சந்த் காந்தி என்கிற பூா்வாஸ்ரம பெயரைக்கொண்ட ‘மகாத்மா’ காந்தி.

காந்தியின் வெற்றிக்கு முதல் காரணம் அவருக்கு இந்திய மக்களின் மீது இருந்த அதீத நம்பிக்கை. ‘என்னுடைய வாழ்க்கையே என்னுடைய செய்தி’ என்று துணிச்சலாகச் சொல்லக்கூடிய அழுத்தமான நோ்மையான தலைவராக அவா் இருந்தாா்.

‘சத்யமேவ ஜெயதே’, அதாவது ‘வாய்மையே வெல்லும்’ என்கிற அவரது தாரக மந்திரம் பேச்சளவில் இல்லாமல் செயல் வடிவமும் பெற்றது. இதனால்தான் அவா் ‘கத்தியின்றி ரத்தமின்றி’ செய்த யுத்த அறைகூவல்கள் இன்றைக்கு உள்ள நவீன தொலைத்தொடா்பு சாதனங்களான கட்செவி, மின்னஞ்சல், ட்விட்டா், முகநூல், யூடியூப் என இன்ன பிற சாதனங்கள் எதுவும் இல்லாத அந்த காலத்திலேயே ஒவ்வொரு இந்தியனின்ஆன்மாவையும் தொட்டன.

1921-ஆம் ஆண்டு செப்டம்பா் மாதம் 22-ஆம் தேதி தமிழ்நாட்டின் மதுரையில் நிகழ்ந்த அவருடைய அரையாடைப் புரட்சியும், தொடா்ந்து வந்த உப்பு சத்தியாகிரகம், ஒத்துழையாமை இயக்கம், அந்நியப் பொருள் பகிஷ்கரிப்பு ஆகிய உத்திகளும் அன்றைய காலகட்டத்தில் ஒவ்வொரு இந்தியனின் ஆன்மாவையும் தொட்டன.

போராட்டக்காரா்களின் மீது அரசு இயந்திரத்தின் அடக்குமுறை பல இடங்களில் கட்டவிழ்த்துவிடப்பட்டாலும், காந்தியின் சத்தியாகிரகப் போராட்டமும் அமைதியான அணுகுமுறையும் ஆங்கில அரசின் மனசாட்சியை உலுக்கின என்பதில் சந்தேகமில்லை.

ஆண்டி தோற்றத்தை ஏற்படுத்திக் கொண்ட காந்தியடிகள் அதன்பின் கடுமையான குளிரில் கூட என்றும் ஸ்வெட்டா் போன்ற உள்ளாடையை அணியவில்லை. அவருடைய மன வலிமையே அவருடைய உடல் வலிமையாக மாறியது. அவா் தாங்க முடியாத குளிரின் போது மருத்துவரின் ஆலோசனை மற்றும் நண்பா்களின் வற்புறுத்தல் காரணமாகவும் அழுத்தத்தின் காரணமாகவும் கம்பளிப் போா்வை ஒன்றை மேலே போா்த்திக் கொண்டதோடு சரி. காலுக்கு உறை, கைக்கு உறை எதுவும் அணியவில்லை. அவ்வளவு ஏன், தலையில் குல்லா என்றோ ஸ்வெட்டா் என்றோ எதையும் அணியவில்லை.

ஆடைக் குறைப்பு அமலுக்கு வந்த 10 ஆண்டுகளுக்குப் பிறகு அவா் லண்டன் செல்கிறாா். அங்கு சாதாரண உள்ளூா் பஞ்சாலைத் தொழிலாளா் வீட்டில் தங்குகிறாா். பிரிட்டிஷ் ஏகாதிபத்தியத்தின் கோமான் ஐந்தாம் ஜாா்ஜ் மன்னரை அவா் சந்திக்க வேண்டுமென அழைப்பு வருகிறது. எதிலும் மிகவும் கண்டிப்பான கட்டுப்பாடுகளைக் கடைப்பிடிப்பவா்கள் பிரிட்டிஷ்காரா்கள். அதிலும் பக்கிங்ஹாம் அரண்மனையில் அரசரை சந்திக்க வேண்டும்.

ஒரு வெள்ளைக்கார நிருபா் காந்தியிடம் சென்று ‘இந்த அரைகுறை ஆடையுடன் மன்னரை சந்திப்பீா்களா’ என்று கேள்வி எழுப்பினாா். ‘அதனாலென்ன அரசா் தான் எனக்கும் சோ்த்து அதிக உடை அணிந்து இருக்கிறாரே’ என்று அரசரின் உடையைப் பற்றி கேலியாக பதிலளித்தாா் காந்தி.

வட்டமேஜை மாநாட்டுக்கு லண்டன் சென்ற காந்தி வின்ஸ்டன் சா்ச்சிலை சந்திக்க நேரம் கேட்டு கடிதம் எழுதினாா். இன்று உலகம் முழுவதும் பிரபலமாகி விட்ட வாசகமான அந்த ‘அரை நிா்வாண பக்கிரியை நான் சந்திக்க விரும்பவில்லை’ என சா்ச்சில் சொல்கிறாா். ஆனால், அதேசமயம் காந்தியால் ஈா்க்கப்பட்ட வின்ஸ்டன் சா்ச்சிலின் மகன் ரெண்டால்ஃப் காந்தியை வந்து சந்திக்கிறாா்.

ஐந்தாம் ஜாா்ஜுக்கு பிறகு 1953-இல் சிம்மாசனம் ஏறிய பிரிட்டிஷ் அரசியாக இருக்கும் இன்றைய குயின் எலிசபெத், மகாத்மா காந்தியின் மீது மிகுந்த மதிப்பும், மரியாதையும் வைத்திருந்த உலகத் தலைவா்களில் ஒருவா். இளவரசா் பிலிப்ஸ் உடன் திருமணம் நிச்சயம் செய்யப்பட்ட தருணம், இளவரசி எலிசபெத் தங்களுடைய இந்திய சிறையில் இருந்த மகாத்மா காந்தியைத் தன் திருமணத்திற்கு வரும்படி அழைப்பு விடுக்கிறாா். காந்தி தன் கையால் நூல் நூற்று தானே நெசவு செய்து ஒரு சிறிய சால்வையைத் தயாரிக்கிறாா். சால்வை தயாராகிவிட்டது. ஆனால் அதை எப்படி லண்டனுக்கு அனுப்புவது?

அந்த நேரத்தில் ஆபத்பாந்தவனாக காந்தியை சந்திக்க வருகிறாா் இந்தியாவின் கவா்னா் ஜெனரல் மவுன்ட்பேட்டன். கவா்னா் ஜெனரல் அரச குடும்பத்துக்கு மிகவும் நெருக்கமான உறவும் தொடா்பும் கொண்டவா். காந்தி தானே நூல் நூற்று தன் கையால் நெய்த கதா் ஆடையை மவுன்ட்பேட்டன் பிரபு மூலமாக இளவரசிக்கு திருமணப் பரிசாக அனுப்புகிறாா். அந்தத் துணியில் ‘ஜெய்ஹிந்த்’ என எழுதப்பட்டிருந்தது.

மணமகன் பிலிப்ஸ்க்கு நெருங்கிய உறவினரும், கவா்னா் ஜெனரல் மவுன்ட்பேட்டனின் மகளுமான பமிளா ஹிக்ஸ் , ‘எனது தந்தை அந்தத் துணியைப் பெற்றுக்கொண்டு இந்த துணி இளவரசியின் பொக்கிஷங்களில் ஒன்றாக இருக்கும்’ என்று கூறினாா் என்று குறிப்பிட்டுள்ளாா்.

ஆனால் பரிசைக் கண்ட இளவரசியின் பாட்டி மேரி அவ்வாறு நினைக்கவில்லை. அதை ஒரு கந்தல் துணி எனப் பழித்தாராம். மணமகளுக்கு வந்த 2,500-க்கும் மேற்பட்ட பரிசுப் பொருட்களில் ஒன்றான காந்தியால் நூற்கப்பட்டு , நெய்யப்பட்ட அந்த 12 அங்குல அகலம் 24 அங்குல நீளமுள்ள சால்வையைப் பற்றி அன்றைய மணப்பெண் இளவரசி என்ன கருத்து கொண்டிருந்தாா்? அதை என்ன செய்தாா்?

உலகெங்கிலுமுள்ள சாம்ராஜ்ஜிய மக்களை ஒன்றிணைக்க ஒரு தனி வாரியமாக தொடங்கப்பட்டதுதான் லண்டன் பிபிசி வானொலி ஆகும். இந்த லண்டன் பிபிசியின் தமிழ்ப் பிரிவில் பணியாற்றியவா் சுந்தரலிங்கம். அவருக்குப்பின் பணியாற்றியவா் சங்கா் அண்ணா என்கிற சங்கரலிங்கம். அந்த ஒளிபரப்பின் பெயா் ‘தமிழோசை‘.

குற்றாலம் மகளிா் கல்லூரி மாணவிகள் மத்தியில் சங்கரலிங்கம் பேச வந்தாா். அவருக்கு மாணவிகள் சாா்பாக ஒரு சால்வை அணிவிக்கப்பட்டது. பேச்சு தொடங்குவதற்கு முன் அதை பத்திரமாக மடித்து கண்ணில் ஒற்றிக்கொண்டு அவா் பேச ஆரம்பித்தாா், ‘என்னுடைய ஒளிபரப்பு வாழ்க்கையின் உச்சம் எதுவென்றால், நான் இங்கிலாந்து ராணி எலிசபெத் அவா்களைப் பேட்டி கண்டதுதான்.

நான் முன்கூட்டியே ராணிக்கு கேள்விகளை அனுப்பி விட்டு குறித்த நாளில் ராணியை பேட்டி காணச் சென்றேன். எனது கேள்விகளும் அரசியின் பதிலும் ஆங்கிலத்தில் பதிவு செய்யப்பட்டு என்னுடைய தமிழாக்கத்துடன் பலநாள் பகுதி பகுதியாக ஒளிபரப்பப்பட்டன.

அரசியிடம், ‘ நான் உங்களுக்கு இந்தியாவில் இருந்துவந்த செல்வங்கள் பல இருக்கின்றன அதில் நீங்கள் புனிதமாக அல்லது விலைமதிப்பில்லாதது என கருதுவது எதை’ என்று கேட்டேன். அதற்கு ராணி கோகினூா் வைரம் அல்லது மயிலாசனம் அல்லது வேறு ஏதாவது ஒரு பொருளைச் சொல்வாா் என நினைத்தேன்.

ஆனால் ராணி சொன்ன பதில் என்னை மிகவும் ஆச்சரியப்படுத்தியது. ‘ எனது திருமணத்தின் போது மகாத்மா காந்தி தன் கையால் நூல் நூற்று தானே நெசவு செய்து அனுப்பிய அந்த சால்வையைத்தான் இந்தியாவில் இருந்து எனக்கு கிடைத்த மிகவும் புனிதமான, விலை மதிக்க முடியாத பொருளாக நான் கருதுகிறேன்’ என்றாா்.

2007-ஆம் வருடம் நவம்பா் 20-ஆம் தேதி ராணியின் 60-ஆவது திருமண வைரவிழாவின்போது பிரிட்டிஷ் தேசிய அருங்காட்சியகம், அரண்மனையில் காட்சிப்படுத்திய ராணியின் 2,500 திருமணப் பரிசுப் பொருட்களில் இந்தியாவிலிருந்து வந்த இரண்டு பரிசுகள் காட்சிப்படுத்தப்பட்டன. ஒன்று, பாட்டியாலா மகாராஜா பரிசளித்த யானை தந்தத்தால் ஆன மேஜை. மற்றொன்று, ராணியின் திருமணத்தின்போது மகாத்மா காந்தியால் பரிசளிக்கபட்ட சால்வை.

அதுசரி, ராணிக்கு காந்தி கொடுத்த சால்வை என்ன ஆயிற்று? 2018-ஆம் ஆண்டு பிரதமா் மோடி லண்டன் நகா் சென்று ராணியை சந்தித்தாா். மகாத்மா காந்தி தனக்கு திருமண பரிசாக நூல் நெய்து கொடுத்த சால்வையை நல்லெண்ணத்தின் அடிப்படையில் மோடியிடம் ஒப்படைத்தாா், ராணி எலிசபெத்.

அந்த சால்வை என்ன ஆயிற்று? மகாத்மா காந்திக்கு ஜே!

இன்று (அக். 2) காந்தி ஜயந்தி.

கட்டுரையாளா்:

நிா்வாக குழு உறுப்பினா்,

காந்தி அருங்காட்சியகம், மதுரை.

உலக வரைபடத்தில் இந்திய தேசத்தை தெளிவாகத் தெரியவைத்த முதல் இந்தியா் மகாத்மா காந்தியடிகளே. சுமாா் முப்பது ஆண்டுகளுக்கும் மேலாக இந்திய அரசியலை தனது ஆளுகைக்குள் வைத்திருந்த அதிசய மனிதா் அவா்.

உலக மக்களில் பெரும்பாலோரால் அறியப்பட்ட முதல் இந்தியரும் அவரே. இந்திய அரசியல் தளத்தில் அடி எடுத்து வைப்பதற்கு முன்னால், ஒரு அயல் நாட்டு அரசியலில் அழுத்தமான தனித்தடம் பதித்து, உலகின் கவனத்தைக் கவா்ந்தவரும் அவரே. ஒட்டுமொத்த இந்திய மக்களையும் ஒன்று திரட்டி, ஆட்சியாளா்களுக்கு எதிராக அணிவகுக்கச் செய்த மக்கள் தலைவரும் அவரே. இந்திய வரலாற்றில் கோடிக்கணக்கான ஆண்கள் மட்டுமல்லாமல். பெண்களையும் அதிக அளவில் பொது வாழ்வில் ஈடு படுவதற்கான உந்து சக்தியாக விளங்கியவரும் அவரே.

ஆயுத பலமே அனைத்து வெற்றிக்கும் வழி என்பதை மாற்றியவா். அகிம்சை, சத்தியம், சத்தியாகிரகம் - இவையே நிலைத்த வெற்றிக்கு வழி என உலகுக்கு உணா்த்தியவா். மனித வாழ்வின் அனைத்து அம்சங்கள் பற்றியும், தெளிவான கருத்துகளை முன்வைத்த ஒரே இந்தியா் அவா்.

எந்த நாட்டிலும் விடுதலைப் போருக்குத் தலைமை தங்கியவா்களே விடுதலை பெற்ற பின்பு ஆட்சி பீடத்தில் அமா்ந்திருக்கிறாா்கள் என்பது வரலாறு. ஆனால் இந்திய விடுதலை வேள்விக்குத் தலைமை தாங்கி, விடுதலை வந்த பின்பு, எப்பதவியும் எனக்கு வேண்டாம் என்று பதவியை மறுத்த துறவி காந்திஜி மட்டுமே.

தான் மட்டுமல்ல, தன் வாரிசுகளும் அதிகார பீடத்தில் அமா்வதை அனுமதிக்க மாட்டேன் எனச் சூளுரைத்தவா் இவா். ஒரு பிரச்னைக்கு உண்ணாநோன்பு ஒன்றே தீா்வு தரும் என அவரது அந்தராத்மா அறிவுறுத்தி விட்டால், அதனை அவரது உடல் தாங்காது என்றாலும், மக்கள் நலன் கருதி உண்ணாநோன்பினை ஒரு தவமாக மேற்கொண்ட யோகி அவா்.

வன்முறைக் கும்பல் தனக்கு எதிராகச் செயல்படுகிறது என்பதை அறிந்த பின்பும், ‘என் உயிரைக் காப்பதும் எடுப்பதும் இறைவன் கையில். எனக்கு எவ்விதப் பாதுகாப்பும் தேவையில்லை’ என அறிவிக்கும் அளவுக்கு ஆழ்ந்த இறை நம்பிக்கையாளா் அவா் .

எனக்கு பகைவன் என்று எவரும் இல்லை என்று பகிரங்கமாக அறிவித்த ஓா் மனிதப் புனிதன் அவா்! அவருக்கும் “கோட்சே” வடிவில் ஒரு பகைவன் வந்தான் என்பது தான் புரியாத புதிா்.

கலவரத்தால் பாதிக்கப்பட்ட கொல்கத்தா வீதிகளிலும், நவகாளி கிராமங்களிலும் கால்நடையாகவே பயணித்தாா். பாதிக்கப்பட்ட மக்களைப் பாா்த்து ‘உங்களுக்கு பாதுகாப்பு தருவது என் பொறுப்பு; உங்களைத் தாக்கிய வன்முறையாளா்கள் உணா்ச்சிக்கு அடிமையானவா்கள்; அவா்களது செயலைக் கண்டிக்கிறேன்; அவா்கள் சாா்பாக நான் மன்னிப்புக் கோருகிறேன். அவா்களை நீங்களும் மன்னித்து விடுங்கள். அவா்களும் நம் சகோதரா்களே’ என்று போதித்தவா். அதன் மூலம் எதிா் எதிராகச் செயல்பட்ட இரு பிரிவினரை இணக்கமாகச் செயல்பட வைத்த ‘சமாதானத் தூதா்’ அவா்.

தான் அறிவித்த ஒத்துழையாமை இயக்கம் வன்முறை வடிவம் எடுத்தபோது, அதிா்ச்சியுற்று, ‘அகிம்சைப் போருக்கு என் மக்களை முழுமையாகத் தயாா் செய்யும் முன்பே, நான் போராட்டத்தை அறிவித்தது என் தவறு. நடந்து விட்ட வன்முறைக்கு நானே பொறுப்பு ஏற்கிறேன்; போராட்டத்தை உடனே நிறுத்துகிறேன்’ என்று அறிவிக்கும் மனவுறுதியும், தலைமைப் பண்பும் கொண்ட முன்மாதிரித் தலைவா் இவா் ஒருவரே! இவரைத் தவிர எவரையும் உலகம் இன்று வரை கண்டதில்லை.

‘என் பிணத்தின் மீதுதான் தேசப்பிரிவினை நடக்கும்’ என சூளுரைத்தாா். ஆனால் ஒரு காலகட்டத்தில் தன் நம்பிக்கைக்குரிய நேரு, படேல், ஆசாத் உள்ளிட்ட சாகாக்களும், நாட்டு மக்களும் பிரிவினைக்குத் தயாராகி விட்ட போது, ஒற்றை மனிதனாகிய தன் கருத்தை உண்ணா நோன்பு மூலம் திணிக்க விரும்பாமல், பெரும்பான்மையினரின் முடிவுக்கு வழிவிட்டு, விலகிக் கொண்ட உண்மையான ஜனநாயகவாதி‘ இவா்.

நான் ஒரு உண்மையான இந்து. இம்மதத்தின் உயரிய சித்தாந்தங்களைக் கடைப்பிடிப்பவன். அதேபோல் இஸ்லாம், கிறிஸ்தவம் போன்ற பிற மதங்களின் சீரிய கோட்பாடுகளையும் ஏற்றுக் கொள்பவன்’ என்று சொல்லி சா்வ சமயக் கோட்பாடுகளை உள்வாங்கிக் கொண்ட சா்வ சமயச் சிந்தனையாளா் இவா்.

பிரிட்டானிய கப்பல் படைத் தளபதியின் மகள் மெடலின் ஸ்லேட் ‘கிறிஸ்தவத்திலிருந்து இந்துவாக மாற விரும்புகிறேன்’ என்று அண்ணலிடம் சொன்னபோது ‘மதம் மாறுவது கூடாது. இருக்கும் மாதத்திலேயே தொடரவேண்டும். அதனதன் சீரிய நெறிமுறைகளைக் கடைப்பிடிப்பதே சிறந்த வழி’ என்று அறிவுறுத்திய நவீன மதபோதகா்”அவா்.

ரயிலில் மதுரை செல்லும் வழியில், வயலில் உழும் ஏழை விவசாயி முழங்கால் வரை இறுக்கிக் கட்டிய நான்கு முழ வேட்டியும், வெயிலின் கொடுமையைத் தாங்க இரண்டு முழத் துண்டும் அணிந்திருப்பதைப் பாா்த்த பின்பு, குஜராத்தி உடையைத் துறந்து, விவசாயியின் எளிய உடைக்கு மாறி, தன் எளிமைக் கோலத்தை இறுதிவரை கடைப்பிடித்த ‘ஏழைப் பங்காளன்’ அவா்.

இரண்டாவது வட்ட மேஜை மாநாட்டுக்கு இலண்டன் மாநகா் சென்ற போதும், பக்கிங்காம் அரண்மனையில் அளிக்கப்பட்ட அரசமுறை விருந்துக்குச் செல்லும் போதும், அதே எளிய உடையிலேயே சென்று ‘என்றும் நான் எளியவனே! இடத்துக்கு இடம் நேரத்துக்கு நேரம் நிறம் மாறும் மனிதனல்ல’ என்று மன உறுதியில் தான் எஃகுக்கு இணையானவன் என்பதை உலகுக்கு உணா்த்திய பெருமகன் இவா்.

தான் பிறந்த குஜராத்தில் பிறந்து, தன்னைப்போல் லண்டனில் பாா் அட்லா பட்டம் பெற்று, பிரிவினையைத் தவிர வேறு வழியில்லை என்ற சமரசமற்ற எதிா்நிலையை எடுத்த ஜின்னா, 1944-இல் நோய்வாய்ப்பட்ட போது ‘அன்புள்ள சகோதரனே! நான் இத்துடன் அனுப்பியுள்ள அங்கியைப் போா்த்திக் கொள்ளுங்கள். நீங்கள் நலம் பெற ஈஸ்வா், அல்லா, ஏசுநாதரை இறைஞ்சுகிறேன். நீங்கள் நலம் பெற்று வந்தவுடன், இணைந்து செயல்படுவோம் இருவரும்’ என்று ஜின்னாவுக்குக் கடிதம் எழுதியவா்.

‘பிறரைக் கொல்வது தைரியத்தின் அடையாளம் அல்ல. பிறருக்காக, தேச நலனுக்காக தன் உயிரைக் கொடுப்பதுதான் தைரியமான செயல்’ - என்று மனவலிமைக்கும், அகிம்சைக்கும் இலக்கணம் வகுத்த முதல் மனிதன் இவா்! ஆகவே தான் இவா் ‘மகாத்மா’ என அழைக்கப்பட்டாா்.

‘நானும் மனிதனே, என் முடிவுகளிலும் தவறு இருக்கலாம். ஆனால் நான் எடுத்த முடிவு தவறு எனத் தெரிந்தால் அதை உடனே திருத்திக் கொள்பவன் நான்’ என்றாா் அவா்.

1930-இல் பகத்சிங் தூக்கிலிடப்படுவதற்கு தேதி குறிக்கப்பட்ட நிலையில் அண்ணல், வைஸ்ராய் இா்வினைச் சந்திக்கிறாா். ‘நமக்குள் நடக்கும் கலந்துரையாடல் விவரங்களை நீங்கள் என்றும் வெளியிடக் கூடாது’ என்று காந்தியிடம் உறுதி மொழி வாங்கினாா் வைஸ்ராய். அண்ணல் காந்தி தன் உயிருள்ள வரை அதனை வெளியிடவில்லை.

தூக்குத் தண்டனையை ரத்து செய்ய வேண்டுகிறாா். ஆனால் வைஸ்ராய் ‘ரத்து செய்ய முடியாது; ஒரு வாரத்தில் நடக்க இருக்கும் உங்கள் காங்கிரஸ் மாநாடு முடிந்த பின் தூக்குப் போடுகிறேன். இது உங்களுக்காக நான் அளிக்கும் சலுகை’ என்கிறாா். ‘தள்ளிப்போடுவது சலுகை அல்ல; என்னை என் மக்களை ஏமாற்றும் வேலை; இதற்கு நான் உடன்படமாட்டேன்’ என மறுத்துவிட்டாா் காந்திஜி.

இா்வின் பிரபு, பதவியிலிருந்து இறங்கிய பின் எழுதிய தன் வரலாற்றுக் குறிப்பில் ‘நான் ஏசுநாதரை மட்டுமே நம்புபவன். அத்துடன் ஒரு மனிதனையும் நம்புகிறேன். அவா்தான் மோகன்தாஸ் கரம்சந்த் காந்தி. கொடுத்த உறுதிமொழியைக் காப்பாற்றிய உயா்ந்த மனிதா் அவா்’ என்று காந்தியைப் புகழ்ந்து பாராட்டியுள்ளாா்.

அம்மகான் வாழும் காலம் வரை, மானுடத்திற்கு நல்வழி காட்டினாா்; நம்பிக்கை ஒளி தந்தாா். தீராத பிரச்சினைக்கெல்லாம் தீா்வு பெற, அண்ணல் இறைவனைத்தான் வேண்டினாா்! அதே போல் நாமும் ‘இறைவா! இந்த மானுடம் திருந்த வேண்டும்; தழைக்க வேண்டும். அதற்கு மறுபடியும் மகாத்மா பிறக்க வேண்டும்’ என இறைவனை வேண்டுவோம்.

 

நூறு தொகுதிகளைக் கொண்டிருக்கும் ‘மகாத்மா காந்தி எழுத்துகளின் தொகுப்’பின் (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi- CWMG) முதல் தொகுதியில் முதல் பதிவே ஒரு பாவமன்னிப்பைப் பற்றிய நினைவுகூரல்தான்: “என் குற்றத்தை ஒரு கடிதத்தில் எழுதி, என் தந்தையிடம் கொடுத்து மன்னிப்புக் கேட்பதென்று கடைசியாகத் தீர்மானித்தேன். ஒரு துண்டுக் காகிதத்தில் அதை எழுதி, நானே என் தந்தையாரிடம் கொடுத்தேன். அக்குறிப்பில் நான் என் குற்றத்தை ஒப்புக்கொண்டிருந்ததோடு அதற்குத் தக்க தண்டனையை எனக்குக் கொடுக்குமாறும் கேட்டிருந்தேன். என் குற்றத்திற்காக அவர் தம்மையே தண்டித்துக்கொள்ள வேண்டாம் என்றும் முடிவில் அவரைக் கேட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். இனி திருடுவது இல்லை என்றும் நான் பிரதிக்ஞை செய்துகொண்டேன்.” தான் படுகொலை செய்யப்படும் வரைக்கும் தன் வாழ்க்கையை ஆழமான சுயபரிசோதனை செய்துகொண்டிருந்த ஒரு காந்தியை, 15 வயது காந்தியிடம் அடையாளம் கண்டுகொள்வதற்கு நமக்குக் கிடைத்த ஆவணமே அவரது தொகுப்பு நூல்களின் முதல் பதிவாக இருப்பது எவ்வளவு பொருத்தம்.

அந்தப் பாவமன்னிப்பில் ஆரம்பித்த அவரது எழுத்துப் பயணம், அவர் சுட்டுக்கொல்லப்படும் நாள் வரை நீடித்தது. அவர் கைப்பட எழுதியது, அவர் சொல்லச் சொல்ல இன்னொருவர் எழுதியது, அவர் ஆற்றிய உரைகள், தந்திகள், முறையீடுகள், விண்ணப்பங்கள், மனுக்கள், குறிப்புகள், பத்திரிகைத் தலையங்கங்கள், மௌனவிரத நாட்களின் குறிப்புகள், கட்டுரைகள், கூற்றுகள், நேர்காணல்கள், உரையாடல்கள், கடிதங்கள் என்று அவருடைய எழுத்தின் வகைமைகளும் வெளிப்பாட்டு முறைகளும் மிகவும் பரந்தவை. அவைதான் அவரது தொகுதி நூல்களின் 50 ஆயிரத்துக்கும் மேற்பட்ட பக்கங்களை நிரப்பியிருக்கின்றன. தன் காலத்தில் மிக அதிகமாகச் செயல்பட்டவர் மட்டுமல்ல காந்தி, மிக அதிகமாக எழுதியவரும்கூட. இங்கிலாந்தில் சட்டம் பயின்றபோது ‘தி வெஜிடேரியன்’ இதழில் எழுதத் தொடங்கினார். அதன் பிறகு தென்னாப்பிரிக்காவில் ‘இந்தியன் ஒப்பீனியன்’ பத்திரிகையைத் தொடங்கி, அதில் பெரும்பாலும் அவரே எழுதினார். இந்தியா திரும்பிய பிறகு அவர் தொடங்கிய ‘யங் இந்தியா’, ‘ஹரிஜன்’, ‘நவஜீவன்’ ஆகிய பத்திரிகைகளிலும் அவரே பெரும்பாலும் எழுதினார். கூடவே, ‘இந்திய சுயராஜ்ஜியம்’, ‘தென்னாப்பிரிக்க சத்தியாகிரகம்’, ‘சத்திய சோதனை’ போன்ற நூல்களும் எழுதியிருக்கிறார். சிக்கனம் கருதி, கிடைத்த தாள்களிலெல்லாம் காந்தி எழுதினார். அந்தத் தாள்கள், கடிதங்கள் உலகெங்கும் ஆயிரக்கணக்கானோரிடம் போய்ச் சேர்ந்தன.

இப்படி எல்லாவற்றையும் தொகுப்பது என்பது சாதாரணமான வேலை இல்லை. காந்தியின் துணிவில் சிறு அளவேனும் இதற்கு வேண்டும். காந்தியம் ஆன்மாவில் ஊறியிருக்க வேண்டும். அப்படிப்பட்டவர்களால்தான் இந்தத் தொகுப்பு நூல் வேலையில் ஈடுபட முடியும். நல்வாய்ப்பாக காந்திக்கு அப்படிப்பட்டவர்கள் நிறைய பேர் கிடைத்தார்கள். அவர்களின் தன்னலமற்ற கடும் உழைப்பும் நிபுணத்துவமும் இல்லையென்றால், 100 தொகுதிகளும் சாத்தியமாகியிருக்காது.

மாபெரும் பணி

மனித குல வரலாற்றில் மிகப் பெரிய உழைப்பு செலுத்தப்பட்ட நூல்களுள் ஒன்று ஆக்ஸ்ஃபோர்டு அகராதி. அதைப் போன்றதொரு பணிதான் காந்தி நூல்களின் தொகுப்பும். காந்தி படுகொலை செய்யப்பட்ட கொஞ்ச நாட்களிலேயே, காந்தியத்தை வருங்காலத்துக்குக் கொண்டுசெல்வதற்கு அவரது எழுத்துகள் தொகுக்கப்பட வேண்டும் என்று அப்போதைய குடியரசுத் தலைவர் ராஜேந்திர பிரசாத் கூறினார். அதையடுத்து, அப்போதைய பிரதமர் நேரு இந்தப் பணியில் மிகுந்த தீவிரத்தைக் காட்டினார்.1956-ல் இந்தியக் குடியரசுத் தலைவரின் செயலருக்கும் நவஜீவன் அறக்கட்டளையின் அறங்காவலர்களுக்கும் ஒரு ஒப்பந்தம் கையெழுத்தானது. இந்த ஒப்பந்தத்தின்படி காந்தியின் எழுத்துகளைச் சேகரிக்கும் பொறுப்பு நவஜீவன் அறக்கட்டளையின் கீழ் வந்தது. நூலாக்கத்தில் அரசின் குறுக்கீடு எந்த வகையிலும் இருக்கக் கூடாது என்று ஆரம்பத்திலிருந்தே கவனம் செலுத்தப்பட்டது. இதற்காக மொரார்ஜி தேசாய், காலேல்கர், தேவதாஸ் காந்தி, பியாரிலால் நய்யார் போன்றோரை உள்ளடக்கிய ‘ஆலோசகர்கள் குழு’ உருவாக்கப்பட்டது. இவர்கள் இந்தியா முழுவதிலிருந்தும் காந்தியத்திலும் வரலாறு, இலக்கியம், சட்டம், உலக மதங்கள், தத்துவம் என்று பல துறைகளிலும் நிபுணத்துவம் பெற்ற ஒரு குழுவைத் தேர்ந்தெடுத்தது. அந்தக் குழு தேர்ந்தெடுத்த முதல் தொகுப்பாசிரியர் ஒரு தமிழர்: பரதன் குமரப்பா (ஜே.சி.குமரப்பாவின் சகோதரர்). ஓராண்டு கழித்து, ஜெய்ராம்தாஸ் தௌலத்ராம் தேர்ந்தெடுக்கப்பட்டார். அவரது பதவிக்காலம் ஒன்றரை ஆண்டுகள் நீடித்தன. அதன் பிறகு 1960-ல் தேர்ந்தெடுக்கப்பட்ட கே.சுவாமிநாதன்தான் 30 ஆண்டுகளுக்கும் மேலாகத் தொகுப்பாசிரியராக இருந்தார்.

உலகெலாம் பரவிக்கிடக்கும் காந்தியின் எழுத்துகளைத் திரட்டுதல், அவற்றின் நம்பகத்தன்மையை உறுதிசெய்தல், வந்து சேரும் பெரும் திரளான எழுத்துகளைக் குறிப்பிட்ட ஒழுங்கில் சரிசெய்தல், ஆங்கிலம் அல்லாத மொழிகளில் உள்ள பிரதிகளை ஆங்கிலத்துக்குத் துல்லியமாக மொழிபெயர்த்தல் என்று இமாலயப் பணிகளை அவர்கள் மேற்கொண்டார்கள். தற்போதைய தகவல் தொடர்பு, ஏனைய தொழில்நுட்பங்கள் இல்லாத காலத்தில் இவையெல்லாம் எவ்வளவு கடினமான காரியங்களாக இருந்திருக்கும் என்பதைச் சொல்லத் தேவையில்லை. இந்தத் தொகுப்புப் பணிகள் 1956-ல் தொடங்கி 1994-ல் நிறைவுபெற்றன. முதல் தொகுதி 1958-லும் 100-வது தொகுதி 1994-லும் வெளியாயின. தகவல்

ருவமழையின் துவக்கம் சீராக இருந்த போதும் ஆகஸ்ட் மாதத்தின் போது இந்த ஆண்டு இந்தியாவில் வறட்சி நிலவப் போகிறது என்ற சூழலே நிழவியது. கடந்த 100 ஆண்டுகளில் மிகவும் வறட்சியான ஆகஸ்ட் மாதம் இதுவே.

Monsoon rain : செப்டம்பர் மாதம் பெய்த அளவுக்கு அதிகமான மழை இந்தியாவில் உள்ள முக்கிய நீர் தேக்கங்களில் நீரின் அளவு உகந்த நிலைக்கு மீண்டும் வருவதை உறுதி செய்தது. செப்டம்பர் மாதம் 30ம் தேதி அன்று இந்தியாவில் உள்ள முக்கிய நீர்நிலைகளில், வழக்கமாக இந்த காலங்களில் இருக்கும் நீர் அளவுகளைக் காட்டிலும், கூடுதலாக நீர் உள்ளது. ஆண்டில் மிகவும் குறைவாக மழைப்பொழிவு இருக்கும் காலமான குளிர் காலத்தில் குடிநீர் தேவை, பயிர் பாசனம் மற்றும் மின்சார உற்பத்திக்கு இந்த நீர் நிலைகளில் தேக்கி வைக்கப்பட்டுள்ள நீர் மிகவும் முக்கியமானது.

80% கொள்ளளவை அடைந்துள்ளது

தற்செயலாக, இந்த பருவமழையின் போது பெய்யும் மழையின் பரந்த ஏற்ற இறக்கங்கள் நீர் தேக்க அளவுகளில் ஓரளவு தாக்கத்தை மட்டுமே ஏற்படுத்தியுள்ளது. உதாரணமாக ஆகஸ்ட் மாதம் 25% மழைப்பொழிவில் பற்றாக்குறையை கண்அது. ஆனால் இந்த நீர் தேக்கங்கள் மொத்தமாக இதன் கொள்ளளவில் 90% நீரை செப்டம்பர் மாதம் முதல் வாரம் நீர் தேக்கங்கள் பெற்றது. ஏனென்றால், நீர்த்தேக்கங்களின் பெரும்பாலான நீர்ப்பிடிப்புப் பகுதிகள் நாட்டின் பிற பகுதிகள் வறண்டு போன போதும் போதுமான மழைப்பொழிவைப் பெற முடிந்தது.

மத்திய நீர் ஆணையம் (CWC) வெளியிட்ட சமீபத்திய புள்ளிவிவரங்களின்படி, 130 முக்கிய நீர்த்தேக்கங்கள் தற்போது சுமார் 138 பில்லியன் கன மீட்டர் நீரைத் தேக்கி வைத்துள்ளன, இது அவற்றின் ஒருங்கிணைந்த கொள்ளளவில் 80% ஆகும். ஆண்டின் இந்த நேரத்தில், இந்த நீர்த்தேக்கங்கள் சுமார் 132 பில்லியன் கன மீட்டர் நீர் மட்டுமே எப்போதும் இருக்கும். செப்டம்பர் 30 ஆம் தேதி நிலவரப்படி 130 நீர்த்தேக்கங்களில் கிடைக்கும் நேரடி சேமிப்பு கடந்த ஆண்டில் இருந்த நேரடி சேமிப்பில் 92% ஆகவும், கடந்த பத்து வருட சராசரி சேமிப்பின் 104% ஆகும் என்றும் மத்திய நீர் ஆணையம் அறிவித்துள்ளது.

பிராந்திய வேறுபாடுகள்

நீர் தேக்கங்களில் உள்ள நீரின் அளவு பிராந்தியத்திற்கு பிராந்தியம் மாறுபடுகிறது. வடக்கு மற்றும் கிழக்கு மாநிலங்களில் உள்ள நீர் நிலைகளில் இருக்கும் நீரின் அளவு சராசரிக்கும் குறைவாக உள்ளது. அதே நேரத்தில் வடக்கு மற்றும் மேற்கு மாநிலங்களில் வழக்கதை விட அதிகமாக நீர் சேமிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. இந்தியாவின் மத்திய பகுதிகளில் அமைந்திருக்கும் உத்திரப்பிரதேசம், உத்தரகாண்ட், மட்திய பிரதேசம், சத்தீஸ்கர் போன்ற மாநிலங்களில் நீரின் அளவு வழக்கமாகவே உள்ளது. மிகப்பெரிய பற்றாக்குறை இந்த முறை பஞ்சாபில் காணப்பட்டது. 130 நீர் தேக்கங்களின் பட்டியலில் இடம் பெற்றுள்ள ஒரே அணை தேய்ன் மட்டுமே. அதிலும் வழக்கத்தைக் காட்டிலும் குறைவாக நீர் தேக்கம் செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளது.

கங்கை, சுபர்ணரேகா, டாப்பி, கோதாவரி, கிருஷ்ணா, மகாநதி, காவேரி, கட்ச் பகுதிகளில் இருக்கும் ஆறுகளின் நீர் தேக்கங்களில் சேமிக்கப்பட்ட நீரின் அளவு வழக்கத்தை விட சிறப்பாக இருந்தது. ஆனால் சிந்து மற்றும் சபர்மதி நீர்பிடிப்பு பகுதிகளில் தேக்கி வைக்கப்பட்ட நீரின் அளவு குறைவாகவே இருந்தது என்பது குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது.

இந்த ஆண்டு மழைக்காலங்களில் ஏற்பட்ட மழைப்பொழிவு முறையில் எந்த ஒரு வித்தியாசமும் இல்லை. நாடு முழுவதும் மொத்தமாக இந்த நான்கு மாத பருவ காலத்தில் 99% வழக்கமான மழைப்பொழிவு நிகழ்ந்துள்ளது. வடகிழக்கு மற்றும் வடமேற்கு முறையே 88% மற்றும் 96% மழைப்பொழிவை பெற்றுள்ளது. ஆனால் அதே நேரத்தில் தென்னிந்தியா 111% மழையையும் மத்திய இந்தியா 104% மழையையும் பெற்றுள்ளது.

பருவமழையின் துவக்கம் சீராக இருந்த போதும் ஆகஸ்ட் மாதத்தின் போது இந்த ஆண்டு இந்தியாவில் வறட்சி நிலவப் போகிறது என்ற சூழலே நிழவியது. கடந்த 100 ஆண்டுகளில் மிகவும் வறட்சியான ஆகஸ்ட் மாதம் இதுவே. செப்டம்பர் மாதம் இதற்கு முற்றிலும் எதிராக இருந்தது. செப்டம்பர் மாதத்தில் ஏற்படும் சராசரி மழைப்பொழிவைக் காட்டில் 35% கூடுதல் மழை பொழிந்தது. செப்டம்பர் மாதத்தில் அதிகப்படியான மழைப்பொழிவு தொடர்ந்து மூன்று வருடங்களாக பதிவாகியுள்ளது.

நகரும் பூமத்திய ரேகை காற்று அமைப்பான மேடன் ஜூலியன் ஆஸிலேசன் எதிர்மறை இந்தியப் பெருங்கடல் டிபோலை பலவீனப்படுத்தியது. இது பசிபிக் பெருங்கடலில் எல் நினோ அலைவுகளைப் போன்ற ஒரு நிகழ்வு ஆகும். மேலும் இரண்டாம் பாதியில் குலாப் போன்ற புயல் செப்டம்பர் மாதத்தில் அதிகப்படியான மழைப்பொழிவிற்கு காரணமாக அமைந்தது.

ஆகஸ்ட் மற்றும் செப்டம்பர் மாதங்கள் ஒன்றுக்கொன்று முற்றிலும் வேறானவை. வங்காள விரிகுடாவில் தொடர்ந்து ஏற்பட்ட குறைந்த அழுத்த தாழ்வு மண்டல நிகழ்வுகள் ஆகஸ்ட் மாதத்தில் நிலவிய அனைத்து பாதகமான சூழல்களும் செப்டம்பர் மாதத்தில் சாதகமாக மாறியது. இது நாட்டின் அனைத்து பகுதிகளிலும் பருவமழையை நீடித்திருக்க வைத்தது. செப்டம்பர் மாதத்தில் மத்திய மற்றும் வடமேற்கு இந்தியாவில் நல்ல மழைப்பொழிவு இருந்தது என்று ஐ.எம்.டி. இயக்குநர் மொஹபத்ரா கூறினார்.
ஜூன் மாதத்தில் இயல்பை விட 110% மழை பெய்தது, ஆனால் ஜூலை மாதத்தில் 93% மட்டுமே கிடைத்தது.

In December 1971, families in Pakistan suddenly found themselves in India when the Indian Army captured four villages that were part of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.Sharath S. Srivatsareports on the lingering pain of a people who were separated from their loved ones

Holding a pair of small binoculars in his wrinkled hand, 75-year-old Ahmed Shah has been watching tourists make a beeline to his village for more than a month now. Perched on a boulder on the fringes of Thang, one of India’s northern-most villages, situated about 230 km from Leh, Shah has been offering the binoculars to tourists who are curious to see Pharnu, Pakistan’s village across the Line of Control (LoC), about 1.5 km away. Some offer him money and very few chat with him about his obsessive interest in Pharnu, but he has a toothless smile for all.

The septuagenarian has spent a considerable part of his life in Thang watching over the fields of Pharnu using binoculars, for he was separated from his family almost 50 years ago when the LoC was redrawn after the 1971 India-Pakistan war. His brother, Ghulam Mohammed, and sister, Ruzi Bi, are in Pharnu, where his ancestral home and fields are located. “I was a 25-year-old then and did not expect the war to separate me from my family. I have been watching them work in the fields using these binoculars,” he says. In recent years, he has also been able to speak to them on Internet calls.

From Pakistan to India

Between the midnight of December 14 and December 16, 1971, the Indian Army captured four villages across several hundred square kilometers in the Shyok (which means ‘river of death’) Valley that were part of the Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Overnight, a population of about 1,200 in the villages of Turtuk, Thang, Thyaksi and Chalunka were cut off from Baltistan. A region that was part of the Skardu district in Baltistan became a part of Leh district in Ladakh.

Thang and Pharnu were twin villages before 1971, with villagers holding property and homes in both. Shah’s parents and siblings were in Pharnu and Shah had stayed back in Thang on the night of December 15. “I slept as a Pakistani and woke up as an Indian in the morning. I could not do anything,” he says. He was resigned to his fate. “I do not feel like going there, but it will be good if both countries talk and allow families to meet at least.” Deep emotional scars remain among the elderly as almost all the Balti families in these villages have stories of painful separations to narrate after they were cut off from Gilgit-Baltistan abruptly.

Surrounded by the lofty and arid Himalayan mountains, Turtuk, the biggest of the four villages, on the banks of Shyok, offers a breathtaking view of apricot and walnut orchards. During winter, temperatures dip to -20°C and the area remains cut off.

Before Independence, these villages, nestled between the Karakoram and Himalayan ranges, maintained close ties with Skardu due to a common language and culture. Their connections with Leh were limited to apricot and walnut trade. The road link to Leh over the Khardung-La (pass) ended at Diskit, about 100 km away. For those travelling by foot, geographically, Turtuk is almost equidistant from Kargil, Leh and Skardu, all trading towns in the famed Silk Route.

“We were self-sufficient villages. Apricot oil was used in cooking and milk products came from yak or cow. Salt was extracted from the mountain. Wheat and vegetables were grown in villages. Interaction with the civil government was negligible. It was after 1947 that the Baltis in the village came into contact with the Pakistan Army. Many worked as contractors or porters,” says Haji Mohammed Issu, 84, a farmer. Issu worked as a labourer in Gilgit and later as a porter in the Pakistan Army. After 1971, he worked with the Indian Army before age caught up with him.

Issu was playing volleyball with his friends when the initial news of a fierce gun battle between the armies in the nearby Chalunka village reached Turtuk. Fear gripped the villagers that chilly winter night. Only a few men stayed back at a house while women and children took shelter at a nullah in the upper reaches, braving the cold. It was only after personnel from Ladakhi Scouts and Nubra Guards offered rations that things calmed down. “The next morning, Baltis, as per the customaryfaqtab, offered apricots to welcome the Army,” Issu recalls.

At that time, Issu’s uncle Abdul Raheem was in Turtuk, while his children Abdil Aziz and Basit Ali were in Skardu working as labourers. “I looked after my uncle till his death about 25 years ago. He died without seeing his children and was distraught all the time,” Issu says. Abdul Raheem left a power of attorney for Issu to look after the house and land till the time his children returned from Gilgit. “They have bought homes there (Gilgit) now. They call us once in a while. There are many such cases where villagers have looked after elders who were separated from their children,” Issu says.

Fifty years after the war, Abdul Raheem’s mud and stone house is in a shambles as Issu finds it difficult to maintain it. Many homes whose owners now live across the border have met with the same fate.

Until recently, before social media platforms helped reconnect families, communication was next to impossible. Postal letters would reach Turtuk after several months. The first mobile tower in the area was set up in 2012. For some time before social media arrived, people communicated through video messages and family celebrations were shared on flash drives that came through posts.

A demand that remains unmet

For over three decades now, the Baltis have been seeking road connectivity between Turtuk and Pharnu that could reunite families, or at least a meeting point where families can get together. This demand has not been met. “Several requests have been made for a road or meeting point. Though the Indian Army is not averse to the idea, the Pakistan Army has been turning down the request, we are told. The least they could do is to get older people to meet their kin. Many have died without fulfilling this dream,” says Ghulam Hussain Baig, a member of the Turtuk Farol Gram Panchayat. Baig’s maternal uncle, Mohammed Ibrahim, who was at Skardu during the war, now lives in Rawalpindi. “Of the eight siblings of my mother, only he stays there. He is lonely. The family has not met him in 50 years,” he says.

Ghulam’s grandfather, the late Mohammed Ali Khan, was among the village elders who negotiated the transition of the Balti villages with the Indian Army. Elderly Baltis credit the legendary Major Chewang Rinchen for the smooth integration of these villages. In an early morning interaction on December 16 at a house in Turtuk, in which Khan and other elderly Baltis were present, Major Rinchen assuaged the fears of the Baltis. “Major Rinchen hailed from the adjacent Nubra Valley, and my grandfather and his father were friends. His presence as a local and assurances of protection to women and children helped ease anxiety, and people returned from hiding,” Ghulam says.

When the border was redrawn, nobody abandoned Turtuk, Thang and Thaykshi, says Ghulam. However, all the families, barring two, in Chalunka hurriedly moved to Pakistan. Most in Chalunka moved due to fear as war clouds began to gather and a fierce gun fight had begun.

An emotional reunion

In Thang, about seven km from Turtuk, ‘Goba’ (village head) Mohammed Ali has been separated from his parents since he was five. He and his brother were brought up by his grandfather as his parents were in Pharnu. While his mother had moved towards the forests in Pharnu around the time the Indian Army was moving in, his father went towards Pakistan to look for his mother after the Army takeover had been completed. He also did not return. “I really missed my parents and seven siblings. I can imagine how my grandfather would have felt,” says Goba Ali, now a popular figure among the Indian Baltis. His grandfather died in 1985. Goba Ali says the Indian Army has taken care of them.

After several years of multiple failed attempts to secure an Indian passport and later a Pakistan visa, Goba Ali finally made it to Gilgit-Baltistan in 2014. It was ironic that he had to travel nearly 3,000 km, crossing the border at Wagah in Punjab, to meet his parents who lived only a couple of km away from Thang.

“I was harassed by Pakistani authorities because I was working for the Indian Army. Even after the questioning, I remained in Islamabad for nearly two months. Before meeting my parents, I had mixed feelings. When I actually met them, I was crying. I cannot put in words what emotions went through my mind,” he says. The video of an intense emotional reunion with his parents is available on YouTube.

According to Ghulam, who also works as an Army porter, four more persons from the Balti villages have met their families in Pakistan. In 2015, four elderly persons, including a woman, came from Gilgit-Baltistan looking for their family members in Turtuk. Today, many in the younger generation, who were born after the war, like Ghulam, are not keen to visit their relatives in Pakistan though they connect with them on phone. “It is very expensive and a cumbersome process to travel. So, most of the elderly have given up and the younger generation is disconnected from their extended families,” he says.

Unlike the neighbouring Kashmir Valley, armed insurgency has not been reported here. However, during the Kargil War, about 25 men from Turtuk, Thyakshi and Thang, who took their sheep for grazing in higher altitudes, were arrested for having received money and weapons. They were released from jail after two years. “The villagers had accepted the money because they were poor. They abandoned the weapons. We have not had such instances since then,” Ghulam says.

The change of nationality for many, including Issu, did not matter for employment. If they had worked for the Pakistan Army before 1971, the Indian Army employed them later to be porters given their astute knowledge of the terrain. “Change of nationality did not affect the population here as far as livelihood issues were concerned. But family ties were irreversibly hit,” Ghulam says.

In the village of Turtuk also lives the titular head of the Baltis, Mohammed Khan Kacho, a descendent of the Yabgo dynasty. He lives in a 16th century stone palace ravaged by Pakistani Army personnel in the 1950s. “There are no people in Turtuk without relatives in Pakistan. It has been a painful separation. In Islam, withouttalak, a remarriage is not possible. Several couples were separated and no communication from either side was possible. Some became mental wrecks,” he says.

Kacho, who traces his ancestry to Western Turkistan (in Central Asia), says most of the region in his erstwhile kingdom is now in Gilgit-Baltistan. He too, like a majority of the Baltis, has not seen his clan, including his sisters and cousins, who live in Pakistan. His properties are being taken care of by his cousins. “I had raised the issue of facilitating family reunions at a designated place on the border. The Indian Army had agreed but it looks like the Pakistan military did not,” he says. Kacho says he has not attempted to visit Pakistan since it is too cumbersome. He has not considered entering politics to further the Balti cause, but says that it is the responsibility of elected representatives to take care of development and address these issues.

The Baltis say that a lot of the development in the villages took place after the area came under the Indian fold. “Hospital, school, ration and water has been taken care of,” Kacho says. Issu points out electricity supply and roads as measures of development. “There was nothing much here till 1971 and the civil administration had turned its back on the region,” Issu says.

For the elderly Baltis, development apart, the larger issue is of interactions with relatives across the border. “If trade and interactions can take place at Wagah border in Punjab or between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, why is it being denied to us,” asks an elderly person at Turtuk.

A thriving culture

While families distressed by the separation carry emotional scars, the last five decades have seen the Balti population (now about 3,000) holding on to its culture and tradition. A population that practised Tibetan Buddhism till the 14th century converted to Sufi Islam due to the influence of Hazrat Shah Hamadan from Iran during his second visit to Baltistan in 1383 CE. Navros, the Zoroastrian new year, and the Apricot Blossom festival are celebrated with much pomp along with hard polo games on Zanskari horses in an ancient polo ground at Turtuk. Continuing a centuries-old tradition, the Baltis store butter for decades in ‘natural cold storage’ (a stone structure below the ground). Despite the introduction of Hindi and English in schools, Balti continues to be the language of the people.

But several educated Baltis have moved out looking for greener pastures. The Army Goodwill School at Thyakshi remains popular. Hydro-generated power has arrived, and DG sets are used for power supply in winter.

After nearly four decades of restricting entry to outsiders, the government now allows tourists into the villages. Turtuk and Thyakshi were opened in 2010, but till August 2021, tourists could see the Pakistan posts through binoculars only from outside Thang. Since mid-August this year, tourists are allowed inside Thang after intense identity checks. They now have a closer look at ‘Zero Point’, the LoC.

From having just two guesthouses before 2010 to nearly 40 homestays, hotels and campsites now, Turtuk has been welcoming visitors curious to see the ramparts of bunkers built by the Pakistan Army or the school built by Pakistan which is now being run by the Indian administration. More than 50 families have their men in the Indian Army and most are connected to the army in one way or the other. Connectivity has improved. Earlier there was just one State transport bus a week; now there are four shared taxis daily to Leh.

But for this small ethnic population, the pain of separation from their families has lingered for five decades. The wait for the warm hugs and banter with their family members remains a mirage, overshadowed by war and diplomatic obstacles.

His appeal to conscientious politics and nobility of spirit continues to be a strong ethical response to political issues

Nearly 74 years after his death, Gandhi remains the most widely known political leader of modern India. Gandhi’s stature as a major historical figure was confirmed by his successful non-violent movement against British rule in India. Yet, what makes Gandhi so relevant and meaningful for our world is that his political legacy and his philosophical significance continue to inspire millions of people around the globe — to fight against inequality, injustice and historical wrongs.

An imperative

Accordingly, what distinguishes Gandhi from all politicians in today’s world is not only his simplicity and honesty — which have become rare characteristics for many men and women who pretend to represent our wills and wishes around the globe — but also his belief in the moral growth of humanity. In a world such as ours which suffers from an immaturity of politics and politicians, either in tyrannical situations such as Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria, etc. or in democracies such as the United States, Spain, Poland, India, etc. reading Gandhi as a lesson of political maturity is an ethical imperative. As such, and not strangely, Gandhi believed in no divorce between politics and ethics.

For Gandhi, politics was essentially an ethical mode of conduct. He never pretended to be a teacher of truth. However, others took him to be a guru, and there is no doubt that his attempts to encourage people to experiment with the truth were both philosophical and pedagogical.

Culture of patience

Therefore, as a practitioner of empathetic humanism and a pluralist thinker, Gandhi was an exemplar of a lifelong process of listening and learning. He actually played the role of an exemplar in prescribing “patience” as a means to understand and approach the other. The dialogical nature of Gandhi’s culture of patience finds its roots in the idea of epistemic humility as a necessary methodology in approaching and understanding other cultures and religions. As such, the entire Gandhian thought in the realm of religion and politics revolves around this concept of epistemic humility. That is why Gandhi had a profoundly ethical view of religions.

In other words, he recognised neither the infallible authority of prophetic texts nor the sanctity of religious traditions. At the same time, he was the foremost critic of the epistemological arrogance of modern rationality and its authoritarian practices in terms of colonial thinking and imperialistic domination. It is on account of his overriding concern for the self-respect of individuals and nations that Gandhi joined the two notions of truth and non-violence to that of the term Swaraj.

Gandhi believed that all individuals irrespective of their religion, race and culture had the right to self-governance. Accordingly, what we can call the Gandhian moment of Swaraj was actually for him a constant experimentation with modes of cross-cultural and inter-faith understanding and dialogue.

In other words, the capacity to engage constructively with conflicting values was an essential component of Gandhi’s practical wisdom and empathetic pluralism. As a matter of fact, Swaraj as a space of self-realisation was where the ethical and the political joined in the Gandhian political philosophy. For Gandhi, politics, like spirituality, was a space to examine and experience Truth, which he considered not as a given process, but as an effort of re-evaluation and reformulation of reality.

A self-transcendence

In this sense, Gandhi did not consider freedom as a mere political act, but he defined it primarily as an ethical enterprise. That is why Gandhi argued, “I am but a seeker after Truth. I claim to have found a way to it. I claim to be making a ceaseless effort to find it. But I admit that I have not yet found it. To find Truth completely is to realize oneself and one’s destiny, i.e., to become perfect. I am painfully conscious of my imperfections, and therein lies all the strength I possess, because it is a rare thing for a man to know his own limitations.” We have here a process of individual self-transcendence that Gandhi also applied to the idea of civilisation, since he considered civilisation as an exercise of human maturity.

Gandhi firmly believed that the anthropological and ethical origins of such a state of maturity resided in the spiritual capacity of human beings. But he also underlined this move towards maturity as a process of learning to be responsible towards oneself and the others. As a result, everything Gandhi did and wrote during his lifetime was an attempt to bring into the open his own journey of intellectual and political maturity. He, therefore, used the concept of maturity not only in the social context, but also as an expression of character building which he distinguished from literary training.

As he asserted, “Literary training by itself adds not an inch to one’s moral height and character-building is independent of literary training.” Therefore, according to Gandhi, character-building was an art of developing a sense of autonomy and having authority over one’s self.

In other words, maturity for Gandhi was a state of mind and a mode of being, where one had the capacity to form one’s life in a social sphere. It was on the basis of this act of maturity that Gandhi established his political anthropology and pedagogical premises. He believed that an autonomy formed by a mature judgment prepared a life according to morality. Gandhi, therefore, approached pragmatic politics as a form of character-building and not necessarily a struggle for getting elected or grasping power.

Gandhi’s acknowledgment of the moral imperative of maturity and his devotion to democratic transparency continues to distinguish his political psychology from most of the other discourses in Indian and world politics. As such, Gandhi’s suggestion to us in relation to moral excellence and spiritual maturity presents itself at the same time as an invitation to self-respect and self-restraint.

A continuing relevance

As he argued, “Where there is egotism, we shall find incivility and arrogance. Where it is absent, we shall find a sense of self-respect together with civility... He who holds his self-respect dear acts towards everyone in a spirit of friendship, for he values others’ self-respect as much as he values his own. He sees himself in all and everyone else in himself, puts himself in line with others. The egotist keeps aloof from others and, believing himself superior to the rest of the world, he takes [it] upon himself to judge everyone and in the result enables the world to have the measure of his smallness.”

Therefore, it goes without saying that by reading Gandhi closely and correctly, we can get to the conclusion that, despite all his shortcomings, his appeal to mature and conscientious politics and nobility of spirit continues to be a strong ethical response to the political issues and challenges of our time. Maybe, that is why, Gandhi remains our contemporary, while he belongs to our future.

Ramin Jahanbegloo is Director of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Non-violence and Peace Studies at the O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana

Learning recovery and safety should be top priorities as schools begin to open again across India

The sight of children going to school evokes normalcy and hope. Our children’s lives are centred around schools, and the learning, the routine, and fun that come with it.

But for nearly a year-and-a-half since the novel coronavirus pandemic in 2020, schools had to shut their doors, and shift to remote learning. Children could not meet their friends, or eat hot school meals. Some suffered mental distress. Many faced violence. Millions of children missed critical developmental milestones.

What started off as a health crisis fast turned into an acute child rights crisis. Learning loss was a big fallout of the pandemic.

The gaps in online learning

While remote, online learning is the only resort to connect students with teachers. It is a pale substitute for in-person learning. Many children have been excluded from online classes, due to the digital divide. There is also grave concern over the learning outcome for children who can connect.

Eight out of 10 parents of students aged between five to 13 years are of the opinion that their children were learning less or significantly less remotely compared to when in school. More than nine of every 10 children in Classes 2 to 6 have lost at least one specific ability in language from the previous year.

Across India, States have started reopening schools as COVID-19 cases plateau. Large numbers are now vaccinated, and it is steadily moving up. The government prioritisation of teachers for vaccination is very reassuring.

Back at school

However, the decision to reopen schools is fraught with emotions, fears, and heated debates. The questions being raised by parents need to be addressed. Schools must put in place and implement all safety protocols.

An online survey conducted by UNICEF reached nearly 11,000 respondents (parents, teachers, and students). By and large, all 6,157 responding parents felt that being vaccinated is the most important safety measure for children to return to school. While parents (55%) said they were not keen on sending their child to school yet, parents (60%) did not feel confident that their child’s school and staff are ready for safe reopening.

Out of 4,451 teachers who responded to the survey; 65% said they have been provided support and guidance on how to work safely in schools as they reopen. While 93% said school staff should be fully vaccinated before classes resumed. Out of 366 student respondents, 71% were excited to go back to school.

Schools can focus on getting back younger children first, as primary and pre-primary-school age children are the least likely to be infected. Children are mostly asymptomatic and are less likely to spread the virus when compared to adults.

We have evidence to show that schools are not the main drivers of community transmission and that children are more likely to get the virus outside of school settings. In fact, keeping schools closed for more than a year did not prevent the raging second wave of the pandemic. With measures firmly in place, schools can be safer environments for children than other places.

Teachers have shown remarkable courage and commitment across India. They stepped up to support online and offline learning across high tech, low tech and no tech settings. And used various other platforms for learning and even did door-to-door visits with students.

Learning now and solutions

The novel coronavirus pandemic has paved the way for a blended teaching-learning approach combining online and offline lessons. Teachers may assess the levels of progress in students in remote learning and plan for lessons based on these levels. Parents, teachers, students and school managements need to work together to find solutions. Positive examples have emerged from different States such as open-air classes under trees.

Despite doubts, there is no better alternative to the safe reopening of schools. The longer children are out of schools, the more difficult it would be for them to return and learn. The social and economic costs of children continuing to be out of school have become too high.

Here is an example of a student’s reaction: “When schools were closed, it did not feel right, I got bored and missed my friends. Schools have now opened, we are again meeting every day, playing with friends. We show others how to follow COVID appropriate behaviours in and outside of school. We request our teachers and friends to always wear masks. And that is how we keep everyone safe.”

Many children are finding rhythm and normalcy in going to schools, like Anshu Kumari, a Class eigh student of Jay Mangal School in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, said.

In India, equity must guide how children return to school, and continue to learn and grow.

Yasmin Ali Haque is UNICEF Representative in India

Transforming urban India calls for community-based moves towards a circular economy

Seven years after launching his government’s marquee programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the second phase of Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), with a fresh promise to make India’s cities clean. For all the attention it has received, the goal of scientific waste management and full sanitation that Mahatma Gandhi emphasised even a century ago remains largely aspirational today, and the recent lament of Principal Economic Adviser Sanjeev Sanyal on dirty, dysfunctional cities drives home the point. That urban India, in his view, is unable to match cities in Vietnam that has a comparable per capita income is a telling commentary on a lack of urban management capacities in spite of the Swachh Bharat programme enjoying tremendous support. SBM-U 2.0, with a Rs. 1.41-lakh crore outlay, aims to focus on garbage-free cities and urban grey and black water management in places not covered by AMRUT. In its first phase, the Mission had an outstanding balance of Rs. 3,532 crore, since the total allocation was Rs. 14,622 crore while cumulative releases came to Rs. 11,090 crore. The issue of capability and governance underscores the challenge — of being able to process only about one lakh tonnes of solid waste per day against 1.4 lakh tonnes generated — to transition to a circular economy that treats solid and liquid waste as a resource.

Raising community involvement in resource recovery, which the rules governing municipal, plastic and electronic waste provide for, calls for a partnership that gives a tangible incentive to households. The current model of issuing mega contracts to big corporations — as opposed to decentralised community-level operations for instance — has left segregation of waste at source a non-starter. In the absence of a scaling up of operations, which can provide large-scale employment, and creation of matching facilities for material recovery, SBM-U 2.0 cannot keep pace with the tide of waste in a growing economy. On sanitation, the impressive claim of exceeding the targets for household, community and public toilets thus far obscures the reality that without water connections, many of them are unusable, and in public places, left in decrepitude. State and municipal governments, which do the heavy lifting on waste and sanitation issues, should work to increase community ownership of the system. As things stand, it is a long road to Open Defecation Free plus (ODF+) status for urban India, since that requires no recorded case of open defecation and for all public toilets to be maintained and functioning. Equally, the high ambition of achieving 100% tap water supply in about 4,700 urban local bodies and sewerage and septage in 500 AMRUT cities depends crucially on making at least good public rental housing accessible to millions of people.

The lockdown had a bearing on the patterns of crimes that were registered in 2020

The annual report, ‘Crime in India’, released by the National Crime Records Bureau in mid-September this year needs to be carefully parsed before gleaning insights or making State-wise comparisons. The reason is the significant variances in case registration across States and Union Territories, especially serious crimes pertaining to rape and violence against women. States/UTs such as Tamil Nadu with 1808.8, Kerala (1568.4) and Delhi (1309.6) recorded the highest crime rate (crimes per one lakh people) overall. But it is difficult not to see these numbers as a reflection of better reporting and police registration of cases in these States and the capital city, respectively. On the other hand, while there was an 8.3% decline in registered cases of crimes against women in 2020 (of which the bulk of them, 30.2%, were of the category “Cruelty by husband or his relatives”), this number has to be assessed along with the fact that the year saw prolonged lockdowns during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic (between late March and May 2021 in particular). This period coincided with a high number of complaints of domestic violence — the number of complaints received by National Commission for Women registered a 10-year high as of June 2020. The seeming mismatch between the NCW and NCRB data must be studied and can only be explained by a lack of registration of cases in some States where crime reporting remains sluggish either due to a fear of doing so or a lackadaisical approach to such cases by law enforcement. On the other hand, the lockdown also led to an overall fall in crime related to theft, burglary and dacoity.

The COVID-19 related disruption also led to a greater registration of cases overall (a 28% increase in 2020 compared to 2019) largely due to a 21-fold increase in cases related to disobedience to the order duly promulgated by a public servant and over four times in cases involving violations of other State local laws. This is not surprising either. India had one of the most stringent lockdowns and law enforcement spared little in enforcing strictures on physical distancing. The question of registration does not apply to some types of cases such as murders — which showed only a marginal increase of 1% compared to 2019. Worryingly, while there was a reduction in the registered number of economic offences (by 12% since 2019), cybercrimes recorded an increase of 11.8% . The increase in cybercrimes is cause for concern as this requires sharper law enforcement as seen even in highly developed societies. While cases related to sedition declined from 93 in 2019 to 73 last year, Manipur and Assam led with 15 and 12 cases each. Sedition has increasingly been used as a weapon to stifle dissent and this trend needs to be reversed urgently.

Manny Pacquiao's real challenge will be to provide the people of the Philippines with an alternative to the violent, populist government of his one-time political ally.

Manny Pacquiao is quick on his feet, has great instincts, formidable power both to his right and left and a knock-out one-two combo. Push the boxing metaphors far enough, and you have the makings of a political campaign. Pacquiao (42) who registered as a presidential candidate for the 2022 elections in the Philippines and announced his retirement from professional boxing earlier this week, is undoubtedly one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of all time. But in the political arena, it’s all that much harder to go the distance. And like in the boxing ring, no one wants the decisions to go to the judges.

It’s not as though Pacquiao is a complete novice to Philippines politics, or is merely trading on his fame as a sportsperson. He has served as a senator and was once close to outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte. Recently, though, Pacquiao has been vocal about the alleged misappropriation of relief funds meant for the poor in the aftermath of the pandemic as well as Duterte’s “cosy” relationship with China. That Duterte is contesting for the post of vice-president on a different ticket (the Philippines constitution bars him from being president for six years) makes it seem that he is trying to circumvent the rules in order to retain power. In an era of populist strongmen, a boxer — who is also a national hero and international icon — certainly has a fighting chance. Besides, Pacquiao has, literally, punched his way out of poverty, which gives his slogans some credibility.

Given that Pacquiao is oscillating between third and fourth position in opinion polls at the moment, his task is cut out for him. His real challenge, though, will be to provide the people of the Philippines with an alternative to the violent, populist government of his one-time political ally. But then, boxers — far more than politicians — know the importance of the rules of the game.

The chargesheet against Kappan is an enormously disturbing document that militates against the Supreme Court's attempts to read down the sedition law and curb its misuse.

In July, during the course of preliminary hearings on a bunch of petitions that challenged the sedition law, the Chief Justice of India, N V Ramana, expressed concern over the misuse of the law and the lack of accountability of executive agencies. The Supreme Court’s stance lent weight to the growing criticism that the colonial-era law was being increasingly misused by an overreaching state to curb citizens’ liberties, including free speech. In recent times, the Court has been steadily raising the bar on sedition by calling out the lack of rigour and due process in the imposition of the archaic law. It has pointed to the low conviction rate in these cases that have, according to NCRB data, shown a significant spurt since 2016. In this backdrop, the 5,000-page chargesheet filed by the UP Special Task Force against Delhi-based journalist Siddique Kappan only confirms the many fears and anxieties that have been expressed by civil liberties groups, and endorsed by the apex court.

The chargesheet makes ludicrous allegations against Kappan, who was arrested a year ago, while on the way to Hathras in UP, to report the murder of a Dalit woman. Kappan was booked under the stringent UAPA, and also charged with sedition (Section 124 A of IPC). He has been accused of conspiring to stoke unrest and riots — the chargesheet claims that Kappan did not write like a “responsible” journalist, “only and only reports to incite Muslims”, and sympathised with Maoists and Communists. It has presented sections from 36 articles Kappan wrote in Malayalam — on the anti-CAA protests, riots in Northeast Delhi, the Nizamuddin Markaz gathering during Covid — as evidence. The STF has appended a case diary note, which, while discussing an article Kappan wrote during the protests against the CAA in Aligarh Muslim University, says, “In the writing, the Muslims have been portrayed as victims (who were beaten by police and were asked to go to Pakistan).” Kappan has also been accused of serving as a “think tank” of Popular Front of India (PFI), a radical Islamist outfit. It would be stretching these “allegations” unbearably to think that they could constitute sedition. Clearly, the UP STF is attempting a new definition of the offence, wherein any disagreement with, and criticism of, the government makes the grade.

The chargesheet against Kappan is an enormously disturbing document that militates against the Supreme Court’s attempts to read down the sedition law and curb its misuse. It raises the very fear the Court has flagged — of executive agencies severely constricting individual liberties and criminalising dissent by wielding a vaguely worded law.

Rajiv Kumar, vice chairman, Niti Aayog, has cautioned that the rules “will severely harm ease of doing business and impact small businesses”. The DPIIT has flagged several anomalies. Even the Ministry of Finance has raised red flags.

The draft e-commerce rules released by the Department of Consumer Affairs are facing a significant pushback, with sections of the government raising apprehensions over many of the proposed provisions. As reported in this paper, Rajiv Kumar, vice chairman, Niti Aayog, has cautioned Piyush Goyal, Minister of Consumer Affairs, that the rules “will severely harm ease of doing business and impact small businesses”. Separately, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has flagged several anomalies, and questioned some of the provisions. Even the Ministry of Finance has raised red flags. Reportedly, the Department of Consumer Affairs is reexamining some of the provisions of the draft e-commerce rules. That is the right approach. It must take into consideration the concerns raised by both industry and sections of the government.

Take, for instance, the fallback liability clause. Under the draft rules, e-commerce players are to be held liable in case a seller on their platform “fails to deliver goods or services due to negligent conduct”. However, under the current rules, foreign direct investment is permitted only in “marketplace” models where the e-commerce platforms do not hold inventory, they merely connect buyers and sellers. So if firms have no control over the inventory on their platform, can they be held liable for the sellers? Also under the regulatory scanner are flash sales. But it is unclear how flash sales adversely affect prices, and consumer choice. Moreover, don’t even offline retailers indulge in end-of-season sales? There is also considerable lack of clarity over the rules concerning related parties. This, as Niti Aayog notes, “appears to be a case of overreach.” The rules do not just limit themselves to the welfare of the consumer. For instance, they mandate platforms to provide “fair opportunity” to domestic players. This raises a question: Shouldn’t the consumer protection rules seek to protect only the interest of consumers? As Kumar has said, “the rules go far beyond consumer protection.” They encroach upon areas that can be deemed to fall beyond the jurisdiction of the consumer affairs ministry. For instance, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has pointed out that there is an overlap between some of the proposed provisions and the Competition Act. Whose jurisdiction will be enforced? This, as the corporate affairs ministry has pointed out, could lead to “forum shopping”, and thus “divergent rulings”.

The absence of a similarly restrictive regulatory architecture for the traditional brick and mortar stores, and the considerable room for bureaucratic discretion, given the ambiguity in some of the provisions in the draft rules, raise apprehensions over the intent behind the draft e-commerce rules, whether concerns of consumers or other considerations dominated their framing. After all, policy should be guided by the imperative of enhancing consumer welfare, not constricting it.

The cleavage of opinion on these issues was more marked than in February at the Non-Aligned foreign ministers meet at Delhi, which is seen as natural since most of the participants here are very closely aligned with the West.

Sharp differences characterised the deliberations on the world political situation at a closed door meeting of the Commonwealth leaders particularly with respect to Afghanistan, Kampuchea and the Indian Ocean. The cleavage of opinion on these issues was more marked than in February at the Non-Aligned foreign ministers meet at Delhi, which is seen as natural since most of the participants here are very closely aligned with the West. While Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s powerful espousal of India’s stand on a number of issues elicited powerful support from several leaders including Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the UK struck a strong dissenting note.

Tihar Head Removed

B L Vij, superintendent of the Tihar Central Jail, has lost his job. He came to the jail around 9 am and found his chair in the superintendent’s office being occupied by U R Vohra, metropolitan magistrate. The order to remove Vij and send him back to his home cadre in Haryana was signed on September 30. Among the cases of impropriety involving Vij were those pertaining to Charles Shobraj and his friend Shireen Walker and Maqbool Bhatt.

Curbs On Vanaspati

The Delhi administration has imposed restrictions on the sale of vanaspati in the union territory. Henceforth, retailers will not be allowed to sell more than one tin of vanaspati to one consumer at a time. Wholesellers have been asked to not sell more than six tins of vanaspati for the wedding of a girl, four tins for the wedding of a boy and two tins for other functions. The restrictions are being applied to make the commodity available to consumers during the festive season.

Jaya Jaitly writes: The cloth was something to be freely made and proudly worn by all citizens. Instead, its production has been put in a straitjacket by rules and acts.

In a Mann ki Baat broadcast in 2019 and another last Sunday, the Prime Minister stressed his support for khadi, cottage industries, crafts and handlooms. First, he urged people to buy rakhis made of khadi for Raksha Bandhan, and this time to buy khadi products generously during the coming festive season, starting today, to honour Mahatma Gandhi. The PM conveys what is on his mind. Government bodies, it is presumed, should listen carefully and follow through, otherwise his words are just wishful musings. The khadi rakhis were not seen in any khadi store a few days after the broadcast because even the staff had no idea why anyone should expect them to be available.

It is all very well for us to invoke Gandhi’s name and bring up nostalgic images of him spinning the charkha and wearing simple khadi cloth. Millennia ago, the regions covering India, Bangladesh and Pakistan already wove khadi or what is commonly known in rural areas as “khaddar” on home-owned simple looms. Gandhi took to the use of the word khadi when he was still in South Africa, and fine-tuned it into a politically symbolic term in India. Genuine khadi or khaddar is woven from short-stapled organically grown cotton. The beauty is in its uneven texture and colours, as cotton bolls are not all pure white in every region. Fabrics being made today in the name of khadi are modified spin-offs that look more like handloom fabric, with mill-produced yarn, screen printed and often mixed with mill-made polyester. Khadi’s original charm and the signatures of its true identity are being lost. In many cases, it is a bit of a con-game to call it khadi anymore.

What is even more unfortunate is the fact that the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), within the Ministry of Small and Medium Industries, is enabling a strange form of corporatisation. A paper by the “Unlock Khadi” campaign of the Centre for Public Policy Research says, “According to the Khadi Mark Regulations (KMR) of 2013, no textile can be sold or otherwise traded by any person or institution as khadi or a khadi product in any form if the khadi mark tag issued by KVIC is missing. This restricts the scope of trade to a few approved entities, thereby creating recognisable barriers to enter the market for khadi. The certification process described in Chapter V (Clause 20 (a)) of the KMR requires accredited agencies to perform an on-site verification of hand-spinning and hand-weaving processes.” Yarn must be procured only from KVIC depots or the Cotton Corporation of India, descriptions of mechanisation and electrification are ambiguous. There are so many restrictions that most producers have no incentive and many small bodies are unable to pay Rs 50,000 for certification. It is shocking that KVIC has filed more than 1,000 cases against establishments for using the word “khadi” even as a part of a descriptive sentence. KVIC may wish that fabric that has not been hand-spun or handwoven should not be passed off as khadi but in many cases the certification process itself creates a problem.

There are two other factors that allow for multiple authorities and confusion. Hand-spinning and weaving are also part of craft skills. Only the hand-spun part is additional in khadi . But today KVIC, on its website and in its catalogue, has visibly non-hand-spun silk -printed saris, polyester fabrics and others which seem clearly machine-printed. The khadi mark can be obtained for the polymer and chemical-based industry (PCBI), the leather industry, non-edible oils and soap industry, the cottage match industry, and — horror of horrors — the plastic industry. These may indeed be grameen udyog but how do they get the “khadi” brand label when they are not khaddar? It seems to be forgotten that it’s Khadi and Village Industries. They are separate entities. Worse, the KVIC online catalogue has products like industrially-made suitcases, bags and wallets which are under MSME, but why with a “khadi” label?

Additionally, mediocre embroideries, Kohlapuri chappals and many other products are equally under the Ministry of Textiles. Why can’t khadi and all handicrafts be together in one ministry?

The idea of khadi was for all citizens to produce it freely and wear it proudly. Gandhi did not intend to create a police state for the khadi sector, full of acts and rules that put production in a straitjacket. Perhaps, some courageous producers can try circumventing all this by using the word “khaddar” on their labels instead.

Bina Agarwal writes: Her compositions, with their empowering message for women and girls, transcend borders.

Kamla Bhasin, activist, songwriter, extraordinary communicator, and our fellow traveller in the feminist cause is no more. Yet she will live on forever in our hearts and in her songs that will resonate long after people have forgotten who wrote them.

Kamla had a rare talent for coining witty slogans, writing feminist songs set to popular folk tunes and empowering verses for girl children. But one song, in particular, flew across conferences and continents. This was (in Hindi): “Tod todke bandhanon ko dekho behne ati hain / O dekho logon dekho bahne aati hain / Ayengi, zulm mitayengi, woh to naya zamana layengi …

Breaking their shackles the sisters come
Look O you people, the sisters come.
They will come, they will fight oppression,
They will build a new world!”

In 1984, at the first conference of the Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS) in Kerala, the halls resonated with Kamla’s freshly minted “Tod todke”.

In 1992, the song reached Harvard when I was teaching there. Radcliffe organised women’s history week to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women. The panellists included Betty Friedan (author of The Feminist Mystique), Gerda Lerner, Juliet Mitchell, Carol Gilligan, Dessima Williams and myself. I spoke on ‘Positioning the Western feminist agenda’, and ended my remarks by singing Kamla’s Tod todke. Colleagues in the audience who knew the chorus joined in.

Kamla’s song was a great success. But Betty Friedan, who had fallen asleep on the stage, woke up with a start, rather annoyed that she (the star) had been upstaged by a song, sung by a young woman from another continent! (The whole event was reported in The Harvard Crimson.)

In 2004, the song flew to Oxford. I was then president of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE), and at IAFFE’s annual conference held at Oxford, I invited Kamla and Aruna Roy to speak on a plenary titled ‘Empowering Women’. Kamla spoke brilliantly on ‘Singing to empower Women: the Subversive Potential of Feminist Songs in South Asia,’ illustrating her talk with snippets of her songs and ending with a full-throated “Tod todke”. Many of us sang with her. People remember it still as the conference’s most memorable panel.

Kamla and I became friends in 1981, when I returned from the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex and plunged straight into the then immensely vibrant women’s movement in India and South Asia. She and I launched a campaign against the negative portrayal of women in the media. This included carrying a ladder and cans of paint to blacken particularly offensive billboards around the city; organising demonstrations outside cinemas in Delhi which clandestinely showed films with violent pornography; and editing a special issue of the journal ISIS international/PAWF published in 1984 by Kali for Women, India’s first feminist publishing house.

Since the 1980s, Kamla’s slogans have enlivened numerous banners in protest marches. But she wrote for children, too. Her 1980s volume of Hindi rhymes for children, Dhammak Dham, was transcreated in many languages, including in English by me, and illustrated by Mickey Patel. In the preface of the 2014 edition re-titled: Housework is Everyone’s Work: Rhymes for Just and Happy Families, she writes: “It is both necessary and urgent that the division of labour between girls and boys, men and women within families is changed… We need books that show women in different roles, and … girls and boys, men and women … sharing household work.” Consider some illustrative lines from one poem I translated:

Mother works away all day
Through the week and all Sunday…
She bears the burden all alone
She wears herself down to the bone…
Don’t you think this is unfair?
Shouldn’t we help and do our share?

In another of Kamla’s poems in Hindi — Because I am a girl I must study — a daughter tells her father the many reasons why she must study. This has continued relevance, as a neighbouring country bans girls from school, and adds to the arsenal of other crusaders for girls’ education like Malala Yousafzai.

Kamla Basin was linked with many organisations — Seva Mandir, FAO, Jagori, Sangat. The latter two she co-founded. But her songs transcend borders. They are sung across South Asia in their original Hindi, and globally in the original or in translation by the One Billion Rising campaign.

I can imagine Kamla arriving at the gates of heaven with her countless followers, singing “Tod tod ke bandhanon ko, dekho bahne aati hain.” As she once said: Heaven too is full of patriarchs who need reforming!

Kamla Bhasin occupies a unique place in the pantheon of feminist activists.

Farewell friend, your songs live on.

S Irudaya Rajan, U S Mishra write: Collection of caste information while conducting census may dilute the exercise at the very least and send wrong signals regarding its purpose.

A continuous and unabated push towards including caste in the forthcoming census enumeration has finally ended with the Union government position to the Supreme Court stating that it has decided as a matter of policy not to enumerate caste-wise population other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. That a decadal exercise, which began 150 years ago, has faced a discontinuation with the pandemic is damaging enough, which will require reconstruction for the year 2021. We are also not sure how the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, who could not conduct the census on time, will be able to add any other additional questions including enumeration of caste. The Election Commission did its job in conducting elections during Covid-19.

The census, the primary source of population data with all its distinct virtues of complete enumeration and levels of disaggregation to the lowest possible administrative unit, has seen gradual improvement in the quality of its content over time. Such improvement in quality has been possible with progress in the technology of data collection on the one hand and computerised validation on the other. In the midst of this uncertain environment of conducting a census that is unavoidable, imposing the collection of caste information may dilute the exercise at the very least and send wrong signals regarding its purpose. Considering the urgency of this exercise, there need to be sincere efforts towards putting systems in place to conduct the population enumeration at the earliest and providing an update of India’s population dynamics in comparable terms to be read against the past. The absence of population enumeration and its discontinuation can have implications for gauging the evolving changes as well as its prospects.

In the absence of the decadal census being held, the only alternative is to rely on population projections produced by the Registrar General which, at best, offer some tentative clues towards the age-sex composition of the population under varying sets of assumptions. Besides this projected count of population and age composition, more detailed information — on households, assets, marital status, education, migration etc since the last census of 2011 — will perhaps remain unknown. While many survey based inquiries are enlightening on the drastic transformation in population composition, their distribution across regions and among households, it is near impossible to reach a confirmation on such transformations.

A decade of rapid fertility declines and rising mobility needs serious assessment in terms of its impact on the population dynamics. In the absence of any clue regarding population, together with a pandemic with its devastating course of fatalities, the need for a population enumeration is all the more urgent. Estimated and projected numbers can serve as approximations to the extent of the assumptions being realistic and accurate. A 14th five-year plan being in the offing makes it a crucial year to have the real numbers towards making the planning exercise effective.

The distinct visible features of population transition in terms of the growing count and share of the elderly population alongside the declining share of the child population calls for differential strategies towards human resource building. On the one hand, preparing a human capital of quality and adaptability to the emerging labour market is the need of the hour, and at the same time, mainstreaming the elderly into renewed economic activities to avoid pessimism towards their rising count, becomes quite pertinent.

An attribute like caste being obtained in a census exercise makes matters complex on multiple grounds. While reporting on caste in a caste-ridden society may well be inaccurate on one hand, the numerical count of caste in India is perhaps the most difficult to obtain and to make use of in any analytic categories on the other. Given the differences in caste hierarchies across various regions of the country, a comparative reading alongwith generating a common hierarchy may be a challenge. Further, caste linked deprivation or adversity may not be as common as occupation linked predicaments, which become easier to compare across states/regions. An intimate and personalised attribute like caste may have its differential exposition between urban and rural residents. Urban residents’ need for anonymity can always bias the reporting on caste. Above all, recognition and adherence to caste identity is to a large extent shaped by progressive ideals, cosmopolitanism and education, which has its own regional divide in the country between the north and the south.

With such complexities associated with divulging caste identity, one cannot be sure of its accuracy in reporting on the one hand and the possible bias linked to other attributes on the other. The attributes obtained in the census like age, sex, residence, occupation and religion in themselves have not received adequate exploration to add to the understanding of differential population dynamics. Considering caste with its wide-ranging count as another fresh attribute may not be of worth as neither will it offer sensible outcome differences nor facilitate identification for intervention. In fact, attributes like caste and religion that are not modifiable should be less important compared to modifiable attributes like education, occupation and other endowment linked attributes. Hence, the moral lies in rising above ascribed attributes in defining outcomes to that of achieved ones. Such an approach has a dual advantage of gauging distribution across attributes as well as their response to outcomes.

In sum, the census enumeration should be a priority and the proposed digital enumeration should become more effective in generating required data of quality and accuracy. The upcoming census is certain to reveal interesting realities of population dynamics that go beyond the narrow and regressive outlook of the caste count to help gauge the transformation in human capital.

Piyush Goyal writes: The India pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will showcase opportunities for those ready to participate in the economic journey of a resurgent nation.

As we pay tribute to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, on October 2, the India of his dream with an all-inclusive growth paradigm, swachhta, and swaraj is clearly visible on the horizon. Twenty years of selfless and relentless efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a leader of people at the highest level, first as Chief Minister of Gujarat and then as the Prime Minister, have been the mainstay of the government’s mission to ensure real swaraj for all, especially the poor and needy. The pandemic has strengthened our resolve.

Adversity brings out the nation’s real character in taking challenges in its stride, strengthening its capabilities and charting a path to attain ambitious goals. India’s exceptional fightback against Covid-19 is an example of converting adversity into opportunity. While the entire world has been on the defensive during the pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision has been to usher in reforms and prepare India for a sustained phase of higher growth.

The reforms that we have undertaken in the last seven years, especially those initiated during the pandemic, are set to boost the country’s manufacturing and exports potential and make India a global economic hub. They will also strengthen India’s capabilities in the technology space. India is already a leading player in the global IT markets and the pharma and space technology sectors. The development of the country’s research and innovation capabilities in these fields would help India reap the benefits of new-age technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics.

The lessons learnt from the pandemic have also increased our confidence to overcome any challenge with the help of our scientific, entrepreneurial and R&D capabilities. Whether it is the development of pharma and healthcare products or running the world’s biggest vaccination programme that banks on two vaccines produced in the country, India has set global benchmarks.

From here on, quality and productivity will play a big role in achieving and sustaining a phase of high economic growth that India has already embarked upon. Leaving behind the impact of Covid-19, India’s economy grew by a record 20.1 per cent in the first quarter of the current fiscal year as against the contraction of 24.4 per cent in the same quarter last fiscal year. This not only signals a strong revival but also the potential for an economic rebound in a big way. We have a huge advantage in our young population. With the country’s New Education Policy focusing on skill development, the productivity levels in the country are set to rise substantially to support India’s growth objectives.

The celebrations of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, 75 years of India’s Independence, will also encapsulate Prime Minister Modi’s vision of redefining India in the next 25 years (Amrit Kaal) with his motto of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas”. Prime Minister Modi renewed this motto in his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort: “The goal of ‘Amrit Kaal’ is to ascend to new heights of prosperity for India and the citizens of India. The goal of ‘Amrit Kaal’ is to create an India where the quality of facilities does not divide the village and city. The goal of ‘Amrit Kaal’ is to build an India where the government does not interfere unnecessarily in the lives of citizens. The goal of ‘Amrit Kaal’ is to build an India that has every modern infrastructure in the world.”

Coinciding with this important period in India’s growth journey and symbolising the great recovery of the world from Covid-19, the World Expo 2020 at Dubai marks the largest coming together of the global community. The Expo that began on October 1 will continue till March 31.

The India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will showcase the country’s rich cultural heritage, its prowess and vibrancy and the opportunities offered by the resurgent “New India” to the world. The country’s sustainability objectives and opportunities will be in full display at the pavilion presented by the Central government ministries and departments, states and industry. India’s participation in Expo 2020 will also deepen our relationship with the UAE.

Riding high on reforms in a variety of realms, including the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), labour laws, industry-friendly FDI policies and the Productivity Linked Investment Schemes — the latest of which is for the automobile and drone industries — India is fast emerging as a global economic hub. Different schemes launched by the government are raising the standards of living for the poor, needy and marginalised sections of the society. These schemes are not only empowering people but are also helping the government include every nook and corner of the country in its growth journey.

Schemes such as the Ujjwala Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojyna are targeted at the poor and the marginalised sections. The government is striving to ensure that the benefits of its projects reach the people at the bottom of the pyramid. It is no mean feat that the government could ensure that no family had to sleep empty-stomach at the peak of the pandemic.

India is on the path to sustain a GDP growth that will take the country towards a $5-trillion economy, and beyond. The next 25 years will showcase India’s golden growth phase. From the Expo 2020 platform at Dubai, we will invite the global community to participate in the journey of this resurgent “New India”.

Let us all be part of the India of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dream.

Yashwant Sinha writes: This is something that prime ministers before him have also done, so what was all the fuss about?

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was prime minister of India for six years. Narendra Modi has exceeded that by a year. The first 18 months of the Vajpayee government were notable for the nuclear tests and their international fallout, the political instability at home and finally the collapse of the government by one vote in the Lok Sabha, followed by general elections in September/October 1999. Jaswant Singh did a fantastic job in convincing the international community that it was legitimate for India to carry out the tests. The final triumph of his diplomacy was President Bill Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000, which put the international community’s seal of approval on India’s nuclear tests and ensured a grudging recognition of India as a nuclear weapons state. The great national service done by Jaswant Singh was quickly forgotten by the BJP, and a time came when he was expelled from the party, not once but twice.

Vajpayee also travelled to the US like prime ministers of India before him. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the US four times, out of which two were official visits. Indira Gandhi made three visits and all of them were official visits. Morarji Desai also made one official visit to the USA. Rajiv Gandhi made two visits, one official and the other an “official working visit”. Narasimha Rao made one “official working visit”, Vajpayee one official visit — during which he also addressed the US Congress and attended an official banquet in the White House — and one “official working visit”. Manmohan Singh, during his 10-year tenure as PM made several visits to the US, one of which was an “official state visit”, an honour not conferred on any other prime minister of India ever, one official visit and two working visits.

Prime Minister Modi has also made several bilateral visits to the US, the first in 2014 was described as a “working visit”, the second in 2017 as an “official working visit”. The latest visit has been described as an official visit. Six Indian prime ministers, including Vajpayee and Modi, have been invited to address the US Congress.

As far as the UNGA is concerned, Indian PMs have almost regularly visited New York to address the assembly and meet other world leaders, including the US President. Vajpayee invariably used to invite me to join his team when he visited abroad, even when I was the finance minister. As external affairs minister, I was a regular member of his team. I recall a meeting that Vajpayee had with President Bush in September 2003 in New York, which he was visiting to attend the meeting of the UNGA. At that time, India used to have a trade surplus with China. When Bush was lamenting the fact that the US was running a huge trade deficit with China, I proudly informed him that we had a surplus in our bilateral trade. This surprised him considerably. As a result of these meetings, I developed a cordial personal relationship with the US President. Even so, I was surprised, when I was told by our ambassador on my arrival in Washington DC in January 2004 for bilateral talks in the State Department, that my first appointment the next morning was in the White House, where President Bush had invited me to meet him at the famous Oval Office where he met heads of governments generally. I had a 20-minute meeting with President Bush with all his senior officials, including the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor in attendance.

Around two years ago, the Washington-based correspondent of a leading English daily in India reported in his weekly column that the Indian external affairs minister and the defence minister would be visiting Washington for a two-plus-two meeting. He added that there was a likelihood that they would be invited to the White House for a meeting — the first time, he wrote, that an Indian minister would be invited to meet the US President at the White House. I rang him up to tell him that I have had that honour already. He promised to make amends for which I am still waiting. If I am not wrong, I remain to date the only Indian minister who has met the US President at the Oval Office at the latter’s invitation. Was the honour mine? No, it was an honour to India and its prime minister whose minister I was.

I had visited Washington DC in April 1991 as finance minister in the Chandra Shekhar government for the meeting of the IMF and the World Bank. Chandra Shekhar had given me a personal letter to be delivered to President Bush (Sr). Abid Hussain, our ambassador in the US, told me that there was no possibility of my meeting the US President in person to deliver the letter, but perhaps a meeting with the National Security Advisor, whose office was in the White House, could be arranged and I could hand over the letter to him. I declined the offer and told the ambassador to have the letter delivered to the President’s office in the usual course.

PM Modi travelled to the US recently not to conquer it, as bhakts would like us to believe, but to further India’s interests at the bilateral, multilateral and global levels like all prime ministers have done before him. He is the leader of a democratic country as his interlocutors repeatedly reminded him, not a “Chakravarty Samrat”, as the bhakts believe. So, what is the fuss all about? Perhaps, the shortcomings of the visit are sought to be made up by propaganda. The lesser the achievement, the louder the lies.

With seven assembly elections due in 2022, Congress embroiled in existential struggles and BJP supposedly feeling the anti-incumbency heat in some states, some regional parties have sniffed a chance, however remote, to become national players. After Punjab, AAP is hoping to enter Goa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat assemblies. Powered by Mamata Banerjee’s leadership that repelled a determined BJP effort to take Bengal, TMC is dreaming of a splash in Goa, Tripura and Assam in the first lap.

UP results will reveal SP and BSP’s plans. Evidently big regional leaders are scouting new territory in assembly polls to make a big splash in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. They believe votes taking flight out of BJP and Congress bases could land with a third party that shows enough chutzpah for a fight. But capturing popular imagination, building a party organisation in a new territory, or getting catapulted into reckoning with support from a powerful social group, remain huge challenges.

AAP no longer enjoys the anti-establishment tag that excited voters. Mamata’s TMC is a virtual unknown outside Bengal. In Surat civic polls, AAP breached BJP-Congress votebanks but assembly elections are a different ball game. Discomfiture with empowering local faces is another congenital difficulty for supremo-led parties. Arvind Kejriwal is yet to announce a CM-face for Punjab despite AAP’s strong prospects. Moreover, Congress despite all its national troubles isn’t ceding space as fast as TMC or AAP would prefer despite high-profile exits. But the burst of energy in regional parties has prompted Rahul Gandhi into greater opposition engagement since Parliament’s monsoon session. Even BJP’s being kept busy by the caste census demand from SP, JD(U), RJD, JMM and BSP. The increased political competition putting national parties on notice can only make democracy more vibrant.

After a big backlash, Facebook has put its Instagram Kids plan on hold. This move comes after reports that Facebook’s own internal research had told it that the photo-sharing site was “toxic for teen girls”. Instagram makes women and girls feel worse about themselves, presenting a prettified, highly filtered version of reality. While any platform can be used for a variety of purposes, there is a design to all tech platforms and algorithms – they actively mould our preferences.

Studies have shown that Instagram did skew towards scantily clad influencers, for one. This can be disproportionately hard on women, who are trained to equate looks with social worth. Women are culturally pressured to be attractive, inundated with images of idealised body parts, rather than seeing themselves as whole humans. Young girls, whose sense of self is only being formed, end up thinking that the world’s gaze on them matters more than their own gaze outwards on the world. This insecurity is not natural, it is created and sustained by the culture, including social media platforms.

Instagram has not aborted its project, it plans to incorporate more safety features and parental controls. It can’t afford to be perfunctory about this. Children today are growing up in a visual culture, and there may be no inherent problem with their access to a photosharing site – but to make sure they’re alright, Facebook’s commitment to their wellbeing should be more than skin-deep.

Gandhi is remembered for Ahimsa, non-violence. However, Gandhi's Ahimsa was not passive acceptance of violence, but its active resistance by the force of moral purpose and mobilisation of public opinion. Today, we have elected representatives who venerate Gandhi's assassin, but few supporters who follow his example of opposing violence.

The trouble with icons is that, over time, what the icon stands for tends to be occluded by the larger-than-life projection of the icon itself. One of the worst victims such occultation is Mohandas Gandhi. His frail, benign, toothless image printed on currency notes and framed in government offices that embody, in the eyes of the long-suffering public, sloth, corruption and an oppressive, obstructive administration have rendered him a ritualistic irrelevance in the background, to be invoked in some noble cause such as a sanitation drive. Gandhi's relevance has only increased in a political atmosphere increasingly vitiated by violence, sectarian hatred and moral erosion.

Gandhi is remembered for Ahimsa, non-violence. However, Gandhi's Ahimsa was not passive acceptance of violence, but its active resistance by the force of moral purpose and mobilisation of public opinion. Today, we have elected representatives who venerate Gandhi's assassin, but few supporters who follow his example of opposing violence. When a businessman from Kanpur dies at the hands, allegedly, of a bunch of policemen, the authorities can and have ordered an inquiry and strict action against those guilty. But when policemen are given to understand that they can use force with arbitrary discretion, ostensibly to suppress crime, such outcomes are to be expected. Both the expedience of bumping off criminals, even if with the accompaniment of some collateral damage, and the misuse of that strategy by individual policemen to advance their private agenda stem from moral deficiency. And that is one area where Gandhi should inspire contemporary India. Harmonious coexistence of multiple faiths and their followers' readiness to accept, if not embrace, the goodness in religious precepts other than their own were articles of faith for Gandhi, whose prayer said Ishwar and Allah are both names of the same God.

Not that everything he stood for made sense. But we would gain, a great deal, if what did make sense in Gandhi were to resonate loud and clear, in the here and now.

That said, proper audits help small companies secure formal credit, which eludes about 85% of them. The new kids on the block, the Account Aggregators, bring together information on the financial transactions of an entity that it wants to share with agencies that are in a position to analyse that information for taking decisions such as sanctioning a bank loan.

The National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) is seeking opinion on sparing small companies compulsory statutory audit. Mandating statutory audits of such firms does not serve much public purpose, and a waiver will ease their compliance burden. Rationally, many advanced countries stipulate statutory audits for small companies only if these firms meet some minimum criteria of public interest.

That said, proper audits help small companies secure formal credit, which eludes about 85% of them. The new kids on the block, the Account Aggregators, bring together information on the financial transactions of an entity that it wants to share with agencies that are in a position to analyse that information for taking decisions such as sanctioning a bank loan. Banks and the GST Network will share information with the Account Aggregators. The information consolidated and shared through activation of the 'consent layer' envisaged at the time of releasing India Stack, a collection of protocols for developing applications that interact with and build on other applications, will suffice for a great deal of decision-making. However, when complemented with audited accounts, such shared data would become more powerful. How relevant or necessary such audited accounts are would depend on scale and the gaps, if any, that emerge in the picture presented by data gleaned from Account Aggregators.

NFRA's preliminary analysis of small companies on key parameters, such as payments to auditors, turnover and indebtedness, shows that their audit fees are way below what an audit would cost, when performed in compliance with the letter and spirit of the Standards of auditing. If a statutory burden serves no authentic public purpose, why persist with it?

Gandhi is remembered for Ahimsa, non-violence. However, Gandhi's Ahimsa was not passive acceptance of violence, but its active resistance by the force of moral purpose and mobilisation of public opinion. Today, we have elected representatives who venerate Gandhi's assassin, but few supporters who follow his example of opposing violence.

The trouble with icons is that, over time, what the icon stands for tends to be occluded by the larger-than-life projection of the icon itself. One of the worst victims such occultation is Mohandas Gandhi. His frail, benign, toothless image printed on currency notes and framed in government offices that embody, in the eyes of the long-suffering public, sloth, corruption and an oppressive, obstructive administration have rendered him a ritualistic irrelevance in the background, to be invoked in some noble cause such as a sanitation drive. Gandhi's relevance has only increased in a political atmosphere increasingly vitiated by violence, sectarian hatred and moral erosion.

Gandhi is remembered for Ahimsa, non-violence. However, Gandhi's Ahimsa was not passive acceptance of violence, but its active resistance by the force of moral purpose and mobilisation of public opinion. Today, we have elected representatives who venerate Gandhi's assassin, but few supporters who follow his example of opposing violence. When a businessman from Kanpur dies at the hands, allegedly, of a bunch of policemen, the authorities can and have ordered an inquiry and strict action against those guilty. But when policemen are given to understand that they can use force with arbitrary discretion, ostensibly to suppress crime, such outcomes are to be expected. Both the expedience of bumping off criminals, even if with the accompaniment of some collateral damage, and the misuse of that strategy by individual policemen to advance their private agenda stem from moral deficiency. And that is one area where Gandhi should inspire contemporary India. Harmonious coexistence of multiple faiths and their followers' readiness to accept, if not embrace, the goodness in religious precepts other than their own were articles of faith for Gandhi, whose prayer said Ishwar and Allah are both names of the same God.

Not that everything he stood for made sense. But we would gain, a great deal, if what did make sense in Gandhi were to resonate loud and clear, in the here and now.

That said, proper audits help small companies secure formal credit, which eludes about 85% of them. The new kids on the block, the Account Aggregators, bring together information on the financial transactions of an entity that it wants to share with agencies that are in a position to analyse that information for taking decisions such as sanctioning a bank loan.

The National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) is seeking opinion on sparing small companies compulsory statutory audit. Mandating statutory audits of such firms does not serve much public purpose, and a waiver will ease their compliance burden. Rationally, many advanced countries stipulate statutory audits for small companies only if these firms meet some minimum criteria of public interest.

That said, proper audits help small companies secure formal credit, which eludes about 85% of them. The new kids on the block, the Account Aggregators, bring together information on the financial transactions of an entity that it wants to share with agencies that are in a position to analyse that information for taking decisions such as sanctioning a bank loan. Banks and the GST Network will share information with the Account Aggregators. The information consolidated and shared through activation of the 'consent layer' envisaged at the time of releasing India Stack, a collection of protocols for developing applications that interact with and build on other applications, will suffice for a great deal of decision-making. However, when complemented with audited accounts, such shared data would become more powerful. How relevant or necessary such audited accounts are would depend on scale and the gaps, if any, that emerge in the picture presented by data gleaned from Account Aggregators.

NFRA's preliminary analysis of small companies on key parameters, such as payments to auditors, turnover and indebtedness, shows that their audit fees are way below what an audit would cost, when performed in compliance with the letter and spirit of the Standards of auditing. If a statutory burden serves no authentic public purpose, why persist with it?

There has been a lot of conversation around the probable increase in sexual violence against the girl child during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but there has been no such discussion about the possibility of the boy child having been affected. Though cases of sexual abuse of the boy child are reported more today than earlier, thanks to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), the vulnerability of the boy child has somehow failed to come across in public discourse.

Many cases involving boys are unreported and unaddressed, according to prominent non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the field. Enakshi Ganguly, founder of Haq, a child rights NGO, says, “Unlike in the case of girls where there is an acknowledgement of its existence, there are still large areas of silence when it comes to boys. Does this really mean that it occurs less? Anecdotal reporting suggests it is a much bigger problem than commonly believed.”

There are many reasons for this: One is the misplaced stereotype that the boy child is less vulnerable than the girl. Boys are less likely to report that they have been violated either due to ignorance or fear of being considered weak.

The last pan-India study, Study on Child Abuse: India 2007, showed for the first time that a boy child is equally vulnerable to abuse as a girl. No such study has since been done though there have been localised ones. According to National Crime Records Bureau data, there were 21,605 child rapes recorded in 2018 of which 204 were of boys.

This may seem a small percentage, but as Dr Manjeer Mukherjee, senior director of Arpan, which works on the prevention and intervention of child sexual abuse in Mumbai says, this is not the real picture at all. “Society looks at boys and men as either abusers or protectors, rarely as victims.” Because of social conditioning and patriarchy, the boy child is not as protected as the girl and is more accessible to predators at home or other spaces.

Mukherjee says that breaking the gender stereotypes when it comes to sexual abuse must start young. “There have to be active programmes in school and localities about personal safety which involves both genders. Children must be made to understand what is inappropriate behaviour and what is safe and unsafe. We need to start an inclusive conversation on this.”

Boys have to be told that they must express their emotions and safe spaces must be created for them to do so. The obvious one is the family where the parents must be involved in imparting this message. We need to acknowledge that they too can be hurt, and while they need to be respectful of others, they themselves need their boundaries to be respected.

Lokesh Pawar, a writer, is a child abuse survivor. He says, “We need to work towards preventive measures from a personal and institutional standpoint. We need to create a trustworthy atmosphere for survivors to seek help and, most important, put a stop to victim-shaming.”

Studies show that boys who are abused are more likely to display violence towards others when they grow up. They are likely to suffer from psychological problems, anxiety and depression among other things. It must be made easier for them to tell their stories, to be able to ask for help without fear of stigma or shame. This is the only way we can begin an active process of keeping the boy child safe now and beyond the pandemic.

lalita.panicker@hindustantimes.com

The views expressed are personal

The most surprising thing about Indra Nooyi’s autobiography is the delightful stories she relates. They cover her life and career, but also vividly describe her personality and emotions. And she clearly has a knack for storytelling. That’s what makes My Life in Full such fun to read.

The best is one she’s told several times before. It’s about her mother’s reaction when she came home “bursting with excitement” because she had just been promoted to president of Pepsico. “I have the most incredible news!” she began. “The news can wait” was her mother’s response. “I need you to go out and get milk.”

Raj, her husband, had got home earlier, but he wasn’t asked to buy milk because “he looked tired”. So Nooyi drove a mile and bought a gallon of the stuff. She was “hopping mad” when she returned and slammed the milk on the counter. Then, speaking loudly, she told her mother she’d become president of Pepsico.

“Listen to me” her mother replied. “You may be the President or whatever of Pepsico, but when you come home, you are a wife and a mother and a daughter. Nobody can take your place. So you leave that crown in the garage.”

This is one of the most dramatic stories, and it’s recounted with a sense of theatre. There are others that are told more sotto voce. Yet, they’re just as revealing. My favourite is about how she and Raj Nooyi decided to get married.

At the time, Indra was a student at Yale, but on an internship in Chicago where she met Raj. This is how she describes him: “He was incredibly smart, well-read, and worldly. He was also good-looking.”

On a particular Friday night, they went to see a Gene Wilder movie called Silver Streak. “We loved it,” she writes and adds, “then we walked to a restaurant and, by end of dinner, decided to get married. Who proposed to whom? Who broached the subject? … I don’t know. Forty two years later, we are still debating this issue!”

When I interviewed her, I asked if she would tell me. She didn’t. But I sense she was the one who popped the question. It would be in keeping with her personality.

A third story is from the 13 years she was CEO of Pepsico. It is, perhaps, the most surprising. Whenever rage or frustration would swell inside her, she’d lock herself in the bathroom and have a thoroughly good cry. “I’d go into the little bathroom attached to my office, look at myself in the mirror, and just let it all out. And when the moment had passed, I’d wipe my tears, re-apply a little makeup, square my shoulders, and walk back into the fray, ready, again to be ‘it’.” Incidentally, that’s how she thought of her chief executive status.

To be honest, there are also a few discordant notes. For someone who’s so careful about what she’s writing, and how she’s conveying it, I can’t fathom how they crept into the book.

The first is about her mother, who spent years living with her and Raj, and brought up their daughters. No Indian would find that surprising. What did take me aback was the following sentence: “Raj and I paid for everything in my mother’s life when she lived with us but didn’t give her a salary for the childcare, cooking, cleaning, and thousands of other small tasks she did to keep our household going over the years.”

The other is, actually, an admission of the truth. It features at the end in acknowledgements. “This book was shaped and written by Lisa Kassenaar… she took all my stories, facts, anecdotes, and pages of edits and weaved them into beautiful chapters, each with core lessons… every author needs a Lisa to bring their ideas to life.” But, then, in what sense is Indra Nooyi the author? And shouldn’t Lisa’s name be on the cover as well?

Karan Thapar is the author of Devil’s Advocate: The Untold Story

On the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, and in the context of the current Afghan humanitarian crisis, it’s time to put the spotlight on Mahatma Gandhi’s greatest follower — Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890-1988), also known as Badshah Khan.

Badshah Khan is known as Frontier Gandhi, a name he disregarded believing there was only one Gandhi. But what really captures the essence of this great man is the name Islamic Gandhi. It is a term increasingly used by contemporary scholars to exemplify that Islamic jihad is not violent if interpreted the Badshah Khan way. Khan demonstrated that truth and non-violence, revived by Gandhi as the spiritual core of India’s struggle for freedom, was, in fact, the essence of the Holy Koran.

He then took it upon himself to popularise non-violence among his people – the Pathans, whether Muslim, Hindu or Sikh.

In his own words: “It is my inmost conviction that Islam is amal, yakeen, muhabbat (selfless work, faith and love).”

These beliefs were born out of Khan’s deep comparative study of the Koran along with the Hindu scriptures and the Christian Bible during his early acquaintance with British Indian jails as a Gandhian satyagrahi. He concluded that jihad was necessarily a non-violent battle, not just with the external world but with one’s inner self.

It is this universal, inclusive and humanistic interpretation which has brought Badshah Khan’s relevance into sharp focus today, as the ultra-orthodox Taliban has emerged from the very same people Khan once led as late as 1988. He died at 98, 40 years after his friend and ally Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.

Badshah Khan led the Pathans even after Partition, when the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and tribal agencies went to Pakistan. He conducted a non-violent agitation against the Pakistan government for an autonomous Pakhtunistan within Pakistan. He spent 30 of 70 years as a leader in jail, more in Pakistani jails than in British India prisons. He finally went into exile in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Khan’s initiative began as social reforms in 1919, when the British chose to “divide and rule” that part of the Pathan homeland that had come to them under the Treaty of Gandamak (1879), signed with Amir Yaqub Khan of Afghanistan. The Durand Line of 1893 demarcated the border between the Kingdom of Afghanistan and British India, effectively dividing the Pathan homeland between the two countries. The British divided their half into the high mountains — the five tribal agencies — and the settled areas or what became NWFP. They deliberately neglected the tribal areas. Badshah Khan began by opening “Azad” schools for both boys and girls in villages because he believed that illiteracy was the chief reason for economic and social backwardness.

Already a satyagrahi in spirit and action by this time, Khan was first arrested in 1920 for participating in the non-cooperation movement. Soon after, he attended his first Congress Session in Nagpur but did not meet Gandhi then. Their meeting was ten years later, in 1931, when Khan’s reputation as leader of the Khudai Khidmatgar (servant of God) political movement, launched in 1929-30, captured the imagination of India and the Congress leadership.

Then, thousands of Pathans congregated in Peshawar to peaceably picket law courts, foreign cloth and liquor shops as part of the Non-Cooperation Movement. After arresting their leaders, a troop of English soldiers, opened fire unprovoked on the unarmed crowd. Hundreds died. This caught the attention of Gandhi and the Congress leaders as this supreme sacrifice by a people known to retaliate, was unbelievable.

Badshah Khan and Gandhi’s friendship began after Khan’s release from jail, and when he stayed at Sewagram Ashram (Wardha) with Gandhi. In 1938, at Khan’s behest, Gandhi visited NWFP in order to interact with the Pathan people, in particular the officers of the Khudai Khidmatgars. He toured market towns and villages and explained the true essence of Gandhian precepts. The tour ended with Gandhi inaugurating the first Khadi Exhibition in the NWFP, in Peshawar.

The Partition of India was followed closely by Gandhi’s assassination on January 31, 1948, upending the Gandhi-Badshah Khan plans for the upliftment of the NWFP. But the Badshah soldiered on for 40 years more, agitating in the Gandhian spirit for the rights of his people.

Sifra Lentin is the Bombay History Fellow at Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations

The genesis of Jayaprakash (JP) Narayan’s passionate pursuit of freedom and an equitable and just order can be traced to the political and philosophical zeitgeist of his student years spent in the United States (US), beginning at the University of California, Berkeley and later at the University of Wisconsin.

His immersion in the minutiae of Marxist theory began with the reading of Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto and an enormous body of theoretical work by Marxists such as Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and Karl Kautsky. JP was a prominent Marxist voice on the campus.

JP wore his Marxian revolutionary head on his sleeve when he returned to India in November 1929, but, for a while, allowed himself to be drawn into the maelstrom of the Gandhian struggle for freedom. Swerving from theoretical Marxism to a vision of socialism that seemed, at least initially, to complement that of Jawaharlal Nehru, he set out to address many of the blind spots in the Indian National Congress. At Nehru’s behest, he took charge of the newly-created department of labour research and tried to wean back trade unions that were drifting away from the Congress.

The early years of the 1930s saw JP building an extensive underground movement to ensure continuity in the Congress work in the wake of the countrywide arrests of its leaders. His solidarity with labour and peasant organisations and grassroots movements laid the foundation of a strong socialist nucleus within the Congress.

It was his arrest in 1932 that marked a turning point in JP’s political life. He was incarcerated in Nasik Central Jail, where a group of educated, progressive, young Congressmen who dreamt of a socialist revolution were also lodged: Achyut Patwardhan, Minoo Masani, Asoka Mehta, NG Gorey, Charles Mascarenhas, CK Narayanswamy and ML Dantwala.

The doctrinal differences between them were resolved through debates and discussions. Their primary aim was to radicalise the Congress and keep it on a Marxist-Socialist path of social revolution. Their firebrand ideas, shared by other like-minded young leaders — notably Narendra Deva, Yusuf Meherally, Purshottam Trikamdas, Ram Manohar Lohia, Sampurnanand, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Sri Prakasa, KB Menon and Ganga Sharan Sinha — led to the foundation of the Congress Socialist Party (CSP) in 1934. JP, who played a leading role from the very beginning, was the CSP’s first general secretary.

JP saw the CSP as the Marxian Socialist vanguard of the Congress that would play an avant-garde revolutionary role. He was conscious that, in practice, this would include both a war of position and war of manoeuvre, requiring perhaps a more radical organisational form.

During the early years of CSP, JP remained a bitter critic of Mahatma Gandhi. He rejected Gandhi’s theory of trusteeship and described the Gandhian approach as a compound of timid economic analysis, good intention, and ineffective moralising. He even crossed swords with his feisty Gandhian wife, Prabhavati, on the role of khadi and charkha in resuscitating the villages of India and removing the grinding poverty of the masses.

Radicalised by his long spells in prison, JP’s political thinking took a dramatic turn in 1942 when he turned to a spikier version of Marxism-Leninism and built an underground network of armed revolutionaries called Azad Dasta. His brief flirtation with guerrilla insurgency ended with his arrest, but he continued to exhort his followers to prepare for the last offensive — the struggle for liberty, national unity and bread, organised by strengthening peasant and labour unions, volunteer corps, student and youth organisations, weaver cooperatives and other grassroots organisations.

By 1944–45, JP was beginning to examine Marxism through the lens of historical developments in the 20th century. The stories of trials and purges in Russia affected him deeply. He began to view the State as a coercive instrument that could be perverted to produce dystopian ends. His own experience with Indian Communists, who seemed to be working under the diktat of the Comintern, filled him with revulsion. He considered them to be Russia’s fifth columnists.

In the interregnum between Marx and Gandhi came JP’s brief engagement with mutations of socialist thought. He began to use the term democratic socialism to describe his ideological position, distancing himself from mechanical, positivist elements in Marxism. The socialists separated from the Congress in March 1948. Even as JP critiqued Nehru bitterly for reneging on many of his socialist promisses, the Socialist Party, in historical disarray and in a veritable tailspin, split into the Praja Socialist Party (PSP) and Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP).

By the 1950s, JP had veered explicitly towards the use of Gandhism to enrich socialism. Gandhi’s critique of the modern State became central to the evolution of JP’s political thought and his revolutionary praxis was fully grounded in grassroots participatory democracy and Gandhian economics. He eventually found his ground zero in the Gandhian Bhoodan-Gramdan movement and, in a dramatic moment, at a Sarvodaya meeting in Bodh Gaya in April 1954, renounced power-politics altogether.

The revolutionary kernels of the term Total Revolution, that was greatly in vogue during JP’s 1974-75 movement, can be found in Gandhian Satyagraha, the non-violent mass action programme that focused on personal and social ethics and values of life as much as economic, political and social institutions and processes.

Towards the end of his life, all that remained of his dream of revolution were broken shards, and the death of promises.

Sujata Prasad, a former civil servant, is the co-author of The Dream of Revolution: A Biography of Jayaprakash Narayan published by Penguin Random House India. The book has been co-written by her father, the late Bimal Prasad, an academic, diplomat and one of JP’s closest associates