Where is Kashmir’s Much Touted Normalcy?

Where is Kashmir’s Much Touted Normalcy?

Syed Ata Hasnain The challenges of conducting elections in Kashmir’s turbulent scenario are in multiples especially when many a paradox exists For some months now, the media and influential members of Delhi’s civil society have been speaking of the return of normalcy in Kashmir. In pure security terms ‘normalcy’ could be defined as the relative absence of violence, the enhanced confidence of society and the rekindling of hope.        On all three counts the situation in Kashmir, a day prior to the first polls in the Valley, does not appear to inspire too much confidence. There has been more violence than even in the Maoist areas in the run up to the elections; and the northern passes have yet to open so this violence has not been executed by fresh inductees but rather by the residual terrorists left over from previous years.     Sarpanches, the ones who still have the courage to remain in their pseudo posts are resigning, threatening to resign or making a beeline to the nearest police stations to remain secure.  A Kashmir English media publication has this to say this morning – “On the last day of election campaign on Tuesday, not a single political party managed to organize an election rally in any part of the South Kashmir except Noorabad, where Chief Minister Omar Abdullah addressed an election rally amid tight security”.       Where are we and where are we heading, I often ask. As a veteran of many an election in Kashmir I can vouch that such a situation possibly did not exist even through 1999 to 2011 when in the early period militancy was at its peak and later civil strife the order of the day. Kashmir watchers the world over, the serious ones, must have waited for this moment to ascertain the validity of their assessments or otherwise. Most had predicted continuing stability and returning normalcy based upon the age old parameters of assessment; security related statistics, residual strength of terrorists etc. They would be a mite disappointed by the events of the last week which have upset all such deductions and appear to be pointing back to the Nineties.   The situation isn’t really so bad...

Regulator as threat: Delhi’s power scene

Regulator as threat: Delhi’s power scene

It’s high time we revisited the approach to regulation and appointment of regulators if they are to serve the public interest Shakti Sinha To quickly recount some of the key gains from the privatization of power distribution in Delhi, aggregate technical and commercial losses have come down from around 55% to 15% at present. Load shedding has reduced from 5% to around 0.3%, or from 891 million units in 2000-01 to 43 million in 2012-13. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint  Delhi’s power sector reforms, which had eliminated outages and enabled the system to meet peak load of 5,653 MW last summer, is on the verge of a collapse. The blame would lie squarely on regulators, with successive incumbents closing their eyes to reality. Their sins of omission and commission brought on by lack of expertise, populism and failure to stand up to the political executive have led to this avoidable situation. Delhi risks reverting to its earlier levels of shortages, corruption and insensitivity to the needs of the city and its citizens, bringing it on par with its neighbouring states. To quickly recount some of the key gains from the privatization of distribution in the city, aggregate technical and commercial losses have come down from around 55% to 15% at present. Load shedding has reduced from 5% to around 0.3%, or from 891 million units in 2000-01 to 43 million in 2012-13. Pre-privatization, the system could barely meet the peak load of 2,879 MW. To put this in perspective, but for the improvements made, to meet the present peak load, Delhi would need to buy 12,000 MW, instead of 5,653 MW that it did. This would not only mean an effective doubling of purchase price but a total collapse of the system as it cannot take such loads. What is often forgotten is that Delhi’s per capita consumption is the highest in the country, 1,651 kWh as against the national average of 778 kWh. To give some idea of Delhi’s consumption patterns, the sales of air conditioners were 266,000 units in 2009-10, 366,000 in 2010-11 and 345,000 in 2011-12. On the other hand, the sales of inverters and UPS units were 369,000, 331,000 and 262,000 in...

Women Security & Safety in India – Do’s & Don’ts

Women Security & Safety in India – Do’s & Don’ts

Why Women Remain Vulnerable – Socio- Political Causes? Public outrage after the brutal rape and murder of the 23 year old student, “Nirbhaya,” in Delhi on 16 December 2012 has focused greater attention on necessity for holistic measures for security and safety of women.  Sadly despite a strong legislation there has been no reduction in incidents of assault and physical abuse of women underlining larger socio-political ills and environmental changes in Indian society today. The underlying trends may seem aberrations in male behaviour but these have become so pronounced in recent times and their ill effects so damaging to society at large that these need blunt assertion. Briefly stated these include rapidly transforming socio economic landscape, urbanization, and cross-cultural migration. Studies and surveys reveal that basic aggression in male behavior patterns has created a sense of insecurity in women. Biological proclivity of men to sexual aggressiveness has not been affected by the larger movement for gender equality. Ironically as more women are entering the work space, their vulnerability seems to have increased. Despite financial and material security women continue to be victims at home and outside to male chauvinism which manifests in some cases in mental and physical violence sexual assault and rape being it’s most venal form. A manifestation of rapid socio economic transition is social inequality leading to a class of under privileged whose depravation can lead to aggression directed against women of all socio-economic classes who are easy victims in vulnerable settings in which Nirbhaya found herself in December 2012. At the other end of the spectrum in the affluent world is the dominant male in a work setting where he can unashamedly exploit his position of power. Cases of acid attacks on women could be seen as another vector of violence that exclusively targets females by rejected males who attack the face, symbol of feminine persona indicating inadequacies in our law as well as rot in society. The Indian judiciary has time and again failed to ensure justice for acid attack victims and its failure are taking toll on the defenceless women. If a country like Bangladesh can significantly bring down the number of acid attacks by taking various measures,...

Nitish visits ruins of socialist shibboleths – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Nitish visits ruins of socialist shibboleths – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tried to achieve many goals at the recent rally in Delhi, but the portrait of the ambitious leader that emerges is not very flattering. As we shall see, his objectives, statements, and demands lack any novelty; any chief minister of any state could have said similar things 10, 20, or 30 years ago. It is an open secret that Kumar aspires for the office of Prime Minister, something that is being viewed with expectation by ‘secular’ parties, including the Congress. There were enough hints of Kumar’s ‘secularism’—many Muslim supporters sitting in the front row, an Urdu prayer, a placard thanking the Bihar government for providing land to the Aligarh Muslim University, and so on. The dominant theme, however, was his reiteration of the demand for the special status for Bihar. Unsurprisingly, histrionics were the hallmark of his address: “We are not begging for special status. It is our right.” In a bid to elicit support from Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Orissa and Rajasthan—the states which have earlier sought special status—Kumar said, “We are happy that UPA government has agreed in-principle to grant our demand. But now we want it to be implemented soon. Do it now or it will be inevitable after 2014 elections. Only he who holds the hands of backward states will sit in Delhi.” Kumar’s bombast and symbolism emanate from his dirigiste ideology. The basic premise of this ideology is that only a few divinely ordained Wise Men and Women in New Delhi know what is good for the country and the people. They are in-charge of all the resources; in their wisdom, they distribute or redistribute these resources to states which, in turn, have their own Wise Men and Women. Growth, development, progress—everything is a function of the wisdom of these divinely ordained beings. Problems do arise because of the differences among Wise Men and Women, despite their divinity. But these problems, according to the dirigiste canon, can be resolved by fine-tuning the terms of engagement. The fundamental flaw of this ideology is that the supposedly Wise Men and Women happen to be politicians, bureaucrats, and hangers-on; and one has to be gullible to expect wisdom...

Is this the Budget we want? – Pankaj Bhatiya

Is this the Budget we want? – Pankaj Bhatiya

This budget has once again amply proved the fact that with changing economic scenario the annual budget has lost its prestigious status as the most important annual event in terms of economic policy announcements by the government. Nowadays it is just a mere briefing on income expenditure statement of the government in current and coming financial year. On one hand the economic value of budget is going down, the political value is becoming much more significant. How else can we explain the over emphasis on the women in this budget after the inhuman act in national capital few months back? The victim’s family in this case is yet to get the due justice but the central government seems to have already done its part by naming the proposed Rs. 1000 Cr fund for women security & safety after Nirbhaya. Was the Delhi gang rape case a result of insufficient funds allocated for women security in India? Even a lay man can answer this correctly. Another women centric announcement of setting up India’s first women PSU bank with a capital of again Rs. 1000 Cr in the same budget is clear indication that the congress party is trying hard to retrieve its much battered image after Delhi gang rape as otherwise there is no viable economic reason behind this announcement. Shouldn’t lot of other more pressing issues in banking sector have got precedence over a Mahila PSU bank?  Are women of this country not getting desirable banking services by existing so called male dominated banking sector? Is the fairer sex being discriminated in access to best banking services? We are living in an India where some of the biggest private sector banks are being successfully headed by women and there is no dearth of women in senior executive ranks in PSU banks as well. Moreover all these banks are there in market for the business and to make profits (I assume this is true for PSU banks as well in changed competitive scenario) and why and how the hell any of these banks would like to discriminate on the basis of gender. One of the major cheer factors of this budget is the containment of...

The rape of reason – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

The rape of reason – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

The sentimentalist orgies our political masters indulged in following the rape and battering of a young physiotherapy student inside a moving bus in Delhi highlight their own insincerities and hypocrisies. Instead of coming up with something solid to make the country safer for women, they took recourse to tokenism, made stupid statements, and tried to derive political mileage from the agony of a tormented girl. Leading the pack was Congress president Sonia Gandhi who visited the hospital where the 23-year-old medical student is fighting for life. Sonia also wrote two letters to Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, in which she expressed indignation at the incident. “It’s a shame that these incidents recur with painful regularity and that our daughters, sisters, mothers are unsafe in the capital city,” she wrote in her letter to the Delhi Chief Minister. The letter to Shinde also echoed similar sentiments: “It’s a shame for all of us who are responsible for security of our cities. This monstrous crime deserves not only universal condemnation but also the government’s most urgent attention. It is imperative that the police and other agencies concerned are sensitized to the danger our daughters, sisters, mothers face every day. The security agencies must be motivated, trained and equipped to deal with this menace.” You are right, Mrs. Gandhi, but why the passive voice? Why “security agencies must be motivated, trained and equipped…”? Why not specify the subject―who’ll do this? How’ll they do this? And by what time they will be able to do this? After all, you have a tremendous say in the state of affairs; your political opponents even call you ‘super-prime minister.’ You wanted the rural employment guarantee scheme―it was chalked out and implemented. You want the food security legislation―and the government is furiously working on it, despite the reservations of important functionaries about it. You wanted reservation for Scheduled Castes and Tribes in promotion―and it’s there; even the Bharatiya Janata Party found it politic to support it. You just have to order; the government will do anything to please you in earnest. Thy will be done. Now that the gang rape has attracted “the government’s most urgent...

Vote and watch in Gujarat – Priti Jain

Vote and watch in Gujarat – Priti Jain

Accusations, allegations, denunciation, vituperation and defamations shun our politicians to the greatest abyss of their careers. They are highly talked about in the media, their parties become busy cleaning their mess up and they start measuring their words before speaking in public. And when the elections are nearing be it regional or national the action is manifold. With the upcoming elections in the state of Gujarat, taking place in two phases on the 13th and the 17th of December, the political one upping is in full swing. The popularity of the Modi government has been castigating the ill-efforts of the Congress party for a decade now. His new technological sprint in the form of 3D speeches and Google+ talks with the common man has certainly given him an edge over the opposition. No doubt this received a mixed response but somewhere down the line his experimentation is commendable. The congress may scream all it wants, disgracing him as a distant politician having no time for direct contact with the people; things are changing, unlike the wasteful tactics of Congress. If they believe in the mettle of direct contact, why have they been unable in stirring the masses? Narendra Modi has won over all the business tycoons and turned his state into an industrial haven. His state being greatly dependent on the agricultural and manufacturing sector, he took the right step in bringing in investment opportunities. Gujarat is a businessman’s land, so inviting potential investments is simply sustaining the statehood of Gujarat. Leadership can never be confined to giving speeches and setting goals, being an opportunist is equally important. A conventional economic model does not allow a state to continually depend on its primary and secondary sector. An increase in the tertiary sector is an indicator of development and growth. Modi did realize the urgent need to shift to this sector. The main and the only problem then becomes the inevitable prioritization of the latter. The failure lies in the balancing act. India itself has failed in the commensuration of the former sectors; let alone Gujarat. For one to be happy, the other person automatically has to be sad, so then what is this inclusive...

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On Google PlusCheck Our Feed