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Calcutta Diary

The performance of foreign banks gives the lie to the protestations of the English cricket team. The cricketers from Albion simply proved themselves to be poor adapters, unlike their counterparts in the banking profession.

Calcutta Diary

AM The war is being fought on ground indicated by the BJP. Even the left is trying hard to explain to the masses the true ingredients of Hindutva and what Vivekananda and others really meant. The fight is no longer over the choice of contextual, but over their interpretation. The struggle for the soul of India has been vulgarised into a brand war: our brand of Hindutva is superior to theirs.

Calcutta Diary

The money reportedly set aside for completion of the structure of the Ram Lata at Ayodhya could rehabilitate, several times over, the hundreds of thousands of villagers threatened with displacement because of the Narmada Valley-Sardar Sarovar projects. The ecological ideologues should be bemused no end at this wholesale disruption of the nation's economic and social agenda by the devotees of Hindutva. But irrational religiosity can be challenged, not by non-political greenpeaceniks, but only by an ideology based on rational processes of thought and backed by class power.

Calcutta Diary

Total inactivity, the government has decided, is what nirvana is about The government should not see any evil, hear any evil, give diplomatic recognition to any evil. If evil nonetheless chooses to stalk the country, the authorities could not be held responsible. Should the nation, as a direct consequence of this seance of make-believe, be reduced to nothingness, the prime minister could only be philosophical about the denouement.

H K Paranjape In Remembrance

H K Paranjape: In Remembrance HARIBHAU PARANJAPE had been ailing for some time. In a letter he wrote on September 29 last he had dwelt, matter- of-fact ly, on the possibility of his surcease in the course of the following few months or following few weeks: "I now realise that there is no real remedy to my disease. All that the doctors have been trying to do is to prolong my life as much as they can. Bui, after all, their knowledge is also really limited and they cannot do much... I have always wished that I should not die suddenly but have a few months to wind up my routine affairs. I have got nine months of this from January to now and I have done all the personally important things that I wanted to do. But now this lingering illness has become difficult to bear, not only for me, but even more for Manak, The children try to help; but after all they have their own lives and can do only a little. l have now come to a stage when l think that the earlier my end comes the better.'' Haribhau was not kept waiting beyond a little more than three months from the date he wrote the letter. The passing of a dear friend, who belonged to the same age-group and with whom there was a certain sharing of values and attitude to life and living, is a bit of death for oneself too In this particular phase of life, the disappearance of old friends cannot be compensated by the acquisition of new friendships; one is therefore pushed, inevitably, deeper in the well of loneliness.

Calcutta Diary

AM The dividing line between the time-tested Monroe Doctrine and the new Galbraith doctrine is more metaphysical than real. Somalia is jiust the beginning. Next on the agenda, it now appears more than likely, is Yugoslavia. And if the Ram lata storm- troopers, duly abetted by the country's prime minister, have their way, India could well soon convert itself into a non-functioning anarchy. The circuitous route of softening up India via Fund-Bank conditionalities would then be considered superfluous. It would be more sensible to proceed in accordance with the straightforward Galbraith doctrine.

Calcutta Diary

AM The barbarians of Ayodhya would have one unintended success; if things proceed in the manner they have in recent weeks, India would certainly be globalised, even if not exactly in the sense the World Bank and the IMF had wanted her to be. She would be the cockpit of international intrigues.

Calcutta Diary

AM Whether liberalisation will succeed in lifting the economy and creating jobs and prosperity for the Indian people may still be an open question. What is beyond dispute is its extraordinary social impact: the disrobing of inhibitions. There will be some odd twists and turns. Take the convulsions within Calcutta's most successful newspaper chain.

Calcutta Diary

AM Under the guise of disinvestment of the shares of public undertakings, the public sector, it seems, will be sold down the drain and none will come to its rescue. The real worth of the massive investments, undertaken over the past forty years, now amounts to a multiple of their historical value. These assets are being gifted away as if they are free goods of nature. As a last desperate measure, one thinks of recourse to law. Is there, for instance, a public interest aspect involved in these transactions?

Calcutta Diary

AM The prime minister could have done a hundred things to avoid the occurrence of the most shameful event that has taken place in the country since independence and has made it the object of contempt to the rest of the world. But the issue no longer concerns the prime minister's competence, but his integrity.

Calcutta Diary

AM This is the way India ends, not with a bang but with a bill which intends to render begging a criminal activity only within the bailiwick of the Union Territories.

Calcutta Diary

AM As everybody by now knows, the human rights commission is being set up not on account of the pinpricks of Amnesty International, but because of pressure from American congressional bodies. The senators and congressmen, Bush republicans as much as arch Democratic reactionaries from the south, are, never mind the events taking place in their own backyards, great ones for human rights. Our government is under orders from that direction to constitute a human rights commission. This will not mean the least difference to the ground realities. The army and the police will continue to be on the rampage all over the country REMEMBER 1987 arid the assembly poll in Tripura? This time, the Congress party was determined not to lose the elections in the state. The Left Front was formally in control of the state administration for nine years; its principal constituent had a formidable organisational base; the incumbent chief minister, a major part of whose political career was spent to rouse the social consciousness of Tripura's tribal masses, was known for his simple living and personal integrity. In view of this formidable combination of factors, it was evidently an uphill task for the Congress to stage a comeback in the state. Was not the party, however, in effect, the government of India? What is the point of being so if the electoral fortunes could not be swung in the party's favour even in a puny little state like Tripura? A way thus had to be found, and was found. All of a sudden, there was a mystifying escalation of insurgency activities, the incidence of murders and arson rose abnormally, tion- tribal people, men, women and children, began to be butchered, in very large numbers, in sporadic but numerous incidents, in the remoter parts of the state. The centre would have been failing in its duty under Articles 256 and 257 of the Constitution if it did not do something drastic to restore law and order. Without consultation with, or concurrence of, the state government, the provis-ons of the Disturbed Areas Act were clamped on the state, troops moved in, a union minister of state was assigned the task of overseeing the peace-restoring operations of the army. Rest assured, it was the sheerest coincidence that this gentleman also happened to be the functionary designated by the ruling party at the centre to conduct its election campaign in Tripura. He sandwiched the two roles. Installing himself in Agartala, he started issuing orders and instructions to assorted government functionaries. The state chief minister dis covered to his consternation that his writ had ceased to run, it was a de facto military dispensation, and army personnel took their cue not from him, but from the central minister The military were, for all practical purposes, also asked to assume the overall responsibility for the conduct of the assembly elections; that was, it was explained, necessary and inevitable, given the abnormal conditions prevailing in the state. Such bandobast notwithstanding, the Left Front could not be prevented from securing a majority of the votes cast. That did not matter though. In a select number of constituencies, military personnel were extraordinarily active on election day to chaperon some voters to the polling booths; according to rumour, they were seen to chaperon the same set of voters a number of times to the polling booths; this was no doubt for making it double or triple sure that, despite the overt threat from the insurgents, the citizens of Tripura could exercise their franchise freely and without intimidation. To compensate for this slight over-zealousness, the army at the same time saw to it that some other voters were positively discouraged from reaching the polling booths. Army personnel were equally active on the day the votes were counted. The counting centres were taken over by military and paramilitary forces; they themselves were, officially designated electoral officers discovered, without a profession on that day; army people took over the duties of sorting and counting the ballot papers. In the case of at least one constituency, the electoral officer had declared the result and gone home; conscientious military officers hauled him back from his residence at dead of night and persuaded him to rescind the result declared earlier and announce a fresh one, this time naming a different winner. The denouement was, as Nero Wolfe would have commented to Archie Goodwin, satisfactory. The Congress party registered a famous victory: it squeaked through, with a two-seat majority in the sixty- member assembly. Miracle of miracles, insurgency activities, which had continued in full swing throughout the period of campaign and right till election eve, came to a dead halt the day the Congress ministry took the oath of office. It was a remarkable double success for the central minister despatched to restore law and order in Tripura and, simultaneously, to shepherd the local party through the elections.

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