The Hindu has exposed Kapil Sibal — who described the CAG report on the 2G spectrum allocation as “erroneous” — through a series of features on the editorial page (Jan. 12), which included a brilliant editorial (“Head in the sand”), an analytical article (“Sorry people, we're hanging up on you”) and a cartoon. Mr. Sibal should understand that accountability demands modesty and openness to criticism. The Congress should agree to the Opposition's demand for a comprehensive enquiry by a high-powered JPC, unless it wants to gift the reins of power on a platter to the BJP.
One wonders if Mr. Sibal has not been hasty in running to the defence of the government and his former Cabinet colleague. He might have wanted to express his solidarity with the Congress but his painstaking effort has become counter-productive for the UPA government's effort to save its face.
Many articles have been written on the 2G spectrum issue but the UPA government no longer seems to care. Mr. Sibal's criticism of the CAG report on the allocation of spectrum licences has become the latest focal point. The common man is anxious to know exactly how much loss the exchequer has incurred.
Mr. Sibal's statement shows how much respect our parliamentarians have for democracy. Criticising the CAG not only undermines the parliamentary procedures but also amounts to contempt of the house.
The UPA government's reluctance to constitute a JPC to probe the 2G scam is puzzling. Why does a government that claims to stand for transparency resist a transparent probe?
I am all for putting the telecom mess behind us. We are fooling ourselves by believing that the astronomical money — presumed to have been lost in the spectrum deal — would have solved many of our problems. A large portion of the sum, even if recovered, will be squandered away without accountability and without much benefit to the common man.
I consider myself an educated citizen. So, I am perhaps able to see through the motives behind what many political leaders do and say. But what of the teeming millions who cannot subscribe to newspapers? Who do not even know how to read? Who take their decisions on the basis of which leader shouts the loudest, announces the greatest benefits, is most eloquent?
People are too greatly involved in their daily chores to see through leaders who appear before them in white when the elections are round the corner. Rice at Rs.2 a kg, says a leader. Free electricity, says another. Yet another announces support to those who want a separate state. That politics is no longer noble has been known for long but the extent to which it has deteriorated is appalling.
Cotton for onions
This refers to the editorial “Our cotton, their onions” (Jan. 13). Trade has always flourished on a reciprocal basis and has been need-based. While cotton-for-onions may create a win-win situation for India and Pakistan, whether a spurt in trade will thaw our troubled relations remains to be seen. Wherever relations have been held hostage to intractable legacies of history, hostility has largely remained impervious to trade volumes.
Onion imports from Pakistan have hit a roadblock. India has tried every avenue to work out peaceful relations with Pakistan but it does not seem to be paying off.
This time, it may be about cotton and onions. But more mutual trade, even when there is no shortage of goods, should be encouraged to ensure better bilateral relations.
Despite being close geographically, India and Pakistan remain politically far apart. The only reason we are not helping each other is our mutual animosity.
Onions may be hogging the headlines but the staggering price rise has affected the prices of all other vegetables, meat, eggs and edible oil. The weather might have caused it but the government has also been short-sighted in its response. Imports may give us some relief but they are not a solution. With a booming economy and more purchasing power we will, hereafter, only see a widening gap between demand and supply. We must look for ways to boost agricultural yield per acre. Farming has to become a priority sector.
The thesis put forward by Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra on the Adivasis (“India, largely a country of immigrants,” Jan. 12) is ground-breaking. The never-ending conflict and wars between the ‘asuras' and the ‘devars,' portrayed in our ithihasas and puranas, were actually the struggle of local inhabitants to safeguard their land from immigrants. Since history was written by immigrants, they assumed the role of heroes and the locals became demons and rakshasas. It is time the Adivasis, as sons of the soil, were given the respect and share in the national wealth due to them.
The judgment should enlighten not only individuals but also governments. Many State governments, in the name of development, have been primarily responsible for the displacement of the tribals. This has caused a lot of cultural, economic and social stigma and suffering for them. Even today, there is no comprehensive rehabilitation and resettlement package or policy for displaced tribals. Our governments should wake up at least now and take care of the voiceless people.
Ramesh Kumar Gollapudi,
The article, an eye-opener, is a rediscovery of history. It urges us to retrospect and undo the atrocities perpetrated on a section of our population, condemned by us to live outside the pale of civilisation. The tribals, never considered part of the social mainstream, are displaced for various development projects — dams, wildlife sanctuaries and IT parks. They have been deprived of their life-support system from the forests and reduced to unskilled and even made bonded labour by rapacious exploiters. The need of the hour is social consciousness.
Pre-independent India was often invaded by outsiders. But we classified people on the basis of caste only after Independence, thanks to our politicians. To say that the Adivasis (who are now Scheduled Tribes) have suffered injustice is one thing. But to say India is a country of immigrants is another. Surely, India cannot be called “a land of immigrants” in the same sense as the U.S. or Australia.
The clash between the haves and the have-nots is more responsible — than caste equations — for the plight of the Adivasis. Vote-bank politics, more than the so-called clash between cultures, has wreaked greater havoc on them.