An opportunity for all of us to feed the needy

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Most of us here in India might not have been affected very much due to Global Economic Crisis. But it's hard to note that it's surely affecting the donations/contributions to various voluntary organizations like NGOs, Orphanages, etc. Just to give you an example, many voluntary organizations depending on Satyam's donations are in serious trouble, I am really not sure if they are getting as much funds as they used to during the heydays of Satyam. Slowly but steadily, the effect of current crisis is penetrating into every aspect of our day to day life. The situation has even made such voluntary organizations to think twice before asking for any help from well wishers. They are no more proactive in asking for 'generous' help due to the fear that though the help may come, but it might not be 'generous'!

Despite such circumstances, one cannot deny the fundamental needs of food, shelter and clothing, simply because they are the very means of our existence. I believe, present critical situation is only testing the perseverance of those who really want to contribute something back to the civil society, especially contributing to those who are in dire need. If you think you can help with 'generosity', then here is an opportunity. I must have mentioned in my earlier posts about Makkala Mane, a home for destitute girl children. Makkala Mane need some help to full fill those fundamental needs of children. If you think you can contribute in whatever little way, please feel free to do so. Here are few requirements which i received from Mr. Uday Kumar, Executive Director of Makkala Mane.
Grocery itemsQuantity Needed         
Rice200Kgs
Raagi100Kgs
Toor Dal25Kgs
Wheat50Kgs
Edible Oil20 Litres
Soaps and Detergents         200 in number
Other miscellaneous
items for cooking

Contact:
Mr. Uday Kumar, Executive Director, Makkala Mane.
Mobile: 9880599261, Email: makkalamane@gmail.com
Also Visit Makkala Mane Contribution page. for more details

Feel free to email/call me if you need any further info.

Making of the Indian Constitution - a road to Republic Day

Sunday, January 25, 2009

There was a time when people expected nothing but oppression from public authorities. Later they expected chiefly to be let alone. Our leaders during the freedom struggle instilled the thoughts of freedom and democracy. As a result, people realized that freedom is a prerequisite for India's political destiny and the destiny must be determined by Indians themselves. It was then the idea of Swaraj (Self Governance) was born and known that "Swaraj" will not be a free gift of the British Parliament.

Until 1857, British rule was characterized by "Centralization, Supremacy of Governor General, British politicians interest in the governance of India and tremendous trade and business opportunities". But, after the "First war of Independence in 1857" and subsequent legislations, British parliamentarians lost interest in Indian affairs and they felt that administration in India is safe in the hands of civil servants and military officers. "The developments after 1857 rebellion were
  • towards gradual decentralization,
  • dual control over Indian affairs by Secretary of State for India sitting in London and the Governor General in India.
  • 'form of concessions' and reactions to political developments in India"
The Indian Councils Acts of 18611892, the three round table conferences (1930-32), the Government of India acts 190919191935 etc... were all aimed at serving Britain's economic interests (and political interests during World War I and II), however socio-economic development of India received little or no attention. Pandit Nehru described '1935 act' as "a machine with strong brakes but no engine!", and "a charter of slavery which deserved to be rejected in it's entirety". Muhammad Ali Jinha called it as "thoroughly rotten, fundamentally bad and totally unacceptable".

Britain did not take too much time to realize that it would be difficult for Allied powers to win the world war II without India's active support in the east. They made series of political efforts due to growing International (allied powers') pressure. Those efforts brought 'concessions and political developments' to mitigate Indian resistance and freedom struggle, they in turn had significant impact on formulation of our constitution.

1. August offer, 1940: Lord Linglithgow, the then Governor General (GG) of India, made some important offers in order to secure India's cooperation in the war efforts. They were,
  • Expansion of GG's executive council so that Indians could join the council (Executive council was a body of advisers to GG so that he could perform day to day administration effectively, GG was the final authority on any matters and council had no real powers).
  • Setting up of representative body after the war which will draft a constitution for the country.
Congress rejected the offer on two grounds. (i) there was no mention about British withdrawal (ii) It's demand for defence portfolio be given to Indians was not accepted.

2. Cripps Mission, March 1942: Under the growing pressure of allied powers, British govt. dispatched Sir Stafford Cripps to India with a package of proposals. He was a member of British war cabinet and leader of opposition in the house of commons. After meeting with various Indian leaders he made following proposals.
  • Elected government in (British) provinces and Indian union comprising British provinces and princely states.
  • Indian States (princely states) free to decide whether to join the Indian union and to accept the constitution.
  • Impracticability of Idea of Pakistan.
Congress rejected the proposals because right of princely states to not to accept the constitution and 'not to join' the union will jeopardize integrity of the union. Muslim League rejected the proposal because there was no acceptance of their demand for Pakistan.

Jinnah would not be satisfied with anything less than the partition of the country on the basis of two nation (India-Pakistan) theory.

3. Wavell Plan, June 1945: Lord Wavell, the then governor general, summoned both Congress and Muslim League for the negotiations. The Simla Conference was held in June 1945. "It was agreed that Congress and Muslim League should have parity of numbers in the national government (to be formed later). But Jinnah insisted that the Muslim League was the only representative organization of the muslims, and as such, the quota of Muslim members would be nominated by the League alone. Congress did not agree to League's demand and hence Shimla Conference broke up."

4. The Cabinet Mission Plan, 1946: In March 1946, a British Cabinet mission headed by Pathick Lawrence and consisting of Sir Stafford Cripps and A V Alexander arrived in India to resolve the deadlock for future developments. The cabinet mission announced it's plans in May 1946. Main provisions were,
  • Impracticability of Pakistan and two nation theory
  • Union of India (British India + Princely states).
  • Residuary powers (i.e. powers other than those explicitly mentioned in the acts/constitution) to be with provinces and provinces were free to form groups among themselves and they were given the right to revise their continuance in the union.
  • Muslims and Sikhs legislators to be elected on quota basis and resolution of communal issues to be decided by majority of the concerned community legislators.
  • Formation of Interim government which would take the reigns of future governance of India.
Congress rejected the idea of grouping of the provinces and their right of opting out of the federation and agreed to form the interim government, but league refused to join interim government. Muslim league obviously rejected the plan because it's demand for separate state of Pakistan was not honored. In order to press for their demand for Pakistan, Muslim league launched "Direct Action Day" in august 1946 which set off a chain of communal violences. Later Muslim league agreed to join the interim government to safeguard the interests of Muslims.

5. Attlee's Announcement, February 1947: On 20th February, the British Prime Minister announced that the British would hand over the power to responsible Indian hands by June 1948. Attle clearly stated that in case muslim league were to continue its boycott of the constituent assembly, the British govt would be forced to think of handing over the power to more than one entity (country). Thus it was clear that British envisaged the partition of India along with Independence.

6. Mountbatten Plan, June 1947: In March 1947 Lord Mountbatten assumed office of the viceroy. He was explicitly sent to India on the mission of expediting British withdrawal and convincing congress about inevitability of partition. He was given extraordinary powers to take decision on the spot to accomplish his mission. His plan, code named Plan Balkan, was a blue print of partition of India into two independent states, India and Pakistan. Muslim League agreed to Mountbatten Plan and Congress held a working committee meeting to decide and it was accepted by overwhelming majority. It must be noted here that, in the meeting, Mahatma Gandhi voted for the partition, though he tried his best to prevent the partition and went on to the extent of suggesting to Mountbatten that a government should be formed under the leadership of Jinnah!

7. India Independence Act, July 1947: British parliament passed the law authorizing the partition and British withdrawal from India. As per the plan, Eastern Bengal, Sylhet district of Assam, Western Punjab, Sind, North Western Frontier Province went to Pakistan and a separate constituent assembly was setup for Pakistan (which was headed by Jinnah).

8. Constituent Assembly of India: The constituent Assembly set up the drafting committee headed by Dr. Ambedkar to come up with the draft constitution. There were other committees facilitated the drafting process.
CommitteeChairman/Member
Union Power CommitteeJawaharlal Nehru
Fundamental Rights CommitteeSardar Patel
Steering CommitteeDr. KM Munshi (Chairman),
Gopalswamy Iyengar,
Bishwanath Das.
Provintial Constitution Committee     Sardar Patel
Committee on Union Constitution Jawaharlal Nehru
Examining draft ConstitutionAlladi Krishnaswamy Iyer

Draft Constitution of India' was ready by February 1948 and the constituent assembly discussed the draft clause by clause and modified wherever necessary. The second reading of the draft constitution was completed by 17th October 1949. On November 14th, Constituent assembly sat again for the third reading. It was completed on 26th November 1949 and received the signature of the President of the assembly and was declared passed. The provisions relating to citizenship, elections, provisional parliament, temporary and transitional provisions, were given immediate effect, i.e. from November 26, 1949. The rest of the constitution came into force on 26th January, 1950 and this date is referred to in the constitution as the Date of Commencement. It's interesting to note that Nehru was particular about the date i.e. 26th and he insisted on that. Some historians say that he it as a lucky day! Draft Constitution got it's presidential assent on 26th November, and it came into force on 26th Jan 1950 (Nehru's date, 26th!).

The history of making our constitution suggests that Swaraj was not a free gift, it was earned. It was earned from the struggle and sacrifice of our forefathers. Many Pundits around the world doubted the long term functioning of our Constitution. But contrary to that, our constitution stood the test of time. We are the largest democracy in the world and highly respected one too. On the other hand Pakistan has proved over the time that, It's harder for them to run a constitution than to frame one! January 26th is a day the festival of democracy is celebrated. It's a remarkable landmark achieved by our forefathers. The best way to salute them is to exercise our democratic right by casting our votes, by making our vote count!

Wishing you all a wonderful R-Day...

Why our Munna (aka Sanjay Dutt) cannot step into parliament...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Samajwadi Party was quite lucky to have secured the victory of actress Jayaprada in the last election. But, can the star power work again? History might not repeat this time. Amar Singh's whole intention might not be to get Lucknow into SP's kitty, but use Sanjay Dutt as a scapegoat to achieve his party's political ends by making him a 'start campaigner'. Amar Singh knows that Sanjay Dutt  cannot get a suspension order from Supreme court (will tell you why) and even if he manage to get such order, he might not win the election due to the fact that Lucknow is a traditional strong hold of BJP and no one has challenged Atal bihari Vajpayee. Even if BJP's patriarch (Vajpayee) doesn't contest election from Lucknow this year, chances of Sanjay Dutt's win are bleak as many sections of the society in Lucknow are divided over support to Sanjay Dutt.
It is not clear if Vajpayee will contest. There were rumours Shatrughan Sinha might enter the ring if Vajpayee calls it a day. "We want him to contest. Even a child will tell you he just has to fill his nomination papers to win," says BJP leader and Vajpayee's election manager Lalji Tandon. 
The SP has tried to counter Vajpayee's charisma with star power before. Raj Babbar in 1996 and Muzzaffar Ali of Umrao Jaan fame in 1998 challenged him and failed. In recent times, only Congress nominee Karan Singh gave him a decent contest in 1999. Lucknowites are divided on Sanjay Dutt.
"It is strange that the party (SP) which is threatening to withdraw support (to UPA) over terrorism is fielding a person charged under Tada," says former Lucknow University vice-chancellor Roop Rekha Verma. "Where are we taking the standards of politics if we have convicts like Sanjay Dutt against Vajpayee," asks playwright Mudra Rakshas [DNA]
The idea of giving ticket to convicted star like Sanjay Dutt sounds like a death blow to the very foundation of Samajwadi party's socialist democratic ideology. Amar Singh and his party has shown that in today's competitive politics only 'ends' matter, no one gives a damn about means; ethics and morality never to be talked about. Legally, as of now, Sanjay Dutt cannot contest elections since he has already been convicted for a "serious offense" and also served the jail term. He can contest only if he gets a stay order from Supreme Court for his conviction and election commission has to approve his candidacy. If one analyse the intensity of Dutt's offense and the context, it will be quite conspicuous that he won't get a chance to contest elections.

  1. Article 8 of Representation of People act says
    • Clause (3): A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.
    • So, clearly, Election commission will not entertain Dutt's candidacy unless there is an extraordinary ground provided by supreme court.
  2. "I see no reason when my brother Sidhu can be allowed to serve the nation why I cannot be allowed to do the same", says Sanjay Dutt. But the fact is Sidhu's case and Dutt's case are completely different and not even comparable.
    • Sidhu was accused of unintentional murder, but Dutt has been accused of keeping weapons at his house and was convicted by the Supreme Court which upheld the judgment of the trail court. 
    • Also, Sanjay Dutt has served sentence and he is barred from contesting.
    • In Sidhu's case Supreme court "observed that the 1988 Patiala incident happened all of a sudden without pre-meditation and it was not a case where he took advantage of his position as MP in the commission of the crime. The court said he had set "high standards" in public life by vacating the seat after the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling [The Hindu].
    • In case of Sanjay Dutt, his involvement in the 1993 blast, directly or indirectly, is a threat to the national security. In Sanjay Dutt's case, the whole offense was not an accident. This is obvious from the fact that arms and ammunitions were recovered from Dutt's residence.
  3. In 2007, Sanjay Dutt narrowly escaped the conviction under TADA act but he was convicted under Arms Act which is slightly lesser crime. It must be noted here that, Representation of People act  disqualifies the person convicted under TADA, for contesting elections. "It was alleged that justice P D Kode discriminated Sanjay Dutt by not convicting him under TADA act. It's well know fact that, Aziz Ahmed Shaikh, a 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts convict, had moved the Supreme Court challenging his conviction under the TADA and alleged favour shown by the designated judge to film star Sanjay Dutt [report]" though Mr. Dutt was committed similar offense. So, the questions relating to intensity of Mr. Dutt offense are still not completely answered. We can, for a significant extent, conclude that Supreme court will not be soft on Sanjay Dutt to suspend his six year jail term.

Suppose, in worst case, if Sanjay Dutt gets a chance to contest elections, and if he manages to win (which is most unlikely), then it really doesn't make any difference and after some time, no one gives a damn about his win and "he making any difference to the society", which anyway he is not going to make! Sanjay's Dutt's episode is just a tip of the iceberg. There are already over 120 (alleged) criminals sitting in Parliament and making the laws for innocents! I recommend every one of you to take a look at this document (criminal cases.doc) which tells you the story of widespread criminals in our political system. To give you a glimpse of it, "there are 120 MPs with criminal cases against them out of 543, or 22.1%. Among the major parties, the BJP has 29 MPs with a criminal record, the Indian National Congress (INC) 24, the SP 11, RJD 8, CPM 7, BSP 7, NCP 5 and CPI 2."

We, the people of India, end up electing criminals to make laws for innocents and pass on the blame to those very lawmakers and the government in power. Let's ask not what the Netas have done for us, but what we have done to elect them. Get your voter ID, cast your vote and make it count!

Read More:
  1. Sidhu's conviction stayed (Supreme Court's observations) - The Hindu.
  2. TADA Court favored Sanjay Dutt.
  3. Criminals in Indian Politics, Social Watch Report.
  4. Criminals cases statistics document  from From Association for Democratic Reforms. Alternative link.
  5. Candidates's Criminal and financial background report submitted by Election commission of Karnataka. Alternative link.
  6. SP to field Sanjay Dutt from Lucknow - The Hindu.

The youth of youngisthan celebrates 'National Youth Day'

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I called up a friend to wish him on his birthday. The conversation digressed enough to talk about today's youth. He joked, "Today's youth is really going crazy, there was a dude in the temple lighting his cigar from 'Aarti' offered by the priest. Looking at that, I dropped my beer bottle!" Thank god that's just a joke! Such an insane behavior is not tolerated in a country which celebrates National Youth Day!

If you are not aware, Every year since 1984, January 12th is celebrated as National Youth Day in India. "Because, on this day in the year 1863, was born the great philosopher, an inspiration to the youth, the embodiment of Indian culture and intelligence Swamy Vivekananda", whose very name brings lightening spirit in the hearts of many. On declaring Jan 12th as youth day, Government of India felt that, "the philosophy of Swamiji and the ideals for which he lived and worked could be a great source of inspiration for the Indian Youth."

If that inspiration lasts perpetually, the immortal soul of Swamy Vivekananda will remain in peace for ever. That inspiration alone determine the direction of "New India". Because it's quite obvious from the fact that over 50% of Indian population is younger than 25 years [youthportal].

"Is our burgeoning youth a bane or boon? In the early 1980s China was in a position that India finds itself today. And China’s current economic boom is said to be the direct consequence of the large proportion of youth in its population. According to some estimates the current proportion of population under 25 years in India is 51% and the proportion under 35 is about 66%. This predominance of youth in the population is expected to last until 2050. While the average age of an Indian in 2020 is expected to be 29 years, the average age for China is expected to be 37. With 'proper' education, job openings and healthcare, our youth are sure to tip the economy in the right direction [youthportal]."

It's important to pay plenty of attention to the word 'proper' in the above quoted text. The demographic dividend can easily become demographic disaster if we do not pay 'proper' attention to those sectors, namely, education, employment, healthcare, infrastructure building. Swamy Vivekananda has rightly said, "So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them." If we think that holds true even today, then we are responsible, directly or indirectly, for the millions who are living in hunger and ignorance. The responsibility of arising, awaking to 'change the lives around' is left to us. Whatever we do may be insignificant, but it's important that we do it!

Governing the markets: Chinese style of Capitalism

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The end of Chinese civil war in 1949 heralded the socialistic revolution under the leadership of Mao Zedong. Mao's Cultural Revolution followed by series of dramatic economic failures brought China's membership of the United Nations, and permanent membership of the Security Council. Socialism in China (1949-78) was pursued under very unfavorable conditions. Soon after Mao's death in 1976, Deng Xiaoping quickly seized the power and led the economic reforms of significant magnitude and scripted the end of 'Maoist' path of development in China. This was the beginning of China's 'mixed economy' "with an increasingly open market environment, a system termed by some as "market socialism". "Next 30 years (1978-2008) of capitalist reforms eclipsed the 29 years (1949-78) of struggle for socialism [EPW, December 27, 2008]."

"What China has witnessed over the last 30 years is the development of capitalism in the name of building 'socialism with Chinese characteristics'."
  • China's "market reforms" began in agriculture with the process of de-collectivisation. The communes were dismantled and the peasants exposed to market forces under the "household responsibility system".
  • Industrial enterprises in the communes were turned into "township and village enterprises", the market-oriented public enterprises under the purview of local governments based in townships and villages.
  • Deng Xiaoping's "open door" policy resulted in dramatic increases in the flow of foreign trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), and the development of special economic zones (SEZs).
  • After 1984, administered pricing gave way to market pricing, i.e. market alone became the sole force to control prices.
  • In 1992, the mass privatization of state-owned enterprises got underway.
  • In 2002, Capitalists were allowed to become members of Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The period 1978-2002 saw 10% economic growth and the share of exports in GDP reached 35% from just 5% in1978. During this period China was "willing to sacrifice anything in the pursuit of profit", it even privatized the healthcare system! the inequality voices raised during the revolutionary period (until Mao's death in 1976) "were de-politicised in the sense that grievances have been channeled towards the legal system". In 2002 Chinese leadership realized that, "the market mechanism is not only an accelerator of economic growth, but also a double-edged sword that can recklessly cut ethical ties between individuals and various social groups and transform people into creatures who pursue maximum self interest[Shaoguang Wang, EPW, December 27, 2008]." Thus, it was perceived that, "market can serve only as a means to improve people's welfare but not as a goal in itself."

The “grasping the large and letting the small go” policy of 1997 brought significant changes in the central policy. These reforms included efforts to corporatize state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and to downsize the state sector [wiki]."(The “grasping the large” indicated that policy-makers should focus on maintaining state control over the largest state-owned enterprises. “Letting the small go” meant that the central government should relinquish control over smaller state-owned enterprises). "The current Chinese leadership, Hu Jintao - Wen Jiabo, upon coming to power in 2002, put forward a new development paradigm calling for building a "Harmonious Society" with more balanced development across regions and sectors. The paradigm, laid out in detail in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) stressed sustainable growth, "putting people first", and making development pro-poor and pro-rural [Carl Riskin, EPW, December 27, 2008]."

It is interesting to note here that, when some of the smartest economists around the world were contemplating about the possible global economic crisis, as we are seeing now, China was busy regulating the market forces for it's own sake and to build "Harmonious Society". China's huge foreign exchange reserves and it's ability to arrest capitalistic forces in a balanced manner saved it from current global crisis. More over "China is now being courted to inject funds into distressed US financial institutions" in order to help US to overcome the crisis!

China's revolutionaries like Mao Zedong contemplated socialistic state, but China never became a truly socialistic state (Cultural Revolution and later Deng Xiaoping's rule dismantled socialistic framework in China). China exploited capitalistic forces for higher profits but never became a capitalistic country. China's Communist ideology was never truly Communist as it was originally theorized by Marxists. It seems to me that, "Communist China" represents both socialistic and capitalistic tendencies with "Chinese style and characters"!

This post is based on special articles carried in Economic and Political Weekly, December 27, 2008 issue.
 

Creative Commons License
This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.