Monday, December 26, 2011

Ramachandra guha's article

Degrading democracy
The relationship between the two major parties in Parliament has broken down completely. For this both parties are responsible, writes Ramachandra Guha.

15 December 2011 - When Anna Hazare went on a fast at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan this past August, excitable television anchors announced that we were witnessing India's Tahrir Square. They were wrong. The Indian equivalent of the protests in Egypt (and elsewhere in the Arab world) happened a very long time ago. These were the non-cooperation movement of the 1920s, the civil disobedience movement of the 1930s and the Quit India movement of the 1940s.

Those movements witnessed the participation of millions of Indians. The pressures they brought to bear on the British led, eventually, to the independence of India. But those early anticipations of Tahrir Square were not merely about protesting and going to jail. They were also forward-looking. The leaders of those protests thought deeply about the political forms best suited to a poor, large, and deeply divided society. Their ideas, and ideals, were eventually embodied in the Indian Constitution, which paved the way for a multi-party democracy based on linguistic and religious pluralism.

Our country has witnessed 15 general elections, and countless elections to states that are themselves more populous than most countries in the world. Moreover, unlike in neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar - and unlike dozens of African and Latin American nations too - the military in India has been kept completely away from the political process.

The protesters in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere are fighting for what they have not seen in their lifetimes - namely, for an opportunity to elect their own leaders, and for the retreat of the military to the barracks. Ironically, as the people of the Middle East struggle for their first taste of democracy, Indians are working overtime to degrade the democratic institutions that their forebears built and which have now seen us through 65 testing years of independence.

One key manifestation of this degradation is the manner in which legislators treat Parliament. If one dissents from a policy or law proposed by the government, the proper procedure is to speak against it in the legislature. Instead, Opposition members of parliament resort to shouting, screaming, rushing into the well, and even, on occasion, to the throwing of microphones and chairs. By so doing, these leaders think that they are showing contempt for the ruling party - in fact, they are displaying contempt for Parliament itself, and for the voters who sent them there in the first place.

As this column goes to press, Parliament has been stalled for a whole week. And this is nothing new. Fully 22 per cent of the time of the 14th Lok Sabha was lost due to disruptions. Newspaper reports often flag the short-term financial costs - .17 DAYS OF PARLIAMENT DEADLOCK COST THE NATION Rs 132 CRORES. ran one headline in 2010 -but there are more serious long-term effects. These consist in the delay of the passing of bills crucial to the better functioning of government, to faster and more inclusive economic growth, and to enhancing the provision of social services.

The most recent boycott is the handiwork of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The party insists that it will not allow Parliament to function until the home minister, P. Chidambaram, resigns. Here, the BJP is merely following the example of the Congress, which had, in an earlier Lok Sabha, organized a similar boycott of the serving defence minister, George Fernandes.

As the sociologist, André Béteille, has pointed out, a functioning democracy depends crucially on a relationship of civility between government and Opposition. I write this from the United Kingdom, where an important aspect of democratic functioning is Prime Minister's Questions, where the leader of the government has to answer criticisms posed to him by members of the Opposition. No Briton I know can recall when PMQ was last disrupted or abandoned by the throwing of mikes or the walk-out of members.

In India, however, the relationship between the two major parties has broken down completely. For this both parties are responsible. The BJP has encouraged its leaders to abuse, in the most vulgar way, the prime minister and the leader of the United Progressive Alliance (.Shikhandi. and .Rome raj., patented by Yashwant Sinha and Narendra Modi respectively, come to mind here). The Congress, for its part, has very rarely consulted the BJP on matters of national importance, even where a bipartisan dialogue should be seen as absolutely mandatory.

Pakistan and Kashmir are obvious examples here. So is the lok pal bill. As a consequence of Anna Hazare's first fast, in April, the government set up a 'joint committee' to draft a suitable legislation. One would have thought that some members of the Opposition would have been in the committee. Instead, five unelected civil society activists sat together with five government ministers.

I have focused on the lapses of the Congress and the BJP, but of course other parties are equally culpable (recall only the behaviour of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party over the women's reservation bill). So are Indians outside politics. The behaviour of Team Anna members (remember Kiran Bedi's puppet-and-mime show, or Hazare's statement that all voters can be bribed) has been unworthy of a movement claiming to clean up democracy. Inside some self-styled civil society activists, it appears, there is a petty little dictator struggling to get out.

This partisanship has been stoked by the media. Every disparaging comment by a BJP leader about a Congressman or vice versa, or by a Team Anna member about a politician or vice versa, has been played and played again, thus intensifying the cynicism and frustration of the citizen.

The cycle must be broken. But how? A start can be made by a private, off-camera conversation between a major Congress leader and a major leader of the BJP. Who could these be? The prime minister rules himself out, because by not - even after seven years in office - offering to stand for a seat in the Lok Sabha, he has betrayed his own lack of respect for Parliament.

A more plausible leader of such a initiative is Sonia Gandhi, who has herself won three terms to the Lok Sabha, and who is in political terms more important than Manmohan Singh anyhow. Perhaps she should have a meeting with Sushma Swaraj, also a several-term Lok Sabha MP, and, as it happens, the current leader of the Opposition in the Lower House. This meeting can call for a moratorium on abusive remarks about individuals, and, more broadly, for a regular process of consultation and dialogue between government and Opposition.

Politics is a serious business, whose substance can often be aided or impeded by symbols. In suggesting that Sonia Gandhi and Sushma Swaraj have this meeting I had in mind their respective positions in Indian politics today. But then I remembered that they had fought one another in a Lok Sabha election in Bellary in 1999, an intense, surcharged contest in which some less-than-decorous language was used. For Sonia Gandhi to meet Sushma Swaraj now would thus be resonant with meaning, symbolic as well as substantial. It would be a reaching out, a reconciliation, that may lead in turn to a more civil relationship between their two parties.

The Arabs, who have never had democracy, struggle desperately for it. We, who have had it now for several generations, degrade it in practice and in theory. To restore and renew Indian democracy we must, first of all, restore and renew the dignity of Parliament. For this the suspicion and hostility that mark relations between government and Opposition must be overcome. A ordinary, face-to-face meeting between two women, each with great stakes in this democracy's future, may be a productive starting-point.

Ramachandra Guha
15 Dec 2011

Ramachandra Guha is a historian, and a regular columnist with The Telegraph of Calcutta.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

CPI CPM on Mullaperiyar issue

The Mullaperiyar Dam problem is creating tensions between the states of Kerala and Tamilnadu.

Communist Party of India appeals to Prime Minister to use his good offices and call a meeting of Chief Ministers of two states and take political decision to settle the issue.
The supply of water for irrigation to Tamilnadu should be guaranteed by the Government of Kerala and Union Government as earlier. The century old arrangement should continue.
The apprehensions of the people of Kerala about the safety of the 116-year-old dam should be taken into active consideration.
This issue need not become a controversy with agitations and counter agitations. The Communist Party of India appeals to the people of both states, to restrain themselves, and create an atmosphere for settlement through discussions.
CPI also appeals to the Supreme Court of India to expedite its enquiry and decide the pending case before it as early as possible

CPIM On Mullaperiyar Dam
1 December 2011
December 1, 2011

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), now in session at New Delhi, has issued the following statement:

On Mullaperiyar Dam

The CPI(M) stand on the Mullaperiyar dam issue has always been guided by two principles. The first is the Mullaperiyar dam provides water to Tamilnadu which has proved vital to the agriculture and development of the areas concerned. The water supply to Tamilnadu should be assured in the future too.

The second issue is the safety of this 115 year-old dam in the hills of Idukki district of Kerala. The apprehensions about the safety of the dam have to be allayed and measures taken to ensure the safety and security of the people in Idukki and the three adjoining districts in Kerala.

The issue of the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam has come to the fore with the recent tremors recorded in Idukki. This has sparked off widespread fears among the people about the safety of the dam.

The Mullaperiyar dam issue is being considered by the Supreme Court which appointed an empowered committee to enquire into the various aspects of the problems. The Supreme Court should expedite the process and come to an early judgement on the matter. Till then, the Central government should intervene and decide on the immediate measures that are required to ensure the safety of the dam, in consultation with the Kerala and Tamilnadu governments.

The Polit Bureau would like both the states of Tamilnadu and Kerala to adopt an attitude which will help resolve this longstanding and complex issue amicably.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

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From the pages of AIBEA Bank VRS

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

M K Pandhe

20th August 2011
Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) lost its most beloved leader Dr M K Pandhe who was also the tallest leader of the Indian Trade Union movement of the time. Dr Pandhe died on 20th August 2011 at early hours (00-20 hrs) following a massive heart attack. He was 86 years. CITU expresses its profound grief at the demise of Com Pandhe.

Comrade Pandhe’s public life spread over seven decades beginning as a student movement activist in his early youth and he continued to remain fully active, agile and concerned as one in the thick of the working class and the Left movement, till the last hours of his eventful life, totally undaunted by ageing problems and failing health. Sufferings from cancer and all the hazards of treatment and accompanying complications could not deter him in the least from his activities spreading over the length and breadth of the country across sectors. The country’s toiling class lost a dedicated fighter for the cause of their emancipation.

He joined the communist movement in 1943 and played a frontline role in asserting the role of the working class in the fight for social transformation and emancipating the people from all kinds of exploitation. He was elected in Polit Bureau of Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1998 and continued in that position till his death.

His singular contribution in the trade union movement and organizing and leading the workers in the strategic sector of industries had been unparalleled. Also crucial had been his contribution in organizing the workers in the unorganized sector and also emphasising the working women’s role in the trade union movement.

He had been national secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) in the early sixties and was one of the founder leaders of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the organization which he steered as one of the most frontline centres of the working class movement. He had been General Secretary of CITU from 1991 to 2003 and remained President from 2003 to 2010.

Comrade Pandhe had always been the champion of broadest unity of the working class in the struggle on common issues. In the phase of coming together of all trade unions of different affiliations in the united platform on common issues and unleashing of the era of joint struggle of trade unions on national scale in the late seventies, the untiring effort of Comrade Pandhe has played the most crucial role. Com Pandhe commanded high respect and acceptability as a towering leader in the entire trade union circles irrespective of affiliations.

Com Pandhe was also widely known and respected in the international arena of trade union movement. His initiative has led to widening the international relations of CITU in a big way. He had been the Co-President of International Energy and Miners’ Organisation (IEMO) which had been a joint international platform of energy and mining workers worldwide irrespective of affiliations.

His firm commitment to working class ideology and to anti-imperialism had always been the guide to CITU in organizing the united movement and exposing the capitalist order. His untiring initiative and able leadership in this direction has contributed immensely both in developing and maintaining continuity in the united platform of struggle against neoliberal policies since 1991 which got further broadened to all in unity of the trade union movement in the joint struggle since 2009.

He had been a prolific writer as well. He had written innumerable pamphlets on the issues facing the trade union movement and on the economic policy issues. His booklet titled “Policies of liberalization- attack on Economic Sovereignty” published in 1991, translated in all Indian languages and circulated in several lakhs throughout the country became the talking points on the disastrous policy of liberalization, privatization and globalization for all trade union activists and organizers irrespective of affiliations in the anti-LPG joint struggles. Also notable had been his pamphlets on ‘Fraudulent Price Index”, “Global Economic Crisis” , “on Employees Pension Scheme” and his regular contributions in trade union journals almost on almost all issues facing the working class movement.

Despite being the tallest leader of the working class movement, he was accessible to all including the common workers. His simple life-style and utmost simplicity will always be remembered. In fact his unflinching commitment to working class, indomitable zeal to work and organize, strong conviction on the urgency for developing class leadership, great intellectual capacity to penetrate and down-to-earth approach to communicate and interact with people made made him the tallest leader of the country’s trade union movement.

Com Pandhe is no more. His demise is a severe loss to the country’s working class movement. CITU pledges to carry forward his mission in his cherished direction, while condoling his death and conveying condolences to his wife Com Pramila Pandhe and other family members.



Loss of Two Champions of working class

Tribute to Chaturanan Mishra
One of the tallest leaders of the Communist Party in Bihar, Chaturanan Mishra, who was the Union Agriculture Minister in the governments of both H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral in 1996-98, passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi around noon on July 2, 2011. A former President of the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), he was ailing for quite sometime but the end came rather suddenly. He was admitted to the AIIMS the previous day and put on a ventilator; however, he could not be revived. He is survived by his wife, four daughters and a son, besides several grandchildren.
His last rites were performed at the Capital’s Nigambodh Ghat before a large crowd of relatives, friends, comrades. The body was kept for sometime at the CPI headquarters, Ajoy Bhavan, before the final journey to the crematorium. Born on April 7, 1925 at Nahar village of Madhubani district, Chaturanan Mishra plunged into the vortex of the freedom struggle in his student days and was imprisoned twice for participating in that struggle. He joined the ‘Quit India’ movement of 1942 and was jailed for that reason; it was then that he sustained serious injuries in Derbhanga jail. Like his colleague and comrade-in-arms, Bhogendra Jha, former MP and the indisputable mass leader of Madhubani, he too came into the communist movement from the Congress.
The CPI was founded in Bihar by such stalwarts as Rahul Sankrityayan, B.B. Mishra, Sunil Mukherjee, Ratan Ray, Shyamal Kumar Jha. In course of time it was enriched by the entry into the party of Yogendra Sharma, Ali Ashraf, Jagannath Sarkar, Indradeep Sinha, Chandrasekhar Singh from the Congress Socialist Party; and Karyanand Sharma, Bhogendra Jha and Chaturanan Mishra from the Congress. With Mishraji’s demise (Jagannath Sarkar breathed his last in April 2011), almost all the Communist leaders of yester-years have departed. (Those from that generation who are still alive include historian Dr R.S. Sharma and CPI-M leader Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi; even UCPI leader Krishna Chandra Choudhury is no more.)
In 1944 he migrated to south Bihar (now Jharkhand) with the party deputing him for trade union work there. As he narrates in the following interview, “I spent the next twentyfive years in Giridih and Hazaribagh struggling for the cause of mine labourers and highlighting pertinent social issues.” He also says: “It was a great learning experience and my longest journey so far—in socio-cultural terms; it was a sort of metamorphosis for me.” His popularity among the tribals and workers there was manifest in his being elected from the Giridih constituency thrice—in 1969, 1972 and 1979. He also served as the deputy leader and leader of the CPI group in the House and in that capacity became Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly as well.
He was twice elected to the Rajya Sabha from Bihar—in 1984 and 1990. In 1996 he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Madhubani, which at one time was called ‘little Moscow’ (Bhogendra Jha represented that constituency in the Lok Sabha for several terms). Thereafter he became the Union Agriculture Minister when the CPI, unlike the CPI-M, decided to join the Deve Gowda Government at the Centre (the other CPI Minister in Deve Gowda’s Cabinet was Indrajit Gupta who was entrusted with the Home portfolio).
After S.A. Dange relinquished the top post of the AITUC, Mishraji became the organisation’s President from 1983 to 1989. In that capacity he tried his level best to ensure the AITUC’s merger with the HMS (and in that he was fully supported by Indrajit Gupta, the legendary trade union leader of the country) but that was not to be due to ‘internal hindrances’ as he mentions in the interview. (Those hindrances came mainly from the pro-CPI-M section within the AITUC leadership for fear of the negative reaction from the CPI-M’s trade union wing, the CITU, which is rooted in sectarianism.) In contrast Mishraji was far more open and while pleading for Left and communist unity never took a sectarian position; like erstwhile CPI General Secretary Indrajit Gupta, he always kept the broad national picture in view. That is why he had no hesitation in acknowledging, as he does in the following interview, that “today civil rights activists like Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy etc. are raising their voice on issues that should be our concern”. He thought out of the box and wrote freely bringing into focus the national problems which, he was convinced, should be tackled by evolving a national perspective and outlook.
In 1996-98, the Communists in the Union Government played an outstanding role that is seldom recognised. While Indrajit Gupta emerged as the “best Home Minister this country has ever had”, an observation made by former PM I.K. Gujral, Mishraji as the Union Agriculture Minister pioneered such schemes as crop insurance, Kisan Credit Card and set up institutions like the Krishi Vigyan Kendra “to lift the status of agriculture”, as he describes in the following interview. But while doing so he was never oblivious of the necessity of people’s struggles to implement the schemes and projects meant for the toiling populace. Apart from being a tireless political worker, he was endowed with a clear vision of the future. He wrote extensively not just in party journals but in this weekly too. In fact he was a prolific writer and several of his articles appeared in Mainstream influencing the large band of its readers including such a personality as Justice Sukumaran who openly wrote from Thiruvananthapuram about this, warmly complimenting Mishraji that was duly conveyed to him.
Like Jagannath Sarkar, Yogendra Sharma, Indradeep Sinha, Bhogendra Jha, he had forged close relations with N.C., and had intimate ties with the Mainstream family. While offering our sincere homage to his abiding memory we are reproducing in the following pages the interview taken by Atul Kumar Thakur (that appeared in this journal last February) and two of his articles (which were published in Mainstream in 2010). S.C.

Monday, August 1, 2011

WFTU GS Com Mavrikos

Working Class Is Awakening the World Over

Rajiv Dimri interviewed George Mavrikos, General Secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions – WFTU, at the ILC.

Greece is witnessing a major upsurge at the present time. Can you tell us more about these movements of the Greek working class?
The Greek bourgeoisie, the social democrat government, and its allies the conservative party in cooperation with the EU, the IMF and the World Bank have unleashed an assault on the Greek working class on the pretext of the global capitalist crisis. A range of anti-labour laws are being introduced to curtail workers’ rights - regarding working hours, salaries, social security, pensions, and tax policy.
The Greek working class has been thwarting these moves. Last year, Panergatiko Agonistiko Metopo (PAME) – the All Workers’ Militant Front - organized more than 13 massive general strikes successfully. This year it continues to mobilize the working people and unite them with other progressive forces in a popular front against the anti-labour measures. The main slogan is: “We refuse to pay for their crisis, deficits and debts - those who created the crises should pay!” It is the plutocracy and its parties, PASOK (social democrats) and N.D. (conservatives) who are pushing for the anti-people measures.
The 16th World Trade Union Congress held at Athens in April this year turned into an international forum of solidarity with the Greek people.
What are the trends you see in the international working class movement today?
After WWII, a balance was created between the two sides, leading to a relatively favourable situation for the working people and their struggles. Today the current balance of forces is against the people and the workers.
But this year, we have nevertheless experienced great struggles in response to the global economic crisis. The world over, the ruling class is trying to force people to bear the burden of its crisis – and this has sparked off serious resistance in Greece, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, many countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as in Mexico, and by immigrant workers in the US. Recently in Madison, Wisconsin, in the US, there was a significant battle by public employees fighting to defend their right to collective negotiations and their salaries.
What can we conclude from these developments? It is clear that major opportunities of empowerment and awakening for the working and the popular masses have been created. Class struggle is intensifying. The examples in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan etc. confirm this. The revolt of the people of Egypt, regardless of its future outcome, shows that people are the real protagonists of history.
These positive developments coexist with equally serious challenges. One serious challenge is the lack of unity and coordination between the leaderships of many trade unions at national level.
To exploit the new possibilities which are opening up, and for the movement to pass to another level of struggles, we need to critically assess all these developments and to devise effective tactics to eliminate the barriers in every country. We must learn from struggles of the past.
What is WFTU’s approach to the developments in the Arab world?
Workers and people of the Arab world are rising up against dictatorships which suppressed the people and stole their wealth. Poverty, unemployment, discrimination, lack of freedom is what these regimes brought to the working people. These regimes were also subject to imperialist powers led by the USA, which is pursuing its project of a “New Middle East”, aiming to divide the Arab people into conflicting states. Their main aim is to control petroleum and the natural resources of this region.
The multiple uprisings proved that the working class and the popular can shape their future. WFTU has always supported the unity of the Arab world. It has always supported the struggle of the Palestinians for a free and independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, as well as Syria and Lebanon. It has always stood for the liberation of the occupied lands against Israeli occupation. We are against every imperialist intervention and invasion in Libya and Syria.
What is WFTU’s plan of action in the days to come?
WFTU held the historic 16th World Trade Union Congress at Athens in April. This was an open, democratic, internationalist and militant Congress with the participation of 828 delegates from 101 countries and 115 speakers.
The next big step will be the WFTU International Action Day on October 3, which coincides with the founding day of the WFTU on October 3, 1945. The key objectives of this Action are:
- 35 hours of work: i.e 7 hours per day and a 5-day working week, and better wages
- Public social security for all
- Collective bargaining, collective agreements
- Trade union and democratic freedoms
- Solidarity with the Palestinian people
The International Day of Action will mark the start of new protests against privatization and layoffs. It will mark the engagement of all social strata against the policies of the monopolies and multinationals.
What are WFTU’s proposals for democratizing the ILO?
The WFTU had been repeatedly demanding a change in the system of the elections for the Governing body of the ILO, in order to provide proportionate representation to all international organizations such as WFTU, ICATU, OATUU, ACFTU. WFTU demands that the monopoly of the International Labour Organisation by one organisation (ITUC) should stop, and all international trade union organisations be treated fairly, equitably and without any discrimination. The prevailing discrimination goes against the prestige of ILO and the credibility of its decisions.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011


Review of the Work on the Trade Union Front
And Immediate Tasks
(Adopted by the CPIM Central Committee at its meeting -- November 22-24, 2002)

15. VRS Scheme -- A New Device of Retrenchment

With an avowed objective to reduce the workforce in various enterprises, Voluntary Retirement Schemes are being introduced in several industries in the public and the private sector. It is a part and parcel of the cost cutting exercise by industrial undertakings in the name of competitive environment under liberalisation. At times the managements offer “liberal” packages, which ultimately result in savings in their operating costs. It has been observed that some of our leading activists have also fallen prey to such schemes, which creates frustration among the employees.

Trade unions should oppose VRS plans which are purely retrenchment schemes. However, despite the stand and campaign of the unions, if individual employees avail of the scheme, they cannot be prevented by the unions. Whenever managements resort to coercive methods to get employees to accept VRS, then the union will have to take steps against such methods.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Irregularities in Tender LS Qn

ANSWERED ON 09.03.2011

Will the Minister of COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY be pleased to state:-

(a) whether irregularities in awarding tender for WLL, CDMA, FWTs has come to the notice of Government;

(b) if so, the details of the complaints received in this regard;

(c) whether Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has advised BSNL to fix responsibility against the erring officials for these irregularities;

(d) if so, the details thereof;

(e) whether the Government has fixed responsibilities in this regard; and

(f) if so, the details thereof and action taken against the persons responsible?


(a) Yes, Madam.

(b) Irregularities regarding award of tenders for WLL, CDMA AND FWTs came to the notice of the Government in respect of tender nos. MM/SW/072004/000277 dated 15.07.2004 and no. MM/SW/082007/000337 dated 13.08.2007.

(c) Yes, Madam.

(d) In respect of tender no.MM/SW/072004/000277 dated 15.07.2004, the CVC has advised CVO BSNL to supply all the relevant material to CVO DoT to enable him to obtain clarifications from Government Directors and furnish a report for their 1st stage advice. In respect of tender no. MM/SW/082007/000337 dated 13.8.2007, the CVC had advised CVO, BSNL to fix responsibility of the officials concerned and furnish a report for their 1st stage advice.

(e) & (f) In both the cases the Directors of BSNL board were involved. Therefore, a factual report was taken from CVO BSNL. The same was duly examined in DoT and a report has already been sent to CVC for their 1st stage advice for taking action against the erring officers as per prescribed procedure.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pages from History

The Greatest Treasure
Jawaharlal Nehru
January 30 this year marks the sixtythird anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s martyrdom. We offer our homage to his indelible memory by reproducing the following excerpts from Jawaharlal Nehru’s statement in the Constituent Assembly on February 2, 1948, that is, within three days of the assassination of the Father of the Nation.

I am not quite sure in my own mind if it is exactly fitting for me or for any others of this House to say much on this occasion, for I have a sense of utter shame both as an individual and as the head of the Government of India that we should have failed to protect the greatest treasure that we possessed. It is our failure, as it has been our failure in the many months past, to give protection to many an innocent man, woman and child; it may be that the burden and the task were too great for us or for any government. Nevertheless, it is a failure. And today the fact that this mighty person whom we honoured and loved beyond measure has gone because we could not give him adequate protection is a shame for all of us. It is a shame to me as an Indian that an Indian should have raised his hand against him, it is a shame to me as a Hindu that a Hindu should have done this deed and done it to the greatest Indian of the day and the greatest Hindu of the age…

A glory has departed and the sun that warmed and brightened our lives has set and we shiver in the cold and dark. Yet, he would not have us feel this way. After all, that glory that we saw for all these years, that man with the divine fire, changed us also—and such as we are, we have been moulded by him during these years; and out of that divine fire many of us also took a small spark which strengthened and made us work to some extent on the lines that he fashioned. And so if we praise him, our words seem rather small, and if we praise him, to some extent we also priase ourselves. Great men and eminent men have monuments in bronze and marble set up for them, but this man of divine fire managed in his lifetime to become enshrined in millions and millions of hearts so that all of us became somewhat of the stuff that he was made of, though to an infinitely lesser degree. He spread out in this way all over India, not in palaces only, or in select places or in assemblies but in every hamlet and hut of the lowly and those who suffer. He lives in the hearts of millions and he will live for immemorial ages.

What then can we say about him except to feel humble on this occasion? To praise him we are not worthy—to praise him whom we could not follow adequately and sufficiently. It is almost doing him an injustice just to pass him by with words when he demanded work and labour and sacrifice from us; in a large measure he made this country, during the last thirty years or more, attain to heights of sacrifice which in that particular domain have never been equalled elsewhere. He succeeded in that. Yet ultimately things happened which no doubt made him suffer tremendously though his tender face never lost its smile and he never spoke a harsh word to anyone. Yet, he must have suffered—suffered for the failing of this generation whom he had trained, suffered because we went away from the path that he had shown us. And ultimately the hand of a child of his—for he after all is as much a child of his as any other Indian—a hand of that child of his struck him down.

Long ages afterwards history will judge of this period that we have passed through. It will judge of the successes and the failures—we are too near it to be proper judges and to understand what has happened and what has not happened. All we know is that there was a glory and that it is no more; all we know is that for the moment there is darkness, not so dark certainly because when we look into our hearts we still find the living flame which he lighted there. And if those living flames exist, there will not be darkness in this land and we shall be able, with our effort, remembering him and following his path, to illumine this land again, small as we are, but still with the fire that he instilled into us.

He was perhaps the greatest symbol of the India of the past, and may I say, of the India of the future, that we could have had. We stand on this perilous edge of the present between that past and the future to be, and we face all manner of perils and the greatest peril is sometimes the lack of faith which comes to us, the sense of frustration that comes to us, the sinking of the heart and of the spirit that comes to us when we see ideals go overboard, when we see the great things that we talked about somehow pass into empty words and life take a different course. Yet I do believe that perhaps this period will pass soon enough.

Great as this man of God was in his life, he has been greater in his death and I have not the shadow of a doubt that by his death he has served the great cause as he served it throughout his life. We mourn him; we shall always mourn him, because we are human and cannot forget our beloved master. But I know that he would not like us to mourn him. No tears came to his eyes when his dearest and closest passed away—only a firm resolve to persevere, to serve the great cause that he had chosen. So he would chide us if we merely mourn. That is a poor way of doing homage to him. The only way is to express our determination, to pledge ourselves anew, to conduct ourselves in a befitting manner and to dedicate ourselves to the great task which he undertook and which he accomplished to such a large extent. So we have to work, we have to labour, we have to sacrifice and thus prove, to some extent at least, worthy followers of his.

(A Statement in the Constituent Assembly, February 2, 1948)