Control issues

The situation in the Valley is getting worse but before the all-party delegation reaches Jammu and Kashmir let us be clear of two things: that the street violence over the last few months was generated by separatist forces, and that from the security point of view this cannot be tolerated by any government. The separatist issue has been going on for years and funds from abroad have continued to generate dissent in the Valley. Should this be allowed in the name of democracy?
We have had 99 casualties in the Valley since trouble started, and while there is no doubt that the Army should not stay in civilian areas beyond a limited time, the fact is that no casualties have resulted from any action by the Army. There is little doubt that the Army has done well in controlling infiltration from across the border. So, whatever decision is taken, it must be borne in mind that we cannot allow infiltration from across the border and that Jammu and Kashmir is and will always remain an integral part of India.
We can apportion blame for allowing the situation to get out of control, but we should remember that it was the National Conference (NC) and both Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah who had fought the separatist forces during the last crisis. Handling a sensitive state like Jammu and Kashmir re­q­u­ires more than just courage and I think the Congress took the right decision to align with the NC.
In politics it is not development alone which wins the confidence of the electorate. Things have not worked out well in Jammu and Kashmir in the past two years and remedial action is necessary. Being the chief minister, Mr Omar Abdullah has to take the responsibility to deliver. He must be given full support if he is willing to lead from the front.
In view of the escalating violence, many “ideal” steps are being contemplated but they cannot be implemented. Under no circumstance can we open a window for terrorists from across the border. I cannot see how any national party can dilute the provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the current scenario when an anarchy-like situation prevails. There are no simplistic solutions to this issue. The situation will change with time, but the Prime Minister and his team have to stay one step ahead of the ground situation.

THE LAND Acquisition Bill is going to open up several issues and all political parties will try to take credit and secure political high ground. But all credit must go to the redoubtable Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamul Congress who fought the land battle in Singur and Nandigram and will almost certainly take the lead in the proposed changes in the law. The reason for the delay in passing the bill earlier does not lie with the Trinamul Congress but with the proposal itself. In all likelihood, a fair “market value” will replace the circle rate and hopefully another relic of the colonial era will pass into the archives, and both the Centre and the state governments will stop acting as land brokers and commission agents.
It would be interesting to see the number of public representatives, including their immediate family members, who have received land at subsidised rates or purchased houses or flats under some “special quota”, all at the expense of the aam aadmi. No one is against land acquisition for public purposes or for industrial development. But mu­st we deprive one section of society for the benefit of another. It would be interesting to find out if any politician or official who has drafted and passed these laws suffered personally from these decisions? The concept of giving fair market value for acquired land is the only solution and this is inev­it­a­b­le given the current public mo­od. I see the Op­position joining forces on this issue. Uttar Pr­a­d­e­sh chief minister Mayawati has, in fact, alr­e­a­dy taken the lead af­t­er the recent agitation in Agra and Mathura.
There are disturbing media reports on Afghanistan and the excessive assets generated by the close relatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Afghanistan’s largest private bank, Kabul Bank, run by Mahmoud Karzai, the President’s brother, is in serious trouble. Mr Mahmoud Karzai has financed purchase of property worth `700 crores in Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, amongst many other real estate assets. The United States and its allies are pouring in billions of dollars of aid but where is it all going?
In India, too, we saw photographs of a 31-acre property owned by YSR Reddy’s son, Jaganmohan Reddy, complete with a huge mansion and 200 armed security guards. There are also several media reports about thousands of crores in assets.
We have a huge nine per cent gross domestic product growth and the generation of surplus wealth. But pools of money based on illegal activities, be it corruption, fraud, extortion or tax evasion, will pose a serious challenge to political authority and compromise the best talent unless the political system fights back and brings in transparency in political dealings.
Criminality exists in every system and is often generated by a real estate boom. A fairly similar trend can be traced in most of the developed nations, even in Ch­i­na and Russia. Nations need le­a­d­ers with high integrity to fight this menace on a sustained basis. We have leaders with high in­t­e­g­rity cutting across party lines — Narendra Modi, Naveen Patnaik, Raman Singh, Sheila Dikshit, Ta­run Gogoi, Nitish Ku­mar and Sh­i­vraj Singh Chauhan are all able to win electoral verd­i­cts despite anti-incumbency. In the United Progressive Al­l­iance government at the Centre, too, there is no shortage of individuals with a high degree of in­t­eg­r­i­ty, starting with the Prime Mi­n­i­s­ter and his entire economic te­am. Yet, the fact is that if not ch­­e­cked in time, financial irregul­a­rities destroy political authority.

WE AGONISE for six months for rainfall to get normal and then, when the rains come, we are confronted with floods and water-logging with many of our roads vanishing overnight. Now we will have a record harvest and before long we will complain of excessive grains rotting in the open. Something is very wrong with our management of the situation but this is a subject for discussion for another day. For now let us focus on the Commonwealth Games. The Delhi chief minister and her team are en route to delivering a miracle by completing their projects, though we are told that the opening and closing ceremonies are in danger if it rains on the 3rd and the 14th of October. Did we not know that stray showers are possible in the month of October when we accepted the Games, or when we planned the opening and closing ceremonies with an inflated structure?

Arun Nehru is a former Union minister

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