Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good news for my constituency

A Times of India report today.

Five projects sanctioned for Varanasi

TNN 30 September 2009, 10:07pm IST

VARANASI: The Union minister for urban development S Jaipal Reddy, through a letter dated 18 September, informed local MP Murli Manohar Joshi that five projects had been sanctioned for Varanasi under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
These projects include water supply component, solid waste management, water supply part-II of cis-Varuna area, storm water drainage works and sewer water for Vranasi trans-Varuna area. The total cost of the projects is Rs 746.54 crore, including Central assistance of Rs 373.27 crore.
Reddy's reply came in response to the matter raised by Joshi under rule 377 in the course of Lok Sabha debates on July 30, 2009 regarding the development work in Varanasi. Reddy further wrote that under the second economic stimulus package announced by the Central government in January last, a total of 146 buses have been sanctioned for the city at an estimated cot of Rs 27.17 crore with admissible Central assistance of Rs 13.58 crore under JNNURM. For procurement of buses, an amount of Rs 14.01 crore had already been released to the state government in February 2009.
According to Reddy, urban sector being a state subject proposals for implementation of various projects under JNNURM are submitted by the state government and additional Central assistance is approved by the Central government as per JNNURM guidelines and subject to availability of funds.

Friday, July 31, 2009

My letter to the Prime Minister

Sent on July 30

On 29th July, while replying the debate in the Lok Sabha on your recent foreign visit, dealing with the reports about G8 on Enrichment and Reprocessing Technologies (ENR) to countries which have not signed the NPT, which interalia include India, you had assured that India has a clean waiver and that full nuclear cooperation will result from the 123 agreement. You had also informed the Lok Sabha that French President had told you that France was prepared to enter in to nuclear commerce with India. But several reports raise some apprehensions which need to be cleared by the Government and the Scientists participating in the negotiations.

The G8 L’Aquila statement on Non –Proliferation states:

1- The Universalisation and reinforcement of the non – proliferation regime remains an urgent priority. We call upon all states still not party to the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to accede without delay.

2- We underscore that the NPT remains the cornerstone of the nuclear non proliferation regime.

To reduce the proliferation risks associated with the spread of enrichment and reprocessing facilities, equipment and technology, we welcome the progress that continues to be made by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on mechanisms to strengthen controls on transfers of such enrichment and reprocessing items and technology. While noting that the NSG has not yet reached consensus on this issue, we agree that the NSG discussions have yielded useful and constructive proposals contained in the NSG’s “clean text" developed at the 20 November 2008 consultative group meeting. Pending completion of work in the NSG, we agree to implement this text on a national basis in the next year. We urge the NSG to accelerate its work and swiftly reach consensus this year to allow for global implementation of a strengthened mechanism on transfers of enrichment and reprocessing facilities, equipment, and technology.

Obviously the intention is to deny ENR technologies to non –NPT countries.

Responding to the G-8, statement Shri Pranab Mukherji told the Rajya Sabha this year on July 13, “ We have got a clean waiver and not concerned over the position of the G-8 countries, so far as the civil nuclear cooperation is concerned the appropriate agency is the IAEA and the 45 member NSG”.

Perhaps Mr. Mukherji forgot that the G 8 members include both France and Russia the Countries which have the enrichment and reprocessing technologies and they are also the members of the NSG . Once they support the contents of para 8 above in G-8 how can they oppose the same in the plenary of the NSG?

The issue is whether India made any attempt to see that both Russia and France don’t support the dilution of the principle of “ full civil nuclear cooperation’ Whatever interpretation Mr. Mukherji or the Government of India may like to have the fact is that the adoption of the G-8 text prevents India to procure ENR items both from France and Russia.

It may be recalled that as early as March 2008, the NSG members discussed a statement to be adopted at the plenary meeting which said that the participating Governments of the Nuclear supplier group’

Desire to contribute to the effectiveness and integrity of the global non- proliferation regime, and to the widest possible implementation of the provisions and objectives of the Treaty on the Non –Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Seek to avert the further spread of Nuclear weapons.

Wish to pursue mechanisms to affect positively the non-proliferation commitment and action of all states outside the nuclear non- proliferation regime.

Refraining from transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them and supporting international efforts to limit their spread.

Harmonizing its export control lists and guidelines with those of the Nuclear Suppliers group and committing to adhere to the nuclear suppliers group guidelines.

The statement further says that:

In order to facilitate India’s adherence to INFCIRC/254/part 1 and 2 and to remain current in its implementation of the guidelines, the NSG chair is requested to review proposed amendments to the Guidelines with India and inform the plenary of the outcome of the dialogue with India. Participation of India in the decisions regarding proposed amendments will facilitate their effective implementation by India .

Now the question is what was the outcome of this review and what was India’s stand during the review and what was the outcome of the dialogue?

The October 2008 “US – India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and non-proliferation enhancement Act” to ratify the 123 deal paved the way for a downturn by Bush administration the significance of the ratification legislation sections 204(a) and 204(c) lies in the fact that the provision helped turn the Bush administration political assurance on working for NSG ban into a requirement by law.

Let us look at the Presidential determination to Congress dated 10 September 2008: President Bush stated:

That the 123 Agreement “ does not permit transfers of any restricted data. Sensitive nuclear technology, heavy-water production technology and production facilities, sensitive nuclear facilities, and major critical components of such facilities may not be transferred under the agreement unless the agreement is amended”(emphasis added).

The state department’s letter of January 2008 responding to 45 congressional questions was released in August 2008. I would like to know whether Government of India had seen this letter and if so what action was taken. It is all the more serious if it was not seen by our negotiators.

The letter affirms the “U.S. government will not assist India in the design, construction or operation of sensitive nuclear technologies through the transfer of dual-use items, whether under the agreement or outside the agreement .” It categorically ruled out the US transfer of civil reprocessing and enrichment equipment or technologies to India even under safeguards. The letter suggested that “the hope enshrined in article 5(2) of the 123 agreement of a future amendment to permit sensitive transfers was merely intended to help the Indian government save face in public. The administration does not plan to negotiate an amendment to the proposed U.S.- India agreement to transfer to India sensitive nuclear facilities or critical components of such facilities," it stated flatly. While the letter made plain that “ US will not assist India in the design, construction or operation of sensitive nuclear technologies through the transfer of dual- use items, whether under the agreement or outside the agreement,” the PM had told the Parliament that the deal “will open up new opportunities for trade in dual-use high technologies.”

I would like to know whether in the light of the above any action was taken by the Government of India. If it is correct that the agreement of a future amendment to permit sensitive transfers was merely intended to help the Indian Government save face in public, and if we had let it go like this then this is most disgraceful. The Government has brought shame of the worst kind by keeping mum on this and concealing it from the Parliament.

The statement of Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association Executive Director, dated 1st October 2008, on the US- Indian agreement for Nuclear cooperation says:

The US-Indian agreement for nuclear cooperation is, nonetheless, a nonproliferation disaster. Contrary to the counterfactual claims of proponents and apologists, its does not bring India into the “non- proliferation mainstream” and India’s so called separation plan is not credible from a non- proliferation perspective:

In exchange for quick house approval of the India agreement, however, secretary of state Condoleeza Rice acknowledged the NSG loophole in a personal commitment to Horward Berman (D- Calif) chair of the house committee on Foreign Affairs. Rice promised that the United States will make its “highest priority” to achieve a decision at the next NSG meeting to prohibit the export of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology to states that are not party to the NPT.

In November 2008, meeting of the NSG cartel, new draft rules emerged which were fully supported by the U.S., these rules under the “revised paragraph 6and 7 of INFCIRC 254/part 1,lists seven criteria that must be fulfilled before an NSG member authorizes the supply of ENR facilities equipment and technology.

According to the report in Hindu by Siddhartha Varadarajan a copy of the confidential text obtained by the Arms Control Association (ACA) and accessed by the Hindu the very first of these criteria, numbered 6(a)(i) is that the recipient must be “a party to the treaty on the non- proliferation of nuclear weapons and is in full compliance with its obligations under the treaty”

The report further says that though the draft was introduced by the Bush administration, the Obama administration got the G-8 to begin implementing it on a national basis recently. If this draft is approved by NSG formally ENR technologies will be debarred to India.

In the context of the conditions imposed by parts 1 and 2 of INFCIRC 254/part 1, does this mean that India will also be willing to sign the NPT to avail these technologies?

Does the Government of India have any access to INFCIRC 254/ part 1? If yes then what was done by our negotiators to get it amended properly. If not then it is extremely poor diplomacy.

Chairman DAE Anil Kakodkar opened the USIBC-NEI commercial nuclear mission to India meeting on January 15,2009 saying that he felt “betrayed” by US policy supporting a ban on enrichment and reprocessing technology (ENR) in the nuclear suppliers group (NSG) saying that it looked to be “directly targeting India” by requiring signature of the non- proliferation treaty (NPT). He added “the long term relationship we are developing is not consistent with this kind of negative development.

Recall that the limited and sole purpose of the India –US deal was to allow the export of nuclear REACTORS by the US to India and not to aid India in developing advanced technology even if it means that India will be saddled with tons of nuclear waste in the absence of a large scale reprocessing plant required for the purpose.

Based on these recent reports, the smoke and mirrors show around the negotiations concerning reprocessing appears to be to eventually corner the country into signing the NPT (as a non weapons state) as the key condition for India receiving cooperation on ENR. This would effectively take care of the requirement that India “sign a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA” which it cannot do as long as it has a weapons programme.

On May 5, 2009, Mr. Rose Gottenmoeller, Assistant Secretary of State, USA, while speaking at the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference said, "We must redouble our efforts to update IAEA safeguard technologies . . . . . . . Universal adherence to the NPT itself – including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea – also remains the fundamental objective of the United States".

Mr. Prime Minister, in the light of the foregoing developments, it appears that there is a strong possibility of denial of ENR technologies to India. In any case we have come out extremely poorly in handling nuclear diplomacy.

My other worry is that in the absence of ENR technology, India would ultimately become the dumping ground for the huge nuclear waste.

Another aspect which disturbs me is the very poor status of the thorium programme. With limited commercial reprocessing plants to extract plutonium, more FBRs cannot be built. This will seriously impinge upon our future development of thorium reactors. The fact that budgetary allotments for nuclear programme in general and in particular for thorium programme are highly inadequate and the uncertainty regarding availability of ENR technologies, I have serious apprehensions regarding the fast development of our civil and military nuclear programmes.

Mr. Prime Minister, I am afraid that the letter has taken more space than what I intended to give it, but the seriousness of the issue which has a far reaching effect on our economy, security and geostrategic environment and scientific research, I have taken your time. Please assure the country that India would not sign NPT and would not allow Thorium programme to be killed.

I would once again request you to take a very close view on what is happening and is likely to happen in this highly sensitive domain which is central in so many ways to our future.

With regards,

Yours sincerely,

(Murli Manohar Joshi)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thank you

I thank the people of Varanasi from the core of my heart for posing their faith in me. I feel extremely humbled and honoured at the verdict. As your humble representative in the Indian Parliament, I shall strive to work honestly for you.

I also thank my friends, well wishers, opponents and family members for their affection.

I have a special word of appreciation for the members of the media who did their best to make right projections.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Congress and corruption

There has been a sweet relationship between Congress and Ottavio Quattrocchi, and all possible efforts were made in the past to save him.

CBI's clean chit to Quattrocchi also shows that the Congress has close links to corruption.
The Congress has been involved in corrupt practices and lack of any honest effort to bring the Indian money from Swiss banks can be taken as an example of it.

I wonder why is the Congress-led UPA government not taking any step to seek the list of people, who deposited money in Swiss banks. If NDA comes to power we would initiate action to bring the money back from Swiss banks. We have never tried to influence the central investigating agency.

Note on Zardari

I don't think Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's statement that he did not consider India a threat came under pressure from the US.

The statement came under pressure from the US. It would have been better if Pakistan felt it from the heart.

Monday, March 30, 2009

GDP : A Statistical Jugglery

I call the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a "statistical jugglery” and call for a new economic thinking model that takes into account the spirituality factor to tide over the global economic crisis.

While speaking at an interactive session with members of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) recently in Kolkata, I termed GDP to be confusing and whimsical. It is a statistical jugglery created only to give a false index of development... During the last five years, we continued to lose jobs, but the GDP was growing.

A successful economic model should be oriented for the common man. A totally new thinking is necessary all over the world. Without spirituality, no economic or political system will work.

I oppose total dependence on a state-controlled economy as also an exclusively market-regulated model. State and market both are needed.

If you ask about my party-led government’s pursuits of reforms and liberalization in power from 1998 to 2004, I would say that there has to be a continuity of government policies. Our country adopted a certain path of economy before we came to power. We continued it. One needs time to change it, but before that time came we were out of power.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Women should be embodiments of knowledge, prosperity and power

The feminisation of poverty and the marginalisation of women need urgent remedial attention. The eradication of poverty was the foremost objective of the platform for Action. That remains unrealized. Instead, we see the emergence of the "new poor" ‑ a new category of poor who do not inherit poverty but fall into it because of inadequate incomes, a lack of access to social services and ecological deterioration. Gender bias is still not uncommon in programmes to remove illiteracy and malnutrition. Maternal mortality rates are unacceptably higher in the developing countries. While governments in developing countries do their best to improve health services for women and to provide medicines at affordable costs, they need greater support from their development partners in the international community.

As we stand today in the first year of the new millennium, our focus should be on the realisation of full freedom for women. From liberation to emancipation to empowerment, the story of the fight for gender equality has been one of a continuing struggle to demolish stereotypes and negative social attitudes while empowering women economically. We need to commit ourselves even more strongly not only towards the full empowerment of women but towards their "full empowerment in full freedom".

We believe that India offers in its ancient tradition a conceptual understanding for our task. The concept of complementarity between the sexes, rather than conflict, has inspired our thought through the ages, and guides our actions to the present day. This intuition of complementarity is illustrated in Indian sculpture and painting by the figure of ‘Ardhanarishvara’ ‑ half male and half female, divided vertically down the centre. Modern scientific research, which has located in the left and right sides of the brain what are commonly described as male and female characteristics, confirms a truth that our ancients divined intuitively. Science and faith both tell us that all of us carry from birth the potential to develop together and to celebrate the masculine and feminine aspects of the human personality. As no man or woman is an island, so, at the deepest level, no individual is purely male or female. Different situations bring out unsuspected qualities or failings in ourselves.

The embodiments of knowledge, prosperity and power of the one Supreme Being in India's traditions are a feminine trinity ‑ Saraswati, the presiding deity of learning, Lakshmi, the presiding deity of wealth and Durga, who personifies strength and power. It is our vision that women in the 21st century should be embodiments of knowledge, prosperity and power.

Nominations for Parliamentary Elections

I am filing my nomination from Varanasi today and seeking your blessings.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cosmic Unity and Connectivity

I would like to pay humble tribute to the great Saints and Seers by illustrating briefly as to how modern scientific findings are now looking in the direction of the Truth or Reality as propounded by our ancient Seers.
In our traditions, there was no anthropocentric or earth- centric view of life. Everything is connected to everything else. There is a universal cosmic connectivity and through that connectivity, the mind boggling diversity becomes a unity. Therefore the approach to life, non-life, the void or anything else we come across was holistic one. The void is not ignored as an empty space or a lumpen matter as something lowly. The entire universe is considered as a conscious universe. Before I go into a few scientific details of modern research findings, let us look at some simple knowledge base we have from modern findings of Cosmology, Astronomy and Astrophysics. Look at the birth of stars. It starts off its early years in a nebulous state. It grows, pulsates, shines, leaves out of it many material bodies and particles, forms new bodies out of it, decays, “dies”, and goes into different stage. Look at a living being. It starts as an assembly of few cells, grows, ages and dies and goes to a different state. It will be difficult to ignore many of these similarities and the possibility of a common connecting consciousness.

Our ancient Seers could look through these realities through different methods of insight. Modern science starting from its empirical base is moving towards these positions. Many of the ancient methods of yoga or reiki are also being used by serious modern physicians for healing human beings not depending only on the “material” medicines. I am sure the progress of modern science with its own special methods will unravel more scientifically many of these findings from the ancient wisdom and systematise them for use of whole of the mankind.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Economic package is a farce

Two reports in The Hindu and The Times of India, which carry my views. For the benefit of my readers:

The Hindu

Reject criminals contesting Lok Sabha polls: M M Joshi

Varanasi (PTI): Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi on Wednesday urged the public to reject the criminals contesting Lok Sabha elections, even if the political parties do not dare to do so.
"Reject the criminals contesting the Parliamentary elections, howsoever important figures they are, even if political parties do not dare to reject them. Do not spare such parties also," Joshi said here today.

Talking to media here, Joshi, however, admitted that the BJP had also done some mistakes regarding the selection of candidates for elections. "Sometimes we also commit mistake," he said when asked about the BJP's efforts for clean politics.

"But I never allowed criminal elements in politics," he added.

All political parties should think seriously to end criminalisation of politics, he said, adding that the voters should not forgive the mistakes of political parties and corrupt leaders.
Joshi also expressed his concern over the increasing 'Talibanisation' of Pakistan and said that it was a threat not only to India but also to the entire world.

Hitting out at UPA, he said the reduction in excise duty and service tax was its political move ahead of the general elections. The interim budget was only a fraud played with the people of the country, he alleged.
The senior saffron party leader is contesting the general election from Varanasi while the BSP has fielded mafia don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari against him.

The Times of India

Joshi laughs away govt's duty reduction move

VARANASI: Describing the reduction in excise duty and service tax as a political move of the Centre in view of forthcoming parliamentary elections, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said that it was not for boosting the economy.

Talking to reporters here on Wednesday, Joshi said that the interim budget of the government showed that the nation was heading towards economic bankruptcy. By giving such relief the UPA government was misleading the masses as the new government after election would have no option but to impose taxes in the budget, Joshi said adding that it was not a helping hand but a pickpocket's hand. The BJP advocated for a pro-India economy based on agriculture, medium and small-scale industries, he said.

Regarding the criminalisation of politics, he admitted that the BJP had also done some mistakes. 'Kahin Kahin hum bhi chook jate hain' (Sometime we also commit mistake), he said when asked about the BJP's efforts for clean politics. "But I never allowed criminal elements in politics," he added. All political parties would have to think seriously on this issue to end criminalisation of politics, he said adding that the voters should not forgive the mistakes of political parties and corrupt leaders.

It may be mentioned here that Joshi is contesting the parliamentary election from Varanasi, and the BSP has fielded mafia don-turned-politician Mikhtar Ansari against him.

Joshi also expressed his concern over the increasing Taliban's dominance in Pakistan and said that it was also a matter of serious concern for the neighbouring countries.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bhartiya Heritage in Engineering and Technology

The Ancient Indians had a capability to design and make surgical instruments, chemical apparatuses, furnaces and other auxiliary appliances and astronomical instruments in their hoary past. This would imply that they possessed a fairly high level of mechanical competence and technological skills. Various texts starting from Rigveda, the Upavedas, epics, Puranas and other manuscripts refer to a large number of mechanical contrivance s. The Samarangan Sutradhara of Bhoja describes various Yantras including robots. It may also be recognised that before the advent of foreign rulers India had a very high share of the world market. At the beginning of the British Raj India’s share in the world market was more that 20 percent. After sixty years of independence our share is not even one percent. If India has to occupy her rightful place in the contemporary world, she must use her talent, resources and capabilities to evolve a technology capable of meeting the current challenges. The food security, energy security, technological security are all to be preserved and protected in order to safeguard our economic and above all strategic security. The high capital, high energy and low human resource based but environmentally hazardous, western technology has thrown a serious challenge before us.
We have to convert this into an opportunity by identifying our strengths and weaknesses. We have to be innovative and original. What the developing world is suffering is the tyranny of the western technology. Let us redeem ourselves for developing a technology with human face and a sensitive heart. Let us promise a new techno-economic order based on spirituality which assures a non-violent, non-exploitative world order.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My views on IT BHU issue

A reoport carried out by The Times of India today

Joshi asks BHU V-C to pursue IIT issue

VARANASI: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Rajya Sabha member Murli Manohar Joshi has written a letter to vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Prof DP Singh, requesting him to take appropriate initiative for the conversion of the Institute of Technology (IT) into the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

In his letter dated February 19, 2009, Joshi claimed that he had raised the issue in the Raj Sabha and also taken account of the situation at government-level from the secretary, human resource ministry, RP Agrawal. He was told that the Cabinet had not issued any formal directive for the conversion of IT-BHU into IIT, but approved in principle.

Joshi's letter further stated that he had also requested the secretary to take necessary action in the present session, but due to time constraint it would not be possible. The secretary, however, informed that the ministry could take initiative if BHU formally sent a proposal for the conversion.

It may be mentioned here that Joshi is contesting the forthcoming Parliamentary election from Varanasi seat.

Demanding IIT status, the students of IT-BHU had observed hunger strike recently. They had called off their hunger strike after the intervention of the university administration. However, they had continued to pursue the matter. The Union Cabinet had, in July last, given nod for the setting up of eight new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The Cabinet had also approved in principle for the conversion of IT-BHU into an IIT and integrating it with the IIT system of the country.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let's not tamper with future generations

Around eight years ago, when everyone else was speaking about ‘Sustainable Development’ I emphasized the need of ‘Sustainable Consumption’. I will put forward my own vision of sustainable consumption and the road map to achieve it.

Let me begin by looking at the global trends. Poverty, social and gender inequalities are increasing globally. The consumption of most affluent part of population influences the consumption patterns and aspirations of others worldwide. Another worrisome point is that the consumption pattern in the developing world is blindly following those in the developed world i.e. the affluent population in developing countries tends to adopt the lifestyle of rich countries, which is exemplified by the use of all kinds of gadgets, luxury goods and automobiles.

The gist is that the consumption trends in industrialized nations are assuming unsustainable high levels which will be followed by the developing world in their own time. Rise in the world population, decline in the forest cover and of freshwater availability and a tremendous increase in the demand for primary energy are causes of great concern. If the current consumption patterns continue, the ecosystem that provides us with renewable resources could collapse long before the world runs out of non-renewable resources. There is thus an urgent need to set up a firm agenda on achieving ‘Sustainable Consumption’ in the next few years at a global level.

What is sustainable consumption? To my mind it has to deal with the use of products and services that respond to basic needs and bring quality of life. It brings together a number of key issues, such as meeting basic needs, enhancing the quality of life, improving resources efficiency increasing the use of renewable energy sources, minimizing waste, reducing environmental burden and reducing health risks. But this must be achieved by minimizing the use of natural resources and emissions of waste and pollutants. Sustainable consumption has to be focused not only on the present citizens of the globe, but also on the future citizens, so that we do not, with our greed, tamper with the future generations.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Concrete action against Terrorism

These are my views on some pressing issues confronting us. I am reproducing a news item published by The Times Of India today, for the benefit of my readers.
VARANASI: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi demanded a specific time frame for concrete action against the terrorist attack on Mumbai in November. "It is unfortunate that the central government lost the opportunity to capitalise the national unity following the Mumbai attack due to its weak policies," said Joshi, who is contesting the forthcoming Lok Sabha election from Varanasi seat. Talking to reporters on Wednesday, he accused the government of failing to pressurise Pakistan to own the responsibility of Mumbai terror attack. "In such a slow pace it seems that the matter will be delayed for an infinite time like the execution of capital punishment of Afzal Guru," he said adding that the government should clear its stand. He said that the remarks of Supreme Court on the functioning of CBI exposed that this investigating agency was working on the whim of the government. The laws should be amended to ensure the impartial functioning of the agency, he said and added that people's confidence in constitutional institutions like election commission, parliament and state assemblies should also be maintained. Replying to a query regarding the reservation in higher education, he said that there was a need to expand the reach of higher education with accessibility, affordability and quality so that everyone could get higher education. "The reservation will be meaningless if there are enough seats," he said.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Time to act on threats of global warming

I read with great concern some of the recent news reports highlighting the imbalance in weather patterns. According to a recent report from the meteorological department this year the temperature rose to 38.2 degrees Celsius at Ocala in Maharashtra on 29th January. It was reported that this was the highest in last 50 years. This and many similar revelations are alarming.

I have always believed, and said, that uneven patterns of climate change is scary and require all of us to take a grim view. It calls for immediate action. The challenge of global warming and climate change is no ordinary challenge. I am reproducing some excerpts from the speech which contain my views on Global Warming. It was delivered at the International Conference on Science & Technology Capacity Building for Climate Change on October 20-22, 2002, New Delhi.

“The phenomenon of Climate Change is the most dramatic manifestation of a created imbalance in the relationship between man and his eco-system. We know that the earth's climate system has demonstrably changed on both global and regional scales since the pre-industrial era and that these changes are primarily attributable to human influence. The concentration of green house gases and their radioactive forcing have increased mainly as a result of human activities. We know that the globally averaged surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius over the next 200 years - about two to ten times larger than the central value of observed warming during the last 100 years. 1998 was the hottest year in the past one thousand years. Seven of the ten warmest years ever recorded occurred between 1990 and 1999.”

“The adverse impacts of these changes are numerous. There is evidence to show that recent regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases, have already affected many physical and biological systems in many parts of the world. A general reduction in potential crop yields in most tropical and sub-tropical regions, decreased water availability, an increase in the number of people exposed to vector-borne and water-borne diseases, an increase in heat stress mortality, widespread increase in the risk of flooding and increased energy demand. Sea level rise and an increase in the intensity of tropical cyclones would displace tens of millions of people in low lying coastal areas of temperate and tropical Asia.”

“Current scientific and technological approaches to dealing with the issues of climate change are, in my view, fundamentally flawed. Firstly they confuse symptoms with the disease and offer cures which can at best delay the consequences. Secondly, within the framework of the linear, mechanistic and reductionist science within which we are imprisoned we tend to break every problem into isolated parts and hope that a part by part solution of the whole is possible.”

“Is this what science is about? I have always believed and will continue to believe that science has a divine purpose, which is - 'to know', to probe and probe and constantly stretch the frontiers of knowledge. Should we stop asking questions because the questions cause discomfort to certain entrenched and powerful interest groups? Should we allow the scientific agenda to be determined by those who would rather not have us ask questions which embarrass? Never.”


It should be evident, though it is not to many, that as long as the goal remains to have constantly higher levels of consumption with unlimited consumer choice and profit maximization as the predominant value, efforts to tackle the problem of an imbalance between man and his eco­system have little chances of success. In a situation where unbridled consumer choice is unquestionably accepted as a value, it is impossible to go beyond technocratic and economist approaches to sustainability. A purely economic and technological solution to unsustainable forms of production and consumption is an impossibility because production and consumption are social acts and un­sustainability is primarily a social problem. Social problems apparently created by technology the way we presently understand cannot be solved by the application of yet more technology. Social problems have to be understood in terms of social value systems and values have to change fundamentally for the problems to be resolved. The question is how do we institutionalize policies and structures which prevent or eliminate the use of non-sustainable technologies and stimulate the use of sustainable ones? Relying purely on market forces under distorted market conditions will delay the achievement of sustainability goals. On the other hand regulatory mechanisms have severe limitations as do any statist interventions. The challenge is to create a social environment and forms of governance and power structures which provide the framework for the expression of collective initiative and community control as well as the development of the full capabilities and creativity of the individual. Is it possible to create a society in which the distinction between social and technological values, the first reflecting the values of man, the second those of the machine no longer exists?

Let me now turn to the role that technology can play in finding solutions to the problems created by the Climate Change phenomenon. I have on many occasions, elsewhere, made suggestions on remodeling our technology development and technology application processes so as to be similar to natural processes. A natural eco-system functions as a closed loop involving slow changes, which occur at a pace which allows time for adaptation to the natural environment. In contrast, technology has so far used a linear approach in which resources are extracted as though they are inexhaustible, processed to make synthetic products which have no natural counterparts, involve lengthy transportation both of raw materials and manufactured products and each step impacts on the environment and generates waste. Further technology design is insufficiently evaluated in terms of its impact on nature. We need technologies which completely eliminate the concept of waste, we need to design every process so that the products themselves, as well as leftover chemicals, materials and effluents can be reused in other processes. We need quantum leaps in energy efficiency and a shift from non-renewable to renewable sources, by applying the principle of de-carbonisation.

Some years ago, Robin Clarke of Biotechnic Research and Development in UK catalogued a thirty five point criteria for what he called a 'soft technology society'. These include. ecological soundness, low energy inputs, use of renewable and recyclable materials, craft industry orientation, integration with nature, democratic politics, decentralization, emphasis on agricultural diversity, community control, multi-disciplinarity, science and technology not dependent on specialist elites but performed by all, among others as the essential constituents of an ideal social system and as the criteria for evaluating the appropriateness of technology solutions. Some of the categories are possibly contradictory and some impracticably utopian but the overall approach they represent makes for- a coherent statement of an ideal society. With some modifications to reflect contemporary developments and some flexibility, such a criteria can serve as a measure for differentiating between 'good' and 'bad' technology, and for setting standards for scientific and technological capacity development.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Operation of Inoculation of the Smallpox

Dr. Kaushik had asked me about a reference on practicing of vaccination in India prior to its discovery by Dr. Jenner in 1796. While speaking in a Conference in 1998 I had quoted the following material as published in the 'Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century' by Dr. Dharampal, Impex India, Delhi, 1971, pp. 141-42.

Here follows one account of the operation of inoculation of the smallpox as performed here in Bengal taken from the concurring accounts of several B(r)hamans and physician of this part of India.

The operation of inoculation called by the natives tikah has been known in the kingdom of Bengall as near as I can learn, about 150 years and according to the Bhamanian records was first performed by one Dununtary a physician of Champanagar, a small town by the side of the Ganges about half way to Cossimbazar whose memory is now holden in great esteem as being thought the author of this operation, which secret, say they, he had immediately of God in a dream.

Their method of performing this operation is by taking a little of the pus (when the smallpox are come to maturity and are of a good kind) and dipping these in the point of a pretty large sharp needle. Therewith make several punctures in the hollow under the deltoid[2] muscle or sometimes in the forehead, after which they cover the part with a little paste made of boiled rice.

When they want the operation of the inoculated matter to be quick they give the patient a small bolus made of a little of the pus, and boiled rice immediately after the operation which is repeated the two following days at noon.

The place where the puncture were made commonly features and comes to small suppuration, and if not the operation has no effect and the person is still liable to have the smallpox but on the contrary if the punctures do suppurate and no feaver or eruption insues, then they are no longer subject to the injection.

The punctures blacken and dry up with the other pustules.

The feaver insues later or sooner, according to the age and strength of the person inoculated, but commonly the third or fourth days. They keep the patient under the coolest regimen they can think off before the feaver comes on the frequently use cold bathing.

If the eruption is suppressed they also use frequent cold bathing. At the same time they give warm medicine inwardly, but if they prove of the confluent kind, they use no cold bathing, but [keep] the patient very cooll and given cooling medicine.

I cannot say any thing of the success of this operation or of their method of cure in this disease, but I intend to inform myself perfectly when the time of this distemper returns which is in April and May.

[1] From Ro. Coult to Dr. Oliver Coult in 'An account of the disease of Bengall', (dated, Calcutta, February 10, 1731.)
[2] The other reading of this word from the original might possibly be 'delloid' : Editor.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mangalore gives us a lesson!

On the request of some readers, here are my views on the Mangalore incident

Every society during its march of civilization evolves a set of values and code of societal behaviour. India as the oldest living civilization has over the aeons produced a culture which believes in respecting diverse views and behavioural patterns experienced during its interaction with other societies. However, as every society has a core culture and a value system, interactions with other societies may result in producing something which is not in conformity with the traditional value systems of the society.

People can express their indignation on what they dislike but violence and vandalism are completely unacceptable. It should be left to the better judgment of the people to accept or reject such behavioural patterns or values which have come through the interactions in a highly mobile and globalized world.

Violence or ban by the State do not produce any lasting effects. Instead, awareness about the consequences of such practices should be brought through dialogue and education.

I am fully confident that our culture has an inherent strength to separate evil from good and preserve the value system and the health of the society.

Mangalore incidents are an occasion to pause and ponder as to how we strike a balance between tradition and the emerging trends among the younger generation.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why I have chosen blog?

In Marshal Mc Luhan's parlance, "Time has ceased, space has vanished, and we all live in a time of all-at-once-ness". Luhan, through this adage, emitted the effect of media technologies, over three decades ago. And the profundity of this prophecy is now felt more intensely than ever before.

Though I have been a technology freak myself, I have begun to dwell on these lines, which look more like a benediction. Those of you who know me would recall the many technology-driven initiatives triggered during my stint as Union HRD Minister, the remarkable among them included setting up of IITs and launching of Simputers. I was also involved in two IT Task Forces. I can say my date with IT is old and deep.

Having found myself as a man of the masses for over four decades now, I have often wondered what could be the best way to be in sync with people. As I like traveling and meeting people, it has given me immense opportunities to fill my heart with rare and authentic experiences. But, still I think a major chunk of population has remained far away from me.

However, I don't repent, thanks to technology, today I am handed down with the alternative and the ceaseless power to stay tied with all of you seamlessly. And yes for this there is no mediator. Blog is the only tool that I have been keenly following for some time now and after having assessed the challenges associated with it – the toughest being regular here – I am finally committing myself to it.

Why do I do this contrary to the fact that coming weeks and months are going to be extremely hectic? Well, as I said it's challenging, but worthy of acceptance for a variety of reasons. And, finally it’s blog, which is interesting. It is timeless, seamless, limitless, space less.

Let me quickly delineate what I mean.

I can sit on my computer or Blackberry and jot down my thought as and when I want. The trigger is my thought and unlike other mediums of articulation, I do not have to depend on anyone except technology and my own spirit. Time does not hinder my ability to air my thoughts any time of the day or night.

It's constant. If you know my blog site, you do not need the assistance of any tool to read my thoughts. You can connect with me as and when you like it.

A blog site gives me the power to explore as much as I can. It enables me archive my thoughts and I or you can revisit them as and when I want, as many times as we want.

Blog knows no space. It also cuts across cultures and nationalities and provides me a medium to relate with a vast mass of people.

I have always kept technology in very high esteem. It really transforms us and our ways of thinking and provides us amazing power to connect and communicate.

I am so glad, it's all happening in my lifetime. As I sit back and muse on the transitions in the mass communication domain I feel lucky to have seen so many facets of it. From black & white television to colour, big newspapers to slim-sized and Berliners, All India Radio to a plethora of FM radio stations across the country, Postcards to Internet, Land phone to mobile telephony – the metamorphosis has been humongous and revolutionary.
I am also glad I have kept my spirits alive and have moved with technology as much as I could.

My blog is yet another tribute to this mega-transformation we have all witnessed.

Trust you will tune in and continue to provide your invaluable feedback. I also pin up hope that you will be able to pluck something from my mental horizon. And to top it all I hope an effective criss-crossing of thoughts, through this blog, will help synthesize a larger objective.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Posts soon

I shall begin posting from January 31, 2009, the day of Vasantpanchami. Will appreciate your feedback.